Greenbelt 2013

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Just one day this year, as per last year.
Really must get our act together and get back to camping there ‘for real’!

A bit different this year, as my day at Greenbelt occurred during my 4-week TESOL course, in Cheltenham. Most odd.
Also, it was planned (to the nth degree) that the family would come up to Cheltenham to join me for Greenbelt, but due to ill health, that didn’t work out.

So it was me on my little ownsome, for the whole of Saturday. But not really on my own, as had plenty of friends to meet up with. As well as spending some time with me bessies (who were doing talks about detached youthwork in The Kitchen) I managed to catch up with the talented Dave Walker, with whom it was a pleasure to sneek into the Contributors’ Area, for coffee, illegally! Also the lovely Penny Culliford (Chai in Tiny Tea Tent) and Darren Hill.

In addition to extreme socialising, I was also being a reviewer for the Church Times. This role gave me my own press pass, which totally rocked and got me into venues/talks without queueing! As soon as it was around my neck, I was inflicted with very un-Christian boastfulness, insisting that people I met ‘oohh’ and ‘ahhh’ with gusto by way of a response. If they weren’t convincing enough, I made them repeat the noises, until they were unto mine satisfaction. Good times.

I reviewed: Adrian Plass (my hero), Catherine Fox (novellist) and Richard Coles (vicar, used to be in the Communards.)
Adrian was awesome, naturally. Catherine was interesting, and her talk reminded me that I really ought to get back to novel-writing, and Richard was… well. He used to be in the Communards. I know I’ve already informed you of this, but still. Back in the day, ‘Don’t leave me this wa-a-a-ay’ was my top song ever. So I wanted to enjoy his talk, but it was a bit dull. But then I am not a vicar, and his topic was vicar-ing. He was the inspiration for ‘Rev’ (comedy on BBC2) don’t ya know. I think if he’d ended his talk by singing ‘Don’t leave me this way’ (not that he sang it in the first place, I believe) I might have been more interested. But he didn’t. And I wasn’t. Shame.

Church Times review supplement can be viewed here, if you’re interested…
If there’s nothing good on telly, or you’ve just finished your novel, or your PS3’s broken.

(The actual supplement in CT was far more flashy, but this’ll do for now.)
(Also, the first 2 paras re Plass are mine, whereas the 3rd, that includes typos and a tense change, isn’t!)

[More on my previous 12 years of GB, here. You’ll need to scroll down.]

Greenbelt 2012

Last year I blogged that we attempted ‘Greenbelt lite’ as we went for a mere two days.
But this year we just went for one.
Yes – one.
So even lighter than lite.
I wonder what the technical term for that is…?
Up at 6am, arrived at 9am… left around half past midnight, home at 2am.
Fifteen and a half hours of pure Greenbelt!

Highlights, of this, my twelfth Greenbelt?
Well, kind of you to enquire.
Let’s see…

The Rising – I’d never been before, but have a friend (the lovely Lori) who goes every year, so thought it was high time I accompanied her. Was a big fan of Martyn Joseph back in the early 90s, and he didn’t disappoint, even now. His ‘mates’ on stage included a reasonably angry/political lesbian (Grace Petrie) a disillusioned (yet highly talented) American (Willy Porter) and the woman from the band Paper Aeroplanes. I know nothing about music (or less than nothing, if such a thing were possible) but favoured the latter, hear her here. Also enjoyed Willy’s clever ‘How to Rob a Bank’.

Food – This is of paramount importance to me, in life in general, but also quite specifically at Greenbelt. In this one day, I managed to stuff in: fried potato and sausage stuff (my absolute fave) from French stall ‘The Grande Bouffe’ (The Big Nosh), a freshly-cooked doughnut, a smoothie, a Shmoo banana milkshake, steak n stilton pie with mash and gravy (Higgidy pies, as no Pieminister there this year), a posh hot chocolate from the Tank (while waiting for phone to charge there) a flapjack from Pru’s cafe (woman in front of me had the last of their famous brownies, but I wasn’t outraged… not one bit) and finally a mug of ‘chai’ from the Tiny Tea Tent, which was divine. So divine, in fact, that I’ve just purchased the Twinings version, and am sipping at it now. It’s not QUITE Tiny Tea Tent-esque, but hey.

The God Particlethis was a play, and a most superb one at that, written by James Cary, who writes for the TV show Miranda (as well as for the only slightly lesser-known magazine – Third Way). Such a fantastic fusion of faith and science, all presented with much hilarity. I particularly liked the extended reference to ‘The Prisoners’ Dilemma’, which I’ve been studying very recently, as part of some general philosophy stuff I’ve been ‘consolidating’ during the Summer holidays, in preparation for forthcoming teaching practice.

