Saturday, February 06, 2016

Imbolc... a boondoggle of a holiday

Imbolc is the pagan term for these very early days of spring, and its goddess Brigid is associated with poetry, fire, and fertility: she's also been adopted by the catholic church, which may be why I found when I googled Imbolc I found that  for many reasons, Imbolc is a boondoggle of a holiday.  I took that to mean a bit of a mishmash, like the last meal at the end of a camping trip, but further googling yielded: boondoggle: an unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent project.  Which really doesn't seem appropriate for last week in Frome.
Saturday saw a few hundred people making their way to the Silk Mill for 'One day to make a difference' ~ for the refugees in Calais ~ to donate warm clothes and cash, shop at the stalls, bring and buy cakes, and listen to the stonking songs of the Wochynskis. At the end of the event, the 'Bruton, Frome & Glastonbury group of Aid & Solidarity with Refugees' reported that the total raised topped £1366, and the cash and clothes are now already on their way out to Calais and to Syria.

Another great week for music in Frome ~  maybe we should change our motto from the vaguely aspirational 'It's a wonderful place' to 'The town where free gigs abound'?  After Bonne Nouvelle rocking the Archangel on Sunday afternoon, we had Ben Cipolla at the always-excellent Roots Grain Bar session on Wednesday.

Moving to things literary: Frome Writers Collective monthly meeting on Monday featured a book quiz from demon question-setter Brenda Bannister, here on the right looking innocent as the winner beams and rest of us hide our sheets of shame. All good fun, though. And novelist Debbie Holt, who is a proxy Frome writer because she's been in one of our (smaller) writing group for twelve years, has a new book out on Thursday. The Soulmate is published by Accent Press and Debbie will be talking about it in Hunting Raven Books on February 22.

The amazing Mark Bruce Company premiered their epic (literally) new production at Frome's Merlin Theatre: The Odyssey is a dance-drama retelling of that legendary ten-year journey by the Greek hero Odysseu after ten years of war returning home to his loyal wife Penelope.
The details of Homer's story are all there ~ Medusa's snakes, Circe's swine, the lotus eaters, the unravelled weaving that keeps Penelope's suitors at bay, and much more ~ but Mark as choreographer & director is interested more in 'what it means to us individually.' Myths, he says 'hold a mirror to us all at different times in our lives.'  With barely a word throughout (none from the cast but a few from Frank Sinatra) this is terrific story-telling, Odysseus on his 'hero's journey' sometimes a timeless icon of masculinity and sometimes, as he lit another cigarette or embarked on another romance, more like James Bond. The dancing is stunningly good: I loved all the characters, especially the cheeky Immortal Man and twerking Circe, and the way the team enacted every role from the sacrificial lamb to the ship's figurehead. And no-one can have left without exclaiming over the set (is it a boat? a wooden horse? a portal to Hades?) the lighting, the costumes, and the music. Absorbing, entrancing, and exhilarating, all of it. Mark Bruce is a long-time Associate Artist of the Merlin Theatre, which makes me extremely chuffed to be one too. 

There's very little I can reveal about the comedy-thriller Death Trap at Salisbury Playhouse because it's got more twists than a corkscrew so almost any comment would be a spoiler. Suffice to say that if you know the theatrical theory of Chekhov's gun ~ that if a weapon is shown in the opening act, it must be used before the end of the play ~ then you'll be quivering at the armoury on the walls of blocked playwright Sidney Bruhl, and you'll be right to tremble. Ira Levin, who was also responsible for sinister films like Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives, wrote this as a stage play in 1978: the current Salisbury Playhouse production is sharp, stylish, superbly set & lit, and brilliantly acted ~ especially by the thriller writers (Kim Wall and Sam Phillips) and their uncannily psychic neighbour Beverley Klein. On till 27th February, much more fun than murder on the telly.

That's it for this week. Rosie and I are off to Lyme Regis now, for a writerly weekend planning our next Nevertheless production so - watch this space! Well you do, anyway, don't you...?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Really? one month already?

Last Sunday was Burns Night, as significant around the world to expat Scots as St Patricks night to exiled Irish, and we had a great session at Emily's dining on (veggie) haggis with neaps and tatties, whisky for the spirited and Rioja for the less so, and many poems.
My contribution was Elvis McGonagall's spine-tingling Operation Undying Conflict ~ though of course it sounds better from a shouty Scotsman (this link is from the Stop The War rally in London 2011, where I first heard it). Marian, the oldest and most authentic Scot in our party, gave the authentic recital for the slashing of the haggis: "Great chieftain o the puddin'-race! Aboon them a' ye tak your place... His knife see rustic Labour dight, An cut you up wi ready slight."

