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.

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?

Time For A New Revolution

Laura Taylor is a poet and a downright good egg. She kindly came to do Yes We Cant. The Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists show running once a month at The Pretty Bricks in Walsall.

She did a poem about call centre workers and how badly they are treated by callers and managers. It was an excellent poem but it’s not the poem I want to talk about. Go and see Laura perform, watch her do it and form your own opinions.

What I want to talk about is what she said after the poem… it was a call (pun not intended but now I notice it I feel I should point it out) to be kinder to people. The line was:

Kindness is the new revolution.

Now if I’d have heard those words coming out of my mouth I’d have found it impossible not to start rubbing myself at my own awesomeness. Which is probably why I’d never say something this awesome.

Kindness is the new revolution.

Wow.

It can feel like the world is fracturing around us. Social media, while promising to connect us, is pushing us into echo chambers. Any thoughts which slightly deviate from the accepted norm are stamped on until the person is silenced and if you can’t silence them… we mute them or block them.

Our media, politicians and even friends are breaking us apart. Making us all more angry, less tolerant and more sure we, and them, are in the right.

Notice the word “all” in that sentence. It’s on all sides. I see just as much intolerance for different views on the left and the right. No one side can claim a higher moral ground here.

I’ve been writing a one man show which has connections to these issues. How two people with the same upbringing, same anger and same frustrations end up lashing out in different but both destructive ways. I spend 50 minutes trying to sum up what Laura Taylor says in five words…

Kindness is the new revolution.

And if she said that in the outro to a poem… imagine how good her poems are.

They Don’t Want Working Class Actors

This morning I awoke to this story:

And I have to admire anyone trying to convince these drama schools to reduce their audition fees but I do find the situation futile.

We have to accept that there is every possibility they don’t want working class actors.

You see, there are two reasons for why they introduced these fees.

  1. They wanted to stop working class people infesting their drama schools.
  2. They did it for “another reason” and were too stupid to know charging a fee would discriminate against the working class.

If it’s 2 then they shouldn’t be doing that job. Chances are, it is 1. They simply do not want working class people infesting their drama schools. Imagine them coming in with their accents, comprehensive school educations and a packed lunches made by someone who isn’t an multilingual nanny.

Chances are these fees will be stopped. The current campaign will see to that. But the attitudes behind them won’t be. Behind locked doors the people who instigated these fees will still be gate keepers. Either stupid gatekeepers or prejudiced gatekeepers. But probably prejudiced.

Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice.

I’m Awful At Updating My Blog

If you only followed me through this blog you’d think nothing happened since May. Yet in reality I’ve done Edinburgh Fringe, helped set up a successful poetry night, had another play performed (see wicked image to the left), struck a great relationship with another theatre company, helped set up some events for Wolverhampton Literary Festival, dressed up as a fairy Godmother and I’m about to go to Seattle. So, you know, it’s more I’ve not done a good job updating this blog.

And this isn’t a “I promised I’ll do better” type of post. I won’t promise and I probably won’t do better. I think I’ve said before, a writer and performer’s website should be quiet. It shows the writer and performer is busy. If the writer and performer is updating the website all the time then they’re not writing and performing.

I’ve also had a dental abscess, did the design team at 14/48 Leicester and wore this hat:

I know yeah… how fucking good do I look in that hat?

In fact, so good do I look in that hat that I promised I would wear more hats. The only hats I’ve worn are Thinsulate ones because of the cold weather. It’s a shame because I have a kicking straw boater. Let’s be honest, if I can’t wear hats I’m hardly likely to keep the blog up to date, am I?

That said, part of the thing with me being in Seattle is writing a blog so I am contractually obliged which means it will happen. I’m nothing if not a slave to the contract.

Therefore chances are you won’t find out about the score keeping I’m doing for an end of year radio quiz and probably not know about the radio show I was a guest on which was very entertaining but you’ll know everything about Seattle because… contract.

Speak soon… probably while I’m on a plane.