Posts Tagged ‘Foldback Left’

Hands Up! Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair London Brick Lane Yard, London E1 12pm – 6pm Sunday 12th June 2016

Sir Peter Blake, 2016 ©Sir Peter Blake

Sir Peter Blake, 2016, archival inkjet print, 29.7cm x 22cm, edition 150 ©Sir Peter Blake

By Guy Sangster-Adams

In a weekend of birthday celebrations for the Queen in which the regal hand wave will be much in demand and street parties will abound, it is entirely fitting that for this year’s art fair, come boot sale, come street party that is the right royal Art Car Boot Fair the theme is ‘the hand’. Eclectic and celebratory, eccentric, frivolous and often riotous, the success and fun of ACBF stem from the founding principle of co-curators, Karen Ashton and Helen Hayward, that it should enable everyone to engage with art and artists in a totally informal way and, with all the artists taking part creating special limited editions and selling them in person on the day at affordable prices, “to pick up some real art bargains to boot”.

Peter Blake ACBF Margate photo Guy Sangster Adams P-TCP

Sir Peter Blake at Art Car Boot Fair Margate 2015 photo: ©Guy Sangster-Adams

Queues form early for ACBF regular, Sir Peter Blake, and his print for this Sunday’s event, which is in a limited edition of 150, celebrates the royal birthday with a portrait of the Queen, based on a photograph taken by Lord Lichfield, which was painted for a reception at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2002 to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Also marking this year’s ACBF theme the print features a hand-drawn hand with a pencil ‘signing’ the print.

Tracey Emin,You Loved Me Like A Distant Star, 2016  ©Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin,You Loved Me Like A Distant Star, 2016, poster, 70cm x 50cm, edition of 500, ©Tracey Emin

The line-up features both established and up-and-coming artists, including Keith Coventry, Tracey Emin & Emin International, Gavin Turk, Pam Hogg, Ben Eine, Pure Evil, Jessica Albarn, Vic Reeves, Kelly-Anne Davitt, Sean Worrall, and Lily Rose Thomas. Many of the artist’s pitches are supplied by Vauxhall Motors who have sponsored ACBF since it began in 2004 and on Sunday will be bringing both vintage Victors and new Adams.

Pure Evil, Bowie 1 in the USA © Pure Evil

Pure Evil, Bowie 1 in the USA, 50cm x 35cm, edition of 100, © Pure Evil

In one, renowned psychoanalyst, Darian Leader, will be turning the backseat into a psychiatrist’s couch, whilst also celebrating the publication of his latest book, Hands – What we do with them and why, whilst all around the theme of ‘the hand’ will be further celebrated with plenty of “hands-on entertainment” including palm reading with Bob & Roberta Smith, fine art on nails, sleights of hand and other magic, glove puppetry, handbag slinging, hand printing, exotic finger food, and hand-pulled pints and hand-shaken Martinis from Kitty Finer’s Artists Behind Bars’ hand-pushed trolley bars… and The Handbag Disco with Dan Chillcott’s Knitted Swimsuit Dance Troupe.

Helen Hayward and Karen Ashton ACBF Margate photo Guy Sangster Adams P-CP

ACBF’s co-curators, Helen Hayward and Karen Ashton, at Art Car Boot Fair Margate 2015 photo: ©Guy Sangster-Adams


All in all really no excuse to sit on one’s hands this Sunday!

 Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair, Brick Lane Yard, corner of Brick Lane and Buxton Street, London E1
12pm – 6pm Sunday 12th June

Full line-up:
Sir Peter Blake . Tracey Emin & Emin International . Gavin Turk . Polly Morgan . Ben Eine . Pam Hogg . Rachel Howard . Marcus Harvey & Turps Banana . Keith Coventry . Pure Evil . Charming Baker . Vic Reeves . True Rocks . Darian Leader . Olivier Richon . Camille Phoenix . Bob & Roberta Smith . Art on a Postcard with Topolski, Tabby Costo & MoYou . Christian Furr . Colin Self . Moniker Projects . Jessica Albarn . Herrick Gallery with Jeffrey Disastronaut & Michal Cole . Sadie Hennessey . Jealous Gallery . Nina Fowler . Cob Gallery . House of Fairytales . Tom Crawford . Jimp . LM-6a Projects . Steven Whitehead . Schoony . Maria Teresa Gavazzi & Julia Maddison & India Roper-Evans . Jessica Voorsanger . Tracey Neuls . Artlyst PUNK 40 with Keith Levene (PIL),Mark Woods, Rebecca Scott, Michael Petry, Martin Sexton and Vanya Balogh . Cate Halpin & Julia Riddiough . Kristjana Williams . Stine Goetrik . Richard Strange & the Daylight Cabaret . The Idler Academy . Elli Popp . Holly Allen . Ian Dawson . Kate Knight . Wildcat Will . Bert Gilbert . Lily Rose Thomas . Paul Hodgson . Simon Bill . L-13 & James Cauty ADP Riot Tour . Cultivate with Sean Worrall, Emma Harvey, Quiet British Accent and Skeleton Cardboard . Boo Saville. The Darren Coffield-Hedley Roberts Roadshow . Galerie Simpson . Carrie Reichardt . Keeler Tornero . Ben Oakley Gallery with Ray Richardson, David Bray, Guy Denning . Trolley Books . James Birch . Bumble & Earwig . Helen A Pritchard . Paul Stolper Gallery with Sarah Hardacre, Kevin Cummins & Susie Hamilton . Nick Reynolds . Vanera Obscura . X-Ray Fog . Cliff Pearcey . Ric Blackshaw & Scrawl Collective . Swifty. The Fabulous Binnie Sisters . Marty Thornton . Coriander Studio . Jeff Towns and Dylans Mobile Bookstore . Matt Rowe . Smithson Gallery . Cullinan & Richards . Paul Sakoilsky . Joseph Gibson . Misha Milovanich. Nina Saunders & Red . Outline Editions . Ivan Black . David J Batchelor . Jake Clark .Kim Zoe Wagner . David David . Paul Kindersley . James Unsworth . Silvia Ziranek . Jessica Wilson and friends. Nicole Mollet & The Kent Cultural Baton feat. Bridgette Ashton, Nicole Mollet, Frog Morris, Sarah Sparkes, Hazel Stone, Duncan Ward and Jeanine Woollard . Kelly Davitt . Dan Chilcott & Knitted Swimsuit Troupe & Resort . Dion Kitson & the PBA’s . Richard Clegg . Tony Beaver . Artlyst . Art Club of Soho . Leigh Clarke and Crate . Rennaisance Selfies . David Stearn . Limbo with Krztian Borst, Paul Hazelton, David Price, Gavin Toye, and Sara Trillo . Lucy Sparrow . Nick Walker. Mr Bingo . Simon Lawson and Worton Hall Studios . Sarah Staton and Demelza Watts’s PeaProposals.
Plus! Drinks on Trolley Bars from Kitty Finer’s Artists Behind Bars . Longflint Cocktails . St John Bread (actually Custard Doughnuts) & Wine . Bean About Town . Beamish McGlue . Nude Espresso.
And WELCOMING BACK! Richard Strange’s stranger than ever Cabaret Futura including the return of BAND OF HOLY JOY! Oh! Standfast! and introducing Geraldine Swayne & friends, Kunsty the Clown (custard pie-ing).


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Taschen returns with the Summer Warehouse Sale

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The Taschen warehouse sale has become one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the arts world. This year the sale will be returning with up to 75% of some of the most sought after books, with some books being the last of the stock (so you better get there quick!)

Running from June 25th to 28th 2015 there are 50% to 75% discounts available in all Taschen stores worldwide. There is a minimum of half-price on titles from cutting-edge design, stunning photography and some of the most beautifully designed fashion books.

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The London store in Duke of York’s Square, Chelsea, will feature some of the very best bargains and in a special twist, the publisher is bringing the #TASCHENsalefie promotion to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The most “liked” photos using this hashtag will win a share of up to $10,000 of Taschen books, this is set to fire imaginations and create a stir!

For more information have a look here:

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Author talks and bookish dinners at Hardy’s Brasserie, Restaurant and Wine Bar, London W1: Cleo Rocos, Nicky Haslam’s Folly de Grandeur, French Noir and Frites, Bang Bang Chicken on the Lawn and more!

by Guy Sangster Adams

Once in a while one goes out for an evening to an event that from the very moment one arrives envelops one in that most wonderful feeling that is as intoxicating as it is hard to define – the closest attempts at a definition would be: a feeling of ‘coming home’, even though it’s one’s first time there, or, ‘oh so this is what I’ve been searching for so long’, without realising that one had been on a long quest. This happened to me the minute I stepped over the threshold of Hardy’s Brasserie, Restaurant and Wine Bar in London’s Marylebone for the latest instalment in their series of ‘author talks and bookish dinners’, which began in January this year, into an atmosphere already abuzz with conviviality, and also expectancy for the evening ahead.

The buzz was infectious despite the fact that I didn’t really know what to expect – I had been invited by a writer friend who then couldn’t make it but said that I should still go as she thought I would enjoy it – trusting her insight I did just that. I had for a second outside suddenly thought, ‘hold on I don’t know anyone here and I’m about to have dinner with strangers’.  But I had no need to worry, I was warmly greeted by co-host, Rosie Apponyi, who sat me at table with a group of people all of whom after a very short while I was having to pinch myself that it was in fact the first time that I had met them and that we hadn’t all known each other for years.

But then this welcoming, friendly, relaxed atmosphere is not by chance for it is very much one of the key ingredients that Apponyi and Dominique de Bastarrechea intended that their events should have. Indeed the home from home feel has been a facet of Hardy’s popularity ever since it was opened in 1984 by de Bastarrechea’s father, the late Nick de Bastarrechea, with whom Dominique de Bastarrechea initially ran the restaurant in tandem after she graduated from Oxford University.

The brasserie at Hardy's Brasserie and Wine Bar

The brasserie at Hardy’s Brasserie and Wine Bar

Apponyi and de Bastarrechea have been friends for a number of years and had been, as Apponyi tells me, “talking for while about wanting to create evenings combining our two great loves: food and books.” Their loves are also areas in which they both have a lot of knowledge and experience – Apponyi is editor and director of literary consultants, the Writing Room, prior to which she worked first at literary scout, Van Lear, before joining the literary agency, Capel & Land, where she represented a broad range of writers from literary fiction, such as Chibundu Onuzo, to the highly commercial, including Camilla Morton.

