Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Amy Winehouse

Sunday, around  midnight, found me in the departures lounge of Larnaca Airport. Over a sunburnt shoulder I read the headlines that Amy Winehouse had died and it left me feeling rather moved. This feeling surprised me, I'm not her biggest fan by any stretch, but I can see there was something rather unique in her contralto voice and her style. I have fuzzy memories of being given my epidural to the sounds of 'Valerie' which just happened to be on the radio in the operating theatre; a much better choice than all that whale song nonsense. It's one of those deaths in rock which is sad but not exactly unexpected. Rewind to spring '94 when as a teenager I saw a picture of Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers posed in front of a pile of bones in the Parisian catacombs. A year later he was missing, presumed dead. It seems fairly obvious in hindsight, but how easy is that to say. And then of course are all the well-known members of the 27 club, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain amongst others. Now it seems that Amy will be on that rather tackily named list.

Friday, 8 July 2011

How I finished off June...

This one's for you, Ms. Tyler-Bennett

There’s so much going on at the moment, festival season is in full swing. Yours truly is having some time off though and has many friend and family commitments at the moment. That didn’t stop me from attending the Lowdham festival and the Leicester Shindig at the end of June. Lowdham, with two excitable 3 year olds, was a good day out. There was a children’s tent, a Cat-in-the-Hat and a conveniently located playground. Result. I snuck off for a couple of readings. John Lucas was reading from his new book, Next Year will be Better, it’s a rather humorous and affectionate look at Lucas’ experiences of growing up in the 50s. The 50s of course should feel like a very long time ago, but after growing up in the 80s with revivals galore, it doesn’t actually feel so distant. The decade gets overshadowed by the 60s perhaps, but so many interesting things were going on. My dad was also coming of age in Cyprus, working in the kitchens of the British army bases in Dhekalia, whilst my mother had been forced to leave school early and train as a seamstress. When they came over in the 60s to the UK, like so many others, they probably didn’t realise that they were staying for the long haul.

I’m really looking forward to reading John’s book. I also caught Deborah-Tyler Bennett reading from her new collection Revudeville and the new Nine Arches pamphlet Mytton... Dyer... Sweet Billy Gibson..., if you’re into the idea of crazed aristos leaping over dining tables with their horses, you should give it a whirl. I should also say that Deborah is a keen afficiando and wearer of Vintage fashions, especially the 1950s, so I dedicate the photo above to her. Deborah’s reading was shared with Gregory Woods, and they complemented each other.

So once we had recovered from the twins at Lowdham we attended the Leicester Shindig on the following Monday. It was a real treat hearing Luke Kennard. His first poem was ‘The Choir,’ it was dedicated to a friend who was suffering with depression. It was thrilling and original, and perhaps that was the tone of the entire reading; there was so much linguistic energy. Strange, funny and utterly memorable. You’d think with all those awards Mr. K would have an excuse to be distant, but he wasn’t, he was charming and approachable. The other guest readers were Simon Perrill, Joel Lane and Lydia Towsey. I introduced Lydia and her work was warm and her tone was friendly. Simon’s poems were stark and imaginative, the idea of the moon appearing in daylight, with ‘its phantom currency’ appearing in the blue really grabbed me.

I should also mention the Southwell festival, I can't make it at all this year, curses. However, Aly Stoneman's blog on the event is very interesting and there's a lovely review of Simon Armitage's reading, see here: http://alysonstoneman.wordpress.com/ I really wanted to go, but I was too busy quaffing champagne at my friend's wedding in Suffolk. Next year, perhaps.
To suit retro theme here I am in an old car, at aforementioned wedding.