Monday January 20th 2014 – Shindig!

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For me, this first Shindig! of 2014 was a little different because I had been asked by Jonathan Taylor of Crystal Clear Creators to be one of their two featured poets, reading alongside Cathy Grinrod. Charlie Jordan and Joe Coghlan completed the line up as the Nine Arches Press guests.

We broke the usual format of open-micers followed by two of the four featured poets, continuing after the break with the remaing open-micers and closing with the final two featured poets, choosing instead to sandwich the open-mic slots with a featured poet at each end. I was offered first or last – no-brainer – better to be done early, and then be able to enjoy the evening without feeling distracted by nerves.

The pub was packed, which as Charlie pointed out was a surprising bonus for a cold and dark January Monday, but indicative of Shindig!’s high standing amongst the Midlands literary community. And I was really chuffed to welcome some of my dearest friends, (and Shindig! virgins), to the Western – meeting their smiling eyes whenever I peeped over the mic gave me a major boost.

I read five poems – all recently completed work – on subjects that spanned a wasp, a film, a personal history of car ownership, a medical proceedure involving a son, and a sunrise. I really enjoyed myself, in spite of a few rather noisy audience distractions. To be honest, I was just happy that the strident female voice rising over mine wasn’t aimed at me – I’m not sure how I’d have coped with a heckler! I was (oops) so excited (and a little thrown by not having any open-micers to praise,) that I forgot to thank Jonathan for inviting me to read. Thank you Jonathan.

Jonathan compered the first half and treated us to his poem, Martin Parr, Bored Couples, from issue 10 of Under The Radar, the flagship magazine for Nine Arches Press; ‘(…) stuff occupies the spaces between/like love (…) Like photo frames, stuff/is never quite fitted for something like love.’ – a situation I’m sure rang true with many. (But not me, of course!)

The open-micers were fantastic as usual. Richard Byrt opened with Hard in Strange Houses, a poem full of his customary dark wit, and ending in the great line, ‘it is always hard in strange houses/ to get invited again.’

Maxine Linnell read us a tender poem delivered with feeling – In Drier Times, – opening with ‘mizzle, mist, shades of wet air,’ ending with ‘I hug you right through your wet coat.’

Anna read of Grenoble and The Resistance, ‘quick shoes and quicker hunger.’

Kate Ruse, in a well delivered Off Guard, showed us ‘a twist of laughter’.

Karen Powell‘s Fur described the incongruous paradox of a woman obsessed with her, ‘fox tippett she kept for best,’ as she skinned squirrels for supper, saving her pennies in order to afford a full-length mink coat.

Gary Carr brought us 3 frosts and 2 pubs, and we were suitably ‘warmed by whisky and the first touch of a kiss.’

Kathy Bell read from a new series of poems about James Watt. Here we came across the young ‘Jamie’ in 1752 when Europe lost 11 days for the calendar to change, ending in the lovely line, ‘across the waste of time.’

Martin Malone, insisting he was totally chilled about being a Maxine, gave us the poem Ver about football and politics, some of which passed me by as I know nothing of the former, but which contained my favourite suggestion of the night – ‘Gove simply goes.’

Katarina ably ended the first open-mic session with her thought provoking Adam’s Lie, and ‘the beginning of the lie of womankind’.

Cathy Grinrod is a dab hand with memories. Her poems are tender, disarming, humourous, chock full of detail and vividly described; The Domino Effect – inter-generational game playing and ‘each tiny click of bone before the clearing up and moving on'; Sea Psalm, – a melancholy evocation of a very English coast. Her next poem recalling her school days raised wry smiles, bristled with emotion recollected more in seething indignation than in tranquility, and ended with the line – ‘dragging behind me all those years that had been the making of me’. Surrender, supplied horses, her ‘beasts of glistening coal’, and Aunt Margaret, whose favourite phrase was ‘Woe betide, which was also the name of her sea side house…’ ended her set with her large, and largely oblivious, heroine sitting on her pet Chiwawa, appropiately named ‘Bruiser’. Delightful.

Jane Commane, our second-half compere, began by choosing at random a poem from Nine Arches 10th Anniversary publication, Maps and Legends. The page opened on Luke Kennard‘s, Oh, You Don’t Agree? A strange poem full of startling imagery – ‘(..) Her long black coat is a tundra in profile./ She turns on me like a security camera (..) The anthology is a fine one and represents well Nine Arches Press’ first, very successful, decade.

