Saturday, 10 December 2011

Tuffnells' Toffee's for Buttery Fingers

I read Tuffnell's Toffees for Buttery Fingers at Word Soup on the 27 October 2011.  Now that I've come to terms with my adenoidal Lancashire accent & nervous stuttering I kind-of think it went okay...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Quickies: short stories for adults

If you like to raise a little laugh, try dressing as a elderly lady and reading (out loud) a story containing the term, ‘buttery fuck’ - comedy gold.
I know I don’t keep this blog anymore but I need to tell my other reader (if you are still alive) that I’ve done a reading without being sick in a bucket and I’m in print!

On Wednesday 28 September 2011, I read a story called Tuffnell's Toffees at the launch of a book.
Quickies: short stories for adults is an anthology of flash fiction produced by the Flashtag writing collective as part of the Didsbury Arts Festival. The launch was glittery with lollies, wit and innuendo.

The Flashtag writers are  Sarah-Clare Conlon, Fat Roland, Dave Hartley, Tom Mason and Benjamin Judge and and the Quickies stories are written by them and by their invited writerly chums. My virtual friend Ben Judge (now my actual friend, I think, as we met at said glittering event) asked me to contribute a smutty story. I was very pleased and very scared by this prospect. I was scared for two reasons:

1). There was a word limit of 400 words and, as my other reader will know; (alive or dead) my name is not a byword for brevity.

2). I didn’t want Ben to be the only Flashtagger with a duff chum.

With this in mind I wrote Tuffnell’s Toffeees then tinkered, meddled, redrafted, redrafted, got constructive feedback from Sarah Schofield, Valerie O'Riordan and Jenn Ashworth, (thank you folks) tinkered, meddled, redrafted, redrafted. I’m tinkering and meddling still (buttery fuck doesn’t appear in the book, it says buttery fingers in print) - donkey bolted/gate bolted; all that stuff.
Never were 400 words so tinkered and meddled with.
I hope Ben isn’t ashamed (of me, that is - he should certainly be embarrassed by the out and out rudeness of his own stories - one memorable line from his mucky reading was, ‘I tease the length of your dolphinhood…’!)

The glittering launch was grand – Sarah-Clare Conlon provided additional glamour (and a naughty story), Fat Roland snapped on Marigolds to handle the goods and I met many illustrious members of the (I mean this fondly) Manchester Blackwell literary mafia.
I have followed Dave Hartley’s story telling for years and he read a Quickie about Scouts and Guides (a comedy platinum combo).
Thanks to Valerie O’Riordan’s (I hope that doesn’t count as a spoiler) laugh out loud coming of age/aeroplane-sex tale I know how to avoid a kidney infection.
Adrian Slatcher wrote about a club I’d like to visit, just to see; and the word anus in Socrates Adams reading prompted a storm-out by an audience member. Ah, the heady allure of glittering launches.
Some of my other favourites were LJ Spillane, ‘He blinks and inhales like a man who if dressed and unbound, would be placing his hands in his pockets to steady a tremble.’ Daniel Carpenter’s Fetish Collector and Kinga Burger’s unreliable narrator enumerating past liaisons, ‘…therefore, according to the five-second rule, [he] doesn’t count.’
I got a forearm tattoo that said smut! in big puffy letters; sadly it was only a temporary tattoo and had faded to a lovebitey exclamation mark by morning, which was sad, but I’ve come to terms with the disappointment.
The anthology is very, very good and contains amazing stories by Adrian Slatcher, Benjamin Judge, Chris Killen, Claire Massey, Claire Symonds, Clare Kirwan, Daniel Carpenter, Dave Hartley, David Gaffney, Dom Conlon, Emma Jane Unsworth, Fat Roland, Gavin White, Jane Bradley, John Macky, Kim McGowan (me!), Kinga Burger, Laura Maley, LJ Spillane, Lynsey May, Matthew Carson, Nick Garrard, Red Newsom, Sarah-Clare Conlon, Sarah Hilary, Shirley Kernan, Socrates Adams, Tania Hershman, Tom Mason, and Valerie O’Riordan.

It is worth £3.50/£5 of anyone’s lolly fund.
It is available for Kindle and to purchase from Mancheter Blackwell (ignore the Tommy guns, they're mostly harmless) and also from here.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Post Last-post Post

Almost a year ago in ‘A public display of ineptitude’, first open mic slot, being sick in a bucket and Edith Bouvier Beale (see here) I blogged about reading an extract at a Word Soup live lit evening.
I read The Musical Mobile, a story about an unmarried mother in the 1970s trying to stop the adoption of her baby. I made a spectacle of myself by being moved to tears by my own made-up words.
I did not blog about my second try at public performance at Lancaster Spotlight  in Spring. It was soon after my hip replacement operation. I was on crutches, coked-up on painkillers and not answerable for my actions.
Needless to say, exactly the same broken crackly, croaky voice-thing happened in exactly the same place in the same story, only worse – and in front of a far larger audience.
My fine friend, David, and my daughter attended. By good fortune David was busy doing musician-prep things when it came to my slot. He said later that someone told him I’d acted out the piece with emotion. ACTED? Me acted? I’m a librarian for goodness sake. What drugged-up cripple of a librarian in their right mind chooses to act out an emotional story in front of an aghast and squirming audience?
As I hobbled from the Spotlight dais the compere said softly,
‘Emotional stuff.’
Back at seat I put my face flat on the table. A sort-of friend came by and roused me. She said,
‘That was brave.’
See, I can be dim but I know brave doesn’t mean brave in that context. I can’t quite put my finger on what it does mean. Pitiable maybe? Fool-hardy perhaps? Stark staring bonkers? Probably. But, it doesn’t mean brave, that’s for sure.
My daughter asked me, not unkindly, if I was sure I hadn’t given a baby up for adoption when I was a girl, and I’d forgotten.

Anyway. The purpose of this post last-post post is to say I’m at it again. On the advice of said daughter I’m going for something a little more upbeat this time. I’m reading an extract I’ve called Chester Blott Tells a Smutty Story here at Paul Sockett’s Outspoken at Clitheroe Castle on 21 January 2001.

Paul is being interviewed on Radio Lancashire at 3 o’clock on the same day and Jim Turner and I might be reading some work on air.
However, my radio reading can’t be from the Chester Blott extract because it is a bit rude.
I might have to read from the (honest to God made up) adoption story. Just one more time.

So, if you like that sort of spectacle - public displays of ineptitude - you know what to do.