01.12.17 – ProperGanda

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ProperGanda 

8pm, 6 & 8 Manor Road, N16 5SA London

PERFORMANCE ART from Scarlett Lassoff and Magda Tuke, FILM from Fletch Fletcher and Funki Porcini, MUSIC from Le Fil and Rude Mechanicals, plus DJ John the Revelator and more.

24.09.17 – Hastings Fringe Festival

The Beacon, Hastings, 7pm

A free night of music, comedy, poetry and dance, featuring:

Carol Prior (compere), Chris Fraser, Carmina Masoliver, Miranda Gavin, Las Pasionarias, JC McFee, Mellow Baku, Alice Denny.

We will be raising money for The Penny Beale Memorial Fund, which has been created to preserve and protect the physical and mental health of persons who are or have been victims of domestic violence and to advance the education of the public, including local authorities and voluntary bodies, by the provision of information, advice and training programmes into the causes, remedies and prevention of domestic violence. Charity No. 1110528.

20.09.17 – She Grrrowls: London Book Launch

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05.08.17 – 26.08.17: She Grrrowls at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

“She used to run a night.”

When I lived in London I was working full-time, commuting about 3 hours a day, and on top of that I would, like clockwork, do something to do with my creative practise. Increasingly, this felt like I was doing more and more admin (such as things to do with running my night, She Grrrowls) and less actual writing.

Some people may think that since I’ve quit my job and moved to Spain to teach English, that I’m no longer pursuing these creative endeavours. Hell, they may have thought it before, since I was working full-time before, and just changed location. The difference is, I guess, at least I was connected to the world of poetry before; in Córdoba this just won’t be the same, and any poetry is likely to be in Spanish.

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However, as Paula Varjack explores in her show, ‘Show Me The Money’, a lot of writers have other means of income. Even if they’re not honest about it. There are many different ways to be a writer and a performer. That said, I’m not planning to stop any of what I’ve been doing. I took a teach and travel break, and now I’m making a change.

Moving to Spain is not something I would have thought about doing seriously until my partner planted the idea of living abroad. I had always wanted to learn Spanish, and it seemed to be a good way to do it. So, after exploring South East Asia, I came here. I also thought that a change of scenery would also be good for my mental health, as well as encouraging me to be more independent.

I couldn’t believe it had been five years since I had been to university, which means five years of living with my parents. That’s why, when I heard the expression “perpetual adolescence”, I thought ‘that’s me!’ At the age of twenty-seven I am now living completely on my own. I’ve already set an oven glove on fire, and cut myself with both a knife, and a pair of scissors.

So, this year I am shifting my priorities. I have decided I want to make a real effort to learn Spanish; that’s my number one priority. However, I have a theory that this focus might help me write more, as it will be what I do with my spare time, for fun. Even my Netflix-time will be a form of studying, and being in South East Asia, I still wrote a lot – both blogs, articles for The Norwich Radical, and poetry.

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I’ve been in my new apartment for just over a week at the time of writing, and without WiFi (which may also be an influence) I have prepared lots of blog posts, written some poetry and completed one short story. I’ve been enjoying it a lot, and I’ve been more in tune with when I need to take breaks.

One of my problems is that I also set myself too many goals. This is why I’m trying to focus on learning Spanish as a focus. I see writing as something that will naturally happen, and beyond trying to schedule some time to do it, it’s not something I need to stress out about. However, I do want to keep some other things ticking along. I still want to write journalism, and I still want to keep She Grrrowls going, albeit in a different form.

I’m planning to start up an online zine, where I will feature poems in print, and hopefully videos, and essays, rants, pictures and so on. This way, I can hopefully keep people in the loop about re-launching the event on my return to the UK. I’m also thinking of taking the event to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, inspired by going the previous year, as well as fellow Kid Glove member, Joel Auterson, taking his and Jake Wildhall’s night ‘Boomerang Club’ there this year.

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I do have a show I want to write (and the idea was Highly Commended by Ideas Tap when I got to the interview stage for the £30,000 fund). But I’m not going to rush the process, especially as I found out from Jack Rooke (another inspiration, with his show ‘Good Grief’) that Soho Theatre have opened up their writing project up to 30-year-olds, and obviously I will be 28 by the time I’m back!

So, the point I’m trying to make, is that I’m not going anywhere (to those people who put thumbs down on my YouTube videos). Obviously, something I need to work on is the fact that I still care what people think…

Anyway, so the plan is to be able to write poems in Spanish… then back to London, where funnily enough, my partner may be moving after all these years of long-distance. Let’s hope he likes it and wants to stay. I will then have enough experience to get some income from teaching English as a foreign language, and run some workshops. I want to apply for funding for She Grrrowls, which I would have to do in June in order to make a swift return after the Fringe! Ideally I can then make my show with Soho Theatre, and generally do more writing, performing and freelance stuff!

