Tuesday, 20 June 2017

REALLY HOT




Monday 12th June 2017

Well, that was a totally shit day. Did I stick to the schedule and get all my work done? No, I got distracted by politics. Came across some small press mags that I’d like to check out. Prepped my sessions. Still got bits and pieces of typesetting to do. The election stuff has left me a bit worn down. Will hopefully feel a lot better tomorrow when I can get out and about. The sessions shouldn’t be too hard. Was good to listen to Queen Live at the Rainbow and some new Jarboe stuff. Got a ticket for her autumn tour. She’s playing The Musician venue in Leicester in October. Good to listen to Alison Moyet, read some zine articles, eat pizza, cheese sandwiches and chocolate. Need some proper food, I reckon. 11.02 pm.


Tuesday 13the June 2017

House is a tip. Never hoovered for ages. My front door badly needs a coat of varnish, my computer video viewer won’t open and I run all my pix and scans through it, so that needs attention. And I still haven’t had the back door frame fixed. Garden wall falling and junk pile growing. But hey, the workshops keep coming and the bills get paid. Felt a bit crushed under it all today. Never seem to have enough time to focus on the writing I want to push for publication. If it looks like something from a workshop exercise I’m reluctant to use it. I’m usually full of buzz after an evening class but think I’m hitting the wall a bit. Haven’t been on the bike for weeks. Haven’t been on a longboard at all this year. Checked out some Julia Eff zine stuff tonight and listened to Jeremy Corbyn’s full parliament speech online. But good to be away from the net for much of the day. 10.45 pm.


Wednesday 14th June 2017

Both workshops hassle free today. Came home after Appletree instead of going into Newcastle. Jenni arrived at my place around quarter to eight and wasn’t impressed with the three hours on public transport from Bensham to Moorside via Team Valley. She is tweaking my computer and locating hidden files. All my pix and vids and scans open via Kodak Media Impression, but any attempt to use that software now results in the whole screen freezing. Tried to de-clutter the back room a bit this evening. Wheezing now. Left knee is creaking more than usual. Need to be asleep soon. 10.23 pm.


Thursday 15th June 2017

Newcastle City Library. Jenni messaged to say she’s on her way. She nipped home to prepare tonight's feature set for The STANZA. She gave up writing time to help me out last night. She has located my video files that the Kodak software had buried in a 2012 folder. Pleased it’s sorted. My session for Colour your Life didn’t happen this morning. Unusual for most of the group to be absent. The activity planned wouldn’t work with just a few people, so I postponed till next week.  Considered winging it, but didn’t want to short change people. 5.42 pm.


Friday 16th June 2017

Last night was a blast from start to finish. Guests – Donald Jenkins, Gill Lambert, Aidan Clarke, Jenni Pascoe and Mark Connors – were all brilliant. Great stuff from Harry Gallagher, house band Renata and Trev, plus cracking open mic featuring over a dozen regional writers. Me and Jenni putting the world to rights again this morning, as we tend to do when the bullshit comes through via Facebook. Went into Gateshead for a while this afternoon then home to Consett. Ham and pease pudding sandwich, crisps, cake, orange. Too tired for much this evening. Invoice work and a bit of typing. Alison Moyet’s new album ‘Other’ came out today. Think I prefer the ‘The Minutes’, to be honest. Grenfell Tower anger rising in the capital. People sick of austerity deaths. PM called a coward by residents. Time for her to go. 11.48 pm.


Saturday 17th June 2017

Morning pages. Rehearsals for next Thursday's Pro Invitational Poetry Slam at The Word in South Shields. Keyed in notes. Tax online. Photocopied handouts for workshops. Notes on automatic writing, checked out Rosa Liksom vignettes. Sick of the sound of the overheating desktop computer. So tired this afternoon I had to sleep a couple of hours. Put some workshop stuff together for next week. Checked updates on the android tablet, but only used photocopier and handwritten notes for work stuff. Read some poems from Red Squirrel Press pamphlets by Cynthia Fuller, Keith Parker and Chris Raetschus. Then a bit of Get in the Van by Henry Rollins. It's a warm night and sleep might be a problem. 11.23 pm.


Sunday 18th June 2017

Couldn’t work on the desktop computer today coz heat is too much for fan to cope with. Concerned the hard drive might fry. 26 degrees is too fucking hot for me. Worked on some texts for students on the android tablet downstairs. Over to Jenni’s place this evening. Got some food in at Tesco. Watched Dragons’ Den, Life Swap Adventure and Father Ted. Room still really hot as bedtime comes around. 10.22 pm.

Monday, 12 June 2017

BRAIN DRAIN



Monday 5th June 2017

Lazy day due to working the weekend. Copied up blue notebook poems at Jen’s this morning. We went into Gateshead late afternoon to meet up with Sky Hawkins then down to the Corbyn rally. Pleased we got there early coz place was soon packed. Lots of positive energy. Glad to be among it. Jezza was great. Good to hear North West Durham Labour candidate Laura Pidcock as well. My ears are pretty much mashed from the PA. Forgot plugs. Hope buzzing fades to usual level over the next few hours. Back to Jen’s briefly to get changed then bus to Consett. Pit stop in Tesco then home. A £5 grab-bag of 13 zines on the mat. Some good ones in there – Telegram, Pieces, All Things Ordinary. Facebook then bed. OK. 11.52 pm.


