Next Not for the Faint-Hearted: November 7th

Not for the Faint-Hearted is a monthly writing night run by Ellen de Vries and me. We show a picture on a projector, and everyone spends a short time (usually three minutes) writing a response. It can be a story, poem, dialogue, or something else. When the time's up, everyone takes a turn reading something of what they've written. It's far less intimidating than it might sound and everyone seems to enjoy it. If you want to come along then sign up here. The next session is in Brighton on November 7th starting at 7pm.

Meanwhile, Tom has asked me to post some links to the pictures used in the last session, at the start of this month. Here they are:

  1. Tiny Kitten
  2. Mar Mousa Monastery
  3. The Best Way to Make it Through
  4. The Awful Truth, Day 4: Could be working harder
  5. Gravestones #1
  6. Vitral de Catedral de Berna


Reading at artistsmodelsink on October 3rd

I will be reading at the next artistsmodelsink event on Monday October 3rd at the Marlborough Theatre. Life Cycles is a life-drawing event featuring performances between the tableaux. Doors open at 7:30pm and the audience are asked for donations to cover the costs.

The first artistsmodelsink event was a great success and I'm very excited to be a small part of this one. The team have some fantastic scenes planned. There will also be a performance from Chris Parkinson, who has blogged about the night here (there's also a post about the previous event) and Rosy Carrick will be compere.

I don't know exactly what I'll be reading. I wrote a piece last weekend called The Pornography of Tea, but I'm not sure that's going to work here. I've got a couple of other pieces in the works though, and will finish one of them over the weekend.


Horseplay 29th September: Richey Manic vs Godzilla

It's been a while since I've done any spoken word, but I have a load of events coming up in the next couple of months, culminating in something very special for White Night. The first event is Horseplay on Thursday September 29th, where I'll be reading a new story called Richey Manic vs. Godzilla:

This is the story of a man who saved Tokyo! South Ataria Island, also known as Monster Island, is the prison of the world’s most dangerous monsters, among them Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla himself. A secret United Nations team keep watch to make sure they cannot threaten the world again. Among them is pop star Richey Manic. This is the story of where he went after his disappearance. This is a story of heroism and sacrifice. 

Despite the over-the-top concept, this is intended as something of a serious (and respectful) story, even if it does involve giant monsters.

Horseplay happens at the Black Dove in Kemptown, 74 St. James's Street. Also appearing is the fantastic Bernadette Cremin, as well as a group from Southampton who specialise in improvised sound-poetry. There are also open mic slots available. And it's free. Doors open at 7:30pm. You must come!

We Have Always Lived in the Slaughterhouse (reading on December 15th)

A new story of mine, We Have Always Lived in the Slaughterhouse is being read at the next Are You Sitting Comfortably night in Brighton. The event takes place at the Basement in Brighton on December 15th at 7:30pm, £6/£4. White Rabbit always put a huge effort into their nights and it is well worth attending.

The theme for the night is Horror. My story is an unpleasant story about an unusual domestic arrangement:

"When I was ten years old, I lived with my sister and my Mum in a slaughterhouse. Mum was hiding from her ex-husband, my sister’s Dad, and Uncle Harry thought we’d be safe in one of the old offices. Uncle Harry converted the disused office into a living area, with beds and a small gas stove. He even found some oilskin, hosed down and cleaned, and hung it as curtains, giving each of us our own areas. We didn’t mind living in that old office. Better to hide there than to see our mother beaten." 

I'm hoping that the night will be the perfect antidote to the Christmas preparations. See you there?

Poetry on the Beach

The article I linked to yesterday, about Brighton's Unicorn Bookshop, included some interesting comments, one of which quoted from a September 2nd 1968 Guardian article:

"David Field, another helper in the shop, was arrested while giving his weekly officially-permitted poetry reading on the beach. About 200 people heard him read a Ginsberg poem, and the policeman said some people in the crowd looked upset. The chairman of the magistrates on that occasion was … Mr John Cuttress. Mr Cuttress said there was no evidence of annoyance to the public by the use of a word which was part of a published work by a recognised poet. He dismissed the case."

The poem in question was apparently Allen Ginsberg's America (available online here). For me, the most amazing thing about this article is that 200 people used to attend weekly poetry readings on Brighton beach. The current poetry scene is thriving, but a regular poetry event of that scale sounds incredible.

I'm also surprised that I've not read about these poetry readings, or the Unicorn bookshop, in any of the reading I've done about Brighton. Someone should write a counter-cultural history of the town. There's so much material: beatniks sleeping under the piers, SchNEWS, Mods and Rockers, bands, The Squatters Estate Agency, fortune tellers and black magic. Or maybe the book already exists and I've just not seen it?

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.