Monday, November 23, 2009

OPEN MIC, MANCHESTER! (Sorry for shouting)

Wah, I couldn't go to the party! Poor me. Sob, whinge, etc.

(Oh, grow up you over-sized infant.)

Please excuse the interminable whining of my last post, I was feeling Glum About Life, a life that contained nothing but shelter, food, love, clothing, art and a large packet of cheese and onion crisps. Oh, woe! How stricken I must have been, as you can imagine.

Today I was in Leeds again, which is similar in damp Northern cheer to Manchester. Although in Leeds everyone calls everyone else 'love', even grown men say it to other grown men. (Or so I have heard.) In Manchester people do say "thanks love", or "stop touching me or I'll bite ya love"*, but it is generally not something that straight, burly chaps say to one another at the pie shop/strip club/sports place.

*Interestingly, this was the first thing I heard anyone say after I left the house this morning. (It was not directed at me.)

Does anyone from Manchester read this? If so, would you like to come to a gig/open mic night this Wednesday, at the Thirsty Scholar? Unfortunately, this is the same night that some excellent poets are putting on their marvellous, poetry-orientated night called Inn Verse, so mine will be more musicky. I don't want to snaffle any of their potential performers. I would like just anyone to come and do whatever it is they enjoy doing on stage. Music, of course, is completely welcome, as is poetry, but I am also open to any other form of expression. Comedy, magic tricks, circus skills? Yes, yes and yes (provided nothing gets set on fire or cut in half). (I mean, you can set the room on fire, but the Health and Safety people really do prefer that you do it in a metaphorical way.)

What will I be doing? I hear you ask (although I heard it very faintly so it's possible I imagined it).

Well I will certainly be telling this joke:

Q. What do you call a racist, bigoted wizard?
A. Nick Griffindor.

When I told this to Ben he paused for a bit after I asked him the 'Q' bit, then said "um, Gandalf Hitler?", which is an excellent answer but loses points for being slightly less topical.


I am trying to get some Google hits.


I don't think it helps to write it in capitals.


But you never know.


Well, I'm sure there are some people that know, but I don't.


I just like feeling like I'm calling out to the Internet.

So, if you're around, come along. If it's more poetry you want, then head to Inn Verse. My night will incorporate more poetry again in 2010.

I hope to see you there. Oh, and if you're here through Google then HI! WELCOME!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I wanted to go to the party. I was going to go, all ready and excited. I would think about it and be so excited to meet so many people whose writing I have followed and admired, and then. Oh. I couldn't. I couldn't scrape together enough shiny money, and am finding it difficult to scrape together any energy for anything at the moment. Still, though. I wanted to go. If I could be arsed to stamp my tired feet I would.

Never mind. There will probably be another one, and people are worse off than me, and life could be so much wor...

Oh, I can't.

*Tries to stamp foot, but stops for a sit down halfway through, and doesn't get back up*

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Night. In.

The radio is on and Ben is cooking. Apron on, wine poured. My feet ache from a busy day rushing about in the café, but as I sit and sip my wine and flick through the Internet I begin to feel better. In the next house along doors slam and fury slices through the thin walls. This no longer makes us glance up. The cat is sitting on the hairdryer, keeping his enemies close.

My week has been hard work, but heady. I hosted a music and poetry night on Wednesday, which went brilliantly in spite of the fact that I spent the whole night on stage sporting some dubious knitwear, my "comfy" jeans and no make up.

(This was not The Plan. The Plan consisted of Ben nipping home after a workshop we'd been at, and picking up some nice clothes and make up so I could transform before the night started. Unfortunately, we neglected to define the term "nipping", and he arrived well after I had to introduce the first act. By the time he got there, and I could have changed I couldn't be bothered any more. I only care now because there are some pictures floating around of me, microphone in hand, looking like a shiny-faced mongrel in a jumper made of sticks. Bloody Facebook. It's alright, though. I am over it now.)

(Although clearly not "over it" enough to prevent me declaring it to the Internet in a whiny, self-pitying manner.)

There was lots of music and poetry, plenty of drinking and general carousing, and on the whole it was declared a success. There was a dodgy moment when I told a few of my jokes, and was heckled into telling the most controversial joke I know (and love), but at least I now know what it's like to be on the receiving end of a Mass Sharp Intake of Breath. In spite of that momentary lapse of judgement and what will henceforth be known as That Fucking Knitwear, I enjoyed it immensely.

