interrobangFirst they came for the grocer’s
But I did not speak up
For I was not a grocer

It started gently
Humorous sharable images
On your favourite social networking site
Advising you what P’s and Q’s are
And how to mind them

Just another minority movement
At first
The Grammar Nazi’s
Pounding the streets on weekends
And bank holidays
In those ridiculous uniforms
Speckled in silver punctuation

They became a token presence
At council elections
The Telegraph took up their cause
Whole heartedly
But we never saw them as anything more
Than a joke
Like well organised Metric Martyrs
Until the night of Shattered Syntax

Then they came for the dyslexic’s
But I did not speak up
For I was not a dyslexic

We woke to a nightmare
The Prime Minister
Already beleaguered after misspelling “economic’s”
Vanished overnight
And to my horror
Middle England rallied to their cause
Upturning clumsy blackboards outside cafe’s
Colossal hoardings
Depicting the three “their’s”
And how to use them

The elite forces
the terrifying Interrobangs
Black clad
booted and precise
Ran heavy handed through diaries and letters
Offenders disappeared to the east
For forcible re-education

Reproduction was forbidden
Until a spelling license was provided
Folk heroes wore shining iron dictionaries on lapel
Online comment sections were the worst hit
Every cloud…

Those who dared went underground
Scraping existence from scraps of meat
From butchers who refused to toe the line
The occasional foray with spray can
Dotting propaganda with misplaced apostrophe’s
But we were a dying breed

In schools, the harsh tip-tap of the youth division
Edgy ‘Semi-colons’ with spelling bees to prove it
Turning in their parents when they slipped up on the shopping list

Dialect was the next to go
Swathes of northerners proudly hanging on
To “ee’s” and “thy’s”
Were rounded up
Sent to the basement at the OED
Where they pushed hot metal for eternity

If you want to imagine the future
Picture a red pen
Darting over lines of manuscript
Searching for a stroke of ink
That sets you at odds with the truth forever

And I sit
Curfew gathering behind the curtains
Tipping my archives into the grate
Poems, letters, stories
Too dangerous to retain

Yet sentimentality is my undoing tonight
A death warrant in top pocket
A love note from times of you’re

Too precious for the flames
Not you’re – you are
But your – possessive
your wonderful
A note in slanting youthful hand
From the good old days

Papery guilt crackles in pocket
And the thunderous boots of Interrobangs
Ascend the stairs
And head for my door

204 – an elegy

February 3, 2013

And so it’s happening. After over five years of living here, after over twelve years of communal living, after thirty years of living with at least two other people, we’re about to leave Two Oh Four and step out into a brave new (one bedroom flat) world. And other than the daunting prospect of having to move house during the busiest part of my working year, and having to sort through the ridiculous amount of stuff I’ve accumulated over the past few years “you guys have far too much stuff to move this often”, it’s all very exciting.

bookscomplete

We’ve been here for over five years. I’m going to miss living at the top of the hill (although it does mean I can buy a bicycle). We’ve had more than ten housemates over the years, and people living in the cupboard under the stairs and in the armchair in the front room. We’ve sipped gin and tonic in the back garden and made terrifying papier mache scupltures. We’ve had ridiculous parties and cosied up in the front room to watch Alien 3. We’ve sipped pomegranate molasses and roasted coffee in the bread machine, lost a hamster in the cupboard under the stairs, had arguments, stolen other people’s butter, tried to save the tree next door from being destroyed by the neighbour, brewed cider, had firework displays, sung auld lang syne, invited a small dog round as a birthday surprise for Tom, piled up loads of absurd props ready for a taxi, cooked more food and drank more fine ale than it’s possible to remember.

