Biddy Baxter’s Bacchanalian Bidet…

…anyway, as I was saying to my neighbour only yesterday (from a suitable distance), hello.

Well that was a week and I’m not going to go into the events outside our four walls. It took me until Wednesday this week to come to terms with it. I spent most of the week before and up till Tuesday in a bit of a tailspin, unable to concentrate for any length of time. The fatigue of Google Hangouts for work was starting to take its toll, trying to be positive in the face of a constant barrage of news (and WhatsApp messages – Sweet fucking Jesus H Christ, the volume of WhatsApp messages; thank fuck for the mute button).

I woke up bolt upright at 2.30am on Tuesday, having been dreaming about the news— fear not, I’m not going to tell you about my dreams— and so having realised sleep wasn’t going to happen I got up to try and use the time wisely, to set up the routine I think I’ve been trying to get in place since the working from home started.

I still haven’t managed it, but I did use the time wisely. I managed to write a review for OPOI, offer some feedback to a mate on a draft of his poem, make some notes for another review (must get round to finishing that) and then it was 5.30 and time to have a good look at myself. I switched off the WhatsApps, spent a day not reading the news and concentrated on my work. Wednesday, I went for a run to clear my head (Strava caption: I fucking needed that) and Thursday managed to work on a new draft of a poem that I first made notes on..It’s a start, but it’s using the time spent worrying, etc to distract and do something positive. I haven’t got it in me to concentrate on learning a new language or watching YouTube videos on brain surgery for beginners. However, I did sign up for a Poetry Business Virtual Writing Workshop on Saturday.

I’ve always been a bit reticent about attending one of these courses, not least because it’s too bloody expensive to get to Sheffield and back and pay for the course, but also because I didn’t think it would be any good for me – not to cast aspersions on Ann and Peter than run the courses, it’s more that I didn’t think I’d create anything of any use/value or, more importantly, that I could actually write anything in the time you get given for these things.

However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. We were put at ease immediately, the whole event was well planned and kept pretty much within the timings. I assume because they’ve run so many of these events…I won’t say what happened on the course, but the exercises were interesting, the stimuli were all new to me and I met 15 other interesting people. I think there is some way to go in terms of the technology – Video calling still isn’t second nature to some.

I think I was ok, having spent plenty of time on the aforementioned Google Hangouts with work. However, I think there’s still a lot of the etiquette to be worked out with that. It’s hard to not cut over someone talking when you can’t see the non-verbal cues of face-to-face conversation. If you factor in various broadband/wifi signals, feedback and microphones it can be a bit disorientating.

At the end of it though, I have four poems that I would never have written, 2 of them I suspect will never make it anywhere, but 1 might. I can’t say about the other one yet. I have to let the excitement of a new poem wear off. I got some helpful feedback on the poem from earlier in the week. It’s currently called People Tell Me That Talking To Plants Is Good For Them. Rishi, if you’re reading this I do listen to you. It was called Tomato Plants to begin with, but you’re essay on titles was ringing in my ears as I worked on the poem.

Speaking of Rishi and digital stuff, Friday night saw the launch of the lad’s latest collection, Saffron Jack. I was lucky enough to get my subscribers copy a week ago, and I’m looking forward to diving into it. From what I’ve seen and heard of Rishi reading it it’s definitely a departure and a challenge, but with his trademark intellect, passion and challenges to ways of thinking. Ticker Tape 2 it isn’t, but this is a good thing. Although Ticker Tape was excellent, I’m not saying it wasn’t…Oh FFS, you know what I mean.

The launch was carried out over Periscope – I’d forgotten that even existed, and I think it’s gone off there now, but it is available here on the Nine Arches YouTube Page. Get it watched.

I made my own contribution to poetry videos on Saturday, contributing to the International Poetry Circle on Twitter.

I read a Miroslav Holub poem, it seemed apt to have a poem by an immunologist. Click on #InternationalPoetryCircle for loads more videos by more accomplished readers.

Now, I once read that if your poetry blog isn’t saying something useful then it’s basically just wanting. I think it was Jo Bell that said it, and she’s probably right. No, she is right.

So, in order to avoid that I want to point you towards my final act of self-promotion/navel-gazing for the week. I was lucky enough to be asked to do an interview for the excellent Wombwell Rainbow Interviews by Paul Brookes.

