Some strange alignment of the stars


I’ve booked an open mic slot at Lancaster’s Spotlight club next week. Mon’s driving, so I can even have a couple of ales. Happy days.

I haven’t totally settled on what to read yet, but I’ll probably try a new story from my flash fiction collection-in-progress, Marrow. There’s one about home cooking that I’d like to run past an audience, and another about guinea pigs that needs a first outing. I won’t have time to read both, but I’ll read one and save the other for when I try – again – to attend the Brewery’s open mic in August.

It really shouldn’t be so hard to make it to the Brewery. It’s one of my favourite pubs in Kendal, and it’s where we watch movies. I probably go a few times a month, but I haven’t managed to read at the open mic night for three years. Probably no coincidence that Dora is two and a half, come to think of it. Some strange alignment of the stars always seems to prevent me attending – something always comes up that means I can’t go. I’m determined to make it down at some point in the next few months, as reading live is becoming so much more important  to me, and I want the practice.

Three years ago, before the fates decided I couldn’t go back, I read a short story about a WWII fighter pilot called ‘The Matador’. It was my first ever open mic. I was sick with nerves, but it went quite well, and it gave me the confidence to go on and read in Edinburgh and Glasgow for Words per Minute, Cargo Publishing and Gutter. I don’t think I’ll ever be totally secure in my public reading, but I’m improving all the time, and I’m enjoying it more with each performance.

All these open mics are building up to October, where I’ve landed a support slot for one of the Dreamfired story nights in Brigsteer. I’m reading in support of Emily Parrish and her retelling of the Loki myth. It should be an amazing night. To get into the storytelling spirit, I’ve decided to drop the notes and perform my work from memory. The thought makes me a little nauseous, even four months distant, but I think it’ll be a good thing to do. I’ll be reading ‘Gumbo’, which was published in the first issue of Fractured West. It’s one of my favourite stories, and fun to read aloud… though I doubt it’ll feel very funny when I’m performing without notes to an audience.

Back to Lancaster and the Spotlight Club. It’s a great line-up: amongst others, poets Trev Meaney and Nick O’Neill are headlining, and there’s music from experimental ethnomusicologist Deep Cabaret. Hopefully old friend, talented multi-instrumentalist, New Hawk and haikuist Rich Turner is coming along for a beer, too. He’s a good friend of ours, but we haven’t seen him in a year, because he has an amazing daughter, and we have an amazing daughter, and all children are black holes for time.

Anyway, it’s going to be a fantastic night. If you want to hear me read a story about guinea pigs and then crumple like a cheap suit, head down to the Storey Institute in Lancaster from 8pm on Friday 19th. See you there. Buy me a beer.

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