I’ve heard Charlie Jordan read at Shindig! before, so was looking forward to hearing more. Charlie has a strong and highly professional stage presence and performs her poems, often from memory, with a confident and polished delivery. She began with Words, a vibrant poem which emphasises both the power and beauty of these ‘things’ we play with, and closes on the phrase ‘let your words mosaic the space between you and I.’ We heard ‘I am a Seagull'; (there were quite a few beaches tonight, come to think of it – are we hankering for Summer perhaps?) followed by a poem about Prince, (Capital O Curly Bracket Plus Sign) ‘who seduced me into puberty, (…) Patty Smith’s antithesis,’ then a poem about goalies written during her time as writer in residence at West Bromich Albion Football Club, (another theme of the evening?) – ‘invisible to thirty thousand eyes, I dragonfly between the net'; and Random, a gentle poem about a call-centre operator who realises the person on the other end of line is her estranged mother, ended Charlie’s enjoyable set.

Charles Lauder was up next, reading his new poem Isis’s Quest. I loved this surreal and contemporary take on the the myth of Isis and Osiris, ‘(…) But his shape-changing cock/was the hardest to find   button mushroom in a field/Big Sur sequoia   more often than not an octopus’s tentacle.’

Siobhan Logan read us another from her Rocket Scientist series, this one set in 1930’s Peenemünde – the Nazi Research Centre – home to the V-2 bombers. I can’t wait to read these poems as a complete and finished collection.

Stephanie read On the Fence, an arresting poem about fox hunting which I liked – drawn to and sympathetic towards its message.

Rebecca Bird stunned yet again with Quiet, ‘where clouds keep the stars in, overnight, for observation.’

Caroline Cook touched us all with The New Parents Visit, (…) boneless like cloud, (…) they’re in love with what they have made, but she can cut, with her cry, with the knives of her eyes.’ Gorgeous.

Mike Brewer continued the theme of daughters, here staying for longer than just a visit, with his, What My Daughter Told Me, – ‘she was surprised so little had changed’. – also quite affecting.

Maxine (a genuine Maxine, this time,)  gave us 101 reasons not to love January, along with a longing for BBQs, Valentine’s day and Easter.

Andrew gave us a lovely portrait of Lowry.

Sue amused us with her Rhyming Aquarobics, which, I think, ought definitely to be included as an event at the Sochi Olympics.

Gabriel, with silvered eyelids, brought us a question of gender identity, ‘pink or blue? (…) maybe then you’ll see all my shades.’ I have a feeling that Gabriel does indeed have many shades, and I look forward to discovering more of them.

Joe Coghlan, our last featured poet, was a revelation. Please don’t accuse me here of being ageist or sexist, because what I am about to say comes from neither, but my heart sings when I come across  young men writing poetry, particularly when it’s good poetry. Stunning. Mentored by Jean Binta Breeze, Joe has already fine-tuned his ear. We were treated to a wonderfully original voice and rhythm, and a surprising maturity. Joe is an exciting new voice with something fresh to say, and a few early-doors-nerves took nothing away from his mesmeric performance. Joe performed (from memory – I’m in awe!) two poems. The first:

The Outsider (Rites of Passage)

Beneath an ashen sky’s gloom and the pattern tiled roofs,
pigeons swooped mid-flight, alighting blackened high stoops,
gassed with rising fumes by static traffic light queues
as I was sat in the park, fifteen, an angry eyed youth.
Scruffy in scuffed shoes, trousers sagging and styled loose,
viewing the drunks snooze and ties-n-suits that’d stride through.
choosing that time to decide my future, my life’s pursuit, I’d write my truth
and I sat there pride bruised, having realized that I’d been lied to. (…)

And:

Anita

(…) to a cacophony of riots & Thatcher’s policies.
Bottle feeding her youngest by the fridge, bills arranged by priority,
seeing ‘Very top’ spelt in magnetic letters, an anagram for poverty.

(…)

I last saw Anita with her partner by the sea, no longer a cash strapped mum.
Her three sons had flown the coup, now filling the tax mans cup.
She said to see true value of something, imagine a world it’s absent from
and it’s the unseen, unpaid labour of women that keeps the Globe and Atlas up.

Words, as Charlie Jordan said, are powerful things.