Tuesday 6th June 2017

Should’ve been in bed half an hour ago. Sometimes it’s hard to switch off after the buzz of workshops. Looked at exercises for tomorrow on the bus home tonight. Two young men talking about an easy life in prison. I was tempted to ask them what it’s like doing a two-year stretch coz one of them seemed to think it cushy compared to life on the outside and had no problem with going back inside. Both workshops were good today. I showed someone footage of Corbyn’s Gateshead rally compared to the wide angle pix of the PM in Northumberland last month and they were gobsmacked at the fakery of the Tory campaign. A labour voter, anyway, but unaware of the extent of mainstream media bias. Sick of the fucking rain. Sick of this fucking tinnitus. Supposed to be sunny tomorrow. Probably too hot. 10.52 pm.


Wednesday 7th June 2017

I know you’re not supposed to tell people who to vote for, but fuck’s sake – lose the health service, lose civil liberties, leaders selling death machines to maniacs. You think Tories care about the working class? Those fuckers live in a different world. How many people do you know who earn over eight grand anyway?... Sessions went well today. Was wonderful to meet a workshop first-timer. One hundred years old. She wrote clear, thoughtful prose and fragments of verse… Me and Jenni watched all the pre-election news and a bit of Tonight at the London Palladium. I had six scrambled eggs on toast. Finished the day looking for good poems about places for tomorrow. Will probably stick with what I already had. 11.00 pm.


Thursday 8th June 2017

Five hours sleep. Voted Labour around quarter past seven then prepped my bag for final session of the week. Settings and Dialogue. Some great read backs. Always leave Witton Gilbert feeling relaxed. Bus to Consett. Ordered the new Henry Rollins book ‘Before the Chop Vol 3’ on my tablet in Lloyds bank. Treated myself to an all-day breakfast sandwich, came home around three. Cleared some of the clutter from my bedroom and caught the six o’clock news. Surprisingly little about the election. Watched ‘Hit So Hard’ DVD documentary about ex-Hole drummer Patty Shemel. Then ‘Silver’ – The Mission 25th Anniversary concert recorded at Brixton Academy in 2011. Towards the end of that BREAKING NEWS via Facebook: exit poll predicts hung parliament. Good start, but not getting hopes up. Leaving android tablet downstairs overnight. If tomorrow is sunny first thing I might go longboarding. 11.43 pm.


Friday 9th June 2017

Another five hours sleep. Put the computer on too early and got sucked in again. Told myself I wasn’t going to do that. Pleased Labour had strong gains. But a fucking Tory DUP alliance? If Corbyn was taking up office with extremists how would that go down? Tory hypocrisy is off the scale. Really do want to see Trexit – crying on the steps of Downing Street when backstabbed by her own, just like Thatcher before her. Tomorrow is a new day and I’m going to try to avoid it all. Got hardly anything done today. Just reading page after page of political fallout. Lots of TV coverage. Tired. Sick of it all. Aim to be asleep by half eleven. 11.06 am.


Saturday 10th June 2017

Just got on the X10 to Middlesbrough. Be good to see Toyah Willcox gig at Longlands this evening. Weather picking up. Wish I didn’t have the big coat with me, but last time I ended up sleeping overnight in National Express doorway of the bus station... Good to have a chat with Jenni about the election fallout instead of just reading stuff on social media. Tired of it occupying so much brain space at present. Will stay offline with a zine, I think. 6.24 pm.


Sunday 11th June 2017

Yeah, Toyah was mint. Good Morning Universe, Thunder in the Mountains, Obsolete, Brave New World, Danced, Mystery, Free, IEYA… Got home about 2.15 am. Jenni was still up. We watched a Meatloaf documentary then bed around 3.15 am. Surprised I managed to surface around nine. Mainly just watching TV and trying to stay awake. All the election stuff has kind of worn me down a bit. Some idiot on the bus to Consett: ‘Vote BNP or UKIP – British through and through, me like!’ Clueless. Back to routine tomorrow. 11.30 pm.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

BIG WEEK OFF



Monday 29th May 2017

Lie in at Jen’s place. Out to the shops for drinks then back to laze and watch TV. Then an episode of Diagnosis Murder and some New Tricks. Read Glad to Wear Glasses by John Hegley. Half six bus home to watch election party leaders debate. Corbyn held up well. May looked rattled, but didn’t disintegrate as hoped. Bugger! Read some Facebook posts, ate crisps, cheese sandwiches. Checked emails Good to have time away from workshops. 
11.31 pm.


Tuesday 30th May 2017

Yep, totally my intention to stay at the computer all day. Keyed in notes, email responses and made a file of student poems for critique next week. Watched a load of Biketrial UCI World Championship 2012 footage online and two Jack Carthy (Current World Champion) mini-documentaries. Listened to various cover versions of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Then some Marc Cohn (no relation – Walking in Memphis). Been trying not to spend money on food but relented and got bread, orange squash and bananas. Watched first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale – pretty fucking bleak stuff. Tomorrow I most certainly won’t be at the desktop. If weather is fine I’ll be cutting the grass. 11.03 pm.


Wednesday 31st May 2017

Downstairs much of the day. Pleased to get grass cut, front and back. Bit of a bastard coz it’s been over three weeks since last time. Nearly two hours, heavy on the wrists and lower back. Tidied the front room a bit, no hovering. Was going to watch a horror film but the BBC election debate was enough for one day. Why the fuck does anyone believe a word the Tories say? Good to see one of them booed and laughed at. Next door neighbour knocked to inform me he’s bought a drum kit and is taking lessons but will try to be considerate. Good to revisit ‘Reckless Chants 23’ zine by Jessie Lynn McMains. 11.30 pm.


