Thursday, 26 February 2009

Sometimes... Exhibition: Day 3


We are up and running, excited but weary, sore feet, aching legs, but it's fun. So far today:

Selina Bus & Walk 12.00 Noon - 1.40PM - Piccadilly Gardens - Rusholme - Oxford Rd opposite Cornerhouse, shopping for accessory's for a sister's school leaving-do. £10

Rowena - Bus 12.00 Noon - Number 8 Bus, with anecdotes. £TBC

Ian - Walk 2.30-4.00PM - Tour of gig venues, city centre, searching for silences. £TBC.

Chris - Walk 4.30-5.15disused railway line, Fallowfield to Chorlton (where he used to walk Madge the Dog). £5.

Gareth - Walk 6.00 Foot of the Hilton Tower , to Castlefields, Deserted. £TBC

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Sometimes... Exhibition: Day 2


Day 2 of our journeys is underway with the good folk of Manchester. So far: 

Jenny - Late Cancellation but possible reschedule.

Sophie - Bus / Walk 9.30-12.00 Noon: Castle Irwell, Salford - Fallowfield - Deansgate: tour of halls of residence and old houses. £15

Natalie H - Walk 12.00 Noon. Jackson's Row Synagogue, to Town Centre. £TBC 

Kathryn - Walk 2.00PM-3.30: Greenheys Centre, Manchester Science Park to Christie's Hospital, Wilmslow Rd. £9. 

Mark - Walk, 4.00PM-5.15 Koffee Pot, Stevenson Sq to Manchester Museum to Chinatown. £8

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Sometimes... Exhibition: Day 1


Sometimes... (art collective I work with) have begun our residency at Manchester's greenroom, leading towards our exhibition at that goes up on the 6th March. Following on from our MEGA £500 giveaway for 'Wouldn't it be nice...' in 2007, we are spending this year's £500 budget we are paying participants £6 p/h. Our brief was to develop an exhibition with show with a number of Manchesterfolk, exploring most beloved places, so phil and I will be walking, cycling, bus-ing and train-ing around, strolling and yomping and dashing and traipsing along with 22 of Manchester's finest citizens. Yesterday we had a marathon meet&greet with participants and we timetabled what looks to be a very busy week. So far we have scheduled visits / journeys to churches, homes, inland waterways, steam train lines, bus routes, parks, disused buildings, gig venues, cafes, and popular attractions.

Big thankyous to the very very helpful Aowyn Sandeson, current head of marketing at greenroom, who has worked with particular efficiency to help get this project off the ground.

Today's journeys so far:

Tom - Walk: 10.00AM-12.00 Noon: Along the canalside up from Deansgate Lock to Piccadilly Basin, then Oklahoma, for peppermint tea (£12 for 2 hours + £14 for train fares).

Natalie S - Cycle: 2.00PM: Sacred Trinity Church (renowned venue) to home £TBC

John - Walk: 3.30PM-4.30PM from Duke's 92 up canal. £6

Rob - Walk: 5.00PM: Tour of Tall Buildings for City Skylines £TBC

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Zenit TTL

On Monday Night, discussing the marvelous photographs taken of Kings of England's BAC show by Kate Rowles (see post below), our family discussions turned to photography and the lamentable failure of my recently-purchased Sony Cybershot camera to take decent pictures under theatre lights. My Dad, who was perhaps never "a photographer" (although he has taken many pictures) told me that he still owned a 35mm SLR, bought in 1986 after Mum dropped his other one on the deck of Grandad's canal boat. So as a family we rushed upstairs to discover the camera's wherabouts. And we discovered 1 x Zenit TTL 35mm stills camera; 1 x Zenit TTL manual; 1 x Toshiba flash unit (with cracked bulb-cover); 1 x screw-on-leather cover & strap, 1 x leather camera bag. So this week has been mainly a process of discovering how to use this almost entirely manual device (it has a light-meter, which is its most modern feature). After ripping one film in half I went to Glossop Tescos with Dad to do the weekly shop and bought a Kodak Gold 400ASA film and took a lot of pictures of tree branches which were pretty uninteresting. The 1-Hour Photo counter wasn't doing 1-Hour Photos today so I took the film to Lorrel's in New Mills, and, 30 minutes later after a brief spend-athon in OXFAM, I got back 36 exposures, all of which were clear and unfuckedup. But the best 2 were of birds.

1 was of a single bird with its wings spread out, that reminded me of the tattoo that you have on the inside of your right arm. The other was of 4 birds in formation, circling something, blurred. They aren't brilliant pictures but they prove that the cameras work. But it's the excitement of having something else to do, another thing to hold, a new possibility.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Kings of England BURST Commission, BAC, 20th/21st May

Good News! Excellent News, in fact -

Kings of England have been offered a small commission and a chance to perform at BURST, the Battersea Arts Centre's Annual Flagship platform for theatre / performance, live art and all that. We gladly accept. Our gigs will be on the 20th / 21st May, so diary it if you are London based or somewhere close by. Unfortunately Mum can't make it as she will be on a walking holiday, but Dad and I are excited. The bonus is that this time, it should be worth a week's wages, a bit of expenses and a 50/50 box-office-split. More details "soon".

Big Love,

K of E. x

Kings of England Accepted to Performing Lives Conference, Kingston University, 6-8th July

Indeed. My first conference as an "independent scholar" post-PhD. The proposal read:

(In response to the question: “WHOSE LIFE?”):

Since April 2008 I have been performing alongside my 74-year-old father under the name “Kings of England”. Our show, “Where We Live & What We Live For” has been scratched at five times and has confirmed for support by the BAC, the Nuffield Theatre and Leeds Met Studio Theatre in 2009.

I found a picture of my father (before he was my father) jumping from the rocks toward the sea. The picture, taken off the South coast of France in 1958, catches him partway down.

In 2001 he suffered a transient-ischemic attack, falling of a bicycle in the hillsnear home. My mother reports that for an hour, he did not remember his name, now where he was; nor where he lived.

I asked him about his fall, and about his landing, and he seemed to be unable to remember much at all except for “how clear the water was” and “all these little fishes”, he said: “talk about a clear blue sea”.

In response he has given me license to reclaim that lost hour, writing invention and supposition into the spaces created in the event of forgetting.

We may accord these inventions and suppositions certain ethical significance, drawing a Blanchotian treatment of the verb “to research” through Levinasian treatment of the unknowable-ness of the other: inventing fictions to replace lost facts, we aim to preserve the dignity of the unknown as unknown, as a point of convergence between us.

For ‘Performing Lives’ we propose to show 15 minutes of performance followed by 15 minutes Q & A.

Hauser 'I made you a submarine' Tour All Wrapped Up

Kings of England at MAP LIVE, Source Cafe, Carlisle, 4th February

The following extracts were delivered as a short lecture at the Source Cafe as part of a night organized by the excellent Di Clay from Matrix Art Projects, combining Regional and National work with the ACE-funded LANWest tour. Also on the bill were: Leentje van de Cruys, Andy Wilson, Krissi Musiol, Katy and Peter Merrington, and Chris Fitzsimmons.


Good Evening and welcome to the first of tonight’s lectures, which concerns, for the most part, the passing of time.

We are looking for a way out, an escape, an evasion, it could be a door but more likely a window, mark the exits for your safety {point} and it seems that the event of performance is the place in which we are least likely to find it. We are gathered here on the condition that we will disperse. We will go home, sooner or later, more or less directly, for a night cap or a cup of tea, supper, take the dog for its late-night walk, get some sleep before work. To leave and arrive returned, to put distance between here and there, will somehow relate to us that ‘familiar story, the old, old story of…’ time told by the ticking of seconds, minutes and hours.

Article 1/-

You are sick, the doctors say no fluids, and I tell you that when you get out of there were going to going to get you drunk as a Lord. You like the sound of that and for a last time, you laugh. Three or four days later, you die. A toast, then, to the passing of time, and furthermore, to dead dogs, dead children, dead lovers, dead heroes and how good it is to be alive.

Article 2/-

24th January 1915 - 12th January 2008. Thirty-three thousand, five hundred and sixty-eight (33,568) days have gone by.

Articles 4 and 5/-

{first picture}

He is in the third of his ninety-three years. He is already a quiet boy, belying the modest and humble man he will become. He has a lifetime of hard work ahead of him, several disappointments. But for now there is time, as the shutter clicks and the powder flares and the shadow is cast, to be witnessed blameless and free, as the shadow lengthens on the curtain backdrop.

