Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hay Bales and Knitwear

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Listening: Ewan MaColl and Peggy Seeger's 'Radio Ballads' project
Hair Day: 50s pin-up
What I can see from my window no. 17: the Olympic stadium

I made an autumnal resolution to see more (hopefully cheap) culture and generally hobnob a bit more, and it's kicking off in style! Last week we made our last trip of the dying summer to visit Bold Tendencies, who run the artsy events at Peckham's brooding 7-storey car park, to catch a showing of Andrea Arnold's three short films in the hay bale-walled pop-up cinema - the most well-known being 'Wasp', a grimly British bit of filmic gristle which nabbed an Oscar. I find her work, alongside her later features 'Red Road' and 'Fish Tank', totally inspiring, and am currently planning my own foray into short film-making, hopefully with a slightly more dreamy quality: bringing myth and folktale elements into an urban environment. All I need are actors, cameras, directorial nous and money... ahem.
Last night I was invited to the swanky Hospital Club to see a London Fashion Week event, where my friend Elspeth Brooke had created the music, a sort of Kraftwerk-meets-Corelli soundtrack, to a choreographed show of a new collection by Brooke Roberts. I hung around in the bar with Elspeth and her fashion writer friend Sharon, drinking the best-titled cocktail ever: The Second Coming of the Earl, which was frankly just as surprising as it sounds, hur hur. Brooke has the surely totally individualistic twin career of innovative knitwear designer and radiographer, and uses medical imaging in her work. It was refreshing to see dancers modelling, thus displaying heartily muscular calves rather than twig-like pins... Along with Brooke, Elspeth is a Creator in Residence at the Club, and I'm looking forward to choosing something from her collection to wear when I play with Elspeth in her burgeoning Creeping Jenny electronica/pop project!
Rather than dreaming of magical realist shorts and x-ray-inspired sheer tops, I should ACTUALLY be writing some music: current projects are a sporty-themed choir piece for Youth Music Voices, who will be performing as part of the Cultural Olympiad next year (am channeling the Honda ad as we speak, but with less windscreen wiperage and more canoe paddles), and planning my downloadable mp3 track for Handel House, which will mix spoken word interviews and music... 

Monday, September 12, 2011

White Peak Poems

Here are the five poems I wrote whilst in the Southern Peak District last week:

September 6th, 2011


for DOLLYman

he thuds into the earth,
great white beast,
shedding ashen feathers all over the road

something savage
has sought out his heart
(sensing its extraordinary sweetness)

death has already spread her cape
over his back and begun to work him,
licking his ears with a coal-wet tongue

hours later, he’s nothing
but ink and oil, and dank night pool;
nothing but the road

September 6th, 2011

September Heron (First Day Back At School)

A heron smartly rises from the brook:
one sheet of 100mg A3 ivory paper, cut
with a craft knife and crisply folded
at acute angles, given a deft stroke
of charcoal and hung over a yellow compass;
it rises, and it soars.

September 7th, 2011

Under hawthorn and hazels
which hand the rain down
leaf to leaf, drop by drop,
we wait by the weir, daughter
and mother, easily talking;
the sound of the rain
and the sound of the weir.

September 8th, 2011

The Roaches


The peregrine falcon hangs on the wind
above rocks the colour of ravens.

She turns, and the weather turns
with her wing-tip flash: the tarn flares
and walkers become bright as gorse flowers;
the fawn and violet of early heather
find their way into the pine trunks
and mushrooms like golden eggs are found in the grass.

Then back they come, the clouds as dark as bogs,
seeping into the grass; pine-barks gloss over
and the truths of heather’s bruises surface;
walkers run for cover, the tarn turns
its shutters, and the falcon soaks up the dark
of the raven-rocks in her far-spread wings.


A laugh on the wind
is snatched by a crow;
the crow’s throat-rattle
shivers through the pines;
the pines’ needle-shimmy
is rallied by chiff-chaffs,
hidden in the scrub
by the trail that we wind up,
talking, and laughing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Walking With Mothers

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 1
Listening: Ella Fitzgerald, PJ Harvey, Roshi 
Hair Day: greasy
What I can see from my window no. 16: the death of summer. Sob.

I went to the South Peak District for a Walking With Mothers holiday this week, the sort of break where you are ONLY cool if clad in cagoule, walking trousers and the best boots Mountain Warehouse has to offer, ohhh yes.  We had some top walks in the very untouristy White Peak area and enjoyed some brilliant natural wonders:

1) Thor’s Cave was a gaping maw high on a hill in the Manifold Valley, as if blasted straight out of the rock. With its scalp-smooth limestone and pitch-black hollows, it was all my ‘The Descent’ fears come to life: Mum had to force me to use my camera flash to shine into dark tunnels, where I assumed a rubbery mutant would be half-heartedly growling back at me.
2) Chee Valley saw Mum and I venture, Indiana Jones-style, into the mud-and-nettle trails next to the Chee River, glowered on by canyon walls, clambering over stepping stones and trees before the monsoon rains hit and battered us into a taxi rescue.
3) Hen Cloud and The Roaches were marvellous crag-topped hills and ridges with amazing views of the Tittesworth Reservoir.
4) Lud’s Church was a brilliant, forest-hidden chasm 100 yards long, drenched in luminous green ferns with water dripping irregularly like the sound of a clock dying. The Lollards apparently hid here in the 14th century; I just about resisted the urge to run about pretending to be Sir Gawain fighting the Green Knight in the epic poem also thought to be set here, though did clamber up as many sopping rockfaces as as I could and squeezed through some tiny gullies, as is my wont.

Birds of note: grey heron, nuthatch, youngish dipper, yellow wagtail, peregrine falcon, buzzard and kestrel.

Animals of note: hare, stoat, 4 dead badgers.