Free drop-ins at the Wellcome Collection!


I’m really excited about these!  I’m giving a series of free creative writing and poetry workshops in the Reading Room at the Wellcome Collection.  They’re drop-in ‘pop ups’,  so  won’t appear on the Wellcome’s website, but will be advertised in-house on the day.

All the sessions run from 2 pm to 5 pm, and you can stay for as much or as little as you like – and we’ll definitely take a break half way through the session, to help percolate ideas.

The sessions are on the following dates:

Friday 3rd March

Thursday 9th March

Friday 17th March

Saturday 25th March

Thursday 30th March

Saturday 1st April

 

In them, I want to think about the idea of discovery with you – how it happens, what different forms it takes, what it means to different people, who gets to do the discovering and who gets ‘discovered’ – and the idea of hiding and being hidden – why it happens, how it happens… as well as making use of the art and objects and books in this lovely space.  We’ll be doing plenty of writing exercises and a bit of talking.  Maybe see you there?

 

Ugly Q & A

Ugly Questions

Do you act like a hot girl or an ugly

girl? Do ugly girls ever get any boyfriends?

Do ugly people have any value? Should you

fuck ugly girls to improve your game? Should you

keep on being with an ugly girl

when there are no alternatives? Should you

hire ugly people? Are you hot, pretty,

average or ugly? Are ugly girls easy?

Are You Ugly, Cute, Hot, Or Head Turning

Sexy? (girls Only!!!) I am an ugly girl –

does that mean I will never get lucky? I

am an ugly woman. What chance do I have? Why are

the babies in medieval art so ugly?

Why are the emojis so ugly? Why are

the British so ugly? Why do engineers

use big old ugly computers? Why do foreigners

tend to marry women that are ugly?

Why do ugly boys get gorgeous girls?

If an ugly girl marries an ugly boy,

will the children too be ugly? If your child

were to be boring, stupid, or ugly, which one

would you prefer? Why didn’t evolution

get rid of ugly people? Why are ugly

paintings so expensive? Why is LA

so ugly? Why is train seat fabric so ugly?

Why is gravel ugly? Why are models

ugly? Why are feet ugly? What is an ugly

stick? What are ugly tomatoes? What is ugly

crying? Is your current PowerPoint template

ugly? How do ugly people find love?

 

 

Ugly Answers

 

Twenty-two ugly girls with hot bods. Thirty-

five pretty girls who became fat and ugly.

Five key things that ugly girls know that pretty

ones don’t. There is nothing worse than an ugly

girl who thinks she’s hot. An ugly girl

will usually harbour resentment towards

the hotter friend. No one takes pictures with

or of the ugly girl. No one writes books

about ugly women. Most people in

America are pretty damn ugly.

There’s not one ugly girl in Whistler village.

There are a lot of ugly female athletes.

Teenage girls. Some are really ugly.

Being around ugly women is bad

for your health. Fat girls are ugliest of all.

Ugly prostitutes exist. Here’s why

writers are ugly. The mood is ugly. Your baby

is ugly. I’m ugly, I know it and I have proof.

 

Two poems derived from using a search engine with ‘ugly’ as the key word, both attempting to hold a pentameter line (very variable feet!).  Being slightly hasty / lazy / ignorant, I’ve let WordPress put a lot of space into what should be very squashed-together, breathless lines, but the line breaks are where I want them.

Such richness of material, I might write an Ugly Ghazal as well – but there’s only so much misogyny I can digest in one go, so that might have to wait.  Happy Halloween.

3 years

Tara&Simon1998

I couldn’t find a photo of Tara from 2006 – or from 1996, for that matter, so here is one of her and Simon from 1998, out in our back garden.  It’s the photo that the Lord of Longitude and I have on our mantelpiece.

I think this might be the last post to commemorate her death.  Not that August 11th won’t always be a stone, weighting down the calendar – but maybe remembering her on her birthday might be better …

… I’m struggling, here …

… I want remembering Tara to be more than about her death.  I want it to be about her intelligence, her friendship, her kindness, her wit, her sense of fun, about saying, look, I knew this REMARKABLE woman, she had such an effect on me in ways obvious and not and I will never forget her.

