About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tomorrow We'll Be Sober!

'What's The Croft like as a venue, then?' I asked my daughter.

She wrinkled her nose. 'OK, I s'pose. You do stick to the floor a bit, though'

Armed with this information, my 89 year old father and 83 year old mother decided not to attend the Blackbeard's Tea Party gig, even though they love watching their grandson, djembe-playing Dave Boston, and granddaughter-in-waiting, Laura Barber, play.  I had no such qualms. I've been sticking to various floors, at gigs and domestically, since the late 70s.  So accompanied by most of my offspring, I swanked in courtesy of the guest list just in time for the opening song.   

Blackbeard's Tea Party has undergone a fairly major personnel change of late, with the departure of singer and melodeon player, Paul Young.  I was a bit apprehensive when I heard the news, as I thought Paul's voice very distinctive and really well suited to the band's material, though his stage persona was pretty dour.  His replacement,  the singer and melodeon player Stuart Giddens, couldn't be more different, scoring about 8.2 on the campometer.  I particularly enjoyed the subtle change to the lyrics in 'I can hew', and once he's memorised the order of the verses in 'The Landlord', he'll be fine.  

 Elsewhere, Blackbeard, that local Bristol boy made good, was well served by his band's excellent musicianship.  I have a bit of a penchant for fiddle-playing, and Laura is superbly talented.  For energy and passion, I can only really compare her to that maestro, Seth Lakeman. 

Support was provided by local rappers, Silver Flame - that's rappers not rappers - who also performed with the band in Sidmouth, back in the summer.  By the end of the evening the entire audience in the packed back room was dancing, and the band received a well-deserved ovation.


Another perk of being Auntie to the band is that you get to put most of them up afterwards.  They're far too nice to demand a rider, but the beer went down well (£17.99 for one box in Sainsbury's; £20 for two. What's that all about, then?)  Following a slap-up breakfast next morning, my parents popped around for a quick visit and stuck to my kitchen floor, so they didn't miss out either.  

I think I'm right in saying that with the exception of their two appearances at Sidmouth in August, this was the first time Blackbeard's Tea Party had performed in the West Country, and that seems a shame as surely it's here they would be best appreciated.  Hopefully they'll get booked for more festivals and carnivals in these parts over the coming months. In the meantime they have an excellent new CD out, called Tomorrow We'll Be Sober, which will be just the job for all those approaching Christmas and New Year parties.  

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Chichester in October

Back in the second week of October I visited Chichester, where there is nary a straight line and a surprise around every corner.

After an extremely reasonably priced lunch in Raymond Blanc's brasserie (all the more tasty for being paid for by friends as a birthday treat), we passed the beautiful 15th century market cross ... 

 to visit the Cathedral, which I'd long wanted to see.  And full of delights it proved, old and new ...

... graffiti with serifs, 1699! ... 

... leaves in free fall ... 

... and a very modern gargoyle.

I loved this decidedly porcine cherub ... 

and this stunning stained glass window designed by Marc Chagall ...

matched for drama by this tapestry designed by John Piper. 

I'll be here for ever if I post pictures of every delight - the early 12th century Chichester reliefs; a consecration cross; more graffiti from centuries ago; more cherubs, distraught at the 1696 death of Bishop Robert Grove from a broken leg; a Roman mosaic pavement; a wonderfully delicate ceiling painting of twining foliage. I shall, however, post photos of two tombs which caught my eye, above of Joan de Vere, who died in 1293 and who has the most graceful face of any effigy I've ever seen, and below the Arundel tomb, made famous by Larkin's poem of the same name, with its marvellous last two lines.

Larkin says it all, really ...


Friday, 18 November 2011

All I want for Christmas ...

A gorgeous, late Autumn day yesterday. Leaves on trees by Bristol Bridge caught the light like stained glass.

I sat for a while in the grounds of Temple Church, the tower of which looked as if it were gradually melting in the sunshine.

It's been a while since I'd walked through the Bearpit in the Haymarket. I really like the murals, right by the walkway to Broadmead Shopping Centre ...

...and the nod to Keats as I left, empty-handed. (I was only passing through.)  

I can think of one link between Christmas shopping and poetry - and you won't even have to brave your equivalent of Broadmead to get your hands on them ...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Another Review for the Launch of 'Communion'

Another review for the launch of 'Communion' last Friday, from my old mucker, Tony - plus a photo of when he had hair and I wore mine big and back-combed ... 

'Communion' is published by Indigo Dreams, and is available from their website, or from Amazon.co.uk and .com, W H Smith online, or good independent bookshops, price £6.99 (or less).   To read some of my poems, click here.

Review of Launch for 'Communion'

Just had my attention drawn to a nice review of Friday's launch of my poetry collection, 'Communion'.  Thanks, Miss BLT! 

'Communion' is published by Indigo Dreams, and is available from their website, or from Amazon.co.uk and .com, W H Smith online, or good independent bookshops, price £6.99 (or less).   To read some of my poems, click here.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Fly, My Pretties

I'd wanted a big brass lectern with an eagle on it for the launch of my poetry collection, 'Communion', but they cost over £4,000, so I had to settle for a plain oak one off eBay for 50 quid. However, Dru Marland brought a  chirrupy little robin along instead, and under his tutelage, my poems teetered out onto the branch and jumped.  

The evening went as well as I could have hoped, with a packed room despite the filthy weather. (At one point, as I was unloading the car over a torrent of water pouring down the road, I thought I'd be reading to thin air, but lots of people made a big effort to be there, including poets Dónall Dempsey and Jan Windle from Guildford, my sister from Nottingham, and a couple of people I'd only been friends with over Facebook/My Space up until now.)  

Thank you to everyone who braved the elements to support me.   Also, thank you to Nila, the manager of the Halo Café Bar; Reg Meuross who played and sang valiantly despite his inflamed pharynges; to Dru, Alana Farrell, John Terry and Liza Sylvian who read some of the poems which needed more than one voice; to Hazel Hammond, who opened and closed the proceedings with aplomb; and to David Bosankoe who recorded them.


'Communion' is published by Indigo Dreams, and is available from their website, or from Amazon.co.uk and .com, W H Smith online, or good independent bookshops, price £6.99 (or less).   To read some of my poems, click