Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

THIS is a Christmas jumper folks. It looks horrible. The pattern can only have been designed by a badly acid-damaged amputee on a bus. Presumably it has been made of materials so crap they had to be put into a the jumper equivalent of a concentration camp to preserve the purity of fashion.

These days you can get these other jumpers (shown to the left). Look at the colours. Completely sanitized. Red and white? Where's the gaudiness in that?

To all those tossers lined up at the bar in Wetherspoons across the country, wearing these and thinking 'ooh, look how cool I am. I'm wearing something uncool, but making it cool because I'm such an awesome, arrogant tit who really wants another Corona with a wedge of lime and a Jagerbomb and maybe some Sourz and maybe throwing up and hating anyone who's different to me (thank God all my friends are wearing the same stuff as me or I'd have to hate them), and if I don't objectify every woman I see tonight then I'm gay (urgh)', to them I say fuck off.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Scenes: Number 7

A lot's been said about chavs and their playing of loud music on public transport. The other day at Preston train station, however, things happened a little differently...

There were a couple of guys in the cafe watching a 50s B-movie on their laptop. It was really loud. The cliched tension music would have been audible all the way over the other side of the room, over all the chatter of coffee-drinking commuters and beverage machine steam-jets. Also, one of the men watching it was 'offering' a commentary. Very loudly. Just inane stuff, pointing out obvious crap like 'ooh he looks scared' or whatver.

I think I'd have preferred a chav...


Sunday, 9 December 2012


Has been a very olfactory day in Morecambe. Take a look at these aromas:
  • Perfume
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Unsafe-to-eat blue cheese with sweaty-gritty note to start, with rotten fish-and-egg to finish
  • Intense hot chocolate, with an absence of fresh bread
  • Smoker
  • Tobacco
  • Stale cider and smoke
  • Aftershave
  • Crap coffee
  • Bubblegum and smoker
  • My own personal farts
  • Motor oil mint
  • Money
  • Red wine
Does sleep smell? I'll find out soon...

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Edge Hill has raised the bar yet again with the latest author to come read and talk about his work. David Vann came to the new (and improved) Arts Centre on campus last night and I felt genuinely inspired by the man. For someone whose polite, unassuming and softly-spoken manner might lead folk to believe a puff of wind would blow him away, he sure writes like a tornado.

He read from Legends of a Suicide, Dirt and even some unpublished material of his, and it was a very valuable experience. He was as open as a river mouth, and the knowledge that flowed forth, the links between his life and his writing etc was very illuminating. I felt again, if only for a few hours, that it's okay to be a writer. I'd say he has big cojones to write about what he does, let alone talk so openly to an audience about such personal things (five suicides, one murder and a very slippery head, for example).

His poetics were really meaty as well, particularly how his relationship with Greek tragedies has given his work a universal flavour. The way he got to the bare bones of his process of writing reminded of the talk Jeremy Dyson gave after The Cranes that Build the Cranes was published. They were similar in that they don't find redrafting as rewarding a process as many make it out to be, with respect to short stories at least. They were both writers who were unafraid to say what they felt and they were both FREE events set up by Edge Hill.

The self-revision and humility of his performance was just so real, it was beautiful really. No offence to other readers at Edge Hill (at least in terms of fiction), not only was he the best but I don't see how he's gonna be topped. Still, with the amount of events open to students and non-students alike, it's probably just a matter of time. Watch this space, then.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Deliver This From Evil

Post Office, by Charles Bukowski, is kind of rough. If we were talking about resistant materials ('woodwork' if you prefer), it would be 'unfinished', that is to say 'not sanded down/polished' etc. Make no mistake, the book's a diamond - just not cut in the usual way ('usual' being a synonym for 'stale'). Take some of the non-standard spelling etc, the sort of 'satire' of conversation, the flitting nature and sometimes random elements with little coherence within the novel (Dave Janko's book, for example) This somehow gives a purity, a rawness and, above all, an energy to the writing.

