Monthly Archives: October 2009

MLF: Northern Salt



Ooh this was a great reading, at the beautiful Whitworth Gallery on a Sunday afternoon – perfect.



First of four, was Robert Graham, reading from his new book of short stories, The Only Living Boy


I got him confused admittedly, but I really enjoyed his tone and pace.  On looking to get a bit more info about him on the big wide web, I see there are a lot of other Robert Graham’s that I could mistake him for also.  There is a creator of shirts, a poet and politician who is now dead, and a Canadian anarchist and historian



This is the Robert Graham that wrote the novel Holy Joe and is the co-author of creative handwriting books.  He’s a really lovely chap who grew up around Northern Ireland and is a teacher of creative writing at MMU.  You can check him out, reading at Chorlton Book Festival on Thursday 12th Nov 8pm at Lloyds Hotel.

Next up was Elizabeth Baines, she speaks of a newly precarious world, which I’m not quite grasping as the world surely has always been this way.  However, I really enjoyed her reading from the new novel Too Many magpies.  I am intrigued where the book will go as she plugs a mother, special powers and uncertainty.  Elizabeth is reading locally on Monday 9th November at the Lounge Bar, Wilbraham Road, Chorlton. 7 pm. Free, as part of Chorlton Book fest, and also at Manchester Central Library (2nd Dec)

But if  you happen to be in Prague in January you could see her there.

RecitalThird a funny chap John Siddique, a poet who read from his latest collection Recital – An Almamac explores love and politics throughout a year of lunar cycles. 

His poetry was beautiful at capturing so many different strands of humanity, in an approach which wasn’t candid.



Last and certainly my favourite, Mark Illis.  He read from his latest work Tender, which is book of linked short stories. tender

He chose to read one from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl, which he portrays realistically and humourously capturing me as a fan. 

Mark surprised me with his gentle nature when he was billed as having written for Emmerdale, Eastenders and The Bill, but his writing was beautiful and so was his delivery.

I’m looking out for another reading, as I went to him in despair afterwards because all his books had sold out, he very kindly recommended I could buy one and send it to him for signing, but I said I will hunt him down.

This has been one of my highlights of the festival, in terms of the venue and quality of the writers.



MLF:Crocus Debuts: Maya Chowdhry & Segun Lee French

graphicAt Central Library Committee room these two poets, who are winners of commonwords 30 poems competition, did a Saturday afternoon reading.

Maya Chowdry ticks all the boxes of what allows her to interweave multiple identities, as an asian lesbian, born in Scotland who wears a purple crushed velvet outfit adorned with faux flowers and sporting a flashing coat of arms.

Her poetry tries to interweave the irony of how curry is the number one dish in Britain, and infuses modern culture with its roots, but hearing about curry made in a hurry was not for me.

Segun Lee French combined his written poetry with occasional bursts into song, which I really enjoyed. I would like to see him do just performance poetry, which he said he was better known for.

He spoke of his Nigerian mother giving birth to him and his twin brother, after 3 weeks his twin died and the mother was to care for a doll replacement, as part of the grieving process.  He played with my imagination by telling me his own truths, which really appealed to me.

All in all, I love going to central library to hear poetry, the venue’s ideal and Libby Tempest is just so lovely, I want to be her one day.

MLF:Eoin Colfer And Another Thing


And Another Thing is the 30th anniversary sequel to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


Eoin Colfer was commissioned to do this book as the sixth of The Hitchhiker’s Guide books, after he was given permission by Douglas’ wife Jane Belson.  Being such a successful author for children, with his Artemis Fowl novels and Airman, he has the potential to give the Hitchhikers to a new generation which in my opinion is great.  Adams had intended to write another more uplifting book that would make 6 books, a better number than 5.

The reading and witty anecdotes of Colfer’s self was staged at the Contact theatre, he was received by a mixed audience, with people like myself who knew nothing about his own work. We went because we were interested in how he was going to handle the task of creating a new book out of such a phenomenally successful story and how he was going to start the novel, when the fifth book ends with the total destruction of earth.

Then there were the kids who were obviously thrilled to be there to see an author they loved, and Colfer did an excellent job of appealing to all.


He is exceptionally funny, a bit too much so, and I was so impressed by his stamina to write solitary in his shed. I kept thinking of poor Douglas struggling to write and taking long cold baths with cups of tea, I can relate more to that approach.

The book seems to have been done with the utmost respect to Douglas and is a lovely homage done with the right reasons in place. Colfer said he could see that there being more books in the series written after this one but not by him, he’d like to have a different guest writer do each one.

He joked about his love for deadlines, whereas Douglas liked the wooshing sound they made as they went flying past.

The two writers seem to come from very different, albeit hilarious stock.  It was great to hear the enthusiasm Colfer has for books, but like I say the only thing was his enthusiasm and the way he handles everything seemed so good, it made me envy the man.

He told us of a group formed on Facebook that popped up on his status, a campaign to stop And another Thing and a slagging off of Colfer.  In what seems true to this little Irish bundle of joy’s spirit he joined the group and slagged himself off royally, the happy result ahh of course he redeemed himself to the cause.  This guy can do no wrong and if he does it is with spectacular wit.

His new book, due to a faux pas, will now be set under the sea

MLF: Transatlantic Slave Trade

graphicMy initiation to this year’s Manchester Literature festival, in the beautiful committee room of Central library.

Dorethea Smartt read from her new poetry collection Ship Shape, billed as a poet who dismantles cultural myths and ‘the kinda black woman the world ain’t seen yet’. I liked the fact that she was Brixton market’s first poet in residence.


Taken out of context, I was confused to the background of her poetry as the setting is Lancaster, but she explains how Samboo an African slave was brought over by a sea captain as a present for his wife.  Samboo died within a few days of his arrival and is presumed to be buried at Sunderland point. Smartt imagines Samboo’s journey and paints a picture of migration in past and present terms.  I was left feeling there is so much I do not know. 

