Thursday, December 27, 2007

In Between Times

I'm always a bit ambivalent about the festive season, especially when you get to the post-match analysis: kids reasonably pleased with their haul; dinner - passable, even if it was raw first time out of the oven; rellies - suitably entertained, fed and re-dispatched to other rellies.

If I had my way, the whole thing would be a lot shorter - by about a week. The new year thing - well, what's another year, as Johnny Logan once sang... and I for one will be quite relieved when the kids are back at school and I can get back to writing once more!

Happy New Year to everyone popping in - ooh - and it's almost two years since I got going on blogger - more later!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Avalanches - Since I Left You

Never mind all that Christmas stuff - this leaves a warm fuzzy feeling in your tummy!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The First Noel - Irish Style

Last night we sat all six of them down: there's the paper; there's the pen - make your final lists! So far, no bodger. Today Insane Husband is set the task of collecting all the presents outlined, so that Santa's sack will be nice and heavy for coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

Guess what the must-have toy seems to be in Ireland this year? The DS; well it's actually the Wee (my name), but I'm not going there after the boys have already totalled two PS2s in the space of two years - I reckon you could possibly put the two of them together and get half way through a game -that's if it wasn't scratched to bits.

Anyway, today goes something like this - text sent from IH at 13:40: no ds left, aggh! Received at 17:10, when I'm just about to get the train home from college in Belfast. So, I think, okay, I'm in a major city, I'm sure I'll get one here. Text back: no worries will sort out here.

Not so. Three big brand shops later, I get the message loud and clear - no DSs happening in this city tonight. Back to train-station with moments to spare. Cue some frantic texting to friends and relations to enquire about DS status in other towns in the north-east of southern Ireland (I know, it's confusing, how do you think we feel).

Most alternative possibilities involve queues, all at ungodly hours. God I love my children. I know what you're thinking: why didn't you get off yer bum and do this earlier. The answer has something to do with a thing that begins with m, ends with y, and doesn't grow on trees, despite what our kids think.

Now, I'm of the opinion that there are ten more days to go before the fat-red-man lands on the roof-tiles; so I'm trying to take a more relaxed approach to this pressie lark and not panic. Yet.

In the meantime, barfarama still reigns with two getting better from Winter Vomiting Bug (we have such straightforward names for things here), but two more complaining of tummy pains and fevers - dontcha just lurve being a parent!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bloomin 'eck

For the first and probably the last time in my Open University career, I've managed to get a distinction in the Creative Writing course I finished back in September.

I am shocked. But ecstatic.

I have been offered an Honours degree in Literature, which I will have the greatest pleasure in accepting on Monday. After I go and celebrate! Yay me :)))))

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist (Good Quality)

I've been haunted by this for weeks as a soundtrack. Have a look.

Cork - O' Bheal

For those who aren't from Irish shores, I'll try to translate 'O' Bheal'. Beal (h-aspirated there... God bless me Irish teacher) means 'mouth'. The 'O' bit makes me think of the shape of the mouth sometimes and means 'from'. So loosely speaking, it's 'from the mouth' or 'spoken word.'

O' Bheal is in existence since April of this year and has already confirmed its place as 'The' place to read when and if in Cork. It takes place on a Monday evening and has an easy format that lends itself well to both supporters and guest poets.

Firstly there's the challenge: five random words are gathered from the audience and then a long fifteen minutes are given so that everyone can compose a poem based on the given five words. Anyone who wants to reads out their poem and whoever gets the loudest applause/cheer/foot-stomps gets a free pint - always a useful carrot when you're a poor-mouth poet ;)

This week the words were: barn, useless, peril, fidget and posit. Have a go yourself - but I warn you, the 'barn' always seems to situate the poem, in, well, a barn!

The challenge is then followed by the guest reader, which in this case was yours truly, and here I must say what a pleasure it was to be allowed to include reading one of the longer mythology-based poems from Kairos alongside the shorter, more modern ones - it all did seem to go down well in Cork - and I enjoyed myself much more than I thought I would - think I might be getting used to it at last!

(I wonder is this the time to mention that if you're looking for a Christmas present for a poetry lover, you could do a lot worse than a specially inscribed copy of Kairos ? ... Ah well - no harm in trying!)

Finally there is the Open Mic session, where everyone gets to 'run what they brung.' There was great variety in the work presented for our delectation and a few things that stuck with me on the way back up the road in the car were: the set involving some wistful fiddle playing combined with what I guess you might call 'Irish rap'; a poem about recycling glass which turned out to be a lot more; a poem about a ballerina's feet, butterflies and chaos theory... a poem about hands, another about ears... another about Christmas in the 1920s...

