Along with the book of short stories, I’ve also been working on something longer: Lovecraft in Brighton. This is a ‘novella in fragments’, telling the story of a man haunted by the ghost of HP Lovecraft. It’s also something of an experiment, with the work-in-progress being sent out – each time someone buys a copy, a new story is added and the work so far sent by post – with a final version being sent to everyone at the end.
I love horror stories and sending them by post allows me to play with the intimacy of the genre: the loneliness and terror evoked by Lovecraft. The stories sent out will shift somewhat, because there are some stories I can only tell to people I know well; and others I can’t commit to open publication. So far, three people have read it and been very excited about it. There are more details and a link to buy copies on the Postal Press Lovecraft in Brighton page.
Last weekend, rather than doing a Cheeky Walk, Jen, Jamie and I went for a walk to the Chattri. The weather was excellent, so good that I managed to get sunburn on my head. We took the bus up to the Dyke and walked via Pyecombe to the Jill windmill (open to visitors on Summer Sunday and bank holiday afternoons). Jill windmill is an amazing design, 20-odd tonnes of wood designed to act like a weatherwane, turning to face the wind.
From there we walked to the Chattri, a memorial to injured Indian soldiers who died in Brighton during the first world war. The Chattri is intended to look like a ghat, the steps down to a river. It’s a beautiful and peaceful spot.
I (self!) published my first collection of short-stories today. It’s an A7-sized volume with 6 stories, totalling less than 600 words; all were written in sessions at the Not-For the Faint-Hearted workshop. Rosy Carrick said that it was “The best collection of stories I’ve ever read“, and you can trust her as she’s almost a doctor. If you’d like a copy, let me know and I will post it to you next week.
(The next Not for the Faint-Hearted Session is on April 13th)
Thanks to Natalie Downe whose pocketbook template was used for the layout. So much better than having to lay everything out by hand using my terrible writing. I’m thinking of doing a tiny travel-guide to India next).
It’s a month until the Brighton Fringe Festival kicks off, and I’ve been buying lots of tickets. The thing I’m most looking forward to is How to be Fat, a one-woman show by my friend Mathilda, one of the organisers of Slash/Night. From what I’ve been told so far this will be funny and provocative. She’s been blogging about her preparations, including how to be on a Diet.
Another highlight is the Late Show: Election Night Special, which will be screen the election results until 9 in the morning. I love election broadcasts, even if they’re likely to go the way I want. Hopefully I can book Friday May 8th off work, as I won’t be getting any sleep the night before. Apparently (the award-winning) Chris Parkinson is involved with this show in some manner.
I met Bill Jones through the Short Fuse nights many years ago. I loved his work and invited him to perform at a night I ran. He moved away to Stroud but is returning to Brighton with his show Graveside Manner. Another poet is John Osborn, performing his first show. John’s poem ‘Most people aren’t that happy anyway’ is one of my favourite poems.
Two things I’ve booked based on the fringe ads are The Skeleton Coast and What’s in the Punch. The first of these is a talk about an expedition along the Skeleton Coast, a brutal stretch of African coastline. What’s in the Punch is a play about the 352-year-old Mr. Punch being in a nursing home.
As ever, the Odditorium, curated by the Infamous Dr. Bramwell, offers a variety of different topics. I’ve booked tickets to their Lost Worlds of Albion and Occult Brighton events. At the end of the month I’ll be one of the speakers at the Death in Brighton event. The Spiegeltent is also hosting club nights by Copperdollar and Dynamite Booglaoo.
On top of all this, puppeteer Daisy Jordan has just announced a new show with Jane Bom-bane featuring “song, puppetry and untold surprise” which I need to fit in somehow. This looks like being a very good fringe.
This weekend I had Hazel Rah staying. Having a visitor is great, as it means you can go to all your favourite places with them – and it’s even better when the visitor knows Brighton as can suggest the places they love. Hazel also wanted to do a Cheeky Walk, as did Laurence, my old boss at Crunch, so we decided to do the Walk on the Wild Side, a 1.5 mile walk around Central Brighton which takes about 4 hours because of the different activities.
This route focussed more on the Cheeky than the Walking. It starts with the Haunted Hotel at the end of the pier – it’s fair to say this has seen better days. The Helter Skelter was closed due to bad weather. The highlight of the pier was the Dolphin Derby. Laurence narrowly won.
The instructions suggested a visit to a Tarot Reader, but they were all closed due to the bad weather. I wasn’t too bothered: if fortune tellers were any good, they would have known we were coming and briefly opened. We also looked on the stormy beach to find witch stones, which were pretty easy to find.
One of the highlights was talking with the bored woman in the Rock Shop. She was surprised to see visitors, particularly ones who actually lived in Brighton. We talked about rock and sweets shaped like anatomically-correct genitalia. From there we went to the Mock Turtle. This has a reputation for being one of Brighton’s finest tea-shops but was pretty terrible. Laurence was given a used cup and the toilet’s towel was hung in a heap behind the door. Maybe they were having a bad day.
We hunted for Griff Rhys Jones in the Colonnade Bar (excellent gin selection, by the way), engaged in petty vandalism, were trailed by security guards in the museum and looked for gifts in Snooper’s Paradise. We met up with Kim and Nathan near CyberCandy and found a German-themed gift for Kim. The Basketmakers was packed so we rounded the day off with lunch in the Eagle. A bizarre walk, probably designed for better weather, but it’s fun to be a tourist in your own town.
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.