The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Ball bearings and weird spacing (still)

A poet with balls

A poet with balls

 National Poetry Day activity is really kicking off. Our e-cards will be available on the website next week, so you can all send each other a work-themed poem. This week NPD poet in residence Paul Farley visited the Anderton Boat Lift and Ratcliffe on Soar power station in Leicestershire, with me in tow. The power station was a surreal environment full of pipes, furnaces, things that ‘could cut you in half’ as a surprisingly relaxed technician said, and a  Tardis-like control room. Even the ball bearings (left) are at a monstrous scale. On Friday Paul was in Kent to pick apples, but seems to have spent the day looking at the farmer’s classic cars instead. More of this in his NPD blog in early October.



On my visit to friend Kirsty last week she reminded me of the LALI club, which we founded some time ago. Its basic principles are derived from a fantastic 1930s book called ‘Live Alone and Like It’. There is only one rule: 


1          You must Live Alone and Like It. Both parts are essential. 


Living Alone and Crying Into Your Pillow Every Night is a different and bigger club. I refreshed my memory of our source book when I got home. Some of it is still relevant as a guide to the LALI life – some is gloriously outdated. The Observer review says ‘the best way to read it is in bed, wearing pyjamas and eating rose creams’. Any other committed LALIs out there?

On Tuesday I went to a new open mike evening in Manchester, No Point in Not Being Friends. It was held in a tiny room full of happy people with great hair. Obviously, these were not poets: most of them are short story writers. Emma Lannie of the Time Travel Opportunists delivered an absorbing tale of love and bears, in characteristic ‘I’m nervous, but I’m going to knock you off your feet’ style. Come along to the next one – it’s free and friendly.  

It’s nearly time for the humumenting competition to end. If you’ve forgotten all about it have a look at to get the gist, and send me your attempt (using any book you like) via the comments on this page. Winner gets a small but thrilling prize. Meanwhile Fiona Robyn’s dainty Handful of Stones has gone live, with a contribution from a different observer every day. Mine goes up on Friday 5th but why not have a look at it now?


I went for a run this morning and once again Macclesfield surprised me with a new path that took me into curious and unknown folds of countryside, ten minutes from the boat. The weather forecast says Light Rain, Heavy Showers, Cloudy, Heavy Rain, Hurricane Gustav, Light Rain. We do look forward to those cloudy days. I am on intravenous St John’s Wort and hoping for a bright dry autumn. Ho ho hoping.


3 comments on “Ball bearings and weird spacing (still)

  1. River
    September 2, 2008

    Hey Jo
    Great blog – so many things to try out! Will call you soon about laureates

  2. lorrie porter
    September 4, 2008

    Glad you enjoyed no point not being friends, kept meaning to ask you about it.

  3. Pingback: Bookmarks about Jar

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This entry was posted on August 30, 2008 by in Writing exercises.
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