The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

They think it’s all over…

High School Musical - not

High School Musical - not

Fourpenny Circus draws slowly towards the end of its autumn tour, with two performances this week at Keele and Birmingham, where we were part of Birmingham Book Festival. At the end of the show, we had a pitch invasion – high school students playing around with our props. We thought it was great but at one moment, as a teenage girl was strapped into a straitjacket and several middle-aged men were taking photos, I did glimpse the festival director peeking through his fingers and murmuring something about ‘if this gets into the newspapers….’

Hula girl - want a job?

Hula girl - want a job?

We have one more gig in 2009 – in fact it may be our last ever – at Salford’s Robert Powell Theatre on 12th November. Be there if you can.

I’ve been catching up on the post-tonsillitis backlog, but still finding time to read The Longest Crawl by Ian Marchant – a brilliant account of a pub crawl the length of the UK, but also a thoughtful and funny report in the tradition of Priestley’s English Journey (my favouritest book, now back in print for the first time in years).

In Birmingham, I caught up with mentee Charlie Jordan who had startling tales of sex clubs in Bangkok, and a very nice sonnet about West Bromwich Albion. You had to be there really.

Poetraits exhibition - Charlie and I examine ourselves

Poetraits exhibition - Charlie examines herself

We saw our portraits in the Poetraits exhibition. Then on to Crewe, for an Apples & Snakes showcase of spoken-word talent. I already knew Tony Walsh was good, but Mike Garry was new to me. He was brilliant – giving us an uncomfortable, ranting, disconnected Big Issue seller’s life story. It was like being forced to hear a conversation that we normally walk away from; difficult, uncompromising and absolutely truthful. Made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Then an uplifting, funny-and-touching hymn to Manchester written for Tony Wilson’s funeral. Go see him if you can.

Kev's wife says 'no comment'

Kev's wife says 'no comment'

Friday was my birthday, and I began it on the M6 in a huge midnight traffic jam. Then it was lunch with my mum, the film Up with small friends, and a curry with the Macclesfield boaters who behaved themselves pretty well (above). My magnificent hoard of presents includes a groovy fountain pen so I can feel like a proper writer, and a heap of wonderful books on Gertrude Bell, narrowboating, poetry, etc etc. Smily Man was particularly smily and I had a very lovely day, despite starting it in a logjam of traffic on the M6 – then we returned to his natural environment.

Smiles on the Caldon

Smiles on the Caldon

Unusually I had the sort of weekend that others take for granted – no work, lie-ins, a bit of lounging about and some reading, plus a short visit to the local where the landlady appeared with her polecats. No, really.

Is that a polecat in your pocket or....

Is that a polecat in your pocket or....

On the fiddle: Jon Boden

On the fiddle: Jon Boden

I could almost get the hang of this relaxing lark – especially when it all finished with a marvellous Bellowhead gig at Manchester Academy with delightful friend Jane and her mum Annie. Oh, deep folk-musical joy and a hey nonny no.

Three cheers for morris dancing

Three cheers for morris dancing

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2 comments on “They think it’s all over…

  1. Annie A
    October 29, 2009

    so…..you came to Eyam, and Chatsworth, and Little Longstone….with The Smiley Man ….and you didn’t pop in for a cuppa??…..mind you, I was probably in Lancaster anyway, listening to 8 great poets read – among whom were Jim Caruth, Ann Sansom and Michael Laskey…….

    Just been to an Open Mike session in Chesterfield…opened with a few of my poems….apparently they’re paying me for this…amazing!

    AnnieA xx

    • Jo Bell
      October 29, 2009

      I know I know, and we did drive almost past your house but were in a rush to get to my mum’s then, to pick something up. Sorry!

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