Surreal House & Latitude Festival

Last Thursday I went to meet up with my Gran at Barbican.  We went to Indulgence Bar & Grill for Pimms and a two course lunch, which was really nice.  We went to the Surreal House exhibition at the Barbican Centre afterward.  It was really interesting, although I had seen some of the pieces previously.  I liked the psychological side of it, and the links with poetry and literature. 

One section also reminded me of an experience I had at my Gran’s cottage in Sussex once.  I was unsure if it was a dream at the time, as it was so strange, I could only describe it as a nightmare.  I was in the same position in bed, but I felt a cold presence , and a pressure as though someone was trying to suffocate me, and I wanted to call for help but I could speak or move I recently found out his is quite a common thing, called Sleep Paralysis.  I’m glad I’ve only experienced it once, it was really scary!

Anyway, on Friday at 4:45am I awoke to begin my journey to Latitude Festival!  I was going alone, and I knew a few people going but would only see them in the evening as I planned to spend most of the day in the poetry tent.   The text I had with te instructions I realised had given me over an hour to travel from Waterloo to Liverpool Street!  So, I took a bit of extra time, but still had to wait for ages.  On the train to Halesworth, Niall O’Sullivan had booked his seat next to me and I was only half sure it was him, as I’ve only seen him in person a couple of times at the Poetry Cafe.  Anyway, I realised it was him for sure when he came on stage haha!  So, I’d wasted time talking about who was sitting where, when I could have been talking about… I don’t know, poetry I guess, or how to get backstage haha.

So, as I enjoyed everyone’s acts, I’ll try to keep it concise.  I got to the poetry tent at around midday; I sadly missed Molly Naylor’s set, and arrived in the middle of Sabrina Mahfouz’s set, who I’d seen at the Feminist Midsummer party (my MySpace blog for details).  Luke Wright was the MC for this section,and I’ve seen in Norwich before (and even lay down near me at one point) and also at Southbank for E4’s Udderbelly.  Next was Rosy Carrick, who I can’t actually remember as it was so long ago but I’m sure she was amazing haha. I remember Martin Figura, and as he brought the poems to read from it made me think I could be up there next year, if only I knew how to go about it… Anyway, next was Niall O’Sullivan and his set was really good, though all the while I was kicking myself for the train seat business.  I left for a bit to get a drink then saw a bit of “Larkin about”, followed by Paul Lyalls who I just had to remind myself of, but remember him also being very good now I’ve reminded myself of what he looks like!  I’ve been writing my diary and other such stuff so I’m afraid I’m not going to offer much more varied descriptions… but if you’re reading I’ve linked all of the poets so you should just check them out for yourselves!

Kriss Foster was next, and although he was entertaining I’m not sure I’d describe him as poetry, more of a cabaret act, or an act for a small music stage.  Then it was Tongue Fu which made me want to try out the event, which basically consists of a jazz band playing music while you try to read your poetry over the top of it.  I’m very much interested in the ways poetry and music overlap, so it’s something I’d like to try out, though I can’t help thinking it would go horribly wrong the first time.   Anyway, after that was Joel Stickly who started to MC the next section.  Some of his set was good but I wrote down to remind myself that I didn’t like a poem he did about a woman with a double chin, I think it’s a cheap shot at an attempt to be amusing… I have a thing about judging people’s physical appearances.  Maybe because I’m so insecure myself that I wouldn’t want to pass judgement on someone else unless it was about their personality and the fakeness of their hair on hair adverts *cough* Cherly Cole/Tweedy *cough*.  Next was Tim Cockburn, who is often published in Stop Sharpening Your Knives, and I just checked and I submitted but was rejected – boooo!

Hannah Walker was up next and I remember seeing her a few times in Norwich, and she is so much better than the first time I saw her, as I wasn’t blown away then, but now I would probably say she was one of my favourite acts of the day.  Martin Newell I thought was really cool and really enjoyed his set.  Next was Clare Pollard and again I really enjoyed her, I felt like I’d seen her before but I’m not sure where.  Rhian Edwards was okay, I think perhaps she is more of a “page poet” but now that I think about it, it was probably just because I needed the toilet and wanted to get some food, but I didn’t leave when she was on so it must have been good!

I went to the comedy tent with my chicken and chips and saw David O’Doherty.  I recognised some of his set, but I think he’s really funny so I stayed to the end and got to hear some new material too.  I sung along to Laura Marling as I walked past the Obelisk Arena (note how they don’t say “main stage”) as she was on a bit late and I wanted to get back to Ross Sutherland.  I’d seen her at Hop Farm and she was amazing, and would have loved to watch her again, but oh well.  Ross did this thing where you write a line of poetry and members of audience did the same and then he’d read out the results.  I was right at the front, directly before him, so I went to grab the clipboard.  The first line he’s written was ‘Bob Geldof didn’t cry when’ and I wrote ‘his daughter fell into the river’ as it was the first thing that came to me.  As I passed it along, I realised it’s not only appropriate (Latitude has a river) but one of his daughters is Peaches, who has annoyed me since she got a column for Ellegirl magazine and can’t even write well.  So that was a close as I’d got to introducing myself.

