Monday, 30 August 2004


A lovely picnic in Lister park, also very much enjoyed the gallery, they have a Howard Hodgkin, which is a real treat for me.

I've been sorting poems by the likes of Simon Armitage and Kathleen Jamie this evening, for a poster display around Ilkley town centre. Tomorrow I'm working in a school so I'd better get some rest.


grooving to Fela Kuti - Monkey Banana Excuse

I've been up since half six, it is a bank holiday Monday here in England, which means its Sunday again, though we're off to walk around Lister park in Bradford, and Look in the Art Gallery there, we are starved for art in the north. I don't go to pubs or do Saturday night type things, I like to be with friends, family and look at art, read a bit and walk around, not at the same time of course. I also like to be in silence and on my own.

I have just been sorting my itinery for my website, its almost a tour over the next few months. Lots of school stuff too. I need to keep my awareness going through all this and keep writing.

This morning, I've done some gentle yoga, including a yoga nidra, which is like a hypnogogic induced yoga state, relaxation thing. It refills the wells which I all too often drain. I've watch a bit of an old Derek Jarman film, and later I hope to email my mailing list with news of the new live dates and events I'm involved with publicly over the next couple of months.

must get some sitting still reading in today, though I have been reading, British History for Dummies, on the loo, this morning it made me laugh out loud. Did you know we once had a Viking King over all England in 1013, he followed on from Ethelred, and the Viking king's name... Svein Forkbeard. Honestly. King Forkbeard. Still our too long living Queen's real name is Von Battenberg so we're ruled by a woman who is a square multicoloured cake..

you've gotta laugh



music for the morning..gotta be Stevie Wonder, INNERVISIONS...Yeah baby

Hey lovely people of New York, give the bastard hell.

Respect to Amir Khan and his family, for shining so beautifully over the last few days, and showing us who this country actually is.

Saturday, 28 August 2004

Kind Strangers

-- It is very odd where this job can take you. A year ago I was still doing my residency at HMYOI Wetherby. All year I've been up and down to London, in December past I was summoned to Downing Street. I've been in numerous schools all over the country, am still running workshops on a Psychiatric ward. Found myself at strange posh arts dos and yesterday found myself in the middle of a rubber manufacturing factory. Dexine's in Rochdale researching for my forthcoming story about my dad. He worked there in 1962 and until after I was born, it is amazing that when you ask people will let you in to all sorts of places, being a writer is a key. I stood in the room where my dad used to work, warmed my hands at the same boiler he would have done the same at. Smelt the rubber from the pressing machines making anti-vibrational aircraft fittings, computer keypads and 100s of other things. These same machines were here when my dad worked here.

I have not really seen my dad since I was six, that is a long tale which is not for here. I have also finished my children's book, this very morning, sure it will need editing, and lots of things fixing, but the basic thing is there and it works.

There are lots of pictures of me about at the minute, this is all to do with Ilkey Lit Fest. I'm on the cover of the brochure, I'm also the face on all the posters and the bookmarks. Great for my profile but very funny when you're stood in a bookshop and some is looking at the booklet, then they go ah......

Oh darling the pressures of being a poet, let me tell you;-)
If only!!!!!

Inspiring things today:
Beethoven piano sonatas,
miss marple on the telly,
the puffin book of utterly brilliant poetry.

Though on the whole today has been odd, cold, and unengaging. I'm not a fan of the bank holiday, it seems like an excuse for certain types to get pissed and make as much noise as possible. I was stood behind a woman in the post office this lunchtime who was telling her mate on her mobile, and all of us, that she couldn't bloody wait to get pissed tonight.

Please say prayers for Amir Khan in tomorrow's Olympics boxing final. This 17 tear old can fight, and as stupid as it is he his single handedly helping people of colour in this country by his skill and excellence at boxing. The fact that we as a nation are so shallow that this is the only way for some people to respect a person of colour is insane, to some of course, he and we, no matter what will always be fucking pakis, regardless of being, British Irish or 5th generation or what ever, this from a bunch of Danes and Germans who don't know their own history. The fact that this boxing match matters so much is crazy. So prayers please for this beautiful young man,and for this country's warped sense of what Britain is



Monday, 23 August 2004

Editing three new pieces up today, a job that I thought would take an hour ended up taking most of the day. So I have come out to have a coffee and some toast and marmite.

I have been pondering how useful a writer's demons are, as this week mine have been given a reboot into life, with an alarming ferocity, now some writer drink or fight. They variously self destruct, I brood and watch sci-fi and commit acts of murder in my journal. Best place for it I suppose. I don't know if these demons serve any purpose, it is supposed to be sexy, part of the legacy of being creative, but its just shit. Not being able to work and taking out on the world is shit. Anyway back to steadiness. Facing ones troubles is tough, but turning up at the page each day is tougher. It is the only way anything gets done. Not that a holiday in the wildness doesn't have its virtues.

Chatted for a long while to Paula Truman at Bradford Libraries this afternoon, she has finally been given her job, they have kept her on short contracts for too long. This woman is amazing, and her passion for literature of all kinds is staggering, Bradford needs her to promote reading, run its festival, have you seen Bradford, it is a shithole, the fesrival is one of the few brightness's about this nasty place. We should let the fascists have it. Wall them in and leave them to it, and it to them. Seriously though Big ups to Paula.

Toast and marmite... What can I say. Fantastic



Music today
More Scarlatti...

