The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Fetishwear, vomit and the designed landscape

Ladies and gentleman – I have seen the future, and to my surprise it comes in the shape of a National Trust curator: a breed renowned for dressing entirely in tweed and quietly falling in love with eighteenth-century furniture. When a dapper gentleman called James Grasby stood up to talk about art at a conference, and left us weeping with laughter, it was an object lesson in how to make a potentially arcane subject fascinating. ‘We’ were National Trust and Arts Council-related folk, meeting at the splendid Calke Abbey. The day was rich with discussion, revelation and brilliant people including the admirable artists John Newling and Charles Monkhouse.


The whole week was full of unexpected pleasures. A whistle-stop trip to That London and the BBC was rewarded with a positive meeting about the future of National Poetry Day. I hared on to Leicestershire and spent the evening with Julie, widow of my friend Arthur who died earlier this year. We saw the story-telling production The Middle Yard, and began to say our goodbyes to the house where Julie and Arthur lived. Julie is about to move house and start the post-Arthur phase of her life; though of course, he goes with her.


On Saturday – for the working life of a poet, dear reader, extends into the weekend – came a reunion of the six artists and twelve poets working on the Companion Stones project. Earlier this year we began designing new stones, intended to accompany historic guidestoops on the Derbyshire moors. This was our first chance to see one another’s work: a humbling mixture of innovation, tradition and collaboration between artists. This project has taught me a lot, and now it looks as if our stones will definitely be made and placed in the Peak landscape. Bloody marvellous. I feel a picnic coming on…


Derby Museums have given me an appetising morsel of work – delivering workshops in early 09. There are interesting collections of artefacts for my tutees to get their hands on, and I’m really looking forward to building an intensive and productive session or two.


Readers of this blog will remember my friend Dave Jellybean and his cryptic text messages, such as the one that mysteriously said ‘P’. His texts, I rejoice to say, still read like a coded greeting from a Cold War spy. The latest one says ‘Buxton Opera House….938’. No further information is available at this time.


To while away the hours while he slowly types the proper message, I browse my little brother’s Amazon wish list, where I see the following:


Casting Aluminium

Actors on Guard: Practical Guide for the Use of the Rapier and the Dagger on Stage and Screen

Leatherwork: a manual


What is he doing? Building a spaceship? Working as a stuntman? Taking up fetishwear?

Baby obscuring quilt

Baby obscuring quilt

My newest friend Madeleine has graced Kendal with her tiny presence. She is fond of her new quilt, made of daddy’s old shirt and an assortment of other fabrics for her to vomit and drool on. Maddy is the last to be born to my hideously fruitful friends this year. Can you all STOP now please, my quilting fingers are bleeding….

One comment on “Fetishwear, vomit and the designed landscape

  1. dave jellybean
    November 21, 2008

    JO.. My texting and keyboard skills are much so that I have recently been removed from certain forums!! I will persevere but what you must realise is that I have only just mastered the biro!! love and hugs……..Dave£2″@44£&**8!!

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This entry was posted on November 17, 2008 by in Writing exercises.
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