My Bizarro, Surreal Book Reading Events In 2017

Hello! I’ve got book writer author type events happening this year and, if possible, it would be wonderful to see you there. If you’re American I’ll be in Portland, Oregon, this November for an event that all weirdo writers should take part in. Have a look below at the fantastical things.

May 14th, Brighton, Made Cafe

As part of the Brighton Fringe I’ll be reading from my new novella (OUT NOW!) 4 Rooms In A Semi-Detached House (Strange House Books). Meet me downstairs in Made Cafe.

Readings And Revelry, July 4th, The Big Green Book Shop

American author Laura Lee Bahr is hosting an evening of interviews and readings at The Big Green Book Shop in London. It’s been on the BBC, don’t you know? We may be joined by writer Adam Lowe but, as yet, we’re not sure.

Bizarrocon, November 

And, finally, I shall be attending Bizarrocon mid November in Portland, Oregon, for a week of workshops and readings. If anyone is able to attend I shall see you there, but if not I’ll regale you with tales of the Lovecraft bar and other wondrous things. To find out more nearer the time follow blog bizarrocentral, or the specially dedicated site Bizarrocon.

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Songstresses and burlesque queens: Five unusual ladies

I’ve had to interview various unusual and creative ladies for magazines and it got me thinking about a few that people may not have heard of, but would like to.

I’m on some pretty heavy painkillers (have a read of my post on endometriosis) so forgive me if I don’t make much sense…

The first two are musical. I like ethereal music ladies such as Bat For Lashes and CocoRosie, and two singers/musicians I came across in the last few years have caught my interest.

Anneka Snip lives in Brighton and has collaborated with electronica artists like Milanese, Blue Daisy and Ital Tek.

Kid A (or Annie T) is an American lady who is currently on tour with Scroobius Pip. Have a listen:

Next up is a cabaret artist known as Missy Macabre. A one woman vintage burlesque freak show, I interviewed her about a short comedy/horror film she appeared in called Annabelle’s Tea Party. Have a look at her in action:

Next we have comedy burlesque performer Fancy Chance. I was sent to review The Fire Tusk Pain Proof Circus and she was very entertaining:

In the same show was Lucifire, the lead stunt woman. Amongst other things she ate glass, walked on it and made me chuckle (the gentleman onstage is her husband and fellow performer Professor Tusk):

Just as an added bonus here’s Bat for Lashes doing Horse and I at Shepherd’s Bush, London:

Live Storytelling

I’ve just read two of my stories aloud to a dictaphone, which made me feel a bit silly. Hopefully it’ll help me memorise them as I’ll be performing them this summer as one of my Braintree Ways characters, possibly at the Brighton Fringe, the Camden fringe and a smaller venue in Edinburgh (the paperwork has been arduous).

One of the stories will be The Magic Forest and a comical homage to Edwardian ghost stories called The Train Journey to Hell, and Liverpool Street.

It reminds me of the ancient way of storytelling by the aborigines or the Saxons or American Indians. I like to think of them sitting around a fire passing on tales they heard from their grandfathers – about pimp trolls and trains that take people to Hell.

I was inspired to hurry up and learn all my lines after seeing Simon Munnery perform at Colchester Art Centre last night, his character monologues are genius.

A visit from Brighton police

When I lived in Brighton, Bath, Dorset, Stratford and Salisbury it seemed as if something crazy was happening every day. It was the usual mix of youth, hormones, absence of supporting family/old friends and neglect of self-care, and the effect was similar to wandering through an episode of Eastenders in full swing. Or Days of our Lives if you’re American, minus the Exorcism scenes (just).

Anyway, I arrived at my friend’s house in Brighton to see a police car waiting outside. Helen invited me in with a worried expression and I followed her tiny frame into the front room. She and her housemate Nikki, along with a distraught and crying girl I’d never seen before, were giving statements to one very earnest policeman while their female lodger wailed to another in a different room. “Bloody Hell,” I thought, “What is it this time?”

“She was being horrible to her girlfriend again,” Helen explained, indicating the lodger making all the noise from the other room, “and when I told her not to she just went mad and attacked me!” Helen did indeed look shaken and angry.

“Oh dear,” I said helpfully.

“Right, well, she’ll be going somewhere else and we’ll be in touch,” the policeman explained as he got up to leave. Helen and Nikki’s lodger left with them and the flat fell into a heavy silence. The girlfriend of said lodger continued to weep.

“Shall I make tea then?” I offered, hurrying into the kitchen.

When everyone but the crying girl had the warm cups in their hands Helen explained that their lodger had been increasingly unpleasant to her girlfriend and Helen, always unwilling to ignore mistreatment, had had enough, leading to the attack. “You need to forget about her,” she said.