Deborah Moggach singing copies of Heartbreak Hotel at the Food for Love at Heartbreak Hotel literary dinner Hardy's Brasserie in February 2013

Deborah Moggach singing copies of Heartbreak Hotel at the Food for Love at Heartbreak Hotel literary dinner Hardy’s Brasserie in February 2013

In addition to combining their twin passions the two were determined that the events would have a relaxed intimacy and accessibility to them. To this end they take place in the brasserie at Hardy’s (there is also a smaller, more formal restaurant, private rooms, and a cellar bar) a perfect setting with its candlelit informality mixed with an element of Parisian chic. The brasserie has a capacity for around 60 diners, the space could be opened out into the other rooms, but as Apponyi explains keeping everything in one room is very much part of creating the atmosphere of the nights, “we prefer it to be as intimate as possible, with everyone being squished into the same room as the author/speaker rather than spread out through the different rooms”.

The squishing is fun ( and it must be said that it’s a very sophisticated squishing!) and adds greatly to the individual buzz and informality of the events, as does the fact that the authors or speakers are very much in the mêlée at all stages of the evening, dining with the audience, and then speaking and reading in the midst of the tables, and also very accessible to chat with afterwards and to sign copies of their books. “We wanted to do something different,” says Apponyi, “so many book events are so stiff, and have such bad wine!”

Bad wine is simply never on the menu at Hardy’s as not only is de Bastarrechea’s eclectic wine list award-winning but has also played a primary role in establishing Hardy’s loyal and diverse clientele amongst whom famous faces include burlesque superstar/fashion icon, Dita Von Teese, London mayor, Boris Johnson, novelist and writer, Fay Weldon, and historian, curator, broadcaster, Dr Lucy Worsley.

"Sophisticated squishing" part 1 - The audience as diners at the literary dinners at Hardy's Brasserie the audience as diners

“Sophisticated squishing” part 1:  the audience as diners at the literary dinners at Hardy’s Brasserie

Hardy’s have also built their reputation over the years with the quality of their food and new head chef, Sam Hughes, is very much building upon this reputation and continuing their tradition of honest brasserie favourites and seasonal menus. Hughes trained with Rowley Leigh at Kensington Place, was head chef under Raymond Blanc, and most recently was head chef at the Michelin-starred Oxfordshire restaurant, The Sir Charles Napier.

Therefore, not only do Hardy’s completely erase the curse of bad wine literary events with the quality of the wine and drinks served, but in conjunction with the wonderful food on the three course set menus which are central to their literary dinners, guests are transported into seventh heaven. Each menu is very cleverly and carefully crafted in relation to the authors and themes of their books at each event. Hughes, de Bastarrechea, and Apponyi also clearly have a lot of fun in styling and creating the menus, a sense of fun which also feeds into the enjoyableness of the evenings as a whole.

"Sophisticated squishing" part 2: the diners as audience at the literary dinners at Hardy's Brasserie

“Sophisticated squishing” part 2: the diners as audience at the literary dinners at Hardy’s Brasserie

Thus in February for the evening with Philip Kerr, at which he gave an exclusive pre-publication preview of A Man Without Breath, the ninth novel in his internationally bestselling Bernie Gunther thriller series set in Germany during the Weimar Republic, World War II, and the Cold War, the menu included Bavarian beer, Reisling from the Rhine, schnitzel, strudel… after all of which, perhaps unsurprisingly, passers-by would have heard the assembled guests singing rousing Weimar songs.

Then later in February, to accompany Deborah Moggach reading from and talking about her latest novel, Heartbreak Hotel (Chatto & Windus, 2013), which is set in a decrepit B&B in rural Wales, the menu celebrated the principality with dishes including black beef carpaccio, mussels with leeks, Glamorgan sausages and steamed marmalade ‘Snowdon’ pudding.

Irina Prokhorova , author of  1990 Russians Remember,  Andreï Makine, author of  Brief Loves That Live Forever, and his translator, at the Beyond the Cherry Orchard – A Russian Feast for 2013 literary dinner at Hardy’s Brasserie in March 2013.

Irina Prokhorova , author of 1990 Russians Remember, Andreï Makine, author of Brief Loves That Live Forever, and his translator, at the Beyond the Cherry Orchard – A Russian Feast for 2013 literary dinner at Hardy’s Brasserie in March 2013.

On the evening that I went to Hardy’s the event, Viva Tequila!, was in celebration of Cleo Rocos’ new book, The Power of Positive Drinking (Square Peg, 2013). The comedy actress, producer and television presenter, who first came to fame in the 1980s as Kenny Everett’s sidekick in eight series of The Kenny Everett Television Show, is now also the President of The Tequila Society, has been crowned the UK’s first ‘tequilera’, and last year launched her own brand of 100% agave tequila, AquaRiva Premium Tequila. The Hardy’s literary evenings always begin at 7pm with complimentary aperitifs and in celebration of Rocos AquaRiva Margaritas were served. Which were followed by the delicious three-course meal the menu for which included, ceviche, vitello tonnato, slow-cooked chipotle pork, seabass in a salt crust, chargrilled squid and chorizo salad, watermelon granita, lime and tequila cheesecake.

After dessert Rocos took to the floor and was a wonderfully engaging, ebullient, hilarious, and charming raconteuse. The Power of Positive Drinking is presented as ‘a help yourself manual that guarantees partying success’ and has already made headlines around the world after Rocos spoke in an interview in the Sunday Times about the time she took Princess Diana to a gay bar, in male drag, in the company of Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett. At Hardy’s Rocos told a similarly outlandish and riotous story about how she and comedian and television presenter, Alan Carr, attempted to initiate a brothel breakout in Soho after an afternoon drinking in a bar opposite, as Rocos stormed the building and attempted to set the prostitutes free, before their none too happy pimp arrived!

‘Casting’ is fundamental to the success of any event; there is a real skill in combining the separate ingredients of speakers, food, drinks, venue, and indeed, the audience themselves. In all their events to date, the trio of de Bastarrechea, Apponyi, and Hughes have proved themselves to be supremely talented in creating evenings that are as delicious as they are delightful, inspiring as they are impressive: a truly delectable feast for the senses.


There are four events left in Hardy’s January – June 2013 programme of events, details of which follow below. Whilst details of the new series of events which will follow later in the year will also be featured in P-TCP when they are announced.

All events begin at 7pm with talks at 7.30pm with complimentary aperitifs. Three course set menu, vegetarian options available.


Nicky Haslam presents his new book, Folly de Grandeur: Romance and revival in an English country house. From its humble origins as a Tudor hunting lodge to its present-day status as a protected historic building, Haslam’s delightful Folly de Grandeur is a unique English country house that is one of the renowned decorator’s favourite places.

On the menu, the belle époque of classic English food: G&Ts, claret, Cornish gulls eggs, smoked brown trout, roast beef with watercress and rhubarb fool (£45 per person)


Andrew Taylor, two-time winner of the Crime Writers Association award and author of critically acclaimed American Boy (Richard & Judy pick, 2004), brings us his new thriller, The Scent of Death. Manhattan, 1778. A city of secrets, profiteers, loyalists and double agents.

Food on the night will include American delights of oyster Po’Boy, deadbeet salad, steak frites, crawfish Lafayette en crepe, Louisiana vegetarian Gumbo and Mississippi mud pie (£40 per person)

Wednesday 29th May: FRENCH NOIR AND FRITES

Moody, atmospheric, sexy. French. Three exceptional writers present their works of French Noir: Antonin Varenne, Bed of Nails; Pierre Lemaître, Alex; Xavier-Marie Bonnot, Voice of the Spirits.

French bistro favourites  such as kir, escargots, steak frites, crème brulée will be served (£40 per person)


An evening of midsummer murders and international crime scenes, from Laos to Norfolk: Martin Walker, The Resistance Man: A Bruno Courrèges Investigation; Colin Cotterill, The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die: the ninth Dr Siri Paiboun Murder Mystery; Elly Griffiths, Dying Fall: the fifth Ruth Galloway Investigation.

Dinner in an English garden: asparagus, Cromer crab, Bang Bang chicken, poached salmon, strawberries and cream. (£40 per person)

All events take place at Hardy’s Brasserie, Restaurant, and Wine Bar, 53 Dorset Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7NH

To book:
Telephone: 020 7935 5929

Hardy’s Brasserie and Wine Bar:

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Poetry: Sam Edwards – an extract from the collection, Sodium


Wild child daughter of a 1960’s rock guitarist turned cult leader, Sam Edwards is the award-winning screenwriter & producer of crime thriller Stealing Elvis and hit indie feature documentary, The Promoter through her production company Ragged Crow.   She also writes and performs rock & roll poetry about madness and bad behaviour, of which Sodium is her first anthology.


You’re so emotionally tight,

But I’ll let you prise me open.

Face sparkles with naïveté’s light,

You’re cute and sweet and easily broken.

You’ll assist me in my twisted plight,

Sick with lust at the words I’ve spoken.

We’ll indulge in a sex fun fight,

You’re cute and sweet and easily broken.

Your soft inflections are so contrite,

But lucked out slickness is my only token.

Can I barter for your soul tonight?

You’re cute and sweet and easily broken.

Let me set your body alight,

You’re the grate that I burn my hope on.

I can squeeze your goodness tight.

You’re cute and sweet and easily broken

Don’t scream that it wasn’t right -

The sacrifice at my crimson totem.

You felt my hook and you took a bite,

You’re cute and sweet and easily broken.

O darling you’re a pitiful sight,

Now your anger has awoken.

It’s love that I can’t requite.

You’re cute and sweet and easily broken.


Eyes staring wired and lipstick bright,

They stagger out in the brazen night.

They drink and swear, they wear black leathers,

Mad crazy women and their pretty boy lovers.

They’re a bunch of hell-bent bitches.

They fill you up with insatiable itches,

As you fall on your knees to cry and splutter,

Mad crazy women and their pretty boy lovers.

Wound up tight in search of easy game,

Coke buzzed head and their tongues aflame,

They prowl about, they shriek and they hover,

Mad crazy women and their pretty boy lovers.

Their throats are slick with dirt-cheap liquor.

They’ll take you on with a steel-clad liver.

Lock up your husbands and warn your brothers.

Mad crazy women and their pretty boy lovers.