{last picture}

He is in the last of his ninety-three years. It is the last picture in which you can clearly see his face, or rather, his features, as they had been, consistent, to the form that had shaped them, belonging to his twenties and thirties as much as to his eighties and nineties.

He can’t hold much food down and has been troubled by a urine infection to which he will finally succumb. He is visited regularly by his two daughters, their husbands, but he has not seen his youngest grandson for months, and he has not seen his eldest for years. But he is, at least, outwardly, without complaint, and although his wife has died and his memories are receding, and his lodgings are more than can be afforded, he never breathes a word of these losses, not one. You see there are some men who are born complainers, these men have been bested and find no glory in hardship, and little reward. And there are some men, once capable men, who count themselves fortunate. These men have been bested and take pleasure in giving respect.

Article 6/-

Between the first and the last presented with a kind of incontrovertible evidence, if we accept that the first and the second are indeed two points of a continuum, two images of the same person, old man, little boy.

To think that time can be cut and mended, looped, ribboned, tangled and unpicked, is to beg a kind of freedom from the advancing of hours. But I look at your blood that collects in the bag, dirty black blood, and the greyish whites of your eyes and they tell me: don’t believe it. To love time and aging is to understand and accept consequence. The wish to stop time, or open it forever, reflects a desire for a life without consequences, in which mistakes can be rectified, words unsaid, deeds undone, deaths un-died. But then you turned to me and you asked me “is there another world” and the last thing I tell you is “Yes”.

Article 7/-

There are some things that we don’t talk about, because we no longer believe that we need to. Some things we are square with, or else they cannot be squared. And there are some things that we don’t ask about, but because we are young and have boundless love of questions and have not yet been told not to, we ask:

When I asked him, he looked at me and answered.

I wanted him to point and show me and say: “I killed these men”, but they were buried somewhere, far off, where the rivers and forests and villages had names I couldn’t pronounce.

The simple “Yes” satisfied me, even then, and it satisfies me now. He killed those men, got captured, starved for three years. Amongst hundreds of thin men they called him “the thin man” and because he could fix the trucks, the guards thought he was useful and so he survived it, and having secured for himself a reasonable chance of a future for himself, he returned to his wife, raised two daughters, who each had a son and from then he lived as if it were peacetime, kindly, and very decently. And that’s it, and that’s all.

Kings of England at BAC New Year, New Spaces 30th/31st January

"Style is the answer to everything..."
Dad comes out of The Wilderness singing an old hymn "The Pilgrim Stranger"
Dad, returned from The Wilderness, dances with Mum to "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" arranged by John Fahey & His Orchestra.
Photographs by friend and collaborator
Kate Rowles.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Confirmed Residency at BAC / Ideas

Kings of England have a confirmed residency at Battersea Arts Centre in January (26th-31st) as part of their New Year, New Spaces initiative, which gives me space for a week and open doors on the last two days so that Audiences can see our process and a showing.

So I need some ideas. I have been working on some new texts for K of E, concerning decisive moments in our family's history, the things that escape ellipsis and make ot into the chronology.

How to leave or get left, and how to recover (the work has already begun to concern recoveries). And I want to show that some were possible, were achieved. But each recovery we make is miraculous, singular and exceptional, learnt from experience, so consequently it is hard to teach how-to-recover.

The 2008 scratch shows (BAC / You and Your Work 5 / Greenroom / Bluecoat / Custard Factory) concerned loss of memory. We performed to raise a question against the forgotten. So father sang for us "The Aeroplane Over The Sea", whistling in the wind.

But my interest is turning toward other, earlier recoveries. John Berger wrote something like (and I'll check this later): "the world of circumstance and contingency into which I had been born long ago". I can look at my father's life and see the proprieties, circumstances or contingent events that had to occur in order for the story, or the chronology, to be what is is. Were it not for ABC, no XYZ. And that chronology, at a certain point, permitted me.

See the Kings of England Blog and BAC website for more.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Hauser Performances 16th / 17th October

Kings of England at You and Your Work 5

Kings of England performed last night at Easton Community Centre, Kilburn St, Bristol, as part of You and Your Work 5. We developed "Recent Falls" into "Where We Live and What We Live For", a 20-minute text that structured a few short performances from Dad, most notably, a song and dance, which he pulled off with his customary panache.

"Where We Live..." cited or otherwise appropriated writings by Henry David Thoreau (the title is adapted from a Chapter from Walden), Charles Bukowski, John Berger, Yevgeny Vinokurov, Garrison Keillor, Larry McMurtry, and Tobias Wolff. This won't tell you much about the show but a copy of the text is available on request, just email me at the address in the 'about us' section.

For now, here is an excerpt from the introduction:

“Good Evening, and welcome to the (third) of tonight’s performances, which concerns, for the most part, the passing of time, we were kestrels and starlings, the passing of time, let’s drink to that, the passing of time, and furthermore, to dead dogs, dead children, dead lovers, dead heroes and how good it is to be alive.

“We dedicate this, our third show, to a memory of one morning hour spent with a lost friend (and to him) in the summer 2001. And shortly my father will present – in lieu of everything else – a song and dance, mothered by all sorts of hardy emotions and a curiosity see how he moves these days, to hear what he sounds like these days, to reconsider who he is, who he has been, and who, perhaps, he shall be" (...)

We got lots of positive feedback over drinks afterwards, and everyone asked what we're going to do next, encouraging us to develop the work. I think Dad was quite surprised how well it was received and I could see his confidence soar as all the young people took the time to thank him. He was, as ever, gracious and kind, pretty quick after two glasses of wine, great to see him enjoy our work, and the others shows too. I think in his old age he is becoming a live art enthusiast.

But I have to thank the organizers and the wonderful people we met, old friends or new: Birgit Binder; Sylvia Rimat; Katherina Radeva (who held up Dad's cue-cards); Jo Bannon; Chris Collier, Ella Good and the Tinned Fingers gang; Duncan Speakman; Jo Britcher; Zoe Collins; Katrina Horne; Hannah and Maritea from Pennyblack, and the excellent technician (who I think was called Michael). And most of all, big thanks to Dad, for his dilligence and care. After the gig we went back to our digs, a B&B on Fishponds Rd, noisy with the traffic, cracked a bottle of wine and talked for an hour or two like best mates, before 4 hours ragged sleep and then up.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

K of E at BAC / Hauser Rehearsals


Kings of England did prettty well at Battersea Arts Centre last week. Dad and I performed a 10-15 minute version of an earlier lecture I had given at greenroom in Manchester. 'Recent Falls' is a response to a photograph I found of my father jumping into the sea in the south of France, 1958. In our vintage swimwear, I narrated and Dad performed a jump, a fall and a recovery, with some help from my mum who held cue-cards and ribbons for us.
We got good feedback from audience- and producerfolk, and Dad seemed to enjoy himself thoroughly.

The next morning I got up and travelled to Leeds Met Studo theatre where we (Hauser) are currently putting finishing touches to 'I Made You a Submarine' a new show directed by Swen Steinhauser.

We have all been ill and it has been hard going, but the structure is down and we are growing more confident. I'll write somethig more on this after our showing for students on Thursday.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Residency at the Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home

I have just completed a whistle-stop residency at the Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home, run by TwoAddThree (Lena Simic and Gary Anderson) from their Everton Address in Liverpool.

The premise for my residency was to explore the streets that my relatives grew up on: Gredington Street (Grandma), Aigburth Vale (Grandad) and Fernwood Road (Auntie May). I also visited the street of the sheltered accomodation where Grandma lived with Grandad until she died and the street of the Care Home where Grandad was looked after nearly five years before being admitted to Whiston Hospital on 25.12.07. He died on the 12 January this year, and upon his death I began to understand just how little I could learn of his youth. Anyway, the walks I made in Aigburth and Huyton were dedicated to the memories of Rene, Ollie and May.

There is something of psychogeography, something of family history on this project, and I am unclear as to possible outcomes, but I think I will end up writing extensively on this at some point.

I am tired and tomorrow I am off to London for the BAC gig with Dad on Thursday. For now I want to extend a warm thanks to Lena, Gary, Neal, Gabby and Sid, and to Ania Bas, another artist in residence at the Institute. Please click on the link and read up on her work.

More soon.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Kings of England Accepted to BAC Freshly Scratched AND You And Your Work 5, Bristol

Good News!

