Thursday, 28 July 2011


For lots of people the term 'pop-up' brings good things to mind: surprises, nice restaurants, fun books. Not for me. What I SHOULD get is 'cool things materialising for just long enough to seem to exist but then running off and hiding again which makes them seem even cooler'. What I actually get image of a big, ugly  Jack-in-the-Box. Not cool, not hip, not stylish...just a teeny bit scary, but not in a way you could, like, admit. Great.

So, I wasn't pre-disposed to like the 'Pop-up  Festival' held in London on the second weekend of July. There were 'jack-in-the-box' ish things about it: the forecast was brilliant but it managed to be stifling hot and rainy at the same time. The tents were all full of pushchairs (and there weren't very many tents)...and in the main arena (Corams Fields park near Russell Square) there was only ONE storyteller...whose mic didn't work properly! Wow.

Over the road in the Brunswick Centre, though, things started to look up. Not only were there lots of free chocolate brownie tasters - one of the few nice surprises I can think of - but there was another stage with a guy telling all the best bits of the Odyssey to me while I munched away at a bacon sandwich.

Oh. AND I booked my flight to Japan. Hahhhhh.

FATE and the Dread Pirate

Floating Letters

Last Sunday afternoon, at the ATP Festival I'll Be Your Mirror, in a rose garden down a tree-lined path by Alexandra Palace, there was a fountain. The pond around the fountain was completely ordinary, except that it had a Portishead 'P' floating in it. It was a hot afternoon (honestly, it really was!), and I started thinking about letters and words floating around, not just in ponds, on fridges and in dictionaries you look at when you're drunk, but the way random phrases or words sometimes seem to leap into a bit of your brain and get stuck there, knocking about, until they decide to drift off again. That's been happening to me even more than normal lately, a surfeit of stories and Japanese language drills spilling over from one brain 'room' to another totally unrelated one. On the one hand, it's annoying; on the other, inspiring!

We were hoping that I'll be Your Mirror would introduce us to lots of new and brilliant bands...but the narratives - side-acts, almost - ended up being the best bits. Alan Moore speaking beat poetry with guitar and silent film accompaniment

and an orchestral piece commissioned to give a new heart-wrenching sting to the 1928 silent French film of Joan of Arc. Wow!

The music was a bit give-or-take, so on the way back home, a bit squiffy from a day of standing about and drinking beer like it was lemonade, Sam and I decided it would be a good idea to go and listen to MORE music. Peggy Sue were actually better than any other non spoken word band we'd seen that day. Goes to show, I guess, that going to bed early and sober isn't always necessarily a Good Thing.

Here is hand stamp proof that I really went to both things:

Friday, 1 July 2011

Iceland, Iceland!

I have now, finally, been to Iceland! Five glorious days in the Icelandic countryside, most of it on horseback, talking to people who love stories nearly as much as I do.

I couldn't quite resist playing the triumphant viking dressed in men's riding chaps (you had to be there...)

I actually did get on a horse, too

The horse I rode the final two days, Eyra, liked to pose