The glasses fly and the knives come out.

Flesh is torn, men scream and shout,

Broken hearts bleeding, bodies bound and tethered.

Mad crazy women and their pretty boy lovers.


Once I was lean,

I would strut and I would prowl,

I would stamp my spiked boots,

Throw my head back and howl.

In the feral night,

I would prey on the weak

I’d drag them to my lair,

Smash their big clay feet.

I was wild, I was crazy,

I was free, I was mean.

I was blood-spitting drunk,

I was a prowler of the street.

I would laugh, I would rant,

I would scream and I would wail.

I’d roll my yellow eyes

And lash my fearsome tail.

Then a shaman came my way,

He spoke to me and saved me.

He fed me tender morsels,

Clipped my claws and renamed me.

They think me very tame now.

I know the things they said;

That he stoppered up my mouth,

And poured concrete in my head.

But I bide my pretty time,

Keep my secrets pitch and black.

I store up my weapons

Bare my teeth and arch my back.

So should you chance to stroll

Past these high stone walls,

And feel an ice-cold fear

Grip your heart, and squeeze your balls,

Know I sit here, vengeful.

I watch for you and wait,

I will pounce and tear and drag you

Back behind my high, spiked gate.


The lure of Death is here.

It’s awful red and gibbous,

Full to bursting.

Waxy, velvetine and taut.

I sit motionless.

Before I plunge to my knees,

Mutter ineffectual pleas,

And sink as low as I can get.

The devils are here again.

The obsessions.

The small knives of self-punishment

Which needle my flesh, my hope, my sanity.

Death importunes sadly,

And caresses with razor-blades.

There is nowhere to turn.

I am trapped in cold iron,

Rusted shut,

My eyes shriek words.

But no-one hears.

All poems in this extract from Sodium by Sam Edwards © Sam Edwards 2011

Mustered 8 flyer

SAM EDWARDS will performing a set of rock ‘n’ roll poetry about bad women, black leather and broken hearts at Plectrum-The Cultural Pick’s (P-TCP) Mustered No.8: From Marble Arch to the Arc de Triomphe on Thursday 26th September 2013 at The Betsey Trotwood, London EC1.

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Sam Edwards

Sodium Rock’n’Roll Poetry

Ragged Crow:

Sodium by Sam Edwards is available both as a paperback book and an ebook from
For details on ordering the paperback, which costs £2.99, click  here.

For details on ordering the ebook which costs £1.99, click here

Read Sam Edwards’ short story, Sorrow, in issue 12 of the print edition of P-TCP, and reviews of Ragged Crow’s films Stealing Elvis and Crossfire in issues 9 and 12 respectively of the print edition of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick, click for more details.

Literary event: Ace Stories – New Season July 2011 – April 2012

Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG. UK
Ten monthly events from July 2011 to April 2012

After the success of their first season of live literature and music events, enthusiastically endorsed by the writers and musicians who took part, including Cathi Unsworth, Amanda Smyth, Scott Bradfield, and Naomi Foyle, and audience members alike – with the venue at Brighton’s Hotel Pelirocco often standing room only, Ace Stories, created and directed by Jay Clifton, returns for a second season which promises to be even better than the first.

In partnership with The Writing School at Kingston University, London, and supported by Arts Council England, the ten events in Ace Stories: Season 2, all take place on Sunday nights, from 6pm – 8pm, at Hotel Pelirocco, Brighton. Each event features an headlining writer, with support readings from two writers local to Brighton, and live music, in addition to prize giveaways to ticket-buyers (via a raffle system) of books, CDs, and DVD, from Ace Records, Serpent’s Tail, and Momentum Pictures.

The first three events in the programme are:

Sunday 17 July 2011:
Jayne Joso (author of Perfect Architect and Soothing Music for Stray Cats)


With support readings from Mike Loveday and Lizzie Enfield, and music from Brighton duo, Fire Eyes.

Sunday 14 August 2011:
Cathi Unsworth (author of Bad Penny Blues and The Singer)


With support readings from Danny Bowman and Stefania Mastorosa, and music from Sandy Dillon (whose band includes guitarist Ray Majors, ex-Mott the Hoople, Yardbirds)

Sunday 25 September 2011:
Virginia Woolf: A Commemoration with Professor Rachel Bowlby (author of Virginia Woolf: Feminist Destinations) and Dr Theodore R. Koulouris (Author of Hellenism and Loss in the Work of Virginia Woolf).


With support readings from Erinna Mettler and Hannah Tuson.

All events start at 6pm (audience members are advised to buzz to be let), admission (includes entry into raffle for prize giveaways) is £3, and take place at
Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG. UK.


Ace Stories:

Kingston Writing School:

Hotel Pelirocco:

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Film-and-book nights: Black Spring Press presents, at the Society Film Club, Weird Weekends – Part I: The Lost Weekend, Part II: Withnail & I, and Julian Maclaren-Ross’s Bitten by the Tarantula.

Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NF, UK.

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By Guy Sangster Adams

The highly regarded, and influential beyond their size independent publishers, Black Spring Press, whose catalogue includes, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Carolyn Cassady, Anaïs Nin, and Charles Baudelaire, continue to host the second Monday of each month at the Society Film club in true style. The programming for their nights features either films that are adaptations of the books from their catalogue, or films that adroitly complement their titles. Plus adding to the enjoyment the ticket price to their evenings also includes a copy of the relevant book.

the-lost-weekend film poster

The next two Black Spring Press events explore Weird Weekends. On Monday 18th April 2011, Weird Weekends Part I features Billy Wilder’s 1945 film, The Lost Weekend, starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman, and the novel of the same name from which the film was adapted, written by Charles R. Jackson and first published in 1944. The book which was a bestseller and the film which enjoyed great success at the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay, atmospherically capture life in the rundown neighbourhood of Manhattan, New York, USA, in the early 1930s and explores the five-day alcoholic binge of the protagonist, Birnham. The film broke new ground as it was the first mainstream screen portrayal of alcoholism, all the more surprising as Ray Milland, cast in the lead, was better known for lighter roles, and Wilder’s casting of him had raised some eyebrows.


Weird Weekends Part II, featuring the film, Withnail & I, and the collection of Julian Maclaren-Ross’s writings, Bitten by the Tarantula, follows on Monday 16th May 2011. Released in 1987, Bruce Robinson’s cult film, Withnail & I, is set in Camden, London in 1969, at that time a particularly rundown area, and follows two unemployed young actors, Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and I (Paul McGann), who fuelled almost entirely by alcohol, escape their squalid flat for a holiday in a remote country cottage in the Lake District belonging to Withnail’s flamboyantly gay Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths).


Julian Maclaren-Ross’s novella, Bitten by the Tarantula, contained within the Black Spring Press collection to which it gives its name, presents another sort of bizarre weekend: drugs, murder and bohemian excess on the French Riviera in the 1930s. This is not a setting or milieu for which Maclaren-Ross is well known, his most famous writings feature the London areas of Soho and Fitzrovia, and the English south coast, in the 1940s and 1950s, but he spent his early years on the French Riveria which informs the novella to great effect. The collection also includes a wealth of Maclaren-Ross’s other writings including fiction, non-fiction, film reviews, literary criticism, and literary parodies, and serves as a wonderful introduction to this fascinating writer.

bitten by the tarantula cover

The Society Film Club began earlier this year and takes place every Monday in the basement cinema of the Sanctum Soho Hotel in London. Black Spring Press schedules a film-and-book night at the Society once a month. Anyone can join, and until 14th April 2011, the annual membership fee is £5, after which it will go up to £30.  To join, or for more details, email: Babette at babettek9 at

Black Spring Press Presents Weird Weekends Part I: The Lost Weekend
7pm, Monday 18th April 2011, Society Film Club, Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NF. UK.
£9 members, £12.50 non-members.

Black Spring Press Presents Weird Weekends Part II: Withnail & I, and Julian Maclaren-Ross’s Bitten by the Tarantula
7pm, Monday 16th  May 2011, Society Film Club,  Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NF. UK.
£9 members, £12.50 non-members.

Further watching and reading about Black Spring Press on the Plectrum Broadcast Player and in the webzine edition of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick:

Watch an interview with Robert Hastings owner of Black Spring Press and and a profile of the publishing house, featuring contributions from, amongst others, Alex Maclaren-Ross, Cathi Unsworth, and Nigel Jones discussing Julian Maclaren-Ross and Patrick Hamilton, on the Plectrum Broadcast Player.

Black Spring Press and the Revival of Literary Reputations

Book Review: Julian Maclaren-Ross Selected Letters edited by Paul Willetts

Book Review: Through a Glass Darkly – The Life of Patrick Hamilton by Nigel Jones


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Black Spring Press

The Society Club

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Off_Press: Three Contemporary Polish Poets in Translation

Krzysztof Ciemnołoński, Roman Honet, Joanna Małgorzata Przybylska
Translated from the Polish by Marek Kazmierski


Marek Kazmierski is the director and founder of OFF_ , a UK-based independent press, promoting contemporary creative writing in English and Polish translations, using multimedia and live events to celebrate reading and storytelling in different languages/genres around the world.