Kings of England, have been accepted for two gigs.

The first is at Battersea Arts Centre in London on the 18th September, as part of their Freshly Scratched Festival. The event starts at 7PM and is a pay-what-you-can event. We will be presenting a reworking of 'Recent Falls', a performance lecture concerning a jump, a fall, and a recovery made by my Dad in 1958, 2001 and 2008 respective.

The second is at Easton Community Centre in Bristol, as part of You and Your Work 5, on the 3rd of October (times and costs TBC). The platform is curated by Birgit Binder and Sylvia Rimat. We will be presenting 'Where We Live & What We Live For', a series of interchangeable short talks and performances which look at place, belonging and identity through the lens of our relationship at father and son.

I am blogging our doings at

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Hauser Rehearsals and Forthcoming Tour

Good News!

I am returned from 4 days rehearsals with Hauser at greenroom, which went by in a blur of long days and short night. The performance we are devising is to be called I Made You a Submarine. It is scheduled for an Arts Council-funded tour, the dates are:

Thursday 16th October, Alsager Arts Centre, Alsager;
Friday 17th October, greenroom, Manchester,
Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th November, Leeds Met Studio Theatre, Leeds,
Thursday 11th February, Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster, Saturday 14th February, ICIA Bath.

Rehearsals were long, but very productive, and it feels like we are in a much better position now than we were a month ago after two weeks in Lancaster. I'm not going to get into this too deeply here, I don't want to give much away, but I think it's shaping up to be an interesting show, and I feel like I'm learning a lot.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Hauser Rehearsals

Yes, next week (Tuesday 26th - Friday 29th) Hauser will be in rehearsal at Manchester's greenroom. So the next couple of days should see me walking aimlessly around the house trying to learn my lines. Rehearsing will be a welcome break from endless applications I've been doing since we last rehearsed, and it will be great to see Neil, Simone, Anthea, Anna and Alice again. Rather by chance Swen turned up here last Tuesday night with Christian, a friend from Germany having walked over from Edale. A surprise but then, Swen is very surprising.
Last time we rehearsed it went well, and on the last day a lot of changes freshened up two weeks worth of work so I'm eager to get back and see what we have. The costumes should be getting towards done, and a lot of the set as well.

More soon

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Cupola Bobber Summer School

Good News!

I am returned from the Cupola Bobber Summer School at Lanternhouse International in Ulverston, Cumbria. Cupola Bobber are Steven Fiehn and Tyler Myers, and you can check on their doings here.
An great week, well-organized, well-structured, with an excellent group of participants - Ian Abbott (Elusive Camel Productions and a former Sundayer), Eilidh Macaskill (whom I met at Neil and Simone's DIY4 last year, half of Glasgow-based Fish and Game, and one whole of Eilidh's Daily Ukulele Ceilidh), Stacy Makishi, Vic Ryder,Claire Blundell Jones (just returned from Luxembourg n a residency and another former Sundayer), Simone Kenyon (Brief Magnetics), Rommi Smith, Zoe Collins, Jenny Lawson (Escape), and Dr. Alice Booth (of the Nuffield Theatre, Imitating the Dog and Hauser).

Monday morning I saw Jenny by chance on the train up, and we arrived well before 11, got the tour, ate something, I forget what, and went into a first exercise, having been assigned a space in the Lanternhouse, we described a site-specific performance that would take place there in the future. Later in the afternoon, more exercises, then a great veggie chilli and lots of red wine. We read our letters introducing ourselves to the group, before some very accomplished and informative ukulele action and a bit of a dance. Can't believe how fresh I felt the morning after.
On Tuesday morning a walk up Conniston Old Man was canceled due to poor weather conditions but we went instead for a three-miler down by the sea, having been issued the instruction to note down three presences and three absences.
My presences were also my absences, because I was trying to be clever, but for the record they were:

1 You all, in earshot 10
2 You all, in view 9
3 flash of bright orange light 8
4 stunning bright blueness 7
5 three horses 6
6 clicks of beating wings 5
7 our ragged... 4
8 shore line, slowed 3
9 last night's rain, a residue, in the dips in the road 2
10 slip 1

We had to go away and write two A4 sheets about 2 one of our 'presences' and one of our 'absence' that somebody else had picked for s, having half an hour or so for each. I struggled, finding it hard to write so uch about something so little, but that, of course, was the point. From the big mess I made on the page I cite the following, for the 'shore line' bit:
centime, ragtime, old boat, shoal, rope mender, rope maker, slingshot, bottletop, masthead, light, fallow field, washerwoman, fleet, (...) the light falls on you handsomely, the stomach of a young woman (...) a body brought from the shore, cracked, how beautiful we will be when we forget how to count (...) you rest your bones in a language I have not yet learned to speak (...) here I am, a land animal, I stoop to pick up a set of good reasons and crumple them in my palm
Nothing I'm particularly happy with, but there it is.

In the afternoon most of us went for a second walk up a hill with a monument to a man whose name I can't remember. It started off sunny (I was by then slightly sunburnt, like the Englishman I am) but quickly turned to rain, then thunder, then lightening. The monument drew lots of Phallus comments from those of us with university degrees, and whilst the weather was slightly rough, it was certainly bracing. We trudged home gladdened by the the thought of dinner. Ian made everyone pancakes.
That night we had to write a letter to a collaborator who we would be working with for the rest of the week. I wrote verbosely, quite heavy stuff, the following morning, (the Wednesday). At the end of the week Zoe, who I got partnered with, quoted a line from it: "I'm not ready for you yet, I'm still trying to deal and to cope with the last one".
After we had been assigned to our pairs, we were given the brief to pick a space in or around the building and to devise a performance lasting 5-10 minutes.

We chose a roof garden (so-called, mostly flagstones, with a box-structure, a sky-light into the music room, a shed home now to pigeons (I will try to get pictures from Steven and Tyler ASAP).
By the end of the afternoon we had tp show a 1-minute performance, but I cannot for the life of me remember what we showed.

On the Thursday morning, an exercise, go outside (onto mine and Zoe's roof garden, incidentally and pick out 12-5 things that the clouds remind you of).

Mine were:
1. A Mackerel skin
2. The skin on hot milk
3. Thousands of floating specks of light*
4. The colour of a dog I know. N.B., She used to live here
5. A turbulent sea
6. Grandad
7. The Last of the Mohicans
8. The speed of sound
9. 2 days ago, the thunder
10. The Ashokan Farewell
11 Flood in my eyes
13. The dirty whites of Dad's eyes

*They aren't in the sky they are in my eyes.

Then a full day of work, resulting in five ten-minute showings. Zoe and I had a proliferation of ideas, spen 2 hours supposing, ten minutes panicking and fifty minutes making a piece, a choreography for the other eight participants and for Steven and Tyler in or roof garden doing various activities ranging for durations of between two and five minutes, then a feedback session.

On Friday we cut this down to a line walking one step forward, two steps back, one step forwards, two steps back, a turn, to overlook the Lanterhouse gardens and a few streets, a church, and a block of flats. We handed a pair of binoculars down the line and whispered fragments of text from our writing process, documenting all the devising we had done, with a few reflections of our time there that seemed pertinent. About halfway through this an old woman from the flats across noticed the line of bodies, started shouting something to us, then waving, we all waved back, tried to explain what we were doing, but something about that chance encounter, something about being watched ourselves, was very pleasant and I think the other participants will remember it fondly for that.

We had a further feedback session, then goodbyes. Before we said them, Steven and Tyler came up with a performative response sitting one in front of the other in the stream that they had, as Americans, falsely supposed to be a Canal, saying something like: "Perhaps the river will become a canal if we have a boat that is small enough", lauching a paper boat that, for a moment, got stuck behind a rock before the water carried it under a bridge and away. Choked for a moment, I said goodbye to a genuinely warm, friendly, supportive and encouraging group of people whose work was inspiring to see. Hopefully some new friendships will emerge out of this, and maybe some working relationships too. Matt Fenton drove us to Lancaster station, we got stuck in a traffic jam but it worked out well, managed to get a the only direct train to Manchester, then hopped on the New Mills Newtown for home.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Kings of England Field Trip / PhD

A joint post. Kings of England (my Father and I) went on a field trip to the pub last night. Normally we that, but this was something of an occasion. Last week I graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a PhD, entitled 'Towards an Ethics of Voice as Hospitable Space'. The thesis draws on the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, and concerns as a performative space, and as a gesture of welcome. It took 4 years to research and write, and is a sprawling 73,000 words, a proper bastard, but it's over and done with now.
We walked out to the Sportsman, which was shut, so we went to the Royal where we met another father (Keith) and son (Chris), who also live down our road.
So we put the world to rights - topics included the weather, chemistry, hiking, the theatre, types of hats, osteoporosis, ants and helicopter rescues. I made a mental note to induct Keith and Chris into some kind of K of E club if we ever start one. But besides all that, I haven't seen my dad squiffy in a long time and it was good to see him loosen up a bit. He was supposed to be going to listen to a choir somewhere this morning but awoke at 11 after an unintentional lie in.

