Russell Brand markets himself as the Marmite of the media world. Love or loathe him, he wants only your dilated gaze - which I suppose makes him not really like Marmite at all as those squat pots are inanimatedly indifferent to our taste. Perversely, I used to consider him ok but not unmissable, somewhere between Moylesy and Scott Mills in the mid-list attention bracket, until my son, rightly intuiting incipient allure, gave me a copy of 'My Booky Wook'. Stylistically it's a chaotic blend of self-help casestudy, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Heat magazine, and must be compulsive reading for anyone who a) ever looked back at their life with mortification b) enjoys bizarre phraseology or c) likes to laugh. So that's 3 page-turning reasons for me. "I don't wanna get all Holden Caulfield about it," says our 'congenitally self-obsessed and solipsistic' hero looking back on the 'psychotropic fog' of his life, "but I do see the passage into adulthood as a betrayal of the innocent values of childhood. Even the most savage monsters that history or red-top tabloids can parade were once just soppy tots, and before that snug li'l foetuses - and I've never met a foetus that I didn't like yet."
Which segues seamlessly into writer/actor Pip Utton's double bill at the Merlin Theatre on Friday: "Adolf" and "Bacon". I much preferred the second. Frances Bacon may have been a bit on the depraved side but sadistic buggery between consenting adults is less horrible than genocide. And I liked the jazz and the TS Eliot quotes, and camp quips such as “champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends”, and the underlying sense of scraping for some kind of artistic truth like smearing paint from a canvas to uncover the reality: that flesh is meat. "Art should shock," the dead painter declares, in between reminiscing of life, love and lust: "The job of an artist is always to deepen the mystery."
And this is release week for another monster, Sweeney Todd with lovely panda-eyed Helena Bonam Carter being a very naughty girl as she convinces revenge-riddled Johnny Depp to butcher his clients, starting with the plump ones: "the trouble with Poet is how do you know it’s deceased? Try the Priest."
I know the characters have other names - the demon barber has 2 - but huddling in the Westway cinema for this gothic-lit Jacobean tragedy, we're all here for the real-life talents scrolling down the screen - especially Tim Burton.
While bad weather hits the headlines nationwide, Spring continues to creep cunningly into the southwest. Here's the lanes near my house, and the canal at Bradford on Avon.
Frome Writers' Circle decamped to Bradford for a meeting at Jo's cottage, with quirky love stories and tales of independent living. Some great opening lines, like "Is it possible to sue God?" and "Stella had flue, not the sedate kind..." Starters were this month's theme, so finishes will be the focus for next time.
Coming soon to Frome, another one-man show: Luke Wright, "Poet and Man". It's brilliant - I saw it in Edinburgh - and at the Merlin March 29th. Luke mails to say he's been plagarised by a guy called Gav, which is especially annoying as the ripper doesn't get the rhythms of the poems he's ripping off. The full & very funny story is on his new blog.
News of this and other upcoming local events will be on Poetry Frome. Big virtual bouquet to Harry and Helen of Knibb.net who've created this new site to promote and archive all our writerly activities. One to bookmark.