So yesterday, when my lunch date stood me up ('I forgot', she texted from South London) and the next person I bumped into told me they had forgotten to pass an important message to someone as they had promised, it was necessary to depression-surf. The University of the West's Gibson Firebird was nowhere to be seen, so I let myself into a studio with a lovely grand piano in it, and started to write a dramatic song about being forgotten, all descending doomy chords and wailing.
After about 40 minutes of that, it was time to teach, but an MA Audio student intercepted me in the corridor and diverted me into a studio where I spent five minutes recording a spoof advert for dirt, a new toy for children ('You can mix it with water and it turns into... mud! And when it dries, it turns back to dirt again!')
It was Quiet Persons Day, and the Quiet People came along and sang some beautiful lyrics to songs they have been working on more slowly than the Loud People, but having taken time to struggle it is obvious it will have been worthwhile for them by the time they have finished.
I played them examples: songs without lyrics (the Cocteau Twins, of course); short and perfectly formed (Bart Simpson sings Lisa it's your Birthday); controlled and clever madness (Ivor Cutler, and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band singing I'm an Urban Spaceman); Greg Kurstin at his best (A Bird and a Bee); I had Bone Thugs'n'Harmony, to play some sung rap but the person I wanted to play that to wasn't there. A young student asked to look at the next CD. "My Dad's on that', she said, and we played a song by Alton Ellis, some truly lovely Lover's Rock, that vastly underrated light reggae that was born in Jamaica and grew up in England.
I never got round to Emma Bunton (clumsy but successful lyric-writing) or the American Song-Poem Anthology (send us yer words, we do the rest). And the DVD of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg wouldn't come up on the screen, so that will have to wait till next week.
I don't know if it's the sunshine, but these students are a pleasure to associate with. It is hard doing two jobs; a lot of academics do it, alighting on different campuses with different rules and different flavours of students. What is good is seeing people suddenly get a grasp of new ideas and starting to buzz, just like the giant bumble bees that whizz past us with a purpose these sunny spring days.