Thursday, 15 June 2017

Wild Words

morguefile.com
The first event of my splendid last weekend was a '"New" Nature Writing Workshop' on Friday with Bridget Holding from Wild Words. We gathered in the Kingfisher Cafe at Barnwell Country Park, a beautiful setting on a beautiful evening.

There is a new take on writing about the natural world that eschews the romantic view and instead connects with the grit of it - see, for example,  H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks or the work of Robert Macfarlane. This was the springboard for our two-hour workshop (which wasn't long enough - more please, Bridget!).

We discussed ways into writing - using the five senses; sensations in the body; emotion; movement; and rhythm - then we went off into the park to write. Back in the cafe there was more discussion, but no obligation to share. One of our group remarked on how much more relaxed we all were after our first stint outside, and it's true: we all started to unfurl. It's corny, I know, but it really was as though allowing ourselves to connect with nature opened up something inside us.

Anyway, I came away feeling inspired and with pages of notes that I shall 'do something with one day'. Do check out the Wild Words website here.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Still not convinced we've much to celebrate

Politics, eh? It's a funny old game. Well, I say funny, but I'm not laughing today. I was SO hoping for a change of MP. Hey ho. If you've found something in the election to celebrate, then good luck to you.

Moving on...

On the one dry day of the week, the Women's Tour came to town again on Wednesday, and the crowds turned out to watch the cyclists hurtle around the county and then finish here in Kettering. Amazing stuff.

This weekend it's KettFest, our annual drug-dealer convention - no, sorry, arts festival. You know how you hear yourself agree to something and then when you get home you think, 'Hang on a minute!'? Well, that happened to me last week, which is how come I shall be performing a monologue in the Market Street Mews tomorrow as part of the festival events. Scared? Me? What do you think?! There's so much going on in town this weekend, it will tough to know what to go to; but I'll definitely be dropping in on the comedy festival, where we have eight Edinburgh preview shows on.

I'm patronising a festival in nearby Oundle this evening, by going to something called a 'New Nature Writing Workshop'. I'm not sure what to expect, but we're meeting in a country park - and then I don't know what will happen. I'll let you know how it went.

'Till then, have a good weekend, folks.

Want to join in and celebrate with us? Hop over to Lexa's blog here and sign up.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Just saying

I don't post much on Facebook, but I put a couple of bits up last week that got quite a good response.

Number 1
"In the copy I've edited today was this gem: 'The evening’s presentation by xxx gave a fascinating insight into the application and calibration of electronic torque wrenches.' One can only imagine."

This got more comments/likes/reactions that almost anything else I've ever posted.

Number 2

"There is no excuse for the word 'mentee'."

This also got a reasonable response. When the world eventually comes to its senses and puts me in charge, I shall forbid this word. There is a perfectly fine word to describe someone who is mentored and that word is protege (with accents, but I couldn't get them to appear here). I also hate attendee. What's wrong with 'delegate', 'participant' or 'person who attended'?

What words would you like to banish?


Monday, 29 May 2017

Music and poetry

There have been mutterings in the ukulele ranks recently about the sort of music we should be playing. I'm not a fan of George Formby, but I don't mind playing the occasional down-up-down-up song as long as it's tempered with something modern. However, there are some in our group who steadfastly refuse to play anything written in the 21st century (I kid you not), so when 'House of Gold' by 21 Pilots was introduced to our set list they took umbrage. Some sit stony-faced and won't join in, and one man has actually left the group in protest! This notwithstanding that the song was written for the uke. Whatever: lots of potential story material, methinks.

***
On an entirely unrelated note, those of you who live, study or work in the West Midlands might like to have a go at Poetry On Loan's competition, where the prize for adults is a paid performance in a library. Details here. Good luck


Friday, 26 May 2017

Is it OK to celebrate today?

My principal celebration today isn't really mine, but I'm happy to cling to its coat tails. Some of you might recall that I had a piece of writing in a  local guide book about the Montagu Monuments in St Edmund's Church in Warkton, a village just outside Kettering. (Read more here.) Well, this lovely little publication has received a national award for the best church monument guidebook in the country, which I'll admit is quite niche but worth raising a glass of bubbly to. Sadly, I shan't be able to go the presentation do as I'll be away.

On the same weekend, I've also been invited to a writing competition prize-giving evening, because I'm on the shortlist, which is rather pleasing. I shan't be able to go to that either, not least but it's in Taunton, which is a tidy step from Northamptonshire. The organisers have said they'll let me know if I win: I'm not holding my breath.

Apart from playing my uke in a concert on Saturday night - a church fundraiser in aid of a new roof (aren't they always?) - I have nothing planned for the Bank Holiday weekend, so maybe I'll just sit about and do nothing. Yeah, right.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Want to join in and celebrate with us? Hop over to Lexa's blog here and sign up.

Footnote. I am, of course, mindful of the recent terrible events in Manchester, but have nothing fresh to add to the conversation, other than to say that if you heard the moving Pause for Thought by Remona Aly on the Chris Evans show and were wondering about the Shams of Tabriz quote she used, you can find it on Goodreads here.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Feeding the soul

A scene from 'Dreaming Our Woods'
I don't have much of a daily routine, because my work is different each day; I rise and retire at varying times, depending on what the day promises; and I eat when I'm hungry, not at set times. However, even I'm feeling out of kilter at the moment. The 'Dreaming Our Woods' performances were wonderful, although I say it as shouldn't, but the post-show comedown has been bleak. What on earth am I going to do with myself now it's all over?

Well, one thing I've done today is to attend 'Continuum', the last event of the Our Woods festival, postponed from March when storm Doris was in town, so once again I found myself in the Corby woods thinking, 'I've never done this before!' A fabulous walk led by artists Carol Miles and Jo Dacome found me lying on my back looking at the tree canopy through a mirror-prism device to mesmerising kaleidoscopic effect; and making a show of human bluebells with sheets of Perspex. All great fun.

They say that if you want to be creative you should mix with other creative types, and I've certainly been doing that recently. Early fruits include a short story in the current issue of Ireland's Own magazine.

I really must get back to normal, though - or as normal as I ever am. This week I shall get more exercise, eat better and, as a result, I hope, sleep better. So much to do, so little time.

Monday, 1 May 2017

This week I shall be mostly trying to stay calm

I am about to embark on a week of full-on rehearsals for The Show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (tech week, the professionals in the cast are calling it). I'm most concerned about the fact that we are in the theatre until 10pm each night and that is usually bedtime.

This means you probably won't hear much out of me until next Monday, apart from the occasional warbled song line and the soft shuffle of my shoes as I practise in the kitchen; so here is a book recommendation to keep you going.

I entered a competition recently for which Lauren Collins was judge. In the interests of research and as an excuse to go into Waterstones again, I bought her book When in French, subtitled 'Love in a second language'. I was expecting some kind of romance, with translation jokes and, yes, there is a bit of that: but this book is actually a love note to linguistics. As the jacket blurb says: '. . . sharp, funny tale of bilingual romance and learning to speak French. Part acerbic love letter to that language and part meditation on language itself, When in French is so charming it made me want to learn french, too.'

If you have any interest at all in how language works - and I know I'm preaching to the converted here - you need to read this book.

That is all.