Moving seamlessly from words to visual art ~ easy online, as everything's either words or pictures ~ Trowbridge Town Hall has a wax installation upstairs in the waiting room until 27th February. The artwork is called The Waiting Room, because as the artist's note explains the object and the room are integral to each other.  I went with David and while we were pondering this mutual integrity a lady came in and said 'I thought they said there was some art in here?' and went away. The silent room has become a place of transition, the notes explain. Eventually it will cease to exist. Which is of course true for everything. Except maybe cockroaches, and plastic.

Back in Frome there's always music. Superb sessions here are like prophylactics at a festival: well-advertised and free to both the committed and the merely curious. The regular Roots Session at the Grain Bar on Wednesday featured the extraordinary Blues virtuosity of Eddie Martin, and the newly introduced Sunday afternoon music slot at the Archangel featured the luscious retro-style of Bonne Nouvelle.  Live music too at the Silk Mill, on the Day to Make a Difference for the Calais refugees in the Jungle ~  collection of requested winter-wear and donations, with stalls, soup, cakes, and songs from the Wochynskis.

Writerly things are bubbling too, of course, but I think I'll leave you with a magical dialogue chanced upon on a facebook page (thanks Morgan.) It's a contemporised view of Norse mythology and explains the origin of sentient life on earth.
Odin gestures to As and Embla.
Odin:     I have made Mankind.
Frigga:  You fucked a couple of perfectly good trees is what you did. Look at it, it's got anxiety.

Happy February, y'all.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

So is it spring yet?

This was the week we had winter, a day of it anyway, with sub-zero temperatures that took me & my geraniums by surprise, but the return of milder weather in this part of the world has led to a flurry of snowdrops and birds twittering around the trees in a nesting kind of manner. I hope we're not all under-thinking this...
For me this has been a week of mostly planning events ahead, though with the usual excellent live music ~  Feral Beryl with Steve Loudoun at the Grain Bar Roots Session,  Nikki & Griff with Vicki Burke at the Archangel.  And River House laid on an unforgettable Bowie tribute dance night.

Rosie and I spent Sunday morning at Frome FM radio station with Chapter&Verse host John Walton, recording Toxic Cocktails for a new programme, Theatre On The Air, broadcast monthly and also online. We're going to be joining John to consider submissions for this one-hour show through another innovation - the Frome FM Writers Room. Anyone have any short radio plays to submit?

Looking ahead,  seems that February will be fizzing with words events. There's the Poetry Cafe 'Love Night' at the Garden Cafe on 15th, with Frome Festival Poet Laureate Stephen Payne guesting, as well as open mic for poems on any aspect of love ~ lusty or lost, recalled or forgotten... Hunting Raven Books have donated a beautiful hardback collection of love poems for one lucky reader.
And a poem is the inspiration for the new production by the award-winning Mark Bruce Company, whose 'kill for a ticket' Dracula performed to sellout audiences across the country.  The Odyssey is a dance-theatre retelling of Homer's 3000-year old epic tale of a heroic ten-year journey and it will premiere at Frome's Merlin Theatre on February 4th ~ a terrific chance to see a spectacular new production in its home base before it goes to London.

Final footnote for anyone who has an interest in Raymond Carver, script-writing, or just enjoys movies with superlative acting, direction, lighting design and music: I don't know how I missed Birdman when it was released in 2014 but Emily and I watched the DVD last night and it is utterly fantastic. I've now bought a copy to watch it again, and so should you if you haven't yet. Seriously superb. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Small vanities, big starman in the sky

