Saturday, 27 September 2003

The Gold Cell
I’ve spent all week in a number of schools being Mr Poet Man for 10 year olds. Quite strange in some ways as my own stuff is so adult, yet I have the knack it seems to be able to do poetry and literacy stuff, which fires up people of all ages up. Four of the days were in the Lancashire town of Oswaldtwistle, which is such a great name, if I had a cat I would call it Oswaldtwistle. Ozzy Tiwstle, here boy. Anyway I’m allergic to cats. I worked with 1 class each day and we did a great deal of work on identity. Then on Thursday night, some of the kids got together to perform their work hosted by ‘you know who.’ Fabulous, lovely job, though I was stinking with a cold, we did great though.

Stephen calls, a good ear and a dear man. I keep drifting off, as I’m so tired. I’ll be down in London soon as I have some shows down there. I so much enjoy staying with Stephen. We laugh and cry a lot.

I’m in bed by half past nine, exhausted, sniffling, whiskey warmed, and muddled, head full of stuff.

I’ve spent the day resting; I’ve done nothing except for buying a lettuce from the local organic shop. Ate a bar a chocolate and chatted with my friend Keith.

I slept through the afternoon; post feta salad, hard night sleep. I’m starting to think about this small commission I have to complete for next Saturday, on the theme of identity, for a book for kids around 10 or 11 years old. I’m thinking of a rewrite of a recent piece that hasn’t been published yet, with a new front end added on. Also I’ve got to think about what I’m going to enter for the national poetry competition. ‘Cheap Moisturiser’ is looking like the one at the minute. It is a shame I can’t enter ‘Sunday’ as that is something. It even gets fan mail that poem. Seriously.

Monday, 22 September 2003

Big Reader
1st school is excellent working with primary kids aged 10. We write and do crazy stuff all day. I teach them a song to call the seals from the sea, and we do lots of call and response poems. Home for an hour then off to Bradford to read as part of the BBC’s Big Read. My poems go down well. ‘Cheap Moisturiser’ reduces a couple of the group to tears. It is such a cold night. I put the heating on as soon as I’m home.

Sunday, 21 September 2003

Welcome to the world
My friends Jude and Leon had a baby girl yesterday. I shop and sleep, and go see Roy Harper singing. He still is true to his ideals and has never sounded better. I’m deeply inspired. Sunday I go to visit the new baby and Jude and Leon, spend most of the day planning the work for the upcoming week. I have a 4-day residency in some schools in Lancashire, and another day in Bradford, plus a reading to prepare for.

Saturday, 20 September 2003

First day of my residency is a school in Bradford. The morning goes great, the kids are brilliant. I’m working with pupils on the learning support unit. The afternoon group are much harder work. Images and darkness to live up to as their older. Emotionally it is a tough day for me. Working here. It would have been my youngest sister’s 27th birthday too

Thursday, 18 September 2003

Thursday 18th September: that and the work
Into prison very early, didn’t sleep that well again. Trying to finish off lots of strange little jobs, I hate this limbo. Waiting to flip over into something new. I’m scared silly by the uncertainty of being freelance again. Making enough money to pay for the mortgage etc. got to have faith and do some graft. Got to be prepared to pair things down, and see that life is the payment. Not that I don’t want the money. I shall be open to the possibilities.

I want to move into a more sensual world. More art, more breath, which I’ve been staying away from this year, more presence. It is okay to be sensuous and feel good in one’s skin. That and the work
Monday 15th – Weds17th: a barrel of images
A long prison run till Thursday, making time up so I can be away on a big school’s job next week. Not sleeping well, the neighbours are noisy. I’m stressed about Friday’s first day in Bradford. The weather is hot and there is no time. Just trying to finish things up at the prison only the 29th and 30th to go after this week. Lovely to see Kay on Wednesday night for my massage. I’m so lumpy after all the driving from the last month. My friend Jude could give birth at any moment, so we’re all on alert. And I’m just waiting, and trying to be focussed so that I can enjoy the freedom of getting into a new life after the jail. Reading ‘the god of small things’ hating it mostly except for occasional political flashes and some of the images. But it is basically a very beautiful book about nothing with a million similes to make you think it is. Walk home like a new man after my mas
Sunday 14th September: Crank
Nothing exists, I’m too tired to make the world turn over for me today
13th September: Oh black angel
Pack up, head up to Phil & Justin’s for breakfast, Sherry is staying there too, and Allan comes over. We chat about the show, where we dream of taking it. Around the world on a beautiful boat please god. Leaving is hard, both sherry and I linger back. Don’t want to leave this lovely world we’ve made, but I have to get back, so it’s up the M1 in such hot weather. Home in 3 and a half hours, a shower and out again, to see a play ‘b like water’ at CONTACT in Manchester, also Xan will be there, so it will be lovely to see her, we both no John McGrath, the director of CONTACT, he’s directed part of the show so we have turned out to say hello. Hannah and Xan seem to get on Okay. It can be strange when one’s differing worlds cross over, but they do fine. I see a few people I know, say hello. I’m enjoying being out. It seems like a very long time. The first half of the play is about the death of Hip Hop. It is quite boring and clichéd. The second half is beautiful, with the main performer on a wire, dancing in the air, and basically performing a long slow poem about heroes and black angels. Mesmerising. Then guess what, Xan and John head off dancing and we go for a curry, masala dosa to be precise.
12th September: FACES
Performance 2 tonight. Breakfast of bacon and eggs. Hannah goes back north at 9 am. I head into town, buy some folders for my poems, walk around town, stop at an information point to find out where the gallery is, my own face looks up at me from the desk as there is a pile of our publicity there. Go into Virgin, and Sherry’s face is looking at me from the frontpage of the local What’s On paper. We’re doing Milton Keynes, woo hoo. Walk to the art gallery, through the endless corridor of a shopping centre. MK art gallery is tiny, I’ve been here once before to see a show by Gilbert and George. The current show is photos by Jurgen Teller, who takes photos for iD and THE FACE. He likes football, cigarettes, getting his cock out and larger. Terrible. Tedious man. Like mediocre snaps that you’d throw away when you we’re sorting yr photos out. There is no communication from them in any way; all you feel or know after seeing it is that he likes football etc.. and he likes to be his own subject. I’m surprised he didn’t show himself having a wank, but that would have taken some imagination, which blokey hasn’t got.

