Monday, 17 August 2009


It's been a busy couple of days. Saturday, I had to get up at stupid o'clock to make it to the Book Arts Fayre in Penarth, Cardiff, before it opened. (We made it with about two minutes to spare.) Biff drove the TTO-mobile, Nath navigated, and I lounged in the back, drinking my pop. On the journey, Nath learned that Welsh is an actual language, not just an accent, and we all learned that there aren't many nouns beginning with 'Q', 'X', 'Y' or 'Z' on the motorway.

The Book Arts Fayre was held in the Ffotogallery, which you can see in the pictures below.
(photos by Biff)

There were lots of stalls of handmade books and lovely things. I could have spent a small fortune, but I was very restrained. There was free tea all day long, and homemade cupcakes with 'I love books' and book doodles on them.

It's a beautiful space. There was a mezzanine upper floor (pic below), where there was an artist talk by Joe Magee, whose work was showing in the gallery, and then me and Nath read stories and Biff played an Emphemetry set. There was no microphone, and I was a bit worried I'd be too quiet, but the acoustics were great, and it seemed I read loud enough, for once. I read 'Waiting For Centralia To Sink', from Home. All day long, I had the song I got the story's title from stuck in my head. Which was nice. It's a good song.

We sold some TTO books and gave away badges and free minutes. Then, when it was all over, we went to the pub across the road and had nice cheap grub with the ace people that organised it. Big thanks to Jo, Helen, Tom, and Tom (not sure if Biff just decided that all men there were called Tom, or that there were in fact two men called Tom. My apologies if one of the so-called Tom's is actually not called Tom at all. I blame Biff).

We drove home through lush countryside and amazing light listening to an old playlist from my battered ipod. It was one of those journeys where you don't want to ever reach your destination.

But we did. And we slept and got up early again to head over to Leicester for the Summer Sundae Weekender, where Hello Hubmarine had a slot on the Phrased and Confused stage. We arrived on time and got our 'Artist' wristbands and met up with Joe, Jonezy, Aimee and Ross, who'd taken advantage of the free weekend passes and camped there.

We headed to the P&C tent and met up with Matt, who showed us the stage and the backstage bit. Then we panicked for an hour or so, did some deep breathing, practised a bit, did handstands(Joe), found our 'quiet places', then did our thing.

Catherine kicked things off, introducing us, explaining a bit about what we do and then she told a great story about storytellers and brains (though not in a zombie way), then Jonezy added a splash of emotional lyricism, Nath read a heartbreaking story, Biff played a forlorn and beautiful guitar tune, I read a story about newts, Jonezy came back with his astute political poetry, Aimee read a brilliantly dark story and Joe left everyone reeling with a breathtaking personal prose-poem. The last line gets me every time.

Once that was over, we could all actually breathe again, so headed to the bar with our meal tickets for doses of curry, cider and cake. Replenished, we sat in the sun for a few hours, heading back to the P&C tent for Woodpigeon, who rocked it folk-style, and then back down to the main stage for Bon Iver. Yay.

This feels a bit like one of those 'What I Did On My Holidays' type essays, but I just really wanted to document it all. It's the first Book Fayre TTO have done, and the first time Hello Hubmarine have actually performed as a specific group, with a worked-out set and a coherence. Sometimes writing can be quite a lonely pursuit, and I'm gearing up for an intense next few months of doing nothing but working and writing to get this novel finished, but being part of TTO and Hello Hubmarine, actually working with, and in the pockets of, other writers helps me retain at least some social skills through the scribbling times.

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