I’m in a Travelodge on Brighton Seafront. With the astronomical car park charges it’s costing me a reasonable £45 a night. On this road there is a Yates’, a Wetherspoon’s, a strip club (or something that looks a like a strip club) and an all you can stomach oriental buffet called Wokmania. Wokmania boasts that is “The ultimate Oriental Buffet,” which is untrue. There will be more to follow. More’s the pity. I ate my dinner there tonight. It was a miserable experience, but I resented the way a couple looked at me when I entered on my own. Surely it is less depressing to be eating there on one’s own for the simple need of sustenance rather than to be there on a date. That is worse. That means your regard Wokmania as somewhere to go on a nice evening out, rather than somewhere to go when you’re tired, depressed and can’t be arsed walking more than fifteen metres. So, I win. Good.
I’m in Brighton because I am doing a series of school’s performances in West Sussex. This has become a kind of yearly tradition for me. Tomorrow I start at Worthing High, which was wicked last year. I did a performance to the whole of year 10 and then led a session for a smaller group of lads who were ‘not very engaged with English.’ I guess it was meant to be a workshop but we just talked about Johnny Clarke, punk and lyric writing for half an hour or so. It was nice, I felt like they were engaged. It probably made no difference to their exams but if they enjoyed it then it was worth it.
It’s always difficult to talk about school’s work without descending into cliches: “making a difference,” “giving something back.” I do at least one workshop a month on average. I could do more, but I don’t like to. It’s not really why I became a poet. But if they are few and far and with a group of older students (year 10+) then they can be excellent. I find with younger students it can be too much like being a teacher as you keep having to ask them to shut up. With older kids it can be less structured and often we just talk about poetry and I try and make them see how it can be really enjoyable to read/listen to.
This week’s a bit different as I am mostly just performing for the kids (well, not kids, years 10&11). I prefer that, I can reach far more people than with a workshop and I’m more interested in developing teenagers to take an interest in poetry than a whole load more poets. I think the writers will identify themselves given enough good examples/role models.
So anyway, here I am in the Travelodge again. I’ve left my nice warm flat in Norwich, my gorgeous wife and beautiful son. I’ve left cuddles on the sofa, home cooking, cups of tea in bed, friends round the corner, walks into town with the pushchair and home me behind. Out here I am an aimless bachelor amongst neon signs on shitty pavements, surviving on junk food, watching documentaries that bore me and drinking beer from cans to make the evenings go quicker. To top it all off my dongle is giving me the dreaded green signal, so no iPlayer.
Still, it needn’t be as bad as all that. I have my running gear with me. There’s a cinema next door, and I’m in fucking Brighton. It could be worse. I could be next to the a23 in Hickstead like last year.
Oh, and one more thing. Apologies for the lack of Podcast. Joel and I will resume next week and go weekly in the run up to Christmas, then we’ll decide how often we can do it after that.