I could go on, but there simply wouldn't be room here - lets just leave it with the fact that it was a great night, only slightly marred by the fact that I had to hop into the car and drive home, so that Insane Husband could scoot off to honour business commitments. My eyes hurt today!

Just a quick thank-you (yes, more thanks ;) ) to Paul Casey, organiser and MC of O' Bheal, a well-versed poet in his own right, who I think we will be hearing a lot more of in time to come...

I have been challenged to seven random facts by Belle and twelve things I love about Christmas by Scarlett. So, I'd better get cracking on them, then hadn't I?!?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gallivanting again

This week saw me fulfil some more reading obligations: briefly, a lunchtime reading in Chapters book shop of Parnell Street, in Dublin on Monday and then the Poetry Ireland reading in the Unitarian Church on Tuesday night alongside Catherine Ann Cullen, Hugh O'Donnell and Anatoly Kudryatsky.

It was a great pleasure to be reading at this venue; having watched and listened to many other poets of good standing from the (not uncomfortable) pews, it was a truly great feeling to get my turn in the pulpit. We were also very lucky to have two very accomplished Japanese musicians- a harpist and a violinist (sadly I forgot to take note of their names on paper) as well as an unusual music-scape in the form of Nepalese singing bowls, played by Anatoly.

The occasion was tinged with a little sadness as Poetry Ireland is losing its manager of two years, Deryn O'Brien to the Kingdom of Kerry; alas for PI, yay for Kerry. But I believe that she was given a very rousing send-off by the Dublin contingent and I know that she will do very well in the Kingdom.

I have another reading to do in Cork on Monday 10th Dec, at 8.30pm as part of the O'Bheal series of readings/open mic nights that happen down there on Monday evenings. I am looking forward to this one very much, as I've not had the chance to be at one of them before.

In the meantime, the CW Saturday class is just finished for the Christmas break - we are hoping to continue on again in the New Year (once I get my module assignments over and done with) and I am finishing up in Queen's on Friday until the new semester starts. They give you these generous holidays and then fill them with lots of hard work to do; I've three megadocious assignments due just before the end of January and frankly the thoughts of them frighten me half to death.

Results are due from the Open University on Friday 14th December. That's when I'll finally know the grade for my CW course of much earlier in the year and (fingers crossed) I will be asked to accept my degree in English Literature... Booking for the award ceremony opens on the following Monday. Can you imagine me, in Robes, Scroll et al... accompanied by the rabble of my family! What better way to do it than to bring them all along and get my youngest to (loudly) upstage the distinguished guest on the day ;)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Alive! Just about...

Well, as I expected I had a really, really good time over in south London, with my blogmates, Debi and Minx, and Riverwillow too (a thanks here to Belle for the card with the really BIG pants on them - I think she's trying to tell me something).

Friday saw me having a really gorgeous meal with Riverwillow, chomping my way through a plate full of assorted crustaceans and shellfish, talking writing non-stop for... well a couple of hours at any rate.

One thing though - I've discovered that having an espresso last thing at night isn't the cleverest of things to do.

And another thing: urban foxes sound like banshees (and tend to go on and on and on for hours...).

And that people, round where Riverwillow lives, like to go horse riding at 5 in the morning up the street.

Adds a whole new meaning to joy-riding.


Saturday, I met up with Debi and Minx, and we walked and bussed the legs-of-ourselves. Starting with an 'eco-fair' where we had lunch on the hoof, we then perambulated onto the bus and into the West end to meet up with members of Bookarazzi, where we ogled each other's books, talked a good deal about writing, book deals and publishers and got to know each other better. There were about twelve (maths never was my strong suit) of us there; a really good turn out considering it was early December and the shopping end of things has so many people out trolling about.

Later on, the Minx and Debi had arranged to go to see John Bently, a performance poet, in the Canterbury Arms in Brixton. A bit of a double whammy for me - Brixton was where I lived first when I moved to London... way, way back in the distant past - and I was intrigued to find that I knew the pub we were in as well, having been there manys a time... in the way, way back times... (okay I'm not that old, but humour me, why don't you).

Anyway, we watched him do his stuff, complete with a wooden leg, a washboard, a saw and later on aided and abetted by the highest pair of silver heels I've ever seen in my entire life! And all without the aid of a safety net. But with a very, very good bunch of musicians. Bently has been described as being 'quite an exhibitionist.'

To say that I found the whole set interesting, would be putting it mildly - I'm sure Minx or Debi have covered this (ahem) much better than I possibly could (just checked and Minx has).


I returned yesterday to the cleanest house in Ireland, restocked with food, and washing done... I am slightly worried as this is not the normal post-going away state of my home. A big thank-you to everyone whose sofa-beds I slept on this weekend and the hospitality of the Debi household is now become legend.