The main character, Henry Chinaski, is awesome. I say that 'awesome' in the correct way - 'inspiring awe'. I stopped to wonder: is he a decent bloke? Do I hate him because of his sexism/disrespect? Is he a hero for not backing down against another wave of life's mundane tidal wave of crap? Is he a coward for relying too much on the bottle? Well, for those of you who like bland, general understatements, he's a flawed genius (much like the author).

And just to resolve the above 'conflict' a bit further, I think I do like HC. I sympathise with the 'underdog vs life' scenario. I 'get' his use of alcohol as a coping mechanism and somewhat admire his skills as a postman. The gambling and the sexism I mentally sweep under the carpet, as we all do with people we know.

So I really enjoyed the book overall. It was a really quick, easy read, but a lot 'went on' in the narrative. What's more the potency of the writing (like at the end of chapter ten, the summary of Betty's funeral - despite repeating a lot of detail - has this haiku-like punch to it), along with it's clever form (the variation in size of the paragraphs makes the reading, I dunno, more living. Like sometimes a short paragraph reflects a busy period for HC, so it mirrors the fact he doesn't have time to go into more detail), makes it something I'd recommend to almost anyone. For some people it'd be because I like them and appreciate that they like a good, entertaining read. For others, it'd be because they're Lilly-livered, vacuous, moronic, comfort-driven, mother-loving, nice-hot-water-bottle-on-a-mild-day-ing, innocent, modern-music-adoring, rom-com-watching (Sean of the Dead obviously excepted), baby-cuddling, unaware, greeting-card-faced, bubble-bath-drinking, salad-humping, button-nosed, vitamin-taking, tea-sniffing, nipple-grating, sock-washing, trend-following amoeba who need to be shaken up violently like the proverbial bird in its cage.

Oh how I love to shake caged birds... The thought of it gets me all... Ooh...


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Peep Show Rides Again!

It seems like a long time ago that Channel 4's Peep Show last blessed our screens with a new episode, but in fact it was less than a couple of years ago. Series 8, which has just kicked off, felt like a meeting up with my best friend from primary school that I haven't seen since. It had been ages and so much had happened since. The good thing was, my old friend hadn't changed much - he (Peep Show is definitely a 'he' I think) was pretty much exactly as I remembered him.

The first episode, 'Jeremy Therapised', did as good a job as it always does in getting straight into the action and not going over a load of old ground. Characters Jeremy and Superhans welcome us to the opening episode and we get their bad-band-backstory without clunky revelations. Being completely honest (though probably over-critical), there was a teeny bit of rough exposition, like when Mark hands over his baby to Jeff (for some reason, Neil Fitzmaurice's character is one of the ones I most like to see in an episode). The way he talks about their relationship is a bit 'on the nose', but it's to be expected that some things need a bit of a 'helping hand' so the audience doesn't spend the rest of the series under-illuminated.

Also, I felt a little bit like there wasn't as much 'stuff' in the episode as there usually is. For example, Jeremy's chat with Dr. Bendick involves a gag that goes on for quite a long time and the punchline is quite flat and not that funny. These longer scenes (most of which are funny, in the inimitable Peep Show style) just seemed to lack the punchy, dynamic, almost hectic activity of previous series. But then, after re-watching it, I'm probably being too critical, arising from having watched all other seven series and being able to judge it against all that material. There is a lot going on, so I'm being overly-picky to say that it could be better.

It's shaped up to be another great series, even though Mark seems to be less likeable (I normally see him as merely spineless, but in this first episode he's a bit darker - mirroring some dark plot points - and more of a knowing arsehole). I would recommend everyone give it a try, though I know from asking other people that it tends to be a marmite comedy; you either love it or hate it. That might sound like a disclaimer, but really I find it hard to accept that it's possible not to find it one of the best, and one of the most important, chapters in not just British comedy, but in the world's.

Did I mention I've met David Mitchell?

Here's a review of the episode over on the Den of Geek site: I think it offers a nice counterpoint to my ramblings.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Gooooooooooooood Films

You know, I was just watching a film and it was like one of those fabled 'holidays'. You know the ones where you have a brilliant, almost transcendental time in some sort of paradise without any negatives spoiling the whole experience? Personally, as a moany Brit, I know how after a holiday things crash down into the shitty reality you've been trying to escape quicker than you can say 'ant'. Think landing back in your country; the security and baggage retrieval is enough to basically undo the entire illusion of the whole bloody thing...

