Tag Archives: cartographers

Plays and Poetry


It’s been a mixed week this week – on Monday I went to Keswick to the Theatre by the Lake for the first rehearsal of the play ‘Cartographers’ that I’ve written part of, in association with The Alligator Club.  I met the actors and the production team and then watched the first read through of the whole play and then the first rehearsal of the scene that I wrote.  It was a really interesting process and a strange one – hearing what I’d written being read by someone else kind of felt like someone walking over your grave – a bit shivery – but in a good way!  The actors were still reading from the script on Monday so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow which is the actual show.  It’s on at 1.30pm and 3.30pm but as far as I know it has sold out, although it is worth ringing the theatre to check as I managed to get two extra tickets a couple of days ago that were returns…so by this time tomorrow I will have seen the play performed – the first one or part of one that I’ve written.  I’m quite excited.  I’m also playing the trumpet along with one of my pupils in the show – I have come out of retirement to play!

On Tuesday and Wednesday I had to go to Penrith to go to Inset for my teaching job with the Music Service.  I don’t really like Inset – not a controversial thing to say really – I think most teachers feel the same, but I won’t go into any further detail!  The highlight of the two days though was Ewan Easton, a professional tuba player who I worked with earlier this year who came and gave us all a very inspirational talk on his work in prisons teaching brass.  I was very interested because I worked in a prison early last year as a poet.  A lot of the things he talked about I recognised and it occurred to me that maybe it doesn’t really matter what you go in to a prison and do – as long as you are passionate about it – I’ve seen tv programmes based in America where prisoners have to look after a dog from a rescue and get it ready to be rehomed, and then there are poets in prison and now brass teaching – but it seems prisoners are not just learning about the medium (poetry/dogs/brass) but life skills – listening, co operation with others, trust in others etc etc.

On Tuesday after Inset I went round to my pupils house to practice the duet for the theatre show with him – and then for fun had a go at some quartet pieces with my pupil and his mum who plays tuba – just to see what it sounded like.  Even though we were missing a part, it still sounded pretty good, so we’ve decided we are going to form a brass quintet – my sister is going to play french horn – so we just need to find a trombone player now…..I got carried away playing an arrangement of ‘At Last’ and was nearly late for Barrow Writers – a poetry critiquing group that I go to..but I made it just a couple of minutes late..it was a good night and I was glad I remembered to go!

On Wednesday I went to the theatre in Keswick to practice the trumpet parts with David…

And Thursday I drove over to Newcastle for the first meeting for the job that I mentioned in a previous post.  I’m going to be working with the good people at New Writing North on a project at various teaching schools across the North East.  We are going to be working with teachers on their own creative practice – so running creative writing workshops for teachers.  I’m being mentored on the project by poet Anna Woodford who is a very experienced poet and tutor so I’m looking forward to it –

I also got to see the Mslexia office – which is just down the corridor from the New Writing North office!  I went in to say hello to Debbie Taylor as I’d nearly knocked her over in the corridor in my rush to get to the meeting in the morning…

and then today has been a bit of a stressful, slightly demoralizing day.  I’ve been ringing around my schools trying to sort my timetable out, which is harder this year because I’m only working for three days, so I only have three afternoons and all the schools want to be in the afternoon, because all primary schools do literacy and numeracy in the morning so fitting them all in has been difficult, to say the least.  But barring any great disasters, it’s done now – I’ll be working three days a week starting on Monday!


A week of writing…


Evening folks.  I am doing a post tonight to save Sunday’s post turning into a huge essay…

This week I’ve been working my butt off…and have to tell you all about it!  Thank goodness I’m on summer holidays from teaching at the moment is all I can say, otherwise I don’t know how I would fit it all in.  My main problem is that when Chris was away I ordered Game of Thrones Season 2 to keep me occupied – which I have confessed to in previous blog posts (I got obsessed and was watching it non stop every evening).  What I don’t think I admitted to is that I also bought Season 6 and 7 of Desperate Housewives and I’ve been holding onto my self control by my fingernails this week.  I’ve had lots of writing things to do and I’ve had to restrain myself from watching non stop Desperate Housewives.  I also recently discovered Audible – I don’t want this to turn into an advert for Audible – but it’s amazing!  I downloaded it to my mobile phone and I can listen as I’m driving – I’ve just finished listening to ‘Dominion’ by C.J. Sansom.  Fantastic book.

On Monday I spent a huge part of the day and most of the evening working on my script for ‘Cartographers’.  On Monday I managed to get ten minutes worth of material down which I was fairly pleased with.

On Tuesday I went to Lancaster Train Station which I’ve been commissioned to write some poems about.  I had quite a successful trip and met the train guard that I met eight years ago when I first came up here for my interview.  A very nice man – he was telling me that he was meant to retire last year but he loves his job so much he asked them if he could carry on.

I went straight from Lancaster to Grasmere to the Wordsworth Trust to see Michael Symmons Roberts and James Lasdun read.  I must admit I knew nothing about James Lasdun’s poetry and was mainly going to see Michael read – he is one of my fave poets and a Very Nice Bloke too- he was my tutor on the MA at Manchester Met and has always impressed me with his professionalism and knowledge about poetry as well as his own writing being great of course.  Michael was as fabulous as I thought he would be – his readings are very intense, very reserved  – I think his is quiet poetry – it does not shout or draw attention to itself, but it is insistent and memorable.  James Lasdun was very very funny – very self deprecating and even though I swore I would not buy any more poetry books as I have so many to read and catch up on, I bought his book.  So my oath of abstinance from buying more books lasted – ooh – all of five minutes.

On Wednesday I was taking part in a training day at the Wordsworth Trust with John Siddique, Anne Caldwell, Andrew McMillan and Clare Shaw.  We are going to be leading poetry workshops for secondary school pupils based around the collections of objects and manuscripts at the Wordsworth Trust – the project is called ‘Real Live Writers’ and you can find more information about it here https://wordsworth.org.uk/learn/educational-visits/live-writers.html – if you are a teacher and want to book a workshop for your class, or if you are a friend and want to be nosy and see what I’m up to!

On Thursday I did more work on ‘Cartographers’ – met a friend for lunch, took the dogs for a walk, posted out two pamphlets which had been bought hrough the magic paypal button on the blog – my finest hour -working out how to do that.

And that brings me to today – which is Friday.  Today I got up late, went for lunch with the hubby and we then got the bus to Askam with the dogs and walked back to Barrow along the beach.  It took about two and a half hours and on the way we saw what we think was a small dolphin with its eyes eaten out.

But I’m not going to leave you with that image!  No, I have some good news!  Today I confirmed *some*details of the residential courses I’ll be running in 2014 – but if you want to find out, you will have to head over to the ‘Residential Courses’ page.  Which I haven’t writtten yet.  So give me a minute after you finish reading this!!

And tomorrow I will be reading at Ulverston Breastfeeding Festival.  I am a warmup act for Hollie McNish – who is going to be fab.  Kate Davis will also be warming up too – more details at http://thebreastfeedingfestival.btck.co.uk/Festival2013/Somethingwedonttalkabout