Friday, 29 July 2011

Lowest common denominator

I was going to apologise for being completely distracted by my recent injury and spare you further pictures.


...then I got to thinking: amongst all my posts - literary, philosophical, scenic, comic, informative - the blog and Facebook posts which have attracted by far the greatest number of comments were about a bruised bum. Poems too!

Some came to offer sympathy, some to laugh, some out of ghoulish interest in injury, some - it is barely possible - just to look at my buttocks* and some just because everyone else was looking.

It certainly appealed to a broad section of the general populace... in other words, my bruised ass is 'the lowest common denominator'.

From a Public Relations perspective this is fascinating. How can we harness this for publicity purposes? Would it be possible to promote library events more efficiently by slightly injuring endearing, scantily-clad lovelies? Why has no-one thought of titillating the public with semi-nudity and the vague threat of physical harm before?

What? Oh... er... yes...

*gets coat*

* ... which are, apparently, more toned than anyone expected, putting paid to rumours about librarian's bottoms. I told you - it's hard work in a busy library!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Bruise - Day 3

If you think my bruised bum was bad on Monday - look at it now!

I haven't had one this bad since I was married.

Don't worry - I'm not going to post pics of my bum every day. I did get a lot of interest on Facebook (now retitled Buttockbook) on this issue, but I'm not sure I've had quite enough sympathy yet.

No flowers? No chocolate?

I bet I even get rejected by

p.s. Still no flowers or chocolate, but a MrKenyon has written me this:

Stop the presses - hold the news
Clare has got a massive bruise
Was it painful? - did she moan?
Has Rupert Murdoch hacked her phone?
A story for us all to share
Clare lost out
To a Garden Chair

Monday, 25 July 2011

How to avoid damaging your lobelia

This was going to be my 'Silent Sunday'* pic - a lovely Pimms in the sun - but Sunday wasn't quite so silent... what with the screaming in the undergrowth.

It started with me innocently trimming my foliage. I was standing on a plastic garden chair, giving my clematis a good tug**...
...when one of the legs fell off (the chair's not mine) - sending me plummeting three feet.

It could have been nasty - I could have landed on the red-hot poker** or crushed my lobelia**. But don't worry - the broken pointy corner of the chair broke my fall.

So I've sprained my good blogging wrist and what's more...

suffered this magnificent bruise and swelling in my general buttock area.

I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be posting this sort of picture on the internet.

It's the thin end of the wedge.

p.s. spookily, as I was recovering (which did involve another Pimms, and a gin and tonic just to be sure) the recliner broke as well!

I live in fear of all seating now... waiting for number 3...

but sofa so good.

* Linky where you just post a picture which speaks for itself, no title, no caption.

** Not a euphemism

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Here lies...

My series of posts last year on short forms of writing was incomplete - it covered the shortest of short stories, tiny rhymes, haiku and filthy limerick but didn't finish off with a good epitaph.

The Penguin Book of Comic and Curious Verse had some excellent examples:

Billy, in one of his nice blue sashes
Fell in the fire and was burned to ashes.;
Now, although the room grows chilly,
I haven't the heart to poke poor Billy.
Harry Graham

Mary Ann has gone to rest,
Safe at last on Abraham's breast,
Which may be nuts for Mary Ann,
But is certainly rough on Abraham.

The perfect place for an epitaph is the gravestone: the last empty page that any of us can hope to write upon ... with no room for superfluous detail. Short of having yourself or your loved one stuffed, how can we immortalise someone who's passed? And can you sum up a life on a piece of granite?

This chap could:

Here lies my wife:
Here let her lie!
Now she's at rest
And so am I.

Ideally, it would be better if you, or someone who actually liked you were left this task. W.B Yeats took no chances by writing his own:

Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!

But one wonders if the deceased would have approved sometimes:

"Here lies Lester Moore,
Four slugs from a forty-four.
No Les,
No Moore."
(Boothill Cemetery, Tombstone)*

"Here lies John Yeast,
Pardon me for not rising."
(Cemetary in Ruidoso, New Mexico)*

Perhaps the most famous tombstone inscription (although it has been used several times before his death - perhaps by fans who pre-deceased him) is Spike Milligan's:

'I told you I was ill.'