Well, this film I was watching (Hannibal directed by Ridley Scott in 2001 for those of you who barely care) was one of those that really had me suspending my belief. The villain of the piece, Dr. Lecter, really is one of the all-time greats. Fantastically gifted in the mental department, he is revealed to us in many ways; his taste in classical music, his taste in fine dining, his historical interests, his avid reading and his absolutely clinical execution of his crimes. The film is so great to watch, though, because there is no 'clunkiness'. The classical music is part of the soundtrack, the historical interest is basically a part of the plot, the dining is a (perhaps even the) integral scene where someone's own brain is fed to them delicately cooked alongside a good glug of wine [oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT], all so natural.

The characters are all so compelling too. Ironically, I missed a bit of the first part of this film, but the character Clarice has our 'sympathy' because she is trying to do a job for the 'common good' against a 'monster'. We also feel for the 'monster' because he is so cool and civilized that it's hard to believe he has some pre-meditated agenda. In another film I watched recently (Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, 2006), the 'status quo' was handled so quickly and poorly that I knew not the characters and, when 'things started happening' it was genuinely hard to care about it.

Although I'm not saying either films are by any means the best or the worst I've ever seen, I'm just saying that Hannibal is one example that overrode my cynical nature enough, and I enjoyed the film well. This is even though the film was interrupted by the annoying ITV2 adverts (see here for my last 'cutting' rant about film on telly), so it basically deserves extra credit.

In fact, even the closing credits seemed suave and sophisticated, indicative of the intellectual intrigue of the film you've just watched and, indeed, making you hungry for the next film in the series. Great all-round entertainment... but, wait... what's... what's that?


It's fine though. Good film. Go see it if you can.

[Thanks to for their 'cooperation']

Saturday, 27 October 2012

David Mitchell

one of best male comedy minds in Britain
signing someone else's book -
bloke in front takes centre stage

Friday, 26 October 2012

2012 B.C.

It was a bit Python-esque in parts. It was totally free. It was one of the best cultural experiences I've ever had. It was was a celebration of Bob Cobbing's life and works, held at The Castle Hotel in Manchester, organized by The Other Room.

I was suffering a little bit from anxiety (not related to the event), and that coupled with the crowded conditions in the venue meant I didn't get the most out of the night (so it could have been even better than the glowing report I'm about to give it). Yeah it was very cramped, and the way I was 'squishing myself in' led to a wee bit of pain, but that was only due to the popularity of the event, not the limitations of the location (incidentally, The Castle Hotel is a lovely place. I had a couple of pints of Robinson's 'Double Hop', but I'll try and keep this literary and leave the ale monologue for another time). Once I'd settled down, though, the fun began.

The performances were genuinely brilliant, from "only the warm up" right through to the deep-sea diving and Hollywood films, all in the spirit of the late Mr. Cobbing (1920 - 2002). He was an Enfield poet noted for his work in concrete, visual and sound pieces but if you want more biographical details, click on the above link to be taken to his UbuWeb page. Clive Fencott, who was reading from his own collection Am I On My Feet (El Uel Uel U, 1976), helpfully explained a couple of bits and bobs, including the idea of poetry as experience, rather than language (and that Bob could have 'performed a wall panel' if he'd wanted). This brought home to me the importance of the works that were being read out and also meant I 'got' more out of them.

There was a lot of humour, especially during the Hollywood poems, but overall the experience was nigh on indesribable ('fascinating' is right, but doesn't do it justice). I feel sorry for you if you didn't make it, because you really had to be there to feel the full extent of the performance. Even a video recording wouldn't give a fair reflection, the sense of passion from the poets burnt so brightly in person.

The second half saw a cavalcade of poets performing Cobbing's own 'ABC in Sound' which turned out, despite their ostensible reservations, to be well organized. One poet in the ensemble performed accoustically a digital remix he'd done of part of it. The thrill of seeing such a physical and audible collage of artists was fantastic, and I thought to myself I could have no regrets if I died there and then.

