Monday, 13 November 2017

Hibernation Is Not An Option

Monday 6th November 2017

Proofed a bit more of the revised ‘Laughter To Split Glass’ on the bus back from Jen's. Didn’t get home till almost midday. Checked messages and Facebook on desktop when settled upstairs. Four hours prepping sessions. Keyed in notes, read an atmospheric ghost story by Algernon Blackwood and a great urban creepy by Gary McMahon. Listened to three Marilyn Manson albums. Maybe I’m having my Halloween a week late… Really fucking cold. Overspent and don’t want to be shelling out for gas just yet, so I’m in bed by half-ten and the only item of clothing I’ve taken off is my fleece. Joggers are still tucked into socks. Long sleeve polo top tucked into joggers. Big woolly pompom hat pulled down over ears. I’d like to read something brilliant. Keeping pulp horror for bus rides. Would like to read Hubert Selby Junior’s ‘The Room’ again… Jen was in touch. I took her phone charger, mistaking it for my android cable. Bugger! Chuffed to get through my prep. Not struck on Mondays. Think tomorrow should be okay. 
10.47 pm. 

Tuesday 7th November 2017  

Up early, fully clothed. Quick porridge and chocolate spread – or swirl, in this case. Scroll of Facey-B on the tablet. Proofed final twenty pages of 'Laughter...', printed out an extra copy for the meeting with Sheila from Red Squirrel Press, then sorted myself for the Waddy workshop. Very few of the staff in today. Session okay. Used ‘Does She Like Word Games?’ by Wendy Cope to kickstart a look at sonnets, sestinas, limericks and tritinas. Then a bit of a one to one on forms for a festive greetings card and how to make a mini-zine. Read some of Graham Masterton’s ‘Garden of Evil’ on the bus. Good meeting with Sheila at the Lit & Phil. We saw that guy from nineties comedy ‘Drop the Dead Donkey’ – Neil Pearson – who was there for some arts event. Then me and Jenni went to Tesco. Cleared out their reduced items shelves then back to hers for an episode of Lost in Space… Super swift 46 back to Consett. Read more of the novel, home to social media and cheese on toast. Ears ringing like hell. Sleeping in old clothes again. 11.00 pm. 

Wednesday 8th November 2017 

Out early for bank transactions and weekly allowance. Food at Barry’s Bargains so I don’t have to go out again until Saturday. Conversation at Waddy about music gigs and people who vote against their best interests. Session at Appletree was good – finished A2Z poem. Then back to Waddy and an hour of prep for evening class. Then an hour of 2017 fragments copy-ups. Evening good: Absurd words, inciting incident read backs, first/last lines, novel samples, starts to stories… ‘Garden of Evil’ on bus to Consett then an hour in Tesco: looked at music magazines, got copier paper and rest of the food to save a trip out before Saturday. I want two days to myself for my own stuff. Chuffed to find some striking prose in my NaNoWriMo 50,000 words from 2015. Good productive day. 11.50 pm. 

Thursday 9th November 2017 

Pretty cold day. heating hasn’t been on since Jenni was last here. And that’s months ago. Stone floor under the downstairs carpet. Probably warmer outside. Finished Graham Masterton’s ‘Garden of Evil’. It was okay except for a lull near the end after the big demon reveal – the ‘alive-dead’ people chasing protagonist and co – but picked up again in the final pages. Read the first eighty pages of Kathleen Kenny’s ‘The Satellites of Jupiter’. Present tense, first person family narrative of young girl set in late nineteen fifties / early sixties Newcastle. Episodic, maybe autobiographical. Over four-hundred and sixty pages, but I’ll try to fit it into gaps here and there. Also read some Lydia Lunch stuff from ‘Adulterer’s Anonymous’ this evening and extremely graphic vignette’s from Michael R. Gira’s ‘The Consumer’. Short, sharp shocks to the system – very influential in my mid-twenties. Back to bed with woolly hat and raging tinnitus. 10.57 pm. 

Friday 10th November 2017 

Listened to four Alison Moyet albums back to back whilst catching up on admin. If I hadn’t already overspent I’d try to get a ticket to see her at York Barbican on the 19th. But I’ll catch her again if she comes around in a couple of years from now. Haven’t read much – just the opening chapter of ‘The Concrete Grove’ by Gary McMahon on an Amazon preview. And some bits and pieces by Jessie Lynn McMains. Oh, and a couple of Jarboe interviews from 2014/16. Feel a bit done in, to be honest. Very distracted. ‘I Write’ by Albert Huffstickler came up as a post in my memory feed from a couple of years ago. I had a look online for his chapbooks, but the only few available were collectables around a hundred dollars each. I published ‘Huff’ in the very first issue of ‘Moodswing’ back in 2001. The mag is listed in his papers held at Texas State University: seventeen boxes of publications, letters and manuscripts - be great to see them all. 11.35 pm. 

Saturday 11th November 2017 

from Morning Pages:

A guy steps out of a doorway and sets down a little skateboard in a shopping precinct and pushes off. Only goes about five feet then stops, picks the board up and walks. A few moments later he tries again, but has to stop coz he runs the risk of colliding with a baby buggy. I see this whilst walking past a sports shop. I pick up a kids' kipper board from a display and throw the cost to a shop assistant and say Keep the change. Next thing I'm coasting along the street, in and out of shoppers, doing tic-tacs all old skool, popping up kerbs, doing little footbrakes to slow me out of harm's way. Before long I'm suburban and nipping in and out of terraces then the wheels become little tractor tyres and I'm all terrain, going up grass verges, carving round dirt mounds and over tree roots and it's totally brilliant. Next thing, I'm awake fully clothed in bed in November and am so stoked I want to longboard around Moorside, but of course I won't coz this time of year I've got about as much agility as a frozen corpse. But damn! That dream was great. Set me up for the day, that has. Fucking ace! 

