Back at the start of March, Rosy asked if I wanted to be local spoken-word artist at Hammer and Tongue in April. I suggested I reworked the piece I did for Artists, Models, Inc a few years back, “adding audio/visual elements – basically, a psychogeographical response to Brighton.” Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I meant by that, and reworking the original piece so much that only a few sentences of the original remain.
So: I’ll be performing this ten-minute thing at Hammer and Tongue, this Thursday. Doors open 7:30pm at the Komedia Studio and entry is £6 on the door. I’m pleased with how it’s turned out and looking forward to see what the audience make of it – I’m aiming for either blank incomprehension or rapturous applause. The Infamous Muffy Hunter saw it last night and liked it, so that’s a good sign.
Also performing is Hannah Silva. Rosy has been trying to book Hannah for some time. I recently read Hannah’s book Forms of Protest; the poems are both gripping and experimental and I can’t wait to see them performed live. It’s going to be an amazing evening – and it’s the night before the Good Friday bank holiday, so you can all stay out late!
I finally made the leap to working for myself. I handed in my notice at Crunch in January and now have my own company, Riddlefox, and will be starting my first contract at the end of April. To celebrate the new company I bought an actual fox:
I also made a trip to India, visiting New Delhi, Mathura (leaving after three hours), Bharatpur, Dausa, Pushkar, Mussoorie, Rishikesh and Haridwar – not bad for two weeks. I have almost sorted out the photos and will probably blog things in a week or two.
Probably the biggest event of the winter was my Mum being ill. We all had a difficult wait before she went for an operation the day after Mothering Sunday. She seems to be recovering (as well as settling into the new house with Dad). It’s going to take some time for things to get back to normal (or, rather, a new normal) – but, thanks to the work of the doctors and nurses, we’ve been delivered from something that could have been much worse.
The last two Season Notes have both featured disappointment at how underwhelming my reading is. I finished 35 books in the winter of which, as usual, few were any good. Viv Albertine’s biography Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys was inspiring and heartbreaking; after 6 months, I finally finished ST Joshi’s massive Lovecraft biography; Release It! was one of the best technical books I’ve read
Despite doing a lot I still feel disappointed by what I didn’t do. I only sent out the novel a couple of times; I lost a lot of weight and put a chunk of it back on. I’m having treatment for my hip but still not running. I still feel busier than I should be and I’m still keeping to-do lists, despite knowing they’re bad for me. I should either do something about these things or stop caring.
Yesterday was another Cheeky Walk, this time the longest one in the book, the Albion Trail. This starts at Hove Station and passes all three of Brighton and Hove Albion’s local grounds (the third is 75 miles away in Kent). I was joined by Jamie, Jen, Debbie, Sarah and Rams the dog.
None of us had much interest in football but the walk took in a lot of wild spaces in the town that I didn’t know about. We went through Hove Park, Three Cornered Copse, Withdean Park, Ladies Mile Nature Reserve and Stanmer Park. The National Lilac Collection, inside Withdean Park, looked underwhelming but is meant to be spectacular in May/June. Connecting these open spaces were a few legs of relentless suburbia:
The full walk was 9 miles. By the time we reached the Swan Inn we were famished so stopped for a bite to eat. The Swan is a traditional pub but it seems to have taken on some gastropub traits. Note the ‘deconstructed’ Cheese and Onion Baked Potato that Sarah was served:
I’ve now done 6 of the cheeky walks this year and have 15 to go. On Sunday we’re doing the Walk on the Wild Side, a 1.5 mile walk whose diversions and distractions are estimated to take 3-4 hours.
After a quiet winter, I have a few upcoming events:
On April 2nd, I will be performing at Brighton’s Hammer and Tongue as local poet. I’ve promised Rosy a psychogeographical multi-media spoken word piece about Brighton. I’m not entirely sure what that means so I am frantically working on something that fits the description. If that fails, expect something about Clowns. Tickets £6 on the door open, doors 7:30pm, show starts 8-ish.
On April 16th I will be speaking at the Catalyst Club. The Catalyst is a Brighton institution, where three people speak about their passions. The subjects in question aren’t announced until the event starts, so you don’t know what you’ll hear about, but it is always interesting. Come along and find out what I’ve been researching.
I’m waiting to hear about a Brighton Fringe event, as well as a festival booking in August, doing an expanded version of my talk, The Internet Will Destroy Us.
Slash/Night 2 happened way back in mid-February and was amazing. I organised the first Slash/Night because I am fascinated the culture of slash. The second event was organised by Muffy Hunter and Mathilda Gregory, which meant I could sit back and watch – although I was roped in to running the lights and sound, which I was brilliant at.
For me, the highlight was Helen Raven‘s talk on the pre-history of Slash. One of the things I love about slash is how it has thrived underground, with enthusiastic, generous audiences. It was good to hear about the pre-Internet slash days and to see some of the Samizdat publications. Hearing Helen Raven talk about her long career as a slash writer was inspiring too, particularly strange and creative world of Professionals slash.
