Glue Gun ’91 Election Special

Two days to go! This Thursday sees the Glue Gun '91 Election Special. It's likely to be an amazing night "Spin! Swingometers! Sleaze! Education! Education! Education! Life! Death! Prizes! Surprise guests! Party politics!". It's even been endorsed by John Prescott.


Sadly, being in Derbyshire, I won't be able to make Glue Gun '91. Instead I will be at an election party in Leicester, where we'll toast or commiserate the results with drinks in the party colours. I have, however, written a short piece for the handout with my friend Umberto Thwaites, 'The Secret World of Elections'.

The night is absolutely free and starts at 8:30pm sharp – but I'd get there early if I were you as it may be packed.

Reading at Short Fuse on Wednesday 14th April

I've been asked to read at Short Fuse, on Wednesday 14th April at the Brighton Komedia. The theme for the night is 'The Professionals' and promises "Short stories from the best local and national writing talent which explore the world of work (or how to avoid it)"

I'm going to read a story called For Hire. Until recently it was called Punch and Judy Story which is a rather half-hearted title. It's about a Punch and Judy man who is running out of money as the season draws to a close:

Monday mornings I do my
rounds. I start by checking the
nearby newsagents. Some shops leave cards in the window for months
without asking for more money, but I can’t be complacent. If a card
has been taken down, or left long enough to grow faded, then I go in
and ask to put up another. It’s important to
make a good impression – if your kids need entertaining, you don’t
want someone represented by a curled, faded postcard.

I've written several stories about this character, and the terrible things that happen to him and his puppets. This story features a strippogram (or, to be more accurate, a 'stripogram' (sic)) and some very awkward phone calls.

The night starts at 8pm in the Brighton Komedia Studio Bar. Entry is £5.

I’m speaking at the Catalyst Club on Thursday 14th January

I am speaking at the Catalyst Club this Thursday, on 'How to escape from a WW2 POW Camp'. The Catalyst Club takes place at the Latest Music Bar on Manchester Street (BN2 1TF) and costs £5.  Doors open at 8 with the first speaker on at 8:30pm.

This is my first post of 2010 – the start of the year has been great fun, but hasn't allowed as much time for blogging as I would have liked. I will catch up with things before I go away.

Hastings and Short Fuse

Yesterday evening I read at Short Fuse Hastings. I figured reading in Hastings would give me a chance to explore the town a little, something I never did when living there in the late 90's. I had a great afternoon exploring, aided by some suggestions from AK Benedict.

My favourite place was Robert's Rummage. Hastings has the sort of proper junk shops that were long since priced out of Brighton. Yes, we have some fun shops, but how many have a drawer labeled 'Locks and keys' containing a miscellaneous collection of both?

I also loved the bookshop that turned into a Thai restaurant during the evening. It was like some long forgotten Transformer toy. During the day it looked like a bookshop, with subtle clues to its other purpose, like a fridge of cakes at the counter, or tables and chairs hidden among the shelves. Far better than a robot that transforms into a VW Beetle, or a walkman

Hastings does seem a little battered. The pier is closed, and passing through St. Leonard's at 3pm it was a ghost town. You could walk past a dozen ghosts in Hastings without realising – the town feels haunted.

The reading went well. I'd spent a lot of time revising my horror story, The Other Child, and it had stopped seeming weird to me. Standing in front of an audience, I was suddenly aware of how strange and dark it actually was. The main character is grimly unpleasant too, in a manner I definitely am not. At points I found myself being surprised by what was about to read.

I read first, which meant I could relax and enjoy the other stories. I particularly liked VG Lee's story, which had a gleeful malevolence, and Michael Gould's tale about a ploughman, which felt like a traditional story. Hastings Short Fuse is a lovely friendly audience and I hope to read there again soon.

The night ended perfectly. I left the train at Brighton to find the number 7 bus waiting at the stop to take me home.


Below are the gates to Hastings pier. Anyone know what the yellow ribbons are for?



Below is the Admiral Benbow pub. I had some good nights in there, including watching the 1998 world cup.


New short story night in February

Sarah Charsley, who read a brilliant piece at the last sparks event, is organising a new spoken word night. From the Heart is on Friday 5th February, at the New Venture Theatre. It  will feature actors reading short stories. Sarah is currently looking for stories up to 1500 words on the theme of love. Full details are in the image below – click to see a larger version.


Last night at Sparks 7

Last night was Sparks 7. I had a great time, despite being nervous – but then I’m always nervous before standing in front of a room full of people. It’s probably a good thing – the only time I wasn’t nervous before reading my performance wasn’t great. Sparks seemed to go OK, and some people said nice things afterwards, so I’m happy.