Chuffed to write a good account of my dream this morning. Thanks to all who put likes on Facebook. Had steak pie and veg then cracked on with 'Anomalies 1989-2014' this afternoon. Whittled the standard version down from 180 pages to one-hundred and forty. Good to hear the band ‘Flipper’ for the first time. Bought a new thermal hat in Moorside, walked to Consett then read the first chapter of John Fante’s ‘Ask The Dust’ on the bus to Jen’s. Fante was Bukowksi’s favourite author but it’s taken me twenty-five years to get round to checking him out. Me and Jenni had fun laughing at dodgy coat hangers and listening to a toy Dalek bark what sounded like expletive-loaded commands. Went out for chips. Started watching Taggart when we got back but it’s a bit slow. 10.32 pm. 

Sunday 12th November 2017

Morning pages weren’t as good as yesterday but still recorded the humour between me and Jen pretty well. Had chip butties for breakfast then watched Columbo and Diagnosis Murder. Off to Tesco for dinner supplies, then a bit of Elaine Page’s radio show. Ran some book edits past Jenni for an hour. Thanks for catching my slipped tense and dodgy semicolons; and thumbs-up for layout edit on a poem about Jenni on page twenty-six – which just happens to be her lucky number. Listened to Elton John and Bernie Taupin on the Johnny Walker Show, had cherry pie and custard twice. Watched Sheridan Smith perform some of her favourite songs, then a game show, Big Bang Theory and more Elton John. I'll read a bit more John Fante on the bus to Consett then walk home. 10.34 pm.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Out and About...

Monday 30th October 2017

Awake around six-thirty. Usual morning pages then surfed net awhile. No new Jenni activity on Facebook so I reckon she wasn’t well enough for work. Did most of my session prep by mid afternoon then caught up on some typing. Looked at synopses of a number of novels and films I should know inside out anyway through repeated reads/views, but my memory… Oh well. Out around five-fifteen and reading the closing chapters of Widdershins by Helen Steadman on the way to Gateshead. Enjoyed Arch Remarks spoken word tonight. Good sets from Jeff Price, Ken Brady, Catherine Scott and Harry Gallagher. Good to chat with Sky Hawkins about poetry courses and see some comedy acts not encountered before. Lots of good open mic – including Aidan Clarke, Julian Lee and Sky. Finished around twenty to eleven. Walked into Newcastle over the high level bridge then chip shop. Now sitting on a cold black steel bench at Newcastle central station bus stop waiting for the last 45 to Consett. Half-twelve before I get home at the earliest. 11.13 pm.

Tuesday 31st October 2017

Bit of a lie in after a late one last night. Big run around getting my shit together. Took all the handouts and two days’ food for my Waddy meal breaks. Spent about forty minutes photocopying stuff for the session. We looked at the opening pages of Widdershins and some other sections of the novel. A couple of the group are now really keen to get the book. Looked at some scary poems for kids after the real horror and brutality of 17th Century Newcastle then wrote some blessings and curses. Had hassle in computer suite trying to upload last week’s blog – kept coming up with a white background, which pissed me off, so I didn’t post. Had a chicken rendang and rice for tea then off to Gateshead. Planned some exercises along the way for tomorrow’s Appletree workshop. Alison Moyet gig at The Sage was amazing. Real generous set of about one hour forty minutes. Plenty Yazoo hits, some classic solo singles, lots of recent electronica. Second tier west side seat, level with edge of stage, clear view of the whole band: best spot in the house. Cracking night! 11.17 pm.

Wednesday 1st November 2017

Upload to ‘Scribbles…’ worked fine on my computer. Good to pull session together for this afternoon. And evening worked out well. Only used half the exercises planned. Allowing time for read backs throws timings coz you never know how much will be written and how many people will wish to share. But plenty of fiction stuff in store for next week. I read Jessie Lynn McMains’ ‘Snapshots of Ghosts’ zine on the bus home. Loved the bit about Patti Smith and vignette about Jessie in the grocery store itching to compare tattoos with other punk parents. Missed my stop, ended up in Castleside. An elderly bloke got on, gave me a few double takes. Home to email checks, cheese on toast and a morning pages book hastily knocked up. Not doing NaNoWriMo. Not this month, anyway. OK. 11.36 pm.

Thursday 2nd November 2017

Long lie in. Needed it after the late night. Went to Consett for bank transactions and my fix of cakes and chocolate at Barry Bargain Supperstore. People queuing at the butter mountain. Three tubs of Lurpak for two quid. Marianne, one of the staff, shouts over to remind people that it’s ‘six tubs max per customer!’. I hate butter. Avoid margarine as well. Bought carrot cakes and Kettle chips. Tins of soup. Returned to cellar twelve for mince pie, peas, steamed potatoes and carrots… Less than four hours later I was eating free food – fried potato, mushrooms, bacon – at Waddy and planning notes for Poetry Jam. Guests all good. Richard Atkinson did stuff I’d enjoyed before. Julie Egdell was brilliant; her debut collection ‘Alice in Winterland’ is surreal and sharp. Harry Gallagher was on top form. Open floor had some nice surprises, including Alan Gillot from York and Diane Cockburn. Particularly liked Ian McGregor Hart’s ‘conspiracy theory’ list poem. Ride home c/o Fergus. More cake and blackcurrant juice. OK 11.36 pm.

Friday 3rd November 2017

Eleven o’clock before I got breakfast. Sick of porridge – had peanut butter and apricot jam on toast. Spent an hour on the assorted Poetry Jam pix for Waddy website. Uploaded last night’s pix to Facebook. Jenni phoned. Took me a while to get myself ready for Durham. Read a bit of Graham Masterton’s novel Garden of Evil on the bus, but fell asleep. Bus late. Met up with Jenni. We bought drinks and sweets at Tesco for the Phill Jupitus show. Brilliant night at the Gala Theatre. He did a 45 min set as Porky the Poet then spend the whole of the interval in the audience giving out badges and Tunnocks teacakes, and posing for selfies with fans. Second half opened with a song called Owls are Bastards. Then a Coldplay parody. Rest of the show pure stand-up. Really funny honorary degree ceremony story. And the Scottish cheesy chips with curry sauce in a polystyrene coffin sketch was hilarious. Jenni got the train back. I’m on the last 15 bus to Consett and it’s full, including loud kids drunk and annoying. Fuck you, shithead, sit down and shut the fuck up. Be good when this ride gets back. Alcohol: idiot juice. Driver has threatened to stop the bus and kick the pricks off. Hope that happens soon. 11.23 pm.