Thursday 1st June 2017

Today turned out pretty good. Despite having to spend nearly two hours trying to install software for remote access to the New College Durham website in order to view my payslips and P60 online. Two hours! And it didn’t work because the software recommended by the college isn’t compatible with my operating system. So basically, upgrade the computer to get online info for a tax return. Bus to Durham was a furnace. Opened all eighteen windows on the top deck in order to breathe. Not many people about at Waddy when I arrived. Did my paperwork, reworked a poem from two drafts and had a curry for tea. Poetry Jam was excellent. Bit concerned about low numbers initially, but the intimate gathering was fine, good turns on open floor, the guests all mint. Gritty dark set with some politics and surrealism from Cath Campbell. Fake facts and fictional truth in a big history of the universe twenty-eight minute set from Mike Treasure. Plus a belter of a set from headliner Jess Johnson on prison poetry, fashion mums, kids who think they invented life, plus rap-based identity poem to finish. Great to catch up with my friend and ex-Waddy worker Anna who gave me a lift home. 11.40 pm.


Friday 2nd June 2017

Fuck’s sake so many muppets on election Question Time tonight. Don’t vote for Corbyn coz he isn’t willing to press a button causing a chain reaction that will completely annihilate the entire planet. Let’s vote for the shower that wants to enslave us with extortionate healthcare when the NHS is scrapped along with every other public service. Being nice and reasonable doesn’t seem to compute with voters brainwashed by trickledown theory and their own aspirations to supremacy without their realising they’ll never be accepted as equals by bigwigs no matter how many Tory arses they kiss. Being nice isn’t something these fools understand or respect. Apparently the last JC who tried that ended up nailed to a fucking tree! Light’s out. 11.36 pm.


Saturday 3rd June 2017

Day at home to do some workshop prep for next week. Three sessions of five good to go. Typesetting poems for another group session. Nipped out for some supplies but mainly upstairs at the computer till mid evening then knocked off to watch a film called ‘Aftermath’. Pretty poor post nuclear holocaust mostly set in a cellar. Back upstairs to the computer to discover news of a major incident in London – white van running people down on bridge. Here we go again. 11.35 pm.


Sunday 4th June 2016

Got through quite a bit of work. Type-ups, student feedback, preliminary Waddy booklet layout. Bus schedule's changed for Sundays again. Forty mins wait in my home town to get a bastard bus to Tyneside. Just as well I brought my tea with me. Sat outside a while eating my cheese and tomato sandwich, my Burt’s crisps and my my nutragrain oaty bar. Will be odd to have the day off tomorrow instead of today. Getting a bit breezy so I come back inside the bus station to wait out the final fifteen minutes. I left the house at five. It’s gonna be near seven before I reach Jenni’s place. Me and Jenni are going to the Corbyn rally tomorrow, if it’s still on. All the national election campaigning is suspended today after last night’s London attacks. And all the PM can think to say is we need to censor the fucking internet. Coz cutting 20,000 police officers has nothing to do with it. Selling billions of weapons to the biggest human rights abusers on the planet doesn’t have anything to do with the rising terror threat either. Fuck the Tories. Hope Thursday sees the fuckers hung out to dry. Might read 'Reality, Reality' by Jackie Kay on the bus to Tyneside. 5.53 pm.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Meltdown



Monday 22nd May 2017

Be glad when the election has been and gone. Losing precious time getting caught up in online speculation. I like to leave the desktop computer off after Monday prep, so it should be less of a distraction for the main part of the week. I have my sessions pretty much planned except Wednesday afternoon. Still got time tomorrow. Going to rehearse my gig tomorrow as well. Good to see PM started to crack under pressure. I've not been over the doorstep. Saw a nice Brian May promo vid for new Queen 3D photobook. Looking forward to Queen and Adam Lambert gig in December. 10.40 pm.


Tuesday 23rd May 2017

Feeling somewhat stunned by what happened in Manchester last night. Blurred vision this afternoon mid workshop whilst at the computer. Had to knock off for two hours but still managed to do my evening class. Session went well. I didn’t write anything new. Just kept people on track for two hours. Nice evening. Slow walk back to bus stop. Head starting to split again. Mercifully no vomit. Still up at eleven when I should be back in bed. Hope I can get tomorrow afternoon’s session together. Gonna take next week off. Really want this one over and done with. 10.56 pm.


Wednesday 24th May 2017

Awake at half four. Hard to get back to sleep. Up by six. Watched the news for a while. Well done to Tony Walsh for a poem that captured the spirit of Manchester. Had trouble the last couple of days with migraine and insomnia. Not getting enough fluids. Enjoying workshops but ready for a week off. Will do my bank transactions after Colour your Life tomorrow, then read at Mostly Spoken. Then I’m out of action for a week till Poetry Jam. Be good to chill out and just do copy-ups of my 2017 stuff. Changed my gig set as this week is grim enough as it is. Hopefully I can pull some funny stuff out the bag. Good to spend time with Jenni this evening and talk over events. Walked home from Consett. OK. 11.16 pm.


Thursday 25th May 2017

Slept a bit better last night. Enjoyable session for Colour your Life with good group in Witton Gilbert. Weather is starting to piss me off already. One blistering day and I’m wrecked. Melting in the heat on the bus back to Moorside. Got my set sorted again for tonight. Hung around Consett for a while. Mostly Spoken gig was good. Enjoyed sets by Oonah Joslin, Cath Campbell, Ken Brady, Jenni, Steve Palace and James Oates. A few of us sat around outside the Cumberland afterwards. Going to get some chips on the way back to Jen’s. 10.20 pm.