Just got back from Hauser researsals...

I have been keeping this a bit quiet, but I am currently working with an ensemble under the direction of Swen Steinhauser (former artistic director of Deer Park). Also in the company are Anna Wilson (CHIRP, Plane, imitating the dog), Alice Booth (itd), Simone Kenyon (Brief Magnetics, former Deer Park), Neil Callaghan (Propeller) and Anthea Lewis, a London-based dancer and choreographer.
We have just spent two fatiguing weeks in rehearsal at the Gregson Centre and the Nuffield, Lancaster. Its an interesting process, having never been directed in a piece of theatre before, and I count myself lucky to be working with these performers. More on this soon.

Saturday, 12 July 2008


This evening walking up from the playing field I saw two dogs fighting.
A girl and her younger brother, who was probably about four, were walking a pit-bull terrier, at least, it was a short, squat dog. He was walking in the river when I passed them. Down the hill a woman came with a black dog, bigger, a Labrador, I think, on a lead. They walked past me and then I hear the girl scream. I turned around, and twenty feet away I saw the two dogs locked together moving around. The shorter dog had the advantage, the black one couldn't move unless the owner let go of the lead. I walked towards them, and the woman had picked up a rock ready to throw it or hit it at the smaller one. A man came running past me, I thought he must be the woman's husband or partner. He went up to the smaller dog, who had its teeth clamped on the other dog's neck. The girl was screaming "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." The man grabbed the shorter dog's muzzle and tried to pull its jaws apart, but it kept its hold. The woman hit the smaller dog in the face with her fist, and the man seemed to look at her as if to say stop. After what seemed like a minute or two, the man finally pulled the dog's jaws apart enough for it to let go and he sat on it, and said to the girl - get it on the lead. They got the lead on and they walked past me. I said to the man you alright mate? He said I will be, his right hand was covered in blood, the dog's and probably his own. Afterwards, I thought about how I could have helped the man. At the time I couldn't move. A man and woman came down the hill and asked what had happened, they said they heard a child screaming. I said it was the dogs. The man walked up the hill with the girl, her brother and the smaller dog, and she couldn't stop saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry". That's all.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Kings of England

Good News!

I have been talking with my Dad about starting a company in which both he and I are principle devisers and performers. As of yesterday, we are agreed. And as of today, we have named ourselves...

"Kings of England".

We are currently writing up a pitch for some cash but in the meantime, we are modestly underway. A conversation we had a couple of weeks ago as I was researching 'Recent Falls', prompted him to quote me the following, from Alan Bennett's 'Writing Home':

...the dull distorting effects of time, in phrases which sound right but aren’t…He said: Oh, I don’t know, I don’t remember, then he says: one always forgets the most important things, it’s the things one can’t remember that stay with you (Bennett, 1998, p258)

Which, essentially, is what our first work will be about - the fictions that will have to stand in for fact, in the event of forgetting.

* * *

By way of an early research task, I asked Dad to list his Top 5 songs, as something we might work with (see below, right click, or whatever, to get it up big & legible).

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

0-5: Themed Weekend with Ian and Tracey

Top: Ian
Bottom: Simon

Crosby Beach, Saturday 28th June, mid-evening.
Photographs by Tracey McGarrigan

Thursday, 26 June 2008

0-5: A Themed Weekend with Ian & Tracey

If you follow this blog or, you may remember an Artist named Ian Abbot. After two Sundays with Me, Ian Abbot has raised the bar once again and invited me to spend three days in the company of himself and his partner Tracey, at their new(ish) home in Southport. Ian and tracey stipulated that I could choose any them to structure how we spend our time together. Since my first five years were spent in Southport, I chose the theme "0-5". I could try to guess how Ian and tracey might interpret this sparse directive but there is no point. In my experience, Ian is a very surprising man and I am sure that anything suppositions I might form between now and Saturday morning will be utterly confounded. I imagine that I will have some choices to make, but I think the idea is to give myself over to the theme.

When I mentioned this themed weekend to Mother Bowes, she dug out a load of old scrapbooks made "by Simon and Sandy" in my early childhood, one of which was pertinent to our move from Lancashire to Derbyshire in the Summer of 1985.

Emailing Ian and Tracey earlier this week I wrote:

After a conversation with my parents, our 0-5 of my un-remembrances or half-remembrances are:

0-1: Swan's Fish & Chips, on the road behind Bold St (Lord St?)

1-2: Birkdale School, Farnborough Road

2-3: The park where they have the birds in cages - on Cambridge Rd, end of Lord St.

3-4: The site of the old Matti & Tisso, Lord St (coming up from Liverpool Rd, before Scarisbrick)

4-5: Ainsdale united Reform Church, where I was Christened:

Bonus Ball: Wayfarer's Gallery.

Feel free to investigate and take me to any or all of these places."
I am very much looking forward to my weekend. I will be documenting it here and at

Saturday, 21 June 2008

'Recent Falls' at Volume.

Last night (Friday, 20th June), performed 'Recent Falls' a 12-minute lecture, followed by a five-minute performance, before an audience of, perhaps, forty people at 'Volume' the quarterly night run by Sometimes... and friends. Also on the bill was Rachel Nelson & A Middle Sex, Joanna Brown, and Claire Blundell Jones.

'Recent Falls' was a continuation of the work I am making concerning a stranger, my father, before he was my father.

Extracts from 'Recent Falls':

Article 4

In the picture he’s about 23, five years my junior. He has jumped from a cliff into the sea, and I tend to suppose that the picture documents the precise moment when a jump turns into a fall. Little is known, since little is remembered. From the picture we cannot know that this was in France, somewhere near St. Tropez, that the year is 1958 or that the photographer was named either Wilf, or Joe (probably Joe). And we cannot know how steep the drop would be, nor can we know he survived it.
He is not yet my father. He has not yet married my mother. (This is even earlier – if we still abide by earlies and lates), he has not yet married a first time and has not yet begotten an eldest son or an only daughter.
Not yet my father, and in this respect, a stranger to me.
I remember asking: Who is the man in the photograph?

Article 5
Sometime in late infancy or early childhood he asked his Father: “what time is it”? He had already learnt something of time, but did not yet know how to tell it.

At length the Father replied –

“Sometimes, I’d like to write a book,
A book all about time
About how it doesn’t exist,
How the past and the future
Are one continuous present.
I think that all people – those living
Those who have lived
And those who are still to live – are alive now.
I should like to take that subject to pieces
Like a soldier dismantling his rifle” (Yevgeny Vinukurov, Cited in John Berger's 'and our faces, my heart, brief as photos', 1984, p21).

“Time is a timeless concept and has led mankind badly astray, especially as we record age, which we do from the time of birth, and yet (...) it is not elapsed time that really concerns us, but time remaining – and that is something we cannot know. A youth of fifteen who will die tomorrow is older by far than an elder of seventy-three who has ten years remaining to him. So we should not concern ourselves with time, except as we must arrange meetings or journeys by public convenience”.
And then he looked at his watch, and gave his son the time" (adapted from Garrison Keillor, Wobegone Boy, 1996, p253).

Article 9 (Coda):
Before he jumped the man turned to his friend and said: “There is not one atom in this body that has not been forged in the furnace of the sun. Here I stand – I cannot do differently. God help me. Amen!”
On the way down, he was heard to yell: "So far, so good, so far, so good, so far, so good…” the litany stopping short on its thirteenth repeat, with the announcement of a loud splashing sound, which itself stopped abruptly, with the announcement of a deep silence that seemed to be matched only by the stillness of the air.

Just before the lights went down
Projection of Yves Klein, "Saut Dans le Vide"
Me in my father's vintage swimwear,just before I jumped
(Note: these are not the actual trunks in the 1958 photo,
by all accounts they perished in 1962).

