"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
Consider, dear reader, the staple diet of the peripatetic poet. At a reading in Shirley it was custard creams: after a visit to Birmingham Farmers’ Market it was Snoggable Garlic (left, highly recommended) and after an endless Hallowe’en, I never want to see a pumpkin again. At least I got some fruit during the apple bobbing at Hannah’s house. She takes these things very seriously and we were equipped with goggles…
At the Birmingham Book Festival I caught Helen Mort’s reading, A Pint for the Ghost. Our own Postcard Poets reading was really enjoyable – great to hear six different voices, and especially to hear Spoz and Emma Purshouse at length. New Birmingham poet laureate Adrian Johnson was there, filming us – here is me reading my poem Things I Learned at Eckington School, and Emma Purshouse doing her thing too.
I stayed with Adrian and we shared thoughts on how to make the best of a laureate year – I was Cheshire Laureate in 2007. The next day I had a 90-minute reading at the library, with a typical audience of sprightly young poetry fans. I feared that I would spend the morning giving my careful explanation of why modern poetry doesn’t rhyme (‘It just doesn’t, get over it’) but conversation with these lively, open-minded poetry-lovers made the time fly.
The Smily Man, working hard on his boat this week, was mysteriously wide-eyed, irritable and stomach-achey until we realised that he had spent two days inhaling paints and thinners.
We took him away from the solvents and went to see Bouncers in Stoke – dynamic, sometimes funny, horribly cynical about gender relations. I never want to go in a nightclub again.
On Thursday I read at the self-proclaimed ‘Quirky Acoustic Night’ at the Boar Hound, Macclesfield. I think I must have been the quirky bit, because everyone else was acoustic. There was much talk of the ukulele club, and most of the other performers looked like this (left): but it was a friendly evening with a handful of hardy boaters lurking at the back.
More boaters and more lurking at the Hollybush on the Caldon, for a Hallowe’en fancy dress and blindfold darts match. Angus Young, Jack Sparrow and Ozzy Osbourne rubbed shoulders with witches, demons and Mexicans. The Smily Man strapped a floral cushion to his back as a hump, and became Uncle Fester. I dug out my pointy hat and sparkly eyelashes for a witchy evening.
The dietary onslaught of toffee apples, treacle toffee and parkin (ask a Yorkshireman) went on. Back at the marina our feudal landlord Kevlar remains devoted to a balanced diet – on the one hand, a full English breakfast to start the day, on the other hand plenty of fluids to end it – but as you can see is dedicated to his work, and takes all dietary supplements in situ at his post in case he misses a sale.
He may be right to take this robust approach. After all, there is evidence all around the marina that starvation and a melancholy death are but a few missed bacon butties away…. I’ll stick with the pumpkin pie.