Mistletoe and Whine

Just came back from the last UEA CWS open mic of the year.  I’m on a certain antibiotic at the moment which is supposed to give you an insane headache if you drink alcohol on it so I spent 60p on two pints of blackcurrant squash.  Seeing as I’ve already spent nearly all my money on Christmas presents, this no drinking thing is probably for the best.  I’ve been going to alcohol counselling in an attempt to stop binge drinking and develop a healthier relationship with alcohol so it was interesting when I went to the last LitSoc social sober.  The pub crawl part was actually really fun, and I think I made the most effort of anyone with the two members (who weren’t the committee or friends of the committee) that showed up.  The club was where it went downhill.  I hadn’t heard good things about the change from Po Na Na’s to Lola Lo’s but I went in with an open mind.  Sadly, I couldn’t take advantage of the free vodka, and the mince pies never turned up.  From then on, I felt like I was waiting for people to get drunk, and couldn’t really talk as the music was so loud.  Eventually some of us danced for a bit, but then the others got fed up and I left early with a few people.  It was around 1am so I felt that was an okay time, considering I still had lots of coursework to do!

Anyway, back to tonight.  I felt more nervous as I don’t think I have done a gig without a little dutch courage for over a year at Starbucks (they don’t do alcohol).   Anyway, I felt like it went well and got a couple of compliments, not only on my poetry but also my outfit – Reko dress, white tights, vintage shoes and a Father Christmas hat.  I got to speak to Leo Hunt who I remember liking the last time, and he’s a nice chap.  I also remembered how much I adore Greta Healey’s voice; again, I think my Words & Music lecturer would like it.  Anyway, I read a new poem called I Am No Better which was inspired by events at Hop Farm Festival last year, including a drunken vision of Kaya Scodelario (Effie from Skins), so it has been a long time coming, but hopefully that means it’s a gooden.  I then dedicated my poem Passing Time, to a guy I’ve been acquainted with for a couple of weeks who said he’d never go to see poetry.  I then did Drama as I was reminded of it whilst doing research for my Children’s Literature module.  I finished on Tick the Box, which another performer told me they liked best.

So, I was happy.  On top of that, I won a chocolate prize for my attempt at the fancy dress! As the only effort was the hat, I’m pretty pleased… though am not sure I should be as the rest was just a normal outfit!  Oh well, chocolate, can’t complain!  I really enjoyed Christopher Ogden’s prose piece and think I prefer it to his poetry, which is unusual as it is more difficult to keep the audience’s attention with prose.  Angela Robinson was really enjoyable again, and I find her work very cinematic, in an American way, but in a positive way that makes you want to take a trip! Chris Gray was next and his set was really funny, and delivered with confidence.  Catherine Woodward is someone who impresses me more and more each time I see her, and is published so hopefully would be able to get her for a pure LitSoc event if we end up doing that. 

Robyn Comfort did a nice mix of poetry and song to acoustic guitar, including one about her boyfriend which was sweet; it reminded me of when I read at the Poetry Cafe and dedicated a poem to my boyfriend at the time, and how in that moment I made his heart feel more for me than he ever has since.  Amy Wragg didn’t turn up, which I was disappointed about as I was looking forward to hearing her read.  Laurie Eaves was as good as ever, and even worked a reference to one of Angela’s poems in his.  Josephine Lister was headliner, and I’m still working out what I think about her poetry, as she’s quite loud and so maybe she should have more variation or something, I can’t put my finger on it, that said, I loved her poem The Way You Look Tonight.  I also think I might fancy her just a bit.

I’m really wanting to break open my chocolate snowman, but I’ve already had a massive Homemade Quorn Cottage Pie that should really serve two, and a strip of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.  I should also go to bed now as I still have essays to edit and expand upon (UNDER the word limit!)  I also need to draw and scan in illustrations for my creative project for Children’s Literature.  Then once that’s over, time to start on my Creative Entrepreneurship MA application and reading for my dissertation.


I also realised I didn’t do any Christmas-themed poems, so here’s one from last year:



You were Father Christmas in the nativity.

I was a snow flake.

If we met in reception I wonder

what we would be now,

and whether we would have been friends

back then.

Would you have pulled my hair?

Would you have known my name?

In the playground playing games

would you have been my aim in kiss chase?

Or would you be kicking a football

while I was tangled up I skipping ropes

and standing on one leg in hopscotch?

Would you save me if I was stuck in the mud?

Find a plaster for my grazed knees?

Or be the cause for my bruises

for pushing me too hard?

You, eating Christmas dinner in the hall.