Friday 26th May 2017

Still not loving the fucking weather. Sticky, stinking, tired. Went to Gateshead Library. Good chat with Mark Speeding. Listened to Motorhead and The Who whilst copying up workshop writings. Bought a load of flavoured water afterwards. Had to lie down for a while. Jenni made a nice spinach pasta with onion rings and tomatoes. She isn’t loving the weather either. Caught the news and Jeremy Corbyn getting grilled from Andrew Neil. More people switching to Labour? We’ll see in a fortnight. Enjoyed Jimmy McGovern’s The Street tonight. Big lazy day tomorrow, I reckon. 11.02 pm.


Saturday 27th May 2017

Up early. Did my pages and read some politics online. Checked out texts I’ve been storing up in a notebook for future use. Me and Jenni had a look out to Gateshead for food supplies. Watched a few episodes of New Tricks and tried not to get pissed off with the big heat. Read The Bedsharers by Kathleen Kenny as well. 
10.08 pm.


Sunday 28th May 2017

Good to see Ettrick Scott talking at Sunday Assembly. And Mark Smith. Me and Jenni went to Tesco for yet more supplies then home for a few hours before heading off to Ben and Sky’s for an evening meal with Jeff and Lynda Price. Lovely chicken dinner and key lime pie dessert. Enjoyed listening to conversations, though never much to say for myself at social events. Enjoyed listening to The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, The Pretenders and John Lennon. Lots of laughs with Jenni Pascoe on the way back. 12.17 am.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Becoming More Like Meldrew



Monday 15th May 2017

Strange to be away from the house on a Monday morning. Good to be at Jenni’s though. Did quite a bit of work before she woke up. We were still laughing about the ‘shouting soup’ reference to the vomit incident on a game show clip last night. I had tomato soup then got the one o’clock bus back to base. Been concerned about ransomware as I use Windows XP. Prefer it to the ‘7’ that came with the brand new computer in 2000. I know, I’ll have to upgrade to 10 – or whatever the latest package is eventually. Currently backing up everything to external hard drive just in case. Has taken nearly five hours so far, only another 10% left to go. Thousands of photographs, hundreds of word files. Got the rest of my session work done this evening. Made a new lined notebook. Ate a tuna salad. Aim to be in bed by midnight. 10.34 pm.


Tuesday 16th May 2017

Bit chaotic in Waddy session trying to keep everyone happy on the computers – doing edits on anthology work, but it’s early days. I’m sure it will all come together over the next six weeks. Got a bit of my own stuff copied up afterwards. Had a lush chicken rendang and rice then left at twenty to six to deliver a session on characterisation at New College Durham. Some lovely responses to the questions. Afterwards I just sat on the bus and gazed out the window at the oncoming dusk. Little yellow mini-link speeding through Witton Gilbert, Lanchester, Leadgate and Consett. No-one got on at the station. Home by ten. Chuffed to see online that Corbyn got a good response in Leeds. Be good if liars on tv could fuck off until they learn to be neutral for a change. Pineapple. Chocolate. Peanut butter on crackerbread. Then back to bed. 10.40 pm.


Wednesday 17th May 2017

Thought I was coming to the end of a run of workshops but they’ve been extended a further eight weeks. Will look at ways of expanding content. Walked from Nevilles Cross to Meadowfield and back this afternoon. Cambian session started a bit late, but we had a good hour. Read most of BREATH by Ellen Phethean today. THE BOX poem is stunning. Read it three times. Slept on bus to Newcastle. Had an eat4less baguette then over to Jen’s place. Watched first episode of Three Girls. I know the story from original newspaper reports. Shocking to see kids treat so horrendously. Bus to Consett intercepted one back to Moorside OK. Looked at trials bikes online. Most cost well over a grand. 10.33 pm.


Thursday 18th May 2017

Only one repeat session today but due to waking at half four this morning I’ve been more hammered than usual. Good workshop but glad to be done with public engagements. Slept for an hour late afternoon, didn’t get any more work done. Fucking election bullshit taking up a bit of time. Watched the second episode then conclusion of ‘Three Girls’ today. Powerful stuff. Maxine Peake was brilliant. Lesley Sharpe good too. Watched a video of the Rollins Band from September 1987. One of the best for showing the sheer ferocity of the band. Read the rest of BREATH by Ellen Phethean and some Bukowski poems. Wrists aching. Sore in session this morning. Pleased to be done for the week. Well, except Poetry Jam publicity. 11.37 pm.


Friday 19th May 2017

Humanity seems fucked. Monsters are taking over, duping the little people into voting for their own demise. Seems the monsters have hoodwinked too many to fail. Can do no wrong in the eyes of the blind. The propaganda machine just too strong. War, genocide, disease, calamity. Criminalization of thought. Divide and conquer. Whilst dangling golden carrots for donkeys. If we all run a bit faster, we’ll get there. We’ll taste the wealth. Let’s get the best deal. Give us your vote and your inheritance. Eat shit and die stupid. Don’t listen to the opposition, they’re terrorist sympathisers. Even if they told you they created the terror you wouldn’t believe them. Just keep watching the television. Keep consuming. Then get up to work in order to feed your habit. The monsters loom large. Don’t open the door, get down. Humanity seems fucked. 11.30 pm.


