Monday, 9 January 2017

The Enemies Project: North by North West Poetry Tour

Biiig news! It's barely more than a week away now, and Blogtastic is proud to announce the upcoming collaboration between myself and Laura Tickle. I've been saying for a while [in fact, it's on my blog bio thingy on this very site] how I'm open for collaboration with other artists, and my prayers have been answered. I'm extremely happy - and even luckier - to be given the chance to be a part of The Enemies Project, a massive and wide-reaching organism that has swallowed up most of the world and showcased a lot of talent across many disciplines in a [successful] bid to examine artists' creative interrelationships. I really enjoyed the one I went to a couple of years back at the Fly and the Loaf, and to perform at one is huge for me.

The process has been cool, y'know. Sort of different and sort of the same with respect to what I was thinking it'd be like. It's really exciting, I find, as there's a pleasant pressure to the whole thing. Might go into that more at a later date, might not. Right now, it's just important that you remember the date: 19th January 2017. You should also remember the venue [Edge Hill Arts Centre], and the time [1800hrs]. It would be great to see you there :) There are other dates as well, so here's a re-link to the North by Northwest Tour so you can check them out - hopefully I'll be at the Liverpool one :)

Here's a link to Laura's piece that appeared on Pages [more links to some of her other work in that post]:

Here's a vibrant flash fiction she wrote for Calum Kerr's Flash Flood, 'Carry Him Safely':

Steven Fowler already has a collection of collaborations published with Penned in the Margins [sold out at this link, but free sample available:], any other Enemies related stuff just check the link I've already given you.

And as for other poets and their works - Google it! I've not got time to go into it all, I've got poetry to do :D

Thursday, 10 November 2016


That's first as in FIRST, got it?

I just wanted to say a few words about my first taste of FLIM NITE, a [performance] poetry/comedy/spoken word/music-based meditation on a chosen popular film. Last Monday, it was the turn of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away to be poured through the conceptual sieve of an eclectic mix of artists. It was really good fun.

It made me feel excited about life. Other poetry events have made me feel this way before, but FLIM NITE's extra charm comes from a sense of fearless confidence, honest experimentalism and refreshing changes of style. It wasn't all poetry by any means, however I did approach things from a poetic perspective.

I'm not a big user of technology in my work - Microsoft Word is usually as hi-tech as I get - but I enjoyed the artists' use of powerpoint presentations, music, recordings etc. There was only one instance where I'd say it was gratuitous. Also, as someone who's not generally a proponent of 'performance poetry' [as distinct from what I understand as 'slam poetry', which I think is more language-based with an emphasis on the spoken delivery, rather than delivery in general] I was still impressed with the uses of props, drama and different methods of delivery on the night. If you'd described this to me as I just have to you, I'd probably cringe, but it did work.

I was going to go into the specifics of each act, but it's really hard because there was a lot that went on, so to give you context would just take too long. There were some bits I felt didn't work so well, too, but overall I enjoyed the evening a lot. Plus, I think that right now it's more important to focus on the many positives we can, rather than try and get bogged down in much else.

This was the set list etc [minus open mic-ers]:

The next one's Die Hard, in honour of Jesus being born, and if I can make it I'd love to go. I'd recommend you do too.

Peace, love and light x

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Thanks :D

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated to my 'Sober for October' page, to everyone who has supported me with kind words and to everyone who has read this blog and followed what I've been up to. The £500 target I set my sights on was hit yesterday evening, and then I added up all the money I'd saved buying non-alcoholic drinks [not as much as you'd think! The alternatives aren't very cheap, unless you're happy with water] and donated that, so it's a decent amount.

I've said elsewhere that apparently it costs about £25 to provide an hour of a Macmillan nurse's time, so there's nearly a day of help that your money has bought. The JustGiving site also says that some money rolls in after the event is over, so hopefully there's even more to come.

What next, then? Well 'tis the time for novel writing for many, as NaNoWriMo kicks off again. I tried it for the first time last year and haven't really looked at it since (think about it regularly, but ain't done nuffink), so I think I'll try doing NaNoWoMo (National Novel Working Month), where the aim is to work hard at making those 50,000 words into something more novel-like (that should involve a lot more writing first, before I even get to the stage of editing), so we'll see how that goes.

I've many other projects and blogs that are queuing up for attention too, so hopefully I'll crack on with them in good time. Also; just found out I've not had work published at one place, but have recently submitted to another, I have other opportunities to pursue, other readings to attend, other things to read, other quizzes to take part in blah blah... There's plenty to think about, none of it necessarily involving sobriety, so, yeah... Hopefully some productive times ahead [he says, as the fates throw their dice].