The aims of OFF_ are fivefold;

  • encourage the reading of literature in translation

  • bring writers together around an independent press

  • create a bridge between English and Polish literary worlds

  • publish books and anthologies under the OFF_Press banner

  • use multimedia tools and networks to promote literature worldwide

Krzysztof Ciemnołoński

Krzysztof Ciemnołoński

Krzysztof Ciemnołoński, born 1985 in Warsaw, Poland, is a  DJ, events organiser, music critic, and loves post-punk and psychobilly. He has  published the poetry volumes, płaskostopie (SDK 2003) and przebicia (SDK 2005). A new volume, eskalacje, is currently being readied for publication.  He lives in Zalesie Górne with his wife and son.

ruptures (medley)

and another line deprives access to the sea
we stand on the pier paralysed like all
those stories about a group of friends honouring

the final wish of one dead rolling through countries and bars
cross crossroads with the promise of ashes scattered along the coast
but once there can’t do anything other than turn circles

wandering is an aim in itself (when setting off on a
journey choose the furthest route) something constantly
piercing through out of the background like a wave function
explicitly describing the edges of body
sensitive like slabs dragged onto the surface of union
soon background noise will be betrayed by a new frequency
which will leave it all along with the tide

a may night

these days follow each other like minced
meat every set list revealing the decay

fireflies over the lakes millions of dead souls across
the marshes just the one explosion in the labs
residue in the narrow gullet of the woods blossoming

conflict between the locals and onslaughts of mist
who will cast the first stone who will swallow slime
call near animals who by hearing alone will read

the breakdown of systems as new tribes
won’t come won’t explain themselves

when the noise stops no
one will enter here again

Roman Honet

Roman Honet

Between 1995 and 2008 the poet, Roman Honet, who was born in 1974), was the editor of the bimonthly literary and artistic magazine Studium. His poetry is representative of the trend known as the “emboldened imagination” (a term suggested by Marian  Stala), and he is also known as one of the new existentialists. He teaches creative writing at the School of Literary Arts, Jagiellonian University, Krakow.

on recalling

it is early evening camp fires, aniseed
particles on women’s lips. it is listening to
the whisper of motorways coated in a transparent
film of lights like the preparation of our epoch,
the chill of equalizers made by Diora, Radiotechnika,
Unitra. it was all that. boys
carrying the cobalt seas in their eyes and a spade,
they, who so far back fell under the spell of shadows,
engrossed, and now – look –
immense power expels them out of there,
awakens. costs of living have spiralled,
they say. a year gone by
and it’s all the same. the same void
has, then loses him

beach. christmas

at first, there is a stick thrown high,
motion in slowed sequences like the descent of crushed ore
through oxygen, a thoughtless dream. Bricks
licked with a steaming tongue,
chokeberry. a fairytale – about a bold knight. kites, dark lines
linking them with the hands of children on the beach, an air show
of refuelling blood mid-flight,

(the days are blind and tremble gently,
otokar balcy and alojzy mol)

then another month comes along. a year
different again. snow falling on desolate car parks,
on kings among men weighed down by their gifts:
nectar and a hook – suddenly birds, disturbed, their wings in neon
and thorns. then it’s christmas eve.
head surgery. from shadows

emerge long unseen guests
then fall back into shadows.

my dear departed –
I say – nothing connects us any more

Joanna Małgorzata Przybylska

Joanna Małgorzata Przybylska

Born in Lodz, Poland, in 1984, Joanna Małgorzata Przybylska, studied at the University of Lodz, graduating with degrees in sociology and Polish literature. She has won numerous poetry competitions, and her poems have been published in Arterie, Tygiel Kultury, Cegla and various anthologies. She works in a second-hand bookshop in the Limanka district of Lodz.

tell me babe

I don’t know how to be all alone in my poems,
I invent wicked men for company, never sure what it is
they’re made of, horseradish perhaps? rank, but good for you,
seeing they are particularly harmful and healthy and fit,
which may be why I value their company, without admitting to it.

I unleash hysterics and tell ugly tales about them, slanders
make little impression, they head for their summits unmoved.
I want to tell them apart before they set behind the sun, preserved
in jars, keeping verses alive.

joanna comes to the defence of pansies

yes, it’s because you never thought about the flowers,
across yellow wallpaper they escaped in search
of water. too late, they wilt, shrivel – now you should
glue, but I don’t want a dead wall. let’s let them

leave. yes, it’s because you’ll never understand, blurting:
women, pounding fists against dear departed roses,
until they stick for good, get their teeth into
the plasterboard, and then: you crying again? without me
you’d never blossom. it must have been tough, the laws
of physics broken. I asked; ease off, I’m cracking along

the yellowing wallpaper, won’t fit inside me all of the dead
carnations. yes, it’s because you always took me with a pinch,
without asking you unwrap, knot a lasso, and yet without me
you won’t catch, and again: hold here please.


Plectrum – The Cultural Pick

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Krzysztof Ciemnołoński

Jagiellonian University, Krakow

Literary Event: Crime and Writing – Frances Kay and Cathi Unsworth


University of Brighton Faculty of the Arts, Grand Parade, Brighton, East Sussex. UK
Thursday 24th March 2011 from 6pm – 7pm

By Guy Sangster Adams

Cathi Unsworth Allison McGourty

Cathi Unsworth ©Allison McGourty

Plectrum favourite and contributor, novelist, writer, and editor, Cathi Unsworth, is joining acclaimed children’s playwright and novelist, Frances Kay, for a fascinating and free event which forms part of the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts’ ongoing programme of events featuring leading 21st Century authors.  The evening will include readings, interviews, and an audience Q&A about both writers’ experiences of writing for publications and the challenges of working within the contemporary popular fiction market.

Frances Kay was born in London, but now lives in Ireland, with her husband the musician, Nico Brown, and their two daughters. In both countries she has worked with gypsies, prisoners and children. At the end of January it was announced that her first novel, Micka, has been shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize award for Fiction (which is voted for by the public alone), adding to the commercial and critical success that the book has enjoyed since it was published in July 2010. The story revolves around 10 year old Micka and the dangerous game his new classmate, Laurie, draws him into. The Guardian‘s review of the book said, “This pulverising account of two boys and the dire consequences of casual neglect seems familiar, but is superbly articulated [ . . .] The book’s brutality is sickening in places, yet each voice is distinct and matter-of fact, the imagery lucid, spare and uncompromising.”

“A magnificent tapestry of period and place, confirming her status as one of Britain’s most potent writers of noir,” is how Marcel Berlins described Cathi Unsworth’s most recent novel, Bad Penny Blues, in The Times. A quote that is indicative of the critical acclaim that the book, which centres on the ‘Jack The Stripper’ murders which took place in West London in the 1950s, has achieved since it was published in 2009.

Unsworth began her professional writing career when she was only 19 on the legendary weekly music paper, Sounds. Since when she has worked as a writer and editor for many other music, film and arts magazines since, including Bizarre, Melody Maker, Mojo, Uncut, Volume, Deadline, and reviews crime fiction paperbacks for The Guardian. In addition to her novels The Not Knowing (2005) and the ‘punk noir’ The Singer (2007), she also edited and contributed to the award winning short story compendium London Noir (2006). She also regularly takes part in live events including screen talks at The Barbican and spoken word gigs organised by Tight Lip, The Sohemian Society, Ace Stories, and also Plectrum – The Cultural Pick!

Crime and Writing: Frances Kay and Cathi Unsworth
CETLD room, University of Brighton Faculty of the Arts, Grand Parade, Brighton, East Sussex. UK
Thursday 24th March 2011 from 6pm – 7pm

Tickets: Free, but spaces are limited and must be reserved in advance.
To reserve a ticket email:


If you enjoy reading Plectrum – The Cultural Pick and would like to stay up to date with news of Plectrum events, please connect with us at

Cathi Unsworth

University of Brighton Faculty of the Arts

Literary Event: Ace Stories #10 – Rachel Cusk

Sara Lenzen, James Burt, 21 Crows
Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2FG, UK
Sunday 6th March 2011 from 6pm – 8pm

Rachel Cusk (photographed by Adrian Clarke)

Rachel Cusk (photographed by Adrian Clarke)

by Guy Sangster Adams

Ace Stories concludes its first season of literary events in the impressive fashion which has marked out the series as a whole. Highly acclaimed writer, Rachel Cusk, will read from her latest novel, The Bradshaw Variations (Faber & Faber), and will also be ‘in conversation’ about her life and work with Ace Stories creator and director, Jay Clifton. There will also be live music from 21 Crows, and support readings from Sara Lenzen and James Burt.

Jay Clifton conceived Ace Stories, which is based in the English south coast city of Brighton & Hove, as arena which would “provide an entertaining but definitely seriously-minded programme of readings and music,” that promotes “literary appreciation and development.” In addition to six events at the Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton, which have featured writers such as, Cathi Unsworth, James Miller, Scott Bradfield, and Amanda Smyth, Ace Stories has also included film screenings, screenwriting workshops, and attendant ‘in conversation’ events at the De La Warr Pavilion, in the neighbouring coastal town of Bexhill-on-Sea.

Rachel Cusk, who is now similarly based in Brighton, was born in Canada and grew up in Los Angeles, USA, before moving to England where she completed her schooling and English at New College, Oxford.  Her first novel, Saving Agnes (1993), won the Whitbread First Novel Award, and her subsequent six novels and two works of non-fiction have all received great acclaim. In 2003, she was nominated by the British literary magazine, Granta, as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’.

Ace Stories #10: Rachel Cusk, Sara Lenzen, James Burt, 21 Crows
at Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square,
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2FG, UK
on Sunday 6 March at 6pm.

Admission: £3 on door


Ace Stories Brighton Facebook page

Ace Stories
To be added to the mailing list for updates on forthcoming Ace Stories events, email:  Jayclifton330 AT googlemail DOT com
with ‘Add me to the Ace Stories mailing list’ in the subject heading.

Hotel Pelirocco

Poetry: Watershed, Jim Carruth’s poem for Arria, Andy Scott’s Cumbernauld sculpture, and a selection of his other poems

by Guy Sangster Adams

The Cumbernauld Sculpture talking shape

The Cumbernauld sculpture taking shape

Watershed is a new poem written by award-winning Scottish poet, Jim Carruth, which is now being inscribed on Arria, Andy Scott’s 10 metre high steel sculpture which is due to be unveiled in late summer 2010, overlooking the A80 northbound, the road which bisects the Scottish New Town of Cumbernauld. The sculpture, which is a female form, features two, large swooping arcs, the inspiration for which came from the original Gaelic name for Cumbernauld, ‘Comar nan Allt’, which translates as ‘coming together of waters’.

The public artwork is at the heart of the Cumbernauld Positive Image Project, created by Campsies Centre Cumbernauld Ltd (CCCL), which is a North Lanarkshire Council company set up to facilitate the redevelopment of Cumbernauld. The aims of the project are to create a distinctive image of Cumbernauld, increase residents’ pride in their town, raise awareness across Scotland of Cumbernauld’s attractiveness as a destination to live, work and play, and create a sense of place and provide a positive statement about the town.

Jim Carruth (left) and Andy Scott (right) with one of the early designs for the Cumbernauld Sculpture

Jim Carruth (left) and Andy Scott (right) with one of the early designs for the Cumbernauld sculpture

Scott’s portfolio of public art covers over 60 commissions both across Scotland and internationally, including the Falkirk Helix Water Kelpies, the Heavy Horse on the M8 motorway, which has become a Glasgow landmark, and The Thanksgiving Square Beacon in Belfast which has become representative of the regeneration of the city as whole. Of his new work, Scott says, “Cumbernauld has had its detractors but we hope this sculpture will go some way to changing the outdated perception of Cumbernauld and prove something of a watershed for the town.”

