More Claptrap

As a nice little pre-Christmas surprise I have been asked to headline Permission to Speak in Stourbridge next Wednesday (11th December 2019).

I wouldn’t normally write a blog post for a gig; let’s be honest, I don’t write many blog posts. Yet I think this one deserves something.

All round good egg Rob Francis has run this night for a while. Before the place was Claptrap the Venue it was under another name which sadly closed down taking Rob’s night with it. But when it reopened Rob appeared again to continue Permission to Speak. I’ve occasionally managed to break away from whatever project I’m working on to drag myself over there and it has always been an excellent night.

Yet Rob and this event will always hold a special place in my heart. You see, it was this event, many years ago, where I did my first headline slot. Rob was the very first person to take that chance with me. Something I am eternally grateful for.

It will be a very different performance from me as well. At the time I was suffering with my back and was on a cocktail of prescribed drugs in an attempt to find the right one which would let me function, move and defecate. My back was obviously having a major physical effect on what I could do. But mentally I was in the ground. I’d been in constant pain for over three years and the chopping and changing of drugs to find the right one was sending me over the edge. While I got through the set it’s possible no one knew how weak I was and how many problems I was having. I certainly dropped at least one line that night. Yet I have recollections of feeling like every word was out of reach. Like I was walking a tightrope of abject failure and constantly surprising myself when the right word came out in the right order.

All in all it went well but I knew, I always knew, I wasn’t at my best. It wasn’t the first headline performance I’d have wanted. I always hoped that one day Rob would ask me back so I can right the wrongs I have convinced myself exist… now he has.

I look forward to returning to Stourbridge next Wednesday. Performing without a head full of medication and a body full of pain. Doing some new stuff, doing some old stuff and being more me on a night I’ve always admired.

Bring it on.

Dave Does Ted

On 6th April 2019 I will be doing entertainment at TedX Wolverhampton.

Yes, that is a bit distanced from the horrendous image you had in your head from my deliberately click baitery title.

I’m really quite chuffed that the little sibling of Ted Talks is coming to Wolverhampton. It feels like we’re a semi-pro football team who have made the 4th round of the FA Cup and been drawn away at Blackpool and the weather promises to be nice and the Premier Inn are doing a deal on Twin rooms. Basically, I know I’m going on Valhalla. That’s a great feeling.

I will be there to provide “entertainment” between the talks. This will start out as poetry, end with poetry but what happens in the middle is anyone’s guess at this point. I’ve seen the line up of speakers and performers and it’s very obvious I have to bring my A-Game. It’s going to be a wonderful day of entertainment and education and I can’t wait.

Tickets are available here.

Bert Does Well

I’m happy. My play, Bert, had a rather good night at this year’s Worcestershire Theatre Festival. The production by Holly Bush Arts has already been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and run around a few other places so let’s just say they did a grand job.

It won best overall play, best set and best original script. To cap off a perfect night Dave Francis and Jon Hipkiss who performed in the piece got the joint Best Actor award.

The script is only as good as the actors and the production and Holly Bush Arts have pulled something special out of the bag here. Writing it I saw two guys walking around a couple of black boxes. I call it Brechtian. Others call it a lack of imagination. Whatever it is I couldn’t see the minimalist set created by Tim Tolkien. Look at it. It helps lifts the words off the pages. It’s also amazing how quickly it can be set up and packed down; a crucial component for Fringe Theatre.

And once those words are lifted off the page they are brought to life by Dave and Jon. Theatre is teamwork and I couldn’t be prouder to have these two share my dialogue with others.

They move onto the Quarter Finals in April and hopefully they’ll smash it there as well.

The Power of Muted Words

Twitter is probably the last social media platform I cling to. Even then I’m clinging on with a very loose grip and the chasm below me just looks like a big bed with fluffy pillows and a 500 tog duvet and I feel really tired.

Actually I am really tired. I have some sort of bug which is wrapping itself around me like a depressed Goth at a funeral.

As much as I’d like to dump Twitter in the way I dumped Facebook I’m aware I still find it occasionally funny, insightful and heartwarming. Also, it is the only way I communicate with the outside world if I don’t have your email address or we don’t see each other somewhere. If nothing else I owe it to my fellow Pandemonialists who have to do all the Facebook promotion because I’m not on there. It would be unfair to expect them to do all the Twitter stuff as well.