Saturday 4th November 2017

Stayed in bed till eleven. Went to Consett for a bank transaction. Read a few chapters of Garden of Evil. I’m trying out pulp horror stuff like I used to read back in my teens. Re-proofed first half of ‘Laughter to Split Glass’ this afternoon. Checked out top ten British horror authors. At least one book by each of them available from Durham Library Online. Particularly interested in reading the work of Gary McMahon. I'm now at Jen’s. Fell asleep on the bus here. TV and big discussion about political correctness / transgressions. Ate Halloween cakes, drank Britvic blackcurrant cordial. Overweight and struggling to button my jeans. Must do something about it. OK. 10.39 pm.

Sunday 5th November 2017

Another lie in. House really cold so double layers of clothes on. Went to Tesco for supplies. Then Jenni played lots of Sage Francis and B Dolan tracks. I like some of their stuff but not too struck on the music. Joined Sky Hawkins and Ben Dickenson for a meal with Lynda and Jeff Price. Lovely lamb and vegetables. Apple crumble and ice cream. Listened to very interesting conversations and eclectic music on the sound system. Not back in Gateshead for bus home so stayed over at Jen’s place. 
11.40 pm.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Days Away

Monday 23rd October 2017 
Pleased there aren't many people on the 45. I have a big bag of dirty laundry and it's been a bit whiffy in the house. I'm at the back of the bus and it's very warm. It's an old double decker; passengers who smell something a bit stale may just think it's this ancient vehicle. It’s a bit of a boneshaker. Is there any fucking suspension at all?
Today has been a busy one. In town first thing for bank transactions and foodstuff for my Leicester trip. Bit of panic getting the rest of the workshop stuff sorted, but Jenni isn't expecting me till mid evening. Looking forward to seeing Jarboe tomorrow. Just discovered today that Megabus stop isn't actually in Leicester city centre. An hour walk. Or half hour bus. Last bus back tomorrow to coach pick up is 11.00 pm. Which is gig curfew time. Don't want a repeat of London Jarboe gig in 2015 – when I had to leave after just three songs –  so I guess I'll be walking an hour around midnight tomorrow into Wednesday to catch return Megabus departing Fosse Park at 2.10am. So plenty of time.
Chuffed to get a copy of Helen Steadman's novel "Widdershins" from the library this morning. The last reading group copy not actually logged onto the system. Told staff I'd read it tomorrow and return as soon as possible. Going to buy a copy online to get signed next month in Newcastle. Would start reading it now but a bit knackered. Fuck knows what I'll be like this time tomorrow. And by Wednesday's workshops - don't even think about it. 7.33 pm. 

Tuesday 24th October 2017 
The bus ticket from Newcastle said change at Nottingham. I got out there and asked the luggage handler about connection times. ‘This is the Leicester bus,’ he said. ‘Don't get off here!’  Well it don't fucking say stay on the bus on the ticket. But that's okay.
Another hour and I was in the unusually warm late October air asking an Asda worker for directions. Walking  from Fosse Park retail area to Leicester City Centre. Jesus, people get up early here. Quarter past five and men and women walking to work, cycling to work. I ask if I'm on the right road and get told yes, but it's an hour.
Not too hard really. Straight road to Tesco, turn right at the Premier Inn them straight into St Nicholas Walk. Only thing open was McDonald's and I was bursting for the toilet. Cheekily, I used the facilities but didn't make a purchase. 
There are some loud men around the City centre at six in the morning. There's a Wetherspoons open at eight. So it’s going to be a while before I can get my cooked breakfast. Bacon and eggs and a small drink. Maybe even just water and I'm going to sit there till about ten then I'm going to find the venue and the bus station, and then hang out in the city library with ‘Widdershins’.  I must be a little nuts to come all this way for a twenty-one hour stay without accommodation. But if it stays dry I'll be able to walk back to Fosse Park at midnight and not have to bother with taxi fare. Last bus is eleven from the Haymarket bus station. Have a feeling the gig won't be finished by then. I wonder what a taxi would cost from the venue. Hopefully the weather will stay fine. I only got a few hours sleep coz some fucking god-awful percussive clattering and banging was occurring within the bus fittings right by my ear-hole. All the way to Sheffield. A woman got on and sat next to me and fell asleep awhile. She woke about four so I asked if we could swap seats. She was chuffed to have the window to lean on, but I think the clatter soon pissed her off. I hope I can get some sleep in the library. Or even the venue. 
I have my camera, my android tablet, some drinks, chocolate. Leicester city centre seems bigger than Newcastle. Hope I don't get lost. St Nicholas Way seems the central route and is pedestrianised. Walking three and a half miles in the dark I thought, fuck man, I've got it easy. Imagine getting up at half-four every morning, then walking or cycling in the dark. I rock up at a drop-in centre mid morning, hog the photocopier then use the microwave to get my lunch before doing a two-hour informal writing workshop then have another break. But I reckon tomorrow might wreck me somewhat. So long as I get some sleep I should survive. The bin men are out in their orange high visibility jackets emptying the rubbish. And hey, nearby there goes the first Arriva bus. I'm full of shit and I need some pop. Maybe a biscuit too. Think today will be pretty good. 6.32 am.

