The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Payback time

Ah yes, sorry about that. I was having too much fun to blog last week. The gods of boating (who live in my weed hatch and eat rope) know that last year I sat on my moorings all summer, working too hard and looking wistfully out of the window. By way of compensation, they have given me an easy ride so far this year – no floods or engine failures, no fires or Acts of God. 

"You're sure you aren't back till August?"

"You're sure you aren't back till August?"

Appropriately enough I left Macc on Mayday, with faithful Skipper John on board. Hordes of weeping boaters gathered on the pontoons to see us off and wave Union Jacks. Actually they didn’t, but feudal landlord Kev (above) turned out to give us a bleary farewell and to make sure I was gone, so he could get someone else onto my mooring before lunchtime.

Traditional avocado racing

Traditional avocado racing

At Bosley locks, we stopped for lunch at the bridge that Sailor Sue had just parked on. ‘Where are you?’ she said on the phone, ’…..oh hang on, I can see your legs’. We moored somewhere nameless and rustic, where we raced avocado skins and admired the wildlife.

The droppings are very rare....

The droppings are very rare....

Reinforcements arrived to help us down the 26-lock flight known as Heartbreak Hill. They all arrived at lock 7 and demanded a picnic, then worked us seamlessly down the remaining 19 and demanded a barbecue – except for the one who had gone back to fetch the car and had accidentally driven to Wales.

Mathilda reclining, Roman style

Mathilda reclining, Roman style

In Middlewich 300 anglers (no really) were lined up in a sort of linear Boaters’ Hell. Occasionally they raised a pallid head to murmur abuse at us or throw maggots. We murmured back. But we turned left onto the Shropshire Union canal, where all was sunshiny and peaceful and maggot-free, and tied up at Church Minshull. No-one at all lives in Church Minshull or goes outside. But there was a plant sale, so I planted up the estate with some lettuces.

The vegetable patch

The vegetable patch

The weedy gods of boating will demand payment for this, I thought – but they are still smiling. This weekend the family Button came to stay. We did a record-breakingly slow eight miles to Nantwich, stopping every ten minutes to eat, drink and be merry with little George. I moored in a proper grown-up marina, to keep the boat safe when I go off to Cornwall for four days next week.

Get out of the way, we can't see the boat....

Get out of the way, we can't see the boat....

The other great event this week was the opening of Fourpenny Circus. After our six months of non-stop writing, rehearsing, prop-building, logistical panicking and PR work, I was nervous and unbearable and very lucky to make it onto the stage without being throttled by fellow troupers. But it all turned to gold dust. Our first performance at Neston got rave reviews. ‘I thought Bunch of Fives was good,’ said one obliging person, ‘but this is brilliant!’ Before we went on, we looked at the stage set which has cost us so much planning and effort. It’s not Cats, but it’s a damn sight more ambitious than any other poetry show I’ve seen. We have come a long way in two years and we really are doing our bit to change audiences’ expectations of poetry. YES it can be funny, YES it can be sexy, YES it can be entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. And YES, you have permission to enjoy it without feeling as if you are sitting an A-level.  So come and see us – details on our website.

Oh, you wanted to know about other work? Very varied – the usual stint for National Poetry Day including two days of meetings in London; a final workshop in Macclesfield; a meeting in Birmingham with Charlie Jordan, my mentee under the My Place or Yours scheme; a foray to Derby Hospital; a trip to see Murray Lachlan Young in London (brilliant, go see); and a meeting with friend Heather to discuss a grant application – plus plenty of preparation and PR for Fourpenny Circus. Absolutely topping.

Overdressed? Moi?

Overdressed? Moi?

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This entry was posted on May 11, 2009 by in Uncategorized.
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