* * *

Further to this - some lovely surprises. Joanna Brown and I have been writing back and forth to each other - sporadically - since we met at the Goat Island Symposium at the end of February, beginning of March. She incorporated one of my texts into her show and, if truth be told, my Rules and Regs show, 'First Classic of the Season' and 'Recent Falls', were both responses to an work I had not yet seen, her 'We Will Mend on the Highways'.
In response to this experience of not-knowing Jo or her work generally, or her show specifically, I wrote a text, which she adapted slightly:

"1. Photograph

I learnt the name of the show, and found one photograph, in which I observe the following details: your hand pressed flat to floor; elbow pointing upwards; head up (eyes looking slightly to the left), and I notice the reflection of your hand in the floor.
It is 10.09 on the 27th March, and for me, for now, the performance is a short distance, enfolded, between the fingertips and the nape of the neck. If I look again at the photograph I cannot be sure what movement led into this stillness, or what movement led out of it.

When I tried this stillness for myself I held it a while, long enough to notice how I was moving, trembling under my own weight, tense at the top of my spine. When I got up I felt sure that the performance began and ended in the humming feeling that joined up my wrist and the top of my spine. I held this position for 23 minutes. 23 to think this thought through.

Look at me I'm dancing".

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

London Dogsitting Residency at my friend Christine's (this Weekend)

Good News!
I am off to The Big Smoke on Friday. My friend Christine Entwistle (who also did Rules and Regs) has asked me to look after her dog, Spanner, and I have accepted, since Spanner is a dog I greatly admire. We will have the full run of Hampstead Heath, and I will be furnished with a per diem for tube fares and ale. I am thoroughly looking forward to it.
I shall be treating it as a residency, and have set myself the brief to compile a two-page piece of writing for use in future lectures.

I will post extracts up here of whatever text I write, on my arrival back on Tuesday.


Friday, 6 June 2008

'Recent Falls' at Volume, 20th June 2008

I will be performing a new performance lecture, called 'Recent Falls', as part of 'Volume', a platform organized by my old mates Sometimes.... 'Volume' will be an evening of performances, lectures, music, installation and audio-visual Art, featuring:

Beach Fuzz (Warm, Ever-loving Psychedelics)
Karl Sveinsson & Matt Ashworth (Men's Doubles: Fingerstyle Guitar)
Anna Wilson & Swen Steinhauser (Mixed Doubles: Careworn Songs)
Paul Dilworth (Audio/Visual Installation)

Claire Blundell Jones: 'Tumbleweed' (Lecture)
Joanna Brown 'Mending' (Performance)
Simon Bowes 'Recent Falls' (Performance Lecture)
Rachel Nelson & A Middle Sex MeMe (Choreographed Movement and Improvised Sound)

Paul Stapleton: 88 High-Fives (Video)
Sometimes... Co Videos
Plus Special Guest Discjockeys
£4 / 3 Concessions & Emergency Artists' Rates

* We will also be releasing our field recordings anthology 'Happened Upon with Microphones, a Volume II', and 'A First Anthology of Short Recordings' priced £2.50 each or both for £4.00

Monday, 12 May 2008

Performance Lecture, Theater Freiburg, 10.5.08, and Return

Mariella and I delivered our bilingual lecture in a small white space, the Kammerbuhne (Chamber Stage) at 20.30 uhr Samstag, 10.5.08, to a small audience (9 people). On the stage we had white cushions for the audience to sit in and we weaved about amongst them whilst we gave the talk.
The lecture was open to the public and ticketed (3 euros), but we expected most of our audience to be colleagues of Tommy's from Theater Freiburg (the German StadtTheater [City Theater] system is crazy, Theater Freiburg employs 500 people - do any art institutions in the UK support that many employees?) The director currently kept the whole cast of the current production in rehearsal effectively guaranteeing us no audience.
It was a big challenge to translate the texts we wrote into a form of German that would be nuanced and subtle enough to do justice to the sources we were working from - Emmanuel Levinas, Friedrich Nietzsche, John Berger, Florian Schneider, Nancy Roth, Goat Island.
It has been good for Mariella and I to develop the lecture but neither of us knows where it will go next. I will put up the full text of the lecture as a .pdf on when I get back to Hayfield.

Flight back was fine, got into Stansted about 5.15, at Livererpool Street for 7, and in Hampstead for about 8ish. And who should sat drinking rose at my old friend Christine (from Rules and Regs)'s house but the legendary Alice Booth, down to the Big Smoke for a preview of Kellerman with Imitating the Dog.
Christine took me for a tour of Hampstead pubs, but it seems that on Sundays most places round here observe the half-ten Sunday closing - punctually. Went back to Christine's for Grappa and a chinwag, to the strains of mostly listening to Roy Orbison and the Killers.
Woken up by a bumblebee stuck in the windowsill - watching Frasier, drinking my first proper cup of tea in a week (all the Schwartztee in Freiburg couldn't get close to a Yorkshire Gold), wondering when Ms. Entwistle might surface. Spanner the dog is waiting for her breakfast, but quietly.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Wanderungen: Walk to Schwabentor and back.

Today Mariella and I delivered a series of short lectures and led a set of exercises during a walk from Theater Freiburg to Schwabentor, a hill at the edge of the Schwarzewald (Black Forest), with participants.

The walk was structured with the following Forschungsregeln (Research Rules):

1. Talk to every person here. Push past the first uncomfortable silence.
2. Stop to listen. When you want to stop to listen, ask the group to ‘Halt’ ('stop'). We will ‘halten’ 'stop', and listen in ‘Stille’ until you direct us to ‘wiederbeginnen’ 'begin').
3. Look through the telescope*. We will provide you with a fifty –cent piece for your viewing pleasure.
4. Consider yourself a researcher. During the walk, write down four things that you observed about yourself, others, or the places around you. These will remain private and you will take these home with you as a memento.

We delivered the following texts, adapted from the November version of our Hillwalking lecture:
Our way is mapped. But the map is just sheet music. We might learn to decipher and translate the gradients, the inclines and declines that imply a sense of harmony in visual dynamics, and a foreseen past, a foreseen present and a foreseen future. But the eye cannot see precisely how the body will feel in the unforeseeable future, the unforeseeable present and the unforeseeable past.
The mathematician will tell us that there are 1,760 yards to a mile, and that there are 5,280 feet to a mile, but that is incorrect, there are two feet, if I am walking on my own; four if there two of us. The maths is very simple: Multiply the number of feet by the number of beating hearts (this varies for bipeds, quadrupeds, and so on).
There is no such thing as a mile, and there is no such thing as a kilometer. We will not be measuring the walk at all, but if we did, we would measure it in the comfortable distances of our purposeful strides walked into many distances.

We will locate the walk in the space between the heel of one foot and the toe of the other. But this will also prove to be inadequate to an idea – or a love – of walking. The verb ‘to walk’ will, eventually, exercise itself beyond restraint and surpass the nouns and adjectives, which move slowlier and more deliberately.
Acconci: Following Piece –

In 1969, the artist Vito Acconci decided to follow strangers (covertly) around the streets of New York: ‘until he or she disappeared into a private place where Acconci could not enter…following could last a few minutes…or four or five hours’ He did this throughout the month of October. His record from the 14th October’s reads:

5.00PM: 6th Ave & 4th St, SW corner: Man with black attaché case - he walks S on 6th Ave.
5:01PM: He goes down into IND subway station, 6th Ave & 3rd St, and stands on uptown side, upper platform.
5:08PM: He boards F train uptown.
5:50PM: He gets off at 169th St, Jamaica; he stands on line at bus stop, Hillside Ave & Homelawn St.
5:59PM: He boards 17A bus; line is too long and I’m too far behind him – I can’t get on.