arts and crafts

“It’s like an old person’s house” – Rachel

“This is the best house in Brighton” – Jacob

I’ve always got rose tinted spectacles in the back of my head, so it’s easy to look back on the last few years and only remember the glorious bits. And I’m certainly looking forward to the new adventures that having an entirely new place to live. Not to mention not living at the top of a massive hill for the first time in six years and being able to ride a bicycle about again (I have only successfully ascended the hill on a bike once, and I was really drunk.) But I’ll always think of my time in 204 with the fondest of memories – (it’s the longest I’ve ever lived in a house that my parents don’t live in) – and even among the chaos and occasional high-houemate-turnover, it’s felt like a real home.

cupboards

I’ll miss the hill as well – London Road doesn’t have the same cosy pubs and community spirit that Hanover and Queens Park does. Which is just another excuse to pop by and collect the post. Farewell 204 – you deserve more than a badly written blog post. I’ll be seeing you soon…

Ok, so this is a list I started writing recently in response to James‘s article about performing spoken word pieces, and Tim Clare‘s glorious deconstruction of the Apples & Snakes poetry tips that James links to in his piece.

Firstly, I’d just like to say (as no doubt I have before) that I’m not that into the term “Performance Poetry”, as if it was somehow some kind of sub-genre of actual poetry (like what you read about in books). Any poem can be a performance poem or a written down poem, although it’s true that you can get away with a bit more when you’re reading something out than when you’re presenting it in written form. I’ve often shuddered when re-reading something that worked really well live and seen all the repeated words and dodgy allusions.

Anyway, here’s my tips, anyway, to add to the no doubt burgeoning list of advice for would-be poets, or just actual poets.

1. Read poetry.

This is pretty much the most important one. You can write all the words you want to, and some of them may even like each other and get along famously, but if you don’t read poetry then it’s a bit rude to pretend that you can write it. I’m sure it’s possible to do so, but I’ve never met a poet whose work I respect (with one notable exception) who doesn’t regularly read poetry. I’m not suggesting you need to be conversant with the entire literary canon before you pick up your pen, but I don’t believe it’s possible to write good poetry without being aware of the weight of the dead poets on your back.

2. Don’t worry if you can’t remember the words

There’s a lot of ridiculous bravado in the performance poetry scene about memorising every single piece perfectly. Personally I reckon this is a) unnecessary, and b) a waste of time. Unless you’re a member of the leisured classes, or in the position where you can spend a vast amount of your spare time memorising every word, there’s no shame in bringing your notebook / lines on stage with you. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t practice performing a poem – it’s probably going to go better if you know what’s coming next and how you intend to say it, but don’t let the fact that you can’t remember the whole thing off by heart put you off reading it out.

That said, if you are going to read from paper on stage, be aware of where you are holding the paper. I’ve seen no end of poets (myself included) perform an entire set whilst holding a sheet of a4 in front of their face. It’s not a good look.

3. Don’t use lazy rhymes

There’s a possibly fallacious assumption amongst many poets that as long as the message you’re portraying is interesting and engaging, it doesn’t matter that you’re using really obvious rhymes and shoe-horning your message into a load of dubious four-line couplets. I’m not opposed to rhyming in the slightest, but if the audience can predict exactly how you’re going to finish off the next line then you’re not doing it right.

4. Learn how to use a microphone

With quite a lot of microphones, if you hold it in the traditional manner, you’ll end up with loud crackles and pops when you pronounce your ‘plosives’. If you remember, it’s good to hold the mic sideways on, which should reduce this a lot. It took me about four years to find this out and I really wish someone had told me this sooner.

5. Never apologise

This comes from James’s creative writing workshops, but should really go without saying. If you’re going to step on stage and introduce your piece with “I’m really sorry, this isn’t very good”, or worse, “Wow. That last poet was awesome. I’m sorry- this is going to sound super-dull in comparison.” then you’re not really setting the best mood for reading your beautiful words.

6. Don’t tell people what to think

You may have a really important message and a deep desire to make the world sit up and listen to you, but there are so many better ways to make your point than telling people what to do. I’m aware of the hideous irony of railing against didacticism in a blog post telling people my ideas about how to perform poetry, so I’m just going to put a fragment of doggerel that I wrote about didacticism here. With lazy rhymes and everything. I am large.