I can’t remember what I did next, probably went for another drink – damn those pesky plastic eco-refillable-cups!  I was back for Byron Vincent who was really good and wearing what appears to be his signature stage outfit.  Anna Freeman was I think built up a bit too much, but still was entertaining enough.  Kate Tempest was amazing as always, I would have gone round to buy her book & CD but they said it was £20 and so I think it’ll have to be one for the Christmas list! I’ve decided all I want is poetry books.  Although, I will probably ask for some clothes too as I love new clothes and never really buy new stuff other than as pressies from my parents.

Next up was El Crisis who was good, but I preferred his act when he was part of the Spoken Word Allstars later.   Joshua Idehen was next, who I knew from seeing at Farrago events, and he took over as MC.  Hollie McNish was next who I also know from Farrago events and have mentioned previously in my blog.  Then it was Chris Hicks who I very much enjoyed, and I think may have seen in Norwich before.  Inua Ellams I’ve also seen at Farrago (good thing I’m back doing a feature there this Thursday!), and he was really good, seemed like a really sweet guy as well.  He started to go over time though so had to leave the stage, at which point I went to check my tent hadn’t blown away and got a jumper for later.  Amazingly, with all the wind my tent was still held by five pegs in the sand-like soil.  I must have been a bit tipsy by then as I had jotted down a poem in my notepad, I say poem, it was more like a list, and a list I gave up with at that.  Here it is:

The Portrait of a Lady

over a third the way through

with the España bookmark,

a much loved jumper given by a friend

to be lost this Sunday,

the tent,

the sleeping bag,

the toilet roll from the last festival.

I walked past Florence & The Machine, who could be heard from my camp anyway.  I bought some nachos and another pint, as I was feeling a bit peckish again.  I watched the Spoken Word Allstars which was really cool, a kind of blend of poetry and music.  Next was Brigitte Aphrodite who I would have seen before at Southbank at the launch of Laura Dockrill’s book but I think me and my mate Ricky were a bit late as he’s always late and therefore I blame him!  She was really entertaining and I loved her glittery outfit, and she seemed like a nice girl.

 I went to get another drink and it was getting quite difficult to get out.  However, by the time I got back, Tim Clare was on and I couldn’t get back to where I was sat as it was so crowded.  It pissed me off to be honest, and I thought where were you before eh?  Everyone suddenly wanting to be at the poetry tent.  I’d heard good things of Tim and although it was good, it was a bit disappointing that over half his set was basically comedy.  It’s nice to have a laugh between poems, but sometimes people think it’s only entertaining when it’s funny which I disagree with, and seeing as Kate Tempest probably had the biggest applause out there, I think we can see that I’m right haha, as she can make me laugh and cry, you know, that’s skill.  Anyway, then it was Eddie Argos from Art Brut.  I saw him in his band years ago in Brixton Windmill and I thought they were overrated.  Although I saw Luke Wright loving it at the front, I have to say I didn’t really see his set as extremely poetic.  At this time I’d bumped into someone from uni so I wasn’t paying enough attention to properly judge.

I went to get another drink… I thought I should get a bit tipsy since I had no booze of my own and was planning to meet up with people after.  Sadly, I had no reception just at the time I needed it, and there was nowhere to use a phone that would work, a nice girl lent me hers but then there was no answer.  I walked around, wanting to dance with everyone but not wanting to look weird and dance on my own.  I didn’t want to waste the night so wandered into a tent where people were playing pass the parcel to a jazz band, and it was all quite surreal, then people were muttering something about Phil Jupitas in the Cabaret tent, so I went along but it was just him DJing.  I felt a bit down and disappointed as I made my way back to my tent.  I tried reading Henry James but the batteries in my torch were going and I was too drunk and tired to be bothered, so I tried to get to sleep.  I was woken at like 5am by kids being loud as they left with their family.  It was really hot by then, so I drifted in and  out (but mostly out) of sleep until 9ish.

I packed up and waited around an hour for the shuttle bus.  The bus to the station then didn’t leave until 11:05am.  I saw Marie from my internship was sat in front of it which was a weird coincidence, I don’t think I was aware of her going, or at least I couldn’t remember she was.  I managed to get on the trains I needed earlier despite my ticket being for specific trains.  I was dying for water as there wasn’t any at the campsite and couldn’t go back into the arena (even though the camp was meant to provide water).  I waited until I got to Liverpool street at about 2pm and bought some Quavers and a bottle of Ribena, which ever since Reading with Ribena ice lollies has started to be a good hangover cure.  My mum luckily picked me up from Clapham Junction, but it was a bit annoying as I was earlier than expected and had to wait around 20mins for her to turn up.  Once she arrived I was alright and went home and just relaxed.  We got a Thai takeaway, but it was a bit average.  Then watched The Women, which was totally the type of film I wanted to watch, but no way would I recommend it haha!

Anyway, time for Big Brother like now, so I better go!


p.s. After Big Brother I found out two rapes happened at Latitude.  One of them was a group rape which is horrific to think about, that a group of men stood round to watch.  It makes me fucking sick.  Not to mention that I was alone at the festival, and the thought that it could have been me, I’m so lucky, those poor girls, to have their lives destroyed like that from one stupid prick!

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