Monday 17th January 2014 – Winter Mist

The breathtaking and beautiful light bathing Leicestershire on the way home from Oakham – pearlescent, coruscant, heaven sent – got me singing – loud, tunelessly, tearfully – Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day. I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way.

I’m reading some of my poems at Shindig! this evening, (one of the four featured poets,) and I’m both honoured and excited. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. Wish me luck.IMG_4065 IMG_4063 IMG_4062 IMG_4060 IMG_4057 IMG_4055 IMG_4052 IMG_4051 IMG_4049 IMG_4047 IMG_4046 IMG_4045 IMG_4043 IMG_4042 IMG_4041

December 18th 2013 – Bare Fiction Issue 1 Launch

Shrewsbury Coffee House

Shrewsbury Coffee House

And again

And again

And was my companion a little bored while we waited for everyone to arrive? Not at all...

And was my companion a little bored while we waited for everyone to arrive? Not at all…

Adrian Perks reads of bubble wrap and jelly fish

Adrian Perks reads of bubble wrap and jelly fish

The inspiring Jemma L King after her reading

The inspiring Jemma L King after her reading

Me doing my bit under the pretty Christmas lights. That's a mike btw, not a new piece of 'face jewellery' although I am sporting my new 'large black bee' ring

Me doing my bit under the pretty Christmas lights. That’s a mike btw, not a new piece of ‘face-jewellery’ or ‘steam-punk-spectacles’, although I am sporting my new ‘large-black-bee’ ring…

Robert-the-man-Harper, AKA Editor-in-chief & all-round-good-bloke!

Robert-the-man-Harper, AKA Editor-in-chief & all-round-good-bloke!

Robert & I, both pleased as punch that our bit had been bitted

Robert & I, both pleased as punch that our bit had been bitted & no one had dried & plenty of mags had been sold

On Thursday son #3 accompanied me to Shrewsbury for what turned out to be a super-lovely jaunt.

We arrived without drama at 2pm thanks to the new man in my life – Mr Navman. With his quiet purposefulness, calm manner, soothing voice and uber-efficiency, I may soon be employing him in other areas of my life.

We ate – me, mussels and fries and mayo and chunks of bread to mop up the sauce – he, burger and fries and mayo and ketchup – yum, and then we shopped till we dropped and got it all done! Shrewsbury is pretty and friendly and very very old and worth a return visit on a more clement day with no Christmas list to get through.

We fell in to The CoffeeHouse – a cosy and welcoming venue – just after six, somewhat tired, cold and damp, and were soon revived by great coffees and divine mince pies. We chilled and waited for the Bare Fiction crew to turn up, but barely had we supped and nibbled when the team, led by Robert Harper, bustled in bearing boxes of Issue 1, still aromatic with printer’s ink.

And it’s a very smart magazine. A4. 80 pages. Good quality paper. Beautifully printed. How proud was I to see my name on the cover, and my story taking up a chunk of space within its sturdy covers.

A good crowd turned out, particularly pleasing as the weather was grim, and further west where the land begins to bulge and peak into Wales, one reader due to appear – the poet Roger Garfitt – was already snowed in.

Robert compered the evening generously and first up was Matthew Broomfield, a previous Foyles Young Poet, and still remarkably young, yet with a mature and finely tuned ear. He read his poems in the magazine and a couple more, all of which I enjoyed. He uses rhyme, metre and form to good effect – I’m a bit of a sucker for all three when handled well and handle well he does. I particular enjoyed his observations on Nelson Mandela’s recent passing and the ensuing media circus, in his poem, Rust en Vreda (I think that’s how you spell it). You can read his poems, Matthew 25:40, Hymn, and Bloom, in the magazine and Bloom is also featured on The Bare Fiction blog here.

Next up was Adrain Perks who seemed also to be part of the tech team who were filming the proceedings (multi-talented). Adrian read about bubble wrap and jelly fish, bamboo flutes and love. Lots of love. Adrian’s poems reveal an innocence, a vulnerability and a romanticism wrapped up in a very contemporary sensibility. You can read Bamboo, and I Draw A Line, in the magazine.

I read next, an extract from my piece titled Chiarascuro, a story about what ensues when a revelation triggers a conversation between a young burglar and his ‘victim.’ And you can read it in the magazine (obviously).