Dear traveller, may I advise
A simple measure for the wise
A starting gambit, an open play
For those who wish to join the fray

T’is GRAVITAS, a simple choice
It adds momentum to your voice
But if you pick this dark revue
Between the acts, it laughs at you

A microphone will raise the voice
Switched on, it doesn’t have the choice
(It makes the people listen too
But do not tell them what to do)
It means one needs not to shout
But give the benefit of the doubt…

7. Don’t think you’re getting into this to make money

Yes, some people do make money out of poetry. But they’re in a very very small minority. And most of them aren’t making their living from directly writing poetry, but doing things like poetry workshops and other parts of the poetry-service-industry. Plus, if you’re getting into poetry to make money then YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

8 – 11.

At this point I was running vaguely low on items, and also was slightly drunk. I can’t work out what the hell point 10 is supposed to be. So these last four points aren’t as precise as the last seven were.

- be relentlessly cheerful

Easier said than done.

- Drink

Really? Possibly. But not too much.

Who am I kidding?

- “THE MYSTERY IS THE STORY ITSELF”

Possibly true. Certainly incoherent.

- Don’t worry about no-one understanding what you’re talking about

In the end, you’re mostly writing for your own enjoyment. So don’t give up just because all your new poems are about property law or the 2006 Lib Dem leadership contest. Um. See point 7.

And that’s the lot. Good advice? Probably not. But I guess it’s worth thinking about. Any other suggestions?

 

A story for Kate Morrison

With apologies to Agatha Christie

Inspector Judd ran his hands through his hair in exasperation and reached for the telegram forms. It was no good. He’d looked at all aspects of the case, but in every occasion, he’d run headlong into insurmountable obstacles. He was going to have to summon that insufferable Belgian detective to get to the bottom of this tangled web of mystery.

Two hours later, Poirot strode into Judd’s office, immaculately dressed from his patent leather shoes to his glorious moustaches. “So, dear Judd, once again you seek my advice”, he pronounced, unconsciously arranging the objects on Judd’s desk into orderly lines.

“That’s right, Poirot”, Judd conceded. “It’s this Arts Council business. Can’t get to the bottom of it.” Poirot nodded. “Tell me more about it. All the little details”.

“Perhaps it’d be better if you saw the crime scene for yourself.” Within minutes, Poirot and Judd were strolling through the city, weaving their way through throngs of French tourists and drunken day trippers. “Ah- they make the holiday”, noted Poirot. “Such big rucksacks! Such sunburn!”

Judd attempted to ignore Poirot’s social commentary, and they approached the shabby offices where the deed had taken place. Plaster flaked off the walls, and a stack of mugs seemed to be breeding life forms of their own. “Ah!” Poirot exclaimed, “this is clearly where the magic happens!” They turned, past teetering ring binders stuffed with press cuttings, and beheld the grim scene.

The lifeless corpse of an Arts Administrator lay slumped across a desk, blood spilling out over a 70 page application form for Arts Council Funding. Yet more coffee cups adorned the surface of the desk, and an ancient computer hummed away like a tin full of furious bees. Poirot breathed in deeply, and leant over the macabre scene. He inspected the colourful yet ragged clothes that adorned the late Arts Administrator.

“Ah, these coloured rags. This is a tragic end. And the application form. So nearly complete.” A ball-point pen was clutched in the dead hand of the victim, and he attempted to remove it without success. The ink on the page remained clear and unsmudged.

“Hmmm.” He leaned over the form and inspected the section. 16a. Please assess how your event will benefit a large cross section of the community and describe which audiences you hope to attract. “Ah,” he mused, “This is always a difficult one. I am grateful we do not need to complete these applications in the world of detection.”