He grew up in south-east England and went on to become world famous for his creative genius, and love of drama & self-adorning. The week we learned David Bowie had sung his last earth-song was also when Grayson Perry's incredible tapestry sequence The Vanity of Small Differences arrived in Bath's Victoria Art Gallery. Five huge pieces of satiric representation of social aspiration & the English class system tell the apocryphal tale of Tim Rakeman's Hogarthian progress of upward mobility to his (literally) car-crash final fall, each so full of fine detail you need at least ten minutes staring to take it all in. The Breughel reproduction & dried flowers in Tim's first home, the muddy organic veg wrapped in Guardian newspaper when he's a successful software designer... as well as cultural clues each scene is laden with meta-painterly references, from adapted titles like The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal (when Tim sells up to Branson) to symbolic detail like a smashed smartphone position centrally in the final scene to represent Holbein's 'memento mori' skull. (No, I didn't know, it's in the notes.)
The collection is succinctly curated, and most of the commentary is woven into the tapestries ("a normal family, a divorcee or two, mental illness, addiction, domestic violence...the usual thing"). Perhaps the most amazing aspect of these dazzling stories, given that Grayson Perry's art is always amazing, is the making of them: designed on photoshop and woven in Flanders on computer-controlled looms ~ at dazzling speed, the artist reports. And they're funny. "I can't resist having a joke," he says, "I think it's part of reflecting human life."  This treasure trove will be in Bath till April 10th, don't miss it.

Another excellent Roots Session at the Grain Bar on Wednesday with the brilliant Al O'Kane band. Al writes all his own songs, I especially love his anthemic Animals... Stand up if you dare, stand up if you care... It's time to question what humans are really for.

And on Saturday there was a feast of fabulous music at Rook Lane in the Show for Fred. Fred Burge who died last year was a stalwart of the Frome Festival team and this show was to celebrate her life and her love of live performances.  Rosie & I felt very privileged to join the line-up as Nevertheless Fringe Theatre, sharing a dramatic cameo from our last festival production.  The talent in Frome is almost unbelievable: we were treated to songs from Christ Church Singers led by Ann Burgess who won Radio 3's recent carol contest, the lively ukulele band Frukes, my personal favourites Bonne Nouvelle and Three Corners, with Frome Festival patron Morag McLaren providing the stunning, very witty, operatic finale. And definitely not least, Martin Dimery as festival director & show organiser gave us a twirl of his various melodic hats including as John Lennon from Sgt Pepper's Only Dartboard Band, as Buddy Holly singing an Elizabethan ditty from his popular one-man show Shakespeare Rattle and Roll, and ending his set with Starman waiting in the sky... if we sparkle he may land tonight..

Finally this week, another celebration of a leaving of life... extraordinary, adored, and much mourned, David Robert Jones said of his mercurial persona "The trousers may change but the actual words and subjects I've always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety - all of the high points of one's life.''  On Friday night Frome joined the galaxy of wakes and remembrances across the UK and the world with a David Bowie Appreciation Party at the Three Swans, with requests taken & played all night by a tireless & dedicated DJ ~ Pat Feeney you are indeed a starman ~ and we sparkled & sang along.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Wishing you rainbows...

We've seen a lot of rain,  though not as much as further north, but there's been amazing sunny days too, so this new year image seems a good one to launch 2016. And for a taste of blue-sky poetry too, take a look at Begin by Brendan Kennelly which ends so exquisitely:
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending,
that always seems about to give in,
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.

The Warminster Writers Circle greeted January in style with their annual festive celebration, at which Alison Clink and I were invited as guests as we've both led sessions for this thriving group. David Dell's huge living-room was completely filled and despite the party atmosphere everyone was impressively attentive as I gave my little intro on the hows & whys of writing short plays before announcing the winners of the winter competition.
Organisers David Dell and Sue Bacon (L & R in the pic) had the inspiration of further enlivening an already lively gathering with readings of the three winning plays, by Bernard Harvey,  Sheelagh Wurr (with me in the pic) and Richard Platts. With roles enthusiastically grabbed ~ here's young Frankie Stein about to be enlisted in the "Warminster School for Boys and Ghouls" ~ all three plays were hugely entertaining and the evening ended with applause and extra helpings of strawberry pavlova.

Frome Writers Collective is an even bigger group - around 70 members in total, though not all of us attend every one of the many events, talks, and trips organised on a regular basis. But an enthusiastic sampling of the membership regularly come along to the Three Swans monthly social meetings, and we started the year with a fascinating focus on writing for radio by Frome FM presenter John Walton. John hosts the monthly magazine show Chapter & Verse and is also interested in producing dramas scripted by local writers. Rosie & I are thrilled that Toxic Cocktails, our last Nevertheless production, has been selected for a radio adaptation - watch, as they say, this space!

