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It’s been a tough old week. After Tilly, a number of things. But it’s also been life-affirming in many ways. Mainly because of friends. And R and Mom. And E and M. 

I came to friends late in life, having the ‘desert them before they desert me’ mentality of someone used to not trusting anyone. For good reason, I might add.

Anyway. Despite several wonderfully loyal and giving friends hanging with me through my teens, twenties and most of my thirties, it wasn’t until my late thirties that I finally stopped running. I looked around. I saw wonderful women (mostly) around me, offering friendship, true friendship. Most of them had been there for some time. I have the feeling somehow they just decided not to give up on me. For which I remain absurdly grateful. Such a simple thing.

I have a thing about not taking anything for granted. Seems almost disrespectful to do so. Yet some things are meant to be taken for granted. They flourish by being as a ‘matter of course’; they quietly sink roots beyond the surface, where wind and a heavy rain can’t dislodge them. They need tending, but only in the daily run of things, no more, no less. They are there, no matter what happens.

No matter what happens! No matter what happens. This is the secret celebration for me, the unexpected. It’s no big deal, no drama. No questions need to be asked, no unspoken price.

Two phonecalls, three texts, many blog comments. Several emails. Four, five, six face to face conversations. A raucous dinner.

So, to all of you, thank you. I’m not looking forward to the week ahead, but — cliche upon cliche — you’re making it bearable.

I started this post wanting to point you to my good friend Nancy Wilson‘s Flickr widget that I’m so thrilled with. I love her stuff, really love it. I just wanted a bit of her kind of light on these pages. 

To get you started. And me. Happy Monday.

Yes, we had actually QUITE A LOT OF FUN today at Word on the Street — truly! From Ed who arrived with half a dozen friends at 10 am (having been up for three days, hmm…), to Alis, to Stewart, to Vicky, to Lyn, Arwen, Hannah, Richard, Luigi, Chris, Gary, Pat, Nancy…To Cassy at the council, to Daren at the library, to Whippersnapper: it was all very jolly, and despite the bone-chilling wind, there were some audiences, some laughs, and chins scratched over Beach Reads, the new anthology, etc. As everyone knows by now, parties are amongst my favourite things. Next in line are gatherings of any sort, even of near strangers, which is what this was.

There were loads of photos taken, some for the Gazette apparently, but John T is in there first, so I’m popping this one up for now. His caption is Camera never lies. Find this at once endearing and horrifying: the pasted-in stonework is hilarious, but the happy jowl is disturbing. Oh well! At least the hair is glossy (or is that my silver grey catching the light?!)

Word on the Street by John T

More photos of more participants promised from various quarters, so stay tuned….



Also discovered today that a short interview with me has appeared in:




In my heat of the moment rampage last post, I clean forgot to mention important stuff about Thursday:

1) M had a violin exam that morning. Who knows how it went! We were all a bit perplexed when she came back downstairs saying that the examiner had asked her to play D minor to the 5th. Apparently she paused, then said that she didn’t think she knew that one, she knew E minor to the 5th. Whereupon the examiner shuffled papers and asked her to play what she knew. Good for M for speaking up. But we wonder if he thought she was doing a different grade….Oh well. She played like a trooper anyway.

write here

2) Also spent last Thursday arranging WORD ON THE STREET, a Canterbury City Council and Kent Libraries event connected to the Laureateship. In celebration of the National Year of Reading, and the launch of the 2008 Write Here programme, we are holding open mic (and open air!) readings and performances on the steps of the library (the Beaney!) on the High Street Saturday 29 March, 10-4. There are three reading slots, 10 am, 12 pm, and 1 pm, and so far — hey — a great and varied line-up, FREE OF CHARGE.
10 am: yours truly, Alis Hawkins — and three super students

12 pm: Stewart Ross, Poet-of-the-Year Vicky Wilson, Lyn White — and two super students

1 pm: six members of Save As, a thriving local writing group…(hey guys, where are you on the web?!)

AND — Danny Rhodes says he’ll be lurking. Perhaps in true performance manner, he will have a little baton of work in his back pocket. Pick a slot Danny!

Word on the Street is the first of several ‘well-public’ things the Council and the Laureate (er, me) have arranged in the hopes of encouraging literary activities, and especially of consolidating what already exists in the region. And I have to say that putting this together has been nothing but pleasure: the response has been so positive, so willing. I’m particularly grateful to Alis Hawkins and Stewart Ross — I’ve never met Alis and only spoken to her once online, and she just said ‘yeah, alright’ — and Stewart Ross — known him for years, lives up the road, a busy man…he just said ‘sure’ as well. Ian Hocking too was all up for it…but is on his way back from a far-flung place. Thanks anyway Ian! And with a 20% student take up — hey, it’s pretty good!
It’s beginning to feel like there may actually be a writing community hereabouts…

Also on the day: drama and word games by Whippersnapper Theatre Company; Great Beach reads survey; details of a Call for Work (I love this: come one, come all!) for an eventual anthology; and notification of the website — currently holding…but I’m informed its life is imminent.


Phew. And just in case that isn’t enough Thursday for you, Word on the Street (arf arf) is that I’m supposed to be on BBC Radio Kent this afternoon at 2.30. Talking about it all. I think.

word on the street


From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


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Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.