July 15th, 2014

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Performance Art

Sydenham Arts Festival is in full swing in my 'hood, with all kinds of theatrical, literary and artistic goings-on. Last night, the excellent Kirkdale Bookshop held a short story evening, and I signed up to read one of my works. ("One of the more family-friendly ones, I assume," as one friend put it when I told him of the event.)

slightlyfoxed had also volunteered to perform, and I persuaded a posse along in the form of atommickbrane, mykreeve and foozzzball (who was betrayed by buses and missed most of my bit).

The glamorous venue was a nightclub next to a petrol station, pitch dark except for the far corner, which had been set up with a chair and a lamp. We were told that there would be eight stories, with a break after the first four. The crowd was twenty-odd strong, and I awaited my turn with some anxiety.

It came in the last slot before the interval. I did my best to slow down, and project, and make eye contact with the audience. People listened. I got smiles at the cute parts. I got laughs at the funny parts. During the break, a couple of people came up to me to say they'd liked my story, and to ask me interested questions about it, at which certain members of Team Husky went ha ha, you've got groupies.

It was intoxicating.

slightlyfoxed took the penultimate slot, with a sci-fi number I hope will find a home in print and a wider audience (although those who merely read it will miss out on the narrator's voice and the hand gestures, both of which added greatly to the appeal).

There was a lot of variety on offer, with flash fiction, funny first-person pieces, part of a comic novel about the badger cull, and many instances of the F-word. At the end we voted for a favourite by writing our nomination on a piece of paper and passing it to the front (way less embarrassing than the show of hands I'd feared). And, readers...I won!

I was elated and petrified, and chose to acknowledge my success by bobbing up from my seat and ducking down again rather than marching to the front to shake hands with the organiser. Then my posse and I, in somewhat giggly mood, made tracks for the pub.

Audience and readers alike paid £3 entry, and I felt I owed my support group drinks all round (even though they all offered to buy me one), so I finished the evening financially poorer but considerably richer in the experience and ego stakes.

The bookshop has put my story up on their website, and you may read it here: The Wolf's Holiday.
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Hot Jets

Last weekend, for those who don't folllow the airshow scene as closely as I do, was the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. I took Howard along for the first time, spending Friday and Saturday nights in a hotel in Gloucester.

We weren't very impressed with Gloucester, which empties of everyone except drunk youths from about 9PM onwards. Also, nowhere would feed us. Our hotel stopped serving at nine, so we missed our chance on the first night and ended up at Wetherspoons (who, fortuitously, had just kicked off their cider festival). On the second night we got as far as sitting down with a drink before being told that the kitchen had been closed due to a gas leak, and advised to go to Nando's. An expensive brush with an NCP car park added to my general annoyance, and next time I'll book the Ibis just outside Cheltenham.

The airshow, though, was great. We filtered our way up the queue of traffic, parked near the gates, and were sorting our gear out when the Eurofighter Typhoon took off and immediately went into a vertical, full-afterburner climb. From then on it was non-stop aviation action. We met up with the wardy/silverwindblade party, who had established base camp near crowdline front and centre, and fixed eyes on sky, with occasional breaks to wander round the static display and the trade stalls.

The Typhoon, which also closed the show, was probably my favourite, though it's always a toss-up between it and the Saab Gripen. I liked the Polish display team, Orlik (even though we made jokes about Horlicks and whether their performance would send us to sleep), who had funny little planes with eyecatching dayglo orange patches. And the Red Arrows, of course, put on a fantastic show for this, their 50th display season. The lack of an F-35 due to their grounding was a disappointment - especially for the organisers, who had splashed 'F-35 DEBUT' all over the posters - but I hope to see it in the future.

It stayed warm and dry all day, then rained on us as we rode back to Gloucester. On Sunday we had a pleasant ride through the Forest of Dean, and did the tourism thing at Clearwell Caves before parting at the junction of M4 and A350.

Calvin the cat, who had been fed by a neighbour for the 48 hours in which I was unable to perform my catsitting duties, was very pleased to see me. (He's mine until Sunday.)