This has turned into a thoroughly self-indulgent post, so I'd like to bring it back to its original message and end by saying, once again:


That link again, for any straggling donations [all welcome!]:

Monday, 31 October 2016

Ending on an END

Ok, that acronym bit is old now... What isn't old is donating money, which you can do via this link [thanks to all my donors by the way!]:

Anyhoo... Today I went out on a walk and found a bottle of Eisberg Alcohol Free Cabernet Sauvignon in one of my local shops. We used to stock it ages ago in The Wineyard, and I always wondered what it'd be like. I assumed it'd be something similar to fruit juice. At £3.49, I had to give it a go, and there I was, cracking open a bottle of wine in the mid-afternoon.

On first smell it seemed a bit sour, and on first taste it was a muted fruity affair with a bitterness akin to apple seeds, and a sort of chalky-velvet mouthfeel. Whereas the smell put me off a bit, I was reasonably happy with how it tasted. It took a while for the flavours to build up and for me to appreciate what they were - basic cherry, raspberry and maybe some blackcurrants. It's decent, but quite shallow.

Maybe all the wine needed was a bit of a breathing, and the aroma grew on me. Still a weak smell, but at least not off-putting. Yeah, bottom line, I enjoyed it. Without the body of the booze, it just isn't complex enough for me. It's not just like fruit juice, but then it kind of is too. I've paid more for 'actual wine' that has been disgusting and disappointing. This was neither. Presumably it's lower in sugar than grape juice from concentrate, and it's only 28kcal per 125ml glass, so, hey, it's got more positives on top of the taste.

In other news, the main reason I went to the shops was to get a pumpkin. Since going sober, I've been surprised just what fills my time... It was a good little laugh, getting a bit mucky and cutting out a menacing face, a nice nostalgia journey. I even roasted the pumpkin seeds and I'm enjoying eating them right now. The only thing I would say is that, even totally sober, I shouldn't be trusted with a knife...

Sunday, 30 October 2016

I Know Nothing Good Ever Comes of Thinking, But...

I'm so close to my target now! Just another push or two, please!

I was just thinking back to Friday and how much I really really really wanted a drink [I'm fine now, by the way. Feel ok, and yesterday I happily watched a frantic Liverpool game with only my Beck's Blue [and a pie... But no-one needs to know about that...]]. I had even considered, for a semi-second, buying a Golden Ticket. For those of you that don't want to click on the link I've just provided, Macmillan's Golden Ticket involves buying time off being off the booze for a minimum donation of £15. Isn't that a great idea? What a great way to raise that little bit extra! How innovative, proactive and flexible!

Guess what. I don't like it.

I was going to write a different post [posts, in fact] on why I was opposed to the 'Sober for October' campaign, but this is a good opportunity to hopefully do it more succinctly. I only decided [a couple of days before the event] to do it purely because I wanted to do something in memory of mum, but even that didn't erase the rankling annoyances that had built up.

Golden Tickets are obviously a bit of a cop-out. If you've decided to do a challenge, then surely you want to be honourable and complete it, I mean, if you've decided to embark on this process, what exactly would be the situation where you have to have that drink? A friend's birthday party? If they're a friend, I'm sure they'll understand what you're doing and why, so I think you can manage. A funeral? Well, yes, grief obviously affects us all differently, and if someone wanted to reach for a drink in a tough time I'd empathise, but it would be hoped that the participant would be able to see that this month is an opportunity to not do that, to see how you fare on rough seas without the rum tot. I've been reading a few articles about the links between sleep, depression and drink, and I'm finding it intriguing how I feel I'm doing in this sober month [given that I have a problem with depression and sleeping at the best of times]. First date nerves? Nah, use the campaign as a point of conversation, maybe big up your resilience and maturity, if that's your bag. So, admittedly without thinking too deeply, I can't come up with a good excuse for using the Golden Ticket. I'm not judging individual choices here, by the way, just remarking that the inclusion of a Golden Ticket could be an enabling/will-power eroding possibility dangled in front of innocent people who want to do some good shiz.