So, look, I knew this remarkable woman and was lucky enough to be her friend, and I still miss her, it is cruel beyond belief that she died and I still don’t believe it, these three years later, but there it is, and meanwhile all of us who loved her try to get on with our lives and somehow here she is, still, the things she said, the jokes she made, the way she listened, her laugh, what she cared about, all of the stuff that made her Tara, still here, not forgotten, never forgotten.

Tara Louise Few

22.03.68 – 11.08.13

 

#RefugeesWelcome

When you ask me, Where do you come from?
how do I answer? How does anyone?
All of us sound different on my street.
In each of us, so many of these crossings
– and in this city, so many crossings meet.
Say ach y fi. Say bore da. Say croeso.

(from ‘The Unicorn’, The Bridle, 2011, Salt)

25 years ago London said croeso to me.  I’ve been a ‘Welsh-sounding Auckland pakeha’ , a ‘Kiwi-sounding East Anglian’, a ‘rural-sounding Cambridge undergraduate’, a ‘posh-sounding Forest of Deaner’.  I’ve been ‘Welsh’, I’ve been ‘English’, I’ve been ‘Wenglish’. I’ve been a ‘tomboy’, I’ve been’butch’, I’ve been ‘femme’, I’ve been ‘straight’, I’ve been ‘bi’, I’ve been ‘queer’.  However I’ve chosen to identify – however hazily, with whatever imperfect knowledge, (and no matter that these days I find these identity labels for myself less and less helpful and don’t bother with them*) – London has made room for me.

We’re all descended from migrants if you go back far enough.  Why wouldn’t we welcome more of our own?

(* but that’s my privilege speaking, of course, that I can evade them.)

Chat

Something unusual happened the other day: my neighbour and I had a chat.  She lives a few doors up from us, and was out in the sun, tidying the front, as I rounded the corner.  I’d just come back from a wonderful writing retreat* and was beaming at everyone.

We said hi, and something prompted me to stop.  She is wry, very funny, friendly and is soppy-silly over the babies and littlies in her family, but we don’t seem to chat beyond the occasional sarcastic remark about boy racers or loud music in the street.  Usually it’s just a friendly wave or a ‘hi’, maybe a ‘nice weather’…

So we chatted about the weather.

‘Let’s hope it stays this way.’

‘Yeah, though it makes fasting hard.’  Ramadan starts in early June and the long days mean long, deprived hours.  ‘Still, Allah will give us patience.’

I wished then I knew the words for ‘Have a good Ramadan’.

*

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this is what electing Sadiq Khan does for us?  Reminded us of who we are, got us talking to each other.  Or maybe this is what Islamaphobia has finally done for us.  With an ‘extremist’ poised to run for US President, with both blatantly and covertly racist political campaigns in this country, maybe London has decided it’s time to make a stand.

Congratulations, Sadiq.  And to those of you that will be starting your fast in early June, I wish you Ramadan Mubarak.**

*It was the SCBWI British Isles Spring Retreat.  It changed my life!

**My thanks to the writers of this site for educating me.

 

Doctor, Doctor!

Picture0126

Look!  It’s real!  I’ve got a PhD!

The certificate came in the post a few days ago.  The Lord of Longitude & I celebrated with a glass of prosecco or three.

I’m proud to have stuck it out and weathered all the doubt and anxiety, but it’s weird.  I don’t feel any different.  I’m not sure what I expected – to suddenly be able to  quote Heidegger with perfect understanding, maybe, or to summarize my thesis in 50 words or less first time?  That definitely hasn’t happened.  Still the same old tangle of questions, still the same old self-consciousness at using words like ‘interiority’ (what my thesis was about, ffs!).

The LoL rolls his eyes when I say this.  ‘All of this has happened before.  All of this will happen again.’  Welcome to the club.

When I was having trouble summing up my research, my supervisor said to me, ‘Imagine what you would say if someone held a loaded gun to your head, and you had to finish the sentence “My thesis is…” or they’d shoot you.’

It didn’t work.  All I could think was – as I wailed to the LoL afterwards, ‘My thesis is… oh just shoot me now!’

But my beloved is wise, and he said ‘Imagine you have a plate of scones in front of you: fresh strawberries, clotted cream, the works.  And you can have them all if you just finish the sentence.’

And off I went.  ‘My thesis is-‘ And I finished the sentence.

If you are also labouring up the PhDface, I wish you fortitude.  It’s a tough climb, but it can be done.  You’ll make it – good luck!