'For the sea will swallow up the mountains
And the sky will throw thunderbolts and sparks'
Those were the Nick Cave lines that rose up as I fought against sleep in Leicester Central Library this afternoon. I moved seats, found a little table and removed my glasses, rested my head on my arms. But not for long. Soon above me a stern voice said "You're not supposed to be asleep." And the woman was absolutely right. I came here to read a novel, but I didn't get enough sleep on the overnight bus. And consequently have felt rather hammered since breakfast. The Leicester Central Library, as well as having the collected lyrics of Nick Cave 1978-2013 also has a copy of ‘The Sickbag Song’. It’s a brilliant travelogue, epic prose and verse sequence - more vivid and arresting than anything I've read today. I will persevere with the Widdershins novel, but won't get anywhere near half-way today. I’ve had traditional English breakfast, I've had a Tesco steak pie. Mars bar, Polos and Kettle chips, Ibuprofen and a litre of fluid. In about an hour from now, around four-thirty I think I'll take a walk down to The Musician Pub and find out what time the gig finishes. I might even get to say hello to Jarboe. Last time one in London in 2015 she was in the venue by the window around six pm. I wrote her a note about the mix-up with stage times and running late. She said I could have introduced myself at the soundcheck. I might try to do that today. Right now I want to ditch the novel and read ‘The Sickbag Song’. Maybe Consett Library can get me a copy. Anyway, it's good to put pen to paper for a little while. 3.24 pm.

The High Cross Wetherspoons was too full for me after the library, so I went to Tesco and just got some flavoured water and bananas then walked down to the gig venue. Staff were really cool. One of them knows of Consett. The doorman told me about some of the bands who have played The Musician. On the walls are numerous posters and framed signed pictures. Apparently Nazareth arrived on a tour bus bigger than the building. Lush Jarboe poster on the door. I spoke to Freddie from Father Murphy who said Jarboe will probably sign stuff. Mr fan-boy here might even get a photo. Apparently only thirty-five advance tickets sold so it'll be an intimate gig. And  might be finished by half ten. But no hurry to get back to the coach stop. I heard soundcheck from outside and  it was pretty loud. Pleased I've got plugs. Chuffed to be here. 8.23 pm. 

Wednesday 25th October 2017
Last person to write with this pen was Jarboe. About ten hours ago. Really good to see her play last night backed by Father Murphy. And to meet her after the show. She remembered the picture I drew of her back in 1999. And the book quote she gave for ‘Hypomaniac’. She was very nice. Signed a couple of items and had a photo with me as well. Staff of the Musician pub were great. I loved the venue and am keen to go back when there's someone else playing that I want to see. Feet aching this morning. Limped round a 24 hour Asda at Fosse Park. But the trip worked out brilliantly. Connections fine. Got a bit of sleep on the bus back to Newcastle. Bit reluctant to go for more sleep at Jen's this morning in case I’m late for the workshop. Could possibly manage an hour. 
Toyah Willcox is on breakfast telly just after nine and I'd like to see her. Strange, she plays to small audiences of about 150 people but still gets on TV regularly with her acting and presenting. This time yesterday I was in Wetherspoons in Leicester. Having just polished off my trad breakfast. This time tomorrow hopefully I'll be sleeping.  I need to charge up the android tablet for today's writing sessions. Should've plugged into the mains before starting these pages. No clothes in my luggage. Just the camera and the Jarboe stuff and the lesson plan materials. Lush to get a shower as soon as I got back. Maybe if I could stay in bed till ten that would be okay. But reckon I'll just sleep in and miss my work so if I go into Waddy I might get an hour’s sleep in a comfy chair. Plus I can rest after the Appletree writing session which is just a simple A2Z poem. This evening could be tricky, but by half six I might be perked up. Can feel my eyes wanting to close now. Totally chuffed to do the Jarboe trip for less than thirty quid. Excluding travel from mine to Jen's, of course; I'd have spent money at the weekend for the bus and I’ll get my Explorer ticket as usual for today. I won't be using these pages as an example in evening session. Aiming to have them done by five past nine when Toyah is on telly. Then I might just lie down here for a while. Going to get my pix uploaded tonight from the gig. Tomorrow will be a bit of a lazy day for me. Mainly just sleeping. I didn't get much of the Widdershins book read. Maybe I'll just stay off the computer and read instead. Then go out to Gong Fu poets night at Tony Gadd's place in Coxhoe. Have a feeling I’ll not be able to make it home on bus from there though. Suppose easiest way if there are Newcastle people present is to just get a lift back to Newcastle and stay here at Jen’s or last Newcastle bus back to Consett. Will need another Explorer tomorrow. Good to have a bit of a laze here. Was mint to read ‘The Sickbag Song’ by Nick Cave yesterday. One of the best poetry books I've read in a long while. I gave Jarboe a copy of Shades of Grey, told her to enjoy the rest of her tour. Really good to finally meet her after 28 years of being a fan of her music. Hope to get back to normal sleep pattern by Friday so I can work. And hope I don't fuck up on anything in the coming days. Okay, almost Toyah time. 8.59 am.

LATER: Well, I somehow managed to survive two workshops after a second night of less than five hours sleep. At two o’clock this morning I was in a 24 hour Asda at Fosse Park a few miles out of Leicester city centre – and two o’clock this afternoon I was walking into the small room at Appletree in Meadowfield where the writing workshops happen. Managed to get an hour in a comfy chair back at Waddy before evening session. Both workshops went well. Good to get back to Moorside and see how well the photo of me and Jarboe turned out. So pleased Freddie of Father Murphy took it coz the selfies didn’t work at all. Thanks to him for the perfect souvenir. Think I’m gonna need a big lazy day tomorrow. Then it’s a night a Gong Fu Poets in Coxhoe. 11.35 pm.
Thursday 26th October 2017
Bit of a lazy recovery day. Slept in late after being on buses Tuesday and Wednesday night. Caught up on internet activity and made up a couple more pamphlets. Tried to read Widdershins on the bus to Durham this afternoon but kept falling asleep. Gong Fu poets in Coxhoe was mint. Don’t know how Tony got so many to come but it was well impressive. Generous sets from all the guests – Aidan Clarke, Jamie Thrasivoulou, and Scott Tyrrell on top form. Canny open mic from David Roe, Sarah Crutwell, Susie McComb, Diane Cockburn, Mark Smith and others. James Oates gave me a lift home. Wouldn’t have been able to get home otherwise. Not even to Jenni’s place unless I could catch a late train. Well organised line-ups well hosted. Home to message from Red Squirrel Press about meeting to discuss book. Eating too much again. Need to lose weight. 11.50 pm. 
Friday 27th October 2017 
All the travel and excitement of the week seems to have caught up on me and I’ve spent a lot of time asleep today. Have work to do and am getting behind on books but couldn’t keep my eyes open. Chilly house as October draws to a close. And I’ve been on the couch in the slanket all evening reading Widdershins by Helen Steadman. Around page forty earlier this week I stalled, but having eaten curry and cake and feeling more awake I’ve managed to get through half of it. 17th century stupidity, ignorance and superstition, religious bigotry, misogyny – kicking in bigstyle. Just found out Toyah Willcox has two live dates nearby next year. Mint! 11.07 pm.