I went a bit mad on getting some of the poets' books afterwards, but mourning the pecuniary loss would be silly when I consider the poetic treasures I have gained. It was great to see my sister and other friends there, and everyone was unanimous in their support of a great night. Check out the links throughout the post for more opportunities to take part. Go on, do it now!

Here are some more linky-links to relevant stuff:

Monday, 15 October 2012


The recent events surrounding the uncovering of Jimmy Savile's disgusting past (60 alleged victims and 340 lines of enquiry now sullying his once okay name) have shed new light on other celebrities' sordid 'kiddy-fidling' affairs.

This crisis of sexual depravity is thought to have stained and corrupted the decent nature of Christian folk as far flung as Hollywood. A documentary, shown recently on ITV2, has shown how Johnny Depp (star of such previously 'family-friendly' films as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Rango and From Hell) has engaged in 'indecent activities' with young people.

Sleepy Hollow (now thought to be a sick joke of a title) flagrantly shows blatant scenes of Depp 'co-starring' with Christina Ricci (who has been in other films too). Camera's captured Depp (now 49) and Ricci (once as young as one month old) embracing, kissing and swooning at each other's feet.

A man who says he saw the 'documentary' told MIBR, "Ricci looked about 10, 11 maybe at a push, and Depp loomed close to her looking like a man possessed. It was clear to me that he wanted to 'violate her' and, such was the intensity of his animalistic desires, it took only the strongest of supernatural forces to deter him from his aim.

"Personally I would. I mean I'm not 'paedo' but she is very attractive. It's okay for me to say this, I'm a father myself, not a monster. Especially in that corset, though, she looks very mature and personally I'm a breast man. Her breasts were very alluring."

Tum Birton is yet to comment.

If you've been effected by any of the issues in this post, please remember it is disingenuous.

Thanks to the BBC news website and IMDB for their cooperation in supplying the facts for this story:,

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Half Nederlands

I've just been reading some of Rene Van Valckenborch's poetry.

Admittedly the sight of a breast heightened my involvement (from a flying start, I assure you), but after reading Twitterode 87, I was absolutely hooked.

The Twitterodes are fascinating, accompanied by an image which gives a pleasant alternate plane to the words.

They are often amusing (in Twitterode 79, the "lip-moulded stream of eternal spittle" is amusing because the classical statue framed in the picture seems beyond 'spitting', as a 'disgusting act', but referencing it so lyrically and 'philosophically' - that is to say 'deep', considering the theme of time contained within - almost brings it back to a beautiful act worthy of the subject of the sculpture).

There are also twists and shifts of pace that drag your eye (and brain) along like the strongest of currents. Take Twitterode 73, marrying senses of similiar and yet opposing dualistic worlds; the "dog-cobbles-bollards-street-city" represents a process akin to a camera panning out from a small object to a larger expanse of space. To represent this in a small linguistic space screams out an energy and tension that, PERSONALLY I rather like.

Given the chance, I'd certainly publish it and not feel remorse for getting prosecuted for purveying immoral materials :-P That's before I've read 'em all too.

Check out the Van Valckenborch posts on Robert Sheppard's blog Pages right here:


I wonder what that would be like?

Thursday, 4 October 2012


The other night I went to Edge Hill again. Monday heralded the beginning of my MA course in Creative Writing there, and though I know there's a lot of hard work ahead of me, it was great to be back. There were a few 'old faces' there from my time on the BA in English and Creative Writing, and it was a pleasure to see them, but it was also an invigorating experience to meet the 'new faces' too (all of whose faces were actually older than the 'old faces', what with them being more mature students). After some initial introductions and feet-finding, we got onto talking about methodologies, which is a very cerebral topic and the harbinger of tough (but no doubt enjoyable) times ahead.

When the seminar was over though, and I had chatted a bit to a good friend and fellow blogger (check out his 'Utterances of a Heathen'), I walked back through Edge Hill's lovely 160-acre campus and it brought back to mind the day I first moved there three years ago. I was pretty hungover, thanks to nice night of farewell drinks with my Lancaster pals, and was sleeping a fair bit during the journey down. I was wearing my Liverpool shirt (I thought it important to let people know my football standing and probably have some banter over it) and some classic sensitive-eye sunnies and I remember actually that I wasn't clean shaven (I was a bit annoyed I wasn't because I had to have a picture taken for my new unicard and looked a bit scruffy).