Saturday 20th May 2017

The older I get the more impatient I become. Since arriving at the Newcastle Academy I’ve been outside twice. Caught the last two songs of Skeletal Family but sound hurting ears despite plugs. Watched two Pauline Murray songs then came back outside. Some old school Goths in there, but a lot of us just balding, overweight, jeans and t-shirt guys. Some with big logos. I prefer a subtle breast print and maybe dates on the back. I’m in a seated nook right at the back of the venue for a bit of comfort. Had I known for definite before leaving Jen’s place that The Mission aren't on till after nine I wouldn’t have left the house till half eight. Can’t be bothered with expensive fizzy water or the stench of beer. Don’t think my ears can take music gigs for much longer. 8.45 pm.

The Mission’s set was proper mint. Really chuffed to see the band again. Even though it’s only seven months since last time. Got a bit nervous when an elderly woman started dancing in front of me and stayed for three songs, not facing the band for any of them. Beyond the Pale, Metamorphosis, Blood Brothers, Wasteland, Naked and Savage, Tower of Strength, Deliverance and loads of other great stuff played tonight. Jenni originally planned to meet me afterwards but online indecision over stage times and curfew stopped this. Pleased the weather changed for the better. Short sleeves after eleven. Good evening. 11.17 pm.


Sunday 21st May 2017

Got an ulcer on my tongue. Mouth real sore. Ears ringing louder than yesterday due to the gig. Me and Jenni watched two episodes of Cracker today. Spent a bit of time scrolling and reading political articles online. This time next month we’ll all know. I’m late to bed. Peston on Sunday repeat not worth staying up for. 11.46 pm.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Planet Steve



 Monday 8th May 2017

Five sessions sorted – all the handouts, load of college stuff keyed in. Just found out at teatime that tomorrow evening’s class is to be ‘observed’. It’s only my second week with this group so I’ll never remember all the names. Took me eleven hours to get through all the work. Was good to get the grass cut again. Enjoyed The Richie Allen Show – even though I don’t believe everything on there it’s always thought-provoking. Listened to some Einsturzende Neubauten this evening. Won’t be back on the desktop till Thursday lunchtime. Still drinking the lemon water. Hope I’ve got some clean clothes for tomorrow. 11.07 pm.


Tuesday 9th May 2017

The guy who observed my evening class said if he wasn’t working as an observer he’d like to join in. Don’t suppose I’ll get a better endorsement than that. His only criticism was that although stating exactly which weeks the topics and activities for individual learning objectives /outcomes would be covered, I didn’t give an initial overview of this evening’s session. I could argue that I did – I linked a request for ways to develop a regular writing routine to the journaling intro quotes and mentioned the prose A2Z and collaborative poems to finish off – but I’ll take it as a compliment; I never like to reveal too much detail in advance anyway. Does a magician tell you what to expect? Does a comedian give an overview of punch lines before launching into his routine? The second hour, after he left, was more relaxed.

On the bus home one of the locals invited me to his 25th wedding anniversary. I told him it clashes with Jenni’s birthday. He said bring her along too. I don’t even know his name. I doubt he knows mine. I’m already in bed now, having been home less than half an hour. Lydia Lunch looks menacing and Julia Eff is giving me the finger. My ears are ringing and the pen is scratchy. Enough. 
10.20 pm.


Wednesday 10th May 2017

Two very enjoyable workshops. Letters to treasured objects and Tritina poem at Saint Cuthbert’s Hospice this morning, then First Times, Kennnings and Furniture Game at Cambian Appletree this afternoon. Felt tired throughout due to waking way too early this morning, but rested on the bus to Gateshead. Had some ravioli on toast at Jen’s place. She gave me some black dye and salt to return my charcoal ‘goth’ jacket to black. Last time I tried to dye something black (a red shirt) it came out burgundy. Road closure in Consett meant the 45 from Newcastle didn’t intercept the 16 to Moorside outside Derwentside College so I had to sit in Wetherspoons for nearly an hour waiting for the next one out of the bus station. Could have walked but bag handles would have fucked my hands for tomorrow. Read a couple of Roald Dahl stories. Good at building suspense but pay-off wasn’t worth the investment of trawling so many pages. Won’t be long before light goes out. 10.27 pm.


Thursday 11th May 2017

Great characterisation session at Breathing Space in Whitton Gilbert for Colour your Life this morning. Then a little wander about the village before bus to Consett. Got the food supplies then back to base. Weather too nice to ignore, so I went out on the mountain bike down the river. The 27-speed isn’t the machine for getting over natural obstacles, despite the name ‘Rockhopper Comp’. Knees soon cursing my attempts. Did a few hill climbs then back home. Crashed out on the couch for an hour, having forgotten to put hot water on, then a bath. Lush ham salad with scrambled egg for tea around seven. Stayed downstairs watching Channel Four News. Checked out some book stuff online then watched a documentary about Hungerford Massacre. Fell asleep before the end. Gonna have a big catch-up day tomorrow. If the weather is good I might get out on the longboard for an hour. 10.27 pm.