Saturday 28th October 2017 
Out to town for bank transactions this morning and some type-ups in Consett library. Then home for a sandwich and more keyboard malarkey. Been playing lots of Alison Moyet tracks in the run up to her gig at The Sage on Tuesday. Ordered a ticket for Toyah’s Up Close and Personal show in Yarm next February. Same week as Rollins talking slide show in Sheffield. Wrote a Halloween vignette and read more ‘Widdershins’ on the bus to Jen’s place. She has fallen down – bruised arm and hip, sore ribs. Watched some TV in bed then out for chips. Bit of QI and Later with Jools Holland. 10.55 pm. 
Sunday 29th October 2017 
Made a two minute trip to the toilet last three pages of freewriting before making chip butties for breakfast. Watched various crime dramas and Westerns today. Including one particularly absurd episode of Bonanza where a guy is put on trial for removing his hat in church. If Beckett or Kafka had written cowboy stories this might have been one of them. Read more Widdershins on the bus home. 10.49 pm.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Keeping It Going

Monday 16th October 2017

Slow day but eventually got through my work list. Didn’t see an orange sky or a yellow sky. Just a grey one. Lucky we missed most of Ophelia but the wind is scarily strong now and the rafters are creaking loudly tonight. All it takes is some structural damage and I’ll be in debt and stacking shelves somewhere to meet the repair bill. Last time it was the garden wall that collapsed… Listened to the new Marilyn Manson album today. At one point I thought, yeah he’s become the David Essex of goth metal, ha-ha. But I still like him really. Although I think The Pale Emperor was a better album. Also listened to more Alison Moyet and some Eddie Cochran hits – ‘C’mon Everybody’ and ‘Something Else’ – performed by Led Zeppelin. Need to get back on track. Busy days ahead. 10.42 pm.

Tuesday 17th October 2017

Bit lethargic of late. Had a canny lunchtime chat about the wonders of Barry’s Bargain Superstore. Cheap comfort food makes me very happy. Workshop this afternoon was a half-term recap with read backs and feedback, then focused writing in the second hour. Read a hundred pages of Selima Hill’s new poetry collection, Splash Like Jesus, at the Lit and Phil… Mint night at Babble Gum. Loads of top open mic from visitors and regulars. Strong poem about anorexia by Pearl. Awesome totally improvised Halloween poem by Tim from Bristol. Darkness hiding in daylight from Ian Waugh. I read from Free To Be Me and sold a couple of copies. Great set by David O’Hanlon – all new stuff including Letter to Therapist. Hannah Welfare had a great dark witch poem to open her set. Renata and Trev played some new and familiar songs, including Good Quality Darkness. Host Alix Alixandra had a new poem ‘Imagine a Woman’ and along with Matt Miller – who also performed – did a sterling job of keeping the night going. Headliner Genevieve L Walsh was outstanding. Loved her Lighten Up poem – lots of grit and darkness laced with humour. Good to hang out with Jenni after the gig. Wish I’d bought Genevieve’s book but short of cash. 11.00 pm.

Wednesday 18th October 2017

Good session at Appletree. Read some more snapshots from Jessie Lynn McMains’ Reckless Chants #24. More positive feedback for ‘Free to Be Me’. Evening class went well. Ten people came. Want to keep it informal, some may need extra guidance. Swift ride home. Crisps and chocolate. A mint, if somewhat disturbing, newsletter from Julia Eff about escaping from domestic violence. Great Genevieve L Walsh poems on YouTube. 
11.17 pm.

Thursday 19th October 2017

Morning pages, emails, bank transactions. Picked up books from Consett library ( including ‘Room at the Top’ by John Braine and ‘Ask the Dust’ by John Fante. Two hours travel each way for a fabulous night at The Stanza in North Shields. Strong sets from all the guests – Hannah Welfare, Aaron Wright, Jeff Price, Ian Waugh and Alix Alixandra. Also good to hear house band Renata and Trev for a second time this week. Loads of top open mic as well – Megan Pattie, Ross Punton, Chris Hodgson, numerous others. Thanks to all who bought my pamphlet. Chuffed to catch last bus home. 11.13 pm.

Friday 20th October 2017

Slept late coz I didn’t get to bed till around two. Posted a pamphlet link on Facebook. Sold another copy. Spent much of the day reading stuff online. Articles on anti-natalism; Universal Credit; Rollins on US president. Also opening pages of Widdershins by Helen Steadman: it’s about 17th century Newcastle witch trials. Some of the action is set in Consett near my place. Attempted to upload the Kindle version of the novel to android tablet but it didn’t work. I’ll get the book the way it should be bought – on paper! Will try to read it in its entirety before the author’s talk at Books on Tyne Festival on Tuesday 28th November. Her Consett appearance on Halloween clashes with a workshop and it’s too late now to arrange a trip there for Waddy writing group. Also no guarantee they’d like to attend. Listened to The Clash’s first album and Johnny Marr doing Smiths songs tonight. 11.03 pm.