It's the charity itself I accuse of hypocrisy. So much was said in the TV campaigns of the health benefits, and of the idea of 'superheroism' - which I would argue [no scholarly opinions here] includes a pure idealism, something beyond reproach [not saying it's realistic, just that's my interpretation]. But, in sanctioning a frivolous short-term dismissal of the responsibilities of the challenge, Macmillan cannot be taken seriously regarding their concern over your health. I feel they guilt-tripped the public in their TV adverts, focussing on hangovers, as if one can't drink in moderation, saying that they are so unhealthy and childishly exaggerating their effects, how you can't be a functioning human being when you have one. All this chatter, but then an option to indulge again - for a price.

The ads and relating material [take this 'tick off planner' that I've been using, along with some of the blurb in the online shop] also try to encourage people's arrogance. There was a lot of "show your pride" sentiment which, quite frankly, baffles me. It goes against the ideals of heroism because a hero does good things because it is a good thing to do, not for reward, be it financial or otherwise. Pride, and especially the bragging that may come with it, go against this sentiment because they muddy the pure motives that are what heroism is all about.

Even without such an over the top elevation of participants, I think the whole idea of "showing off" that you're trying to help charity is distasteful. Why didn't they phrase it a different way, you know, 'raise awareness' rather than 'be an obnoxious nob'. The whole campaign reeked of tweeness, and, ugh, only by concentrating on my motives can I think about getting through it. I did like the focus on a brighter future in the longer TV ad, but it's silly to think that a month off the sauce is going to solve your life's problems. If alcohol was getting in the way that much, then you need to think about giving it up for good, not just a month.

Anyway, I'm going to stop this. I shouldn't take their advert so seriously, and should focus on the fact it's helped them make more money. I will just point out, though, that this isn't the first time their methods have been called into question:


Edited 31.10.2016 to not sound as s**t.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Clocks Going Backwards

I've just seen a Marie Curie video explaining how their Nurses are going to be working through the 'extra hour' that we're going to have when the clocks go back tomorrow. Watching it, and one of their adverts that was just played on TV, it took me back to what they'd done for my mum.

They came to verify her death. They were very nice. They took off her rings and stuff, and prepared her to be taken away, then they came into the front room and sat with us. There was a lot of silence. I was in the role of brew maker, something I was almost doing on auto pilot in the later days. They sat on the couch and I can't really remember what we talked about.  One of things I was thinking then, and still do, is how it must be to witness all this death.

I thought it was unfair that they'd have to keep going through all that loss, and all the reactions of loved ones [a wide variety of emotions from deep sadness to anger, I'd imagine], but now I think it's much like a surgeon's job in some ways. Death's a part of it [obviously more so in the Marie Curie nurses' case, as their work deals with the terminally ill], and when that's 'accepted' before the event, then maybe you can focus more on the positives that are the job. For the surgeon you know you're trying to prolong life/improve quality of life, and for the Marie Curie nurses you know you're providing dignity and comfort to the dying and their close ones.

And I'm not saying that all those deaths become light like feathers and are no longer felt. I'm sure some of them are just as heavy as the first loss they ever felt. Every one is different, and I'm sure the range of responses reflect that. Actually, I don't know what I'm saying really. Just that this advert made me think. This whole changing of the clocks for most people I talk to revolves mainly around whether they get an extra hour in bed, or whether they're having one cruelly wrent from them, but for people working jobs like this, bearing it so well, it's quite amazing really.

Anyhoo... It's a couple of day left til October's over, whether sober or not. Macmillan are going to get quite a bit of money from my supporters, which is great, and I just thought I'd draw a bit of attention to another charity that did a lot for mum and the family. Maybe if they start doing kooky month-long fundraisers I'll do one of them...

Peace out x

Friday, 28 October 2016

It's just another END post today, I'm afraid. I've just published a post over at All Hail the Ale [which you can view here], so I guess I'm all blogged out. Nah, I'm not really, it's just that it's been one of those days. I'm both really grateful for the good things, and sick of everything. As much as I love you all, dear readery brethren and sistren, I haven't got the fight in me to form anything more cogent than a picture and some trite explication. Speaking of which:

Here is a Peter Spanton mixer [available from the Wineyard and Deli, by the way...] of flavour grapefruit. I'm surrounded by amazing beer, wine, cider and spirits all day long at work, and on days like today it's been hell not being able to unwind with one at the end of the shift. My next best thing [more like 'really far away from what I want thing'] is this alcohol free fizzy fruit-based drink which I don't have to walk far to get [handy, since I don't exactly get breaks...].

I like how bitter it is. It's nice, yeah.

I know it wasn't worth all the effort to read this post, but it's always worth the effort to give to charity [isn't it?]: