I love the tiny plaques on memorial benches, the way they attempt to describe lives with a short sentence or two. Often they leave me wondering about the person described and wanting to know more. One that I find particularly interesting is on the Undercliff walk, near the Ovingdean gap. Its text is simple: "In loving memory of Bunny". It makes me think of Bunny Munro, the title character in Nick Cave's book, The Death Of Bunny Munro, who lived in the area near this bench. I don't know the person that the bench actually memorialises so, for me, it's one of those strange moments where fiction and reality overlap.
Spacedog are one of my favourite bands. They seem as if they'd be easy to describe, but obvious words like ambient, haunting, or ethereal don't do them justice. There's a lot of humour in their live shows, robotics and a weird touch of folk music. And there's also Hugo.
Back in May I saw Spacedog's Televisor show at the Brighton Fringe (video here). In the interval I scribbled a short story inspired by one of their songs, Laika. I tidied it up a week or two later and gave Sarah a copy. She's now put it on her website and you can read it there.
Sarah's site also includes a great pair of essays on Twitter, one against and one (guardedly) in favour. They give an interesting account of what twitter is and isn't, as well as describing one person learning how they prefer to use the medium.
Yesterday I accidentally ran 24½ miles.
Well, not entirely accidentally. It started with an invitation to Sunday lunch from my old friend, @redjules. Her family live in mid-Sussex, about 14 miles from my house. I decided to run there and posted a parcel of clothes ahead of me so I could change when I arrived.
The problem was picking a route that looked safe and that I could follow without a map. By now I was too excited about the run to mind that my new course was about half as long again as the original distance. Another couple of miles were added by the inaccuracies of my route-planning software. But, despite the hard work, it was an amazing run, and an amazing Sunday lunch.
I started by heading to Brighton beach where the last few people were celebrating Pride. I don't know how people could still be looking so fresh at 9am – I can only assume they had taken an early night so that they could start clubbing again first thing in the morning. I headed west to Shoreham where I picked up the Adur river and turned North into Sussex.
According to wikipedia, the Adur's name is a relatively recent one, recalling a Roman fort that was thought to be nearby, but that it turned out wasn't. But the river's name makes me thing of the Basque concept of Adur. Back when I worked in Madrid, a Basque colleague told me about this: everything that exists has a name, and everything that has a name exists. Adur is a force that connects objects with their representations.
The Adur led me to Henfield, the village where I grew up for about 12 years. I've only returned a couple of times since leaving Uni, and it's always strange to be back. The roads look so small and narrow. Despite knowing the place incredibly well, I feel like a stranger there. It's as if my memories of the place happened to someone else entirely.
After 17.5 miles I switched to run/walking – I mostly wanted to test that could stay moving for 4 hours rather than do a fast run. Despite this lack of effort, by the end I was about 10 minutes ahead of my pace in April's Brighton marathon. I want to cut off about 25 minutes from my time when I do the Nottingham marathon in September and this suggests that I can do it.
Of course, such a long run so near the event is not a great idea, but I don't seem to have suffered any significant ill effects (although my legs ache a little).
At the end of the run I was rewarded with a lovely lunch from Jules and her family. Afterwards we sat in the back garden, serenaded by an Elvis impersonator a few doors down. He even sung my favourite Elvis number 'Sweet Caroline'. It was the perfect way to recover from the exercise.
I'm having a quiet Sunday evening, recovering after a weekend at the Playgroup Festival. I went up after work and set up my tent in time to catch the Hammer and Tongue slam. After that I wandered around the site, enjoying the atmosphere before going to bed.
It turns out that I was the only person in our area of the site that slept. At one point in the night, someone apparently had a full-on acid freakout next to my tent, calling for his mother and pondering (in a shout) whether he was Jesus. I missed that. I also slept through the partying Spaniards who were singing and drumming all night until some time on Saturday afternoon.
Since the Chatham House rule applies to festivals, I won't name the poet who won my respect with their heroic drunken antics. They set off wandering after a superb performance in the slam. At some point in the early hours they apparently beat the loud Spaniards in a rap battle. Later they were seen walking along a ditch, reciting classical poetry. After a couple of hours spent sleeping in that ditch, they bounced back to life and started all over again.
On Saturday I found myself getting more into the festival spirit and had a great time, wandering about with friends and having the sort of heart-to-heart discussions you can only have in damp fields. Tom and Chris gave fascinating lectures (I know now more than I need to about RPS and 'millicest'). AKDK played a storming gig and I spent the hours afterwards wandering about. I lost my voice, which was replaced by the husky party version. I met interesting strangers and had bizarre experiences and kept losing people then finding them again.
It was a fun weekend. I didn't try to catch that many acts, but once I got into the spirit I enjoyed wandering about and taking in the atmosphere. I think I had more fun than I've had at a festival in a long time. It was small enough to be intimate, and substantial work had gone into strange artefacts and performances. A lot of people from Brighton had turned up, which meant I kept running into old friends. The event wasn't perfect by any means (it definitely needed better water facilities and far more toilets) but I guess a festival is what you make it. I'm looking forward to next year.
There are various (possibly incriminating) photos I've not seen yet which are sure to appear on facebook over the next few days. I'm also hoping to see some of the footage filmed of Chris Parkinson's performance of The Wasteland AK/3D, backed by AKDK.
Some photos of Brighton from last weekend. The first is of a tree Esther and I saw on the way to the Brighton Parkrun:
I meant to blog about last weekend, but I suspect I may not get around to it (or, at least, to any sort of detailed account). I am frantically packing for Playgroup tonight, where I will be spending this weekend. I'm expecting to have all sorts of adventures there. I just hope the weather is better than it was today,
Last night, Mr. Parkinson came round to visit:
We drank beer, ate curry and worked on the layout for Clown Stories Volume 1. There's still a little more work to do, but I'm hoping to finish that later this month. A few last minute bits of proofing, and a general polishing of the design and it will be ready:
The cover is by the illustrator Kate Shields. The book contains three stories by Chris and the rest are mine. They're not the worst of my clown stories – only two people have read those, and I'm not really in touch with them any more. They're not the worst of my clown stories, but some of them are not very nice.