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Monday, 4 July 2022

Unlocked

 
Inside the safe, they are shelling.
The distance between me and the safe is about two metres.
The shelling intensifies.
A wind picks up, and some of the smoke -
hardly kaleidoscopic in grey, blue, and black -
escapes the leaden box.
Inside, one of them waves at me.
Inside, one of them waves to me.
Inside, one of them stops waving.

On the radio, I hear mangelwurzels are the new superfood.
The Primer Minister has eaten them,
says he credits his success to their vibrancy.
That, and cheating at Whiff-Whaff.
It's a choice between the radio and the safe.



[I wrote this poem in a Quiet Compere workshop, and performed it at a Quiet Compere poetry showcase.]

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Beyond Compere

Right, I'm not going to start this post off by saying how busy I've been, and how time has flown (over six weeks ago? Really!?!). I'm not going to do it. You deserve better. Anyways, way back on May 14th, I had a lovely day. Sarah L Dixon was back in town with her Quiet Comperetour, so the day started with a workshop - led by the Quiet Compere herself - had the addition of another cup to Liverpool's cabinet in the middle, and in the evening ended with the Quiet Compere's poetry showcase. It was so good to be guesting again. Last time I was on the bill, hmm, when would that be? Probably Peter Barlow's Cigarette, but how many years ago I dread to think. I can't explain why it means something to me. Maybe it's about validation on some level, but it doesn't feel like that. It's more likely that being billed increases the pressure and feeling of scrutiny, you know, you really want to give your best, whereas if it's an open mic, I feel a bit more like I can take a liberty or two. Well, one or two more liberties (we are talking about poetry here!). Speaking about being on the bill, though, I really like the Quiet Compere's philosophy that no names are bigger than any other. She doesn't give any lengthy intros that list achievements, it was purely and simply the artist's name, and getting on with the readings.

The showcase began with an open mic session, and this exemplified the quality and diversity over the whole night (this is what's so exciting to me - all these different styles and themes all rubbing up against one another!). A number of my friends read out - Jim, Voirrey, Matt, and better-half-Becks, who were all great performers with wonderful material - and a few others, Griff Jones, who I've seen on the local circuit before, and a student Clodagh (who was at the workshop at the Nib Crib, too), who really impressed me by performing from memory an experimental piece with a complex interweaving of repetition and progression. The future's bright with such stars around.
 
I enjoyed the second half of the evening as well, which featured the featured writers. Even all this time later, I remember fondly how Zoe Lambert made us laugh with her keen observations of what it's like to grow up and discover oneself. Peter Kalu was great, and tackled big themes with warmth (and encouraged us to throw money at him, which was something new). JJ Journeyman really got me thinking. I suppose I normally regard 'character poets' with a bit of suspicion ('can't it just be about good poetry' is my usual thought), but his performance broke through my cynicism, made me laugh and think, and I'm gutted that I overthought the throwing of his bear into the suitcase (nope - not going to give you any context for that). Sarah Corbett was great, too, and her pieces felt very finely crafted, with a magical music in them (reminds me, I must look at getting a book or two of hers...). Big Charlie Poet was good, too, what I'd describe as 'rawly personal', having written touching work about, for example, depression and relationships.
 
Sarah's post here tells the story of the night better than I could, making my whole post here rather redundant:

Check out the rest of the tour here (next one on the July 1st!): http://thequietcompere.co.uk/events-organiser/ 
 
Look out soon, as I'm going to post one of the poems I wrote at the workshop, which I also performed at the showcase.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Event Incoming!

One week today ( :O ), The Quiet Compere comes to Morecambe on her 2022 tour!

First, she will be facilitating a workshop at the dear old Nib Crib at 5 West Street, Morecambe (1530 - 1700hrs).


Later (1900 - 2130), she will be compering a night of poetry performance at the West End Playhouse, around the corner on Yorkshire Street. There'll be open mic slots to begin with, and then featured local poets, of which I am one.


I was hoping to have a picture of me in my snazzy Quiet Compere tour t-shirt, but I'm waiting to get it off a friend. Incidentally, t-shirts are still available to order, and a selection will be available to buy on the night.

Hope to see you there! :)

This is the Morecambe page, btw:

And the overall Quiet Compere 2022 Your page:

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Friends

I was talking to a friend the other day about mental health. He's someone who is quite sensitive, too, and it was refreshing to have a conversation about it. Surprising, also, that he's had such similar experiences to me. The world can make you feel alone when you're not - not really. I suppose I'm writing this now so maybe other people think, "Yeah, that happens to me, too!"

One of the things we talked about was people who say they're there for you and aren't. I don't mean to make any of this sound easy, because at the minute it isn't. It will get easier, but it depends on how people in wider society act, how normal things become. It's getting better, and I know I need to work on things as well as others.

We've had people saying to us, "Here if you want to talk," like that's it, job done. I've been in relationships where it's been such a passive 'believe I care for you because I'm telling you I am'. For so many people, maybe men especially (because of the traditional roles and stigmas), it takes a huge deal to open a door and let someone in. I've done this before, tried to talk about what's on my mind, have told people how depressed I am. I wasn't asking them to fix everything for me, but when that person you've opened the door door interrupts you time after time, doesn't acknowledge what you've said, or even asks why you're not doing anything about it, the door you've opened for them closes a little bit more each time.

Then they say it again. "I'm here for you." Where? Where are you? Outside. You have the address, but not the key. I was letting you in, and you didn't step inside. That's fine. I've dealt with that from many people. It still hurts, but life is suffering. The question is now, how to deal with it again?