I'm not going to go into the whole day, suffice to say that being back in education at Edge Hill transported me all but bodily into the past. I swam in the - probably compromised - memories: sharing drinks with new hall mates, mum crying as she said goodbye to her smelly son for a while and, something which continued for a long time, not unpacking.

So I'm back where I began. Or am I? The shirt's different, though it still bears the same badge. I've put on a bit of weight. I guess the core of me is very similar, but here I go again into the unfamiliar.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


I've found my next love. Some of you might be aware of the Inspector Montalbano series currently showing on BBC4 which is pretty damn good. Luca Zingaretti is completely on the money as the title character - he obviously has a good grasp of the humour of the scripts and uses a lot of physical expression (very important for a Sicilian character) as well as vocal and emotional. The character Montalbano much be such fun to play, a suave, food-loving, cynical yet sensitive, attractive yet, for many reasons, unavailable man fighting for truth and resolution in a hectic and disturbing world. I watch the TV series like it's my marijuana, I light it up and am completely out of the real world until it's out of my system. The only logical thing I could do is buy Andrea Camilleri's novels, ably translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli.

The good thing about the books (well, the book since I've only read The Shape of Water thus far. I'm currently awaiting the next instalment, The Terracotta Dog, which can't bloody come quick enough!) is that they do follow the Italian crime-fiction tradition of lack of a happy ending. Yes, Montalbano is an extremely clever guy and gets to the bottom of the mystery, but realises that he cannot get sufficient evidence for a prosecution and therefore has to let the case conclude in exactly the way he had been fighting against the whole case (the structure of the novel is set up in a way to remind you of the pressures Montalbano is under, therefore raising the tension and really driving on the narrative). I guess the experience of that is more rewarding because you feel part of a very select group of people who know the truth, but still have the disappointment of knowing it made no real difference.

That's the 'big picture', if you like, but in the short term of every chapter you are simply soaked in a writing style that is much like a good Chianti; the rich flavour of Sicilian scenery, the oaky maturity of Andrea Camilleri's politically-savvy observation and the full body, underpinning it all, comes from the brilliantly drawn characters whose humour, back stories and believability combine to perfection.

It's not all good though, there is a wee niggle. When I reached the end, I found the revelation of the crime plot to be a little too blazĂ©, like it was just explained as a footballer might reel through a list of racist incidents he has perpetrated before not being prosecuted. Just a bit too 'matter of fact'. However, it must be explained, the initial account of the plot is not the only one. I don't really want to spoil the ending for those of you who haven't read it, but I'll just say that even though the 'big reveal' is the worst bit of the novel, it still has a flair and originality that - as someone who, in terms of crime fiction, has basically only read Sherlock Holmes, but seen adaptations of Sherlock, Miss Marple, Poirot etc - took me by surprise and is instantly endearing. The final few words reveal just a little bit more mystery about the inspector and, as I said before, I WANT MORE!!!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Ill Again...

Nowt funny or interesting about this post, just a bit of shameful moaning. It's been nearly a week now of having an upset tummy, peppered with feelings of wanting to vomit, feverishness and feeling very weak.

Sick of being sick, if you'll pardon the pun... Help meeeeeeeee!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Are YOU Sick of YOUR Salads Not Being ITCHY Enough?

Have you had your fill of traditional salads? Salads that, frankly, don't make your body itch when you eat them? Well now your troubles are at an end!

I myself used to eat 'normal' salads, filled with iceberg lettuce, avocado, peppers (capsicums as certain people sometimes call them) and even rocket, which I kind of thought was spinach when I bought it, but no it is quite different. In fact, thinking back, there was a time I put a sun-dried tomato in a salad. That was weird because I've never liked sun-dried tomatoes... Anyway, I digress. What I mean is that most salads are diverse and healthy enough, but is that, well, enough?

