OPEN MIC NIGHT, CARDIFF RHYME AND REAL ALE

Coming soon, the latest RARA (RHYME AND REAL ALE) open mic night at the Mackintosh Sports Club in Roath Cardiff.

Monday, March 9th 2015, Doors open 7.30, mic opens 8pm, then closes around 10-10.30. Come along, bring your words for a free to enter, free to perform open mic night. New voices, new faces always welcome. This month we will be in the smaller bar and your host will be Julie Pritchard.

The merchandise table will feature the second  RARA contributors anthology, Voices From the Present, launched at the February RARA and you can see Julie Pritchard, Nick Lovell and me holding some copies in the pic above (by Dave Daggers).

Also on the merchandise table you will find books/booklets/pamphlets/etc, by RARA contributors including some of Julie’s, and some of mine (click here for details of my stuff). So lend your ears, share your words, and if you have some to sell, then do it here!

TOTALLY NAKED CLICK HERE

HEARTSPOKEN (two) POETRY, SONG, OPEN MIC, CARDIFF, FEB 15th 2015

At this Valen-Time, how deep, or cheap, is your love?

The day after Valentine’s Day why not come and hear words from the heart and if you have some to share, bring yours! I will be joining in with the open mic, and there are featured artists of the poetic and musical kind at HEARTSPOKEN (two) the second of these nights organised by the engagingly wicked MAB JONES

15/02/15 The Kuku Club, Park Plaza Hotel, Cardiff, 7.30pm-10.30pm

CLICK HERE for more details.

TOTALLY NAKED

RHYME AND REAL ALE: MORE FREE CARDIFF OPEN MIC SPOKEN WORD

RARA returned to the Mackintosh Sports Club Roath, Cardiff for its first 2015 night of open mic poety, spoken word, song and story. Regular reader, Nick Lovell (pictured below) hosted the event for the first time and my full ‘report’ can be found after the pic of me below the pic of Nick.

Next time, I will be hosting, and RARA will be launching its second anthology of work by readers who have taken part in this free event, where new readers and regulars are equally welcome.

Further Details Click Here

I will be belting out Theme For Spectre (Into a Living Nightmare for the second time) and as host may slip into a few of my other pieces like The Booty Song and 73.831776% Bullshit. If all goes to plan the evening will be filmed by Made in Cardiff, which means exciting times ahead for RARA!

Rhyme and Real Ale 12/01/2015
NEW YEAR…NEW HOST…NEW TV CHANNEL

RARA returned to the Mackintosh with its adopted ‘offshore poet’ regular performer Nick Lovell taking on hosting duties at the event for the first time. Strictly speaking, in this context ‘offshore’ means ‘lives in Swindon’ meaning quite a journey to Cardiff for London born Nick who has himself been on quite the journey: taking up performance poetry a little over a year ago but bringing a lifetime of experiences to his mix of satirical and realist topics for exploration. Humorous letters to Bob Marley and the makers of Lynx deodorant have previously been read out to us at RARA, as well as poetry questioning use of language such as ‘friendly fire’. Even the notion of performance poetry itself is not safe from Nick’s talent for skillful verbal evisceration.

Opting to avoid eviscerating any of the open mic readers who signed up to share their musings, Nick proved a capable, calm and gracious introducer of word weavers after offering some syllables of his own, taking potshots at one of his favourite targets: Bullshit…

Having set the scene, Nick called up the first reader…

Christian Searle, who charmed the night with his characteristic gently mocking wickedness exploring the endless problems experienced by those poor and unfortunate souls whose lives are turned upside down by winning the Pools or the Lottery…Next up…

Julie Pritchard, RARA creator and introduced by Nick as ‘The star we all orbit around’ incorporated references to recent events in Paris to her reprise of her own very personal heartfelt examination of human conflict around the world as she wonders “Why is the world breaking its own heart?” Then came…

Clive Oseman, travelling once again with Nick to Cardiff, bringing a different kind of heartbreak to his words, that of the father left waiting for time to allow acrimony, accusations and obfuscations to fade so that a child of divorced parents can reach their own conclusions about whether or not there is more than one version of events leading to a marriage breakdown. ‘Circle’ was the open and raw wound of a piece ending a reading that brought painful subject matter but also self-effacing wit to the Mackintosh.

