Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Thursday 06 February 2003

Waterstone's Coffee Shop, Canterbury.


Yippee! I am with my Little Luvvie! That is, not at this particular moment. Her afternoon show in The Marlowe is at 14.30 & the second show at 19.30.

I drove down after the press conference yesterday and joined her in Hotel-Modest-But-Sufficient opposite the theatre. It is a pub that accepted an unassuming place in the world perhaps 30-40 years ago, and continues to be unassuming (without claims to more than that) with furnishings and dècor to match. Backtracking --

Wednesday 5th. February, 2003: the dread I feel in anticipation of the European tour, as presently constituted, accompanied me to London from DGM HQ on Tuesday evening. It was also waiting for me when I rose on Wednesday & drove with me to Sanctuary (in an official Sanctuary car with driver).

The 5 journalists all traveled from Continental Europe. We met in the Sanctuary Boardroom & the interview was recorded for the DGM Archives, in addition to being recorded by the journalists themselves. David Singleton eventually joined us as well, the "eventually" because he entrusted himself to public transport - rail & then tube. I am impressed with a technology that can direct a missile to fly hundreds of miles & accurately hit a target. But I would be really impressed with less obviously impressive technological innovations - like getting public transport to run reliably, cleanly, safely, affordably & punctually from easily accessible locations.

We talked for almost one hour, 11.00 - 12.00, took a short break, continued for almost another hour, when 3 journalists withdrew, and 2 more stayed for another 20 minutes. David felt that what was said was honourable. For me, the one difficult point was attempting to explain to the French journalist why I decline to embrace autography & photography. For all my attempts, he didn't seem to get my point of view, even if he didn't share it.

His question: "why don't you like singing autographs?" - I returned: "why should I like singing autographs?" This didn't get an answer much beyond "I am not famous" so the question didn't apply to him. Any reader of this Diary who continues to take an interest in the adventures of That Awful Fripp, even a reader who might spend a proportion of their hard-earned pay on an ungrateful & misogynistic toad of a human being, might also consider this question for themselves: why should I/they/anyone want to sign autographs? (Actually, the answer is simple, as is its refutation).

Apparently, according to the French journalist, Fripp is famous & a celebrity, and celebrities sign autographs & do photos. Problematic, then, that I decline to see myself as special and as a celebrity; nor am I prepared to accept definitions imposed upon me by others; nor am I prepared to behave in such a fashion that accords with the expectations of others, particularly where these have no bearing on who & what I am.

Putting this slightly differently: if I walked into the bakery or greengrocer on Bredonborough High Street & demanded special attention, free tastinesses or exceptionally groveling attention, my status as "celebrity" would be called into serious question & in straightforward terms.

There was also the linked question in response to this viewpoint: "Don't you want to make people happy?" This is an easy one: no. That's not my job. The responsibility of the (aspiring) artist is to be true, not pander to the likes & dislikes of a public that reifies and "fetishises the inherent & delineated meanings" of the artist's work. That is, a public insisting on a creative process becoming a commercial & commodity-oriented undertaking. "Making people happy" sounds profoundly dishonest to me, and close to manipulation. "Happy" is also one end of a two-ended stick.

The degree to which "fan demands" have spoiled my life as a working (aspirant) musician, and undermined the essential nature of performance, has now reached the degree that I am actively considering alternative roles as a musician. Life as a touring player is only one role available to a musician. Alternatively, if no-one cares whether KC/RF performances become playing-by-number, and gives us huge amounts of money, I'm open to offers.

All this and more with the journalists, also on the nature of the creative process.

The creative process is an exciting subject, and one better addressed on a Guitar Craft course - because a Guitar Craft course is itself a creative process. So, discussion & analysis, observation & experiencing, within GC is rooted in the process itself. That is, questions directed towards the creative process & asked on a Guitar Craft course are already in the medium. And a creative process that is not based in the medium under examination is not likely to be very creative.

The practical difficulty is that we have to abandon what we know in order to be creative, and yet we need what we know to provide a context within which the creative action takes place.

All this and more, and more.


It is very cold in Canterbury.

A secondhand bookshop on the corner opposite Pub Modest is now an Irish coffeeshop. I don't know how that is significantly different from, for example, an Italian coffeeshop, but no doubt the difference is significant. There are also more coffee shops in town than the last time we were here, in December 1999.

At the end of the old part of the High Street is a building development well underway: a new store for Fenwicks, the family firm that own the Ricemans department store behind the development. This is the family firm run by one of the two partners of EG, the former managers of inter alia KC, Eno, Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, Bill Bruford, Toyah & myself. EG are themselves now only a name, although Mark Fenwick of Mark Fenwick Management handles Roger Waters; this as a sideline to his activities as Power Possessor at Fenwicks.


Thomas Becket pub.

A little shopping for touring clothes - new socks & jeans - and now for a small treat high on my current list of simple pleasures: a pint of cider in a glass-with-handle. A baked potato is on the way to hold me faithful until supper with Little Willcox & friends after this evening's show.