Then there was Cynthia.

images Cynthia McLeod a Dutch writer from Suriname, is the author of The free Negress Elisabeth.  Cynthia put 12 years into researching Surinamese history, and paints a wonderful picture of life there.  I want her to come home with me and tell me bed time stories, though I don’t say this to her.

Cynthia spoke about all the different cultures in Suriname that live together in harmony, and how every religion celebrates each feast.  The Surinamese Muslims, she says have the most lavish Christmas decorations, I giggle as she laughs at herself.  Her tone was beautiful and I fell in love with her there and then.

Her first novel ‘How expensive was the sugar?’ sold out in Suriname within a matter of weeks, and in 1987 she became the most famous Surinamese writer.

As for me I had no idea that Suriname even existed, and Cynthia’s telling of her home country was beautiful.  The story of Elisabeth sounds compelling to read with the underlying drive for a free negress with so much wealth trying to gain acceptance of Dutch colonial society by marrying a white man.

This was a great start to the festival and all for zero pence.

Creation The Film about Darwin

I had a feeling this film might surprise me and further my knowledge about Darwin, whilst focusing on the man behind the name – it didn’t.


The reviews I had read of the film sparking fresh debate on the theory of evolution, just goes to show the power of film, rather than what is actually shown.

Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connely the real life married couple, star as Charles and Emma Darwin, in this screenplay written from Randal Keynes biography, Annie’s box.

It sets out to explore the depression and conflict Darwin experienced after his daughter’s Annie’s death in 1951. 

Largely set in Darwin’s country house in Kent, it paints a bleak picture of this time when he cannot write, for fear he will ostracise himself from his Christian wife.

During this period the relationship he had and still has with his daughter Annie takes privileged place. With Annie’s understanding of the natural evolutionary process being in line with his discoveries of natural selection. 

However, this relationship did not work for me as I kept getting tired of Annie’s performance and the interpretation that Darwin had spoken to her as a ghost, which made no sense whatsoever to me. Martha West who plays Annie, is a delightfully pretty girl, who is surely great at more theatrical roles, but I couldn’t take her seriously in this film. I even started to dislike Jenny the orangutan because Annie kept asking for the story to be repeated again and again.

Sorry to sound scathing, but I just didn’t think it worked for what I was expecting. It was to hammy and montage heavy “Adam”, which can work but not for me.

The cinema however was delightful.


I believe The Regent, in Marple, opened 1938 and before that was a building of worship.  We had more leg room than star ship troopers and we were about a galaxy away from the screen, it was great, and nice to see so many locals going on a date to their local theatre.

The intermission and ice cream man kept with the old and brought it up to date with the new sex discrimination act. Lovely

Blogging about the day

Had an as usual ace Saturday.  Still suffering from the no work – can’t sleep syndrome, but I’m surviving.

Feeling like a pimp with Modeselektor Body language playing in the back, but hey I’ve figured it all applies as Adam’s got out his bass guitar to play along with.

This week, this day no more bizarre than normal.

Ooh this is awesome Body Language Pon de floor

Woke up – read Raymond Carver short.  A short good thing. A boy’s birthday, an unpicked up cake, an angry baker, a run of the mill accident.  The boy dies, the baker leaves ridiculous calls.  The parents Ann & Howard are somehow saved a smight from their anguish by the baker who gives them some hot rolls with melted butter.  Franklin a black kid dies.  Basically the essence of what being human means was illustrated to me before 9 am.

This week I have injured my lower chest, it is alas not broke, but damaged soft tissue, which has led to a mild chest infection, the bruising is minimal to my disappointment, as it hurts so fucking much. 2 x rays know the reality, I’m no wuss as I proved by me igniting a boiler I knew nothing about in the morning wearing a stripy Jasper Conran man’s dressing gown.

Fell again in love with the child I will have one day, she loves parsnips and has a stick insect called Rashmid.

Ps had an awesome take away from the Nepalase Nemaste Nepal, which is the sister of the brother of Kathmandu Didsbury West, and sister of the sister Kathmandu East Didsbury, awesome smell and I’m smell sensitive, and also the bread was awesome, which I can be sensitive too, but was a beauty, we’ve said so much for now, going to drink our Dark island beer curtousy of Ames.

An age and the deletion of Facebook

I’ve decided to cull my favourite links and this one, I am not to touch, except to get back into the realm of writing. I have become a dead blogger, which is a sight that makes me sad.  When I see people’s Myspace or WordPress accounts dried up and becoming a memory of what once was, I feel an eerie sense of an uncompleted task.  I’m sure this phase will happen again, but until then I return . . .

The inspiration, naf as hell. Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in Julie and Julia.

I went with my mum last night to the Savoy Heaton Moor, as I love those bungle seats and raffle ticket stubs.               We saw the above film due to a drunken phone call where I said I wanted to treat my mum to the cinema, treat being in the fact that I would take her to something I would prefer to bite wool rather than see.

Anyhow, I watched it and it was naf, but actually warmed my cockles to the fact that self made achievements and deadlines are not to be poo poohed too harshly.  So today I return, to write in whatever way I can and for my own self and I think sanity might be the right word, but not sure.

I have pulled the plug on Facebook, as I have decided I don’t like it at all and the fact that it was so complicated to delete my account made me even more intrigued to do it.  Once they’ve got you, they’ve got you good.  So goodbye nositus,  a word coined for my nosing in on people I don’t want to, which in turn makes me feel like a perverted little ferret.

I will get back to a slightly higher sense of what I like.

P.s. sorry if I spell things wrong please do tell, as I get carried away and write too quickly at times. That is assuming anybody reads this thing

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