Then Nick introduced “…Not Chuck, but Chris Norris…” who delivered a confident and poised RARA debut, referencing Shelley’s Ozymandias and also Tellytubbies, truly diverse points of reference there! After Chris (not Chuck) Norris was…

Bridget Leggy Tanner, a RARA regular, converting the recent experience of a Christmas works do into performable words…the normally uptight atmosphere of the office gave way to discussion of who would do who and booty, harsh words and sexual tension emanating from colleagues, described in sing-song style by Bridget as ‘Strangers in the night, do be do be do…” Also returning to RARA was…

Nia Strong, with a piece about a serial killer and her reprise of her “I am an Octopus…” poem turning a satirical eye (and eight appendages) on a world made up of harsh realities and virtual life via the internet. Always a confident presence behind the mic…which can’t be said of the timid shrinking violet known as…

Dave Daggers (who probably smiled at that total misrepresentation of his stage persona) returned to RARA with a first live outing for his many sound effect accompanied tale of a haunted iPhone, which followed a tale from beyond the grave from a narrator who begins his story with ‘Today I shot myself in the head…’ before bemoaning the lack of exciting sin in a rather boring Heaven, despite the chance to meet people like Joan of Arc and St Peter. Inventive and surreal stuff from Dave as ever. Next…

Patrick Widdess made his debut at RARA, delivering material he wrote last November as part of a ‘poem a day’ challenge. A prompt to write of superheroes led him to imagine the fictional Robin Hood lamenting that he was not real and therefore could not help right the kind of wrongs in the real world he could in fictional form. Further lamenting came in the form of ‘Going Digital’ as the loss of things that can be held in the hand and felt physically are increasingly lost to technological advances. Patrick was followed by…

Mario, who was another new face to RARA but clearly a man comfortable with performance as his words flowed freely over the details of imagery of automated bureaucracy reducing people to bits of information being sent here and there as the machine puzzles over the information from its ‘Algorithmic Perspective’. The inhumanity of this state of affairs envisaged by Mario may have left some needing an antidote and one was duly provided by…

Gordon Anderson, who after several requests from me finally brought RARA his surreal, highly comic and sometimes macabre ‘Commercial Presentation’ espousing the life enhancing, body and soul saving, infinitely applicable attributes of BANANA GUARD…followed by…

Leon Lazarus, once more offering RARA slightly bashfully presented voyages into the vulnerabilities and darknesses of the heart and the soul. Hope for love and the fear of not finding it in the cracks between the fractures of our lives are all over Leon’s words and his admiration for David Lynch is perceivable in his approach to his verbal art. The very worst thing or very best thing may be encountered at any moment, and the tension about which one of these will be encountered next by the audience is something Leon appears to enjoy creating. Next, Nick introduced…

Josie Quarrington, making her debut at RARA, in fact reading her words to an audience for the very first time ever, bringing the night breathily delivered verbal portraits of her relationship with Nature, painting word pictures of rainbows that touch the Earth with visible auras and the more animalistic nature of lovers entwined. A confident appearing first time behind the mic, which is often a scary thing for people to put themselves through but something RARA encourages anyone to try, because so many people get so much out of sharing themselves as much as their words. Next, Nick called up the last reader of the first half…

Will Macmillan Jones, very experienced self/word sharer as a comic fantasy novelist and spoken word performer. Jokingly apologising for being cheerful, he delivered a piece about new beginnings before exploring the slightly darker scenario of the Laws of Night. Blank Screen Blues came next detailing the stresses of a family in poverty while a writer, being urged to get a proper job and bring in some money ponders over what he can come up with for the upcoming Rhyme and Real Ale event!

