The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Big Love and cake

Reading in the snow. Like you do.

The week started snowy, and after last week’s dash from Glasgow to London to Birmingham to the verge of a nervous breakdown, I kept closer to home (where Jon Baxter of the Macclesfield Express took these nice pictures).

Gertrude in practical camping gear

So I settled down to work in Macclesfield – writing the foreword for a book of landscape poetry, and at last doing some work on Aching for Dick, my mini-play about Gertrude Bell (right). Poetry peer Joy Winkler and I planned a ‘mothers and daughters’ event over a pizza and free bottle of wine at Ronnie’s Bar (thanks to the wonderful Loop and its voucher).

Then I was off to Derby, to see Juliet and Nicki who will be my support team as I begin my year as Writer in Residence at Royal Derby Hospital. They believe, thank goodness, that a person in hospital doesn’t stop being a person and become a patient – s/he deserves to experience great, thought-provoking and challenging artwork. To that end they have built a really ambitious programme of art placements, and commissioned me as part of it. It’s one of those so-good-it’s-terrifying opportunities, and I hope I can do it justice.

Oh, the jolly boat folk and their quaint wares

Types so fast her hands go blurry

Blue sky thinking

The sun came out, and on a blue-sky day I visited Preston, which many years ago gave me a nervous breakdown. It was not entirely Preston’s fault – I was studying bilingual administration, surely a recipe for a wobbly brain. Jenn Ashworth, who I was meeting to talk about Too Much Information, likes Preston very much and indeed, it seemed all right this time around. Still, I celebrated my safe return amongst friends including Butterfly Jam at the Hollins pub.

Shiny happy people

Vote for me or I'll strip

Saturday brought a highlight of the performance poetry year – the Big Love Slam in Bilston, near Wolverhampton. It gathered together a lively bunch of spoken-word stars including  Robin Cairns, who hosted me last month in Glasgow, Steve Rooney and Lorna Meehan; so I was mighty chuffed to make it to the semi-final. Winner Mark Neill (right) was even prepared to get his kit off in the name of art. It was a night of entertainment, laughter and quite a lot of Jameson’s whisky, as I recall.

A final chortle comes from this magnificent site which allows you to make your own election poster featuring

David Cameron. So it’s been a rather giggly week.  As Gertrude Bell wrote in a letter of February 1910, ‘it’s all being quite as amusing as we meant it to be.’ Let’s hope we’re all still laughing in May…


3 comments on “Big Love and cake

  1. Natalie
    February 7, 2010

    I love your new photo at the top of your blog.

    • Jo Bell
      February 8, 2010

      Thanks Natalie – was taken a couple of years ago by my dear friend Hannah, in the Peak District.

  2. Derek Adams
    February 12, 2010

    I’m glad to see that you are no longer fazed by bilingual administration, as you seem to be managing Op North & Lundaan OK

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on February 7, 2010 by in Boating life, Readings and writings, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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