So, there you have it. That’s the plan. Working full-time before meant my old five year plan hasn’t really worked out. But as you can probably tell, I’m itching to write a new one, and even more excited about enjoying the process a bit more, trying to be more present in the moment and generally continue living life to the full, through both tears and laughter!

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Patience and Dealing with Uncertainty*

When I attended CBT, one of the biggest revelations that emerged was that I have great difficulty dealing with uncertainty. This makes me incredibly impatient with myself, and other people. This is exacerbated when there’s a problem. Anxiety affects people differently – some people put things off, but, for me, I feel that I can get rid of that anxious feeling if I can deal with it as soon as possible. To the extent that, even if it is not possible, I will try to make it possible. The same goes for when things don’t go as planned; it’s like forcing a jigsaw piece into the wrong place, and it never does work.

Dealing with uncertainty means you have to accept that something is out of your control. I’m currently undergoing a learning process as to how to actually do this. Accepting we can’t control something does not mean stewing and constantly thinking about whatever it is, and doing things surrounding the matter. What I think it means, is taking a step back, and occupying yourself with something different.

As I write this I’m currently waiting for a number of balls to get rolling. Or rather, dominos, as they are all linked together. My patience is being tested since moving to Spain. The first test was finding a place to live. In my head, I had about a week, had booked a hostel, and imagined having viewings every day, and simply selecting which one I liked best. I remember it being quite simple at university in Norwich. However, the reality didn’t quite match up to my expectations, which is one of the main points about uncertainty – your mind tries to manage the uncertainty by creating these imaginary scenarios, none of which are really helpful.

I managed to arrange one viewing, but I didn’t know what to say to the agent when I came out. What I learnt from this was how important aesthetics are to my wellbeing, and I tended to much prefer the more modern spaces, with light rooms and bright colours. After finding out that the next day was a public holiday and I couldn’t go to any viewings, I spent the rest of the evening trying to arrange them for the next day.

¿Habla usted inglés? This was not Norwich, it was Córdoba. I couldn’t speak Spanish, and after a negative answer, I translated a few key sentences through Google for the next attempt. The person on the other end of the phone understood me… but I didn’t understand their answers. Both conversations resulted in them hanging up on me. After just one successful conversation with someone needing to call back because they were driving, I gave up, and they didn’t call back.

I spent the next morning continuing my search online, and then walked around the city with one of the other new teachers. The day after I had the idea of texting instead of calling, as well as getting some help from my place of work. In the end, I managed to find the perfect place through the agent I’d first met. However, when I was unable to get enough money out for that evening’s contract signing, I was upset and frustrated. I wanted to do it immediately, but it was impossible. I was up late that night on the phone to Barclays to try to retrieve the PIN for a card I didn’t usually use, to make sure I would have the whole amount needed the next day. This was a waste of time, as I then easily got my mum to find it for me at home.

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So I was able to get the money the next morning and moved in that afternoon. Having a base now is helping with the next set of challenges. I still have to wait for an NIE number, which I need to be able to open a bank account, which I need to be able to set up the Internet. I also need to wait for my timetable before I can really start looking at course books or planning any lessons. I have no choice but to wait. Obviously, my impatience isn’t solved overnight. However, I’m trying to make the most of the free time I will be wishing I had in a week’s time, especially currently being without the distraction of Wi-Fi.

I have done a lot of walking, and a lot of shopping for things I needed in my flat, as well as a lengthy exploration of supermarket shelves. But I have also written a short story, a poem, and a couple of articles. I have played Adventure Time Card Wars, and completed puzzles in a puzzle book. I have been reading books, magazines, and my Spanish phrase book. I have even meditated. I tried watching TV, but my Spanish isn’t up to that level. And lastly, I’ve been cooking again, which I haven’t done on a regular basis since university (and I graduated in 2011).

So far, I’ve been distracting myself from thinking about my fear of everything I’m uncertain about, and it’s been working. It also helps to reflect back on what I learnt from the previous few months travelling and working in Vietnam. I’ll being working mornings and evenings, with a big break in the afternoon. In Vietnam, like many language schools, it was similar deal. What I learnt was actually how adaptable I am, so knowing this about myself now has challenged preconceived notions of myself, and also means I can reassure myself that I will find my routine, but that there is no rush to do so. Meanwhile, I’ll try to enjoy a slower pace, and ease myself into what is a big change in terms of both job and country.

*Note: I wrote this when I came to Spain in September and wanted to try to get it published elsewhere, but it’s been so long now and it’s out of date, so here it is!

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

On route to London, we had to make a stop, so we decided to spend a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. We arrived in the evening and ate a pretty mediocre meal at a nearby restaurant. The hotel was average – it had two rooms, making it really spacious, and the beds were comfortable. However, the bathroom was a bit grubby and little things like not having breakfast included, and the tax being added onto the quoted price, meant that it could have been better. But still, nothing to complain about too much. There was also a pool, and we took our first dip that night.