During the break I nipped out for a fag (of course) and got chatting to a lovely guy from Le Cote d’Ivoire, via Birmingham, and latterly Shrewsbury. He had been ‘persauded’ to come along and was expecting to see and hear ‘a load of intellectual old men reading poetry to more intellectual old men’, so was pleasantly surprised to discover some of the readers were women, some were young, and some of the readings weren’t even poetry. And he bought a magazine, so there was at least one convert!

Robert read Roger Garfitt’s poems published in the magazine, Miles in Paris, and Miles in New York, and an extract from his memoir, A Horseman’s Word. Tessa Hadley’s LRB review says: There’s a fascinating anthropological study to be written about Oxford undergraduates of the 1960s – or perhaps this book is it. Roger Garfitt in his daffodil-yellow pinstripe suit and silver-topped cane – mingling with the other ‘heads’, boiling up asthma drugs for a hit, talking of samsara and Kropotkin – seems a type as exotic as an Elizabethan dandy (…) The extract Robert read to us was wonderfully evocative, and I was sorry that Mr Garfitt wasn’t able to join us. Needless to say, I’ve ordered the book.

Next up, Charles Wilkinson read Twitch, a poem which manages to contain a man’s life in six stanzas, ‘a tea-/spoon of brandy settles/the flail of pudgy hands,/ then the palms are still and/ open, pointing upwards: some small wicketkeeper/ waiting for a catch,(…) You can read more of Charles work in his pamphlet from Flarestack,  Ag and Au, the first of their pamphlets to be illustrated, artwork here by second year illustration students from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.

And finally, we were introduced to Jemma L King. Son #3 reckoned Jemma was a ‘very attractive woman,’ an observation I couldn’t help but agree with. She is also a very fine poet, whose book, The Shape of a Forest, published by Parthian Books,  I immediately purchased on my return.

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 10.48.44

It was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas prize this year, and I can see why… Jemma is at first fascinated, and later almost posessed by her subjects, becoming totally immersed in them, and then she chisels, chips and hones all that stuff into vibrant, crystalline poems which leap off the page. She read to us of the Japanese Tsunami, of Ghenkis Khan (of whom she’s a long distant relative) and of those wonderfully enigmatic Victorian nude photographs that we’re all familiar with, breathing into her subjects poignantly believable life, and life stories. I think my favourite was her poem Amelia Earhart:

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 11.03.13

This Island, Nikumaroro, is the tiniest dot in the vastest blue expansiveness of the Pacific…

(…)

The desperation that brands the spot

where the star imploded

in the most sparse

edge of the galaxy. Unnoticed.

.

The crabs ate her,

crushing bones that

once hung bravery,

eyes that held the earth’s curve.

(…)

Wow. Inspirational. I look forward to reading though the rest of the collection, and hopefully hearing Jemma read again.

And then we drove home. What a lovely, lovely, evening, and I felt most honoured to read amongst such stellar company.

The proceedings were fimed, so as soon as the videos are made available I’ll post a link.

12th December 2013 – On Letters

The Letters Page – Make Your Own Envelope

The Letters Page – Make Your Own Envelope

I have, just this morning, received a letter. I’ve been awaiting its arrival for some time, and not without a certain amount of dread. It’s funny how you put your life on hold when waiting for news that you know will affect your future. My hands even shook a little as I opened it.

The contents were pretty much as I’d imagined them – not particularly good – but at least I can now get on with more important things, such as life.

(Just a thought… A letter is only important on account of its contents, unless it is written by a lover of course, or someone who has been lost, or someone who is greatly missed, someone indeed whose handwriting is immediately recognisable and the mere idiosyncratic sight of it is enough to cause a fluttering somewhere deep inside. But this letter wasn’t handwritten. It was typed. And official.)

So… In order to make myself feel better I decided to make the envelope pictured above.

The Letters Page is a newish literary journal edited by Jon McGregor and his team, based at The University of Nottingham, School of English, and it’s very good. The above envelope and the instructions to make it (but ignore those – they’re useless – the video explains further) are included in Issue 2 of the magazine, which is available to download for free by clicking on The Letters Page, highlighted in RED, or indeed, anywhere that you see the word RED. (That’s only the case for this post, I hasten to add – don’t go trawling back through a year’s worth of drivel looking for the word red just to prove me wrong!) Issue 1 is also available in Archives.

I have produced a high budget movie of my envelope-making for no reason other than it seemed like a nice thing to do today, and I felt like doing something nice.

Thrilling eh!

(This has recently been edited btw, so is even more thrilling, and no longer showcases music by Nick Cave.)

