Monday, 30 December 2013

The South Bank At Night - London.

The South Bank At Night - London. by Jim Linwood
The South Bank At Night - London., a photo by Jim Linwood on Flickr.

Ordinary life. Walking along the King's Road, a diversion into Lush for a sweet silly present, sitting on the Circle Line. I remember this, I remember this from another time. A guilty, but not really, text, "On my way". African time, I learn later.

Re-calling those times as I wait at the junction at Sloane Square: a winter evening, city lights, traffic arguing right of way. The early eighties. No central heating, no shower. Fortunately, an automatic washing machine. Black and white tv, mobile, tune in with a dial, never broke, never died, abandoned for colour later.

Rushing up the stairs at Embankment. I'm late, I'm late. Will I be able to see? Up Villiers Street and in the side entrance, sneaking through the back way, roaming the station, scanning. Out through the front, there, right ahead, from the back but - unmistakeable? Yes. Big instant smiles. Faces light up. A dazzle of energy, fireflies hovering. We've found each other.

Tea at the Cafe at St Martins. It's quiet. The feisty pensioners with sharp elbows are elsewhere today. I'm thirsty. I fill my cup continuously, tea, milk, stir. Serious faces, we compose ourselves for the business of getting to know each other. He remembers every word, I remember nothing. Maybe Patrick Holford has a point.

We move. Out across the river. A mild evening, windless. We're holding hands. I smile.

The South Bank. Den of scoundrels, thieves, lawlessness. We decide to walk. It's beautiful. Almost to the Millenium Bridge, but not quite, the chill gets the better of us. We walk slowly. I sit every so far, gazing at the river.

Mulled wine in the Festival Hall. We find a quiet place. An elderly black woman directs us to the toilets. I'm a regular here. She sits in her fur hat. You've missed the performance, consulting her gig guide, there's nothing now until Wednesday. I'm a regular here. When we leave, we wave good-bye.

Ordinary life.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Review of 2013

A friend's Facebook status had a review of 2013: started poorly ended on a high. Same for me, too.

Miserable, cold, bleak and, in case I didn't get it, topped off with a bump on the head. Later in the year I completed a test of cognitive functioning - some exploitative nonsense put out by Patrick Holford to rev up people's worries about dementia - still functioning. So the crackles and fizzing were all in the mind.

Finally, in April, a sunny day. Walked to work by the river, everyone was excited about the brightness. I wondered why everyone didn't just take the day off. The end of the project continued inexorably, relentlessly marching towards the final day. Boss wasn't there, spent the weekend in Ireland.

A strange summer: beautiful days at the house, enjoying the craic with tree surgeons, lovely boys rolling on the vast expanse of carpet - like a magnet, compelling them to start wrestling. Empty days in the new building, clinical, sterile, lifeless.

Into the autumn: we've got to get out of this place.

Made it to Wolverhampton. Not the obvious choice, but it had something I wanted.

Finally, in November, we started to hit something: a big idea, something new no-one had done before. Lots of nay-sayers: ha! I know where I am now.

And then, December, apropos of nothing, an innocent community event, shabby, blu-tac scarred venue, lovely food, happy people, a wonderful, unexpected experience.

2013 ended well, as it should have done, if it knew what was good for it.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Free writing.

Funny, now I've started writing something, I'm set to go. Well, there's a moral there: just do it. I specially like the environment at Chelsea Library, though, very conducive to writing, but would do better with a coffee place. Although I suppose that coffee and books may not mix.

Six minutes to go. Save your work, it's warned me. So polite. Lots of interesting books to read, once you start ferreting.

I read an article by the Third Sector Research Centre - interesting thesis about the need for strategic narrative (strategic true stories)? I want to respond with other ideas:
- space contested by other sectors as well as within the sector.
- links with network theory, social media
- is what we are doing with the consortia big narrative? are we still about defense and resilience?

Also taken by some of Michael Rosen's writing and would really like to see Under the Cranes on 29th April.

Literary Theory: Titles

Was searching for some books about poetics but haven't found anything yet at the local library.