I'm glad at least I can sometimes get to talk to this friend of mine, but I wish I had someone there regularly, someone who said they cared and showed it. Anyway, I'm sounding maudlin now... I also want to help myself to trust more, to be more emotionally available, and hopefully in the future have more tools to be able to use in relationships - platonic or romantic - where this happens.

I hope if you're reading this that you're well. Please take care.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

New S

Hello you! How you doing?

Kostumes for Komedy

Eeh, it's been a long time, hasn't it? I know I've always been good at being bad at keeping this blog up to date, but wow, it really has been ages... Just lately, though, I've had so much news I've been physically shaking - so I need to let you know what's going on POST HASTE.

In terms of shameless pluggery - I just received my copy of The Literary Lancashire Award's 2021 Anthology, in which my short story 'You Just Need to Be in the Right Time at the Right Place' appears. It's a great collection of some of Lancashire's freshest voices, and you can buy copies by clicking on this whole paragraph. That's right, anywhere on this paragraph. The initial "In", the final word "have", or anywhere in between. If you get a copy, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

One of the big lovely things happening in Morecambe at the mo is The Nib Crib flourishing, and all their events are being enjoyed. A group of friends and I are the collective force behind this lovely community group - The Nib Crib - that is centred mainly around the 'written' arts. Our current events (which are always subject to change, as we like to listen to the people that come along), are Get Your Words Out (for performance of a variety of work), Play Reading, Book Club, Debate Club, and others. We've even had some generative days, by which I mean writing sessions and workshops (one of which I helped to run, and that was a lovely experience). We don't charge folks for enjoying themselves in our place, but we do encourage donations, as we are fully self-funded. Details of Nib Crib activities can be found here. We also appeared in a nice article not so long back - you can read that here.

This leads on to other performance news in the area. First off is a new open mic night in Lancaster, held at The George and Dragon on the Quay (St George's Quay, in fact. Funny, that...), from 2000-2300hrs every Thursday. I've been a few times now with my poetry and short stories - always had a warm welcome, a receptive audience, and just a bloody good time all round!

Next though, a real exciting thing. My good friend Jim and myself performed a comedy sketch at The West End Playhouse's 'First Friday Cabaret' last week. Jim is the main creative force, but I had a lot of fun assisting with the script, and it was tremendous to perform it. I don't mean 'tremendous great woohoo', because I never really remember much of my performances. I'm normally really focussed on trying to breathe and remember my words, or whatever, so am not really enjoying the present moment all that much. It was, however, tremendous in the sense of what we achieved, the enjoyment of the audience, and generally I'm just appreciating that we have options (within the artistic community in Morecambe, and maybe further), and that is quite exciting, if I may say. In short, our sketch was based on cheese puns. It was a bit like the version of Monty Python that you'd find in a festive cracker... I liked that we weren't after laughs, we were after groans, and that appealed to me as someone who doesn't like to give the audience what they want (or what they think they want, at least).

While I'm here, big up to all the rest of the performers, including other Nib Crib stalwarts and friends :) Great job, everyone (Y)

Perhaps more importantly, Jim has just started a blog, The Writes of Passage and has put up one of my favourite pieces of his: 'Young 'un'. Please go give it a read - you'll be glad you did. He's got an amazing diversity of talents that extend well beyond writing, but within the written world, he is adept at making people laugh, as well as seriously tugging at heart strings. I always love to hear his latest work and let it affect me.

Anyways, that's not the total of my news, but you've only got so much will to live, I'm sure, and I wouldn't want to be accused of taking the last of it from you. At least some of my shaking's stopped, and I even think some of that nasty tumescence has abated, so winner winner!

I hope you're all keeping well out there - as well as you can, at least - and, hey, peace, love, and light to you xox

Thursday, 1 July 2021

The End of Badminton?

Really real, and on set.

I'm very conflicted about what to say here. I'm not an industry insider per se, but I have information from the inside of the industry. I can certainly say that I'm a big fan of the show, but does that give me the right to speculate on an online forum where my words could be interpreted correctly, or worse?

I think it's fair to say that I can say that I can say that Badminton's shooting schedule has been shot by Covid. I think we could all've figured that out when the last episode (of a supposedly six-part pilot series) was published in June 2020. I suppose it's a little ironic, since it was born out of lockdown, but is that reason to want it gone? Clearly the community has been going full Kubler Ross over the lack of announcements. To say speculation has been rife would be accurate. To say that is has been rifle would probably be an autocorrect error.

I just don't know how we can move forward from here. I hope I won't put myself in the frame here by telling you that a friend of mine, who has access to the lot they film Badminton on, recently let me loose on set one night, with one of the old dummy racquets and a rubber shuttlecock. I mean, honestly, it felt awesome to be able to hit the shuttle against the wall, like the protagonist does in the series. It was also pretty bittersweet, when one considers that the buzz wasn't there: the chatter of the radio, the tweeting of the birds, the alphaity of nobheads using the garage over the road... It was like a ghost town, but it wasn't a town. Maybe it was a town, but located in my heart, and the population was one - me. And maybe I don't like my own company...

Anyway, I suppose I wanted to use the meagre platform I have to just say, hey, can't we just appreciate what a great show this, I dunno, is? Was? Will be? It certainly could be... I mean, if it's just a money thing, can't they realise the demand over here?

I did hear on a message board the our glorious creator is trying to move on to other things. Again, I know that's speculation, so take it with a melon-baller of salt, but I really think that artists should start what they finish, you know. Where do they get off, tantalising us poor public people? Haven't you ever thought?

Well, my sponsor reminds me to be grateful for what we have, and I must say that I am. Four great episodes so far.

 

Check them out here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxdRkKm7E7mua-G7mPXTpreVatbYLpxsG