I used to hate performing but now it is the only thing I do that makes me feel alive. Without poetry and shit-talking I am a mere shell, a wasteland of a human being. Derby Poetry Festival was an intense inspirational beautiful event and performing 3 times during was more concentrated performance than I’ve ever done before in my idle life. And performing at Sophie Sparham’s book launch was such an amazing honour. Hitting up the capital and opening a night of absolutely excellent performers, to celebrate a brilliant poetry collection that you should buy right now.

Basically I’ve been doing this for like, a year or two? Thanks to City-Zen One Mic basically, I got a sweet intro to spoken word and standing on small stages saying things to real people. Everything come from there. Then we got some hosting skills going on as well and I found out that I quite like chatting bollocks and I’m not 100% terrified of everything really.

This could be viewed as an inspirational story of a shy frightened girl overcoming her fears and self-consciousness to stand on stage and express True Feelings in the cause of Art.

Or it could be a tragic tale of rampant narcissism and ludicrous hats. Hubris nemesis, etc.

Anyway I need to step my game up and become the rampaging poetic beast the world deserves.

 

I’m feeling down and seasonally affective disordered today. Self-reflective blog rambling is a coping mechanism. Some bullshit inspirational Facebook thing was asking me to focus on my strength and that was the only thing I could think of and even that was somewhat conflicted. Reality is incredibly contingent so knowing what is objectively strong or weak, positive or harmful within the self is a bit of a crapshoot, in my opinion. The worst traits can be used and transformed. The best traits can twist into the noose that ends you. Black and white thinking is meant to be a problem for borderline people, but I think extreme ambivalence is more of an issue right now.

 

Life is ok though, I finally fulfilled my teenage dream of seeing Marilyn Manson. Dripping sweat and moshpit bruises,  sleazy decadence love and adventures. Only ten years late but better late than never. This is an extreme case of arrested development or perhaps perpetual adolescence. If I’m going to find myself I have to look everywhere.

(I recognise that the self is illusory.)

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Progress Report: 28 years

 I had plenty of goals last birthday, which was so long ago that I can’t at all remember who I was back then. Not anywhere near as cool as I am now, definitely. My goals were not ambitious, and I still failed to achieve most of them.
The good thing is that many of them became irrelevant, and I was too busy doing much better things with my time. I’m going to list these things because I’m grateful to the universe for letting me happen them. When I list them it feels like being a child on birthday morning sitting with a great stack of shiny presents.
Things I didn’t expect would have happened a year ago, which happened nonetheless.
  • I have a home, a lovely home with a lovely housemate. I love living in Derby, there are so many amazing people here. I’m kind of living independently.
  • I’m Pippa Porcupine’s Damn Fine Natural Skincare Co.
  • There is a great deal of poetry. I love performing. Still get scared but it’s good kicks.
  • There is a great deal of love. ❤ to you all.
  • Summer was amazing and I’m spinning with the seasons. From Beltane til Solstice, to Lammas and beyond…
  • The pain is the pain of cracking eggshells, reaching roots, unfurling leaves. Growth.
  • Piracy is a viable option.
  • A hat and a cackle are all you need.

 

What did I want a year ago? Modest things to be going on with. I’m a work in progress.

Get Fit

  • I’m still a traffic hazard, but don’t let that stop me from biking everywhere.
  • I go to yoga most weeks, it’s only up the road. I’ve even started doing some stretches on waking, sun saluting into the waking world. More yoga needed though, I’m getting old and creaky.
  • I still still eat a lot of cheese. Cheese is important to me and I have no wish to forsake it. I wish to maintain and encourage my love of wholesome veg based meals. Nosh them probiotics as well.
  • Apparently I’d stopped smoking a year ago. Or at least I was vaping constantly, not sure if that’s an improvement. I smoke a bit now and have no goals to change that.
  • GOAL WAS RIDICULOUS, NEVER GONNA HAPPEN MATE: Drink once or twice a week, at most. HAAAAA I can’t believe I made this goal, what an idiot. I am slowly getting sensible though, if only because hangovers are worse now.

New goals:

  • Dance more.
  • Climb up things.
  • Learn to fight.

Writing

  • My poetry pamphlet, Thou Shalt Not Suffer, was published and I’ve nearly sold out again. Only 4 left, if you don’t have one yet you should get on it.
  • I’ve written and performed a whole bunch of new poems. Some of them are pretty good. People seem to like them.
  • Write more stuff. This year I want to do 2 new books at least.
  • Get back to blogging
  • Still a goal: Daily freewriting
  • More journalling. Otherwise I forget where I’ve been and that makes map-making confusing and narrative next to impossible.

