"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
My infallible weather forecasting device (below) showed on Tuesday that we had the right weather for a Christmas reading at Neston Library – with mulled bellringers, minced wine and pies. Neston is blessed with a proactive, thoughtful librarian with a sense of humour. Consequently it has a thriving membership, a lively programme of events and is a resource properly cherished by the community. Long may she reign.
My weekdays were all about planning – scripting readings and conferences, writing proposals, talking to PR people about National Poetry Day, working out how much money we need for work in Derby Hospital, having a Fourpenny Circus meeting.
My best friends keep moving away to different parts of the UK, but there’s always a gig somewhere nearby that allows me to hunt them down… So on Friday I was in Bristol with Shelley, whence on to Swindon for a final 2008 poet-in-residence job. Another little hop took me to Stroud for the final gig of the year, on stage with Matt Harvey (brilliantly funny in a splendidly quiet English way) and poetic chum Peter Wyton (ditto, but louder and Ulsterer). So – a curry with Peter, a pint with event host Adam Horovitz and a stopover with newlywed Rob Layfield, who has given up boating for love. Curious.
Chapel-dwelling chum Kirsty came along, and the very jolly audience laughed obligingly at my new material, including an explicit piece called ‘Coming’. As we left the gig in sub-zero temperatures, a near-naked woman ran down the high street – her dress round her waist and breasts bouncing around as she pursued her (I’m guessing ex-) boyfriend down the road. She was also barefoot. We knew that because she was throwing her shoes at him. “YOU ARE A TWAT!” she shouted as she ran. I’m sure he was. This was long before the attractive man whose t-shirt I admired, obligingly took it off and gave it to me. Stroud, eh?
I am definitely off to the US next week. I wasn’t sure about spending Xmas and New Year in another country with no companions… so old chum Ian stepped into the breach and offered me a space on his floor in San Francisco. This is a hugely generous offer, but it seems to be sincere so I’m off. Thanks to all those friends who have advised me to be sure to wear some flowers in my hair.
They say you can’t do everything, but I’m having a bloody good try.