‘Wrong’ at the Marlborough Theatre, Brighton 1st & 3rd March

Have finalised dates for these evenings at the Marlborough. Betty and Mark, with their pal Callum doing ‘Wrong’, which is my short farce involving a corpse, plus another wee piece I wrote recently called ‘A bite to eat’ which is mainly to do with zombies. Mark is writing some material too and it should be a feast of black comedy.

Tickets available here http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/154027

Aids Memorial Concert December 1st 2010

Will be going along to the Aids Memorial Concert, at St Mary The Virgin Church in St James Street Brighton. Among others it features Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus, Hullabaloo Cumminity Quire, and the Rainbow Chorus.

The Rainbow Chorus are premiering a song Matt Pollard and I wrote for the Chorus called ‘Found’. Can’t wait to see it performed for the first time.

Matthew Pollard Music Performance

This concert will fall in love with you

My collaboration with classical music composer Matthew Pollard is fascinating. Matt recently played me through parts of the first five variations. For me it was incredibly exciting to hear the music taking shape. It is full of delicious uncertainties. And it is quite humbling to hear how they interlace and enlarge on the words I’ve written. Even at this early stage, it is clear just how accomplished he is, and how this work will shine.

The venue for its “world premiere” (digging that!) is going to be on 12th, 13th and 14th May, at St Michael and All Angels Church in Brighton at 7:30pm. The audience capacity is a modest 100. Matt is assembling an eclectic mix of accomplished musicians, and I will be performing the words.

Naturally, we are also discussing how we were going to promote it, and I’ve come up with a look and feel Matt’s happy with. Among normal listing routes (it will be part of the Brighton Fringe Festival) we’ll also use facebook. I’ve not used facebook to promote anything before, so it will be interesting to test for myself how useful this medium is.

This concert will fall in love with you has an unusually audacious concept. We are going to give the listener the unique experience of listening to words and music that describe what it is to fall in love with them personally. It’s weird and it’s wonderful. Watch this space.

Pooran Desai and One Brighton

Interviewed the sustainability pioneer Pooran Desai OBE last Friday, and attended the opening of the zero carbon One Brighton development, which it is claimed is the most sustainable housing development in the UK – and possibly the world. His One Planet thinking informed its development. And it is fantastic.

Having had the tour, and done the interview and watched Deputy Mayor Carol Theobald do the ribbon-snipping honours. I found sustainability runs through the development like lettering in a piece of Brighton Rock: from the building materials (e.g. using the greenest concrete in Britain with 100% recycled aggregate) to the fact the dining chairs in the demonstration apartment were made from recycled computer games consoles.

Importantly the way the place is managed is a massive differentiator, linking it to local food suppliers and fuelled by local sustainable woodchips. It’s a product of not only carefully placing a building in a town, but in its wider ecological and ethical context too. Even the on-site builders have been eating organic food.

I found talking to Pooran genuinely inspiring. In a nutshell his concept is that if everyone on Earth consumed as much as the average UK citizen, we’d need three planets to support us (for a US citizen it would be six). One Planet Living® aims to create a world in which people everywhere can lead happy, healthy lives with their fair share of the earth’s resources.

Go here for more. I’ll link to my interview with Pooran as soon as it is published. But if you get the opportunity, you should check it out for yourself.

Gilbert Shelton and Fat Freddy’s Cat

Popped into Dave’s Comics in Brighton, where the legendary Gilbert Shelton was signing books. Or rather drawing in them, and then signing. I was there to score a copy for my pal Anton. I really enjoyed talking to Gilbert as he drew the Freak Brothers in the Freak Brothers Omnibus book jacket for me.

I told him that when I was at university I’d engaged in competitions of trying to draw Fat Freddy’s Cat, and thought the secret was in the nose. He said that if you looked carefully you could see the cat looked different in every picture. He told me he got the idea of Fat Freddy’s cat from an old cartoon called Mutt and Jeff, which had a spin off strip called Cicero’s Cat. He also said that for him the drawing wasn’t as important as the story.
A very nice man, who took time to talk, and a privilege to meet him for a couple of minutes.

Below Gilbert Shelton drawing the Freak Brothers in the book. And the result.

galactic symphonies

Having been introduced lately to the extremely likeable American poet, and Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys collaborator, Stephen J Kalinich in my local pub it seemed rude not to go to his performance with the guitarist Richard Durant of their collaboration “Galactic Symphonies” at the BHASVIC college.

I have to say I was blown away by what I saw and heard.

Richard Durrant’s playing was genuinely awe inspiring. It included a stunning performance of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint was jaw-droppingly good. I particularly liked the way he played his chaos pedals (did he really say that?) with his toes. His collaboration with Steve – Galactic Symphonies – was spot on too. I’ve sat through so many unhappy hybrids of poetry with music in my time that this was a revelation, each contributor adding to a fascinating whole.

