"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
The thaw comes, and with it renewed hysteria in the south – ‘THE SNOW IS MELTING! WHO COULD HAVE IMAGINED IT?’ The Fourpenny Circus troupe, calm in the face of natural events, reported for duty at Ellesmere Port and Congleton. We’re sweating over schedules, marketing plans and publicity, but the script is coming together and we are starting to remember our lines. To help me with mine, sound engineer Rob has recorded all my poems for the show onto one ghastly CD which I can listen to in the car. Oh goody.
The editors of listings e-zine The Loop asked me to interview local historian Dorothy Bentley Smith, of whom the word ‘redoubtable’ has been used. They had the kindness to get me immensely drunk afterwards. With my hangover still fresh I made a 3-hour train journey to Ledbury for the Poetry Festival AGM, which took twenty minutes. The chairman had the kindness to get me immensely drunk afterwards. The train back took me through some of England’s most beautiful country – Malvern ridge was covered in snow and lit by a bright red sunrise.
I sobered up in time for Friday’s workshop at the Tai Chi village hall in Didsbury. Stripy socks and brilliant minds were everywhere. By chance it was an all-female group and bloody good they were too, with no fewer than four laureates amongst the skilled writers giggling, enjoying the nearly-sunshine and writing six-word Valentines. Mine was ‘Roses – violets – thorns. Bring it on.’ There was no-one around to get me immensely drunk afterwards, so I took the DIY approach.
This weekend I’m planning workshops for Burton-on-Trent and Wilmslow, and making a last attempt to fill my beginners’ sessions in Macclesfield in April. If they get the same abysmal response as previous events, then I will accept that there is no appetite for poetry in Macc and take my frilly shirt and laudanum elsewhere.
It’s confirmed that I will be a mentor to a writer in the West Midlands. ‘Mentor’ sounds very grown-up but the writer in question has met me, so perhaps won’t expect too much. This is a chance to repay the good karma that I have owed since Cathy Grindrod did the same for me in 2007. Speaking of reaping what you sow, my tax return has returned, as it were, bearing the news that I made a small loss last year and consequently don’t have much tax to pay. Hurrah. Or is it boo?
The London Review of Books, seen at a friend’s house, carried the usual fantastic small ads amongst which was this: ‘I make my own sexual lubricant. The secret ingredient is Bovril. Man, 56, Congleton.’ Fourpenny Circus escapologist John Lindley is 56. He lives in Congleton. John denies all knowledge but wethinks he doth protest too much….