So get yourself over to The Letters Page, download the magazine, make your own envelope, curl up somewhere comfortable and read all the wonderful letters contained therein, including those by the fabulous George Saunders, the brilliant Kevin Barry and my dear and very talented friend, Ruby Cowling.

December 8th 2013: One Year On

Mum and Us

Mum and Us

I don’t often post poems here, always mindful of competitions and submissions, but sometimes life’s too short, and this is for my mum…

.

In-between

.

Walking winter fields today,

the world all hushed and still,

I wondered was it down to you,

until a high-pitched waspish

Slingsby Firefly whined

across the limpid blue.

.

I admired its acrobatic moves,

its stalls and dives,

its loop-the-loops,

and then remembered

something you once said:

.

during the blitz

the nightly buzz and hum

of Luftwaffe Messerschmitts

became quite comforting –

it was the hours when skies

were hushed and still,

the in-between,

that everybody feared,

.

and I remembered

how accustomed I became

to drones – the warming fan,

the bleep of monitors,

the arm-band squeeze,

the rhythmic white-noise-blues

beneath the rattle-n-wheeze

of your pneumonic lungs

.

and, as the pause

between your breaths

grew longer and more frequent,

I would hold mine, waiting

for when yours began again.

.

Now, exactly one year on,

I see that’s how it is:

.

It isn’t what we’ve heard

that wakes us in our beds –

the in-between,

the white-noise space,

the what’s no longer there

is what we dread.

.

 

Wednesday 13th November – The Four Wordsmen of The Apocalypse

The Halloumi Gang

For those of you who’ve read my previous post, this will be self-explanatory.

For those of you who haven’t – The Halloumi Gang: That Notoriously Dangerous Terrorist/Arsonist Combo, The Last Supper Cooks, Lindsay and Her Posse, The Four Stooges, The Disaster Waiting To Happen, Malcolm aka Conquest, Lindsay aka War, Ian aka Famine, & John aka Death or The Four Wordsmen of The Apocalypse, or perhaps just The Four Apologies (Those ‘Wanna-be-Gospels’ Apostles who didn’t quite ‘cut the mustard’) – can’t think what else you could christen us, but anyway, here we are, glorious in our Arvon aprons.

Post Script:

As far as I know… We all survived!

 

10th November 2013 or What happens at Arvon stays at Arvon…

What happens at Arvon stays at Arvon…including notebooks…but here’s a small taster…

The Main House

The Main House

The only sheltered spot for smokers in a rain soaked week

The only sheltered spot for the smokers in a rain-soaked week

Dusk at Totleigh Barton

Dusk at Totleigh Barton

Inside the barn, the hub, the heart, the happening place

Inside the barn, the hub, the heart, the happening place

Outside the barn and the (for me) infamous ditch

Outside the barn and the (look closely) dastardly ditch

Two rabbits blinded by headlights, or was it our tutors(?) I forget...

Two rabbits in headlights, or was it our tutors (?) I forget…

Rob 'the Alchemist' Shearman

Rob ‘the Alchemist’ Shearman

Totleigh Barton is a thatched pre-doomsday manor house surrounded by farmland in one of the most peaceful and beautiful parts of Devon and to step over the threshold is to step into a world of writing… So the brochure accurately states.

What it does not state is that –

you will laugh often (both in public and in private and at times rather hysterically, particularly when a tutor is reading one of their stories),

you will cry often (both in public and in private and at times rather disturbingly),

you will make new friends (and be surprised by how much you miss them on your return to the real world),

you will eat three hearty meals a day and still manage to consume afternoon chunks of sticky flapjack and Paradise Cake and midnight plates of cheese,

you will get used to rain dripping off the thatched roof and down the back of your neck everytime you enter or leave the main house,

you will often be discovered smoking under a pergola – your favoured spot happens to be just outside someone’s bathroom – and you will hope they don’t think you are loitering with intent,

you will offer to swap rooms with someone because they don’t feel comfortable in theirs and you want everyone to be happy and although you miss your ensuite you quite like your pretty little garret just off the dining room behind a curtain up a sheer and crazy-paved flight of stairs that wouldn’t look out of place in a game of dungeons and dragons,

you will listen and talk and talk and listen until your ears bleed and your tongue splits in two (or your voice mutates into a husk of a thing),