We booked a free shuttle service for the next morning at 11.30am, so we had a lazy morning. We arrived in the city centre, and popped in the Pavillon, before walking to find some food. We ate a cheap but quite tasty. We managed to walk to most places that day, and we spent a lot of the afternoon at the Menara Tower. We went to the observation deck, and although it was quite misty outside, it was still cool to walk around. 

We had a pack of activities with the ticket, which included a 6D cinema experience, a F1 driving game, an aquarium, a zoo, and an up-side-down house. The best part of this, aside from being quite fun to do kiddy things, was seeing such a wide variety of fish, and holding parrots! 


Next we walked to the Petronas Towers, though we didn’t go up. We walked around the park, which was really nice. I had expected Kuala Lumpur to be similar to Singapore, having spoken to another couple about it. It wasn’t quite as swish and shiny, and it felt bigger and not quite as easy to get around (but still walkable) but it had a relaxed vibe to it that I liked. We ate in the mall and also had these delicious fruit smoothies! 


We then tried to figure out the trains, which are easy enough… if you can find the station! We eventually got to it but the hotel had given confusing information, so we ended up walking around the wrong station. Eventually we made it back and knew where to go the next day. We had another evening pool session and another late night.


The next morning we started only slightly earlier than before. Maybe I’m getting a bit tired travelling around so much, but it feels like my capacity for long days is lessening, and I woke up with my feet still aching from the previous day’s walking. We got the train to Masjid Jamek with the plan to walk from there to park. Sadly, around the mosque was under construction, so we were unable to get a close look, but it looked more traditional than the ultra-modern architecture of the National Mosque. 


We walked through Merdeka Square, where we stumbled upon what looked like a big rehearsal for a dance routine. My boyfriend was approached by a man who asked him to speak on camera and wish Malaysia a happy 59th Independence Day, telling us that it was oh forefathers who had colonised them. My boyfriend had found this out on the taxi ride from the airport, but I had read up on it previously… To be honest, there’s probably not many countries that the British haven’t colonised, and being faced with it in such an up-front way was a stark reminder, but an important one. I’ve often found that people will address my boyfriend before me, and have even spoken as if I’m not there, saying complimentary things, but nevertheless, in a way I’m not entirely comfortable with. 


My boyfriend was embarrassed by the whole situation, and joked that I would have been better to ask to speak. As someone who performs poetry, I couldn’t help but agree, bug instead I stood there silent, as he introduced both of us to the camera, and I fought back the urge to chime in and force them to do a third take. It felt strange to stand there like a magician’s assistant, for my boyfriend to be addressed as “sir”, and for him to be told things such as “she’s pretty, like a doll”. Culturally, it gets into that sticky situation whereby you’re faced with your white privilege, and when my boyfriend tells the girl complimenting me that’s she very pretty too, something I may be a tad jealous about otherwise, I am glad and wish I had said it myself, but then I’m a bit awkward in those situations. 


We walked on towards the park and got to the Islamic Arts Museum. It was highly rated in my guidebook, and though interesting and informative, it wasn’t as extensive a I expected. The highlight was the photography exhibition upstairs, which included a range of pieces, some that wet visually stunning, some creative and humorous, and others extremely emotive, such as one piece with a family breaking fast at their ruined house on the Northern Gaza Strip, taken by Nidal Alwahidi, which had me choking back tears.


We carried on into the park, but by then we were extremely thirsty and so once we got to the other side, we caught a train to Chinatown, where we ate a cheap meal and spent sometime tasting Chinese tea at a tea shop. We walked through the market streets, and I bought a couple of pairs of loose trousers to replace the two that were ruined over my time travelling. We were pretty tired by that point, so we headed back on the train. 


I had a swim in the pool and read a bit outside; though it wasn’t sunny, it was still warm. I felt a bit awkward because the women covered up when they swam, or sat on the side fully-clothed. Still, I think that would be the same if it was the other way round, if you were covered up whilst others were not. It’s mostly in your head. In the light of the Burkini ban news in France, I think everyone should be able to wear what they want. Though I became paranoid when I noticed the hotel had put up an extra sign about appropriate swimming attire. Though there was a dad who was swinging his trunks in the air and laughing the other night. And the award for most embarrassing dad goes to… 


I used to cover up my thighs with a skirt and never showed my stomach, but I got to the age of about 19 or 20 and went on holiday with friends for the first time and it felt like it would be more strange for me to cover up than it would be for me to just wear what everyone else wore. It was my first time in a bikini. So, for me personally, wearing a bikini is somewhat empowering, even though that might seem silly to others. To me, it reminds me that our bodies are just bodies and not inherently sexual. I love seeing a range of shapes and sizes in bikinis because it really works at dispelling the myth of the whole beach/bikini body thing, and there’s something really humanising about it… I’m not sure that’s the right word, but I’m too tired to think.


Anyway, we had a meal at a great find called The Bad Boss, which actually has a punching bag and is supposedly a place where workers can let of steam. The food was great and the dark hot chocolate was delicious! We actually plan to go there again tomorrow before our flight, and I’ll see if I can get up early enough to fit in one last swim in my bikini!