His inspection complete, he turned to the hapless Inspector Judd. “I have seen all we need to see. Except for one thing. Inspector Judd, will you please assist me to move the body.”

The two men took the limp figure of the late Arts Professional by the shoulders, and with a little effort, lifted it off the seat, moved aside yet more ring binders, and placed it gently on the ground. A bullet hole in the chest left little doubt as to the cause of death.

“And yet…” Poirot wondered, “There was no-one else in the room.”

“Clearly not,” Judd agreed, “You don’t think they can afford more than one member of staff at a time? This is an Arts Organisation we’re talking about! No-one else had been in the office for days!”

“Difficult”, mused Poirot aloud. “Very well. I will need to think about this for a while. Do you suppose, Judd, you could take some of those mugs and make some attempt to clean them? It offends my idea of hygiene to have such objects around me. And if by any chance they have half-decent coffee in this establishment, I would greatly like a cup.”

Judd sighed, collected together the filthy crockery, and went off in search of hot soapy water. Poirot sat down in the chair recently vacated by the victim, and gazed at the half-finished Arts Council form.

As he pondered the issue, he leaned far back in the chair, as was his habit, and ran over the problem in his mind. Clearly someone had shot the Arts Administrator – and yet no-one else had been in the office for days. He gazed at the windows. No double glazing. He wouldn’t like to be here in the winter without his overcoat – but Poirot was fond of the greater comforts that life can contain.

Idly, he looked back at the form. He raised a single eyebrow as he looked at the final answer to question 16a. “We intend to engage with a diverse range of people across the community by presenting an eclectic range of performances from across the broad spectrum of the flourishing arts scene”. He winced. Did anyone really think the word “eclectic” actually meant anything? He reached for a pen off the desk, and went to strike it out in a moment of petty fury.

As his pen touched the paper, he heard a loud explosion, and collapsed backwards off the chair. A fiery pain burst in his knee, and he clutched at it in agony. Someone had shot him in the knee! He screamed out in pain, and could hear the advancing steps of Inspector Judd as he slipped into unconsciousness on the floor.

Two hours later, bandaged up with the office’s supply of blue plasters and emergency eye patches, he turned to Judd with a look of pained accomplishment. “Judd, I have solved the problem.”

Judd looked at him in surprise. “You see,” Poirot began, “the moment I came into this building I realised that someone was desperate for money. And then – the Arts Council application – it was clearly in someone’s great interests that this form did not get completed. And so what did they do? Well, take a look at the next page – see!”

Judd tried to lift the form off the table, and a thin metal wire stretched through a hole and beneath the desk. “Careful”, Poirot muttered, “That thing may go off again.”

Underneath the desk was a revolver, intricately connected to the metal wire. “You see, Judd, when enough pressure is placed on Question 16a – possibly the most difficult question to give a vaguely coherent or satisfactory answer to without lapsing into triteness… the weapon goes off!”

“But who would do a thing like that?” asked Judd, astonished.

“Ah, that will be easy to find. There is only, as you say, so much money in the pot. This has to be a rival arts organisation, keen to take out their competitors and make sure that they are the ones who have the arts council money, do you not see?”

“But Poirot – we can’t move for struggling arts organisations in this city! How are we going to find the one responsible?”

“But a clever murderer like this, Judd – they will strike again! One death by Arts Council application is not enough! Wherever someone is applying for funding – they are in danger. But this time, dear Judd, we shall be ready! We shall set a little trap for them!”

And with those words, Poirot produced a fresh Arts Council application form from his pocket. “What project should we apply for, then? A Moustache Parade? I have always liked the idea of a Moustache Parade…”

Prince Philip

August 15, 2012

I don’t want Prince Philip to die. I mean, he”s a 91 year old man. He doesn’t have long for the world. He’s also a massive racist, and a member of the Royal Family. And whilst you can’t blame him for the circumstances of his birth, you can’t really excuse the racism. Except it’s the sort of racism that you might encounter from an old man leering over the bar at you and muttering about the Somalis. For the sake of an easy life, as a bartender, you can’t be bothered to make the fuss. or indeed get in an argument with a drunk old man. And that’s probably wrong, and I definately ought to challenge racism whereever it appears, but sometimes you’re really not up for another drunk-old-man-argument, and anyway you’re only two words away from finishing the crossword and there’s a chap over there hammering a pewter tankard at one of the pumps and demanding stout.