After the toilet/cigarette/bar/conversation break Nick got the second half underway, introducing…

Will Ford…I try my best to push myself in unexpected directions and this time I brought a Bond song I wrote just to see if I could. Nervously at first I sang Theme Song for Spectre (Into a Living Nightmare). No objects were thrown. Result! Next came…

Fran Smith, with a piece reflective of her interest in how we treat each other and how that is played out in how we treat the world, this time offering RARA a lament for the fate of a polar bear standing on an icy landscape that melts and shrinks, until he is left swimming until he can swim no more…And then, also with a keen focus on how we treat each other, was…

Des Mannay, beginning with a piece that has been published in the I Am Not A Silent Poet’ journal, his words being a warning shot aimed at men who believe they have the right to take what they want from women. Then he delivered a satire on the choice of a Welsh name for a Cardiff pub, the Mochyn Du, which translates as the potentially offensive ‘Black Pig’. Then he got into the mind of a heckler who thinks he is being witty then realizes everyone hates him. Finally came a treatise on the notion of socially acceptable assisted suicide, from the point of view of someone who very nearly ended it all because of their health problems but lived a useful life they might never have had, if the notion of assisted suicide had existed back then to possibly imply their existence was a burden to others. Strong and sobering words, followed by no words at all from…

Meirion Boudier, a really brilliant instrumental guitarist, picking, strumming, rocking and caressing his way through a musical odyssey on 12 strings. Stirring stuff as always from Meirion. Then Nick introduced…

Phil, who, in his first RARA open mic slot delivered tale of experiencing a lustful assignation while on holiday and very honestly depicted the nervousness and doubt over whether the faltering first conversations are going to lead to what is obviously wanted, and implying how, in fact, getting it on with someone is often remembered as being more free flowingly effortless than it actually was. Another new reader to RARA came next as Nick introduced…

Allie Dowling, confidently reading three poems. One for a troubled friend needing to hear how basically great she is. One of a political flavour, a critique of NHS cuts mediated through her mother’s humiliating experience of a mammogram procedure carried out in a van in a Morrisons supermarket car park. Finally Allie made a verse form apology, to a lover, transcending the fact it began with the words ‘Screw you’ and with a touch of the kind of rhythm and flow you might expect to hear from Kate North. Then…

Vincent Thomas, last on the open mic list, expressed anger at the word synergy and how it is used as a buzzword to suggest great things are happening, even when they clearly aren’t. The repeated use of words beginning with S created the impression of Vincent as a snake, hissing threateningly at the despised word and by implication, the idiots who use it. Then an emotionally raw break up related rant was followed by the second piece of the evening referencing Ozymadias, albeit in a more acerbic manner than that offered earlier by Chuck…sorry, Chris Norris. Vincent felt that he went out on a personal limb re relationships issues this time out at RARA but neither he nor anyone else should be afraid of revealing their inner self via their words at an open mic night. Isn’t treading where we fear to tread one of the many reasons to put pen to paper in the first place?

Vincent would have been the final reader of the night, had Julie Pritchard not insisted that the host give us another of his offerings, so Nick Lovell duly supplied us with ‘Are Fish Really Brain Food’ featuring a character so hypnotized by the carefree nature of the fish he observed in a tank that he wanted to join them. So he tried and in the process smashed the tank and the fish ended up being killed. So careful what you wish for! And then he closed proceedings on a great start to the year for RARA, continuing to offer a free monthly platform for anyone wishing to share their creativity. Eclectic is the only word for the range of voices and moods and styles heard at a RARA night.

As well as sterling duties as host, Nick has been receiving submissions for the second RARA booklet, which will launched at the next RARA, February 9th 2015 at the Mackintosh Sports Club, as always. I will be taking my latest turn as host that night, hope you can come along. If all goes to plan, the evening will be recorded by the recently launched Made in Cardiff Channel.