Carruth was born in 1963 in the West-Central Lowlands of Scotland in the town of Johnstone in Renfrewshire, and grew up on his family’s farm close to the nearby village of Kilbarchan. After spending a number of years in Turkey he has returned to live in Renfrewshire. In 2009 Jim won The Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship and the James McCash competition. In June 2010 “Grace Notes 1959″ a poetry sequence commissioned by the Glasgow Jazz Festival was launched. He has three collections of poetry published to date. His first, Bovine Pastoral, published in 2004 was runner up in the Callum MacDonald memorial award. The follow up, High Auchensale, was chosen as one of the Herald books of the year in 2006.

For Carruth it was important that his poem sought to “capture the pride local people have in their town and the importance of listening to their voice”. In taking the ‘meeting of waters’ as his start point, Carruth wanted to, “to give a voice to the statue, the tributaries and the community and create a poem that would talk of the central and national importance of Cumbernauld.” He continues, “I have been disappointed by the negative, unfair focus that Cumbernauld has attracted over the years, as the town has such a lot to offer. I have countered this in my poem by trying to capture the pride local people have for the town and the importance of listening to their voice.”

The Cumbernauld Sculpture taking a dip at Highland Galvanizers

The Cumbernauld sculpture taking a dip at Highland Galvanizers

The poem, which is included below, followed by a further selection of Carruth’s poems, will be inscribed in dynatomic font, reflecting the 1960s influence which Scott has incorporated in the sculpture’s design. Each letter will be cut individually and the poem will wrap round the base of the sculpture encouraging visitors to walk round its base and appreciate different aspects of the public artwork.

WATERSHED (Comar nan Allt)
by Jim Carruth

The first sounds spoken

from the spring’s core

are of a new beginning

of people and place

a poetry that bubbles

and gargles to the surface

to leave this watershed

flow east and west

in a rush of words

that tumble and fall

to join the conversations

of two great rivers

a voice calling out

I belong I belong

adding to the language

of sea and ocean.

A further selection of poems by Jim Carruth


i. workmanlike

Standing behind the shearers
Fleecing their moment for verse

ii. salt licks

Long tongued cattle
lick loose copper

hollow small blocks
to season their days

Should we value salt licks
less than a Henry Moore

or wonder as much
on their practical forms

as at Easter Island’s
weathered heads.

iii. RS

You drew me in
with honest detail
hardships in grim valleys

though I struggled
to free from a priest’s severe verse,
empathy for the peasant.

to balance your cold
distance from man
with a nearness to God.

iv. 300 Spartans

Another field, another stand
remnants close ranks

huddle by a hedge
strong heads bent down

their hunched backs
knuckles of clenched fists

drenched hides, russet shields
against incessant rain.

v. ploughman without honour

Aye that’s as maybe
but he wis nae fairmer

didnae mak the maist
o his faither’s place

sic a waste o
aw thit guid gruin.

He didnae hae the hairt
fir the haird win hairst.

vi. poor harvest

Seeding your verse with epigraph
will never green your barren land.


I shepherd
will not pick up a shield
or swing a sword

but because your roar
drowns the words of this land
I’ll reach out

pluck pebbles
from the throat of the stream
a small flock

each one smooth as birdsong
hard as rams’ horn
a bright clarion call

I pull back and let fly
seed my country’s voice
deep in your forehead

(A village elder’s advice on) THE WHITE CROW

Why do you search
for false auguries of hope?

Nothing followed the triple rainbow,
last winter’s one wild rose

Now this feathered messiah.
Can I speak plainly here:

a white crow is still a crow;
a lifeless sheep is still a corpse;

a bloated corpse is still a meal
for your white crow.

It still rises with its flock
flies with its flock

still falls with the black
on the weak and the dead.


Follow the Cumbernauld Sculpture on Facebook
Cumbernauld Sculpture Facebook Page

Jim Carruth

Andy Scott

North Lanarkshire Council/Campsies Centre Cumbernauld Limited

Literary Event Preview: Ace Stories #3

Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Sunday 12th September 2010 from 6pm – 8pm

by Guy Sangster Adams

Jay Clifton’s and Sam Collins’ Brighton Live Lit series, Ace Stories, continues apace with the third in the five event sequence taking place in September. This time the literary headliner is novelist, Scott Bradley, whose unsettling latest novel, The People Who Watched Her Pass By (Two Dollar Radio, 2010), tells the story of Salome Jensen who as a three year old is taken from her home by a man fixing the hot water heater, with whom she drifts through other people’s homes and laundrettes across California, along the way developing an insightful understanding of people and perspective on society. Bradfield is also the author of The History of Luminous Motion (Picador, 1994) which was adapted into the 1998 film, Luminous Motion, starring Deborah Kara Unger.

Michael J. Sheehy

Michael J. Sheehy

The live music set which concludes each Ace Stories event this time features singer-songwriter, Michael J. Sheehy. The former vocalist for late 1990s cult rock band, Dream City Film Club, Sheehy’s solo work draws on a breadth of influences from early American rock ‘n’ roll, blues, gospel, and country through to traditional British hymns. His most recent albums are Ghost on the Motorway (2005) and With These Hands (2009) a concept album which recounts the rise and fall of a fictional Irish boxer called Francis Delaney.

Support readings come from Brighton based writers, Neil Palmer (author of Place Explosion) and Lucy Harvest.

Ace Stories, Sunday 12th September, 2010, from 6pm to 8pm,
at Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Admission £3.


Ace Stories Facebook Page

Ace Stories
To be added to the mailing list for updates on forthcoming Ace Stories events, email:  Jayclifton330 AT googlemail DOT com
with ‘Add me to the Ace Stories mailing list’ in the subject heading.

Hotel Pelirocco

Michael J. Sheehy

Plectrum – The Cultural Pick preview of the inaugural Ace Stories event

Plectrum – The Cultural Pick preview of  Ace Stories #2

Literary Event Preview: Ace Stories #2

Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Sunday 11th July 2010 from 6pm – 8pm

by Guy Sangster Adams

Amanda Smyth

Amanda Smyth

By all accounts the inaugural Ace Stories evening, with Cathi Unsworth topping the bill,  rocked the Hotel Pelirocco, no mean feat given that it is one of Brighton’s most rock ‘n’ roll hotels.  Now the second in  Jay Clifton’s and Sam Collins’ five event Live Lit series is fast approaching. This time around the headlining writer is Amanda Smyth whose debut novel, Black Rock  (Serpent’s Tail, 2010),  has been shortlisted for the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize, and gained widespread critical acclaim. Including Anita Sethi, writing in The Independent: ‘In painterly images, Smyth evocatively shows more than she tells. Not only people but place exerts a powerful force…There are echoes of the archetypal “mad woman”, if not in an attic then in a marital room in the Caribbean, with scenes reminiscent of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea… this is a vivid and compelling story, exploring the extent of our control over our destinies.’

Support readings come from Brighton-based poets,  Theodore Koulouris and Naomi Foyle, whilst the evening closes with live music from singer-songwriter, Birdengine.

Ace Stories, Sunday 11th July, 2010, from 6pm to 8pm,
at Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Admission £3.


Ace Stories
To be added to the mailing list for updates on forthcoming Ace Stories events, email:  Jayclifton330 AT googlemail DOT com
with ‘Add me to the Ace Stories mailing list’ in the subject title.

Hotel Pelirocco

Plectrum – The Cultural Pick preview of the inaugural Ace Stories event

Poetry by Abi Curtis


Abi Curtis lives in Brighton and lectures at Sussex University. Her poetry collection, Unexpected Weather, won Salt Publishing’s Crashaw Prize 2008. The poems below, Death by Lightning and Mandibles, are both from Unexpected Weather (Salt, 2009).

On 10th June 2010 she will be reading with Luke Kennard, Tom Chivers, Mark Waldron, Katy Evans-Bush, and Diana Pooley, at Salt Poets at Lauderdale House, from 8pm, Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG.


I left you in the house, your eyes on me,

suffering from a relative of grief,

took myself from here to the neighbouring village.

I don’t usually walk, preferring donkey or moped

but neither could fare in the weather:

rain slopped from eaves

turning the streets to streams

thin fish lost their bearings and followed

to be found tomorrow, breathless,

heads in the railings.

I doubt they knew anything about it,

sent to sleep by strange air lifting their scales.

Rain was in my neck, my boots were buckets,

sky a marbling of dark and unfamiliar faces,

clouds deep as difficult ideas, luminous at their edges.

Light cleaved the sky. I counted and wasn’t disappointed

by the sound of a giant piano dropped

onto a collection of empty cauldrons.

I smiled: the sky was furious for me

so I might stay inside the cupboard of my head.

But soon the water overcame, tipping

from flat roofs, stabbing from the arms of lampposts.

Paving slabs lifted to expose whole villages

of slugs and toads.

The sea, two miles away, suggested itself on the wind.

Unable to turn back, I searched for shelter.

Light revealed a  shape at the graveyard gate: a woman under

a yew older than landscape. Room for two. I joined her,

politely distant, staring at the knots and carvings in the trunk:

tracks of every death that’s marked elsewhere in stone,

hems of marriages leaving the gate, home for ivy,

sheets of frost and mushrooms shelving out like flesh.

The woman watched the rain as if to concentrate

on just one drop and shuddered when the thunder

spread its voice above the leaves.

She was not beautiful.

She didn’t hold her body supple as an animal.

I could not name her type of smile.

Later, I learned she felt the shock in her foot;

shared what I cannot remember.

I looked up through the branches holding

tight their fists of leaves.

I have that image stencilled in my eyelids.

I smelled the metal in the air and tasted


You know, if you watch anything through flashes

of lightning, it appears suspended

as if life were frame after frame and never moving.

I was senseless: a snapshot of myself under a canopy.

I’m still here, now in the living room

where we question each other.

I didn’t replay memories or gain an answer,

but I’ve read the best stuff has the power

to take off the top of your head.

You’ve changed, though you never left this room.

Every day you run your hands over

the root-system printed red on my chest

and in the dark part of your eye

I detect a storm.


The archaeologists have been in the office again.
You’ve come to work through the night when

you find their shoe-boxes shelved with the books,
then face the other way, try to write, to look

at the dark-glazed view into the quad.
You turn around, fingering the lip of a box.

