Get(ting) Back (To Fitness)

I shouldn’t be writing this, not because any of it is sensitive, inflammatory or anything along those lines, but because I should currently be standing in a field among my friends in Norfolk. I should have a beer in my hand, the sun on my face and a feeling of mild tiredness combined with all round happiness. I should be watching my daughter find new ways to cajole a few more quid out of me to buy some tat from a stall, and I should also be thinking that another pint is in order. I should be looking something like this. It’s a photo I often use for my author photo, and was taken at the last Worstead Festival.

But I’m not because the bastard that is Covid has finally caught me. Two and a half years of avoiding and I wake up with it two days before we’re due to head to the first Worstead Festival since Covid became a thing. I’m sure I’ve waxed lyrical about Worstead Festival before, so I won’t here, but what it is probably irrelevant in the face of what it means and does. It’s a place I’ve always gone to, always been part of and I was looking forward to it. And I’m not there now. My daughter is. She’s enjoying it and that makes me happy. I hope to go next year.

The week had started so well, with the live launch of Finished Creatures #6 at the Crown Tavern in Clerkenwell. It was lovely to finally meet Jan in person, and to read with some many other poets. It was something of a tour through the other issues as much as it was a launch for issue 6 as we were invited to read from other issues we might have been in.

I read my poem called ‘Trajectory’ that was in issue 6, It’s a poem that starts out as being about a bike accident I had in Worstead and is set less than 500 metres from where I suspect my child is about now.

I have a troubled relationship with that poem at the moment as I’m revising it, again, after the revisions it had to get into FC6, so it felt weird reading the old version, but hey ho. I chose not to read the other poem I’d had in a previous issue as it’s another that needs reworking and, now I think of it, is the second poem to mention bicycles of mine that Jan has taken.

Hmmm, note to self. Either write more or send fewer bike poems to Jan just to mix things up….

I also read the James McDermott poem I mentioned from a few weeks ago. Below are the faces of the audience just before I read. I didn’t notice if they were still smiling by the time I’d finished…What’s that old gag about the wannabe comedian and the school job’s advisor…something about “They laughed when I said I want to be a comedian. Yeah, well nobody’s laughing now”….something like that.

After the reading I was sitting and chatting with the lovely Oliver Comins, and he made reference to the straw-photo above…saying I looked a little more shorn than the photo, and I happened to remark that it was almost time to go and get a new photo taken at the same location. And this is the start of where I must have tempted fate and, to paraphrase McGough, fate gave way.

I woke up feeling fine the next day and went to work. At lunch time I ordered a new hat for the weekend.
By the time I got home I felt tired and cold, but I put it down to a late night and early morning.

The hat arrived on Wednesday morning, but the Covids had got the march on it.

Here I am modelling the new hat in the wrong location

And so here we are. I’ve been pretty lucky by comparison with many. I’ve come out the other side now or aches and sweats. Or at least I think I have. My wife has looked after me, I’ve been able to take time of work to recover, I’ve even used some of the delirious time to work on drafts , so I’m not grumbling. Just weird to think of the connections.

My delirious state has meant I’ve not read much this week. I’ve not really watched much TV either, although I did finish all 6 hours of Get Back, The Beatles’ doc on Disney+. I loved it, aside from it foreshadowing what we know is about to happen, it serves as a wonderful doc about creative process and working through things to get at the “final” version. I feel less bad about the million drafts for Trajectory (or anything else) as a result. It’s lovely to see the craft and the magic happening before our eyes, and it really is the craft and the magic in that order. Paul conjuring Get Back from the ether is a beautiful moment, but the hours of versions that follow to get it done are more instructive, but I digress.

I’ll stop here with a poem by John Glenday. I’m working my way through his Selected Poems at present and this seemed hopeful, as well as a sort of link to the idea about inspiration above…the something singing in a heart

Fire Damp

John Glenday, Selected Poems, Picador 2020

And yes, I believe something
must sing in the heart.

I once read that when canaries
were taken underground

they would often sing back
towards what little light there was.

Galaxie 500’s cover of Isn’t It A Pity. Chosen because a) the album is taken from is called On Fire. It links to the poem above and I’ve felt like I was on fire all week. b) It’s a George Harrison song that raises its head in the Get Back doc and c) I note Matthew Paul saw this performed this week. d) It’s just fucking awesome.
e) Bonus Nina Simone version


15K running. Knee knack was wearing off, I was ready for the Worstead five miler. I felt good
1 bout of COVID
1 week of taking a hard look at myself
0ish (at least) journeys to dance lessons and back for Flo
0 rejections:
0 new poem finished:
2 poems worked on: Pear Rust, A city break, A new ballet poem, Signs, Fishing Exercise, Ash, Trajectory, Riches, Captain’s Pond,
0 poems published:
1 submissions: Poetry Wales
1 acceptances: Well, one longlisting for Northern Gravy
17 poems are currently out for submission.
5 poems left to submit beyond makeweights
77 Published poems
37 Poems* finished by unpublished
25 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
0 reviews finished:
1 review published: Clare Crossman at London Grip
2 reviews to write: How the fuck did that happen…One underway c.800 words so far
6 days without cigarettes…I was doing so well. .
51 Days since drinking
0 sleepless nights:
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Raymond Antrobus: The Perseverance
Poetry Review Summer 22
Julia Duke: Conversations
John Glenday: Selected Poems


Joan Shelley: The Spur
Laura Markling: Semper Femina
Kate Jackson: British Road Movies
Florence & The Machine: High As Hope, Dance Fever
Ride: Nowhere, Carnival of Light, Weather Diaries
Slowdive: Souvlaki
The Lemonheads: It’s A Shame About Ray
Teenage Fanclub: Howdy
Katie Melua & Simon Goff: Aerial Objects
Jimmy Giuffre: Thesis
Here We Go Magic: A Different Ship
Yasmin Williams: Urban Driftwood
Brian Jonestown Massacre: Fire Doesn’t Grow on Trees
Echo & The Bunnymen: Evergreen, Flowers
Freddie Hubbard: Outposts
Meg Baird: Don’t Weigh Down The Light
The Archers
Pye Corder Audio: Let’s Emerge
Papa M: Live From A Shark Cage
John Surman: The Amazing Adventures of Simon Simon, Morning Glory
Otoboke Beaver: Super Champion
Interpol: El Pintor
The Big Moon: Love In The 4th Dimension
Roedelius: Works 1968 +2005
Cerys Matthews: Never Said Goodbye
Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher
Radiohead: King of Limbs, In Rainbows
Self Esteem: Prioritise Pleasure
Mark McGuire: xx
The Verb: x 2: Male friends, Queens Library
Sharon Van Etten: We’ve been going…
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin; Are You Normal, God Fodder
Baden Powell: Poema On Guitar
Painted Shield:ST 2
Jim James: Regions of Light and Sound of God

Love Island
Get Back
Inside No.9
This City Belongs To Us
The Art That Made Us
The Good Wife

Ramona Herdman: Glut
Under The Radar
The Plum Review
A Straw Hat
Christopher James: The Storm In the Piano

A Straw Hat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s