My friend Maya met Prince Philip a while ago, and he didn’t mutter any slurs at her, but perhaps he didn’t realise she was german.

I don’t want Prince Philip to die because he’s clearly the most interesting character. The royals and parliament are just as soap opera worthy as Neighbours and Eastenders, and with the most ridiculous elements of journalism furnishing us with facts which are as over-inflated as they are accurate. Philip is in the heart of every drunk old man.

And one day, I shall look up from the drip tray, reach my hand to the pump, and see Prince Philip there, demanding ale, encouraging me to get my hair cut.

The last reason why I don’t want Prince Philip to die is that I won’t be able to read Lucky Seven any more. I didn’t originally intend to include the Duke of Edinburgh in this poem, but by the time he had arrived, it was very hard to get rid of him. Here’s a recording of Lucky Seven I did in Jimmy’s basement.

PRINCE PHILIP GET WELL SOON

Lucky Seven

Beneath the crisp suit there’s cash

The iron sears and flattens fivers

in the pinstripe vanity of Saville row

 

Becloaked, you’re called to the bar

Order-papers clutched in a non-masonic shake

The ball’s in your court

There’s squash in the glass

The bird of paradise comes to pass

 

The flat leather wallet contains plastic loot

The ice cube crackles in the champagne flute

A card slides out and you’re ready to deal

As the steak knife hovers over velvety veal

 

Your phone glides across the table like a chess piece

A Sicilian opening

For frames the size of walls

Lying empty in anticipation

 

The card’s behind the bar and you’re looking for more

Whilst subtitles narrate on News 24

And off for the weekend to the cottage in Devon

In tailored top that screams Lucky Seven

You redefine the D of Q’s

For two thousand and eleven

 

Ballpark! Timeframe! Drawing board! Game plan!

The ceiling’s made of glass and you are my main man

Blue-chip! Stagflate! Shoe-horn! Tea-break!

Let’s get some proper ice cream. I’ll have three flakes.

 

And it’s “Thatcher invented Mr Whippy, you know”

And all this talk of S & M the conversation goes south

“Would have thought it was that chap who died with an orange in his mouth”

And Stuart Lubbock found dead in Barrymore’s pool

And how it was the Kurds who killed Jill Dando

And how Prince Philip can travel through time…

 

… and suddenly he’s here! Prince Philip! The husband of the Queen!

… but he’s wearing a balaclava and he’s looking pretty mean …

… and he’s holding … some kind of shotgun … and through the mask …

… he tells you to get in the car … and it’s some kind of chauffeur driven limousine …

… and you turn and there’s all these bags of salt in the boot and under the salt there’s this guy and he introduces himself as Jason and whilst you’re looking at Jason … Philip, Prince Philip (and you still can’t really believe this) blindfolds you and then you small the sickly scent of chloroform and it reminds you of almonds, no, not almonds, pear drops, pear drops which reminds you of your childhood and you try to struggle but it’s too late.

Sonne

August 10, 2012

Hello Summer. I’ve a suspicion this is going to be one of those rambling blog posts where I go on about what I’ve been up to rather than writing about anything particularly coherent, but we shall see. It’s been a while, anyway. The sun is beating through the window and I’m trying to put off riding a load of buses.