Nobody said, Don’t Touch. This one’s labelled
‘Mandibles’. As you slide the lid, a smell

of dried mouths and subtle rot.
Each piece of jaw in a plastic pocket

you can feel through to the nubs of bone,
unable to identify symphysis, molar, canine.

You recall Mr Fozard pulling a tooth
to leave a hole for your tongue to search, a taste

of pink, of omnivore. Bridges, dentures,
ivory tusks cross-sectioned

like the rings of an oak;
pulp canals, the roots that bind your mouth

to your thinking head.
Porcelain, amalgam, gold:

offerings to the speech of the soul.
But here, in this box, the bones are small,

herbivorous. At last you see animals,
re-skinned and furred, decay reversed,

their skulls re-clothed:
deer stripping red fruit from the hedge-row,

rabbits, light-headed and wet-eyed,
clipping the green from the fields.


Abi Curtis

Salt Publishing

Lauderdale House

Poetry Event Preview: Sally Crabtree’s Word M’art

The Market House, St Austell, Cornwall
1st – 5th June 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

Word M’art is the new mission for the irrepressible and phenomenally proactive ‘international action poet’, Sally Crabtree. “Poetry should be taken down from its ivory tower and given back to the people,” she says, and to facilitate this she has created the interactive supermarket themed installation, Word M’art, to engage people of all ages and backgrounds with poetry as part of their everyday lives. The week long launch event at The Market House will include such special offers such as Poems in a Tin, I’ll Eat My Words edible poetry in the cake aisle, a pharmacy counter offering poetic cures, live musical-poetry from singing shelf stackers, and dancing in the aisles courtesy of the Trolley Waltz.

For the gloriously pop art poetry of the Poems in a Tin, which Crabtree originally created for National Poetry Day and which inspired Word M’art, prior to the launch at The Market House, she has been running Word M’art workshops for groups within the St Austell community, so that they may write their own poems for the tins. Which is all part of Crabtree desire, or rather revolutionary zeal, to encourage everyone to get involved in reading, writing, performing poetry. Her resolute intention is to, as she says, “show people that poetry doesn’t have to be boring, stuffy, or elitist. It can be fun, exciting, engaging, and uplifting. There’s a poetry revolution going on and I want to encourage people to sign up!”

In Crabtree’s hands the revolution will not only be poetic, but also very, very, brightly coloured! Following the launch week at The Market House, Word M’art will be rolled out across the country, where is can be set up in bustling supermarkets, empty shops, at fêtes, carnivals, and festivals, or as a museum or gallery installation.

Word M’art runs from 1st June – 5th June 2010
at The Market House, Market Street, St Austell, Cornwall PL25 5QB
Open 10.30am to 4pm.
Free admission.


Sally Crabtree

Poems in a Tin filmed ‘advert’/guerrilla Word M’art poetry in a branch of the Co-op

Literary Event Preview: Ace Stories

Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Sunday 13th June from 6pm – 8pm

by Guy Sangster Adams


Ace Stories is a new series of literary events running between June and December 2010 created and directed by Jay Clifton. The programme will, Clifton says, “provide an entertaining but definitely seriously-minded programme of readings and music,” that promotes “literary appreciation and development.” In addition to six events at the Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton, the programme also features four events in October/November at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, which will include film screenings, literary discussion, live music, and dramatic readings with a Deep South of the USA focus, as part of the Southern Discomfort season.

The inaugural Ace Stories event on 13th June features Cathi Unsworth, author of Bad Penny Blues and The Singer, plus local writers Howard Cunnell, reading from his novel Marine Boy, Heli Clarke, and live music.

Authors already lined up for future Ace Stories events include Science Fiction writer China Mieville (The City and The City and Perdido Street Station) Greek novelist and playwright Pavlos Matesis (The Daughter), and Amanda Smyth (Black Rock).

Ace Stories, Sunday 13th June, 2010, from 6pm to 8pm,
at Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Admission £3.


Ace Stories
To be added to the mailing list for updates on forthcoming Ace Stories events, email:  Jayclifton330 AT googlemail DOT com
with ‘Add me to the Ace Stories mailing list’ in the subject title.

Hotel Pelirocco

De La Warr Pavilion

Poetry by Benedict Newbery


Benedict Newbery is a poet and journalist, in addition to being an occasional poetry reviewer and copy editor for Nude magazine.  His poems have been published in Magma, Succour, the delinquent, South Bank Poetry, Carillon, and Straight from the Fridge.  In October 2006 he presented poetry and spoken word in a joint exhibition, Morningwell, with painter Simon Dawe.  Whilst the film of his poem Cul de Sac, which he storyboarded and co-directed with animator Sandra Salter, was shortlisted for the 2008 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, Berlin.  Last summer,  on behalf of the Sohemian Society, he hosted Moscow Rules a literary journey in Hampstead tracing the action in Le Carré’s  Smiley’s People.  He lives in London and performs at various open mic events around the capital.

It’s The Administrators!

Steve Jones
mans the phones
with koala eyes
crumbs of disco biscuit
down the sides
of his brain.
Nods at Jane,
rubs his face
and starts to disappear.

Sandy Brown
is settling down
louche in an olive suit.
sending figures
down yellow forms —
can do this in his sleep.
Sniffs at Jane
who says hello
and sits by Paul,
a bloke she knew from school.

Paul Tillings
form filling
berk in a Burton’s suit.
Pressing a boil
on his neck,
snipping bites
from meat paste
on white bread,
making mistakes
for Jane to rearrange
and file.




© Benedict Newbery 2009. All rights reserved.
(First published in the delinquent)

The Royal Oak

It’s early doors
and the air holds flies
above cold slops,
as Pete and Jack –
soon joined by the man in the cap –
stand apart on lino
that lifts beneath the bar.

Passed them every day.
Nipping out and popping in
to drop a bob or two
on three o’clock’s also-ran.
Stooped over palms,
each way’s bits of shrapnel,
picking, adding, sorting,
then slipping in again.

Later on
jetsam, driftwood,
a wheel on the wall
and brass
ripped from some old bar,
filled a space
left by the net drapes
and cracked formica.

But just the same in name.

And sat apart,
Pete and Jack
and the man in the cap –
last of the Black-and-Tans,
with drop on the side.

Passed them every day.
Chin to chest,
yellow eyes
among the liver spots,
beards stained
with Capstan tracks
framed by Sixties hair.
Shoulders forward
close to the building’s edge,
then slipping in again.

© Benedict Newbery 2008. All rights reserved.
(First published in Magma)

Weymouth Bay

This evening’s end
slipped beneath the swell
of a late-summer sea
and joined The Hood,
tonight the Bismark too –
hulks of Special Brew
sent below on pebble shot
from the battery of boys.
Now gone.

Far off
the sun wrapped the bay,
drew shadows up cliffs
into secret grass
of thumbnail fields –
parcels tied by fingers
that stretched
from the barns and farms,
trees and drystone walls.

Night came
black as the guts
of hunting cod,
raised a bombers’ moon
to light a king astride his horse,
then out, across the water,
dropped a path
to touch the stump
of a lost pier –
a thousand lovers
on August tea dance afternoons,
the big band’s brassy swing
still tingling in the bay.

© Benedict Newbery 2008. All rights reserved.
(First published in Carillon)

Cul de sac

I saw Mrs Smith who lost a child –
slipped from the pier – her only son,
open the gate to an empty house
as her silent husband climbed the hill
on his long-gone daughter’s bike

I heard Jack Jones in his garden shed
bending steel and shaving wood
while making plans and mental lists
of things required by his broken wife
to ease her last two years

I heard old Stan smashing six-inch nails
with jackhammer pace to create a space
beneath the ploughed up lawn
where he and Daisy would be safe from harm
through an endless night that never came

I saw tall John leave his house at dusk
in his big greatcoat and trilby hat.
His final month spent in hotel bars,
wandering through blackening nights,
then slipping back at a later hour –
the last of that year’s ghosts.

© Benedict Newbery 2008. All rights reserved.
(First published in the delinquent)

To watch the film of Cul de Sac, which was shortlisted for the 2008 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, Berlin, CLICK HERE

Benedict Newbery

Poetry by Paul Lyalls


‘Very, very, very, funny and very very feel-good’
NUS magazine

‘Extremely good poetry but smiles too much’
John Hegley

‘Words of wit, wisdom and intelligence’
Apples and Snakes

Paul Lyalls has  performed at 10 Edinburgh festivals, 1 Eton College, 5 Glastonbury’s and on a 73 Bus, which made the ‘and finally…’ bit of the 6pm national news. He is also one of the stars of BBC2’s ‘Big Slam Poetry House’ and  in 2008 he was Poet for the London borough of Brent (‘London’s 5th coolest borough’) and performed at the new Wembley stadium. In addition to which, for the last 12 years he has  hosted Express Excess, London’s outstanding spoken word night. Whilst he also runs exciting poetry workshops in primary and secondary schools.

This year he has contributed two poems to Penguin’s A-Z of Children’s Poetry and has just published his first full collection of  poems,  Catching the Cascade ( Flipped Eye), from which the following poems are taken.

The Value Of Wales

Its chief contribution to the UK
must be as a unit of measurement,
night after night
a news desk declares
‘An area of Rainforest,
the size of Wales disappears every year’
‘The amount of water
London loses through its creaking Victorian pipes
would fill a swimming pool
the size of Wales’.
Every part of the world has a similar unit of measurement:
in the United States it’s an area the size of New Jersey;
on mainland Europe the reference more often than not
is Slovenia – which appropriately happens to be
98.4 percent the size of Wales.
But just how accurate is Wales
as a unit of measurement?
Just how constant is that land-mass?
It’s worth remembering that at low tide
Wales measures 20,761 SQ KM.
Whereas at high tide, it’s only 20,449 SQ KM
and to really put it into context,
each year coastal erosion erodes an area of Wales
the size of Central Swansea.
For those of you in Europe trying to visualise this,
that’s the equivalent of an area the size of down-town Ljubianna.


