April 18, 2008

NATE Conference 2008

In a sentence (I'm impeded by a damaged leg at present, so I'm going to post a fragment now and continue later)

Ian McMillan summed Genesis, the universe and everything up in Barnsley dialect - Nowt, Summat, Leets on, Watter, Bloke, Lass, Thou'art got no cothes on; Thou art got no clothes on neether; Get out - and made we wish the Government would write their educational volumes with the same clarity and pith - Francesca Beard was a revelation, her quiet epiphanies packing every bit the same punch as McMillan's ranting angel of the north, an Ariel-like poet whose performance was as deft and moving as her words and whose words came to spell-like life in the performance they deserved, and got, Bethan Marshall made educational rocket science look like the common sense it is, or perhaps we are so used to philistinism and minds that 'multiply the smallest matter' in education it merely was common sense but seemed like the gnostic gospels in contrast, and the apostolic-acting RSC kept me awake and buzzing when several days and nights of real learning had exhausted every last brain cell and effort of concentration. All in all, a transifiguring experience for tired and trampled teachers...

April 14, 2008

Then we take Cardiff...

That's it, the novel is now well and truly launched, lunched, wined, dined, courted, consummated and even in several cases read and reviewed.

The final launch (Cardiff) was made rather more fraught than it need have been by my having to panic-buy the wine and glasses at the very last moment, but the event itself was a happy and successful one. The big Tamala Motown/ Neapolitan striped posters looked very fine indeed in the window and everyone agreed that the cover is a fabulous one and that the publisher is a genius for having designed it. It fits the mood of the novel in every way.

I felt very grateful to be able to launch this Welsh novel to such an appreciative audience in the capital city of Wales and I got the chance to read a couple of extracts that I hope show why that matters to me. The city was buzzing as usual and there certainly was a kind of Welsh all over the shop (see prefix to Book 2 p.227). I loved it anyway, and hope all the attendees did too. If you were there, thank you for making the effort – considerable distances in some cases – to get there.

I spent the previous day visiting my old school in Abersychan, climbing nearby mountains in a pair of sturdy M&S shoes and patronising The Cellar, the nearest thing to a wine bar in Blaenafon, and one of the friendliest places in the Eastern valley. Then I went to Newport. So I have now, I think, done the River Deep Mountain High tour - through time as well as space - of all the key locations in the novel.

The two photos at the bottom are a diptych called Cardiff Arcadia. You couldn't be anywhere else.

Bristol slip: Calway out for rest of season?

Well, I didn't expect this. I’m out of action for 2-5 weeks following a ludicrous injury sustained on the way to the Bristol City v Wolves game on Saturday. Just as I was looking forward to some R & R after all my recent lather of activity, I get A & E!

My pre-match ritual has always involved climbing over a fence near the Bristol CREATE centre and then cutting down onto the old railway line into Ashton park. This will now cease - my boyhood is finally over - as my little 1970s shimmy down a steep sleeper onto the track ended at 2.45 on Saturday. with a rupture of rather a lot of calf muscles and four hours in the Bristol Royal Infirmary A&E. By the time I was seen, Casualty was being shown on the tv and was simultaneously happening in real life, cops and all, all around me. For one very bad half hour about eight pm - Handcock's Half Hour - a hospital admission was mentioned and I was metaphorically wetting myself in preparation for an op followed by exposure to all those bugs they give you in hospital these days. Luckily the X ray treatment worked.

I have one normal leg and one very solid balloon for the other. However, I am British and Christian ( as elicited by the receptionist clerk) so I will survive. My stock went up in the waiting room considerably as soon as I came back out in a wheelchair and minus my trousers for the backwards trip down to radiology. Not my best side, I said, as the guy took his radioactive snaps. (One leg - the Welsh one - being twice the size of the other.) For a few moments I felt like my hero Chris Garland (or maybe Judy Garland), injured in 1978, and who I met in Newport of all places last Thursday. Chris still has that winner's sharpness and mentality Bristol City will need (along with a big new ground and some big game strikers) to go up and stay up. Meanwhile, it's bed rest and boredom for the Bard.

If any of you are expecting me over the next 2-5 weeks, it’s probably not going to happen. I hope forlornly to be at the Preston game to see City go up but, as with last season, this glorious day may have to happen in my absence. Freud would say I secretly don’t want to go ("There are no accidents").

I'm probably more likely to score than the City forwards even in this state at the moment. Back at my B&B, a man dying of cancer helped me up the two flights of stairs and a wannabe writer standing behind me at death's door shared a few kind words to help pull me through. I was in a 'comfortable and stable position' ie lying on the floor like a dead cow for the longest Saturday night. However, I was chauffeur driven all the way home next day and now it’s just the doctor, the frozen peas, the physiotherapy, the elevation, the constipating ubiquitous analgesia, the agonised wondering about the route not taken...