We change the opening and the ending a bit. Tonight’s show, we’re all tired. We don’t have time for a run trough so there are a few glitches. I have to restart the erotic poem, as I can’t get my teeth around the third line. Apparently people still really enjoyed it. Much freer tonight, more interplay between the cast. And that can only be good.

All off for drinks after, but Xan heads off to London, miss her already. I’m leaving in the morning.
11th September: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night, will stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds
Up early Xan lingers in her room, I do yoga. Then to work a speed run through of the whole thing just to bed the words down, 12.00 sound cues, my soundscapes need to be cued up and Sherry needs to practice playing against them. The show is looking great. We have a Persian carpet, which is our stage area, the harp is rear centre, the projection screen frames us and the lighting is opulent and warm.

Our first half is a little too tight we’re hanging on hard, but my closing piece, I’m told is mesmerising. Just Grace, our deaf signer, and myself down the front, interweaving my big gentle erotic poem. The second half is amazing we’ve all relaxed and everything flows. We are one unit and wow. Xan’s wonderful bag piece is staggering, Allan as the princess is scary, and Phil and here donkey stuff is wicked. My big sequence draws howls from the audience especially the LUST poem where I have the luck to have both Xan and Philippa wrapped around my legs in a lustful manner. Our ending is a bit jumpy, but wow. First night and we’re happy. Champagne and rapid conversation back stage, Hannah’s come down to see the show and me, so we go off to see Guy’s band playing, Guy is our sound guy. The rest of the crew are there, but we’re hungry and tired, so we go off to find curry, and have this amazing chicken and lentil dish. Sherry and Phil’s partner Justin follow us to the restaurant, and we all order more, much to exasperation of the owner who is trying to close, so we are super nice with him for letting us stay. At the next table are 3 Indian men with the most beautiful sing-song voices speaking a language I have no knowledge of, we’re all entranced, tired and very happy. Xan stays at Phil’s so the Hannah and I can have the flat, and when we get back its mondo collapso. I’m just trashed.
10th September: Ready or Not
3.30 start the usual drive to Milton Keynes; arrive at the flat at quarter past seven, yoga, bath, and breakfast, knackered!! We rehearse in the actual theatre space all day until 10pm, surprisingly I’m not wiped out. It is great to finally see the thing in place; I think I’ve fallen in love with everyone and their talents a bit. Our poor lights and sound guy, doesn’t have enough hands to do all the things we’re asking, there is sticky tape everywhere. The play keeps gaining scenes and losing scenes. 1 day to go and we’re not ready

Tuesday, 9 September 2003

'Because I'm early'

A very early start. I'll do my yoga when I get home. I left very early as I'm tired of my journey to work along the M62 taking 2 hours to do 50 miles. A bit of my own stuff leaked into the prison. Spoke to the centre for Global education at York St. John's College, about the reading they have asked me to do for them in October. I discovered a wonderful poem by Noel Coward as I was researching material for my staff Readers and Writers group. The other advantage with coming in early is I can leave early so I'll save time that way too, and as I have to get up at 3.30 am to drive to Milton Keynes, I can get some rest at home, watch some of the new Buffy box set, and listen to some music. Much better than being in traffic.

Just been asked to play a jowonio gig in leeds on 25th November things are getting exciting

today's music : yann teirsen

Monday, 8 September 2003

Lunch Out
Up early feeling wiped out with the penicillin. Yoga as usual only very little strength in my arms today, didn't sleep too well, I'm anxious about an up coming job, that will see me working along side my ex for 6 Fridays, it starts very soon. got to hang onto the idea that I'm there to work with the young people!!.