Acconci began to consider the act of following as a kind of participation or complicity with others. He said: ‘I made my art by using other people’ / Acconci, who until then had been active as a poet, started as of 1969- to himself perform what he would otherwise have written : He said:

I used to know what my ground was—this piece of paper in front of me. Now I didn’t have that ground anymore; now I was in real space (…) I started by taking a system that already existed in the world and tried to tie myself into it: if there was a person walking on the street, I would follow that person. Decisions of time and space were out of my hands […]
Writers tend to consider Following Piece as a text, but we might prefer to consider it as a structured improvisation, a non-contact improvisation, with element of chance, that allowed Acconci bind his time to their time.
The writer and philosopher Maurice Blanchot offers us a definition of research that includes ‘fascination’, ‘waywardness’, ‘distraction’ - ‘to research’ is to renounce ‘the desire for certainty’ (Peters, 2003,, that:

Searching and error would be akin. To err is to turn and return, to give oneself up to the magic of the detour (Blanchot, 1993, p26 and 1982, p238), turning [is] the very movement of research (Blanchot, 1993, p3, 8, 25),

That research reverts or proceeds:

always [to] the point of beginning, at the point where the search must begin again in the face of, and from within, the unknown (Peters, 2003,
In 2006, researchers Lawrence Bradby and Carl Lavery made a walk through Norwich, later responding to the walk through a series of letters published as Moving through place: itinerant performance and the search for a community of reverie .
In the foreword to the letters, they made a point of calling Norwich ‘a City they both knew well,’ but their letters suggest that our increasing familiarity with place necessarily involves a receptiveness to the strangeness of its changeability, that is, to the lives lived there.
As Lavery suggested: ‘the body is a tool which both registers what is there and rewrites it’ (Lavery, 2007, p45), that is: our transient movements through place provoke an intellectual and physical response, our response leaves its trace (even if it is only the prints left by our footsteps). Bradby and Lavery’s written correspondence affirms walking as a form of attentiveness to an environment.
For Lavery, Walking…‘permits us to experience place as something ephemeral and poetic, that is to say, as something lived’ (Lavery, 2007, p45). He wrote:

When I drift, I’m not interested in gazing at things; I pay attention to noises, to feelings, to smells, to intuitions. I want to pick things up. This sensitivity to atmospherics and materials is what allows the drifter to take the (…) temperature of a given place or site (Lavery, 2007, p45).

Lavery describes our attentiveness to place as something active. He offers an alternative to the distanced spectatorship that is often taken be synonymous with ‘critical engagement’.
What Lavery underscores, is that walking puts us into a direct and often-indeterminate relationship with our surroundings, where each movement we make and its corresponding sensation allows us not only to see, but to smell, touch, taste and hear place. After walking with Bradby, Lavery wrote:

This experiment in itinerant performance is not scientific
Walking is doing, a practice, a performance, a way of witnessing (Lavery, 2007, p46).

Our walk took two hours and was a lot of fun. In the shade from the trees at the foot of the hill we did an exercise that I devised with an old friend, Kate Rowles, in 2004, called 'Look Me in the Eye'. Participants look each other in the eye one-by-one.
The philosopher Emmanuel Levinas wrote:

I don’t know if one can speak of a phenomenology of the face, since phenomenology describes what appears. So, too I wonder if one can speak of a look turned toward the face, for the look is knowledge, perception. I think rather that access to the face is straightaway ethical. You turn towards the other as an object when you see a nose, a forehead, a chin, and you can describe them. The best way of encountering the other is not even to notice the colour of his eyes! When one observes the colour of the eyes one is not in a social relationship with the other. The relation to the face can surely be dominated by [visual / analytic / thematic] perception, but what is specifically the face is what cannot be reduced to that…The face is signification, and signification without context’ (Levinas, Ethics and Infinity, 1985, p85-6, my emphasis).
I have felt familiar with this text for a long time and always disagreed with Levinas on that issue - that we may turn towards the object as we notice details. The notion of 'face' as 'visage' is discounted by Levinas. In my PhD thesis I attempted to clarify Levinas' position on 'access to the face' by suggesting that the experience of the face of the other person can be twinned with the experience of heaing their voice.
I could thematize the responses as smiles, frowns, tear in the corner of someone's eye, quiet laughter, trembling nerves and, very often, a feeling of peace. But many things still escape me, so that they cannot even be thought of as questions.
I hope that the memories that I have of your faces will comfort me as your faces comforted me as I looked and really saw them.
Some moments, then, heartwarming and vital. Today I felt that I have a lot to be thankful for.

*There are two coin-operated telescopes at an old artillery battery from World War I.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Chester to Freiburg:

A day late in posting: Tuesday 6th: Got up about 05.00, having watched the whole third episode of 'Peep Show' on google-vid, two hours patchy sleep, so a kind of dullache in the head all day. Started the day off by coughing up something disgusting - think I'm getting a bad throat. Set off for 6.30, in Crewe for 6.55, 7.10 Birmingham 8.10, Stansted for 11.50. The plane ride (my first in ten years! Ten years!) was a bit rough going up and a bit rough going down. It sort of simulated the feelings of a classic bout of frights, but, paradoxically, this kept me quite balanced. Bought myself Nick Hornby's 'High Fidelity' in paperback yesterday (WHSmth in Picadilly is a bit empty), so spent the flight mostly hiding in that, wondering if I could hear properly or not.
Mariella keeps taking pictures of me on trains, so might post the best of them up here. It just occurred to me that we have a lot of work to do, two days now before we do our walk / workshop. And I am acquiring a cold, so my English will be that much more impenetrable to our Audience.
15.27 (DeutchTime): Arrived in Freidrichshafen Airport 15.50 (approximately). The first things I notice - a clearer sky, better air.Got the train to Basle (2hrs approx), where we ate a nice, small, expensive meal (about £20 for two starters! - Switzerland is not part of the European Union, hence their terrific prices!). We got into Freiburg about 10.00 and waited for Tommy outside a bar, balmy evening, couple of nice lagers, then back to Tommy's. 00.30-01.00: Watched Episode 1, Series 4 of Peep Show, slept fitfully.

x X x

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Wanderungen: Performance Lecture in Freiburg, Germany 10.5.08

Good News -

I am off to Freiburg in Germany to deliver a performance lecture next week, with my friend and collaborator Mariella Greil. Wanderungen will reflect on various aspects of our artistic practice, walking, dancing, listening, intertwining text and movement, and Mariella will have the difficult job of translating me into German. We are flying out on Tuesday the 6th and will be back on Sunday the 11th. The Lecture has been organized by dance artist Tommy Noonan, as part of a series.

Our Peformance schedule looks like this:

Friday 9th May: 10AM-12: Wanderungen (Workshop): Guided walk in the hills around Freiburg for 5-to-15 participants.

Saturday 10th May: 8.3PM: Wanderungen (Lecture), Kammerbühne / Freiburg.

For Deutsch-detailz go to: .

I am currently in Chester (until Friday 2nd) devising material for the lecture with Mariella. We had a good day yesterday coming up with movement stuff. Our best moment came from working with the following text, cut from the first of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets:

Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future / And time future contained in time past / If all time is eternally present / All time is unredeemable / What might have been is an abstraction / Remaining a perpetual possibility / Only in a world of speculation / What might have been and what has been / Point to one end, which is always present / Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take / Towards the door we never opened (…) My words echo thus, in your mind / *** / At the still point of the turning world / Neither flesh nor fleshless / Neither from nor towards; at the still point / there the dance is / But neither arrest nor movement / And do not call it fixity / Where past and future are gathered / (...) / Except for the point, the still point / There would be no dance, and there is only the dance / I can only say: there we have been, but I cannot say where:

With my Rules & Regs money I wanted to buy a swanky new North Face Jacket, but I judged myself too poor. I settled for a swanky new North Face bag, a big black one, with enough room for my computer and traveling gear:

AND - a new pair of knickers for my MacBook:

The next morning, unsated, I downloaded Glenn Jones' album 'This is the Wind that Blows it Out' (2004, Strange Attractors Audio House), which is becoming a family favourite. You can hear some of the stuff that Strange Attractors put out here, and you can hear / download probably the catchiest track on the album, 'Fahey's Car' here, a thrilling three and a half minutes of rattling good slide guitar, and further grist for my John Fahey obsession. I have been trying for a quiet weekend but there have been a few outstanding little jobs to do before I submit my thesis amendments. In between I also downloaded the first series of Peep Show and am impatiently willing on series 2. There is 69 minutes to go for episode 1. Waiting.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Rules & Regs Process

Wow -
Rules and Regs O.V.E.R. (for myself, Christine, Neil, Simone, Eleni and Bethanie at least) so: Big Thanks to Seth at R&R and Matt, the legendary Alice Booth, Julia, Simon, Dom, Steph and Dave at the Nuffield Theatre for their help, support and general good spiritedness.
Rather than do lots of little blogs (t-h-r-o-w-i-n-g... got a bit neglected in the month of April). I thought I'd try and re-create the structure of the final showings 25th-26th April, together with a few images, where appropriate.

Here is a picture from Friday's Rehearsal. The cones-in-the-ears bit didn't make it into the show, but anyway:

Photos: Kristian Wilding.


Bowes (&Son): First Classic of the Season –

/ The Audience walk in - I am playing a small accordion.

I found this Accordion at my Landlady Jean’s house. She said I could borrow it.
The story went that when she was growing up her oldest brother Peter worked at the Docks in Liverpool, and he had a friend, Franz, from Germany, a sailor, who stayed with the family whenever his ship came in.
Once when Franz was staying he brought out his little Accordion for Jean to play. Her curiosity about the instrument sparked something in him and he decided to make her a present of it.
Now when I play it, I think about the unfamiliarity of the instrument, how it hurts hand to hold it and, despite how light it is, how heavy it feels.
I think about Franz sailing wherever he sailed, and I wondered what he did without the Accordion, and then I think about him listening to all the music that Jean was playing, hearing the notes, the melodies, not even imagining them, but actually hearing them, far beyond the Northern Sea.
/ Introduction:
And now: Good evening / afternoon, and welcome to today’s lecture; which concerns, for the most part, the passing of time. We were rabbits and dogs, the passing time; we were kestrels and starlings, the passing of time, let’s drink to that, the passing of time.
/ Motherhood, Boyhood, and the book of the birds -
In the year of my birth my mother kept a book detailing the following weights: March the 25th: 2 lbs 6 ounces / April the 25th/26th: 2 lbs, 14 ounces / May the 15th: 3lbs 5 1/2 ounces, along with the details of her encounters with bird life, plant life and other phenomena of the Natural World. After twenty blank pages, the book recommences on the 7th August 1990. Now we are ten:
“Out walking. Today we spotted a kestrel circling below us, but steadily gaining height. We followed the path towards the river and a little while later were stopped in our tracks by a bird suddenly falling, like a stone from the sky. Was this the same bird that had flown below us just half an hour before? Speechless – yes – amazing, it was so stunned that I was able to walk right up to it, and slowly fold my jumper over its back, and wrap it up. It was so scared that its beak was wide open, but no sound came. We decided to take her home. Something or someone might find it, and…goodness knows what would happen then.
When we arrived at the Owl Centre they told us that kestrel had a sprained wing; that had we of left her, she would surely have died. They let us take the kestrel home to nurse her. And we have decided to call her Princess.”

Sunday August the 23rd:

“A lovely sunny morning quite calm and still with a little mist lingering around the hills. We carried the box across the bridge at the foot of the mountain and Simon pulled the string to open the door of the hutch. She stayed in the cage a few minutes, and then, suddenly, suddenly, flew straight out of the box. As we walked back across the bridge and down the road, she crossed over ahead of us and wheeled back towards the hills. As she flew, Simon started singing a little song

Little Birdie, Little Birdie / Give to me your song / I'm a short time for to stay here / And a long time when I'm gone / I’d rather be in some dark hollow / where the sun refuse to shine / than to see some other man love you / when I want to call you mine / Little Birdie, Little Birdie / What makes you fly so high / It's because I've a true heart / That I don't care when I’ll die"
/ Promenade –

In the picture he is about eighteen, ten years my junior, looking smart, handsome, walking down the promenade with his father, who looks at the camera, with some kind of annoyance, discomfort, or sadness. That was Bridlington, though / Brid / and that was my father, not me.
He said “The Sea Hugs and will not let go” [FN1], but that was Carl Sandburg, not me. He had three questions, and he kept on asking them: “Who am I / Where am I going / Where have I been”. He had to keep on asking because the answers kept changing. Carl Sandburg is sometimes a book, sometimes a song, sometimes a train ride and sometimes a thought of the sea.
/ Dawn’s Early –
We stayed the night in a hotel, drinking ourselves to a troubled sleep. The following morning we were out at first light. I looked out for you, between an early sunrise and a last morning star. Far away were the twinkling night-lights of Vreedenburg and sleepy villages on the coast below.
There were five white dice, and I couldn't even throw a six. Looking down, I saw that each of the dots was a full stop that comes at the end of a name. Peter Bos. Ronnie Krepel. Hayo den Boest. Frank van den Bos. Car Gout.
They are standing by a memorial to the fisherman of Scheveningen, 1914-1919, which bears the legend: "There they are, where there is neither night nor mist")

/ Interview –
He said: "A man and his son are stood on places and spots which don’t exist anymore". That was Drederich Diedrichsen, in a review of a record called Roots and Locations by Car Gout’s band, Trespassers W [FN2]. I found the record in Oxfam whilst making this show. When I decided to buy the record I also decided not to listen to it until afterwards, but reading the liner notes I learned that it was a concept album about a man and his son spending time together a city, The Hague. Immediately, I presumed the father to be my father’s father, William, Bill, and the son to be my father, Our Sam, Peter, Dad.
/ I Was at School -
My first performance was twenty two years ago, hiding under bird-hat made from red baseball cap with the letters B-M-X, yellow beak from an old Weetabix box, brown cloth for feathers. I had to ask them, each of them:
Where was is that we were together? / Who were you that I lived with, walked with? / The brother, the sister, the friend? / If I never meet you in this life, let me feel the lack / One glance from your eyes / and my life would be yours [FN3]
/ Lecture on Carl Sandburg –
Part 1. Minutes, Seconds, and the Times of our Lives: Carl Sandburg considered himself a fine orator and like all fine orators, had opinions on everything and could not be made to shut up.

He would jump to his feet, grab his lapels, and make a speech, even if they had only asked for the time of day. He would say, ‘Time is a timeless concept and has led mankind badly astray, especially as we record age, which we do from the time of birth, and yet (...) it is not elapsed time that really concerns us, but time remaining, and that is something we cannot know. A youth of fifteen who will die tomorrow is older by far than an elder of seventy-three who has ten years remaining to him. So we should not concern ourselves with time, except as we must arrange meetings or journeys by public convenience.’ And then he would look at the watch and give them the time [FN4]
Part 2. The Landlocked Mountaintop and the Salt-Salt Sea: Carl Sandburg was “born” in Galesburg Ohio, on the 6th of January 1878, and “died” in Flat Rock, North Carolina, 22nd July 1967.
Both of these settlements were, and remain landlocked, but home, between 1945 and 1967, was a large estate named Connemara, where he lived with a wife and daughters.
At Connemara, Carl Sandburg had an entire Mountaintop to roam, and enough solitude to write. Connemara is derived from the Gaelic Con Mhac: of the sea.
Carl Sandburg fished but was never a fisherman, he sailed, but was never a sailor. So I think that his seas, like ours, were surely imagined.
Part 3. Silence

Carl Sandburg, I have something to say to you: ‘Wäschezettel’, an ordinary word in a language neither of us can speak. It is a word that was found by some children, playing in an abandoned building in the Netherlands after the Second World War. It is a word found after the danger had passed (Kerchief drop).
/ I Pictured a Story –

MY FATHER Walks Onstage Behind Me, I say:
He's coming into focus / notices his unsteady feet on foreign soil / While my father is still in Bridlington I am in Vreedenburg, I am in Scheveningen, I have been standing there for years on end, whilst his sun was set, done for going, going gone.
PHOTOGRAPHER photographs us in the pose from the Bridlington photo.

DAD peels off from me, and walks across the sea to the dance floor.

/ Last Chance for a slow dance

I put on THE MUSIC: Memories of You, by Benny Goodman. Dances slowly.

The music cuts. He dances for thirty seconds more. Stops.
pulls out his binoculars, looks up.

I roll my trousers up, strip off my tie, jacket and shirt.

I take the bird hat out of the suitcase, and put on the bird hat.

I put on the MUSIC: 'I Was at School' by My Two Toms.
I do my little jumping dance.

* * *
FOOTNOTES: FN1: Sandburg, C: 'The Sea Hold'; FN2:; FN3: Monologue from closing sequence: ‘The Thin Red Line,’ 1998, Dir / Screenplay: Terence Malick, Based on the Novel by James Jones, screened 5.11.07, ITV. 11.05PM – 02.00AM, 6.11.07 (recorded on VHS), played, heard, transcribed: 6.11.07, 9.25PM approximately. FN4: Keillor, G: 'Lake Wobegone Boy', 1998, p253.

* * *
TEXTS ADAPTED FROM: Jacques Brel / Sandra Bowes / John Hammond / Roscoe Holcombe.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Rules and Regs Week 2

Hungover it's awful, but:

In Oxfam the other day I happened upon a record, a fine-looking, very well packaged record, the artwork reminded me of Do Make Say Think's Winter Hymn, Country Hymn, Secret Hymn, but it is actually called Roots and Locations, by a Dutch group, Trespassers W. It cost me £4.99

I looked in the Gatefold Sleeve and found: a / A record; b / A press release booklet; c / A Catalog of Trespassers W releases; d / A booklet the size of the sleeve with Lyrics and artwork; e / an A-5 sized photograph of the band, printed on AGFA photo paper,with the following written by hand:


photo: Ada Fesever

Trespassers W
at 'The Memorial'
at The Hague

left -> right:

Peter Bos
Ronnie Krepel
Hayo den Boest
Fran van den Bos
Car Gout


The Memorial says 1914-1919, and at the last line of it reads:

The album artwork, is a score for my performance, a structure that is new to me.

The record is a concept album about "the city of The Hague set in the fifties, set around the story of a father and son". Then it says something about politics. It makes me think of that picture of my father, and his father (at Bridlington, not Blackpool. Brid). In the Roots and Locations Lyrics:

FROM 'THE MAN' "Until he turned around and found out / Until he turned around and found out" Then it says something about time. FROM 'THE PARK' "The bewildered child stormed into the waste ground (...) circled (...) three times / And then leaving" FROM 'THE ROOM' "Soundless movements (...) lines, white on paler white" FROM 'HEXIO PERFECTO DE LA LUXE' "Here come the pretty waitresses / Sh-boom, Sh-boom, La La La La La La La La La La La La / Sh-boom, Sh-boom, La La La La La La La La La La La / Sh-boom, Sh-boom, Life could be a dream, sweet".

Researching Trespassers W I found an interview with a member of the band (I think it was with Cor Gout), and the interviewee put in an image of a text of a song he had been working on (click on the picture to see it big and legible):

(the image comes from

The Interviewer asked him:

"Do you sometimes have what I call a feeling of "belonging" (when you feel totally well, your feet standing firmly on the ground and your head buzzing with ideas, just "in tune"?

He replied:
Once again: the sunny day in the Scheveningen Wood feeling. Also: on a stage, when everything seems to fall in its place and things seem to be going on just by themselves. Or: riding on my bike, hearing the voices from the houses and the pavements tell me all sorts of secrets. Or: late at night, when segments of imagination come together in a totality with a ‘sound’ and a ‘rhythm’.

In the Carl Sandburg Poem, The Sea Hold, the one that I edited down, I cut the following line

"I am a loon about the sea,
So are five men I had a fish fry with once in a tar-paper shack trembling in a sand storm".

I think the five men that Carl Sandburg had the fish fry with were, left -> right:

Peter Bos
Ronnie Krepel
Hayo den Boest
Fran van den Bos
Car Gout.

In Neil's workshop (Tuesday Afternoon, 9.4.08) we were asked to write these cards to each other, things to get us out of trouble, difficulty: observations, commentaries, bits of advice, imaginings, situations. Two favourites: "You are passionate about all aspects of bird life but in particular, migration. You await the return of a favourite" and Simon: Do as you would be done by". And you have to ask: why this advice, why me? I am reminded, again, of my wrongs.

In Simone's workshop, we walked outside on the grounds of an old house by a field overlooking the motorway and the railway line. We were given a directive that said: Find 3 places to inhabit and 3 ways of inhabiting them, for up to 5 minutes each. Write for 1-2 minutes in response.

1 / fit in-or-around; 2 / blur the edges or merge; 3 / the body leaves a trace

In response to 2 / I spin your stillness, pull your crookedness into my bones and your decaded growing pains ache the muscles of my right arm (...) Look at me I'm dancing. Five crows, or black birds any way, soar at me as I outshine them. Leaves of grass. Leaves of grass.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Rules and Regs Week 1.

Hey Hey -

Nearly at the end of Week 1, so what do we know? When we turned up we were interviewed on video separately, and then given little brown envelopes which contained the rules, which are:

-Spend 24 Hours awake in Blackpool
-Find/create a structure that is new to you
-The body must be contained or bound
-Bring the outside in.

I read part of a little book by Peter Kreeft called
The Sea Within: Waves and the Meaning of All Things (2006, St. Augustine's Press). It purported to be philosophy but the more I read it the more it seemed be be theological, and I'm starting to shy away from it a bit, but I read this quote of somebody called Carl Sandburg, who said: "the sea hugs and will not let go". I looked up Carl Sandburg on wikipedia (like a true scholar), and found that Carl Sandburg was an American poet, historian, novelist, balladeer, and folklorist, and on a site for the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, it said:

Carl Sandburg's Legacy Touches Our Lives

Carl Sandburg spent a lifetime exploring what it meant to be an American and asked the eternal questions, "Who am I, where am I going and where have I been?"... He did this through poetry, song, lectures, writing and lasting friendships with kindred spirits.
I'm making it my business so explore who I am, where I am going, and where I have been. I don't know a definitive answer to either one of these, but perhaps a being-24-hours-awake-in-Blackpool-finding-or-creating-a-structure-that-is-new-to-me-being
-contained-or-bound-and-bringing the-outside-in might further complicate these persistent and worrisome questions.

Socially, not a bad little week. I am friendly with Neil and Simone and Alice already, but meeting Chris, Eleni and Bethany was a pleasure. We didn't spend much time together this week but next week we have to do workshops for each other. Went out last night (Thursday) ended up getting a bit more than tipsy with Alice and Chris, and I've been paying the price most of the day. We are blogging our doings at

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Sunday with Me: 30.3.07: with Ian Abbot.

Ian Abbott has just left, an hour or so ago. Last night (Saturday 29th, Ian seemed to enjoy the fish pie, then we went to The Sportsman, which has been refurbished, then the Royal, then to the Pack Horse talking about the state of the performance scene in the North West.
Waking early, I had a cup of tea in bed before getting up and making smoked salmon and scrambled egg. We ended up not walking Kinder, as we were advised that bad weather was due in the afternoon so, instead, we headed up past the campsite through Kinder woods and up to Mount Famine. Near the top of mount famine we met two Mountain Rescue chaps on a training exercise with a huge radio aerial, and got chatting a bit. They recommended a route to us and we found the wet boggy bit they warned us about (Ian almost lost a boot) and the had fun jumping over the waterlogged parts (Ian can jump further than me, we found), before getting very blustered until we turned off to near Jacob's ladder. We pressed on to Edale Cross (where my father left Paul and I on our Sunday 3.4.06), before dropping back own into Hayfield. Ian was (and is always) good company, kind to a fault.
A journey of 7 to 7 1/2 miles, a steady walk, before returning for pasta and sauce and a read of the papers. It didn't rain a drop, so we could have done Kinder after all.
I gave the stills camera to Ian, I will upload a select few of them sometime soon.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Forthcoming: Sunday with Ian Abbott

Good News!

Ian Abbott, with whom I spent a fantastic Sunday traveling through Devon on 22.10.06, is coming up for a second Sunday on 30.3.08. He will arrive on the Saturday evening "give or take 30 mins of 6pm" and we will be having fish pie for tea before going for a couple of pints of ale. On the Sunday morning we will walk up Kinder Scout and be brightened by the exercise. If you follow this blog you might remember that Kinder Scout is where Mariella Greil and I walked in preparation for our lecture last November, in entirely abysmal weather.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Sometimes...Presents Volume: 13th March 2008

Sometimes... Presents: Volume. First Quarter. Spring. 13th March 2008 at greenroom, Whitworth St. West. Admission will be £FREE and the festivities will last 8PM-Midnight.

I am performing as Fare-Well's, singing a few Old-Timey Songs, Hymns, and Dan Amos covers, from 9PM.

Also on the bill is lo-fi vocal & drone from Roses, with Pachuco and Maroogally, disc-jockeying with their usual panache.

From Sometimes... with Love x X x

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Selected for Rules & Regs, Nuffield Theatre, 31st March - April 26th

Rules and Regs is a month-long commission, where artists devise performances in response to a set of specially designed limitations (or parameters). Anyway, I got selected for the North-West one, which is keeping a smile on my face.

More details soon. Watch this space.