Over at Black Swan Arts the new exhibition is a solo show by Alex Faulkner. Not easy viewing, these amazing paintings express the artist's return after a lengthy personal rejection of this medium as 'dishonest' ~ many of these new paintings have 'Kabuki' eyes which follow you around from canvasses & reflections of canvasses ~ and there's a recurrent theme of containment, constraint, and obliteration. Chris Bucklow gave other interesting insights in his talk on Friday evening.

And let's not forget the music... Roots Sessions at the Cheese and Grain, always a great evening, pulled out all the new year stops for a triple-guest event: The Wochynskis, lovely Emma Shoosmith, and the awesome Dexters Extra Breakfast ~ here's Emma ~ while Cordero Lounge in the precinct introduced itself as the new music venue on the block, with a fantastic evening of ska from a superb band: The One Tones. More please!
So here's wishing you all an unprecedentedly creative year ahead ~ well while hopes are still free, why not aim high?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

seasonal pickings, a personal take

"Writers do other things" said Marsha Hunt, and my end-of-year week had little connection with things writerly since most of the daylight hours not spent drinking americanos in River House I spent walking, and mostly in high winds ~ scarily thrilling on the Dorset coast with family, exhilarating with friends on Cley Hill, although of course the national situation is always hard to forget. As is the international situation.  Frome is the most mindful and caring town I've ever known, but also knows how to party so evenings have been buzzing... lovely get-togethers & brilliant music nights at Cornerhouse with the Pete Gage Band and Griff's latest lineup The Dempseys.

Back at home I found a couple of gems on the telly:
We're doomed for one, John Sessions unbelievably credible as Capt. Mainwaring in this true story of the making of Dad's Army which as the review points out doesn't only charmingly evoke a lost era ~ two lost eras, actually, if you count the days of great sitcoms ~ but also reminds us how the Beeb still functions: "there are so many compromises to be made and egos to be kept happy, it’s a wonder that anything of any worth or integrity comes out of the place at all."

And of course, the Aidan Turner show: three hours of indulgence wrapped up in an Agatha Christie rigmarole called And Then There Were None. There was a plot to account for more slaughter than Midsomer could muster in a month, a posse of cliche characters like generals & spinsters and a tray-shaking Mrs Overall-alike, and lots of Beeb-special slow closeups, but the main event of each episode was clearly caddish Philip Lombard, mesmerising whether in dicky bow or d├ęshabille. My friend Carla reckons The Towel should get a nomination as Best Support.
Charlie Brooker does the best end-of-year summaries, seriously scathing on a massive scale with scatterings of trivia, like the solution to that 2015 blue&black/white& gold dress debate ("according to the boffins it depends on how your brain works ~ if it works, you don't give a shit what colour the dress is.") And I've had fun looking back on far-too-many photographs from a snap-happy year, courtesy of Nikon for agreeing to replace my faulty J1 Nikkor wide-angle lens which packed up exactly a year ago, exactly two days out of warranty, and for making a super lightweight telephoto lens which comes with me to every music night now. I considered posting highlights of the year in pictures but there are far too many so I'll just do a random selection of bests-of-year, which like every 'bests' list will shift like desert island sand, revealing much I've overlooked...
Best book: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, informative, compassionate, important.
Best movie: apart from on DVD, probably Star Wars: The Force Awakens which aside from all the conquest & killing was sharply scripted, often very funny, and had a genuinely shocking moment...
Best theatre moments from Nevertheless Fringe Theatre: it's been a fantastic year for us with both our shows sold out for every performance, but for ambition & atmosphere I'd pick Midsummer Dusk  ~ our first site-specific production, in a cemetery at dusk... fantastic to work with Rosie Finnegan's great directing.
Best theatre elsewhere:  Some really fabulous shows around in Bristol, Salisbury, Bath and of course Frome's Merlin Theatre,  but the play that meant most to me was Richard II at the Globe, a breathtakingly good production made even more special by meeting the deposed king in the bar afterwards, and having our photo taken by the Earl of Mowbray too.
Best exhibition: The Palais des Beaux Arts in Lille was fascinating, Ai Weiwei's exhibition in London's Royal Academy was powerful, Banksy's Dismaland was incredible (or should that be in theatre?) but I'll never forget seeing all those iconic Don McCullin photographs together in Bruton's Hauser & Wirth gallery.
Best poetry night: Luke Wright at the Cheese&Grain was brilliant, and so was Rob Gee at the Merlin, but what I enjoy most of all are the wonderful egalitarian Poetry Cafe nights at the Garden Cafe.
Best music night: this one's near impossible... I loved Sunny Afternoon at London's Harold Pinter theatre (it won 4 Oliver awards & John Dalgleish as Ray Davies was brilliant) but once again the award has to stay in Frome. We've had so many great visiting bands (Tom Robinson was fantastic) and a cornucopia of fabulous local bands ~ I've so much enjoyed Dexters Extra Breakfast, the Dempseys, Bonne NouvelleFat Stanley, Al O'Kane, and more...  but I'm going to pick the amazing and endlessly danceable Captain Cactus and the Screaming Harlots.

