Reading at Short Fuse, and other weekend activities

Last night I read at Short Fuse, as part of their Tainted Love night. I read 'LIBRARYS', a piece originally published in Penumbra a few years back. It was a very busy night, which made me a little more nervous than usual, but I seemed to do OK – and, being on first, I was able to relax the rest of the night. Tara and co. had picked a great mix of stories. My favourite was the second, a piece called 'Chasing Murakami'. There was also a brilliant open-mike story about living statues that rounded off the evening. Short Fuse is a very sociable night, and it was lovely to catch up with some old friends.

One of the most interesting things about reading out loud is how some stories work and others done. One of my favourite stories to read aloud is 'A Bad Place to Stick Your Hand', which always seems to get a good response. I've tried a few times to prepare it for print submission but it doesn't work so well on the page. Equally, I've got a few pieces that have been published which I don't think would be effective for a listening audience.

LIBRARYS was originally written as a series of bullet points, so I'd not considered reading it aloud. When I was invited to read it at Ride the Word in London, I had to think how best to perform it. In the end I settled for putting each point on a separate index card, which worked well; so much so that I've used index cards for other stories since. For some stories it's much freer than reading from A4 paper.

Among the other highlights of the weekend were Friday night's Jam at the skiff, which included guitar, cello, drum machine and the Alphasphere, a musical device made from espresso cups and wires (pictures of both are below).

I'd been planning to see the film Morris: A life with Bells on, but tickets sold out some time before. I did end up going (sadly, due to a friend's misfortune) and found myself at a spectacular screening. I'd expected a relaxed Sunday afternoon audience, but instead there were dozens of morris dancers, some of them performing outside.

These days you don't need to remind people to turn off their phones; but before this screening started with an announcement asking the morris dancers to remove their bells. Morris was the sort of film I love, like Spellbound or, um, Shakes the Clown, which transform a small subject into a life-or-death matter. Watching the film with an audience who knew the subject well was particularly interesting, since you could tell the in-jokes that would otherwise go unnoticed by civilians.

All-in-all, despite sleeping through Saturday afternoon and a vicious headache before Short Fuse, a pretty good weekend.



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