Friday, 28 August 2009

After The Fireworks, I Am Going To Wrestle A Bear*

Every year, Derby has a massive outdoor classical concert in Darley Park. It is apparently "the UK’s biggest free outdoor classical concert". And it is great, as long as it doesn't rain. If it rains, people go anyway, but instead of 30,000 people sitting on grass having nice picnics and drinking wine, it becomes a sea of umbrellas and soggy people. This year, the theme is Astronomy, and they are doing John Williams' Star Wars and E.T. music, as well as 2001:A Space Odyssey and Bohemian Rhapsody. For some reason, they seem to do Ride Of The Valkyries every year, no matter what the theme, and this year is no different. The best part is the firework finale. The sky across Derby is lit up with tons of gunpowder and fire, and on the few occasions when I've elected to stay home, I've been able to just look up and watch it all from my window.

This year, there's stuff going on for the entire weekend of the 4th to the 6th September, as part of Derby Festé. There are street parades and parties, weird puppets, a ceilidh in the marketplace, "a giant drumming human mobile"(I can't wait), some jazz, and then NO PARKING are taking over Deda with their latest exhibition 'Buildings Without Walls'. Hello Hubmarine have teamed up with them to present the Feste Wrap Party on the Sunday night, after the fireworks. I'm going to be reading a story as part of TTO along with Biff and Nath, Joe and Jonezy will be doing amazing things with words and microphones, as will Mike Wilson, and there will be music from Bell Hagg Orkestar, FUNfun, Dulcinea and The Dust Collectors. There's even a foyer band AND a puppet show!

I'm going to try to write a special story for it. I have a week. It might be about buildings, fireworks or bears, or all three. I'm excited!

*I am probably not going to wrestle a bear.

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.

Kill kill kill

Issue two of kill author is out now. I have a story in it, which you can read here. I like kill author.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Books and Cakes and Rock and Roll

TTO have been invited along to the Book Arts Fayre in Cardiff on Saturday 15th August. We're going to have our very own stall, where we'll be selling our chapbook wares, and there might even be some new, very limited edition bits and bobs too. Biff will be performing an Emphemetry set, and we'll be reading stories as well. Then it's back to the Midlands for the Summer Sundae on the Sunday. Busy times!