Wandering around – Considering the 15 and a half hour restriction, I managed to clock up a satisfactory amount of this activity. The VAST amount of rainfall meant I was glad of my wellies, and that yes… I threw superior looks to those in flip-flops, who clearly weren’t cut out for festival life. G-source suited my wandering tendencies, although I fear there were less freebies than usual this year. Invariably, I ended up at G-books (bookshop); I shop (well, browse) books like other woman shop for shoes and clothes. I’m well-aware of my unhealthy obsession with books, which I suppose is something, but it doesn’t prevent me from attempting to find a cure. Why would I? Books are ace! About 15-20 caught my eye and yelled “Annie – buy me, buy me now!” (Dr Dolittle heard animals talk… I hear books shout). Finally left with just two, a Dietrich Bonhoeffer (bargain at £3, down from £12) and the brilliant Dave Walker’s new book of cartoons, one quick glance at which produces instant LOL-ing, even in those far too old to be throwing around the acronym (me).

Last Orders – New presenters, but just as good as ever. Managed not to fall asleep (which I have done there in the past, due to extreme tiredness combined with the late hour, and not to boredom)! Loved Mike Wozniak’s stand-up re ‘conception’ – hilarious! Rev Gerald Ambulance always deserves a mention – he shared some profound thoughts re church student youth workers… and I chuckled. There was a bit on ethical wedding dresses, which really ought to be ‘my thing’ (due to the ‘ethical’ bit, and not because I obsess about wedding dresses) but really wasn’t. There was also some ‘magic’ that was clever, but somehow not as entertaining as I felt it ought to be. Ruth Gledhill (Religion correspondent for The Times) got a bit of a grilling (from presenters and audience alike) which was awkward and unpleasant, I felt. It ended with ‘Folk On’, who, in the past, have annoyed me rather… but clearly my day had gone swimmingly well (perhaps due to torrential rain) as even they seemed ‘fun’ and a jolly way to end the day, bless ’em.

Had they not clashed with The God Particle, I had very much wanted to see/hear
Rev Richard Coles (ex- Communard: Don’t. Leave me this wa-a-a-ay!)
Frank Skinner
and Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch (Church history bloke).
Never mind.

Finally (yes, almost about to pull the plug) it was great to spend time my own fantastic family, with good friends (from our church) and to catch up with some ‘Greenbelt’ friends.

Only took a very few pics, but if you’re interested (or just very bored) you can view them here.

I do wonder if the fact that I wasn’t ‘doing stuff’ (as part of the programme) contributed to a more ‘chilled’ time at Greenbelt. I wasn’t stressing about where I had to be when, and whether I ought to brush my hair one last time, etc.
For more about my ‘stuff’ during previous years, see here, and scroll down.

Post-Greenbelt waffle


My attempt to sum up this year’s Greenbelt, using that often overlooked, yet hugely loveable number – 4.

Gutted that I missed:
1] Adrian Plass (I’m such a fan, but wasn’t at GB on the day he spoke).
2] Jude Simpson (but at least I managed to bump into her for super brief catch-up).
3] Dave Walker‘s calendar (it had sold out by the time I got around to attempting to purchase).
4] Tea towels (Greenbelt branded ones. Again, they’d run out. Must try harder next year. Not sure I’m actually ‘gutted’ about this, more ‘slightly annoyed’).

Dead chuffed to have heard:
1] Ruth Downie (interesting talk on crime fiction).
2] Simon Morden (part 2 of his thoughts on Christian publishing, etc).
3] Andrew Philip (poetry reading that I actually understood, and enjoyed). Pic of his session, with me in attendance, here!
4] Rev Gerald Ambulance (his profound take on the current state of the Church, and some insightful comments regarding the role of women in marriage).

So glad I consumed:
1] Pie Minister pie – Heidi (goat’s cheese/sweet potato) with mash and groovy. (Read my ‘award-winning’ pie poem here.)
2] Bowl of fried potato/wine sauce and sausage, from Le Grand Bouffe.
3] Hot choc, that I managed to persuade them to add brandy to, seeing as they clearly had some as they sold coffee with brandy.
4] Pizza from the posh pizza place, as this time I went wild and paid extra for ‘all’ the toppings.

Got stuck right in:
1] Attended a ‘Student Focus’ session, (SCM). Did a creative book plug for Dear Bob, involving volunteers, weird props, jogging, masks, Pringles… you get the idea!
2] As per the past few years, did the Generous session, this year on ‘local activism’. Plugged Living Generously .
3] Donated some Dear Bobs to The Hub, for eventual distribution to teenagers at GB. (See Ben’s plan here).
4] Wrote out some Bible verses in monk-like fashion (assuming ye olde monks used i-pads with i-pens). It’s going to be presented to the Queen, no less – see my verses here.