Friday 12th May 2017

Morning Pages: Canny little ride on the 27-speed yesterday afternoon. I tried to do a bit of trials on the rocks near Shotley Bridge but the bike is a bit cumbersome and I’ve lost the confidence I had on my Zoo Pitbull over a decade ago. No bash-ring on the current chainset either, so didn’t want to wreck the big ring by clouting it off a rock. Maybe if I could ride on some pallets on an industrial estate it might help me to manoeuvre a bit better.
   My left wrist feels a bit clunky this morning - don’t want to risk a repeat of the strain I got from the lawnmower last month. Maybe the best way to get my little sporty kicks is to coast around Blackhill and Consett Park on the longboard for an hour once or twice a week and just use the bike on smooth terrain as a mode of transport.
   Just going to stay downstairs and do copy-ups on the journal this morning. I might edit some ‘2016’ or ‘Anomalies’ this evening. Was chuffed to write a couple more vignettes yesterday for the Breathing Space workshop. Things going well there. Was good that Laura from Colour your Life at Leisureworks dropped in when we were going full throttle with the Lucian Maximus group character sketch.
   Jenni went to York yesterday to see Shane Coyczan and a bunch of other great poets. Hope she had a good time.
   I want to read a bit about how inflation works. I don’t understand it and have never been able to get my head around the need for prices to rise and fall. Money is there to compensate for expenditure of physical and mental energy and an alternative to bartering. Natural resources are there regardless of money. You can’t eat a two pound coin. You can’t eat a gold bar. Gold is used in electronics – and medicine, apparently – but primarily in jewellery. And you can’t eat jewellery. Diamonds are valuable because they’re rare. Siamese twins are rare too but do we use them as bartering chips?
   Money is an idea. Why are people homeless and starving? Don’t say there’s no money. If war broke out tomorrow arms sales would sky rocket. Corbyn’s manifesto – fairytales, according to the Daily Mail and other right wing rags. ‘Who’s gonna pay for it? We’d have to borrow billions.’ From whom? The fucking banks, of course! And all they need do is type numbers into a computer. The physical money doesn’t exist and never did. The monetary system is just that – a system.
   I want to know how inflation works. I want to understand this economic bullshit to see why we’re all slaves to it. I want to know who came up with it and who really benefits from it.
   Cars can lose up to a quarter of their value the moment they are driven off the garage forecourt. Why? Mountains of butter. Why? Wonky carrots thrown in the trash. Why? Billions spent on weapons so horrendous that people pray they’ll never be used. Google ‘depleted uranium birth defects’ and be prepared for stomach churning horrendous images. Warheads packed with the stuff. Why? What a fucked up world we live in. Why? No wonder some people don’t want to engage with all the rules and rituals and lifelong traditions.
   Fuck tradition! Fuck the system! The system stinks.
   Do I have an alternative? No.
   Do I benefit from the system? Definitely.
   This is why I try not to publicly spout about politics. I’m not qualified to fix it. Wouldn’t want the job of fixing it. I get annoyed and outraged by social injustice, but am just as selfish as countless others. Do I want to go out and do dirty mind-numbing work rather than employment related to my chosen field of interest? Hell, no! Thirteen years of the former put me in a psychiatric unit, diagnosed as bi-polar and robbed me of my high functioning short term memory.
   I’m selfish. I want my own thing. Greedy. I want all the time in the world. I want the energy and ability – the balance and agility – of a twenty-something, but as few responsibilities as possible.
   A big kid getting bigger by the year. I need to watch my food intake and news intake. I need to chill out and enjoy a pause in the action. I need to take stock and recognize the satisfaction gained from personal creativity. Acknowledge the contributions of others.
   Today is Friday. I don’t have to be anywhere.
   I’m taking it easy. 9.00 am.


Love having Fridays at home. Not even setting foot over the doorstep. On my android tablet a lot today. Read a story by Thomas Morris online. Read poems by Chris Raetschus and Keith Parker – both signed pamphlets arrived from Red Squirrel Press this morning. Been reading stuff on the upcoming election. Watched news after cyber attack affecting NHS and others. Listened to music by The Mission, Toyah, The Jesus and Mary Chain whilst copying up stray journal entries from the last couple of months. Hate having gaps in the big journal. Been trying to eat healthy but succumbed to crisps and dark chocolate. Still having the salad main meals and drinking lemon-infused tap water at home. Three jugs per lemon. Five lemons for 50p. Not bad. Might read a bit more stuff in bed. Haven’t had the desktop computer on today. Chuffed. 10.30 pm.