Exciting times lie ahead!

SLUSHY THE SNOWMAN: A Christmas Short Story

A 2000(ish) word story I wrote for the Secret Santa writing a gift for a randomly drawn group member challenge section of the Roath Writers Xmas Holidays Bash

SLUSHY THE SNOWMAN

A considerable amount of time before this present Christmassy moment, a snowman with something on his mind trudged a pensive path towards the consulting rooms of the local mystic. Every town had one, and Snowton was no different from any other town in that respect. Snowton would have been as ordinary as your town if it wasn’t for the fact that it is the town where the Snow People live.

Fashioned from the flakes that fall from the sky into a precarious existence dependent on cold temperatures, Snowmen (and more rarely Snow women, children and dogs) had to pick the right moment to leave the place of their creation to seek out the sanctuary of Snowton.  If you are wondering how they know about Snowton and how to find it, I will quickly tell you but then I will get on with the tale I set out to tell…

Every Snowman or woman, child or dog stands frozen to the spot after they have been created, fearing any hint of sunshine. The lucky ones receive a message whispered into their ill-defined ears, telling them they can move if they want to, and telling them of the exact location of Snowton, and instructing them to pass on the same message to any Snow People or animals they happen upon during their hazardous trek. The journey has to take place at night, so that as few human people as possible see them travelling. So, sometimes, when you see a Snowman that has mysteriously appeared during the night, that Snowman is on his way to Snowton, which is why he mysteriously disappears by the next day. Since you’re up to speed, now, back to the story…

Through half-moon spectacles perched upon a bright carrot nose, coal-black eyes peered up at Slushy the Snowman as he stood in the doorway, letting the door click closed behind him. Slushy felt nervous.

“Why are you looking at me like that, Fortuna?” asked Slushy

“Just waiting to see how long it would take you to talk, Slushy, “ said Fortuna, who continued sadly, “Nobody ever comes to see me anymore unless they are desperate, so you’ll have to forgive me if I play a little game I call Don’t Speak Until You Are Spoken To”

“Um, okay…” said Slushy, uncertain, but accepting that wise old Fortuna was probably as strange as everyone tended to say he was. Fortuna’s reputation made him wary enough but being looked at by Fortuna was like being caught without your hat and scarf on, naked as the day you were made…

“Sit down, Slushy” ordered Fortuna. “I’m not one for small talk. Or big talk, for that matter. Talk in general, pointless guff, mostly, yes?”

“If you say so,” said Slushy, even more nervous than before now he was eye to eye with Fortuna, and then more nervous still when the un-soothing Soothsayer dropped a small drawstring bag onto the table between them.

Pick up the bag, Slushy” said Fortuna, with a smile that showed he enjoyed the effect he had other Snow People, “Shake the bag Slushy, keep shaking it until I tell you to stop”

Slushy shook the bag. The contents rattled woodenly. Slushy kept shaking the bag as Fortuna studied him intently

“Now, Slushy…Slushy the Snowman…don’t stop, keep shaking it! Don’t stop until you’re told!”

“Yes, Fort-“ began Slushy, cut to dead silence by Fortuna’s sudden  frown

“Less chatter, more listening!” Fortuna barked, “Now, Slushy, what is it you want to know? Keep shaking the bag!”

“Um…well…Am I going to be able to stay clean this time?”

“Are you clean now?”

“Yes. Clean as the day I was made” said Slushy, allowing pride to creep into his voice

“Hmm, Pride, you need to keep an eye on that” counselled Fortuna, watching Slushy look between him and the bag, shaking its woodenly rattling contents the whole time. Fortuna continued to watch. Then smile. And smile more as an exasperated Slushy dropped the bag onto the table.

“Do whatever it is you do, Fortuna” demanded Slushy

“I’m already doing it, Slushy, and don’t worry, it’s going well. We just played a game, called How Long Will He Keep Shaking That Bag? And the moment you decided to stop shaking the bag, you won.”