I should say it blooming well isn't nearly enough! That's why I, Mr Scratchberger Johnson, have come up with a range of salads for everyday people with extraordinary consequences! My Nicoise will have you tickled all over, my Caesar will have you scratching your very being and my Waldorf, well, that'll just have you performing surgery on yourself to remove your own organs in an attempt to better scratch them with your bloodied fingernails.

ScratchNail FoodEat Industries loves people. It is an industry for the people, by idiots, and we think we know what you want. If you love our It Shii range, why not try our Fuuk wraps and our Sweet Side sandwiches.

Guaranteed experience, guaranteed price. That's the ScratchNail FoodEat way.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Basho's Balls

I have received loads of great feedback on my extremely witty jokes throughout this blog. In fact, the reason why I'm not posting every day isn't because of a lack of creativity or having better things to do, it's because I have to spend so much time each day replying to my fans' mail (some of it still comes through the post don't you know?). Anyway, enough of my trials and tribulations as a comedy genius, on with the show! I submit to you another brilliant joke, please enjoy:

It was the 257th derby match between Japanese Literary Figures Athletic and Legendary Vertically-Challenged Folk Albion, and everyone was expecting a real ding-dong battle between the two sides. After only half an hour, defender Basho had already clashed with forward Verne Troyer a few times and had a couple of warnings from the referee (Martin Atkinson, let's say, just to set the scene a bit better).
   All of a sudden, Charlie Stratton of the Legendary Vertically-Challenged Folk Albion broke forward on the left flank and fired a fantastic cross into the box for Troyer. Basho had no choice but to rush in and make an overhead clearance.
   Then the ref blew his whistle and flashed a yellow card at Basho. He was clearly livid, and shouted at Martin, "Why the hell did you show me a card? Was it because I pulled his shirt?"
   "No," he replied, "It was for your haibun."

Haha, geddit? 'Cause 'haibun' sounds like 'high boot'! Haha nah, I'm sure you didn't actually need me to explain that really... Phewf, I think you'll agree that I've surpassed myself yet again with that corker. See you again in a few months when I've dealt with more of my mail!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Morecamber and Wiser

So today I'm going to review the new 'Morecamber and Wiser' show, the freeview channel Zeitgit's flagship offering. In case you couldn't tell by the ever-so-witty title, this is an updated version of the classic 'Morecambe and Wise' sketch show from a bygone era. Think of the contemporary 'Sherlock' (BBC) or 'Henry 8.0' (BBC). They both did good jobs of capturing old ideas and breathing an uplifting vivacity into them. 'Morecamber and Wiser' is quite different...

I'm not going to go into a big ol' rant here, suffice to say that the opening joke sees Morecamber trying to get onto Wiser's laptop. When he puts in the wrong password, he is greeted with the 'Wrong password' message (familiar to those of you, like me, who are curious about what other people store on their laptops, pen drives, email accounts etc), to which he retorts, "It was the right password, just not necessarily on the right laptop."

Need I say more?

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Best

I was on my way out of Morrisons today, and by the exit there was a guy trying to sell double glazed, self cleaning windows. You know the type.

Fenetre Vendor: 'Scuse me sir, would you be interested in our new range of self-cleaning windows?

Me: No, sorry, I'm not in control of my windows.

Fenetre Vendor: Oh you mean to say, more accurately, that you are renting a property and decisions of this nature pertaining to the place's upkeep fall under the jurisdiction of the landlord or landlady?

Me: No, I mean my windows are wild. They are literally out of control. Good day to you...

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Rose Theeeeeeeeeeatre!

'T'was another groovy night at The Rose Theatre at Edge Hill again tonight. Y'know, these readings and events are open to the public, not just students! Why not look at the website ( to find out what you want to see, then come on down!

Tonight (if you weren't there), you missed some of Edge Hill's finest talents - past and present - such as: Rob Sheppard, Patricia Farrell, Andrew Taylor and more. That was only the first half! Second half we were treated to Canadian poet Peter Jaeger's poems - a goodly helping from his book Rapid Eye Movement (Reality Street, 2009) which I thought was very moreish indeed.

