Festival Time!

I remember editing a colleague’s blog post about the issue of women in leadership, which made the point that stereotypes are useful in as much as they provide a shorthand that saves us a little of the thinking that life is so keen to demand.

It came to mind recently, watching Richard Macer’s BBC Documentary, Milton Keynes and Me. Apart from the concrete cows and the roundabouts, one of the widespread tropes about the town is that is a cultural desert. I’m not about to wade into that one, except to point that September 22-26 will see the first ever Milton Keynes Lit Fest. Five days of readings, panel discussions, interactive sessions across genres, forms and audience age groups, with highlights including Linton Kwesi Johnson, Michael Rosen – and a day of local writing. (I’ll be taking part in a panel Q&A session for those keen to advance their own writing.) Tickets go on sale Tuesday 22 August – click the link above or the logo to visit the website, view the programme and make your booking.

In the meantime, working with the Steering Group isn’t doing wonders for fictional productivity, but a story – Cloud 371b – that takes an unusual slant on the aftermath of WWII has been published by Fictive Dream, along with a photo taken in the gardens of The Bishop’s Palace Gardens, Wells. The photo was taken on my 56th birthday, as part of the tradition of going somewhere else to celebrate. This year, the choice was Stockholm (where most of the images in this post were taken): a beautiful city that I will remember for its egalitarian and friendly welcome, its stunning green spaces and its horrifying food and drink prices. New cities tend to inspire stories, so I have to mark Stockholm down as a fail: it simply made me want to emigrate and follow the example of the man to the left – reading a book in the peaceful surroundings of Djurgarden.

Summer Reading Continue reading

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Making it a year of culture/February reading

geronimoIs it too early to declare the year a mixed bag? If this was a plane journey, I think someone would be apologising for turbulence and advising us to keep our seat belts fastened. Certainly dancing in the aisles might lead to sanctioning. Or possibly sectioning…

My response so far has been to go full speed ahead on being cultural. (I live in Milton Keynes: think of this as a boats against the tide thing.) City Lit Talks Back was a great evening, where I was very honoured to read for the launch of Issue #5 of Shooter – and very pleased to do so for a large and very attentive audience. And there’s been other culture too – an evening of world-class guitar playing from Derek Gripper and Paulo Angeli that combined the gentle rhythms and melodies of the Cape with a level of mechanical and musical adventure that is almost beyond description. (Try a video!)

pygmy_editedMore recently, The Incite Project’s exhibition of photography from the conflicts of the last few decades was desperately moving: it’s on until May at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, and highly recommended.  We also ventured into the Hauser and Wirth Gallery in Bruton, and were delighted and powerfully struck respectively by the work of Djordje Ozbolt (left) and Elizabeth Frink.

And perhaps a little resilience is paying off too. A short story about the death of the gay village will appear in Issue 22 of Prole, while another piece inspired by the thought that life as an angel might not live up to the brochures will be published later this year by Fictive Dream. (I’ll be reading part of the latter at the wonderful There Goes The Neighbourhood on 14 March – details here, and an excellent event if you had a Tuesday night free.) Thank you to both of them for having faith in my work, and helping me to have a little too. Onward and – maybe, eventually – upward, even if that handcart to hell seems intent on gathering speed in a different direction.

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frinkTim Murphy – Christodora  Continue reading