Saturday 21st October 2017

Awake at half five. Up around eight after the usual writing routine. Out to the Post Office to send off a pamphlet. Read some workshop theory then started whittling down the prototype ‘deluxe’ Anomalies 400 pages of contents to ‘standard’ length. It’s now 180 pages, but that’s still too many for a single signature fold and stitch book. 140 plus a picture insert sheet is probably the limit. Ate too much junk again. Canny day. 11.39 pm.

Sunday 22nd October 2017

Jenni is away at a Sage Francis and B. Dolan gig in York. Got my room de-cluttered today. Filed papers and trashed old handouts. Not a lot of time for much else, besides prep for a mid week evening workshop whilst listening to a live recording from the current Jarboe / Father Murphy European tour. Enjoyed my chicken rendang and rice. Bed soon. 11.21 pm.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Mixed Bag

Monday 9th October 2017

Paperwork used to fill me with dread every Monday. Not too bad now as I’m doing less for college this autumn. But still find formal lesson plans aggravating. Got feedback and notes typed up for Waddy. Read the remainder of Charles Bukowski’s ‘Factotum’: one lousy job after another; one drunken situation to the next. Chronological episodes but zero plot. Whole sections could be omitted and it wouldn’t disrupt the remaining flow. A paragraph for a chapter in some places. Ends with a pretty random scene. Engaging prose, canny dialogue; simple, direct, often funny. But not really a novel…Read and watched stuff on universal credit. Sounds a fucking nightmare. 11.05 pm.

Tuesday 10th October 2017

Tired. Headache. People left Waddy early to avoid school kids on the bus. Was tempted to cut the grass back home but didn’t want to be riving on with a clapped out hover mower when people are returning from day jobs. Don’t like doing it at weekends either. Tempted to go longboarding, but a nagging fear that I may knack myself before the gig tomorrow kept me safely indoors with a big steamed veg and pie dinner then a bit of the Richie Allen Show on YouTube, followed by some typing and an article of good and bad about Bukowski. Read some bit and pieces by a guy called James Altucher and listened to the fantastic Alison Moyet. Looking forward to her gig. 10.20 pm.

Wednesday 11th October 2017

Writing session at Appletree in Meadowfield went well. Bus back into Durham pretty swift. Talked to Nicky at Waddy about gigs and tinnitus. Quick rehearsal before chicken rendang for tea then a walk to the station and lots of scribble whilst travelling backwards on the train. Ten minutes before York the sky turned black. But thankfully not much rain. I’m about an hour early. Could do with a little nap. Gig venue is small so won’t need a mic. 6.47 pm

Thursday 12th October 2017

Highly enjoyable intimate gig at The Speakers' Corner, York in the Golden Ball last night. A bit like performing in someone’s living room in front of the fireplace. Great mix of poetry, prose and song from talented open floor. Lush set of linked poems by Catherine Crocker from her collection ‘Breathing Under Water'. The format of five min open floor slots in the first section, followed by two guest slots in middle section (with time in the next break to sell books) followed by a final round of open floor (one piece per person) including a final poem from each feature guest worked really well. Great to perform alongside some very talented writers. Many thanks to Andy Humphrey for booking me to do a set. And people who bought/swapped books and pamphlets. Great night. If you can get there next month go and see the brilliant Kirsten Apples Luckins. Cheers!

Stayed at Jen’s. Chatted early this morning while she got ready for work. Then I went back to sleep for a couple of hours. Stayed at her place copying notes into my blue transit book. Flicking through I found a short untitled piece from earlier in the year that grabbed me. Typed it into Facebook at lunchtime. Great response so far. More work after soup then back to Consett. Bank transactions and cut price cakey supplies from Barry’s Bargain Superstore. Watched biketrial videos this evening, cursed at the ten o’clock news and posted a paragraph about last night’s gig. House is really cold. Won’t be long till winter: hats, gloves, slanket. Fuck it. Bedtime. 11.26 pm.

Friday 13th October 2017

Best intentions shot to shit. Little done save witnessing a rather messy episode on social media. Tired, worn out, cursing coz somehow I’ve let a whole day slide – whereas Jenni seems to be having a good time at work. I listened to the Cruxshadows and watched an Emma Thompson interview about Harvey Weinstein. Also checked out some lush monographs and pamphlets from X-Ray Press. Too fatigued to key in blog post. No further forward with Anomalies. Went to the shop and was surprised by the amount of people milling about. Shop assistant says to some kids: ‘If you’ve got no money get out.’ Been eating all the bad things: crisps, cake, chocolate, jam tarts, fizzy pop… 10.33 pm.

Saturday 14th October 2017

Goth Weekend at Live Theatre was brilliant. From the opening moments with Jess Johnson belting out Spellbound to the final touching goodbye I loved every minute. Hilarious and poignant. A story about identity, family, lost loves and strange new relationships. Great musical references. The Cure, The Mission, The Cramps, Bauhaus, The Damned, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy… ‘This was written for you!’ Jenni laughed, at the cheeky mention of Toyah Willcox. Ali Taylor really did his homework. The whole cast was great. Jess came to talk to us just minutes after the play finished and was chuffed we liked it and thought it faithful to Goth culture. Steve Dayton from BBC Radio did an alternative eighties DJ set afterwards. Danced like an idiot. Thanks to Jenni for this wonderful treat. 10.49 pm.

Sunday 15th October 2016

In bed till after eleven. Morning pages by twenty to twelve. Sat on the futon watching crime dramas with Jenni. Good to see another excellent episode of Cracker. Multi-millionaire asking for investment on Dragons’ Den; what’s that all about? Just retire and live off your savings, you fool. Read Reckless Chants #24 by Jessie Lynn McMains on the bus home. 11.24 pm.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Familiar Faces in Public Places

Monday 2nd October 2017

Really windy day. Blew the grass dry so I should’ve been out cutting it, but if I did my hands would be wrecked and I’d not be able to fold and trim pamphlets this week. Bought some 200gsm red card in Consett for the FREE TO BE ME monograph. Much of this evening spent on admin for gigs. Chuffed to be performing at Speakers Corner in York next week. Enjoyed looking at some old Poetry Jam footage; wanted to check out Terry Dobson’s and Viv Wiggins previous appearances at Waddington Street Centre. Reckon it will be pretty mint this week. Hand starting to hurt from writing. 11.24 pm.

