Archives for the month of: April, 2013

peter mortimer in purple topelaine at pete mortimer's
Allotments No 1 my first handmade book with printmaker Anne Proctor is being warmly received by those with impeccable taste! I am pleased with the positive feedback received so far. We are now working on a few different ideas for future books. If you want to hold, look at and buy our work then head down to Tynemouth Market every Saturday and Sunday. Anne’s always there all weekend and I’m usually there on Saturdays. Except when I’m not.

So what’s happening in May? Well I have two gigs scheduled. The first is part of the Iron Age Festival, the forthcoming seaside words and music festival taking place in Cullercoats next month. The man behind the festival is Peter Mortimer. Pete is a writer (poet, playwright, journalist) and publisher. He’s a legend up here in North East England. In 1973 he set up the fiercely independent Iron Press and this year he’s celebrating it’s 40th birthday with a five day literary festival with a difference.

The Iron Age festival runs from May 15th to the 19th in Cullercoats, a fishing village 20 minutes from Newcastle city centre. The festival includes performances by Ian McMillan, David Almond, Glastonbury-bound Bridie Jackson and the Arbour, Sean O’Brien and Melvyn Bragg. I’ve signed up for a “maritime adventure” on the Saturday. This involves going out on a fishing boat and hopefully being inspired to write haiku. My words will then be honed in a haiku workshop the following day and I will be rewarded with a fish and chip lunch overlooking Cullercoats harbour.

Throughout the festival a Snooker tournament will take place but only those published by Iron can take part! I’ve heard through the grapevine there will be a Snooker Legend in attendance but I couldn’t possibly say who!

The festival is going to be great fun. I’ve got myself a festival pass and am looking forward to it. But how am I involved? Well last Autumn there was a call from Peter to submit work for possible inclusion in a pamphlet celebrating 40 years of Iron. I sent some work and was one of 8 poets out of about 40 chosen to take part. I was thrilled. We met for 6 teatime creative sessions at Newcastle’s fantastic Settle Down Cafe and listened to each other’s work. Then we offered constructive feedback.

The result of these sessions is Pieces of Eight and it will be launched during the festival. It was amazing to watch and listen to poems change and develop over the sessions. Our final sesh was in Peter’s amazing house in Cullercoats. Pete’s the one in the purple shirt. For more information visit

I’ll be performing at the Salthouse in Cullercoats on the evening of Saturday 18th May. My next gig will be on May 31st in Middlesborough for Black Light Engine Room.

Small piles of C90 and C120 tapes stand in front of my “music system”. This morning I decided to listen to one entitled e&d demos. No tracklisting. Name written in David O’Connell’s hand. David is a supremely talented guitarist with whom I collaborated for many years.

He wrote the music and I wrote the words. We worked with other musicians and had a couple of bands. The one that lasted the longest was Micklewhite. It was formed in 2000 and existed for five years. The line up was myself (vocals & percussion), David (guitars), Robert Basset (bass) and John Jones on drums.

We rehearsed almost every Monday in Royal Oak, gigged around London and made a few recordings.

It is interesting to compare and contrast the collaborative relationship I had with David (and Robert and John) with the one I am currently enjoying with Anne Proctor the printmaker. Very interesting. Creatively I’ve always described myself using Philip Larkin’s line: “Beyond all this, the wish to be alone” but clearly it’s not true. Collaborations bring something new to my writing.

Today’s trip down musical memory lane with the tapes made me realise I’ll always be drawn to boys (and girls) with acoustic guitars. I will always need to sing. And I will always need to collaborate. I need to feel that connection with other creators

You can hear me sing some of the Micklewhite songs at

I was listening to the guitar only demo version of first track Fresh Oysters this morning on David’s tape.

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