So far, summer has involved attempting to do something about my dire financial situation, going on some delightful weekends away, and trying to read every single Agatha Christie novel. July is also a month of birthdays, and I had a lovely indoor-rainy-picnic on mine, with just the right quantity of Cava and lots of friends, old and new. And then on the Monday was whisked out for cocktails, half-price sushi and fine ales. Anna actually managed to coincide her birthday with the first day of actual summer so we spent that day on the beach with more cava, sea swimming and various other delights.

Here’s a photo of me pretending to ride a bike with Rosanne

I’ve not really been writing very much since the book launch, apart from a load of scattered fragments, a bit of sarcastic political doggerel, some incoherent non-fiction ramblings, and notes for two new poems that may possibly see the light of day at some point in the future. As mentioned above, I’ve been powering my way through the complete works of Agatha Christie, but I think that deserves a blog post of its very own.

I’ve also realised that I need to sort myself out and actually earn some more money, so I’ve been on the lookout for new exciting part-time opportunities. At the moment, that mostly means tending bar, which I’d quite forgotten how much I enjoyed. I guess working in the best pub in Brighton is probably part of that, but it’s definately surprised me at how much I’m enjoying it. Ask me again in a while, though!

Bartending aside, I’m also looking out for all sorts of exciting things – so if you’re looking for a bright-eyed writer/poet/graphic designer/someone to dress up as a giant pizza slice/tapir interpretator/jack of all trades, master of none, do let me know. Similarly if you’re a wealthy patron of the arts. Drop me a line.

Hopefully that didn’t sound too desperate. My other solution is gluing a load of cogs and watches to baseball caps and selling them on Etsy as “genuine steampunk hats”.

I’ve also been building a website, which will be an actual real website about all sorts of things. I’m not sure if it’s going to incorporate the Daily Whale into it or replace it or just exist simultaneously, but considering this blog is a mix of poetry, politics, wikipedia and personal ramblings, you should be able to figure out what the new site is going to be like.

Despite the looming threat of financial crisis, we managed to head deep into rural France for a week back in June, where we were staying beside a giant lake filled with otters, coypu, herons, grebes, energetic coots, and with owls swooping overhead, all coupled with the lovely lovely bread and tinned vegetables. We visited markets, drank some fine wine, climbed around some castles, attempted to deceipher La Canarde Enchaine, failed to get any Francois Hollande propaganda, and generally had a thoroughly relaxing week.

And then last weekend we set off with Alice and Dan in their big yellow campervan and drove down to Sidmouth via Dorset. We stayed in a big campsite full of stereotypical British holidaymakers on the first evening – all screaming children on bikes and tents the size of houses, but managed to escape via some remarkable rock formations, and then drove on down to Sidmouth, where we found a much nicer field to stay in. The folk festival was on, and Sidmouth was writhing with morris dancers, violinists and people playing the Barong. We watched various folk sessions, attempted to learn how to strip the willow (which involved being shouted at by a very serious man who had no patience for amateur dancers such as ourselves flailing around all over the place), drank some very orange cider, had a slightly awkward moment in a pub draped in Union Flags with a load of morris men singing Rule Britannia and beating on the tables, saw our first two Bass Clarinets in the same room, got lost walking back to the field and made a 1½ hour detour around the edge of the town, and then had to get a guy with a 4×4 to drag the van out of the mud when we tried to leave. All in all, a delightful weekend!

Anyway, those buses won’t catch themselves (in fact, it would be a clear impossibility), so I shall sign off this protracted autobiographical ramble for now – until the next time.

Danish Furniture

July 13, 2012

“You know the Scandinavian monarchies? Think of it like that. We want a minimalist relationship with Europe. Think Danish Furniture.

We want a Diet Coke version. A skinny latte. An easyjet ticket. An IKEA flat-pack, pain, vin, boursin. You know. Just the basics.” – Louise Mensch MP

 

It’s like a mug of jelly. A seal biscuit. Some old mince.

We want an octopus Europe. A daring pad of A4. A biro with four different colours. Small beer in small bottles. Facts about sharks.