To fix this I’ve tried to find a middle ground. Twitter has a feature called Muted Words. Just like muted accounts it stops any instance of that word from appearing in your timeline. You can control the level of “mute” you have meaning people you follow can still mention it in a reply to you, that sort of thing. But on the whole, everytime anyone mentions the word, “Brexit” on Twitter I don’t see it.

It’s bliss.

Or at least it was. In the last few days the news has been peppered with talk of defecting MPs, and girl radicalised by Islamic State who wants to return to the UK, and Derek Hatton. These are all subjects I don’t think Twitter is qualified, capable or willing to discuss with any degree of logic, reason or humour. On top of that, I’ve been really tired, and I’ve found myself sucked in to debates I don’t want to be, nor should I be, part of.

Tonight, I added to my list of muted words. It’s up to 14 words or phrases. It’s quite small. I refreshed my home page and saw this tweet. A tweet which normally would have got missed in the hubbub of arguments, non-sequiturs and race hate:

And I knew I’d done the right thing.

#ThisIsWhereWeAreNow

I don’t like the Internet all that much anymore.

See what I mean?

Now look, I know I’m writing this on the Internet and that video is on the Internet. I know. I’m not saying the Internet is Satan or anything. But it’s definitely an incredibly funny but unstable child with a fixation on stabbing and easy access to a chef’s drawer. You’ll risk getting close for a joke or two but best to keep it at arms length.

A few things have happened recently and the main culprit has been Twitter. I could go on and on about what I’ve seen but trust me. It’s been a slow drip feed of bile and nonsense.

But I tried something today. A kind of last throw of the dice if you like. Someone mentioned Brexit and Y2K in the same tweet. I found this weird because this weekend I started reading a book called “Flat Earth News” by Guardian journalist, Nick Davies. Now, remember that title, it will come into play soon.

In the book Davies talks about Y2K, the media response and the IT response. I was working in IT when Y2K happened. I was also studying journalism at the time. It gave me an unusual insight into both worlds. I spent a lot of 1997 – 2000 laughing.

So today, I expressed an opinion and then cited my most recent source, the book “Flat Earth News” by Nick Davies.

Here is my favourite reply I received today.

This person, who was on the Internet, failed to do even a cursory Google search for the very book I was citing.

My only comment to that can be: #ThisIsWhereWeAreNow A vast amount of human knowledge in the palm of your hand and you can’t even type a book name into a default search engine. Wow.

Don’t get me wrong not every conversation I had was so bad. Some were quite nice but there are kids shitting in this sandpit.

This is where we are now. In a shitty sandpit. So I’m going to the other end. Where there isn’t any shit.

I’m not quitting Twitter. It still occasionally makes me laugh and teaches me things. So I’ll tweet and retweet things I find funny or interesting and I’ll let you know of events and media I think are good. The rest of it… I’ll leave over there. It might be where we are, but I don’t want to be there anymore.

Peace

2018. What a Year!

As I prepare myself to enter a New Year it’s worth meditating on the last one.

It’s been a year filled with some real positives. I travelled to Seattle to take part in 14/48. The PPP collective has gone from strength to strength. I’ve written a couple of plays and at least one poem a week. I’ve run workshops, gigged all over the country and helped give a voice to the voiceless.

Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists in Weston because Black Country Ay We?

Yes, it’s been great. It’s also been tough. Juggling a full time job, a family and creative pursuits is nigh on impossible. To get through this I’ve needed help. Thanks to the Tattooed Bride who is an amazing force for good in this crazy world. Also thanks to Emma and Steve, my PPP collaborators, who have provided endless support.

Me and The Tattooed Bride

But also thank you to you. To everyone who came to a gig, bought a book, offered advice, entertained me, argued with me, bought a drink, a meal or provided a laugh. Thank you.

In 2019 PPP have a lot of exciting irons being warmed in the fire. My one man show will start doing the rounds. As always I’ll be writing, gigging and providing platforms for others.

Even better, I’ve managed to wrangle myself a bit of extra creative time in 2019. This will make the juggling easier.

As the curtain closes on 2018 I am shaking off a head cold. Which sounds like a metaphor but isn’t. I’m am shaking off a head cold.

But I guess accidentally writing metaphors can only be a good thing so I’ll take it.

See ya 2018, ya daft sod. Hiya 2019. That’s a smashing jumper you have on. Wanna dance?