I can’t decide whether it was apposite or not but it was a bit of a lonely crowd who attended the launch of The Lonely Crowd on Thursday evening, and half of those there were reading. However, the low turnout didn’t stop it from being a very enjoyable evening at the Waterloo Tea Rooms in Wyndham Arcade.
There was a welcoming glass of prosecco (or fruit juice for those of us from the Valleys who were driving) and a selection of olives and dips on each table.
But the real feast was in the variety of readings that evening.
I loved listening to extracts from short stories and a forthcoming novel for a change, as well as some poetry.
I get a real kick out of listening to authors read from their own work: when I read it again later, I have their voice in my mind and it sometimes gives me a better feel for their work.
It was great to hear Rhys Milsom read a story I’d enjoyed on the The Lonely Crowd website to kick things off and a story from Nigel Jarrett and part of his forthcoming novel from Gary Raymond, as well as poetry by Chris Cornwell but my highlights from the evening included hearing another great story from Carole Burns’ new collection, The Missing Woman*, a brand new story from Francesca Rhydderch and poems by Steph Power.
*I have to mention that The Missing Woman is published by Parthian, otherwise Susie Wild is very likely to come on here to tell you that! 😉 *waves at Susie*
The Lonely Crowd is a new Cardiff-based short story and poetry journal and it’s edited by John Lavin. As well as those mentioned above, the first issue has stories from the excellent Tom Vowler and Alison Moore and photographs by Jo Mazelis among others. It’s been very nicely-produced and is a handy, portable size. Just right to slip in a bag and read on the go. For more details and to subscribe, go to The Lonely Crowd website.
This year, I decided that my New Year was going to start in February, and not a month earlier with the rest of the Western World. No, I’m not Chinese and no, I haven’t changed my belief system.
I just wanted to do the New Year, new start, new self, new words thing by stealth. No shouting about my resolutions at the beginning of January and not remembering what they were at the end of the month, like the innocent newbie-me of past years. This year, I’m doing things gradually, at my speed and not everyone else’s: easing myself into the year, decluttering a bit, getting myself organised, looking over old writing and gearing up with some new.
Which is why, when I saw a Writers’ Inspiration Day advertised and saw that it was being held only two hours away in Dudley on February 8th, I scrabbled the money together and booked it. It was, after all, taking place in my New Year and coming along at precisely the right time for me. And let’s face it, how often do courses do that? Plus, it was being organised by lovely author and twitter pal, Miranda Dickinson. Read more
Today is World Poetry Day and I’m going to share a poem by a Greek poet, Phoebe Giannisi, who I recently discovered. I found her work on Greek Poetry Now! which I can recommend as a good place to go, if you’d like to read some great contemporary Greek poetry.
I’ve chosen it because it expresses exactly how I feel when I’m swimming laps, how swimming allows me to shrug off the outside world and any worries I may have, and how it frees up my mind. Although unlike the open-air swimmer in the poem, I usually have to make do with my local council pool. Which is fine but not quite the same…
Many thanks to the lovely Georgina Troy, author of the enchanting island romance A Jersey Kiss and soon-to-be released A Jersey Affair, for asking me to take part in the My Writing Process blog tour. To find out more about Georgina and her books set on the largest of the Channel Islands, I can recommend visiting her Author Website and Blog or you can Follow Georgina on Twitter.
Jane hopes that she doesn’t meet Richard Curtis anytime soon. If she did, she’d tell him exactly what she thinks of his movies.
Especially if it were raining when they met.
Because Jane notices when it rains in London. Jeez, does anyone not? Yes. Looking at you, Andie MacDowell! Jane doesn’t think that having Hugh Grant’s character, or any other man for that matter, being a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to… whatever he wanted to freaking well ask her, and could ask her just fine in a dry coffee shop or bar somewhere, would stop her from noticing, actually. London rain either whips around and through you, cutting into your skin or it seeps into your very soul until you feel cold, damp and frizzy and NOT REMOTELY lovely and serene.
Originally, Jane wanted to tell Richard Curtis what she liked best about his films: the self-deprecating and quirky humour; the male heroes who fight like girls and have floppier hair; the way that a disparate range of beautiful people and eccentrics come together to form a cosy circle of friends; the way he made daunting, big city London feel more like it was made up of villages or communities, each with their own distinct personality. But damn it, the man has pushed her to her very limits and she will not be telling him that ANY LONGER. No, she won’t. At least, not until he’s apologised for getting her over here under false pretences. And then – and ONLY then – might she reconsider. Read more
“No luck, mate?”
“Nah, they won’t let me in. Confiscated my membership card, then said I don’t belong. Gits.”
“I tell you that Society place used to be alright, you know, but it’s gone downhill. It’s got so they’ll only let a certain sort in, yeah? I remember going there all the time when I was younger. ‘Course it’s changed hands a few times since then, and the new owners always want to shake things up a bit, don’t they? Never heard the saying, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, have they? Oh, no! They take a perfectly okay club and want to change stuff just to leave their mark on it. Never change the name though, do they? Oh, I know the last lot tried to sex it up by putting BIG in front of the name but it didn’t fool anyone, that. No one used it except if they were having a laugh about it and how up their own arses the new owners had got. I don’t think the likes of you and me’ll ever get in again. I shouldn’t wonder if more of our sort’ll be joining us here soon, and where will we go, eh? There’s precious few places left, not ones where we’re still welcome, rather than simply tolerated, at any rate.”
“You ain’t wrong there.”
“Have you tried round the back? You could sneak in. You look in fairly good shape for your age, I’m sure you could manage that fire escape. It don’t look too legal but I reckon it’d hold, if you took it gradual, like.”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be right, sneaking around like that. I just… no. No. How could you even suggest that?!” Read more
I brought her back one last time.
She liked the place, remembered it from her childhood, she said, or maybe when she was older, a teenager. I can’t remember. I glazed over every time she started to talk about the time before me. It can’t have been that interesting. She wasn’t. She weren’t much to look at neither.
I can see how she’d like the place. It’s boring, so empty. Nothing but trees and the lake. She knew the names of all the trees but basically there was tall ones crowded round the lake and clumpier ones going up the hill. I liked those ones the best, you could tell they didn’t want to be here. It looked like they were scrambling up the hillside to get away.
And it’s so bleeding dark when we get to her favourite spot on the shore because the trees is all so tightly-packed, way worse than the new tower blocks she used to moan about back home. You always feel there’s someone or something watching you here. Eyes everywhere. I hate it. Place gives me the creeps. I’m a city boy, I don’t mind telling you. It’s where I belong. No one gives a shit what you do there, no one watches you, not really, they’re all dead behind the eyes: tired, stressed, not really there, never present, wishing they were somewhere else, or someone else. Sounds grand, don’t it? But I know where I’d rather be any day.
It’s so quiet here, it’s freaking me out. Not a sound. Not even a bird. Dead as a dodo.
I chucked some stones in the water when we got here but there was just a hollow plop and then silence, didn’t matter how many times I did it, or how big the stone or anything. I guess that’s good in a way but it’s freaking unnerving.
I got to get out of here, make tracks without making tracks, if you get me.
I won’t be back and she won’t ever leave.
I heard women talking and tried to focus on what they were saying.
“A most peculiar looking creature to be sure.”
“Who is she, do you think?”
“Foreign, of that there can be little doubt. It is not the fashion that a lady’s hair be cropped so close.”
“And the clothes we found her in. Why! Little more than sacking.”
“Not one ribbon!”
“But she looked kind…”
“Well, I should not care to be her at the assembly rooms tomorrow evening, for I am sure I should not tolerate it.” Read more