A cup of tea Europe with 15% milk. A gluestick with the lid left on. Lovingly restored cobbles. Flakey pastry around the edge.

Not a pinstripe Europe, bur rather a gingham check with paisley lapels. Plastic daffodils pinned to the edge. Goats cheese optional.

Those artificial ice cubes that they put round fish in a mid-range supermarket. That’s my kind of Europe. But with plastic lobsters too.

A holidays in the sun Europe, a duty free Europe, no gallic shrugs of misleading salami, a pizza oven Europe stacked with fruits de mer.

A zen Europe, a shiatsu Europe, a bring-your-own-mat hot yoga Europe, a free newspapers on the train Europe, tennis shoes, wood panelling, James Dean posters.

A warm gun Europe. E-cigarettes. Minatures of schnapps. Rustic bottle openers. Screw human rights; I’m browsing the postcard shelf.

You know, a no corkage Europe. Optional side salad. The very best of the Rolling Stones 5 CD set. Smearing factor 30 on your iPod.

House double Europe. Sniffing cocaine with a violin virtuoso Europe. An acoustic Europe. One gold star and the deep blue sea. Wickerwork donkey figurines spattered in bull’s blood.

Mike “hanging out with Alice Cooper”. We’re not worthy.

The hard-rocking squatter-hating “From the Real 99%” MP for Hove, Mike Weatherley, still seems in a state of some confusion about what he actually thinks about Europe. In a characteristic display of bluster and hyperbole, he’s just pasted an assertion on his blog that he’s been “constantly arguing for the need to hold a referendum”, and that he “joined 80 Conservative colleagues in voting in favour of a referendum in a debate that followed a petition that was signed by over 100,000 people.”

What he doesn’t mention is that as well as voting in favour of a referendum, he also, um, voted against. Here’s the full list of names from Hansard. This is known as “active abstaining”, showing that he bothered to show up in the House of Commons, but cancelled out his own vote by scuttling through both lobbies. So presumably alongside his letter to the Prime Minister demanding a referendum, he’s also sent him a text saying that actually he wouldn’t mind if there wasn’t one after all. His blog claims “At the last general election I promised to support a referendum.” Surely there are more forceful ways of keeping your promise to the good people of Hove than, um, not actually voting for a referendum?

At the time of the last referendum vote, his staff of “terrifying neo-cons” were all of a twitter about how the People’s Mike was going to stick two fingers up at those pesky Europeans. Sadly, it looks like he could only muster one and a half.

This isn’t the first time Mike hasn’t checked his facts – perhaps his staff should do a bit less sabre-rattling on twitter and a little more research…

Launched

May 18, 2012

Last Wednesday it was the launch party for Fashion Tips for the Last Days. I’m delighted to say it went incredibly well – there was a good turn-out, I sold (or gave away) 40 copies of the book, and the performance was also successful – I gave a whistlestop tour through the last eight years of my poetry (which people seemed to enjoy!) ably assisted by my very special guests, Lou Ice (who also took the above photograph), Angry Sam and the Bobby Mc Gee’s. Thanks are also due to my fantastic saw playing duo, Kate Shields and Becca McGee, and my improptu swan-handler, Dr. Bongo.Thanks are also due to Alice and Dan Mounsey, who very kindly looked after the door for me during the first part of the show (especially as I’d kind of hijacked Dan’s 30th birthday to have my book launch – but he did get flowers, cava, cake and a creepy animated gif, and who wouldn’t want that!) and Andy and Adam for taking over the door on part 2.

So far I’ve had two four-star reviews, from FringeGuru and Guide2Brighton, and loads of other great press, which I shall have to deal with in a subsequent blog post. I’m very much caught up in the mayhem that is Brighton Fringe, and so won’t get a chance to sort all this stuff out for at least another week or so.