I enjoyed last night’s readings, especially Naomi Foyle‘s prose poem, and Sarah Charsley‘s piece about going camping for the first time with a new boyfriend. I left early, at eleven and was sorry not to have the stamina to stay up partying with the others. Jo promised a surprise at the end of the night, and read out a letter she’d received that morning from Sarah Charsley. It detailed the things Sarah had learned as a consequence of previous Sparks nights, suggesting a certain amount of debauchery after previous events. (The photo above shows Jo reading from the letter).

I’m very sad to be missing the next Sparks event, in February. It’s a great night.


I’m reading at Sparks 7 on Tuesday 1st December

This coming Tuesday I will be reading at Sparks 7, at Brighton's Three and Ten (BN2 1TE). I'm reading my short story finis terrae, which is a little different to my usual work, partly because it features a female narrator:

"He used to call me Finisterre, whispering the name in my ear between kisses to my neck.  He’d sleep in my arms after making love and I’d stay awake, watching the sweeping lighthouse beam, the three-second, five-second rhythm of its Light Characteristic.  The radio would be on – not the lighthouse set but Mum’s old portable.  It never keeps a signal long and through the night it slips from voices to static.  I would hold him tight, knowing he’d soon be leaving."

The night starts at 8pm, with entry costing £5. Also reading is my friend, poet Naomi Foyle, who I read with at Short Fuse's erotic fiction night in March. There will also be stories from Sarah Charsley, Chloe Penney, Sam Mead, Gretel My, Jon Heath, Annie Clarkson. Each reading will be accompanied by the backdrop of a specially commissioned photograph.

If recent Sparks nights are anything to go by, there will be drinking and shenanigans afterwards. Do come along if you can!

Some photos from Fear of the Dark

The last couple of weeks have felt very busy but, after a tiresome journey on East Midlands Trains, I’m now recuperating at my sister’s rural compound. I’m currently working at the kitchen table, watching the chickens while catching up on things – like posting photos from last Thursday’s Fear of the Dark event.

Things seemed to go very well. I spent most of the performance backstage, so didn’t see many of the acts, but I enjoyed what I heard. Bernadette Cremin did a fantastic series of poems about a woman called Patsy; Kay Sexton did a couple of stories, one of which she dressed as a scary old lady for; Strawberries and a Peach did two lovely musical interludes; and Glue Gun ’91 produced a fantastic imitation of a dying swan, and a poem about Ruth Ellis that featured a staged hanging.

The final section of the night was performed in complete darkness. It seemed to work well (apart from one poor member of the audience who suffered an attack of the giggles). The evening was rounded off with serving cake to the audience. I’m not sure what everyone made of it, but I was pleased with what we produced: a spoken word evening like no other.

Another accounts is here (from performance poet/novelist Lou-Ice) and there are some morning-after tweets from @eldevri and @badgermind. The photos below show: Rufus Moonshine and Ruth Ellis relaxing before the show; a view of backstage; Ruth Ellis after the performance; and Gimley Whipple, serving cake, with an axe.

Thank you to everyone who came, and everyone who performed.




Reading at Short Fuse, November 8th

I'm reading at Short Fuse at the Brighton Komedia on November 8th. The theme for the night is Nouvelle Noir and it should be an excellent evening. Also reading is AK Benedict who I saw read a fantastic story at Short Fuse Hastings earlier this year (she has a great blog-post about seagulls here).

Headlining the night is Danny Hogan from Pulp Press. I blogged about his book, Killer Tease, back in March. It's one of the most exciting books I've read all year – partly because I liked the aim of Pulp Press, to produce straightforward literature that can be enjoyed quickly and cleanly. I think the world has a need for decently-written uncomplicated fiction. I'm looking forward to seeing Danny read.

I'm also appearing, with a story called Laurence Holloway's Cartoon Babylon. It's a secret history of Hollywood, about an English actor who used to go drinking with Bugs Bunny. The current version includes an over-researched extended joke about Apocalypse Now, which I need to review before Sunday. Wikipedia makes ornate research too easy.

Doors open at 7:30pm, and entry are £5.


The aim of Fear of the Dark was to put on a spoken word event like no-one had seen before. As you can see from the picture, last night's event wasn't your usual spoken-word night. Thank you to Kay Sexton, Bernadette Cremin, Glue Gun '91, Strawberries & A Peach and the Marlborough Theatre for helping make it such a great night. I am going to write a proper post, but that can wait tomorrow. My plans for tonight involve watching House and soaking in the bath.


I wasn't planning to organise another night in the near future, but I had an idea for an event this afternoon…