The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Aching for Dick

Extraordinary people: Gertrude, with Lawrence of Arabia

Ellesmere Port's finest

You’ve never heard of Gertrude Bell? She was an archaeologist, explorer, poet, politician, mountaineer – and a world leader in each of her fields. And I’m going to write about her – because after a week of sitting on the news, I can tell you that I’m one of the Four for the Port writers. The project teams four virgin playwrights (oh yes, I am) with Action Transport Theatre. With fellow novices Maisie Linford, Janine Atkin and Rob Ward, plus a company of young actors and the ATT team, I’ll be writing a short play for Chester Literature Festival. I’m excited, daunted and resisting the urge to take my title from a dreadful biography which says that ‘Getrude was now 37 and aching for Dick’. Aren’t we all, dear…. But it will serve for my working title.

At this time of year, I go forth and get work – contacting clients, looking up festival dates, trying new audiences or ‘products’. This week I had more success than I had reckoned on. So I’ll be doing a little tour in February with Jenn Ashworth, writing words for a (very) short film with the National Trust, and possibly including a challenging piece of work in the Tatton Park Biennial. This in addition to the already-confirmed residency at Derby City Hospitals and, of course, my continued work with National Poetry Day.

White ribbon: against violence against women

Meanwhile, I found myself at a harrowing domestic violence conference in Stoke on Trent as poet in residence. It was apposite, as Smily Man had just had the excrement kicked out of him by a child at his workplace, the Institution for Misunderstood Cherubs where everyone has a story to tell about domestic abuse. Kicking them back is frowned upon apparently.

Charlie in the Bullring

But there were lovely things too. In Birmingham I met with mentee Charlie Jordan (left), did a radio interview and caught up with Birmingham Poet Laureate Adrian Johnson. Birmingham’s annual German Market is huge and twinkly, and I spent a happy hour there too.

Oh Little Town of Birmingham....

People are asking me what I want for Christmas. Seriously – I want you to click on the button below or call the number on it, and sign up for the organ donor register. Sadly, a lot of us get bumped off at Christmas by drunken drivers and the like – why not use all that offal to give someone else a chance, like friend Laurie who died this year after twenty-six years of extra life given by a heart donor?  So easy, so necessary.

So do it!

Meanwhile here at Macclesfield Home for the Unusual, we have more important things to do….. floating paper balloons can keep us happy for hours.

Boys + fire = smily faces

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11 comments on “Aching for Dick

  1. Jenn Ashworth
    November 30, 2009

    I LOVE the title of this post… am going to have to get back to the drawing board and think of some new blog post titles… mine have got all unimaginative and pun-free recently.

    • Jo Bell
      November 30, 2009

      I should hope so – have been waiting for about 12 years to use it, since I first read it in Janet Wallach’s dreary biography of Gertrude. Yours are just fine and dandy!

  2. Jane Munro
    December 2, 2009

    Jo well done for mentioning donor cards. Can I steal the link and put it on the loop blog too as I feel strongly about it.
    Yes the title has a lovely fnar fnar quality which I like very much.Jx

    • Jo Bell
      December 2, 2009

      Jane – but of course, the more people who see it the better, especially before the holidays when sadly, more organs are always needed.

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