The girlfriend seemed to digest Helen’s advice. As I sipped at my tea she threw herself bodily against me and grappled me in a hug I wouldn’t give to my closest friends. Her tears dripped onto my shoulder. What could I do but hug back and stare fearfully at Helen, who bit her lip?

The hours passed, the sun rose high and soon she seemed to feel better. When she left we were all assured that tomorrow was a new day, that all would be well, and that she would begin a new life. That evening Helen got a call saying they’d got back together.

Cabaret cabaret!

Award winning Neo Burlesque artist Coco Deville in collaboration with PLAYGROUP Ltd present:

*CABARET! CABARET! *

27th November at 19.00, The Blind Tiger Club in Brighton

Not only will there be lovely ladies plus other acts, but our beautiful Braintree Ways faces will be projected on screen! Can you handle it? Roll up roll up!

Pro Hunters and a Stop and Search Ticket

I lived for a year in Brighton where everything always felt like it was happening at once. The pace of life is much faster than anywhere else I have lived and often frayed my nerves. From watching junky catfights to jugglers in a park known as the Level, it’s a place always full of surprises.

Me and Henry at home

At the time, end of Summer 2005, I had just moved to Brighton with my then boyfriend Matt. The only person we knew in Brighton was my ex-boyfriend Dave, who lived in a bed-sit. It had been quite an unplanned move and we hadn’t thought as far ahead as finding somewhere to live. Our living arrangements were a little odd: unbeknownst to us, also staying in the bedsit was another ex-girlfriend of Dave’s – Lauren – and her border-collie dog Henry. Thrown in to the mix was his current (soon-to-be ex) girlfriend’s lizard.

Practising circus folk on the Level

Strangely enough Lauren and I got on very well. We were quite similar, and not just because we were both short and slim with dreadlocks. The day started off innocuously; I awoke to the sound of seagulls screaming viciously, the smell of sea salt and the sensation of something landing heavily on my chest. It was the lizard. Matt and Dave were laughing. I was not.

We decided to wander down to the seafront and Matt dragged his tall, skinny frame out of bed, bed being a floor covered entirely in two mattresses. I have weird nostalgia for this uncomfortable time, though I’d hate to be back there in reality.

After breakfast we wandered past the cartoon-colourful shops along the lanes which I loved the way a magpie loves shiny glass, finally making our way onto the stony beach. As always the walkways, restaurants and bars along the seafront were alive with tourists. In the distance you could always see the two piers, one clean and shiny and the other broken and stooped, half of it having burnt and fallen into the sea many years ago.

I let Henry off the lead and watched him race towards the sea and then back away when he remembered being frightened of water. I stuck to the walkway, occasionally throwing a toy for him. Eventually we reached the Fortune of War pub and its benches sprawled outside. Only something was different.

It was the noise that hit me first; it wasn’t the usual level of noise from people at a party, it was something far bigger. Putting Henry back on the lead as we neared, I saw it. The place we had arranged to meet a friend was swamped by pro-foxhunting protesters, and I was wearing a green tie-dyed top, baggy jeans and dreadlocks. They were swarming across the beach, onto the benches of the pubs and congregating over the pier, the logos on their blue jumpers and signs blazing proudly. “Maybe they won’t discriminate,” I thought hopefully.

As we sat down I overheard a livid debate on the table next to us as a local and a protester argued their different perspectives on hunting. We made a point of talking about crisps. As we discussed the shrinking of Monster Munch from the days of old Henry began sniffing the older couple on the table next to us. If I’m looking after a dog I’m always conscious of whether they’re bothering people and I called him nearer to me. “We don’t dislike animals” said the lady. I struggled to hear them over the drunken shouting, but I could see their blue jumpers.

We got into a discussion about dogs, something they’re always handy for. As I chatted with the white haired couple, several protesters lurched off to another pub further down the seafront asking Matt if he wanted a fight. “No, not really,” he replied to a crash of laughter. Turning back to my conversation I saw something I knew I wasn’t going to like; a policeman and woman, making their way through the crowd towards me.

“I’m really sorry,” said the policewoman genuinely, “but we’ve had a report from someone that you’ve been seen doing drugs.” I laughed. Then I stopped.

“Oh, you mean really?”

They apologised again and said they’d have to search me. “We’ll just take you a way down the beach away from the crowds.” The older couple defended me and offered to look after Henry. I handed them the lead and got up, much to the enjoyment of several protesters nearby. We I wandered down the beach, trudging over the pebbles. I chatted to the police about the protest while I emptied my pockets, all to the sound of raucous laughter.

“Yeah, haven’t really had any trouble from them apart from this” said the policeman as he filled out a stop and search form. “You keep a copy of this form to show we didn’t find anything,” he explained, handing it to me. ‘Searched for illegal substances’ it said. I decided to put it on the wall of my new flat when we moved in. I said goodbye and meandered back to our bench, deciding to get another drink.

I'm the girl on the left