Would I be on pack lunch at this time?

‘Cause I always changed my mind.

Would you watch my cartwheels

or comment on my hairy legs?

Would we keep in contact?

Grow older as friends.

Or more.

Would we be shy?

Would we camp together at music festivals?

Would I fall in love with you,

and your family,

would they call me their baby?

Get pissed together?

Bite nails and smoke cigarettes?

And experience what went on behind bike sheds?

Because in reality I stopped riding bikes at secondary school.

Would we comfort eat?

Or have someone to share the cakes with?

Would we swap presents every year?

Would we write pain into our history books

or just play hangman at the back of the classroom?

Would I go away?

And you come visit me,

hug goodbye

but always say see you soon.

Would you ride off with reindeer to the moon?

And dust me off your shoulder.

Would you see life without me is colder?

Share a bed with a hot water bottle, one duvet

and two pillows.

So She Said

I enjoyed the last fundraiser for LadyFest Ten so much I decided to go again to this one.  I was worried the tube strike would force me to take buses and get lost as I have a habit of travelling in the wrong direction.  Since I came all the way from South West London to Mile End, there was really no excuse for anyone not attending!  I think it’s more the idea that there will be problems travelling that stopped them coming, rather than any real obstacles.

I was with my friend Elliot again as he lives walking distance, and we sat in the same place as before; I’m a creature of habit.  We were given Poetry Bingo cards and edible DIY-poetry biscuits which we made with icing sugar glue.  I thought that was really fun!  The other acts this time weren’t as impressive and it wasn’t really as good as the time before, if I’m honest.  The performers that stood out for me were Sophia Blackwell, of course, and Elliot’s friend Aurélie Jestin who played guitar and sang – I didn’t understand what she was saying as it was in French but I loved everything else you can like about music with lyrics you don’t understand.

My own performance, I wasn’t that happy with… I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it.  I had to bend to the mic a bit as it wasn’t positioned right, which is wierd as I’m quite short… and I messed up a few lines.  Aurélie and Elliot liked it and the audience did make some ‘woo’ noises so I suppose I should stop being so miserable and just be pleased haha.  However…there was this group of girls that wouldn’t stop talking throughout my set, and Sophia Blackwell… in fact, everyone!  They seemed like such posers, all like “we’re at a feminist event!  We’re lesbians/bisexual/friends with lesbians!  We’re at a poetry event! We’re so cool!”  It was just like, why are you here if you’re going to talk throughout the whole thing?  I get really annoyed at people like that, it’s just plain rude!  I wouldn’t make those statements about them normally, but that’s just the impression I got from their ignorance of attending something like this and not bloody paying attention!

Well, rant over, that’s pretty much all I have to say.  I’m deliberating whether to go to an open mic night next week… and if so, which to go to?  It’s between Farrago and Spoonful of Poison.  Farrago costs £5 which is a big factor really, since my main reason for wanting to go is out of obligation as I said I’d try to go to one before I go back to uni in Norwich.  Spoonful of Poison I said I’d go to a couple of weeks ago but forgot and double booked, so feel a pull to go to that as well, but this one is also FREE to go to, so that would be good.  I’m also hoping to see my friend Natalie on that date and she would probably prefer Spoonful as it’s free and she even did her first poetry reading there.

Dilemmasss!  Any advice about that would be welcome, but I’ll probably end up going to whatever Natalie wants to go to… hopefully she will actually be back from Greece by then.


The Queen’s Speech

Last night I went to an open mic in Brixton’s Queen’s Head.  It was quite at first and I arrived an hour early so sat at a lamp with Proust and a glass of wine.  Rachel Pantechnicon was the featue who I’d seen a few times before at Farrago but had’nt spoken until this time, and I also recognised one of the open mic acts.

I felt a bit embarrassed when I got off the stage after performing ‘Cinderella’ to press record again on my camera, and the microphone kept swinging away from me.  Other than that, the audience were really supportive and seemed to like it.  I really enjoyed it anyway and smiled throughout it.  The video I recorded did cut off my head though.


Needle&Thread open mic

This is just a quick update about the last open mic night I went to, last Tuesday at the Half Moon pub in Herne Hill.  I used to live in the area, but it was before I was five so I don’t remember much, it was my parent’s first place though so I have like one vague memory in a park as well as those confused with photographs and home videos.  So, the event was Needle&Thread and although I was there an hour before to sign up, after one glass of wine, my friend Amy came along, as she lives five minutes walk away.