Tuesday 3rd October 2017

Busy day. Session at Waddy went well. Mainly focusing on solo character sketches. Usually I do them as a collaborative exercise. Probably one of the longest continuous writing exercises we’ve done for a while. About forty-five minutes. I get a bit uncomfortable if I go too long without offering instruction or guidance, but it was okay. Managed to get some copies of FREE TO BE ME printed this afternoon. Much better on the big machine than my little laser printer. Then a dash over to Newcastle to guest on Nova Radio North East’s Community Express Show hosted by Wajid Hussain. Wasn’t sure what to expect, but Wajid put me at ease and made some great links from songs to topics of conversation. Talked about musical influences, school, bookmaking, Poetry Jam, writing routines. He played The Price by Twisted Sister, Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, Heroes by David Bowie, Stand and Deliver by Adam and the Ants, and When We Were Young by Adele. Was going to end on Hurt by Nine Inch Nails but used My Girl by The Temptations instead. Great time. 11.20 pm.

Wednesday 4th October 2017

Up early to get sorted for the day. Biggest chore: ironing clothes. Had to borrow from housekeeping for bus fare as I’ve not been to the bank and don’t like the idea of contactless card payments for local travel. Good to sit in at Waddy and tell Steve and Ali about Nova Radio NE. Session at Appletree was another one to one as people are still away or too unwell to participate. I got on the X21 Newcastle bus, but Jenni messaged to say she’s too tired to come out today – and being knackered myself decided to just come home. Low on food till I go shopping. Scrambled eggs and potato fritters. A cheese sandwich. Intended to knock up pamphlets but will do them tomorrow. Thanks to Wajid for feedback on the poem and pix on Twitter. Listened to the new Jarboe / Father Murphy record and a Jarboe interview. Looking forward to the gig in a fortnight. Will need the earplugs for that one. 10.46 pm.

Thursday 5th October 2017

Made up a batch of monographs this morning. Came out rather well. Reckon the poem will be a slow burn like Joe Brainard Riff. Enjoyed inking up the individual covers. Like making books as much as writing them. Didn’t get to Waddy until about four. Printed more copies. Then did prep for Poetry Jam. Brilliant turn out. Guests Susi McComb, Terry Dobson and Viv Wiggins were all great. And the open floor was full of good stuff. Lots of female readers tonight, bringing the balance back after summer months of mainly blokes. Good to see Jenni, David and Lorna, David Roe, some new people. Will upload pix tomorrow. Just been scrolling Facebook. Thanks to Tony Gadd who bought a pamphlet. Good to get a lift home off Fergus. Looking forward to not being anywhere far tomorrow. 11.37 pm.

Friday 6th October 2017

Slow day. Not out of bed till half ten. Uploaded pix to Facebook. Seems to take longer each month. Gig was brilliant though. Sent out payment requests for writing course. Looking forward to challenging myself to come up with a solid set of ten sessions. Tonight I listened to old Swans songs plus extracts from The Glowing Man album and lots of solo Jarboe. I post things about her, but not many people seem to know who she is. Last night she played ‘Blood On Your Hands’ and ‘Ode to V’ in Moscow.  Hope those songs stay in the set for the UK leg of the tour. House starting to get cold. Another month and I’ll be sleeping in my clothes. Must do a catch-up on paperwork tomorrow. Canny week. 11.07 pm.

Saturday 7th October 2017

Slow day. Up after ten. Penned a gig set idea for next year. Then went into town for food supplies. Went to the new Barry’s Bargain Superstore in Consett. Lots of people I’ve never seen before. Bit overwhelming, to be honest. Chicken rendang and rice when I got back. Copied up bits and pieces this afternoon. Listened to some vintage Henry Rollins routines from 1988. Prefer the old stuff to the more politicised recent spoken word, to be honest. Read twenty pages of Bukowksi’s ‘Factotum’ on the bus to Jen’s. Watched telly programmes on the laptop coz the TV remote is missing. Saw two Newcastle comedians Sean Turner and Ken Brady on ‘Inside Out’ and Teesside poet Chris Stewart on ‘Antiques Roadshow’. 10.14 pm.

Sunday 8th October 2017

Jenni found the TV remote so we watched a couple of episodes of ‘Diagnosis Murder’ then went out for supplies. Had steamed veg with steak pie. Jenni had veggie sausages. Watched one of the best episodes of Cracker – Brotherly Love – and an old Lewis. Read more of ‘Factotum’ on the bus home. Then watched ‘Written in Blood’ crime documentary. Ate crisps, chocolate, cheese on toast. 11.14 pm.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Monkey Mind

Monday 25th September 2017

Lesson prepped, group profile written, feedback done for half the participants. ANOMALIES came out of the book press looking good. Few things I’ll have to move and some white space I want to fill with graphics, but it’s a great master copy to draw from for a contents list on the first one proper towards the end of the year. Washed some clothes in the sink and ate the last of the ham. Sat at the computer listening to The Smiths. Wasn’t fussed at school, but quite like them now. Should get an early night and start sharp tomorrow. 10.55 pm.

Tuesday 26th September 2017

Left my cash card in an ATM this morning. Didn’t realise until I was about to board the Durham bus and noticed it missing from my wallet. Dashed back to the bank and stood ages waiting to speak to staff. Luckily I got it back. Another good turn out for the Waddy writing course today. National Poetry Day ‘Freedom’ stuff. Cut-up word bank, Invictus poem, freewriting… Tonight I keyed in notes and listened to Ruby Throat, featuring Katie Jane Garside – great stuff. No work on books. Watched 1973 Bukowski documentary. Much as I like his stuff, don’t think I’d have lasted long in his company. 11.09 pm.

