Tuesday 21 October 2008


I had a great journey to Liverpool on Friday afternoon. I was in a carriage with over a dozen boys - all of them with crates of beer, cans of cider and bottles of brandy and hard liquor, possibly on a stag-do. They started playing tunes…Can You Feel It…from the I-Pod and yelling things across the train about each others mothers and sisters to great hilarity and mirth. I unpacked my books to read and write, a bottle of water and a cheese sandwich then I caught myself eyeing their wares. I considered making friends with them and reckoned I could drink them all under the table. What a funny story that would have been - how I fell out of the train at Liverpool station, having lost one boot. No. I quickly changed my mind, sipped my water and got my head down, getting merry vicariously by reading RICHARD MILWARD’s mucky and brilliant alcopop-ecstacy book titled ‘Apples’ (Faber) as Euston dissolved into the outer London skyscape and the midlands of watery brown fields.

Liverpool – there is something about this city that always excites me. Over the years I have had some fun here, wild nights. As I pass the Adelphi hotel I remember the night I spent there once after a poetry gig and stumbled upon a Boxing convention. I stayed up all night with fighters and managers and got some really wicked tips, my upper cut, upper cut, roundhouse combo was match fit after that night. I took a stroll around Liverpool with every intention of going to the docks to find that old salty pub the author NIALL GRIFFITHS once took me to or exploring something arty in this city of culture. Instead I got lost in pants in Primark. Apparently someone died recently in a stampede in the lingerie department of Primark. I felt a rush of adventure and I knew I was in Liverpool, surrounded by lots of orange girls in trackie bottoms, with talons and that identifiable accent, all pushing to get to the neon pink leopard print thongs and frillys.

The gig that night was at the newly refurbished BLUECOAT. There were blistering sets from our wicked host NATHAN JONES, the ever adorable ROSS SUTHERLAND and the man of the moment the brilliant LEMN SISSAY - I loved this gig - LEMN illuminates how good spoken word can be, also he is so skilled, entertaining and powerful to watch. I think all poets should from now on steal his line when he said mid-gig and totally dead pan “You do realise that every poem I do I am reading as a black man?”

When I awoke on Saturday it was all about a cosy fry-up; a chilled walk, kicking yellow and amber leaves in the park and then writing all afternoon, conserving energy for the next gig….WAVE MACHINES & MERCY Presents…WAVE IF YOU ARE REALLY THERE? A fantastic and unique night put on in ST BRIDES CHURCH in the Toxteth area of Liverpool. The team are awesome, what more could you ask for than a slick operation plus a packed audience. This made for such a great night in a theatrical setting. The theme of the whole night was ‘funeral’ and the church was so haunting and macabre with people all dressed in black, ravens along the curtain rail and thundery film backdrops. Indeed one of the moodiest and most dramatic pieces I have seen this year was NATHAN JONES & WAVE MACHINES. The hair stood up on my arms as they performed, with angelic choirs, playground chants and creepy orchestration,“Jones Jones, Bag Of Bones….”


Other stars of that night were ROSS SUTHERLAND making everyone stand whilst he lead a hymn he’d written with a line that went something like ‘oh death you never fucking stop…’ He also made us laugh when he commented how hot we all look at funerals…boo hoo he’s dead but shit I look great in this suit! The superb BYRON VINCENT also had the audience rolling in the church aisle, I really loved his list of things to buy on EBAY piece…plus the band a.P.a.T.t were killer too. Brilliant night it was and it went on and on, there was some sambuca involved and also some dancing in a bar called Magnet…then there were too many parties to choose from…so we sat on some stone steps, shared some cans of stella and watched Liverpool’s Saturday night spilling into the streets. We saw a girl trying to carry a man on her back and heard the crack of head as they both totalled in the gutter….soon after that we took a cab home and I curled up on Nick Holloway’s sofa and slept like a very tired poet.

After a late and leisurely Sunday lunch, I raised my glass of Chimay and said massive thanks and goodbye to fellow poets and new Wavy &Mercy mates and wended my way south meaning to go to London. When I got to Liverpool's Lime Street there were cancellations and Sunday special bus services so I jumped off at Manchester Oxford Street. Therein I was kidnapped by the Czech gypsy Katooshka and driven in the darkness to find myself waking in a place overlooking the MOUNTAINS. When I awoke I could see a slate and lilac sky; blackbirds and rolling hills; matted grey sheep and muddy horses. This is a warm house with a fire, a piano and a million other musical instruments. I read the moving book of shorts titled ‘Cathedral’ by RAYMOND CARVER. Yesterday I walked by a gush of reservoir, green and fast water. I am taking a breather, contemplative, realising that the band SaltPeter are going through another shift and change. When I return to London we’re back in the studio beginning a new path, recording new material for a whole new album…

As I type this there is a slice of blue in the distant horizon, a crack in the grey clouds. I’m going up a mountain to feed some horses, to walk and watch fresh water crashing over rocks, listening to the sky and researching the next chapter.

See you - OCTOBER 31st - THE SALTPETER HALLOWEEN BASH THE DARTMOUTH, York Rise, Tufnell Park. 8pm (off Cheywynd Rd / Tufnell Park Tube) FREE PARTY....FANCY DRESS...APPLE BOBBING...BURN THE WITCH...

Inviting you to come along for an evening of darkest murder ballads and candlelit macabre poetry in the noir of our top local! We are expecting wicked sets by the open fire from the likes of....are you ready? There's one almighty major line-up...we got the thumbs up from; POETS & AUTHORS: HEIDI JAMES ; TIM WELLS; MARCUS DOWNE; ELIVIS MCDONAGALL; ALYSON HUNTER; MC ANGEL; BEN GRAHAM; DZIFA BENSON; LAURA DOCKRILL; JOSHUA IDEHEN; HEATHER TAYLOR; ANNA HOPE; AMAH ROSE MCKNIGHT; VENTRILOQUIST; OLIVA SPLEEN; ANGRY SAM; MARK GWYNNE JONES; JOCK SCOT; JOHN HEGLEY & HOSTED BY SALENA GODDEN LIVE MUSIC: CRAIG BRAUNS; GRAHAM WYLIE; DELIRIUM TREMENS & SALTPETER