16 days in my life. June 7th to June 23th.

Let’s start this on the on Wednesday,June 6th at The Ethiopian Embassy in London.

Thursday 7th June  at  11am I travel from London to Manchester.  At  2pm I’m in Castlefield, the first location,  filming by a beautiful bending bridge:


The director is David Shulman, recent winner of a BAFTA,  for his film Basquiat Rage to Riches. The day ends at 8.30pm  in Salford Quays on a boat with yours truly at the helm.

On the top deck is The She Choir singing their hearts out. That’s me driving the boat.


Friday 8th June at 11am  I travel back to London & spend  day and night working on Anthem for The North for  The Great Exhibition of North. The deadline is in two days . On Saturday 9th at 6am I Travel to Canterbury. I have been poet laureate of Canterbury for a year.  And this concert at Canterbury Cathedral  is a celebration of The Voice and the spoken word.

So att 1pm I  rehearse  some brilliant Canterbury  poets: Jemma Philips,  Alex Vellis  Alice Gretton and Henry Madd . I help them find a ‘non poetry’ stance. 

At 4.30pm we are  in situ for another rehearsal  at Canterbury Cathedral. It is an honour to mentor and work alongside these talented Canterbury Poets. 

At 7.30pm all those seats as seen above are  full  and the poets are  magnificent.

My poem  and therefore the whole concert is about the river below:  It’s called  The Stour.

Before the poets perform I take part in an on stage “in-conversation” with the Dean Robert Willis.    There are no photographs of our conversation  or of my own performance OF CANTUARIEN  (unfortunately)  but a video has been made by The Citizens of Canterbury and it is  is here.

After the event at 9.30pm Cantuarian is launched to a few hundred people  on the bridge outside of the Marlowe Theatre.  The projectionist is Howard Griffin. When I asked if he could he make a moon under the bridge he waited up all night to photograph the exact moon as it is over Canterbury.  Here is a photo of it.  The poem scrolls across the bridge and the moon goes through its full cycle beneath the bridge. It is magnificent.

There’s been a lot of work done in Canterbury and I have enjoyed it all.  Thnaks to Marlowe Theatre and to Wise Words Festival for helping make this laureateship so powerful with so much output.

I sleep at midnigt 11.30pm and wake At 5am  on Sunday   June 10th . A car takes me to a secret  Cathedral  city. It is a three hour journey. I sleep in the car.  At  10am filming starts for a  secret documentary I am making.  It is the most intense on camera experience I have had in my life.

Filming day and night.  I’m in bed for 11pm and awake on Monday 11th June at 8am to start filming again. Then  I travel back to London and work on my TEDX Talk  for next Sunday in Liverpool.  June 11th is the innaugral Dominic King Show on BBC Kent which features yours truly in a long form interview. 

On Tuesday 12th June  at 10am I travel to Manchester to make another short film this time for The Great Exhibition of The North. This is Godlee observatory which is part of The University of Manchester. 

Filiming finishes at  7pm.  “It is a wrap”.

Wednesday 13th  from Manchester at 2pm I get a flight to Glasgow a train  from Glasgow to Gleneagles and a car from gleneagles to Crief Hydro Hotel  for  8.15pm.   At 9.30pm I am on stage giving  a speech at  The  Social Workers Scotland Conference.

It ends at 11pm. Though I may have been a little  blistering  I didn’t want to burn them.   In my room I see this tweet and it’s some exciting news from The University of Kent.

The venue for the ceremony is Canterbury Cathedral and the picture above is exactly wjat it looked like at the concert.   At midnight I sleep for 4 hours.  Thursday 14th June   4.30am. Car takes me to Glasgow Airport.  I am back in London for 8am. I have a meeting in Soho at 10am and then home. I  attend to that TED Talk for Liverpool.  Friday  June 15th wake at 6am. Train station for 8.30am.  Filming secret documentary day and night. Filming it on Saturday 16th June too .  Finish filming at 8pm.  Travel to Liverpool. Stay at Hope St Hotel. Jeff Beck stays the same night. Sunday 17th June.  It’s time for Ted X

A sell out audience of 600  people  in Liverpool at The BT Convention Centre I deliver my first ted talk on the Christmas dinners. But it I am not as good as I would like to have been

But it’s good and I am thankful for the opportunity to speak of the Christmas Dinners.

Event finishes at 5.15pm. I catch the 6.34pm to London Euston  Home in East London for 10.30pm.  I wake at 5am on Monday 18th June  and  travel to the secret city to continue filming.  Fiming also on Tuesday 19th June too.  I can tell you this:  We filmed  at this penguin pool.

Wednesday  20th June  is the deadline of  The Creative Literary Awards. It is my favourite literary award in The UK and I am judging it this year.