On Friday I had to get an early train for the culmination of a project I have been doing with Opera North, in a primary school in an estate in Leeds. Along with a more experienced vocal practitioner, I have been going into this school for the past ten weeks and doing singing workshops with the whole school, divided into year groups. Yesterday we invited the parents in and the school performed the songs they've been learning, and it was incredible. Four years ago this school was one of the most challenged in the UK, and now, due in large part to the amount of music they have been doing over those years, it has been transformed. Coming in at the beginning of the term, I was struck by how enthusiastic and respectful the kids were, to us and to each other. When one of their classmates got up to sing, they listened and clapped, with none of the sniggering I have seen in other schools. Of course this is due to so much more than the work we did in the last few months, but the teachers unequivocally said that it has been the introduction of music in every aspect of school life that has transformed them. The challenge next term is to set up a choir for the kids and their parents, as well as any other members of the community who want to come along. There thirty-seven different languages spoken in the school, so I hope to be introduced to lots of different music from all around the world. Every time I think about it I feel so excited, and then my brain switched me on to ohmygodterrified and I am forced to go and think about ponies for a bit until I calm down.

(I will now stop writing like I am doing a covering letter for a job application.) (I probably wouldn't put that bit about the ponies.)

The last few months have been great in some ways, and incredibly tough in others. Ben won the BBC National Poetry Slam (you can see why here or here) (when he watched the second one, Ben just shook his head and said "I wish I hadn't worn shorts"). The next day, suddenly, his father passed away. We were there, having rushed down South to the hospital as soon as we heard from Ben's Mum that his Dad was intensive care. It was, and is still, very, very hard for Ben, his Mum and his sister, who flew over from Australia a day later. We, including Laura's boyfriend Rob, spent a few weeks in Hertfordshire. Then they went home, and we came home, and life trickled by. Of course it doesn't stop there. People who have gone through such a thing will know this. I haven't experienced it, so I can only watch and do that thing we are all told to do in times like these: Be There For Him. Strange, though, how the five of us glued together during those weeks. It was extremely painful, I know, for everyone when Laura and Rob had to board a plane and go back to Australia. It was painful for Ben and his Mum when he had to come back to Manchester. So much pain, but so much love and connection that came from it.

I am just writing what comes into my head at the moment, trying to find a way to get Back Into Blogging. I want to write more, but somehow I never have time, and when I do I don't know what to write.

So here it goes with the honest drivel that I used to scrawl. This is a weird, all-over-the-place post, but it will have to do.

I am now going to go downstairs, re-fill my glass and loiter around Ben as he creates deliciousness in the kitchen.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Is That You?

Oh? Hi!

Hey! Hiya! Hello.

How's life? Alright?

Me? Yeah, yeah. Fine. Good. Good!

You? You alright? Haven't seen you in, no. Yeah, ages. God.

I've just been busy, you know? Still, probably my fault.

Um, still in Manchester. No, not gone on X-Factor yet, no, ha ha, um, LOL.

Oh God. This format is not sustainable but, honestly, I have no idea how on earth to write a Returning To Blogging post without cavorting recklessly into some classic blogging trap or other (e.g. wondering rather desperately whether Anyone Is Out There? and if so whether and how much they've missed me). I would quite like to neatly summarize my life as it has been in the last few months but am incapable of doing anything neatly, as demonstrated by my fringe after I whimsically attacked it with the kitchen scissors some weeks back. (Ironically, that is a pretty neat example.)

I suppose I can say the following things:

1. Manchester. I am still living in it. It is still raining on me. As it turns out, fairly excellently: Rain + Fringe = Much Shitter Fringe.

2. Music. I am still doing it, singing and writing and the like. I like to think the fringe adds a institution-ish air to my latest efforts. This is an delusion I am fighting to maintain.

3. Men. I am still living with Ben, although I have had to insist that he wears a blindfold until the fringe grows out. I do not consider this to be unreasonable.

4. Money. I work in a café and do singing workshops in schools. Both are quite fun. I am a better workshop leader than I am a barista, but maybe I will combine the two and make la-la-lattes or cappuccin-ooooohs. (The fringe does not really come into this one much.)

I want to start blogging again but I don't know how. I'm pretty sure that the best way is not to blurt out a few poorly-chosen, unfunny sentences that barely make any sense, but this is the route I have decided upon and I am sticking with it.

More soon, for sure.