But, the book is officially launched. If for any reason you weren’t able to make it to the launch, then don’t despair – you can still lay your hands on a copy of Fashion Tips for the Last Days. The means by which to do this will no doubt increase – am going to be looking into some more sensible ways to sell the book online. In the meantime, here’s how to get a copy.

a) Do you actually know me in real life and live in Brighton?

If so, then probably the best thing to do is to stop me and buy one. I’m trying to bring a few copies around with me wherever I go at the moment, and they’re only £4, which is cheaper than a pint of beer in many Brighton establishments.

b) Do you either not know me or don’t live in Brighton?

In this case, the best thing to do is write me an email. I’ll then let you know how you can slip a cheque or some well concealed cash in an envelope and send it to me in exchange for one of these delightful books. It’s a fiver including postage, which lends itself to the well concealed cash approach.

Alternatively, I’m hosting the Brighton Fringe poetry slam at the Hendrick’s Gin Library on Monday 21 May, and am the guest Brighton poet at Hammer & Tongue at the Komedia on Thursday 7 June, so you can always get a copy off me then.

I’ve probably got loads more to say, but I’m going to end here, and shall carry on writing about all the exciting things that have been going on this month at a later date.

It’s been a busy month. I’ve been desperately trying to finish Fashion Tips for the Last Days (my new book) in time for the launch on May 9th, and trying to arrange the line-up for the launch event as well. If all goes according to plan, the book goes off to print (and into the hands of fate!) on Monday morning, which should give me about 48 hours between delivery and the actual launch. Cutting things fine…

I’ve also, somewhat foolhardily, allowed my Jeff Wayne dentist to hack out three quarters of one of my back teeth and replace it with a temporary “peg”, which means I’m much more whacked up on Coedine than I’d really like at this point in the year. But as has been remarked in the past, some of me & Amy’s best ever shows were when at least one of us was totally hepped up on painkillers, so possibly this may be a good thing.

I’ve also been doing lots of gigs – took part in the Hammer and Tongue UK Grand Final to find the best poet in the country last month, which involved a very early (by my standards, especially on a Saturday morning) dash up to London to read poems in a beautiful old music hall. Suffice to say, I didn’t win (Philistines!) but had a lovely time, however daunting an 11 hour poetry day may have sounded on paper, and I got to meet a load of great poets from around the country who were much better at promoting themselves than I am.

I also went up to London a couple of weeks later to record Men of Straw for the Huffington Post – it’s not up on their website yet, but I shall link to it when it is. They’ve got a special piece of brick wall in their office to make it look less like an office and more like an 80′s comedy club. And where better to rant on about liberal (and illiberal) news sources than the US’s number 1 liberal news source. Although I’m not sure whether bad jokes about Polly Toynbee and William Hague will make any sense to an american readership. We shall see.

The other day, as an official Brighton Fringe performer who hails from the fair cathedral city of St. Albans, I went on the Brighton Fringe ice cream relay race, which involved shouting some poems in St. Albans town centre, achieving one of my lifelong dreams of being photographed for the Herts Advertiser, and harrassing a load of weary commuters with rush-hour poetry in the station. Quite a bizarre day out, but very enjoyable nonetheless – whether we persuaded a load of Albanians to up sticks to Brighton this May is yet to be discovered…

The book launch is getting very close now, and I’m pretty excited (and alarmed) about it – but it should be a fantastic evening. If for any reason you’re in Brighton on a Wednesday night (specifically Wednesday 9th May), you should definately come along. It’s only £3 – find out more here…

Finally, I went round to Jimmy’s new gimp-basement and recorded some poems in his new recording studio he’s been building down there amidst the Adam Ant castoffs and serial killer books. Although I’ve heard the sound of my voice lots before, it’s always a bit funny hearing it again (I seem to get much more high pitched and less posh than I sound in my head – although realistically it’s only a small leap from lower-upper-middle-class to plain old middle class.) So, presenting the first poem that I’ve ever had recorded of my own free will – the rough edit of the title poem from the new book – Fashion Tips for the Last Days. Enjoy!

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