Best Frome event: We had a sizzling summer Festival, a glittering winter Snow Ball, an innovative Shop Local day, but there's no doubt about this one: The Magnificent 17 Independents for Frome took every seat on the council in the election just a couple of days after the political blues elsewhere deepened, lifting all our spirits and confirming our town's status as officially awesome. And among the many great eco-warriors and sustainable campaigners, a virtual medal to Annabelle Macfadyen who cycled to Paris to join the protesters at the Climate Change Conference last month. With a cold!

I'll end with a Doris Lessing quote for the new year and every year (thank you David Goodman)
"Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible."
~ and with Mary Oliver's poem Wild Geese. Like the view of Stourhead across the lake, it's beautiful if you haven't seen it before and even more beautiful when you know it well...

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Who knew there was so much in it...

... Frome, of course, where else could you see an indie feature film, original live theatre, and a nightly array of brilliant musicians and bands?
The live theatre, inevitably, was the big event for me: Toxic Cocktails at the Cornerhouse played on Wednesday to a full house and on Thursday to an overfull one ~ massive thanks to those who stood throughout, and all of you who melted in the heat of the upstairs room at The Cornerhouse (who knew it would be 13 degrees still at 9.30 on a December night?) And thanks too for your wonderful feedback ~ here's a taster, and there's loads more on our Nevertheless facebook page. 
Awesome! I really enjoyed all 3 ~ perfect combinations of interesting & thought-provoking as well as entertaining & funny 
 * Very talented writers – always provide a really good event    
 * Fantastic – all 3! Complemented each other really well. 
 * Hugely enjoyable. Beautiful writing as always from Nevertheless. 
 * They get better and better. Interesting subjects, thought-provoking  
 * Excellent. Best ever night.
 * Top class writing, thought-provoking, entertaining 
 * Absolutely loved it! 
 * Never experienced pub theatre but I’ll definitely come again
The show then went on to Alma Tavern in Bristol for two nights ~ we're indebted to our co-Producers Stepping Out Theatre Company for arranging this. An awesome project brought to excellent outcome, thanks Joanna Smith & Anneliese Paul our lovely actors.

The movie was Metatron, a debut feature from Frome Independent Film Makers premiering at the Westway on Sunday night. Film-makers Simon and Adam Bargus in collaboration with scriptwriter Nikki Lloyd to create a Pinteresque tale of a four people headed towards a menacing rendezvous, each with their own personal goals & conflicts.  Menacing and darkly comical by turns, this reminded me of Short Cuts ~ the film version of linked Raymond Carver short stories ~ slickly scripted & beautifully filmed with extended shots and superb locations.

And I can't end, as usual, without appreciating the amazing musical talent of Frome, offered for free at our great bars and venues ~ sadly, I didn't get to see everything but here's a glimpse of the marvellous Captain Cactus and the Screaming Harlots who drove us wild at the Silk Mill as well as at the Cornerhouse, Stephen Sax and the Jazz Jam gang who also set the Cornerhouse ablaze, and gorgeously cool Bonne Nouvelle at the River House, where incidentally Ellen makes cocktails like no-one else...  Happy seasonal festivities, everyone...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bah humbug, magic snow and capering crabs. Its that time again...