Wednesday 27th September 2017

Nice little group at Appletree today. Bit of univocalism, take three nouns, more ULIPO stuff. Me and Jenni had awesome burgers of the carnivore and veggie variety, respectively, from the new range at eat4less. Checked out snazzy coloured Doc Martens in Schuh. DVDs and vinyl in HMV. Best Queen t-shirt I’ve seen in ages – vintage News of the World. Also Joker shirts, The Killing Joke film, new Satyricon album; and yet more Pistols books. Splendid night at Heaven and Hell themed Newcastle Literary Salon. Steve Palace had a mix of contrasting monologues, particularly liked the one about enjoying a stay down below. Canny set from Anne-Marie Quinn, including well observed piece about a busker. Richard Atkinson gave a highly engaging seated reading from his book ‘Two Full Stops from Gravity’. Fiction from James Anthony Tucker. Some strong rhythmical work from Susie McComb on open mic, pieces on Goth Festival and mortality from Jenni Pascoe. Juli Watson and Ian Waugh read well also. Benjamin Aaron MacLeod, in addition to being a brilliant host, closed the night with some hilarious cocktail vignettes from his forthcoming book about drinks. Definitely worth checking out. 10.40 pm.

Thursday 28th September 2017

Happy National Poetry Day! Theme of Freedom, so I opted to do my own thing. Didn’t get out of bed till after ten. By half past I found myself casually penning lines for a poem. Well, you have to really, don’t you. Just riffing on ‘I’m free’. Only aim was to make it positive. Started out in little three-line stanzas, kept adding to it throughout the day – in the house, on the street, in shops. Just a little bi-product of my day off. Finished twenty pages (eighty stanzas) around eleven tonight. Really chuffed to get out on the longboard after-dark. Went to the Leisure Centre carpark. Well-lit, not steep, but enough of a slope to get rolling and carve back and forth. Easy to keep momentum. In fact, I’ve kept momentum pretty well today. Ten to midnight and there’s a little pamphlet made. But I reckon I can print it better at Waddy. Felt good to turn it out in just over thirteen hours. Okay. Knackered. 11.53 pm.

Friday 29th September 2017

Taking the day off yesterday to be free and positive in my poetry has left me feeling really fucking aggravated today. Didn’t get half my work done. Pamphlet made last night is pretty lush, but I can’t get good repros of it until I get to a decent copier next week. Laser printer has been leaving shadow lines on the paper coz I pre-cut the pages smaller than A5 before I started writing. Scanned the whole thing, which allows me to print out a copy in under a minute, but the handwriting looks like a greyscale photograph; it doesn’t look like black gel ink. Need to make a good master copy in a decent machine next week. As for the poem, it’s a one take wonder and I’m not changing a fucking word of it. I’m hoping Poundland have more of the cherry red heavy duty card I used for the original cover. There was a pack of red card at Jula Crafts in Consett last week. If it’s still there on Monday I’ll get it. But would prefer the mottled cherry red.
   I treat yesterday like it was a holiday: favourite food, music, bikes and longboard. Out and about and a new little Talking Pen monograph made. Expected to get my Speakers’ Corner set worked out today, but will do it at Jen’s. I made a big long playlist of songs in hopes that some are suitable for possible inclusion on the Nova Radio NE show I’m appearing on next Tuesday evening as Wajid Hussain’s guest. A lot of the music I like is pretty grim. I tried to vary the styles: Tori Amos, Queen, Motorhead, Leonard Cohen, Nine Inch Nails, Spandau Ballet (!!!), Toyah, Adele, The Cult, Hanoi Rocks, Lou Reed, Adam and the Ants, Billy Joel, The Mission… Wonder which ones Wajid chooses to play.
   I’m on the X70 to Gateshead. Jenni is working over half the weekend so it’s best I go in tonight to see her. It’s creeping close on dusk. Bus stop at Flint Hill. Last night I left the house at twenty-past seven to ride the longboard and it was already dark. My watchstrap pin broke. I hate being without a watch. Didn’t have time to get it fixed today.
   Bus driver is shunting and slamming the brakes on, fiercely lurching. Really fucking annoying. Of course I’m just a whinge and couldn’t drive if hell had me so I should shut up, but still – the fucking price of the ticket…
   Anyway, best get more cheerful. Seems the X70 has a new route. One minute we were in Flint Hill. Now I don’t have a clue where we are. Have a feeling the driver doesn’t either. Fuck it. 6.55 pm.

PS – Jenni likes the new monograph.

Saturday 30th September 2017

Nice lie in this morning. A walk into town with Jenni for a sandwich. She went to work this afternoon and I went look for cardstock, a new watchstrap and Toyah 7-inch singles. Four-and-a-half hours later, me and Jenni had a drink in the Station Hotel then went for supplies. Jen cooked us a nice tea: leeks, mash, mushrooms and broccoli – steak pie for me, veggie sausages for her. Watched the poetry programmes: Auden on age of Anxiety then Contains Strong Language spoken word from Hull festival hosted by Simon Armitage. Good to see Zena Edwards, Kate Fox, Helen Mort amongst others - prime BBC2 Saturday night slot. Spicy Nik Naks, orange squash and a bit of Later with Jools Holland. 10.47 pm.

Sunday 1st October 2017

Jenni at work today so I got my breakfast, sorted some copy-ups for an ‘in-transit’ book project then came home. Was diverted near Tesco in Consett due to a fatal traffic accident. Helicopter just taking off as I was told no go… Had another big dinner like last night, then put together a gig set for next week’s Speakers’ Corner in York. Been checking updates on shock-rocker Marilyn Manson after he was crushed under a fallen stage prop. Nine dates postponed… Had a good few runs through my set. Ate chocolate. Ready for bed. 11.30 pm.