After a couple of weeks in India it was back to walking in Sussex today, with another Cheeky Walk (5 down, 16 to go!). This was another one of the countryside walks where the scenery was more important than the theme. The route was a circle, starting in East Brighton park and passing the racecourse, Ovingdean and Roedean. The weather looked like it could be good but settled down to being grey and windy. Still the scenery was impressive and the wind blew the Sunday cobwebs away.
The directions in the book are generally excellent, although the walks don’t have any maps. Since you’re not always sure how far away the next landmark is, I sometimes find myself feeling a little lost when we’re on the right track. Having said that, we’ve only got lost a couple of times in all the walks we’ve done, and never badly.
I’d not been to Ovingdean before and was impressed at how pretty it was. We stopped in St Wulfran’s Church, which is a very attractive church. Magnus Volk is buried in the churchyard.
We ended the walk with fry-ups at Mac’s Cafe. Perfect.
All being well, the next walk will be the epic 9-mile Albion Trail on the 22nd. On the 29th we’re planning to do A Walk on the Wild Side, which includes a series of distractions and activities.
I remember when I stopped reading the Metro. I was living in Coventry, in a new gentrification development dropped in the middle of some dodgier streets. Every day I took the bus to work and would flick through the Metro when I wasn’t in the mood for a book. One book I did read on the bus was Don Delillo’s White Noise; this was almost 20 years old at that point but seemed to do a better job of explaining the world than the free tabloid.
Christopher Watson’s first issue of Concrete Octopus is a very different thing to White Noise but it reminds me of it. Concrete Octopus’s first issue is devoted to Forced to Flee, an illustrated poem that responds to current media obsessions. While it doesn’t have the explicatory power of White Noise, it is a powerful response to the media. Watson built the poem as a collage of words from newspapers he found on his own commute. (“mainly The Times which I make a point of picking up(stealing) from the First Class section of the train(The Times is freely available to all First Class passengers), and The Metro(which is free to all)”)
By pulling out the words and notions that demand our attention and breaking them up against each other, this long poem questions the media it parasitises. Meaning is withheld in Forced to Flee; whereas the newspaper articles about Syria, ISIS and the ongoing conflict offer a meaning they don’t have. That makes it sound a less engaging than it is – Watson’s own description of the poem is:
“a fragmented feature-length pulp-modernist exploration of the mediascape. It is a mechanical poem which focuses on the narrative of refugeeism embedded in our third-hand experience of the Western imperialist ever-war. Sounds like a laugh? You bet”
But the poem does contain amusing moments and the illustrations are fantastic. Watson is a talented graffiti artist and has made the pictures without the use of Photoshop. Even if the poem doesn’t sound like your thing, you should check out the images. Forced to Flee may not stop the ‘ever-war’, but it’s changed my response to it, and the mediated spectacle that I’m being offered.
Concrete Octopus #1 is an edition of 200. You can pick up a copy at Christian’s readings or Bookbuster in Hastings, East Sussex. There will probably be copies for sale via ebay soon but, if all else fails, email Lurchingadams25@hotmail.com. There are plans for follow-ups which will branch out and involve collaborators.
I’m a little behind in posting about my adventures. In the middle of January, I went to the Chepstow Wassail Mari Lwyd in Wales. This annual event features morris dancing, a wassail, and what wikipedia describes as people “disguised as a horse”. This disguise involves a decorated horse’s skull and a sheet, along with a lower jaw that can snap at passers-by. I saw the event in the Rites and Rituals film and had to go. It was a good trip and the Mari Lwyds looked amazing.
This Sunday’s Cheeky Walk was a shorter one, two miles starting at Brighton station then winding through the North Laine and Lanes to the seafront before finishing back at the Museum. A lot of the places visited were familiar but it’s amazing what else you notice when you’re stopping to take photos:
The morse code above the Albert’s side door, spelled out in spraycans, apparently reads ‘Wish You Were Here’
The Banksy on the building’s side is a reproduction, despite the perspex protection.
The North Laine has some amazing stencil and sticker art, as well as the Kensington Street Murals (which are currently under threat)
On the seafront, it was a warm Spring day, despite only being February. The guidfebook pointed out the public art, as well as leading us to the JAG gallery, which I’d never been inside before.
We finished the walk with a meal at La Choza and a tour of the museum. The shorter walk wasn’t as much fun as the longer ones, and we felt we could have managed a couple back-to-back. But it was good to get out and explore the town on what felt like the first day of Spring.
I did my 3rd Cheeky walk of the year on January 25th but failed to get the photos up until now. It was another dry day and we did the Life & Death walk. This started with the Lewes Road cemeteries before taking us over the top of the race-course and then dropping us off in Kemptown.
While the second half of the walk was a little underwhelming, it was great to spend some time exploring the extra-mural cemetery.
The last picture shows the grave of Edward Bransfield, the first man to see Antarctica. According to Wikipedia: “During 2000 the Royal Mail issued a commemorative stamp in Bransfield’s honour, but as no likeness of him could be found, the stamp depicted instead RSS Bransfield, an Antarctic surveying vessel named after him.”
I don’t seem to have taken all that many pictures of the second half of the walk:
The book did promise us “the best view in Brighton” though and this was indeed pretty spectacular.