I am not a number!

I wrote the following poem after recalling a trip to Portmerion – a magical little village in North Wales where they filmed the cult 60’s series The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan.

I’d rather be a prisoner, than be free in my life now
Jump off this daily treadmill and quit this rat race hell
I waste so many hours pinioned in my car
Tamping down frustration. Not getting very far.
At my destination I swap driver’s seat for desk
This sedentary existence, a never ending test
Of boredom, disappointment, blank faces, déjà vu
A daily re-enactment, that somehow I get through.

Through a million different lenses they watch my life unfold
Know everything about me, even stories I’ve not told
When finally, I do get home to sit and watch tv
The news channel says we’re all doomed, while I choke on my tea
Unable to relax or think, I like awake at night
I know there is a better life just hidden in plain sight

I’d rather be a prisoner
In the village, by the sea
With a penny farthing emblem – that’s where I want to be.

prisoner villageWhere jaunty capes are de-rigueur and parasols abound
Where names are swapped for numbers and maps cannot be found
No traffic jams to vex me, little golf carts take the strain
Hidden tannoys make pronouncements on the likelihood of rain
And everyone is friendly. Be seeing you they say
They tip their hats and stop to chat, exhorting me to stay

But what if I got itchy feet, unlikely as that seems
Would number 2 know what to do to foil my escape schemes?
I could fight my way through undergrowth past statues that revolve,
Run from huge inflatables. They’d catch me and convolve.
After all this exercise I’d reappear anew, all glowing skin and rosy cheeked
I know what I must do.
If number 6 wants out, I definitely want in.
I’d rather be a prisoner still
Than risk becoming mentally ill!

I’d rather be a prisoner
In the village, by the sea.


To write at home or NOT!

Am I more productive at home or elsewhere?  I have been pondering this question since I took a day’s leave at the end of last week and traveled into Manchester.  I had a particular destination in mind when I caught my train that morning.  A new bookshop/cafe has recently opened in the city’s Northern Quarter called Chapter 1 Books (https://twitter.com/chapter1uk) and I was keen to have a look round and also see whether I could get some writing done out of the house.

I’ll hold my hands up.  When I am home I do sit down to write, but not as often as I’d like to.  One of my excuses is time.  I work full time and commute to work by car.  Traveling one way can take between 50 minutes on a very good day to double that and more, during term time or snowy conditions.  The result is that by the time I get home and have cooked something and cleared up, the last thing I want to do is sit down and start to write.

I try to combat this by leaving work in progress where I can see it.  It draws me over to read it; tweak it and crucially add to it.  Its not foolproof, but it works some of the time.

At the weekend when I’m writing, I have to adopt tunnel vision.  If I glance up from my work, I guarantee I’ll spot something else that my conscience tells me I should be doing.  It’s painful.  It really is.  Which brings me back to Chapter 1 Books.  How did I get on?

Surprisingly I started writing before I actually got there, scribbling away in a notebook for thirty minutes on the train.  Feeling ridiculously pleased with myself, I then headed for Chapter 1 – a bookshop; a cafe and a performance space in one.  I ordered a pot of tea and then headed in and found myself a wingback chair tucked into a corner.

chapter1 I dug out my notebook and got started, only breaking half an hour later to order another pot of tea (absolutely essential to my creative process!) and take some photos of my surroundings.  I sat in that bookshop for two hours and wrote a lengthy poem from scratch and in doing so I realised I am much more spontaneous when I am away from home, when the distractions of domestic chores are removed.

chapter 1_2The ambience in Chapter 1 certainly helped.  Surrounded by books and writing booths with the low hum of voices and laughter in the background I felt inspired and motivated to write.  I’d really recommend a visit if you are in the Manchester area.

Back at home I know that it is more realistic for me to try and do the bulk of my writing at home.  To minimise distractions I’m going to invest in a desk so that I have a dedicated area that is just for me.  I’m also going to have a couple of days a month where I take myself off to the local library or a cafe and write there.

Hopefully this strategy will pay off.  In the meantime though, where did I put that ironing board?…

Spoken Words

Last night, I went to my first spoken word event. Spoken Words is a monthly gathering of poets and story tellers that is held at a small café/bar in Buxton called the Tea Chest. I approached the venue with some trepidation as the poster gave limited clues as to how the event would run.

It’s always a bit nerve racking going somewhere new for the first time, especially when you’re on your own. Thankfully any fears I had were unfounded as the attendees were all very welcoming. About twenty people were there, with a real mix of ages and backgrounds.

After initial introductions and drinks the night got started. Everyone got five minutes to read a piece of their original work to the rest of the group. Once everyone had completed a reading we then broke for refreshments (Drink! As Father Jack would say) before doing a second round.

The night isn’t about giving feedback to authors, but there was lots of encouragement on offer with everyone getting applauded for their efforts.

It was also really interesting listening to the different pieces being read out. Personally it gave me an idea of what works and what doesn’t and while I know, that assessment is mine alone, I think it will help guide the length and shape of my future compositions.

I left with a promise that I would return and read something which is good news for my writing practice.  I am far more productive when I have a deadline looming!

If anyone lives locally I would recommend attending especially if you want to share your work and hear different approaches. The next event will be held on Tuesday 1st September at 7.45pm.