Saturday 13th May 2017

Morning Pages: Almost got sucked into a big Facebook thread. I’m sick of all these people asking where the money is going to come from. Where does it always come from? Government borrowing from banks that create money out of thin air and charge astronomical interest without creating the money required to pay the interest so it becomes a perpetual debt-making system. If no-one was in debt, the bigwigs would have no pulling power.
   I appreciate there needs to be some sort of system because some humans, myself included, are innately lazy and would just sit eating and drinking and watching crap on TV if there wasn’t a motivation to get out the house. But that doesn’t mean those incapable of buying into the system, for whatever reason, should starve to death or be vilified as scroungers.
   I worked in a blue collar environment for over a decade. Most of the time I couldn’t give a toss if colleagues went on a go-slow or hid in the toilet and smoked tabs. I was only capable of doing so much and if the rest of it didn’t get done, so be it. So long as I thought about my tasks and kept busy I didn’t care if it all turned to shit. No resentment. I fully understand not wanting to flog yourself to death. But some people are slaves without ever realising it. I’ve never understood being proud of toiling for a pittance to make someone else rich, and I never will.
   The system is one of hierarchy and is designed to keep the majority ignorant and running around as minions for the rich and powerful. These rich and powerful ones – they piss and shit just like the rest of us. And in twenty, thirty, forty – or however many years down the line – they’re all going to die, just like the rest of us. They can’t take their wealth with them. Just look at the pyramids: opened up for the first time and all the opulence still there, along with boxes of vacant skin and bones in bandages. No-one can prove irrefutably what happens to the human spirit after death. Are these power-mad greedy bastards more scared of their own demise than the rest of us?
   Rule the world and keep the little people in their place. Why? Fear, arrogance or perverse sadistic pleasure in pressing a boot down on someone’s face?
   Of course, there are some ultra-rich individuals who do wonderfully community-spirited things with their wealth. But a certain shower of cunts has no such altruistic desire. And a socialist like Corbyn is anathema to their sense of superiority and entitlement. Have your fucking billions. I don’t care how rich you are. Just don’t use your position to persecute those who weren’t so lucky to get a slice of the pie. Coz a lot of it is luck – whether that is being born into the right family, being in the right place at the right time or meeting the right people. I’ve known lots of people who’ve worked their socks off, week in-week out, and are still poor as church mice. Don’t be under the illusion that all wealth and success is down to hard work because probably, in a lot of cases, it fucking isn’t.
   I’m lucky. I’m lying in bed on a Saturday morning, scribbling naivety that I’m probably too chicken-shit to share on Facebook, while some poor sod is either waking up in rags in a stinking alley somewhere or putting in an extra crippling shift at the furnace to put food on the family table.
   I could have posted all this on a number of social media threads this morning, but chose to rant into a personal notebook instead. If you’re reading this I must have decided to share it in my little self-indulgent blog post – edited, of course.
   The weekend is here. Today will be another work day for me. Typing up. Preliminary planning for next week’s writing workshops. Maybe even getting a rare session on my own book.
   Before long there may be students giving me works in progress requiring comments, and my so-called creativity will go to the back of the queue again. But so what? There’s always the summer.
   Oh well, porridge time now. 8.55 am.


Went out for food and paper this afternoon. Surprised to see an Alice Hoffman hardback in Poundland. Didn’t buy it. Too much to read already. Been watching clips of Rollins Band from 2001. And some great Martyn Ashton videos: amazing positive mental attitude from the paralyzed biketrial legend – still getting to ride downhill courses on a modified mountain bike. I had a good tuna salad for tea then some pineapple. Checked out a bald Joan Jett in the Rocky Horror Show. 11.38 pm.


Sunday 14th May 2017

Up early. Bath. Made a new morning pages notebook. Keyed in student papers. Listened to The Richie Allen show. Then off to Jen’s place. Twanged my left ankle outside Tesco. Jenni made me a nice tea with steak pie, baked potato, steamed broccoli and mushrooms. Watched Auf Wiedersehen Pet and a load of dodgy game show disasters. 10.12 pm.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Fourteen Days

Monday 24th April 2017

Relaxed Monday. Coz I got a lot done over the weekend. Good to get out on the bike this morning, albeit briefly just to the Post Office. Legs aching from last night and I know to leave it a day before hitting the trail again. Been trying to eat a bit healthier. Tuna salad for lunch – mixed peppers, tomato and scrambled egg. Drinking water infused with real fruit chunks to takes the nasty out-of-the kitchen-tap edge off it. Chicken rendang and rice for tea then workshop prep. Listened to Corbyn’s brother on the Richie Allen show basically saying that Jeremy knows the banks are all fraudsters, that foreign policy is for land grab and depopulation and the west is corrupt as fuck, but can’t say so publicly. Time will tell. 10.30 pm.


Tuesday 25th April 2017

Session at Waddy was mainly admin and assessment exercise. On the bus home I checked out poems by Ruby Robinson, one of the Read Regional authors. Hoping to see her read in Newcastle next month. This evening, due to inclement weather I didn’t bike. Just as well coz the work prep for tomorrow took three hours. Listened to Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye radio show online whist typing up student pieces. Then listened to the Family Man album, side one spoken word – salt on a slug, no deposit: no return, etc. Great stuff. Early start tomorrow. 10.45 pm.


Wednesday 26th April 2017

Another couple of good sessions. Writing from pictures and word prompts. Generated quite a bit of prose. Wrote a short story but not sure I’ll ever use it. Went to Newcastle Library to renew a book I couldn’t do online. Had an eat4less then back to base. Got a lot of healthy stuff in my grocery basket this evening but still ate cake at home. Avoided the big computer. Hoping to stay off it tomorrow as well. One more workshop to go. New course at Whitton Gilbert. 10.12 pm.


Thursday 27th April 2017

Was good to get the first session of Breathing Space Colour your Life done at Whitton Gilbert. A little nervous at first doing a workshop in a church but it went well and good to meet new people. Had a couple of hours in town before the gig. Went to library and copied up some of my stuff from March. The volume of ‘zine’ material is growing. Mint Great Northern Slam tonight. Some top poets on. Some of the head to heads a bit close to call. Chuffed to see a set from Rose Condo again. And to see Mike Edwards onstage after a lengthy absence. He made the final, but Rose’s other half, Kieran King, took the title. Jenni is writing an article about it for NARC magazine. I'll see her again on Saturday… Yay! The last bus finally turned up. Just when it looked as though the ‘intu’ guys were going to lock up Eldon concourse. 11.39 pm.