It was good to see Amy, and although the other acts were all men with acoustic guitars, it was fun and relaxing.  It was weird at first because the lights were so bright I couldn’t see the audience – I used to like that when I was dancing but it felt like reading to an empty room, although the crowd were really nice with clapping and cheering.

It has to be said, the bar staff were really nice and friendly, and it seemed an all-round cool pub.  I was gutted I had to leave so early to get my last train.  If I didn’t have work the next day I would have bussed it back.  There was one guy that was going to do poetry that talked to me and my friend at the bar, and he interrupted our conversation and then said “don’t beat me up” so I would have loved to see what he did!

Next up, tonight, The Queen’s Speech and The Queen’s Head in Brixton.  So far, going it alone.  I’ve become soooo skint over the summer as well – thank God for my travel expenses from Penned in the Margins!

On another note, I had my last day at my internship and it’s easily the best bit of work I’ve ever had, such a great experience, and let me tell you, there’s some exciting stuff coming up in the next year!  I had a goodbye lunch at Juno  which was delish!  I pretty much could have eaten anything on the menu, except the fish… not a fan – very unEnglish of me!  I’ve no idea why there’s bad reviews online, I really liked it, my perfect menu and nice atmopshere, with a cool space invaders table.

Anyway, I’ll update soon about tonight, as I’ve got my own camera back… well, it says it’s repaired but I swear it’s a new camera! Not bad for £23!


Lady Fest Ten

Last night I went to the Lady Fest poetry open mic event ‘So She Said’ at The Victoria in Mile End.  I went after work and grabbed a burger and wedges from Cafe 1001 (and a sneaky Carlsberg).  The features of the night were Chrissy Williams, Dzifa Benson and Liz Bentley.  Chrissy Williams I thought was okay but perhaps more of a “page” poet, given by her numerous publications of which I can only dream of being in currently.  If I remember correctly a lot of the poems involved dialogue, which I thought maybe was in order to fit in with the event title, which would have been a cool thing to do, if it was intentional.

My favourite feature was probably Dzifa Benson.  I usually find it more difficult to concentrate on the poet prior to going up myself, but I really liked her set, especially one she read about skin.  I was pleased with how my set went and the girl who went up after me (can’t remember her name, but she was good!) said she enjoyed my set.  She also told me she’d only started doing poetry readings a week or so ago!  Where have all these amazing poets come from that need like nooo practice to perform amazingly?  (Like Vanessa Kisuule, whose name I wanted to mention in my last Farrago post but am not sure if I did). I also was compared to Brigitte Aphrodite by, Nikki Shaill, one of the event organisers who approached me about contributing to the Lady Fest Zine.  I was really surprised by the comparison, but I don’t know maybe it’s the inflection in the voice when performing, expression of emotion or something.  I don’t have music in my act (yet!) but if I were to sum up Brigitte’s act, I would describe it as of the cockney music hall variety.  Maybe it was ’cause I was with my cockney-East-end-born&bred friend, Elliot Snook (soon to be happy-hardcore music producer, so he tells me).  I told my mum this and she said I sound “more cockney” when I read my poetry.  My own mother!  I was not impressed, I shall have to “get my posh on” in future, all these comparisons unnerve me; flattering as they are, as my friends are saying a lot these days ‘I love it, but it kinda makes me sick’.  I guess it’s because I like these people, but see myself as very different to them in so many ways… I guess I’ve always felt I can’t be put in a box (although I LOVE quizzes, you know the ones that try to put you in boxes).

OMG!  Two embarrassing things happened to me related to this night as well:

1.   I was on the tube and decided to watch the recording of my performance with my Ipod in, to see how long I was on for (which I found out after you can see without doing that).  My camera’s at the repair shop, so I was borrowing my mum’s, so I also didn’t know that you could hear SOUND when you play it back (mine doesn’t do that).  I even took my earphones out to check but didn’t seem to hear anything, but my mum told me you could after. So yeah, embarrassing!  Especially as there was someone who performed there on the tube near me probably thinking what a weirdo loser I was!

2.  My parents had their couple friends round for food and drinks, and I went to bed, leaving the camera with my mum as she wanted to take pictures.  She told me the next day how great their friends thought my performance was (and compared me to Kate Nash, grrr – see above).  I was soooo embarrassed!  Mainly the content of my poems.  I’ve performed in front of my parents before but carefully picked my poems!  Poems about body hair and ex-boyfriends would not be top of the list!  Argh! and I haven’t heard it myself yet, hopefully will be able to upload it tonight though!