Thrilled to natter over a cuppa with:
1] Darren Hill (after 8 years of knowing him only via phone/email/Facebook, finally met up – hurrah! He was instrumental in inflicting ‘Dear Bob’ on the general public.)
2] Jo Swinney (after knowing her… a couple of months via Facebook, finally met up)!
3] Penny Culliford (it wouldn’t be Greenbelt without at least one chatting marathon with this lady, some years we’ve managed several).
4] No cuppa, but SO pleased to grab a quick hello with fellow Subway-ers (Christian Writers’ Group): Tim R, Tim S, Jules, Paul B, Veronica Z… and those already mentioned above.

Swapped several pennies for:
1] The Insatiable Moon (Mike Riddell).
2] Paradise Now (Jari Moate).
3] A greetings card with some Christian artwork on it (with intention of framing it at some point – perhaps in the year 2017, when I’ve got a spare minute).
4] A FRANK sports water bottle, that I could then re-fill during the festival, for free!

We (family and I) were also a-weeping and a-wailing that for the first time in six (ish) years we didn’t get to camp/hang out with our buds Lori and Richard Passmore (and kids). Boo and double-boo.

Overall though, it was simply superb to wander around the site and soak up the oh-so-familiar (yet ever ‘fresh’) GB atmos with my gorgeous family, including my fab sis – a real live Cheltenham local.

A few pics can be viewed here.

So how was GB11 for you?!

Greenbelt (lite)

I’ve opted for ‘Greenbelt Lite’ this year. Not because I’m opposed to the full-fat version… in fact I’ve been, with the family (from Thurs—>Tues) for the past eight years! But this year I’m there for the Sunday and Monday only.

On Sunday evening (8pm, Galilee) I’ll be at a ‘Student Focus‘ session: University Survival Skills, plugging Dear Bob, naturally, but also hopefully participating in the promised chocolate brownies. If you’re a student, get your-fabulous-self on down there… 6 copies of Dear Bob are being GIVEN away as prizes!

Then on Monday, I’ll be involved with the Generous talk: ‘Get Down Your Local’, about local activism (The Kitchen, 2pm) where, just to be consistent, I’ll be plugging another book (one I co-authored): – Live Generously.

You are probably unaware that Greenbelt have changed their policy this year, and on the ‘talks’ page of their website (listing all this year’s GB speakers) the MOST important speakers are at the very bottom of the page, rather than at the top. The fact that Rob Bell is at the top is clearly some sort of admin error.

I aim to see: RS Downie, Simon Morden, Andrew Philip (all on this page) Jo Swinney and Rev Gerald Ambulance. This also appeals to me. Gutted I’ll miss: Adrian Plass/Milton Jones. Am I sad that I’ll miss the workshop ‘Parenting Teenagers’? Not sure. If you’re there, please take notes (include a few pictures – I get bored easily). But mostly I’ll just be wandering around the site, with various friends/family, soaking up the fabulous GB atmos, wondering if I can afford a trendy fairly-traded organic t-shirt with a bible verse printed on it… then deciding that I probably can’t, and ending up in the queue for pies.

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)!

4 weeks to Greenbelt…!

Yes, in a mere 4 weeks time, my family and I will be playing the game: ‘How much camping gear can you cram into 1 car, and still have room for the kids?’ as we head off to Cheltenham Racecourse… not to bet on the horses, but to enjoy August Bank Holiday weekend at the largest Christian Arts Festival in Europe… Greenbelt!

And I’m speaking there again this year… this will be the 8th consecutive year that they’ve been crazy enough to ask me back!

Here are a few pics from past talks (click them to enlarge)… some were as part of the ‘literary’ stream, some in connection with Generous:

2003 – first met the fab-tastic Penny Culliford, both involved with the ‘writer’s surgery’ in the inflatable church!

2004 – Penny and I doing: Bridget Jones Gets God!

2006 – a lot of talks/workshops/interviews in the Generous ‘zone’, a highlight being interviewing Janey Lee Grace, see pic here.

2008 – Me kindly allowing someone else to have their say during a Generous talk (perhaps I wasn’t feeling well)

2009 – Jac and I continue to urge people to Go Generous:

Doing this post is planting an idea in my head about having an entire page on this website, dedicated to Greenbelt-related this n that. This page has some GB stuff on already, but perhaps GB ought to have the honour of a page all of its own.
It’s the Summer hols and I’m off work for 5 and a half weeks… so no excuse not to attempt this, darn it.
I could dazzle you with my award-winning Greenbelt poetry. (Blogged a poem about the pies at GB… pie company found it, and awarded me with a large box of pies through the post, worth over £50… yum yum!).

