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The Lonely Crowd launch

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.  

Carole Burns reads while John Lavin listens
Carole Burns reads while John Lavin listens
Francesca Rhydderch reads from a new story she’s currently working on while Chris Cornwell and Nigel Jarrett listen
Francesca Rhydderch reads from a new story she’s currently working on while Chris Cornwell and Nigel Jarrett listen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*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.

 

#fridayflash : London Nights

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

#fridayflash – Welcome to Potirissi

Efthalia noticed the changes on her walk to the market that day. The worst potholes in the road had been filled in with great clods of earth, grass, roots and all. She almost stumbled on its evenness. Cratered for as long as she could remember, she’d often found her way home through the ruts and swells of the road in the dark, even when there was no moon to see by.

As she reached the outskirts of town, a new handwritten sign greeted her. Bright blue and orange paint on glaring white matt screamed “Welcome to Potirissi”. You’d only know we were in Greece, thought Thalia, by the wobbly waving flags in the four corners of the sign. How depressing.
Read more

#fridayflash – The Man Who Was Eaten Away

“It’s over. I can’t see you anymore,” Lucy had said to him over the phone. “Not now it’s summer.”

What does that have to do with anything?” he’d said to the dialling tone.

He looked out of the window at the park opposite his flat and saw nothing but couples and families. He put his palm flat on the glass and tried to picture himself sitting on a bench, tucked away in the rose garden, carefully peeling an orange where the citrus tangs wouldn’t make people wrinkle their noses as much as they do on a bus or a train. But that reminded him of her shampoo and suddenly what he imagined instead was Lucy in a summer dress, coming along the path hand in hand with a tall faceless man in good jeans and proper shoes, not trainers. She was laughing and pulling him along, chasing the butterflies flitting from pink to white to yellow before taking off out over the lake.

So, she was already seeing someone else. In his park.
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Leaving Cleopatra

Cleopatra is insisting that I stay. She tells me that no one has ever left her before. Apparently, it’s just not done.

I was hoping that she’d understand but when I told her she almost choked on the grape she was eating. We were having dinner at Caesar’s and it caused quite a scene. Men rushed over to her and she positively lapped up all the attention. She went a little too far, if you ask me, and milked it.
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Skiouro and the Meltemi

Every time the wind changes, which is often here, Niko watches me from his spot on the rooftop wall. He lies there like a cat, flexing his feet and letting the sun warm his stomach, a cigarette resting between the index and middle fingers of his right hand. He watches me, waiting to see if, this time, the meltemi will pull me down to the harbour and out to sea again.

The Dust Diaries by Owen Sheers

This is a beautifully written book that vividly imagines the extraordinary life of a remarkable man.

Owen Sheers finds a book in his father’s study which puts him on the trail of one of his distant relations, Arthur Shearly Cripps, also a poet. The journey takes him from the Rhodes Library in Oxford to modern-day Zimbabwe to London as he traces the life of his missionary ancestor, who left England at the turn of the twentieth century for what was then Southern Rhodesia.

Der Vater eines Mörders (The Father of a Murderer) by Alfred Andersch

At first sight this looks like a lightweight school story about a single 45-minute Greek class at a German Gymnasium in 1928.

The school director comes into the classroom and takes over from the usual teacher, Kandelbinder. He proceeds to test, torment and humiliate not only the students but also Kandelbinder.

Drowning, not waving, in Swansea

Last night’s event at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea was a wonderful fusion of music, poetry and prose readings.  Before going, I’d been intrigued by how the evening might work.  Reading the promotional blurb, it sounded interesting, although with only one term of Welsh classes to my name, I was worried about the amount of Welsh language readings there would be.  I needn’t have worried on that score, as there were only a couple of songs in Welsh (and I have no problem listening to Welsh being sung) and all the readings were in English.  Not that I have a problem with things being in Welsh, I hasten to add.  It’s just that it frustrates me greatly that I haven’t taken the time and effort to learn it and events like this remind me of my shortcomings – or have the potential to do so, at any rate. Read more

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