you will read and you will be read to and the stories will move you and you will be made speechless by them and it will be confirmed to you that the reason you signed up for the course is because what you want more than anything is for your own writing to contain that magic,

you will interrogate AL Kennedy and she will be gracious enough not to mind and answer all your questions,

you will learn about beginnings and endings and wonder whether you should re-write everything you have ever written or just get on and write all those stories that haven’t yet arrived,

you will learn about distortion theory and you will lodge it in your brain as two triangles, short stories=base down, novels=point down, and you know it will shape everything you write from now on and colour all you thought you knew and you will be even more excited about this than the idea of a new pair of shoes,

you will write pages and pages of notes in your specially purchased notebook only to leave it behind and you will have to phone up the office on Monday morning and beg them to find it and post it to you because without it you will surely fade away and die before writing your masterpiece but with it you may just have a chance for surely the font of all knowledge is now contained within its covers,

you will tell a fellow student that she is very very beautiful then feel rather embarrassed but she will smile and laugh and look even lovelier so you will end up not too bothered,

you will hear a fellow student explain that her name rhymes with Dennis only to hear her one minute later rhyming it with Guinness,

you will offer to be the wine monitor which turns out to be quite complicated and involves sums but it’s a great way to get to know everyone super-quick which makes up for the head-ache,

you will dream of flies,

you will write about a wasp,

you will not listen to announcements, fail to sign up for cooking duties and find yourself left with the last night and the three boys and the four of you will somehow muddle through even if the overly combustable halloumi manages to set off the fire alarm (something that has NEVER happened before) and one of the tutors will don the hi-viz fire tabard while you await the fire brigade who won’t turn up but nobody will mind and nothing will burn (not even the halloumi) and everyone will (eventually) eat,

you will be told that you are ‘actually quite loud’, feel a bit like an out of control puppy and try to be quiter for, oh, at least three minutes,

your tutors will not only read your work but they will also mark it up and your confidence will be boosted by their thoughtful comments and wise advice,

you will remain conviced that one of your fellow students bathes in botox,

someone will say, I feel like I’ve made love to so many people this week, not physically like, but with my mind y’know, and you will know exactly what they mean,

you will hear someone describe their home town as a butt-fuck of a dump but then wax lyrical about the indescribable beauty of the lupins that, come spring, line every roadside and you will love them all the more for it,

you will admire a very young person’s maturity,

you will read something you’ve written to nineteen people whose opinion matters because you respect them as people and writers and you will be so grateful that you didn’t make a fool of yourself you will (forgetting your duties as wine monitor) fail to monitor your wine intake and on the way to bed fall into the ditch outside the barn door, sprain your ankle quite badly and spend six hours in casualty on the Sunday after you get home,

you will so enjoy the last night and hearing all the wonderful readings that you will feel for a long time utterly blessed,

you will remember that you always loved the Geordie accent and be reminded so sweetly of why,

you will talk a lot about having dogs, not having dogs, losing dogs, having husbands, not having husbands, losing husbands, having children, not having children, losing children, but you will never once talk about cats,

you will try to persaude someone not to leave and they will stay and you will feel joyful,

you will be feel quite bereft when (even though you understand and accept their reasons) someone decides to remain absent,

you will have very intermittent phone signal (occasionally on stepping stone three between the pergola and the main house for vodafoners) but you will choose not to walk up the hill to the second cattle grid in order to communicate with the outside world so you will not be able to download any emails and you will decide – to hell with the outside world, I’m on a retreat for godssake – to make only one phone call in five days,

you will hug people,

you will sing happy birthday,

you will clap lots,

you will wander around in the morning with bed hair still wearing your pyjamas and you will not care,

you will be allowed to drink as much tea as you do at home,

you will love Eliza, Ashley, Sue and Caroline because nothing is too much trouble and they make you feel like they truly care about you and they allow you to ‘bed-hop’ as you see fit even if it makes a complete nonsense of their room-map which they will need if the fire-alarm goes off which of course it never does,

you will meet people you will never forget and you will learn things that you will always remember and you will have one of the best weeks of your writing life,

your fuse will be well and truly lit by your tutors – Alison Macleod and Robert Shearman – which is only what you expected after all,

you will have one very sore very fat foot and it will be a lasting reminder of your Arvon week.

Silly Girl

Silly Girl

If you’d like to read more about Arvon and Totleigh Barton, catch this post by one of my fellow students who blogs at Consummate Chaos

And another at Mash’s Digests

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