Tag Archives: Chronicle

Foxes are the champions

2 May

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On a night when the ‘Foxes’ of Leicester City won the Premier League at the expense of the cockerel crested Spurs, debating the fox and his many guises seemed appropriate, especially as the event took place at Lower Shaw Farm.

Chickens were conspicuous by their absence, perhaps taking the hint from the signage chalked across their usual pecking ground.

So, Fantastic Mr. Fox or ginger vermin?

Lucy Jones explores every side of this complex creature in her book Foxes Unearthed – A story of love and loathing in modern Britain.

Speaking in a former cowshed on an award-winning urban farm, Jones was in the perfect place to expand on the countryside vs. city paradox which sees foxes fed at back-doors by ‘townies’ but shot or hunted in the countryside.

Jones made it clear that Mr. Fox is both hero and the villain, and has been so since he slunk into mankind’s chicken cave centuries ago.

A keen audience of first-night festival-goers heard the wildly differing points of view of the hunting fraternity, angry saboteurs, curly haired pomp-rock guitarists and chicken-less farmers. Continue reading

Swindon Festival of Poetry – Being Human

11 Oct

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Having the same title as one of my favourite TV shows was a big point in favour of Tuesday night’s Swindon Festival of Poetry Finale.

Okay so Being Human didn’t have werewolves, ghosts and vampires in it, but both are about the stuff of life – life stages, its ordinariness, the rubbish things that can happen, the amazing things and how we each deal with all of it.

Taken from the Bloodaxe Books anthology of the same name, Being Human is a dramatisation of thirty-four poems from different writers performed by three fantastic actors, Benedict Hastings, Elinore Middleton and Barrett Robertson. Continue reading

Swindon Festival of Poetry – Is it Nearly Christmas?

11 Oct
Collectively writing

Collectively writing

Is it nearly Christmas? I wrote a seasonally related poem at Matt Holland’s ‘Poetry and Life’ workshop on Tuesday, the final day of the Swindon Festival of Poetry.

I can’t take all the blame/credit. It was a joint effort. After reading and discussing other poetic works and how they tackle life – and how ‘language can free you and bind you’ – and how poetry differs to prose (‘Poetry can mean something different to what it says,’ said poet Robert Frost and ‘prose is obliged to mean what it says’ said Matt) we collectively tried our own work. Continue reading

Swindon Festival of Poetry – Mabel’s House Party and ‘The Joy of Sex’

8 Oct

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‘Odes to Joy!’ and the joy of sex was the theme for Mabel’s House Party though sadness, messiness, uncomfortable and baggage sex was also in abundance.

It’s been forty years since the book, The Joy of Sex, was published with its quirky style and fun approach to lovemaking so Domestic Cherry – the people behind Mabel’s House Party at Artsite Swindon – held a competition with the book as its theme. Saturday night we heard the winners.

It was great to see the venue was completely packed – the only seats left when we arrived were those tiny ones they use in primary schools. Artsite was set up like a night time cafe with feather covered lamps, bottles of wine and of course the Domestic Cherry cups of tea.

There were moments of comedy. Jill: ‘She is less subtle / Goes straight for his buckle’. Judy: ‘I wish I’d misspent my youth.’ Peter made his rhyme out of all the pet and slang names for genitals. Another poet from Ireland read The Tandem – how to decide who cycles at the back and observe the others wiggling posterior. Jo Bell – just named as the first canal poet laureate by The Canal & River Trust – gave us her observations on ‘Coming’ or should that be ‘Cumming’? Continue reading

Swindon Festival of Poetry – poetry darrlin’ Pam Ayres

6 Oct

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It’s fair to say that last night Swindon Festival of Poetry hosted one of Britain’s most popular poets, at The Platform, Swindon.

As well as enjoying some of Pam Ayres’s poetry, we heard anecdotes about her life and the inspiration behind some of the audience’s favourite poems, documented in her 2011 autobiography ‘The Necessary Aptitude: a Memoir’.

Pam never had aspirations to write ‘deep’ poetry – ‘other people could do it so much better’. But it’s to poetry’s benefit that she developed her own style and wrote in a way that anyone could relate to and enjoy. Continue reading

Swindon Festival of Poetry – psychogeography and sestinas

6 Oct

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Caught the aftermath of Michael Scott’s psychogeographical stroll around Swindon yesterday morning, in Swindon’s Central Library Poetry Space.

Psychogeography aims to make the everyday more interesting or to absorb and appreciate above and beyond the usual tourist attractions one would look for in an urban environment. Just the thing for Swindon, then.

Comments about the session included: “In context signs are really boring, but out of context they’re silly” and “I liked the skip” also “The Wyvern Theatre has stalactites.” Continue reading

Salisbury Festival Family Fun Day at Danebury Hill Fort

27 May

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We rocked up to Hampshire’s Danebury Hill Fort, just across the county border, with the lure of an AfroReggae Family Fun Day.

Fun. For kids. An ancient hill fort. Summer sunshine music. Sounded great. Continue reading

That’s all folks: Swindon Festival Finale

20 May

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Swindon Festival of Literature’s Finale, yesterday.

I’ve developed a suspicion of cabaret-style events, because often it’s a convenient word for a hotchpotch of mismatching acts that vary in quality from bad to mediocre.

But the capacity up-for-it crowd at Swindon Town Hall told me otherwise. No cost-cutting exercises in local amateur acts, but a mixture of the best of local and national poets and performers. Continue reading

Is sibling sex okay? The Third Swindon Think Slam!

19 May

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Armed with my three times three minute think pieces, the Third Swindon Festival of Literature Think Slam! began.

I was one of eight contestants, ready to launch their thoughts, arguments and philosophical musings on the Swindon Art Centre audience yesterday.

And, as it turned out, hopelessly outgunned! Continue reading

Roman Krznaric – life inspired by history

19 May
Roman Krznaric

Roman Krznaric

Oxfam and UN advisor, tennis player, gardener and furniture-making fanatic, Roman Krznaric is the Brian Cox of philosophy, making it fun and relevant.

In the first part of his event at the Swindon Festival of Literature yesterday on the curious histories of how we live, I was reminded of my first year of my degree studies. This was about the Ancient Greeks and their various types of love. How ‘love’ didn’t necessarily mean passion, and how the Greeks actually felt wary of erotic love.

Which made me think that just because we (in the English language) don’t give different types of love their own names, does this mean we don’t have similar concepts? Or does giving them their own names raise awareness, legitimise them? Raise their importance? Or is the multitasking of one word just as good? Hmmm.

And here’s a ‘did you know’: the Eros statue in London’s Piccadilly Square is not the god of romance at all. Nope, it was erected (snigger) as a monument to his twin brother Anteros, the god of requited love and also known as the Angel of Christian Charity.

Ahha! I see what you’re doing there, Swindon Festival of Literature. I’m founding out things and getting a bit of mental exercise. Mission accomplished. Continue reading