It's that time again, isn't it, and as I generally avoid the topical C-word with euphemisms like 'winter solstice' and 'festive season', the show currently at the Brewery in Bristol suits me fine: A Christmas Carol is as we all know the story of Scrooge, who although admittedly a capitalist with appalling business practice & a repugnant personality nevertheless had a point in his lack of sympathy with ritual celebrations.  Scrooge of course finally found sympathy for the ill & undernourished however which makes him a better man than George Osborne will ever be.
There’s no doubt about it, Living Spit have a special kind of magic. With farcically few props and only a chair for a set, this duo of ill-costumed & apparently graceless men completely control the stage whatever tale they decide to create or, as with A Christmas Carol, to inappropriately embellish. Admittedly the magic dust comes primarily from Stu Mcloughlin, who can raise an audience to its feet to sing a funeral hymn with the refrain He’s Satan’s Bum-boy Now, rouse them to hysteria with a Ghost of Christmas Past manifesting as an irritable Irish fairy called Sharon, and reduce them to tears as Bob Cratchett mourns at the grave of his lost child Tiny Tim. That’s what I call a wide range.  Howard Coggins is very good too and has a great voice especially in the song that replaces an interval, called the Interval Song, after which the story shifts to Bob Cratchett’s house where Howard is Bob's wife, the children are soft toys, and the christmas meal is a dead spider in a pile of hoover-dust. Hard to say which looked most unsuitable for purpose. As always there’s a mix of colloquial contemporary references and rehearsed ad libs in an performance that relies largely on audience affection, but the story is unexpectedly true to Dicken’s narrative from start to finish. And rather more expectedly, it’s very funny. (image Paul Blakemore)

For a more magical take on the season, head for the Rondo in Bath where Butterfly Psyche is telling the story of The Snow Child. Written and directed by Alison Farina, this endearing fantasy based on a Russian fairytale is vividly created by a strong cast - I especially enjoyed Piers Wehner as Father Frost and Charlotte Ellis as a vegetarian bear called Carl, while Beth Caudle is enchanting as the Snow Child. There's a great deal of emphasis on inclusive performance, both in special shows and by signing throughout the show which brings a kind of grace to all the interactions and becomes, like the falling snow, another of the magical elements in this lovely piece of theatre. On till December 20th.

The fairy tale of choice for Frome's Merlin was The Little Mermaid in a new version written by the theatre's artistic director Claudia Pepler, supported in this 'symbiotic' venture by a large creative team. Claudia was especially fascinated by the embittered Sea Witch who in this version has her own Miss-Haversham-style backstory ~ and her own redemptive resolution too. No authentic version of the Hans Anderson story can of course allow mer-Juliet to wed her land-Romeo (though they did perform a lift-filled dance that would've ensured their place in the Strictly final), but as Saturday was the last night it's not a spoiler to say there's a happy ending for the wilful little mermaid. Maisie Fogg was superb in this central role ~ in fact, the whole production was sumptuous, with an amazing set and lighting, great live music, glamorous costumes and fantastic fishes ~ the Moray Eel guarding the cave was amazing (Robin Ainslie-King created this illuminated monster, along with the dancing fish-heads.)  And Ryan Hughes & Aynsley Minty as clowning crabs provided a comedy double-act that very nearly eclipsed everything else. A well-deserved standing ovation from the full house ended this all-too-short run.

Elsewhere in Frome.... Poetry came to the Cheese & Grain in the guises of John Cooper Clarke, Clare Ferguson Walker and ~ my personal favourite ~ Luke Wright, looking more boy-bandish than ever. No gags about pictures in attics, please.  Luke is always amazing, and I especially enjoyed his epic abuse of Ian Duncan Smith in lipogram form using only the vowel I (because it's too easy to just call him a cunt) and a wonderful evocation of why he refused his invitation to the Palace last year to attend the 'Poetry Industry' awards: Have a Gong!
On a musical note, there are more than a few event clashes as the festive seasons starts properly rolling, but I did get to Al O'Kane's refugee fundraiser BOOM at Wheatsheaves where he was joined by Fat Stanley with disco from Banco de Gaia.  Is it only in Frome the dancing starts as soon as the music does, everywhere, both genders & several generations...? Mind you we did have Patrick Dunn's weird projections to encourage us (I noticed Nigel Farage pogoing alongside at one point)
I'll conclude with the reminder there's a fantastic lot of seasonal art in Frome right now, from the Winter Show at Black Swan Arts, beautifully curated with lights and shadow, to the Festival of Colour at Welshmill Hub where you can buy Amy Yates' views of the town as cards (and sample some of Stina's deadly-sin chocolate.)
Next week, of course, you can sample our Nevertheless Fringe Theatre winter production TOXIC COCKTAILS.... here's a rehearsal taster...