Saturday, October 9

This Should Have "Goose" In the Title, Probably


Last night I went to The Maze to see Laura Veirs play for the second time this year. (You can read my review of her last appearance, and her LP “Carbon Glacier” by doing the mouse click thing here.) Of course, with this being the time of Nottingham’s “Poetry in the City” festival I could have gone to a poetry event ten minutes walk in the opposite direction. But since this was a writing workshop on the theme of tea, coffee and chocolate, I figure the choice was made for me by the organisers of the festival. Actually, come to think of it, I have a poem called “Coffee” (which you can read, along with a couple of others, at The Ragged Edge.) Perhaps I should have gone along, and tried to write a companion piece: “Milk and no sugar. Ta.”

Anyway, Laura Veirs was great, again. She was, if anything, more confident in performance this time. It was the last night of her UK tour, and she started off by announcing that she’d thrown away the set list for the night and would play whatever the audience asked for. Of course, one or two wags asked for Ramones songs, and a Britney Spears B-side, but otherwise people chose Laura Veirs stuff. At one point, two girls shouted together for “the one about the coal mine” – and Veirs responded with a spine-tingling version of “Shadow Blues”. Yes, she was very good. And The Maze was full. It was a busy night in the area – it’s Goose Fair weekend in Nottingham, and lots of people were around. The Fair site is plonk exactly halfway between my flat and The Maze, a short stroll from each, so I wandered around and through there on the way to the gig. It was like a detour that was no detour at all, and it was somewhat depressing, to be honest. The Goose Fair is pretty damned historical,
but unsurprisingly these days it’s one gigantic burger and fun fair and a thrilling ride rip off. When I moved to the Nottingham area in 1992 I swear it was only on Friday and Saturday. Now, it starts on Wednesday afternoon and finishes Saturday night. I guess they make more money in four days than in two. A girl at work told me yesterday that one of her friends was charged three pounds for a polystyrene cup of mushy peas. I suggested she might have been an idiot for paying it. I had a pretty weird experience at Goose Fair once. I went to one of the apparently crappy fortune tellers who sit in caravans at the edge of the site, and for five pounds and a quick glance at my palm a wizened old Romany woman described exactly the rotten state of my marriage and my life as if she’d been living inside my head for the previous eighteen months. It was very disconcerting.

I mentioned earlier how it’s “Poetry in the City” in Nottingham at the moment, and you might be wondering why I’ve not reviewed any of the interesting poetry festival events so far. It’s because I haven’t been to any. The festival started on Thursday, and so far I’ve missed “Poetry on a Plate” (“bring your sandwiches” – honestly, that’s what the brochure says. I’m not kidding.) and the winners of the “Food Poem on a Postcard” competition, among other things. There is a food & drink theme; you may have guessed. But I’m going to a couple of things next week, and will probably write about them. One is an evening with Leafe Press, and as they’re publishing a pamphlet by me next month, and all the readers are friends of mine, I’ll declare my bias in advance. There’s another thing on, too: an evening with Blake Morrison. I’m not going to that. I may, however, go to see Neil “Bloodaxe” Astley pushing his “Staying Being Almost Alive” publicity show. If I go, it would have to be to heckle, but I’ll probably not. There’s the ten pound entrance fee to consider, for starters. I only pay that to see bands I like, not poetry editors I don’t like.

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