Monday comes around like a friend and after a morning hair cut at the Ghanaian barbers round the corner I ride my bike into the torrential rain from the east end to waterloo. I’m soaked to the bone when I reach the office and immediately change into the clothes intended for the performance tonight.
At 1pm I meet the talented writer performer and musician Zena Edwards and we spend a good hour and thirty minutes discussing future possibilities. Zenas next show Security
is on The Albany . At 4pm there is a terrifically productive and creative programming meeting with Martin Colthorpe, Head of literature programming.
Come 6.40pm and I’ve left the riverside rooms, my office at The Southbank centre, and arrived at The TUC (Trade Union Congress) to read poetry at an Hope Not Hate
launch. The TUC Congress Hall is in Bloomsbury Square. It’s a beautiful architecturally renowned listed modernist building adorned by a giant sculpture above its entrance.
Art. Great moments of Trade Union history have happened in this hall.
The event is organised by Philosophy Football called as mentioned Hope not Hate . I have read poems on stage in some quite amazing places all over the world with some quite amazing people. But I maintain that if I treat any reading as “just another event” then my days are over, the heart cut from its blood supply. It doesn’t matter if it is a library in Wigan or an international festival in South Africa it is never “just another event.”
I am amongst family when alone with my poems. At base a public reading is a way of connecting the family to the world. Who wouldn’t want to do that given the opportunity. But I feel protective towards them. At the same time I love to watch them do dangerous back-flips off the stage into the mind’s eye of audience.
Tonight they did back-flips and they demanded that I speak about them, that I contextualise them and talk of why they were there in the first place. So I enjoyed weaving stories around them and they wound themselves into the narrative like children playing
in a sea of bubbles.
There’s nothing safe about them. My poems are anarchists and librarians. They are
dysfunctional administrators filing Anarchy under Miscellaneous and then filing Miscellaneous under Things To Do and then filing Things To Do under Whatever. Some say they should be placed into a government institution until they grow up and
become more, let’s be honest, responsible. But with me they are free and protected. And if all else fails, it’s simple, we shall runaway and live in a house together.
It was a beautiful reading and I am glad that I read and let them dance. As many in the audience rose up and applauded at the end I looked out from the stage to see all those hard working people from the coalface of political change that had laughed with my
poems and stories and cried too. And for that, in that venue amongst those people, I am proud.
As postscript the people of Barking need support against the encroaching BNP who feed
from societal insecurity much like an infection feeds upon an open wound spreading disease and illness. The antibiotics, the cure are searchlight and philosophy football and the entire hope not hate campaign – the people – it’s the making of us.