‘Cross Rhythms’ interview

The UK Christian radio station Cross Rhythms recently invited me aboard for an interview. (I spoke at their festival back in 2003, and was interviewed by them, on air, in that same year also.)

The topic was the ‘Dear Bob’ novels, that were first published 8 years ago. Thus, it was a bit like someone enquiring as to my opinions regarding nappy changing, even though my kids are now 11 and 13! But in a good way. I’m always chuffed to bits to have those books reviewed or to be asked about them, in any context; it keeps ‘Jude Singleton’ alive, and reminds me of the fun I had penning her (fictional) story.

When it was aired, they cut out one of the questions:
Who was Jude based on?
Part of my answer was that, to some extent, Dear Bob was autobiographical. But then I paused and wondered if I’d pronouned it properly… did I say ‘autobiographal’, omitting the ‘ic’ syllable towards the end? But self-correction didn’t appear to be an option, so I pressed on regardless. Naturally, this has haunted me since, prompting me embark on a frantic Google search, to check if I could get away with it, had I made that omission (which revealed: fat chance).

Had it been in the final cut and had I actually said it incorrectly, I was planning on establishing a movement, on behalf of writers everywhere, to shorten all multisyllabic words related to the profession. After all, all writers concede that time is a valuable resource – why waste it saying long words when you can use shorter ones? Who has the time to say ‘autobiographical’ (SEVEN syllables)… not me, clearly! I even considered taking the cause to a higher level to see what could be done. Kate Middleton is probably hunting for worthy campaigns to back, bless ‘er…

But nay, the question and answer were given the chop anyway, so whether or not I committed such a blunder will remain forever a ‘radio-archive’ style mystery (a little-explored literary genre).

See here for other radio stations I’ve been interviewed on. (At bottom of the page.)

Click here to email Kate directly, regarding the surplus syllables you’d like to see brutally extracted from words, to give us all more time to enjoy life.
(just kidding!)

Here is the interview itself… a time-efficient 4 mins long… and if you check your email or Facebook messages whilst listening, you’ll not in any way feel as though it’s 240 seconds down the drain…

Christmas Shopping

Yes, it’s here… again.
Shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – it’s not as if we’re unused to the festive period. It seems to engulf a sixth of each year, at least!

And yes, I have again written about the Chrimbo shopping fiasco, published on the ‘Generous’ website, here.

Having compared it with what I’ve written in other, similar articles I’ve penned in previous years (published in various places) I note that I’m becoming a bit more honest, a tad more realistic, and even, dare I say it… slightly less Scrooge-like! But what motivates me remains in tact: to raise awareness of those who live in poverty, who would love to have Christmas Shopping trips to grumble about.

Back from Greenbelt..!

Duvet and mattress, porcelain loo –
Are absent from Greenbelt and its campers, who
Make do without, all weekend long.
They shiver by night, and by day: pong.

My tenth year attending was worth my while –
Jude Simpson’s wit made my face smile.
Milton Jones – the one-liner King.
Dave Walker’s scribbling kept me giggling.

Roger McGough – a poetry machine;
He once helped to write: Yellow Submarine!
That beat-boxing Shlomo, the epitome of cool.
Rev Gerald A. boldly broke every rule.

Remember from Blue Peter, Simon Thomas?
His main stage compering was fab, I promise.
Went with my hubbie to a ‘talk’ in Bethlehem:
“Affluenza’s what we’ve got!” declared Oliver James.

Zic Zazou – very… French – noisy too.
Beer and Hymns (overheard from nearby queue).
Free tea from Speakers’ Lounge – totally fantastic.
First visit to Blue Nun – four quid for wine in a cup of plastic!

Fried potato, wine gravy… sausage perched on top.
I tend to scoff this every year – I like it quite a lot.
But now it’s all over – Greenbelt ‘adieu’.
Back to duvet and mattress, porcelain loo.

 

Last year my GB poem won me a box of pies through the post!
As you can see, this year I’m expecting signed photos/t-shirts/CDs/books/all-inclusive holidays, etc, from all the ‘stars’ that are named.
I’ve briefed the postman that his job will become that bit more demanding over the next couple of weeks. It’s just a matter of waiting now.

Some info/pics re my previous talks at GB here.

My GB 2010 pics here.

An ‘official’ GB pic of me here (typical – the photographer came to our talk, took lots of pics, and this is the one they choose… of me freaking out as Peter had just decided that it would be a clever idea to kiss me for a photo, which made me go bright red, naturally)!

Revised and updated!


No. Not me.
I’m only 35.
Suspect one needs to be at least 40 before feeling the need to be fully revised and updated.
Ought to find out how long this will take and how much it will cost, so I can be fully prepared when the time comes…

… but in the mean time, my ‘Study Guides’ for Dear Bob have recently had a revamp.
I first wrote them in 2003 (the year Dear Bob was published). It was when I spotted a reference to Gareth Gates that my concerns were first alerted.
Would any teenager/student know who he is nowadays? Answers on a Gareth-Gates-shaped postcard, please.

So, they’ve now been decorated with contemporary references and suchlike, and are available for your use should you wish, for a tenner.
No, only kidding… for zero pennies!

