I’ve blinked and it’s the middle of July. Life is a workout at the moment. I feel good for it, but blogging’s not exactly been top of my list.
I’ve had some lovely gigs, Oxford this weekend was pretty nice, as were Norwich, Stockton and Hull. Ipswich was the stand out for me though. I’d spent all week rehearsing my show with James Grieve and then had to do the old one in Ipswich. It was a gorgeous evening and the sun was still shining when I took to the stage at the Town Hall, so I wasn’t expecting much of a crowd. Still, we had about 40 and they were great. I felt really match fit (which was the first time since coming back after paternity leave) and I really enjoyed performing, sweating into my jacket all the way.
My old English teachers Mrs Hamblin and Mrs Sanders (I know they have first names, but some people never will for me) were in the audience. I noticed them within about 20 seconds. For another performer, having his old English teachers in the audience as he performed material about fingering girls and crack-taking mothers might be a bit of stumbling block. Thankfully I have no shame. None what so ever. Anyway, they really liked the show. Mrs Sanders hasn’t seen me perform before, so it was nice to see her giggle away as I did the rhymes.
Ipswich left me really enthused about performing and I took that into the weekend, hosting a show on behalf of Writers’ Centre Norwich on Friday and then touring Poet’s Work to Oxford. In Oxford I was on with John Osborne and Tom Sutton. It was great seeing Tom again, since he moved to Oxford I only see him about twice a year. John came in the car with me and we listened to Britpop and Five Live, drunk Relentless and ate Burgers. Good old touring. The show was pretty fun, though I think Cool Mum might have killed the vibe again. Should just drop it.
Now it’s this week and it’s time for Latitude. I host and programme the poetry arena at Latitude. I’ve been doing this for 4 years now. We are, to my knowledge, one of the largest poetry events in Europe. We programme 60+ poets over 48 hours of constant poetry performance over 3 days and one evening. It’s pretty special.
This year our headliners are: Andrew Motion, Jackie Kay, Brian Patten, Aidan Moffet (Arab Strap), Simon Armitage, Daljit Nagra, Jeffrey Lewis, Paul Farley, Luke Kennard, Dockers MC, Polar Bear, Patience Agbabi, Charlie Dark and Nathan Jones & Wave Machines. I say headliners, I mean that’s half the bill practically. That’s before I even mention the likes of Elvis McGonagall, Byron Vincent, Mik Artistik, Tim Wells’ Rising Special, Roger Lloyd Pack (that’s Trigger from Only Fools & Horses) Aoife Mannix, Francesca Beard, Roger Robinson and The Pete Box. And that doesn’t even cover the likes of Tim Turnbull, Kathryn Simmonds, Kate Tempest, Baba Brinkman and of course the mighty Aisle16, who will be closing play each day with their rousing Aisle16 & Friends sessions.
Eek! I think this is our best yet. I’m fucking well up for it mate.
I’ve even planned some sets (in my head). Never done that before. I thinking it might go a bit like this:
Thursday 7-7.30pm – All new stuff, condensed Petty Concerns – So Like an Ostrich, Thanx 4 the Ad, Mr Blank, Another Grotty Holiday, Luke’s Got A Joke, Mondeo Man, Raise A Glass
Friday: 3-3.10pm – rarely heard pieces, like Loughborough, Leaving Johnny’s Flat, The Launch, Re-edit
Saturday: 11-11.20am – My characters set – Fat Josh, Dudley Livingstone, Mr Blank, Colonel Crampon, Camping Dad
Sunday 11-11.20am – Poet & Man set – It’s Mimms O Clock, Company of Men, Darryl, Laura Brown, Funeral Poem
Sunday 8-8.20pm – pop set – Poet’s Work, One Night of Spending, Sweatbands, Sex Butler, Dance
In the late night sessions I’ll probably do one on Thursday, and two on each of the other nights. Those seven will probably be: Stuck in the Middle, Truly Madeley Deeply, Cool Mum, Luke’s Got A Joke, Grotty Holiday, Mimms O Clock, Camping Dad.
I make that five repeats, and three of those are new poems unheard at Latitude. That’s not bad going I think for what will be 2hr 10 mins of stage time. Of course there are those moments when compering that might require a bit of filling in, but hopefully not too much. I reckon we’ll run on time pretty much. In the past I’ve found myself doing a poem when there wasn’t really time, I won’t do that this year. I’m much more adept at just chatting, just doing that compere thing. I’ve booked all these poets so I know plenty about them, I’ll never be short of something to say (makes a change, huh?)
I’ll also be doing a couple of radio things this week. Tomorrow at 3pm I’m on the Nemone show, but Nemone is off having her baby so I’m on with Cerys Matthews. I am ridiculously excited about this. I remember, when aged 15 my mate Jon brought round a cassette with Way Beyond Blue on it and we listened to it on repeat for about 3 days. Fucking loved that album, who would have thunk that I’d get to do a radio show with the girl in the wedding dress and boxing gloves one day? Poetry – you’re got a lot to answer for.
Then on Friday, from the BBC tent at Latitude I’ll be going on the Claudia Winkleman Arts Show on BBC2. My mate John says Claudia Winkleman is Big Suz’s step-sister and that she’s quite milf-y. I haven’t seen her so I can’t comment, but the show is great, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ll be doing a short poem about Latitude that I haven’t finished yet. Ho-hum.
So a great week ahead. Sal and I are bringing our son with us, so I’m a little stressed about getting them settled before doing my gig on the Thursday. The weather forecast isn’t great, but that’ll just mean more people cram into the poetry tent and have their minds changed about this noble art forever. See you in Suffolk!