“Is it all a game to you?” asked Slushy.

“Everything is always a game, Slushy, that’s why there are winners and losers in life. So far, you have been a loser. You just became, albeit temporarily, a winner. “Are you ready to keep winning?”

“I get it, every day I’m clean, I’m a winner…” said Slushy, slightly bored

“No.” said Fortuna. “No,” he said again, “Thrice times, no”

“Can you be a little straighter with me?” asked Slushy, impatience forming in his every flake.

“Yes, of course! See, you are taking charge of the situation, directing things to be what you want them to be. Clean or not clean is not the big question. Who am I and what do I want out of my life? That’s what you need an answer to. If all you are doing is trying to stay clean, all you are really doing is waiting for the day you start playing with fire again. And fire is, as you know, the stupidest thing for a man made of snow to be addicted to.”

“But…but, it’s so..warm” Slushy was feeling nostalgic for his recently abandoned habit. Dangerously so.

“Hmmm…” said Fortuna. “No doubt you have heard this a million times, but you keep up with the arson, you won’t just be Slushy, you’ll melt into a stupid puddle of stupid wet stupidity.” He was trying to rile Slushy. It was working.

“You talk a lot for man who doesn’t really like talk.” Slushy was acting tougher than he felt, but he didn’t feel like being called stupid with such force and regularity

“I say a lot of things, Slushy, and if you remember I called most talk pointless guff, I don’t recall including my own talk in that assessment” Fortuna winked, after reading in Slushy’s eyes that “you think I’m a hypocrite.” And when Slushy nervously nodded, he added “Everyone is hypocritical sometimes, and people who go around accusing other people of being hypocritical usually turn out to be the biggest hypocrites of all. Now…eh? What do you think you are doing?”

Slushy was opening the drawstring bag and reaching inside.

“Good, Slushy, good!” said Fortuna, to Slushy’s mystification. “See, you took charge again. Take out a rune, and put it on the table.”

Er, okay…” said Slushy. He placed the wooden disc onto the table and turned it over to reveal…

sewtu “Ah, good!” said Fortuna. “That is Sewetu. It concerns Completeness, and being at one with the Self. Don’t gawp at me like a dumb fish, draw out two more Runes…”

Slushy sighed, and did as he was bid, with Fortuna supplying commentary….

wunjo “Wunjo! Joy. Looking to the future. Looking to the future with joy…” Fortuna clapped his hands together. “Excellent!”

Slushy, slightly caught up in Fortuna’s excitement, turned over the third rune, to reveal…

fehu“ Fehu! Regarding the issue of obtaining sustenance for the life, body and soul through your own labours”

“So what does all that mean?” Slushy felt quite excited now that Fortuna had come to more enthusiastic life…

“You already know, Slushy, and you knew before you ever came to see me. You wanted a magic answer to give you what you want easily, and preferably immediately, but nobody can give you that.” He watched Slushy point to each Rune in turn as he referred to it.

“You mean, what I seek is to feel more complete, to feel at ease with myself. I want to feel joy, I want to feel good about the future and see it as an adventure not a dark and dangerous unknown nightmare. And anything I gain from life, I will feel more joy and more complete, if it comes from my own efforts…”

“Absolutely Slushy! Yes. Yes!!”

“And do you know what makes me feel like that?” asked Slushy

“What…? Asked Fortuna cautiously…

“Fire” said Slushy “it makes all my fears melt away, and makes me so, so-“

“Very slushy, said Fortuna. “And more slushy every time, until you are gone forever”

“So what do I do?” asked Slushy

“Keep doing what you’ve been doing the whole time you’ve been here”

“Which is?” Slushy’s exasperation was rising in every crystal of his being

“You tell me” invited Fortuna, with a smirk that communicated quite clearly he knew of Slushy’s rising desire to kick him, right in the snowballs.