Our hotelier pointed out that
all the clocks in all the hotel rooms
all said different times.
So, in some rooms you were late
and in other rooms you were early.
“It’s not a problem”, said the Nuclear Physicist
breakfasting on the next table
“Time actually happens four times slower than
we think”?
“Not round here it doesn’t!” rejoined our hotelier,
“Round here, time happens really fast.”
At which, I gazed out of the window
and surveyed the lifeless two street
regional-coastal town –
which had about as much going
on as a letter that never arrives.
If ever there was an
argument for there not being a God,
this place was it.
“In fact,” continued our hotelier, “you can tell
how much is going on around here
by the all the things that are happening:
in September there’s a Wicker Doll fair,
in October a Poetry Festival and a Science Convention,
in November there’s Bonfire Night
and before you know it,
it’s Christmas.
Right, who’s got time for another cup of tea?”

The Anatomy Of A Bookshop

English Literature
was beside the drinking fountain.
American literature
was over near the vending machine.
next to the fire escape.
was between the first and second floors.
could be found next to the tills.
was below ethics.
by the mirror.
Making The World A Better Place
was next to books on children’s names.
was next to Fantasy.
Was down in the basement
with Wines, Beers and Spirits.

Hard Fast And Beautiful

In John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939),
(which raised the Western genre
to artistic status )
she was the ‘saloon girl’ Dallas
who had been forced out of town
by puritanical women.
When ‘The Ringo Kid’ (John Wayne)
proposes to her, she says
“But you don’t know me,
you don’t know who I am.”
“I know all I want to know.”
he says.
Seeing a glimmer of hope
she asks the drunken doctor
(Thomas Mitchell)
“Is that wrong for a girl like me?
If a man and a woman
love each other?
it’s all right,
ain’t it Doc?”

All poems ©Paul Lyalls 2009

Catching Cascades  is available from all bookshops and Amazon priced  £5.99

Paul Lyalls

Express Excess, every other Wednesday, The Enterprise, 2 Haverstock Hill, London NW3
Doors 8.30pm Performances 9pm
Tickets £5/£3 (concs)
Express Excess Facebook page

Plectrum’s profile of Express Excess from issue one:  READ MORE

Paul Lyalls will also be performing poems from Catching Cascades and hosting the Plectrum Live Edition at Express Excess on Wednesday 3rd February MORE DETAILS

And also:

Monday 25th January: Brighton Komedia club with Will Self & Elvis McGonigal
44 – 47 Gardiner St, 7.30pm, all tickets £12.
Sunday 14th February: RONNIE SCOTTS Jazz verse Jukebox, with Fran Landesman, Dorothea Smartt, Winston Clifford
47 Frith St doors 6.30 show 8pm, tickets£6/5
Fri 26th February: Finsbury Arts Festival with Adam Bloom
St Lukes Central St EC1 8pm, all tickets £5
Sat 27th February: Hawth Theatre with JOHN HEGLEY & Niall O’ Sullivan
Crawley, East Sussex. 8pm,  all tickets £12
Thurs 4th March: Haringey Literature Festival
Wood Green Library. Check with library for full details.
Thursday 18th March: Bang Said the Gun
The Roebuck, 50 Great Dover ST, SE1 London, 8PM, tickets £3

Great TV Themes by Daniel Pemberton, from Shouting at the Telly edited by John Grindrod (Faber & Faber)

“Proust would have made a great TV reviewer,” writes John Grindrod in the introduction to Shouting at the Telly, the collection of rants and raves about television which he has edited, and which has just been published by Faber & Faber. “He had three key attributes,” Grindrod continues, “firstly he didn’t get out much; secondly, he had a fondness for nostalgia; and thirdly, an appreciation for how the trivial and the profound are inexorably linked.”


In the absence of Proust, Grindrod has drawn together an eclectic array of  writers, critics, comedians, actors, and broadcasters, including Travis Elborough, Rebecca Front, Emma Kennedy, Matthew Sweet, and Boyd Hilton, bringing ire, satire, insight, wit, and celebration to every genre of programme, from reality to factual, soap to sitcom, cult to comedy.

Whilst along the way salient questions are answered: Is Freddie from Scooby-Doo a colossal pervert? How do you win America’s Next Top Model? And if you play the theme from Inspector Gadget in a nightclub will people dance? The answer to the latter is to be discovered in Daniel Pemberton’s Great TV Themes, which follows in full below.

Daniel Pemberton is the BAFTA nominated composer behind many of the themes and sounds you hear everyday on TV. His credits include everything from cult comedy series (Peep Show, Suburban Shootout) to mainstream reality shows (Hells Kitchen, Love Island, Bad Lads Army); acclaimed dramas such as Born With Two Mothers (starring Sophie Okonedo and Lesley Sharp) and Vincent Van Gogh biopic The Yellow House (starring John Simm) to BAFTA and Emmy award winning documentaries (Hirsohima , George Orwell – A Life In Pictures); top rated lifestyle programmes (Great British Menu) to big budget family adventures (Prehistoric Park). His ability to jump genres effortlessly yet still bring a unique and recognizable sound to every project saw him named as ‘one of the hottest people working in television today’ by Broadcast magazine, who praised him as ‘a composer prepared to take risks’.

Great TV Themes

I do hope the great TV theme is not a dying breed. It would possibly seem so in today’s modern media environment. While 1960s shows like The Prisoner had amazing title sequences and themes that lasted almost two minutes (!), their modern equivalents, like Lost and Heroes, just have a noise that is over in five seconds. Boring. Or they just use some bland by-the-numbers rock song that really has nothing to do with the show at all. More boring.
The key, I think, to a good TV theme is first to create an interesting sound palette – use an unusual array of noises. Then write a great tune. And then try and get it played as often as possible. If you can tick all three of these boxes then you should have a classic. It’s amazing we don’t have more of them. A lot of TV execs like themes that sound like something else they’ve heard before. Or they want you to do a million different things in ten seconds leaving no space for an actual tune. Or they want it to have a ‘big impact’ ending. You really don’t need a big impact ending – it’s often the biggest false economy there is. But still they persist, making you rewrite something that was great into something that’s not. I’ve been there – many, many times. However every now and again someone slips one through the net and produces some gogglebox gold. Here are my personal favourites:

Grange Hill
Written in an hour by renowned TV composer Alan Hawkshaw (the only man who could not only write the themes to Countdown and Channel 4 News but also the legendary b-boy breaks tune The Champ), Grange Hill originally started life as a piece of library music called Chicken Man that was chucked into a recording session at the last minute. It has since become an icon of British childhood, it’s bizarre funkiness instantly transporting you back to a time of Mr Bronson telling someone off and a sausage on a big fork. Wow. They foolishly changed it in the nineties to some synth tosh that no one liked. Idiots.

Knight Rider
Knight Rider. What a fucking amazing ahead-of-its-time tune. Obviously everyone else now also realises this which is why it has been sampled to death by everyone from Timbaland and Busta Rhymes to So Solid Crew and their contemporary Crazy Frog. The tune was written by Stu Phillips and the show’s creator Glen A. Larson. I’ve always wondered whether Glen A. Larson actually did anything at all on it or whether he just wanted a slice of the action because it was his show (much like Simon Cowell and his ‘songwriting’ credit on The X-Factor theme) and thus he could do what he wanted. If anyone knows Glen A. Larson please could they find out as this one has puzzled me for years.

The South Bank Show
I agree it is not often you get to read someone citing Andrew Lloyd Webber as an influence. But his theme tune to The South Bank Show is awesome. Taken from his crazy classical rock mash-up album Variations, the reclaiming nostalgia from tv theme tunes theme is based on a piece by Paganini and it still sounds good today. I know it’s really uncool but I do wish more people would make records like that today. I secretly love them.

The Krypton Factor

This was one of the few TV themes written by The Art Of  Noise. Like much of their commissioned work (also listen to the rather patchy soundtrack of the Dan Akroyd Dragnet film) it seemed to use exactly the same noises as their records of the time. Namely lots of sampled horn blasts and that ‘dum dum dum’ noise that was all over Close to the Edit and the drums from Beatbox. Maybe Trevor Horn had just bought some expensive new glasses and didn’t want to spend any more money on memory for his Fairlight sampler. We will never know. Anyway it’s one of those made-in-the-eighties tunes that has aged remarkably well. But whatever happened to the show’s
spooky host Gordon Burns?

Inspector Gadget
Do-do-do-do-do Inspector Gadget. Another fantastically groovy TV tune that you are probably humming to yourself right now. But did you know that the theme is pretty much a rip-off of the classical tune In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg? Work it out on the piano to see what I mean. I used to love watching the show not just for this but also for its super funky moog synthesiser underscore. I even once tried to DJ it at a night in Shoreditch many many years ago. I had previously convinced myself that this was going to be a massive dancefloor filler and send the crowd into a frenzy. It didn’t. It cleared the room. Oh dear.

Treasure Hunt
Helicopters. In the 1980s helicopters seemed to be on TV all the time. Helicopters and motorcycle display teams. Where are they today? One show that used them heavily was Treasure Hunt. The theme tune was a super pomp synth rock monster that built to an epic crescendo. The music said ‘this could be the most exciting thing you will see on TV all year’. The show said: ‘Oh look here’s Kenneth Kendall and a married couple who look like they last had sex seven years ago, standing about in a room full of fake books’. What a swizz.

The Great Egg Race
I don’t know how many of you remember this show but it has got one of the most killer theme tunes of all time. I tried to seek it out again researching this piece and I was shocked at how fresh it still sounded – a tight punky kinda beat with some horribly catchy Moog drops on top. It got me wanting to dance round my studio in about two seconds flat. If someone like Simian Mobile Disco sampled it up they’d have a massive hit on their hands. A gem waiting to be rediscovered.

Tour de France
Again this is a bit of a personal choice but the old theme from the Channel 4 version of this was ace. It wasn’t – as many believe – Kraftwerk’s track of the same name but a rather spacey sounding synth tune by some bloke who used to be in The Buzzcocks that somehow managed to incorporate French kids’ tune ‘Frère Jacques’ and still sound cool.

Doctor Who
Not much more needs to be said about this. Originally written by top TV composer Ron Grainer (who also did classic themes to The Prisoner and Tales of the Unexpected), it was warped into crazy electro freakout territory by Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Grainer, apparently so impressed at what the now legendary soundsmith had done with his track, offered her half the royalties. Ludicrous BBC staff guidelines, however, meant, sadly, she couldn’t accept them. The current arrangement, by the normally superb composer, Murray Gold, is, in my opinion, no match for the original whatsoever. Boo hoo.