Paul has kindly got on with things while I pulled my finger out to respond to his excellent questions. It’s taken me a month to respond to him – which is annoying as no one has ever asked me to do this before; I should really have leapt at it, but it’s hard to write about myself – Yeah, right I hear you shout as you cast your eyes back up the page…-Anyhoo, my interview is here and contains my thoughts on the age old how to become a writer question. I don’t know the answer, but I’ve run some ideas up the flag poll in the hope of someone saluting…

Obviously you should read my entry and then see how it should be done in all of the other interviews Paul has conducted. You could even volunteer to be interviewed.

Oh, the blog title…oh I just made that up as a placeholder while I thought of something else…I quite like it.

Listen to my mate Jon’s Lockdown Mix…He’s in Norway, so you may need to lean in close to the speaker

THE WEEK IN STATS

1 Great Niece (I think that’s the relationship)> My brother in law’s daughter has given birth to Penelope…I’ve not seen pictures yet as Tim (BIL) is a bit technophobic, but I can’t wait to go and meet her.

1 colleague cheering us all up with a pregnancy announcement. Nice one, CB…

62k running – It’s very much a case of getting out while I still can. I feel bad, I probably shouldn’t be going out, but I’m staying away from people. The Ultra-Marathon has yet to be postponed or cancelled, so I feel like I have to keep training until the inevitable happens. This 62k included

2 back to back half marathon distances. I can’t feel my legs…to quote Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.

1 Poem worked on. – People Tell You…I may have mentioned this

4 new drafts

7 Billion Hangouts for work

Over 145 days now for submissions being out with Tangerine, Magma, North and Lonely Crowd. I should count from the window closing and I’m not complaining (much) about waiting, but I’d love to just know one way or the other.

2 days without cigarettes. Fits and starts, yeah!!

1 review sent and ready to go

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

*Approx

TITLE GIVEAWAY

  1. No Title Giveaway this week as I haven’t thought of any.
  2. Sorry.
  3. Complaints on a postcard to the usual address
  4. Oh, hang on
  5. This might actually work
  6. Oh yeah, there’s also
  7. In Under The Wire Boxset
  8. A Trip To The Isolation Zoo (Nicked, with permission off my mate Adam via Instagram)

READ, SEEN, ETC

Read: 
Simon Armitage’s Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic
Latest issue of Orbis
Dreich #2

Watched: 
Spooks S1, E1-3
Ocean’s 11 – Flo’s intro to it.
Better Call Saul – S5, E4-5
Walking Dead S10 E12-13


Listened to: 

It’s been a good week for going back through old albums…via iTunes to avoid killing the wifi while streaming.

Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
Divine Comedy – Foreverland
Grouplove – Healer
Carole King – Simple Things
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Barrafundle
Hafdis Huld – Synchronised Swimmers
Grace Cathedral Park – In The Evening of Regret
Gillian Welch – Revival
Galaxie 500 – Today
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
Joesph – Good Luck, Kid
Edwin Hawkins & The Hebrew Boys – S/T
REM – Monster (Deluxe Boxset)
Gabor Szabo – Spellbinder
Grobschnitt – Solar Music
Toshiko Akiyoshi – Tokisho’s Piano
Kevin Morby – Harlem River
Roy Orbison – There Is Only One
Caroline Polachek – Pang
Rachael Yamagata – Happenstance
Caribou – Suddenly
Lee Moses – Time and Place
Grassella Oliphnant – The Grass Is Greener
Aldous Harding – Designer
Vaughn Williams – A Sea Symphony
J Mascis – Elastic Days
Lucy Dacus – No Burden
Alela Diane – Pirate’s Gospel (deluxe)
Pearl Jam – Gigaton
Sol Seppy – I am as you are, Pt 1
Colin Stetson – Colour out of Space (OST)
Neil Young – American Stars n’ Bars, Are You Passionate
Various – Trojan Dub Rarities
Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys, Giants of all Sizes, Leaders of the Free World
Elvis Costello – Brutal Youth
David Axelrod – Seriously Deep

Podcasts
The Poet Laureate Retires To His Shed – Guy Garvey/Testament/Kate Tempest

and of course, The Archers…(It’s very good at the moment, but when will they mention Covid 19???)

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