Anyway, back to the event!  Liz Bentley was the last feature and I was enjoying her performance and laughed at her reference to Rachel Pantechnicon, feeling a bit pleased with myself that I got it.  So I enjoyed it, despite my personal aversion to people with her first name, UNTIL she did a poem about hating her sister and asked people in the audience to answer whether they hated their siblings.  Elliot said he loved his, and he exclaimed “she’s only two!”  Liz then engaged in banter, trying to amuse the audience by making out he was “weird” for loving his sister.  I felt a wave of embarrassment come over me, like that feeling when you forget lines and everyone is looking at you.  Aware it wasn’t me that should feel awkward, I told Elliot ‘I want the world to swallow you up’.  I just thought it was an underhand thing to say, as he wasn’t heckling and I found it inappropriate and basically rude.  *Sigh* Disappointing.

The next So She Said event is 7th September and I’ll hopefully be going along again.


Rhythm & Muse

Last night I went to Rhythm & Muse, in Teddington for the first time to check out the open mic there., having signed up via email.  It had a really chilled vibe and was nice to relax with a glass of Rosé.  I’d arrived early so I got to sit right at the front, which I like because it means I don’t have to rumage my way through the crowd to get on stage.

 The Flying Blueberries were on first, doing mostly Bob Dylan songs, and having seen Bob Dylan at Hop Farm Festival earlier, this was possibly more enjoyable as the real McCoy’s set was long and disappointing, as he avoided the classics that all the fans wanted to hear.  Anyway, of the open mic I recognised Peter Francis from The Tea Box open mic who provided a witty rapport with the audience in between poems.  I also enjoyed a girl called Laura’s set, who studies at Kingston uni, though felt she did something I tend to do, which is to try and squeeze as many poems as possible into the set.

I loved the headline poetry act, Racker Donnelly, as I find that it’s always impressive when poets know their material by heart, and also felt there was a good mix of the comedic and the tragic… as I think he pointed out himself with reference to Shakespeare before performing a piece on King Lear.  I also felt like I was learning something about Ireland, and it’s always good to learn new things.  I’ve also been wanting to have a trip to Ireland after my friend Kim suggested it as a place to celebrate the new year (although it hasn’t happened yet).  I have to confess that part of the reason is a false hope for Gerard Butler look-a-likes after seeing P.S. I Love You… even though he’s actually Scottish.

Back to the poetry… I was on my own again, so was feeling a bit nervous… and it was coming out of my shaking legs once again – I hope that stops, it’s really annoying!  I picked a couple of poems I thought I knew off by heart and folded up the text a million times to squeeze it in my pocket for safety, and annoyingly I needed it!  I forgot a bloody line for Cinderella, of all poems, the bane of my life!  However, after that it was fine, and I got a really positive reaction from the audience.

The compère, Nick Poole said it gave him goosebumps, and came to chat for a bit afterwards, and even offered me a drink which was very nice of him, but I refused as I thought I should be sensible… the wine was really nice though so it was tempting!  I also overheard someone say ‘amazing’ after I came off stage and I don’t care, I’m going to assume it was about me because it makes me feel good haha!

I stayed for the second half but shot off when the first band returned to the stage as I wanted to be home as early as possible; my parents were going away on holiday in the early hours the next day and I wanted to say goodbye.  Before going to bed, I decided to try to put a scarf on my head to experiment to see if it would prevent my hair from getting frizzy and I thought what I came up with looked kind of cool in a 1940s way, so I took some pictures and posted one below.  It didn’t work though and had fallen off by the time I woke up. xxx

PoetryJam at The Tea Box, Richmond

Okay… the two videos I did (the one above and my new video blog) makes me sound like Emily from Skins… I think… well, I sound like I have a bit of a lisp.  I don’t have a lisp so that’s quite strange… maybe it’s cos after Hop Farm my camera got a bit fucked whilst listening to The Ruskins.

I really enjoyed this night anyway! I went with a guy I met earlier that day, called Greg, and he made me drink more than I wanted to, so I was probably a bit drunk.  I got a laugh at the right point – yaaay!!  And a woman told me she could listen to me all night which is majorly flattering! One of the hosts, Alan Wolfson, let me do another one as well and came up and said he loved my set 😀

My personal life is a bit out of control at the moment, so at least I have my poetry.  I’ve just been practicing my set for my feature next week in the bath, whispering so my parents don’t hear me haha… I can’t believe how close it is! Looks like I’ll be under-rehearsed yet again, grrr!

I did actually practice the other day and knew most of the set off by heart, but it’s unlikely in reality. I hope some of my friends come to see me.