Suitable for any school/uni CU or Church youth group, age 14+

There are 3 studies, focusing on issues raised by Dear Bob:

Independence Day (Leaving Home)
Singleton City (Being Single)
God Who? (Doubting God)

It’s not essential that your group have read Dear Bob before embarking on one of these studies.
Honest!

New review (Dear Bob)

It makes me smile to still be reading reviews of Dear Bob, seeing as it was published back in year of…
(…. just googled ‘2003’ to see what events of mind-boggling importance occurred in that year… turns out: not a lot, apart from Dear Bob being published, naturally).

Here’s a recent one from Woman Alive (national monthly printed magazine aimed at Christian women, read by more than 30,000 women each month… and perhaps by men in tune with their feminine side!)

READ IT HERE !

(you may need to summon the powers of ‘zoom in’ to read the review in question!)

A poet, and I didn't know-it!


PLEASE don’t think that I think that I can write poetry, as I’ve barely ever written any and it’s really not my thing.

But, was dead chuffed that someone has been able to use my ‘Burn’s Night’ poem (reply from the Lassies)…!

I had this comment on this blog just the other day:

Hello,
Just a line to thank you for putting your ‘Reply from the Lassies’ on-line. I was asked to do it for our Burns Night and was so relieved to find it! I changed it to make it relevant to us—
Once again thanks—you saved me hours of effort
Elsie Smith

and then this one:
thank GOD you posted this… it is the only useful reply from the lassies i could find anywhere. will happily plagerise parts if you don’t mind 🙂
from someone else.

Which now means that of the 2 poems I’ve ever written (well, since primary school)… one was rewarded with a box of pies (hurrah!) and the other was ‘used’ by at least 2 ‘lassies’ at a Burns Night. It’s nice to feel useful!

Don’t worry – have no plans to inflict any more ‘poetry’ on the world… at least, not until I’ve run out of pies…!

being paid in pies!

pie-tastic

pie-tastic


Yes, my writing career has reached the giddy heights of being… paid in pies. For some writing. A poem, in fact. A pie poem I posted on this blog after tasting some rather heavenly pies at Greenbelt this summer, here.

The pieminister people found it (someone had entered it into their most prestigious poetry competition) included it in their Winter newsletter and rewarded me by sending a box of their fine pies (worth about fifty quid!).

Poetry isn’t really my thing (which you’ll be nodding your head in agreement with if you’ve read the poem in question!) but now I’ve been paid for a poem, even paid in pies, I am going to consider myself a professional poet (as surely when one is paid for their craft they can be considered a professional?!). Or, if not professional… it’s still technically correct to say I am a prize-winning poet. Oh yes.

Have jested with hubbie that although he may be the primary breadwinner of our family… I am now the pie-winner.
(It’s such rib-tickling humour that keeps our marriage alive, I’m sure.)

So, I’m a poet. A pie poet. A pie-ate.
Anyway, the aforementioned pies are now napping in my freezer, waiting to be re-awakened on some future occasion (xmas day breakie perhaps?).
Yum scrum.

Delivery of box of pies piccies here.

Christmas no longer illegal

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An article I’ve just written for the Generous website

Spend less and be more Generous

In 1647, the English Parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal. Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas festivities, considering feasting and revelry on a ‘holy day’ immoral. Anybody caught celebrating Christmas was arrested. The ban was only lifted when the Puritans lost power in 1660.

The reason for mentioning this rather random historical fact is that I tend to feel rather like Cromwell’s long lost distant descendant at this time of year. Not because I aim to be, please understand. More because the ideas I choose to promote sometimes paint me as a bit of a Scrooge.

In actual fact, I’m totally in favour of ‘feasting and revelry’ and am a huge fan of the season in general. In addition to the standard merriment, food and partying, it’s a fantastic opportunity to show hospitality towards those neighbours or work colleagues that we tend to ignore. Also for using the occasion to strengthen family ties.

But when it comes to presents under the tree, ‘giving generously’ doesn’t mean we ought to re-mortgage our homes. If anything, it might be more generous to give a less expensive gift, but give it a bit more thought.

For example, a voucher that says, ‘I’ll babysit for you once a month this coming year’. Or what about buying books, DVDs, CDs, games etc. second-hand off eBay or Amazon… or from a local charity shop? And any money that we then save – by getting less expensive presents – could be directed towards those who really need it. Those who won’t be enjoying all of the festivities that we will; who wouldn’t notice if their country made Christmas illegal again. (As Bob Geldof would have us sing: ‘Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?’)

So, what about spending half as much as we usually would on family members this year, and, with the money saved, buy a goat (or similar) for those in need… and tell the family on Christmas Day? Or did you know that for £60 you can twin your toilet with one built in Burundi, for those who aren’t used to such luxuries (toilettwinning.org)?

If you’re feeling very ambitious and have time on our hands, then to make a present is a generous yet cheap idea: knit a scarf, bake a cake, paint a picture, compose a song, write a poem. Go on, I will if you will! It’s not illegal, we won’t get arrested, and, if we do something generous with the money we save by not splashing out, we’ll be making a difference to those in need, which can’t be bad.