"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
It’s too late, you’ve missed it. Dreadlockalien and Sonia Sabri did a marvellous, uplifting and enthralling piece of work this weekend at Wightwick Manor. Called And Tigers Mingle, it was an inspirational oddity. They took us around the manor house after its normal closing time. Dreadlockalien’s seemingly straightfaced ‘guided tour’ was laced with nods to griot or dub poetry, slices of Black Country or Jamaican slang and mysterious, mouth-watering poetic lines. Around him, above and behind him, Kathak dancer Sonia Sabri filled the space with movement and sound. It was perfect for this Arts and Crafts house on the edge of Wolverhampton, with its own Indian family links and cultural-magpie furnishings.
It was a triumph for them and for the National Trust, who are showing more courage in commissioning works like this. This sort of show, outside normal visiting hours and attracting a completely new audience, is exactly what they should be doing to attract a younger, more demanding crowd. It was ephemeral, memorable, and it filled the space with memories and emotion far better than any normal guided tour can do.
In the olden days, ie about eighteen months ago, an anonymous message saying “Honey Nelson is following you” would have had me calling the police. Now I tweet with confidence and Facebook assures me that I have 221 friends. When I first set up my Twitter and Facebook pages, it was an experience not unlike sitting in the haunted dry dock a few weeks ago. Nobody came in, nobody knew you were there, you just sat whistling into cyberspace. Now it’s gone mental. How does anyone find time to work?
Well, I do somehow. National Poetry Day grows closer (it also has a Facebook page, please sign up!) so I’ve been working on a poster and website updates. Listings have started to trickle in, and there will be a torrent in weeks to come.
The boat and I are now on holiday for a week. We started by going to see Mikron Theatre, the canal-based theatre company who travel with their boat Tyseley, at the most perfect pub in the world. A tiny bar in someone’s front room, plastic pitchers of beer, a big beer garden with moorings at the end…. If you know my poem Desiderata (‘there’s nothing finer than a pub by water…..’) this was surely the pub I have been seeking all these years. And I’m not telling you where it is….
I left Norbury on Friday afternoon with rediscovered friend Lucy, and picked up Lucy’s mum and friend John on the way. The weekend shift was taken up by Russell and Fran who brought sunshine, wine and their hairy friend Bramble, a perfect boat dog. We had a lovely evening watching the boats settle into the dusk around us at Gailey – then another day of pleasurable work as we went through the Penkridge locks. By the time you read this my first new crew of the week will have arrived. We’ll be properly on our way back to Macclesfield for the winter – with one last detour if there is time…..