I did come across the following in the reference section:

Modern Literary Theory Philip Rice & Patricia Waugh (Editors) 4th Edition reprinted 2002 Publishers: Arnold ISBN 13: 978 0 340 76191 5 (801 MOD)

Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory Peter Barry 3rd Edition 2009 Manchester University Press ISBN 13: 978 0 7190 7927 6 (801.95)

Literary Theory: An Introduction Terry Eagleton 2nd Edition reprinted 2001 Blackwell Publishers ISBN 10: 0 631 20188 2 (801 EAG)

Contemporary Literary Theory Jermy Hawthorn reprinted 1993 Edward Arnold (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN: 0 340 53911 9 (801 HAW)

Will add more later.

Getting Ready to Write

The Writer's Ideas Book (includes more than 400 prompts - yay)
Jack Heffron, 2000, Writer's Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio ISBN 13: 978 1 58297 179 7 You'll find it in the Reference Section at Chelsea Library (Old Town Hall) Category 808.02

Warm-Ups - say, ten minutes.
Prompt 1 - Write at least three paragraphs in your journal - the day's events or plans, ideas you've been thinking about. Never get past the journal? Set a limit - one page or fifteen minutes.
Prompt 2 - Read one page from a book you enjoy - especially poetry. Good for writing at the end of the day.
Prompt 3 - Dive into this book :)

Creativity Techniques
1. Freewriting - focus on a specific topic and write everything you can think of without pause. Add a time limit.
2. Brainstorming - less structured - write anything that comes into your mind.
3. Automatic Writing - if it works for you, use it (maybe after a joint?)
4. Listing
5. Clustering - webbing, mapping etc, you know the thing.
6. Cave writing - mix words and pictures, go mad and use your non-dominant hand and big crayons. Memory/inspiration - the course at Clapham and Battersea AEI.
7. Cut and Paste - what it says on the tin. Write some stuff, chop it up and arrange in a different order. Add fondant icing and head for diabetes junction. Popularised by the Beats, it says.
8. Mix and Match - select from column a, b, c, d etc and find a fun way to start seeing connections. NB not an evening where you swap your cast offs for other people's.
1. Write down every idea you've ever had but didn't use. Keep adding (reminder: the Knitting blog - furtherfield exhibition)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

"Go see Joe Harper, Saturday morning, kid"

Researching ideas for a feature article about someone called Joe when I was reminded of this Van Morrison song. I came across it on a CD of session recordings at Bang complete with "let's take it from the beginning" and "put your snow boots on" added colour. Comments on YouTube suggest that the Band are the musicians, with Robbie Robertson playing guitar, although others suggest Eric Clapton. I don't recognise the guitar style but definitely early Van Morrison themes ... "I asked you for half a pound and you said Go see Joe Harper Saturday morning kid" and "And just stood outside the club and the rain came down On his head and he got all soakin' wet", word pictures of the ordinary.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Crisp Cold Sunny Day in Chelsea

That's how it was late morning when I set out along King's Road for Chelsea Library (based in the Old Town Hall). I was snagged by a Big Issue seller outside one of the express supermarkets so common around here (Tesco, I think, and of course, there are many other types of "express" and "local" branches available). She was cold, with a woolly knitted hat tied under her pink and trembling chin. "Please ..." she implored, holding the last two magazines out to me, "I'm cold and I want to go home."

Kermit was on the front cover and I thought it was a safe bet that I might read it this afternoon, waiting in that desperate room known variously as the "canteen", "cafe" and "restaurant" at Clayponds Rehabilitation Hospital (yes, I'm talking about you), barren and overheated like the rest of the place, with the addition of ear-damaging mechanical noise from the various contraptions and machines and banging and crashing of kitchen utensils and large pots, with the radio on full volune over the top of it all, Lana Del Rey droning out her dirge, not an ear protector in sight.

"How much is it these days?" An increase to £2.50. I remember the good old days of just one pound, exchanged with my favourite seller in his pitch in Bold Street in Liverpool. Opposite there was a guy who begged everyday, eight hours a day, seeing off any competition for that lucrative spot.

I asked her how much she made: ten copies cost £13, she took £25, she was selling about ten copies a day, not many she said, "because there are so many other vendors over there ..." (pointing at some place out of sight), plus her return bus fare to get to her pitch: £1.40. While she was working out her answers, I was thinking, well, I'd guess she gets all the cover price because the printing costs would be covered by advertising revenue. But I was wrong.