Sunday, November 04, 2018

Journeys literal, literary, musical & memorial

Leading with words this week, with two brilliant events both really well attended. Apologies for the image Fail on Monday for the Frome Poetry Cafe, where our two guest poets Shauna Robertson and Dawn Gorman treated us to a their two-hander of poems on a theme of 'restraint and release', intimate personal glimpses full of profound thought and wonderful imagery. The ten open-mic poets were all impressive, and included several readings composed especially for this autumnal celebration, as always with a range of styles and topics. A lovely event, followed next night by a double book launch at Hunting Raven Books organised by Frome Writers Collective imprint Silver Crow, where both local authors talked about, and read from, their own personal journey of discovery. Dizzy Greenfield wrote Strays and Relations about discovering her birth mother, and Ed Green had found a bag of letters from the front by his great-uncle and set out to research the full story:  It Leaves Me The Same (the poignant sign-off of many of these missives) represents part of a healing process for his family, and perhaps all of our community as we teeter on the brink of senseless separation from Europe. A fascinating evening sensitively managed by interviewer Gill Harry.
An impulse dash to Bruton on Wednesday, as the last days of October persisted in sunshine & blue sky with golden leaves still thick on our trees, to see the Stages and Tales exhibition by Berlinde de Bruyckere at Hauser & Wirth - massive pieces of weathered decomposing fabric, resinated & evocative of classic paintings strangely deteriorated - and also to enjoy an entertaining all-age matinee show from Mumblecrust Theatre. The Tale of the Cockatrice may or may not be based on an ancient traditional legend but it provides the two performers a terrific showcase for their talents and their puppets, with props and visual tricks that brought magic to the bland surroundings of the Union Club and delighted a large group of rapt children and their elders.

Another talented stage duo on Thursday as Living Spit returned to Bristol, to the new Weston Studio at BOV, with their current historical exposition Giants of Science. Stu Mcloughlin and Howard Coggins specialise in recreating half-remembered famous tales, from Henry VIII and his wives to Frankenstein's monster, and the basic gag is the same: it’s that Stu can effortlessly morph into any role, often in multiples (he was three people having in conversation at one point) and can bring unexpected poignancy to wild absurdity, and that Howard is always like a shouty Dad. Somehow the combo works, mostly, superbly and the end result is always funny and sometimes hilarious. I’d say this is one of the funny ones. The songs, accompanied on guitar, are witty, and their SCIENTRIFFIC history is more than merely preposterous.  From Ancient Greece the 'lecture' moved swiftly to Galileo, Newton (Coggins excelling here as an exasperated apple tree), and Mary Anning finding fossils on the beach at Lyme Regis. Then we had Ada Lovelace (did you know she invented the first computer programme? No, me neither), Charles Darwin and of course Einstein himself, now converted by relativity into a quarrelsome double personality, since all motion must be defined relative to a frame of reference and space and time are relative, rather than absolute concepts. Glad we got that sorted...
 Samhain celebrations at the Grain Bar Roots Session featured the Back Wood Redeemers, fresh from their triumph at Bradford on Avon last week, and the brilliant Raggedy Men were on scorching form in the halloween-party atmosphere of the Cornerhouse on Saturday - which was also firework night for most of the town.
Frome Town Council put on a highly-rated display at the Old Showground but the fireworks over the industrial estate viewed from my study window were thrilling too - though not as thrilling as the murmuration of starlings over Rodden Reserve on my family walk next day, swirling high across the landscape in gathering numbers then dropping suddenly en masse onto the wetland lakeside reeds.

Sunday being the first one of the month was also Frome Independent market day though I can't offer any image or report of highlights as I was stationed outside Hunting Raven Books with copies of Frome Unzipped - from Pre-History to Post Punk, selling all but one of my current stock, which pleasing (though smug) note concludes my week's meanderings in and around Frome.
This is a month of sombre rememberings so here's Tom & Amy with Carl to wish you happier times than the gloomy glimpses offered by Thomas Hood in his 1844 poem:
No sun - no moon!  No morn - no noon - no dawn
No earthly view – No distance looking blue  
No travelling at all – no locomotion 
No inkling of the way – no notion 
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, 
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November!

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