Hits of sunshine

August 17, 2011

Hi blog. It’s been a while.

Plus I realise that the last three posts have been politically related, more or less. I think this is pretty much typical of me at the moment, having spent much of the last couple of weeks engaged in various political ‘spats’ lately. And we’re not talking dancing shoes here. But the last thing I want this blog to turn into is some kind of cross political rant-blog – there’s enough of them out there anyway, and it’s not really my style. Although I did have a conversation with a good friend the other night where it was suggested that if it wasn’t for the inevitable lefty infighting, we’d be living in a socialist utopia by now. I’m going to reserve my judgement on that one.

I’ve not been writing very much recently, with the exception of bad poetry and a convoluted talk about Sherlock Holmes and Fan Fiction (which should appear on here in a bit – but more on that later) – and that goes for blog posts as well. I’ve had a lot more free time than usual lately as well, and have been trying to avoid spending most of it lying on my face reading bad thrillers and great weighty non-fiction tomes, with varying degrees of success.

But the sun’s been out. The sky’s been blue. I’ve successfully ignored everyone comparing this summer to rose-tinted summers of the past when it was sunny every day. I bought a hat made out of 100% paper which I then lost (but not until I’d got a good bit of shade out of it). Oh, and I aged by an entire decade.

I wasn’t sure whether some kind of alarm clock was supposed to go off. Three Oh. Perhaps I’d flip seamlessly into a new age of maturity, forgo using gaffa tape as an all-purpose means of fixing my clothes, attain financial security, get my broken teeth sorted out, realise that “being a poet” isn’t really a career, learn to drive, get a real job, and within a week have a ring on my finger and a plethora of children at my feet. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. But, we did have the most idyllic weekend in a field in the countryside somewhere near Hastings with lots of our friends, family, dancing, petanque, campfire, cakes, champagne, and all sorts of lovely things. I couldn’t really have asked for more, and I’m still staving off the midlife panic and hanging on to my gaffa tape. For now.

It’s easy to let the summer fly away from you if you’re not careful, and whilst the long summers of lazy afternoons are a memory of a rose-tinted past, there have still been some great highlights so far (and it’s not over yet!). Set off to the Isle of Wight with Rosanne on an improptu holiday, and had a fantastic rainy garden party with the Cripple brothers in a strange and idyllic cottage somewhere near Ventnor. Had an incredible day at Brighton Pride where we watched the parade and whooped and cheered and then went to a crazy daytime dance-off at the Volks (which sounds incredibly dubious but was actually brilliant) and squeezed our way through the writhing St. James Street and ended up at the Cowley Club for some kind of anarchoqueer riot grrrl discotheque – which, all in all, was remarkably relaxed for a day of Pride (didn’t buy any poppers / works of art / donkeys, didn’t end up slumped in a ditch swigging pink champagne, didn’t go to the free party at Black Rock, didn’t have to work in the morning with half an hour of sleep, didn’t attempt an improptu cover version of Common People with saw accompaniment) but couldn’t really have gone better anyway.

The weekend before that, I went to Playgroup Festival, which was pretty darn fantastic. After missing Glastonbury this year, I was glad to be able to make it to at least one festival – and it was a good one. Very Brighton – to the extent that I don’t think I watched a single performance that wasn’t by one of my exceptionally talented friends. I did five gigs in total, although my voice was going a bit by the time of the final one. Did the Hammer & Tongue poetry gig on Friday night, although the moment I stepped onto the stage and took the microphone, the power went entirely. I had to get someone to come and stand behind me with a torch (one of the benefits of being a poet above most other art forms is that you never have to remember the words) whilst I shouted poetry into the ether. The moment I stepped down off the stage, the lights came on again – so I suspect sabotage by another poet, or someone who didn’t want the truth to come out. Either way, then I guess I spent the next of the evening running all around the site, as I woke up in my tent the next morning sans glasses, bag, jacket, hat and bottle of gin – although was eventally able to retain everything but the bottle of gin after a bit of a (blind) search.

One of my highlights of the festival was the incredible Beatabet tent, which was a slice of buzz-toned sonic fusion and electro mayhem (there’s a reason I never got into music journalism). Me and Angry Sam did a couple of poetry sets there, the first of which I had to finish abruptly and leap off stage to go and give a talk on Sherlock Holmes.

The Holmes talk (and the earlier poetry slam) were in the Forest of Thoughts tent, which was a hive of creativity and enlightenment, and whole-heartedly recommended should it pop up near you anytime soon. I’ll put the talk up here in its entirety in a bit, but it went very well, despite being much too long (and me thus having to tapdance through it at quite a pace) and possibly containing far too many references to “milicest” (more on that later). I also got to watch Nicky‘s fascinating talk on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Chernobyl, hear the Sawchestra through the hoots and wails of a load of drunk people given free range over a load of musical instruments, listen to some of Tom Hume‘s Hitler-themed-ambient-music, and the last two thirds of David Bramwell‘s journey into utopia.

reading the news in the Beatabet tent

By Sunday morning, as the above picture might illustrate, I was feeling sligtly jaded. However, I’d agreed to perform my epic poem “Wasteland 3D” with AK/DK first thing in the afternoon, and so fuelled with (pricey) coffee and (scarce) cigarettes, I made it to the stage at about half past twelve. And hell, am I glad I did. Thankfully, the performance didn’t involve a poet having a coughing fit on stage (which I was slightly concerned about), but instead an epic, soaring, apocalyptic soundscape, um, with me ranting over the top about Desmond Tutu, photography and the Victorians (amongst other things). It was loads of fun, and I’d like to think it went pretty well – definately my favourite gig I’ve done in a while.

Anyway, various other things also happened, which I won’t start to document today. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for summer. Good day. Sunshine.


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