On Wednesday 20th June I travel from the secret city to The University of Manchester to chair the General Assembly.   The University of Manchseter has  he largest international student count of all universities here in England: 11,000. We have the largest on site student population in the country and a turnover of over one billion pounds.  I am always inspired by  the members of General Assembly and always honoured to serve as chancellor. 

I have  a quiet night in Manchester after some shopping.   Thursday 21st  June    is summer solstice and I receive a message  to say that a group of women sang my morning poem in Stonehenge at sunrise.   Here is the verse they are singing and below is some footage of them singing it.

“How do you do it?” said night
“how do you wake up and shine?”
“I keep it simple” said light
“One day at a time”.

At  9am on Friday 22nd June  I have a strategy meeting with Don’t Panic Projects at The Malmaison meeting rooms.  Don’t Panic are a brilliant  events company. The  woman sat across from me is Sarah Power, my agent and PA, and to  my right is Nancy Dykins, operations manager. They are the best. 

And then get the train straight to Newcastle to  rehearse  at 10.30pm. It is absolutely awesome the quay is lined with speakers ready. My Anthem for The North  blasts out across the Tyne.

Sleep at midnight.  On waking  this is the view from room  501 at The Malmaison.  As the millenium bridge raises up it becomes The Heart of The North. Can you see the heart?  It’s saturday 23rd June. The big day.

This is the day of the gig.  8.30am there’s interview on BBC Breakfst Television

Then a radio interview for BBC Newcastle. Then a pre interview for BBC News at Ten.

At Noon I get a note at the hotel that someone has left something for me.  It is from Roy Alexander Bsc FRAS. He is director of Outreach and Learning at The University of Newcastle.  Here is what he left me at the hotel.

Roy is an astronomist and the rock was wrapped in a note.

This is a ‘shooting star!’. It’s space glass – a ‘tektite’. Forged 788,000 years ago when a meteorite hit earth it caused rock and sand to be melted into glass and blasted it into space, where it cooled, solidified and fell back to earth, becoming a shooting star” 

The First line of “Anthem for The North” which I read tonight is                                        The performance was recorded.  You can find it here   or click on the picture. But best of all is what followed the penultimate line of  the last  verse  “We are a water fall of light”

I was on the bridge so I couldn’t see it. But it looks beautiful doesn’t it.  I sleep at midnight and wake at 5am. I get the 6.30am train froom Newcastle  to Birmingham. It’s    The National Association of Teachers in English conference.  The first time I spoke at The National Association of Teachers in English was in either 1987 or 1988.                        Aside from these things I write an early morning message every day.  Todays on 23rd June is this

In the way light talks to a river
In the way bridges hold night beneath,
In the way spring calms winter,
In these ways we should speak

Sunday 24th June In Birmingham. I stayed at Hotel Du Vin on Church St.  At  7am this morning I posted my morning tweet

“I am a seagull
At the cathedral”.

With this photograph.

Maybe I did so because the rhyme and surreality pleased me. Also I was about to travel to a Cathedral City for work filming a TV documentary. Anyways at 9.10am  I arrive and the first thing I saw at the Cathedral was a lone seagull. I took a photo of it (remember “I am a seagull at the cathedral)

I showed the tweet and the photograph of the seagull  to the director. I was inspired by the coincidence of things.  It was yet another sign for the  work we are doing.  A sign that we are going in the right direction.  With his slight derry drawl he said ‘yeah I only have one tattoo.’

Wow you’ve read this far. I appreciate it. I  really do. I write my blog in lieu of family. I fill the memory bank.  I write it in respect of  memory. My career has not been planned. It is what it is.  I love it.

13 thoughts on “16 days in my life. June 7th to June 23th.

  1. Lemn you know that I follow you on social media, but reading this blog with the sequence of your days is kind of impressive. I’ll be 50 next month. I want to take you as an example of the fact that life begins at 50 🙂

  2. Hmm cathedral city? if you’re in Leicester and haven’t popped in for a cuppa I will be cross!! I don’t know how you do it! I feel exhausted reading
    Look after yourself too xxx

  3. You sound happy Lemn. That is so good. There is a lightness of spirit coming through .Have you created your own Space yet,…your own ‘Haven of Peace’? Amazing to find a seagull perched on a Derry wan’s shoulder Lemn. A piece of Celtic magic to confirm you are soaring high and free to embrace and enjoy so many aspects of your Art and your Life. You deserve all good things Lemn. Don’t ever forget that. Patricia, the Armagh driver.Another wan from Norn Iron☺

  4. Great blog and what a schedule. Be careful Icarus. Be careful of your self, and your glorious wings. And it was LOVELY to speak to you, and to confirm that we first met, all those 30 years ago, when I was Maggie Iles and a head of English and you rocked NATE to its core at its annual conference in York. And we have been friends ever since. I glow with reflected pride as you soar and ride the thermals and see – REALLY see – the land beneath. Lovely to see you on “my” bridge in Gateshead reading that wonderful anthem. Speak again sooooooooooooon!!! M xx

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