Friday 28th April 2017

Never set foot over the doorstep. Didn’t plan to. Intended to work on Anomalies 1989-2014. After a false start but more paid work coming my way, I got down to checking out the 366 pages of previously uncollected material for the big hardback. I’m still not happy with page margins or typeface on the non-repro sections. The first hundred pages are pretty much all scans from magazines so not much to do there. The bits that were typeset on computer are easy enough to move about. Listened to TV Smith then Lords of the New Church. Been making some sort of homemade lemon concoction and added lime and orange to take some of the bitterness off the water. I’ve always hated tap water but want to avoid aspartame in bottled liquids. Out quite a bit tomorrow. Bank, Post Office, Jen’s place. Then I’ll be back on the workshop stuff. 11.22 pm.


Saturday 29th April 2017

Up early and bus over to the Post Office depot to pick up a special delivery letter requiring a signature. The office is on the same industrial estate as the warehouse where I worked for over a decade. The warehouse is now occupied by a company called Romag. All covered in solar panels. Went back to Consett for bits and bobs at Barry's Bargain Store. Read a load of general election pieces on the net then had a pork steak dinner with steamed veg. Made a new morning pages book for May. Over to Jen's early. Watched Lewis, some snooker then Britain’s Got Talent and now Devils Advocate. Good day. Soup, crisps, cake, peanuts. Ok. 10.54 pm.


Sunday 30th April 2017

Good to have the lazy Sunday. Me and Jenni watched a lot of the World Snooker Championship this afternoon and evening. Got some good sandwiches from Peggy and Janet downstairs and I bought a trifle. Engrossed by the Selby/Higgins match but left at nine fifteen for the bus back. Read a Julia Eff zine on the way. Watched repeat of Peston on TV. Cut toenails. Bed. 11.26 pm.


Monday 1st May 2017

I tend not to like Bank Holiday Mondays. Usually too loud – lawnmowers, kids in the street, boy racers and barbecues. But today being rather grey it was pretty quiet. Pleased to get five lesson plans/workshops sorted this afternoon which freed up my evening to watch the last session of the World Snooker Championship. I wasn’t bothered who won, so long as it was a good match. Thought when Higgins was down after such a strong lead it would be finished before the interval, but good to see him claw a couple back and get a century break. Selby was just too good on the day. Well done. Great to watch. Been into it since I was eight or nine years old. Can hardly pot a ball, but love watching it. Big week coming up. Chuffed to get another great guest booked for next month’s Poetry Jam. 11.41 pm.


Tuesday 2nd May 2017

New course at New College Durham this evening. Five people turned up. College told me ten. How can five people enrol then decide not to come? Maybe they got the wrong date. I’m used to doing these preliminary sessions with around a dozen people, not five. Had to wing it a bit to pad the session out. Never mind, we’ll see who comes next week. I keep picking up perzines rather than officially published literature. I’m not producing much new stuff at present. Tonight I was home by five to ten. Aim to be in bed by half past. Wonder what tomorrow brings. 10.12 pm.


Wednesday 3rd May 2017

Session at St Cuthbert’s Hospice was good this morning. Trinkets as warm-ups, new compound word definitions, My Box poem. Afternoon at Cambian was Absurd Words, six sentence paragraph and a roll the dice fiction generator. Some disruptions in session knocked me off course a bit and I felt things could have gone better, but that’s working in mental health settings. Went to Newcastle. The bass man busker at monument kept me entertained till Jenni arrived. Eat4less then dark chocolate at Tesco. Then on to the Lit and Phil for Red Squirrel Press launch of Kevin Cadwallender’s Polishing Demons full length poetry collection and ‘Home is Where’ pamphlet by Cynthia Fuller. Good poems, good conversations. Home by ten. 10.30 pm.


Thursday 4th May 2017

Thursdays are becoming my favourite days. Not because they’re the last of the week for public work, but because the writing workshops are relaxed, enjoyable without the uncertainty of possible sabotage or poor attendance. And there is often a mint gig on as well. Poetry Jam this evening was pretty fucking epic. All the guests were great. Tom Conway, Elaine Cusack and Paul Summers. Some strong open floor readings from Keith Parker, Aaron Wright, Tony Gadd, Barrie West, Mariia Barros, amongst others. I did three poems: The Regulators, Frightful Things and A Brief Interlude of Enchantment. Must update my gig list. Thanks to all involved, especially Fergus for helping with the night and the lift home. 11.31 pm.


Friday 5th May 2017

Slow day. Computer took ages to upload Poetry Jam pix. Got some invoices in and read stuff online about the upcoming General Election. Looked at some Alison Moyet stuff. Made an extremely large tuna salad with mixed peppers and scrambled egg. Einsturzende Neubauten gig was magnificent. Lots of texture, variation in pace. Plenty English vocals alongside German and a great clear sound. Good to chat to Stephen Ward, Lee Browell and Stephen Clark as well as Juli Watson and some of spoken word crowd. Good to have laughs with Jenni afterwards. 11.58 pm.


Saturday 6th May 2017

Big lie in at Jen’s place this morning. Scrolled Facebook, read bad shit politics and how divided people appear these days. Went to Gateshead this afternoon for food supplies. Checked out ‘1001 Albums to Hear before You Die’ book when we got back. Not heard as many as Jenni thought I might. Ate rogan josh, pizza and chocolate. Watched Pointless and a good film about cancer. 
10.55 pm.


Sunday 7th May 2017

Didn’t get up till half ten. Morning pages. TV. Jenni made dinner. Mash, broccoli, carrots peas. I had steak pie, she had veggie sausages. Watched Columbo and Diagnosis Murder. Then a great film called The Terminal starring Tom Hanks. Footie fans quite rowdy on the bus home. Cheese on toast. Checked out Neubauten gig archive. 11.50 pm.