I do yoga as part of my getting ready to leave the prison job and be fit for a new life strategy. porridge & rice milk and heavy traffic on the M62 make for an uncomfortable breakfast. there has been a huge fire at the prison over the weekend. one of the wings and the segregation unit are closed. 41 lads have been sent out to other prisons, including my favourite chap who I've been working very hard with, teaching him yoga nidra, a relaxation technique, and getting him to write for the prison magazine.

lunch out, I need the change of space, trying to get through 'the god of small things,' find her constant similes annoying. I hope it opens up soon. still I'm getting paid to read it. another 3 dates for next year have come in for 'and SHE WAS.' we have our first shows this week, they're gonna have to work me hard on Wednesday to get me up to speed.

I may not be able to keep up my journal while I'm away on 'and SHE WAS,'as the phone line in the flat I'm staying in is not right for my net connection.

Home late. Instant food and bellyache, no time to have a sit down. goodnight

Sunday, 7 September 2003

Scrape, peel, praise the lord!
Up late, no yoga, off to pick up Hannah’s kids from their grandparents. Picnic in the garden and then off to see the appalling SPY KIDS 3D movie. What shite!!!

Wrote a new poem for ‘and SHE WAS,’ to replace ‘hands/birds’ which was at the end of the show. I am worried however that we are being too literal and not working the audience hard enough.

Stripped some paint from my lounge windowsill and from a doorframe. I want rid of all the gloss paint, from all the woodwork in the house. A nasty job with heat gun, chemicals, scrapers, and gloves, and now the house stinks, but it is looking great, it will take months to get all this done.

Chatted with my lovely friend Stephen and had a vague worry all day about an old friend who unfortunately has become a born again Christian, after a long period of drug usage. He’s in the ‘my dog is the only dog’ phase, and suddenly we’re all sinners, which is bollocks of course. I have never sinned in my life. Not being a Christian makes it impossible for me to sin. I’ve done terrible things which I’ll regret all my life, but they’re my responsibility. I’ll take the outcomes of my actions. And none of us need a saviour, we need to save ourselves. Its my belief my friend has been caught when very low, and for want of a roof, food and company he’s bought the package. If it gets him out of his habit it’s okay I suppose, I know some fab Christians, but the ramming it down one’s teeth phase is boring, and wrong. As if one can’t have a relationship with the ‘higher,’ if one is not a Christian. Fuck off

Tour Dates
The rain finally came. It has been so dry here; my poor plants have depended on the kindness of my neighbours whilst I’ve been away. Deadheaded my purple pansies. Re-potted my sempervivums, and planted out the last run of rocket and lettuces. Very therapeutic.

Worked updating my website and my education pack for schools, those damn press clipping are proving to be hard work. Was booked in to do a reading in York at St. John’s College in October. When I listed all my upcoming live stuff on the website, it turned out I have an autumn tour on my hands. 10 dates over the next few months, by myself, with BROTHATALK, and with ‘and SHE WAS,’ I should make a t-shirt with the gigs on the back and my photo on the front

Eating out in Leeds, in the evening. Delicious curry with banana and okra. Tired out with the penicillin killing my system. It seems mad to take something that makes one poorly to cure something else.

Friday, 5 September 2003

Up early, the penicillin finally bringing some relief to this gum infection that has literarily had me sweating with pain for the last two days.

I’ve been in the north all week. I’m missing Sherry, Xanthe, Phillipa and Allan, after 3 weeks of such intense work. Still it is our show next week and we have some very heavy rehearsals ahead. I need to once over the poetry for the show, over the weekend. Also need to master off the soundscapes and do the pre/post mix for the audience arriving and leaving, going to mix some Indian stuff with, talking heads and stuff like that.

Only 25 days until my prison contract is over, I’m panicking as I’m terrified I won’t be able to get freelance work, so I am working very hard to get me resources together. I’m going to go through all my press-cuttings today if I get the chance as my mother and sister Kath are visiting this morning, which means I’ll spend the next few hours tidying and putting away ‘unsuitable’ things, better not to give my mum fuel to comment on.

I’ve been thinking about writing some children’s poetry, I have been learning some seal songs, in our rehearsals of ‘and SHE WAS’ and while they’re not in the show. I’d love to use them some how. I need a set of poems to perform for primary kids too, I can workshop with that age but most of my material is quiet unsuitable.

4.35 pm
My mum has been and gone. Wound me up something shocking. I don’t think she has ever listened to one word from me in my entire life. Johnny from next door managed to sort me out. Got the food on, Kay is coming round this evening to teach me how to journey. I’m making paprikash, and puy lentils in lemon and garlic. Dug out a load of funding info, and I’m starting to think about what clippings to use. Mmmm, an artist’s life. Still though got a lovely card from someone who was at one of my readings recently. I like thank-you cards, typical Leo, love me, adore me!!