Steve was great: twinkly eyed and weaving word spells. The show was augmented wonderfully by specially created artwork and video projections from Malcolm Buchanan-Dick.

Sadly this fabulous event was poorly attended, and under-publicised. But this was undoubtedly my highlight of the Brighton Festival so far.

more on the booth of many wonders

A photocall yesterday at the station booth. I popped along to get a quick quotes from Geoffrey Theobald, who is Chair of the Environment committee on Brighton and Hove City council (and former Mayor). Andrew Comben, Festival CEO who I’ve previously interviewed, and Chris Hudson of Southern Railways.

My colleague Simon was taking photos, and I joined in, if only to be able to menace Andrew Comben with a camera again. I also met Kath Travis, who is from journey on. For some reason I didn’t know about this before, but it is a marvellous site that lets you know where your bus is, when it’s to be expected, the traffic situation, even the carbon footprint of your bus journey. Amazing.

Just another sign that Brighton is one of the most sustainability minded cities in the UK, and that its festival is part of that mix.

This little booth is one sign of joined up thinking, and an example of the new kind of partnership that could ultimately help us all.

Below Andrew, Geoffrey and Chris joining forces for sustainability.

One little booth, one giant leap for sustainability

There are some ideas which when viewed retrospectively sound obvious. For example, when Percy Shaw invented cats eyes in 1934 to help people drive in foggy conditions, nobody seemed much interested, till future Prime Minister Jim Callaghan took them up for British roads in 1947 – and they became ubiquitous.

What On Track and Southern Railways are doing seems simple. In fact it’s a forehead slapping no-brainer. It’s the idea of linking the way you get to a place – the railway – with what you are going to do there, i.e visit The Brighton Festival. This, after all, is a festival with a growing reputation internationally and a flagship event for Brighton. And the modest booth pictured at Brighton Station is the first step in making this link explicit. It the beginning of an attempt to join the dots between travel, sustainability and your destination.

On Track are trying to promote the fact that simply by choosing to board a train rather than drive, you are actually doing something good for the planet. You can zoom down from London to Brighton knowing that you’ve a mouse’s carbon footprint. Crucially, you are already making a difference.

This is important. There is nothing more paralysing than guilt and hopelessness. Show people the everyday things they can do to make a difference, and pow! you have begun to nudge people towards a tipping point in their behavior.

And Brighton, of course, is one of the most sustainably minded cities in the UK, (don’t take my word for it, have a look at this interview I did with Thurstan Crockett Brighton’s sustainability guru). The Festival is part of the Brighton sustainability mix.

Watch this space.


Festival Finnish: a Night of International Poetry

Brighton basking in the sun, and this evening The Quadrant pub had almost 40 people packed into what quickly became quite an airless and sweaty room.

Luckily into this were poured the images of a cooler climate. This bilingual event gave you the opportunity to hear again just how alien Finnish sounds to English speaking ears, coming as it does from a distinctly different branch of the linguistic tree.

Merja Virolainen was the first up, and I particularly liked her first poem spoken in the voice of a girl hanging upside down in a tree, and all the reversals that followed from that until she drops out of the tree to end it. A simple concept beautifully rendered.

Then Jouni Inkala, who was clearly deft, witty and ironic, and although some of his humour got lost in translation enough sustained for his work to be very enjoyable. And finally Johanna Venho one of whose poems, about skiing across country in the approved Finnish manner, was expansive and brought a hot and frosty grandeur to proceedings.

The poets were introduced by Maria Jastrrzebska and John O’Donoghue, who also provided translations. And there were some fresh and well sung songs by Katarina Holmberg and friends, including one in Finnish, to top and tail the readings.

This was a quirky but very worthwhile night out in Brighton, supported and promoted by The South.

back On Track

Another interview this morning, for On Track. This time on the phone. Fortunately my interviewee Thurstan Crockett, Brighton’s Head of Sustainability Environmental Policy,was a former journalist and interviewed very well.

When people are masters of their own brief, it is much easier just to step back and let them download. They, after all, know far more about the subject than you do. I learned lots, such as that Brighton was recognised last year by Forum for the Future as the most sustainable city in the UK, or that there is an ambition for Brighton to be the first city to eliminate plastic bags.

My main focus was to make sure the interviewee appeared as a fully rounded person. Nobody wants to hear the thoughts of job title – they wan’t to hear what a real person thinks.

While I prefer face to face, the best thing about a phone interview is that of course the moment you put the phone down you can start typing, and the conversation is still fresh in your mind.

The rest of the day I spent sending off a manuscript for a giftbook idea I have, and writing its proposal, covering letter etc. Tiresome, but absolutely key. Now it is up to the Gods.