January 28, 2008

Oooh! Really exciting poetry thing a wicked cool poet I know recommended me for! (lovely Pam;) . It’s a project where poets are paired with artists. The artist puts forward a work and the poet responds to it.

I got sent my piece today. It’s a piece called ‘Tops’.  It features nine opened out cigarette boxes, each cut to look like a T-Shirt – the effect completed with the addition of nine tiny bands of paper,  nine tiny collars. Of course, each has it’s cigarette brand printed on it’s front. The result is not dissimilar to nine branded football shirts, each wearing it’s sponsor on it’s sleeve, so to speak – back in the day when footballers smoked and tobacco companies could get away with it.

I’ve got till the end of Feb to come up with a poem for it. Just had a go at something…might post it later – not sure…


January 27, 2008

I don’t like to whinge. Actually, fuck it, I do like to whinge. Whinging is a healthy and sterling activity which should be encouraged in all circumstances and at regular intervals. Such as this. I’m feeling icky. I’ve had this cough for over a week. It’s not making my voice sound sexy and gravelly it’s making me sound like a phajama wearing boy with a hoop in his chest. I could be in Peter Pan emerging from the gloom of a darkened room, rubbing my eyes and holding a small bear. Don’t ask me to explain myself. This is how I feel and now I also have my period, which is like a dull weight throbbing in my middle and trying to kill me with every kick and I’m not even pregnant. For the last 3 days I have been crying at things – that even as I’ve been doing so – I’ve been seeing as entirely ludicrous to be emotionally demonstrating over. I have cried at: adverts for washing powder, numerous sections of a BBC period drama, the sight of my boyfriend clearing out the kitchen cupboards, my tax returns. Outside it is January. It is cold and dark and wet and in act almost symbolic of everything I’m talking about here, this morning we murdered the Christmas Tree. In a scene starkiling reminisent of a gangland clean up, we wrapped its brittle body in rolled up bin liners, pushed another over its head for good measure and threw it in the skip. My boyfriend wore thick, black gloves as he did this. He had wanted to first cut off it’s limbs but we didn’t have the clippers, so instead he snapped off it’s tiny arms wherever they’d give. When it was done the carpet was covered with sap green needles which we’ll probably both be stabbing ourselves with till next December. Because we are bad people. We live in the city and we do not have a shovel and we did not take our hopeful little tree into the countryside, we did not dig it a hole and gently pat soil over its innocent roots. We killed it. I am half of a Christmas Tree murdering duo and I have a cough and a period and no children and a bike with a back wheel that a car at some point last week most probably ran over. And it’s going to cost me 50 pounds to get it fixed.

Things that are purple

January 27, 2008

The blanket: woolen and folded
and orange from gas fires,
salt lamps and sky lights and paper wrapped bulbs
20 years old and 2 houses gone,
matching a carpet before it was lost,
kept on a bed.

The phone, arrived in the post
like a foil parceled chocolate,
glinting with buttons the colour of cadburys
or cars in the night time, or panels in stories,
unwrapped for 2 weeks,
minted with thumbs

The varnish, glossing up nails
like a stag beetle’s armour,
chipped at the corners but glistening water
or oil poured on puddles, or snow on horizons
or spray painted plastic
that’s melted like glue.

The cover of a book by Margaret Atwood.
A delicate mauve called Bluebeards Egg.
A violent vase, a mug of sex,
the feel of a name,
the edge of a horse,
the darkening edges of sky.

Workshops. Buses. Get me?

January 22, 2008

It’s incredible how these things work out. I like doing poetry workshops – it’s actually something I really enjoy – but it’s just so odd how they sometimes come along at once. And then there are the wildly varying briefs.

First off, I’ve been doing loads of work at this one particular, pretty well heeled county based school. Initially, I did a number of poetry sessions with their year 7 classes – using wicked museum objects, which in Leicestershire, I’m lucky enough to be able to borrow.

Next, same school got me in to do after schools intensive tutoring sessions with Year 9 SAT students. I’ve done 2 of these already with a third tomorrow – and only one of them has focused on ‘creative’ writing. Tomorrow I’m going to be showing them how to reply to a problem page letter, looking at everything from how to express empathy to how to identify problems and structure advice!

Today’s session was on more familiar ground. Completely different school, Year 8’s – who’d been given the poetry session as a reward for being good!- you know, when I was at school we din’t get nothing like that…mind you, when I was at school you could probably have seen me right with a monthly ice cream van voucher.

Anyway, today I spent the whole day focusing on slavery as a theme for poetry – I guess a carry over from the Freedom Showcase. Would you believe though – I DIDN’T do my Heyrick monologue (the piece I was commissioned to write and know off by heart) No, instead I weirdly decided to write something entirely new, just for the session. Not sure how it would stand on its own, but it felt quite nice to perform. Then again, I guess Year 8 pupils were never going to be my most critical audience, lol;)

Anyway, here’s a picture of the whole thing in action earlier today….


You should see the other pics. They’ve actually made me clucky!

Notes from the Office

January 17, 2008

Text message from Lydia to Tim. Location, Lydia and Tim’s Office:

“Hey Tim…Those chocolates in our office…what are they for?…are they for eating…?”

Text message back:


Sigh. It’s been one of those days. Pissing it down outside, and now not even able to nick ONE miniature Bounty. Chocolate has an expiry date you know. I’d have to break the seal to get into them. He’d know. Dammit.

Anyway, at least I’ve made it into the office today. I’ve got this kind of allergy to the place. Though, I suspect its probably more of an allergy to cycling 2 or 3 miles in Winter to it. If we’re being specific.