“Look, you frozen old goat, first things first. How much is this total waste of my time gonna cost me?”

“See? you’re in charge again, taking the initiative. Now…the price…A pittance compared to the value of the future you might now have because you came to see me”

“You haven’t said anything about the blizzarding future! You’re a fortune teller, tell me the whistling future, for the love of snow!”

“The only future anyone can predict is you, me or anybody else, being stuck exactly where we are, if all we do is wait for things to get better. And when you understand that, and act accordingly, you will consider it an absolute bargain that this pivotal moment in your whole frosty existence cost you only two hats and one scarf.” Fortuna leaned back in his seat, placed his hands behind his head, waiting for Slushy to explode. Slushy only gasped.

How much?” I haven’t got two hats and a scarf to spend on rubbish like this!!!”

“That’s the price, Slushy, and just so you know, that’s for two meetings, come back when you can pay, and we can finish what we’ve started here.”

“Oh, Snowbollocks to this!” grumbled Slushy, “I need some fire…I’m gonna go and light a fire right now.” To his surprise, Fortuna merely shrugged

“Off you go then.”

“What…?”  Slushy waited, assuming further words would come. The ones that did were surprising.

“Get out.” Said Fortuna, “Leave. Light a fire, melt yourself completely away, for all I care. Or get yourself kicked out of Snowton for endangering yourself and others. Same difference. One less idiot may be just the thing this town needs”

“Is this a game again?”

“No!”  yelped Fortuna, thumping a fist onto the table for emphasis. Then he leapt to his full height to bellow  “GET OUT! NOW!!”

Slushy almost fell out of his seat in his scrabble to get to the door, but before he opened it, he heard Fortuna chuckling behind him. Slushy turned, still afraid, but not as terrified as a moment ago.

“It is a game, then?”

“It’s all a game, Slushy, I told you that already. You lost. But there may be some hope for you…”

“Tell me how I stay clean, Fortuna.” Slushy’s burning need to see flame had subsided, but he was afraid it would stoke itself up again soon enough. Moments, further moments, and more moments still passed before Fortuna spoke again, squinting a half frown at Slushy until he did…

“Sewetu. Wunjo. Fehu.” Fortuna let silence build between himself and the sad looking Slushy the Snowman for a while. “Repeat after me. Sewetu. Wunjo. Fehu.”

“Sewetu. Wunjo. Fehu,” said Slushy uncertainly.

“Again!” ordered Fortuna

Slushy did as he was asked. Over. Over. And over. When he got fed up of saying the words Fortuna motioned for him to stop

“Still want fire, Slushy?”

“Not so much now,” said Slushy. For the first time he smiled at Fortuna, who returned the smile with interest

“Say those words, Slushy, whenever you feel like you want fire, Sewetu, Wunjo, Fehu. Or whenever you find your mind wandering, because it will only wander back towards fire again. When you have two hats and a scarf to pay me with, come back, we’ll talk more about what those words mean.”

“I’ve already forgotten ” said Slushy

“It doesn’t matter,” said Fortuna. “We’re done for now. Don’t tell anyone about what we have discussed, this is about you and for you. Things will make more sense eventually, as long as you don’t blizzarding melt yourself or get thrown out of Snowton before you have two hats and a scarf for my fee. Now, please leave.”

“Thank you, Fortuna.” He felt like he should say more but couldn’t think of any good words. Fortuna sighed grumpily.

“Slushy. It seems you haven’t left yet. Remedy that would you?”

Slushy stepped out into floating frosty flake filled air of Snowton, feeling more hopeful than when he had made the journey in the opposite direction. On his way home he got the usual looks of annoyance at his presence, but they warmed him on the inside, because he didn’t react by wanting fire, and so he wished every tutting and harrumphing Snow Person he passed a Merry Christmas.

sewtu SEWETU

wunjo WUNJO

fehu FEHU

MERRY CHRISTMAS Y’ALL!!!!