Interestingly, the inscription had to be written in Gaelic to be approved by the Chichester Diocese)

So what would you like to see on your gravestone? Or, indeed, mine?

* Both sourced from Funny and Famous Tombstone Epitaphs

Book: Gravestones, Tombs and Memorials: Symbols, Styles & Epitaphs (England's Living History)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

'Found' Poetry

Have you heard of 'found' poetry?

It's when you see something written down that's not supposed to be poetry but has some kind of resonance for you. I often look at some little piece of writing...

"Everything must go"

"Keep out of the reach of children"

...and think it has hidden messages.

It's alright, I'm not schizophrenic, I'm a poet.

There are a couple of nice examples on Wikipedia, including this taken from pieces of text in "An Elementary Treatise on Mechanics":

Hence no force, however great,
can stretch a cord, however fine,
into a horizontal line
which is accurately straight.

I mention all this only because I have a deeply autobiographical poem called 'Certificates' in a brand new online publication out this week: Found Poetry.

My poem uses phrases taken from my certificates of birth, marriage and....

...divorce (hands up who thought I was going to get all spooky and say 'death'?)

I'm in two minds about some of the other poems in this publication which make new poems from phrases in other people's existing ones... which seems a bit cheaty to me.

So, just out of interest, why don't you look around you for phrases in instructions, manuals, signs, magazines, begging letters, sermons and statute books... and put your mini 'found' poem in the comments?

Monday, 18 July 2011

A Segue

A segue is a smooth transition from one topic or section to the next... speaking of which...

...Did you hear what happened to the owner of the Segway company? You mustn't laugh.

They should add something to the Segway website's saftey guidelines along the lines of:


Don't drive this vehicle over a cliff

I wrote a poem about it for Poetry24 but my co-editor rejected it! (So much for favouritism in the world of literati!)

What a (seg)way to go!

He was a free-wheelin’ sort of guy,
but now he’s cold and stiff.
He died of an act of courtesy...and segwaying over a cliff.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Moody black & white


In Friday's post some of you thought I should use a more arty pic instead of the flower?

Something moody in black and white?

I've tried experimenting with the 'moo-dy black and white', as you can see in this picture.

I'm not convinced.

By the way - I took my flower with me to the festival as I'd only 'met' some of the people there on the internet... it made it easy for them to know who I was.

So the flower's staying.

I'll save the moody black and white for the more prestigious publications... when I'm in the right mooooooood.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Other places where I was...

Even if I haven't been on my own blog much lately, I'm all over the web like a rash:

My poem Division of the Spoils won 2nd place in the rhyming category of Northampton Literature Competition (and fellow blogger Peter Goulding of The Stammering Poet came 2nd in the Humour category - his poem is up there too!).

My poem The day our prayers turned into dogs has been published in the 'God(s)' issue of The Shit Creek Review.

Another short poem, Excavation is in the Shot Glass Journal.

A couple of 100 word micro fiction stories are up on Flashshot too... though this link only shows the last ten, so they'll have gone in a few days if you're reading this later!

Also, you can read (or listen to me reading) my story: Brother - killed by radiator at Lancaster Litfest's Flashmob - Flax026

I've mentioned that one before, but I forgot to say that they also did a whole biography and a photoshoot - which was kind of embarrassing... especially when I saw the results!

So, what do you think - should I go with the moody b&w (and I mean the one on the right, not my 'grumpy cow' picture) or should I stick with the cheery, cuddly flower motif ?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Where was I?

Last week was a rollercoaster ride - with both the queasy 'wanna get off' descents where you leave your heart somewhere and the 'Wahey! Look at that view! What a feeling!' high points.

(Also, the 'far too much excitement'/'that was fab, let's do it again!'/'gotta go lie down'/'next time I'll just hold the coats' mixed feelings as you stagger away.)

I've thrown up some images here - mainly high points. Here's the kiddies craft workshop I 'helped' run. I don't know what to do with children, having none of my own (or anyone else's). Martin (Square Sunshine) said not to talk to them like they're children, so I treated them like they were 35. It sort of worked but some of my jokes fell flat.

These are labels I hand-made for the Poet Tree... and the little bits that fell out of the hole punch or were snipped off the corners which I keep finding in every orifice and aperture ... of the house!