No, usually I do my job as though I were a full time freelancer, working out the office, haunting my flat, Internet cafes, various other venues. Anywhere but the Headquarters Office. With the Water cooler and chocolates that you’re not allowed to eat.

So, I’m actually pretty smug about getting in today. It’s not that I do any more work than if I was working from the city centre…it’s just, well a mini triumph against the rain. And the evil out of town, Uppingham Road, run town landscape. And the security guard who always notes the exact duration of my absenteeism.

The only problem with cycling into the office is that once you’re there – after you’ve done your work – you’ve got to cycle back – laziness or not, there isn’t really an option! And of course, there’s bound to be a tin of chocolates you’re not allowed to eat…

Spotted Fringes

January 16, 2008

Today I spotted fringes –
like children look for lost dogs –
saw them flashing flags like
unsewn napkins, spotted one –

serving beer behind a bar.
Saw one shoot with bang of gun,
slam of door, kick of car.
Saw one with a horse tail chop,

Kung Foo Hussle, Kill Bill Hack.
Watched another disappear,
weave like hair nets cross a pier
duck inside an office block.

One in a headband,
one in a scarf,
one in a nightclub,
one on a bus.

I like the ones that flutter –
lift and wave like stacks of grass
move in strands or pack in dense.
I like the ones that bend.

I like the ones that
fit the forehead in a line
like a tightropes curving skein.
I like it that they’re –

chopped savage,
hard to keep,
poker straight,
combed in teeth.

I like it that they graze lids.

Oboe (2)

January 8, 2008

‘If my love
had an hourly rate
you’d be bankrupt.’

This she told him
whilst he was making
cheese on toast and she

was hanging herself against his back
stroking his spine like a long
oboe. He said:

‘yes –
but if it did
it wouldn’t be love, would it?’

She agreed
lacing her fingers into his jeans
five slim others making tea,

two thin cups
painted Klimt – bright
over porcelain.

as she lifted up the fluted rim
she pointed to the

two blue lovers, moon skins
painted in a swirl of russet
gold hands clutching

at each others faces.
She pressed her cheek
against his palm

and turned about
against his mouth
and told him –

‘see?’ –
still as a lizard
‘just like in the painting.’

He said: ‘yes.’
And smoothed her hair.
Stirred the milk.


January 8, 2008

‘If my love
had an hourly rate
you’d be bankrupt.’
This she told him
whilst he was making
cheese on toast and she
was hanging herself against his back
stroking his spine like a long
oboe. He said –
‘yes – but if it did
it wouldn’t be love
would it ?’ –

and she agreed
lacing her fingers into his jeans
5 slim others making tea,
two thin cups
painted Klimt
over white porcelain.

Pausing- as she lifted up the fluted rim
she pointed to the
two blue lovers – moon skins,
painted in a swirl of russet
gold hands clutching
at each others faces

She pressed her cheek
against his palm and turned about
against his mouth
and told him ‘see?’
still as a lizard or a wild coyote –
‘just like in the painting’
and he said ‘yes’
And smoothed her hair.
And stirred the milk.

Next Installment

January 8, 2008

This morning, a phone call from my parents:

“Hello!? Hello!? Lydia?! It’s dad here! Can you hear me!!?”

“Yes dad. Yes it’s me. I can hear you”

“We’re at The Azores! It’s really lovely! Here’s your mother -“

“Hello!?Hello?!It’s mum! Can you-“

“Yes mum, I can hear you”

“We’re at this ‘The Azores’ place. It’s really lovely!”

My parents don’t often go away on holiday, which I feel the above serves to demonstrate. Of course, it was lovely to talk to them – and they really were excitable.

Apparently my mother hasn’t been affected by travel sickness, but has suffered from motion sickness. I’m not entirely sure what the difference might be…Still, they’ve only been away a few days and yet already been quite busy.

They’re signed up for the daily deck walk and are seriously considering the watercolour group. This kind of behaviour is almost entirely unprecedented for my parents. I can only look on in admiration.

” Lydia, it’s dad here again. We’ve sent an email to David [my brother] we’ve instructed him to send it out to you and Michael and Fran [my uncle… my mother’s friend] and lots of other people. It’s 1 pound 70 an email so we’re not sending them from here.”

“Ah, canny”

“You must only reply through David. He’ll forward us everyone’s responses at once. It costs to receive them too”

My father is nothing but financially minded…

They will be ringing again from Australia….


January 6, 2008

My parents have gone on a round the world cruise. They left last week. The coach picked them up on Thursday at 11pm. They arrived at Falmouth and the “Van Gough” liner at 3.30pm the next day. They rang me from their cabin.

My father told me that they would not be purchasing any of the bar’s over priced bottled water, but instead be sticking to the tap. In his opinion it was not over chlorinated at all but perfectly pleasant. He rather suspected the tour guides were trying to turn the passengers against the tap water (of course for financial gain) by making any mention of the chlorine content in the first place. He was not going to be taken in. He spoke for both himself and my mother in this.

My mother told me that the room was lovely but that the two single cabin beds were definitely (as she’d said they would be) bolted to the floor. I intimated – wouldn’t this cause a married couple like them problems? My mother said, that my father had said, that there were other ways…

My father said he was very glad they’d opted for an outdoor cabin. He said the window was huge and they’d have great views of the sea. He said that once they got out and away from land, he saw no reason why he shouldn’t occasionally go naked. After all, out at sea they’d be only birds and fish to see.

My mother noted how much my father seemed to be enjoying himself already. For her part, she felt a little nervous. She was worried what might happen when the ship began to move.

My parents will arrive at the Azores on Monday evening at 10pm. They have told me to leave my phone on…