Last year’s Generous talk (me and Jac) is available to buy here as an MP3… only listen to if you can cope with my very poor jokes relating to fair trade bananas and compost toilets. Seriously – very very poor.

Anyway, if you’re Greenbelting this Summer, call in to The Kitchen on Saturday, 2-3:30pm. The details of the talk/workshop/session/whatever are yet to be finalised. OK, granted… we haven’t actually started with the planning yet, but with 4 weeks to go, it’s quite likely we will, one day soon (myself and 2 very biblical-sounding guys: Peter and Paul).

And watch out for those pies… see if they inspire your creative juices to flow… then watch out for the postman struggling to your door with a large box of freebies…!

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.

Bye-bye Greenbelt

img_3414It seems but a lifetime away, but before the memory fades altogether, being extinguished by thoughts of xmas and suchlike, just wanted to put in a couple of links:

here is what the GB website came up with this year. Interesting, as they’d asked for a biog, I’d sent them one… then they chose to ignore it and use one they’d had from 2005! Thus, it mentions that I work on the mags I used to work on, that are now extinct.
They had one back in 2005, when I was doing more literary stuff there, rather than eco (I’ve done ‘something’ there every year since then I think, for my sins).

My this year’s talk has also been recorded, which is a 1st. Either they just got carried away and decided to record all talks this year… or it was my fair trade banana jokes that forced them to make my talk available to be inflicted on the masses. Hmmmm..
It’s available for buying here, should anyone be interested.

They weren’t really ‘fair trade banana’ jokes, as such things don’t exist, as far as I am aware. They were just ‘regular’ banana jokes, that I shamelessly used, and asked people to assume the bananas in question were, indeed, fairly traded… so that my jokes would bear some relevance on my talk.

There was also some toilet humour (that linked in with the concept of ‘sponsoring a toilet’ in a developing country)…have a strong suspicion that next year I’ll be asked, nay, begged, to be on main stage, delivering my FT banana/loo jokes to vast crowds of laughing (or groaning) greenbelters.
Oh yes.

Greenbelt Ministry

Greenbelt Ministry
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I was ministered to at Greenbelt.
In an unexpected way
I had to queue to get it
Ye highlight of my day

My fellow queuers clearly
Had received such love before
It was painted on their faces;
Eager, smiling… wanting more

I knew I’d made the perfect choice
Joined this queue – this one alone
My happy fate approacheth
Secret fantasies finally known.

Heidi was my pie of choice
Goats cheese and potato sweet
(Pretentious and middle class)
Though Moo and Blue looked fab to eat

And how I loved the taste
Of the pretentious middle-class
It hugged my soul so very tight
My expectations were surpassed.

Lo, the pie was not alone
Yet adorned with a dollop of mash
Not as grim as at school meals
Miles advanced of that trash

To make it even more divine
Gravy was poured on top
Though they had named it ‘groovy’
How very quaint is this shop?

There were no lies abounding
Groovy was at the core
‘Tis why I gave up six pounds fifty
And considered coming back for more

Heidi was now my one true love
(Hubby could have cause for concern
But then he’s never had a Heidi
Not as far as I’ve known)

The pies that they were out of
Were blessed with a little note
‘Gone to pie heaven’
A very groovy quote

It seems they’re Made in Banksy-land
Rather than Hong Kong
Formerly known as Bristol
Where queues are just as long

At the Belt that’s made of Green
A queue is so the norm
If Brits are fairly into queues
It’s for what Greenbelter’s are born

We queue to get in on day one
For talks and music too
We stand and wait, then waiteth some more
We even queue to poo

So if they tried to sell their pies
In lands far far from here
Would people queue up orderly?
Would anarchy appear?

A tiny prick of tears is formed
When one is forced to think
Of worried pies, of Heidi’s cries
With anarchy on the brink

When my body’s all queued out
And numbered are my days
Pie Heaven’s where I’m destined
My ticket is One Way

pieminister (the pie shop’s name)
Will dominate the place
Pies will be free; queues will be gone
Pie smiles on every face

They’ll be no tears nor pain nor fear
Due to pies for all the hours
Clouds made from mash will float on by
And rain down groovy showers

The Lord of the Pies will sort me out
Heidi greet me at the Pie-ly Gate
I will scoff and not grow weary
Munch pies, and not be faint

—————————————————

Please note, this poem is not sponsored by pieminister, and I live at least an hour away from Bristol.
Feel free to view my GB piccies here