Roobarb and Custard
A viciously funky weird theme tune that sounded like a Fender Rhodes put through about six different distortion and filter pedals. In my various TV works I have tried to rip the sound off more times than you care to mention. It fitted the jaggedness of Bob Godfrey’s visuals perfectly. Best not to think about the rather dodgy rave version knocked up in the nineties by the blokes from Global Communication before they were cool.

© 2009 Daniel Pemberton

Shouting at the Telly: Rants & Raves about TV by Writers, Comedians & Viewers
Edited by John Grindrod
Faber & Faber £9.99


Daniel Pemberton

Shouting at the Telly

Faber & Faber

extract from The Migraine Hotel by Luke Kennard


Luke Kennard is a poet, critic, dramatist and pugilist. He is compassionate, but prone to anxiety and bleak introspection. Many have called him polite and quite funny, but add that he suffers from a tendency towards constant nervous laughter and an apparently involuntary rictus of disdain. His poetry and criticism have appeared in Stride Magazine, Sentence, Echo:Location, The Tall Lighthouse Review, Reactions 4, Orbis, 14 Magazine, The Flying Post, Exultations & Difficulties. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2005 and was shortlisted for Best Collection in the 2007 Forward Poetry Prizes. He is quite tall.

Computer Club, a new, previously unpublished work of short fiction by Luke Kennard may be read in issue 3 of the print edition of Plectrum.

The Migraine Hotel is published by Salt Publishing

My Friend

My friend, your irresponsibility and your unhappiness delight
me. Your financial problems and your expanding waist-line are a
constant source of relief. I am so happy you drink more than I do
and that you don’t seem to enjoy it as much. When I hear you
being arrogant and argumentative, my heart leaps. Your nihilism
is fast becoming the richest source of meaning in my life and it is
my pleasure to watch you speaking harshly to others. When you
gossip about our mutual acquaintances I sigh with satisfaction.
Your childish impatience delights me. The day you threw a
tantrum in the middle of the supermarket was the happiest day
of my life. Sometimes you say something which reveals you to be
rather stupid – and I love you then, but not as much as I love you
when you are callously manipulative. Your promiscuity is like a
faithful dog at my side. When you talk about your petty affairs,
you try to make them sound grand and important – I cherish
your gaucheness and your flippancy. At times it seems your are
actually without a sense of humour : I bless the day I met you.
You bully people younger and weaker than you – and when others
tell me about this, I am pleased. Sometimes I think you are
incapable of love – and I am filled with the contentment of waking
on a Saturday morning to realise I don’t have to go to work. I
often suspect that you do not even like me and my laughter
overflows like water from a blocked cistern.

The Dusty Era

for S.F.

One day he was walking behind her with several colleagues
from the Embassy when the hairgrip fell out of her hair
(bronze, decorated with three parrots) and clattered to the
pavement. It was Stockholm, and high winter. She was deep
in conversation with a girlfriend and didn’t hear. His colleagues
chuckled and continued to admire her legs.
They walked five blocks before she noticed her hair around her
shoulders, patted the back of her head and stopped walking.
She turned and looked first at the pavement and then up,
where she caught his eye. She looked hurt, as if something in
his face had apologised for conspiring against her with lesser
men (he responded with an apologetic grimace) then she
took her girlfriend’s arm and walked on, hurriedly.
Two summers later, looking for cufflinks for the reception, he
found the hairgrip in a pawn shop in Östersund. An event
Grabes describes as, ‘One of those overdetermined little
moments that gradually conspired to snap his reason like a
chicken bone and force him into organised religion, more
credulous than even the altar boy.’ (ibid, p. 136) It should be
noted that Grabes was one of the men walking with him that
winter evening in 1956, and that he was, in all probability,
quite attracted to E. himself – a fact that throws Grabes’s
more spiteful observations into relief.
He stood with a hip-flask, complaining in the port, a parcel of
Christmas presents under one arm. Each day contains a hundred
subtle chasms. You can betray someone by not smiling,
murder them by not saying ‘Mm,’ at the appropriate points
in the conversation.
Years later he sat on the swingset in the playpark, an unopened
letter from his daughter in his inside pocket. He was throwing
pine-cones at the rusty ice-cream van. ‘You should be
banned from describing anyone,’ he said out loud in the condensation.
Two of his would-be future biographers crashed
into each other on the autobahn and were killed instantly.
One of them was me, hence my omniscience.
The Embassy was dustier after that – it came to be known as the
Age of Dust or the Dusty Era. A fault on the line made the
intercom pop sporadically like a man about to say something

Variations On Tears

I realise you never cry because the last of your tears have been
anthologised as a Collected and you can’t stand the idea of appendices.
But what am I to make of the demonstrators playing cards
with your daughters ? Have they betrayed your estate ? Go tell
the children to gather their strength for the inevitable backlash.
I realise you never cry because each one of your tears contains a
tiny stage on which a gorgeous, life-affirming comedy is always
playing and it cheers you up the minute you begin. But what am
I to make of the bare interior of your house ? You’re waiting for
inspiration, right ? Go tell the children to gather dust on the
shelves of archive halls.
I realise you never cry because to do so would be to admit defeat
to your harlequin tormentors – wringing their hands at the sides
of their eyes and making bleating sounds – and you don’t want
to give them the satisfaction. But what am I to make of the Make
Your Own Make Your Own ______ Kit, the first instruction of which
is ‘Have a good idea for something’ ? Could I have not worked
that out for myself ? Go tell the children to gather followers for
our new religion.
I realise you never cry because you are a total arsehole who cannot
even muster enough compassion to feel sorry for himself. But
what am I to make of your red, blotchy eyes when, as your pharmacist,
I know for a fact you are not allergic to anything ? Have
you, after all, been crying ? Go tell the children to gather my
remains from the ditch and look out for the white bull who, I’m
told, is still at large.
I realise you never cry because the last time you cried four separate
murders were reported on the evening news, each one more
grisly and inexplicable than the last, and you incorrectly assume
there was a correlation. But what am I to make of this terrifying
breakfast ? Are you trying to get rid of me ? Go tell the children
to gather the farmers from their taverns to gather the new crop
of thorns.
I realise you never cry because when you do, you are beset by
birds with long tails and brightly coloured plumage and sharp,
hook-like beaks who are uncontrollably drawn towards salt. But
what am I to make of your statement, ‘The world is not built on
metaphors’ ? What exactly do you think the statement ‘The
world is not built on metaphors’ is ? Go tell the children to
gather in the clearing and await further instruction.

And I Saw

A false prophet slapped in the face by a wave ;
A woman screaming at her clarinet,
‘What would you have me do, then, drown you, too ?’
Remaindered novels washed up on the shore.
A cat, baffled by a drowsy lobster, jogged
Over the pebbles towing a little carriage.
And the cat didn’t say anything – because
It was a cat. And the carriage was not full
Of tiny men, a watermelon or an
Assembly of diplomatic mice
Because the carriage was an example
Of man’s cruelty in the name of research.
The cat belonged to a behaviourist
And had been raised in an environment
Of only black horizontal lines. So
It saw my sprinting across the beach
To dismantle its harness as a whirl
Of fenceposts and orange rubber balls
And was gone faster than the better idea
You had a moment ago. Leaving me
Only the seagull’s dreadful anthem :
‘I just want to tell you how sad we all feel.’
The airplane trail made the cloud a wick –
I thought I saw it starting to burn down
And I knew we had been lucky to avoid
Disaster so far. I shared a bench with
A man who wanted to redefine us
As victims of one kind or another
Instead of whatever names we’d chosen :
Steven Victim, Jenny Victim, Franklin
Victim. I disagreed but couldn’t speak.
He ate raw mushrooms from a paper bag.
In fact it was a computer game called
The Enormous Pointlessness of it All III.
When you are raised on computer games
You grow accustomed to saying ‘I’m dead,’
Several times a day. Which is not to say
We are the first generation to feel
So comfortable with our mortality.

© Luke Kennard 2009
Plectrum – The Cultural Pick

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Poetry by Kieron Winn

Kieron Winn photographed by Eleanor Sepanski

Kieron Winn photographed by Eleanor Sepanski

Kieron Winn was educated at Tonbridge School, where he later briefly taught, and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was awarded a doctorate for a thesis on Herbert Read and T. S. Eliot. His poems have appeared in magazines including Agenda, The Dark Horse, The London Magazine, Oxford Magazine, Oxford Poetry, Poetry Review, The Rialto and The Spectator, and in a short film about his work on BBC1. A selection of his poems appears in the Carcanet anthology Oxford Poets 2007. He was awarded the University of Oxford’s English Poem on a Sacred Subject Prize in 2007. He lives in Oxford, where he is a freelance teacher.

Read a selection of new, previously unpublished poems by Kieron Winn in issue 3 of the print edition of Plectrum.

A British Veteran

A hand that held a rifle on the climb
To Passchendaele now bears a bubbling flute.
His hand is strong and rubicund, his frame
Mobile and actual as he toasts his eight

Australian great-great-grandsons; woollen cloth
Is covering his body now as then.
That hand will soon slip under the stream of myth.
No one thinks Agincourt was fought by men.

(Author’s Note:  The poem is based on Harry Patch, the last British soldier of World War I, who died on July 25th 2009; and on Claude Choules, a former mariner, who lives in Australia and is now the last surviving veteran of the British forces in World War I.)

© Kieron Winn 2009


(remembering West Kent Youth Theatre)

Springy, with bright but half-inhabited skin,
Scarcely in time, still waiting to begin,
Travelling half a dozen to a car,
Heading towards some vague but certain star,
We ran together with a single nature,
Unset, with fewer props, as if one creature,
And after every party fell asleep
In house or barn in a sprawling animal heap.
Our charm to adults was the hope of some
Lineless utopia that will never come.
Now almost all of us have sprung apart,
And rich but private chambers form each heart.

© Kieron Winn 2008, originally published in The Interpreter’s House number 38 (2008)

The Great Old Poet in Bermuda

Swimming, as ever, helps with all my ailments.
My tender wife is singing in the bedroom.

I have become a classic. I look at my book
And contemplate changing the species of a crab.

The spirit sleeps in such places. Let me enjoy
My yellow silk pyjamas, I am no Dante.

My heart is going: I would enjoy some sherbet.
Later today we may go out to buy some.

In this afterlife I need not exert myself.
Now I have done my work. I whistle and live.

© Kieron Winn 2006, originally published in Oxford Magazine number 248 (2006)