Sunday, 22 August 2004

Sun men

Lazy, lazy day today, refilling my well, after two days of primary school poetry workshops, we did some great stuff at Wheatley Lane School in Fence, near Burnley, but school stuff does suck on the batteries a bit. This was my second visit to the school, I was there only a few months ago, so it is always lovely to be asked back.

Today spent an hour drinking a whisky, listened to some Jimi Hendrix, and wrote a few emails. Also luxuriated in DH Lawrence's Poetry some more. I recently got his complete poems, and god he's good.

We had a lovely evening at dinner last night with my friends Birgit & Erik, talking Aristotle, Babies, Prison work and South Africa, we looked at lots of their photos of their friends, and families and house and mountain ranges. It must be odd to be in Leeds after growing up in all that space.

Now just watching junk TV and doing some more correspondence, there's an old Stephen Segal film on...strange with the sound off. I'm typing and silently flicking between the 4 channels. you can't get Channel 5 in Hebden, its not the 1990's yet, Hebden has just discovered its Thatcherist roots, soon it will be red braces, pony tails for men, and filofaxes in hand at all times. Yorkshire is having its problems with understanding what it is culturally and racially, the same problems that the rest of the UK started thrashing out in the mid 1980's, YES ladies and gents welcome to the valley that time forgot. By my watch it must be 1983, The age of shoulder pads and house prices. I'm looking forward to the New Millenium

To bed for me, I'm starting to go off on one.


Monday, 16 August 2004

Sheep in the rain

Just listening to the new Fripp & Eno lp 'The Equatorial Stars' how lovely.

Went up to the cottage today, its where I go to write when I need a break from the street noise. It was so quiet, silent in fact. I wrote 3 new pieces for my children's thing. Then fell asleep.

Then it started raining from perfect august blue to a torrent, driving out of the valley I noticed that sheep stand still in the rain, perhaps raising your head proudly and being still as they do, is a way to being less wet, or at least being more dignified.

I have a craving to watch Monty python's holy grail at the minute. I need a good laugh. Don't have a copy though and couldn't find one in the video shop.

The new computer is working out very well, though I'm still no clearer on the mysteries of networks. I'll get it sorted. This new work method, does make the old windows PC seem very gross. Soon I'll be uncluttered of all that computer crap. Time for life not machines.


Sunday, 15 August 2004

Sunday Afternoon, just lost one entry at the push of the wrong button, mind is very tired trying to move away from having any desktop computers in the house.

i am aiming by the end of the year to only have this laptop and my phone, in terms of technical equipment. i want to be free of being owned by the things i own.

if anyone reading this knows their way around a network and knows how to get a mac and a windows pc communicating on a wireless network, please get in toch as it is mking me feel old and very strained in the eyes. enough for today though now, just going to write this journal entry and listen to.....let me see.... Julian Bream playing some John Dowland on the lute.

i have been watching the Michel Gondry Directors series DVD. he made Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. the vids are great, especially daft punk and kylie, but his interview about being a creative is the best. so inspirational. i love seeing other artists processes. i used to really enjoy reading Derek Jarman for the same reason when he was still alive.

I'm all set to have a good rest. and attack my children's book afresh in the morning, we're into the really hard part now, a third from the end, and the format is everything at this point. time to do some free writing to move past the technical stuff i guess.

also want o get to work on a story I have been asked for by ROUTE, about my father. i have the title so far and a concept at least of what it may eventually be. the title at thsi point is 'A photo of my father on Ilkey Moor with his head missing.' about a photo i have somewhere that my mum took but she managed to miss his head off somehow. i don't have any other pictures of him from when i was so young. i have their wedding album. which i rescued frim the dust bin when my mum threw it out, and that's it. i also know nothing of his life as a boy or a young man, so my job is to give this headless man some stories.... more as i think properly about this. my children's stuff takes priority at the minute, then there is the proofs due for 'The Prize' from Rialto one day soon.

I have just had a piece accepted by MacMillan for a children's book, strange as my work is so adult at times, to be trying to write so differently. a lot of writers frown on writing for children, but i think i can tell stories to whoever i want. the problem comes when one does a reading. my readings are strictly adult materail, i don't mean naughty, i just mean that they are grown up thoughts, for grown up souls, we pander too much to the eternal teenager of popular culture.

I'm off to drink tea, light the candles and the incenses, and listen properly to this lp while watching the spider outside my window, do his web magic, much better than the WWW anyday



Saturday, 14 August 2004

the day has been spent in computer land setting up a network, so confusing my head is throbbing. but here we are on line without any wires. hoping this will make writing a simpler affair now that i can wrote any where and just upload it whe i get home

Monday, 2 August 2004

here's a poem by DH Lawrence, it is about something, it is literary, and it doesn't go out of its way to make the reader feel stupid.

Flowers and men

Flowers achieve their own floweriness and it is a miracle.
Men don't achieve their own manhood, alas, oh alas! alas!

All I want of you men and women,
all I want of you
is that you shall achieve your own beauty
as the flowers do.

Oh leave off saying I want you to be savages.
Tell me is the gentian savage, at the top of its coarse stem?
Oh what in you can answer to this blueness?

[I want you to be as savage] as the gentian and the daffodil.
Tell me! tell me! is there in you a beauty to compare
to the honeysuckle at evening now
pouring out his breath.

DH Lawrence