Won't bore you with details, check out these sites! (Andy Taylor's page - pretty self-explanatory) (Erbacce Press, what a lot of today's readers be involved in) (Can't find a personal page for the man :S) (His blog 'Pages' is the place to be!)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Visiting Writer, Edge Hill University

What a friggin' brilliant day at uni today! In poetry class we were treated to a visit by Cliff Yates, poet, writer, teacher and bloody nice bloke (excuse my language)! This isn't the first exposure I've had to the bundle of creative energy that is Cliff, I saw him read not so long back in the Rose Theatre on Edge Hill's campus. I'm not sure exactly what it is I like about his work... Oh, who am I kidding, of course I do! The surreality of many of the pieces, a kind of innocence therein and the lyricality are all things I love in writing of any type, but as a poet his bringing together of voices (see 'Hotel De L'Angleterre'), really evocative images (unfortunately I can't remember the name of the poem he read out that typified this so well!) and well-balanced narrative (see 'Tonight In Kidderminster') really are second to none.

His own story is also very inspiring. Perhaps I shouldn't relay it here, I don't want to get details wrong and fall foul of another libel suit... But yeah, he really has the hunger, the wit, the energy and the personality that makes an excellent person as well as a poet, and I hope he enjoys even more success! Let's just say, whenever I go to readings and books are on sale, I'm either too broke or too stingy (not quite the same thing) to get any of the books. When Cliff came to Edge Hill, I bought Frank Freeman's Dancing School (Salt, 2009), thoroughly enjoyed it and even used some of it in a collage poem I did for coursework (my efforts were terrible though!).

Check out his blog at (where you can find out more about the man, his mission and his work), go to any of his readings if you get the chance and definitely buy some of his collections. I couldn't have summed it all up better than Ian McMillan:

“Cliff Yates is one of my favourite poets, writing in an idiom I’d like to call ‘Skelmersdale Mystic/Domestic’ if he was in a band that band would produce hit singles that would linger in your head for years and if he was a greengrocer his vegetables would always be startling shapes. There’s childhood here, and love, and a way of seeing the world with the wrappers off that is, ultimately, Yatesian”

Thursday, 9 February 2012


I would absolutely LOVE to work with the Coen Brothers. Of course, I could never usurp them with regards to writing/directing talent, but even to star in one of their films would be a dream come true. To rephrase: to be an extra in one of their films would be a dream come true. Heck, to serve them coffee/to ask them how they're doing about their day/to simply be in any kind of proximity (and maybe push one of my scripts on them) would be awesome.

I love many things about the Coen Brothers. It will sound so very stupid, but I love their writing and directing... Yes, I said it was a 'stupid' point... But really, I love their dedication to actors. Holly Hunter, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, Jeff Bridges and many others... It just makes me think that these guys are god-like, and they cannot do wrong in bestowing any kind of faith in folk (acting or otherwise)...

If you're out there, Joel and Ethan (and don't get me wrong, I'll ask for a certain degree of ID before I believe that you've chosen to grace me with your presence), I am your servant!

Peace out,


Monday, 6 February 2012

Ann Arbor Film Festivaaal!

I had a brilliant time last Wednesday at the 49th Ann Arbor Short Film Festival. It was being screened in Edge Hill's Rose Theatre, very competently I'd like to add in case the projectionist is reading. It was a bit of a labour of love to get the festival to be shown here, according to the man responsible. Not because the Ann Arbor organization was unhelpful, quite the opposite in the end, but because previous institution he had worked for were not keen to host the event for whatever reason.

Well, I can't pretend I understood all the films. God has seen fit, in his infinite wisdom, to bless me with the level of mental faculty that he has. No more, no less. With this faculty, it was not possible for me to grasp the subtleties of films involving lingering, black and white shots of chain link fences. Nor was it possible for me to see the relevance in a kid riding around in circles on a bike for a few minutes with no dialogue or anything besides. That, however, did not stop me enjoying the night.

Explorations of naked old men on skatboards, the futility and yet humour of life, coming of age and what cinema means were all themes that even this feeble intellect could put its finger on. There was a lot of humour, actually, which translates whether you are an artist or a pleb. That I am glad for, I can tell thee!

Right, sorry, I can't be arsed writing any more. Had a great time, hope to see it next year blah blah...