People were encouraged to write a poem or quote a favourite poem and hang it on the birch in front of a local Church on the main road.

Youngsters wrote their name, artists drew a little picture. Poet 'A' didn't (to the best of my knowledge) write anything about masturbation - he saved that for the family friendly venue. *sigh*

And here's a rabble of people absolutely not 'swinging on the tree', Vicar!

Here are poets massing for attack - and less confused that expected given that someone (not me) had decided to veer so decisively from the printed programme (the one with MCs for each venue, where the quiet people didn't have to shout in the busy pubs, and visitors knew what was going on - the one that was agreed.)

We had 60 poets performing in half a dozen venues and 'on the streets'. More than 300 musicians and 120 artists took part in the festival weekend.

Here's me being a zombie with guest poet Kate Fox. She was marvelous - and would have had a better audience if someone (again, I'm not responsible) had actually booked the venue and we hadn't had to change it at 3 days notice. Also, it would have helped with publicity to get the final lineup more than 5mins before the start. You're reading between the lines aren't you? Yes, there have been traumas. Caught up in the moment, I forgot to take more pics. Below are some other people took.

But you know what? It was crackingly good! There was a real sense of community and feel-good factor about it - and no-one had seen that many people in Hoylake since the Open Championship in 2006... which I'll tell you about that one of these days.

I haven't slept for worry, wasted time on things that were changed later, have overloaded the internet so it keeps conking out now, probably shouldn't have tried to squeeze 3 parties into the mix, had a few fights, house is a mess, rest of my life had to be put on hold... but at least it was fun in the end, I met some lovely people and almost everyone's happy!

Now, where was I?

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Fine Art of Organising an Arts Festival

I've been neglecting you.

What? You hadn't noticed?

Some late recommendations further to my earlier instructions. If you're ever helping out at an event, it might be worth bearing in mind these hints and tips:

1. Actually book the venue before you advertise it and print the tickets. It may have a youth club on that night every week. You never know.

2. Also, If you're planning a series of performances in local pubs and wine bars, it might be a plan to mention it to the people who run them

3. Don't get involved in organising events with someone whose main experience has been throwing custard pies at people and wearing odd socks

I've been designing posters. I won't put this one up in the church, probably. But it's so-o-o tempting.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Selling your soul / the universe on eBay

My flash fiction piece OTHER ITEMS / SOULS / USED is on Flashshots today HERE ... or if you're reading this later, it should still be in the Last Ten Flashes

But that's nothing compared to the true story about the chap who tried to sell the universe on eBay last week:

"At 13.7 billion years old, it is in need of some modernisation. There are some black holes, but these can be sorted with a lick of magnolia paint. Though it’s quite roomy, we’d suggest knocking through an extension into a parallel universe.

Included in the sale: 30 billion trillion observable stars. We think there may some more in the attic. If we find them, we’ll throw them in.

Indeterminate number of planets – Some rocky. Some gas. One – interestingly – made entirely of nougat.

Life in all its form and splendour. And Chris Moyles. Sorry.

Full deeds and meaning of life written on the back of a cigarette packet."

eBay took the auction down, but I highly recommend reading the full description and the very funny questions and answers it prompted, which have been posted for posterity on this Army of Dave blog post: The Man Who Sold the World.

Here's just another little taster...

Q. Does this item come supplied with the full compliment of dimensions necessary for operation? Don’t worry if not, i’m sure i can grab a few counterfeit dimensions from china.

A. We’ve hidden a 7th dimension somewhere. See if you can find where we put it. I think you’ll be surprised.

Q. Can you please provide the exact width and length so I can work out whether it will fit in the back of my car. It’s a Ford Fiesta, but it’s got plenty of boot space when I fold the seats flat.

A. Its constant expansion means you’d probably be better off getting a Transit.

Q. Hiya – I am having a bugger of a job finding a present for the missus 40th quite happy to collect, but can you gift wrap it please?

A. What a lovely husband you are. Yes, I have some string theory that should tie it all together nicely.

Q. Can you tell me the number of dimensions, something I’ve been wondering for some time? S. Hawking.

A. Think of the biggest thing you can. No, bigger than that…. No, bigger than that… No, bigger than that… No, bigger than that… No, bigger than that… No, too big. Start again.