New goals:

  • Sell yourself. Make a performance video. Get booked to perform at festivals and other places that are not here.

Social/Activism

  • City-Zen is in the pipeline.
  • Get back on the volunteering.

Mental Health

  • I GRADUATED FROM THERAPY! Got a certificate and everything. DBT helped me so much, gave me skills I use every day and a solid background in Mindfulness that is a foundation for life. I met some amazing friends there and am so thankful that I got this treatment. Protect NHS mental health services please.

New Goals:

  • Carry on growing and learning new skills to live by
  • Regular meditation practice will help
  • Earth

Other Stuff

  • Everything constantly needs tidying. This does not qualify as a life goal.
  • I still want to do some art.
  • I don’t want to learn how to knit, why did I think that was a sensible goal?
  • Why did I set a goal to learn to drive when I will never be able to afford a car?
  • I never learnt violin (my violin is busted) but I did pick up a bit of tin whistle! I enjoy it a lot. Can almost play 3 whole tunes!
  • Didn’t get round to this other other goal: Get better at poi.
  • Adventures will always be a goal

 

Looking back over previous birthdays, there has been a theme that I felt life was passing me by while I failed to achieve anything of note whatsoever. This is absolutely not the case this year. While I still sometimes weep into the darkness when confronted by the absolute insignificance of my life, I can also recognise that the past year was a significant one in so many ways. Now it’s time to start giving back and making best use of this life I’ve been regifted.

There are so many people whose love and kindness and all round excellence has got me here and if I just pay that love forward the world will be brightened. It’s the least I could do.

Thank you all.

Never thought I’d get this far but it’s fucking nice here.

Cheers.

Progress Report: 28 years

Word Wise and Poetry in Derby

Derby is buzzing. The city is flooded with rhythms and rhymes, lines and meters, voices and verses.

Derby has so much Spoken Word. Friday just gone was a big one, a banging beautiful night at the monthly Word Wise. I was honoured to read a poem that went down well when compared with the stunning words I was so privileged to be surrounded by. So many.

Toria Garbutt made me cry and I’m not ashamed. She’s amazing. And an absolutely lovely person.

Luke Wright was like some mad dynamo full of energy and perfect timing, hilarious and poignant and leaving our faces aching from smiling so hard.

Sophie Sparham is fire and thought and life, political and personal and always inspiring. Got to love a poet who makes you, not just want to be a better person, but feel like you are a better person, so becoming better is just a matter of opening those wings you forgot were trailing behind you. And I got to see Miggy Angel at last after hearing so much about him, wasn’t disappointed. Cullen was great and Trevor Wright’s psalm for Donald Trump was transcendent. Jonezy aka pr@xis slayed as usual and Johnny eulogized Leonard Cohen with such heart. There were poets new to me and poets whose names I don’t remember because names are not my forte, they’re my whatever the opposite of that is. There were quantum poems and theatrical poems and political poems. Happy sad and leaping-wildly-between-the-extremes poems. Cheeky poems and solemn poems, poems with punchlines and poems with lines that felt like punches.

I have so much gratitude to Jamie Thrasivoulou and Rhythmical Mike for running and hosting this night as well as performing. Such hard working dedicated guys who are doing so much to build the poetry scene.

Speaking of building the poetry scene, there should be a lot of credit to Jonezy and the City-Zen collective for the bi-monthly City Zen One Mic night. Anarchic and joyful, raising money for different causes and spreading the City-Zen message of freedom and community. The next one is this Friday, raising money for Derby International Women’s Day Celebrations. I’ll be performing! It’s always a good laugh, really welcoming joyful vibes.

And, as I stayed in tonight being grouchy and exhausted, I was missing yet another excellent night. Twisted Tongues has seen the debut of so many talented wordsters, and wins for the most historic location (I do love old buildings) and the most students. Now, some people get a bit snobby about students, but I love their young and hopeful enthusiasm. They bring new ideas, new faces, and I can feed on their fresh juicy energy like the shrivelled old vampire that I am. Twisted Tongues is also the longest running of the three nights, by quite a long shot, and boasts talented and professional performers like Dan Webber. (Who also runs it, and a whole lot of other awesome arts-related stuff in Derby.)

Indeed, there are so many amazing and dedicated and creative and energetic people on the scene, I’m exhausted just trying to write about them. So many unique characters putting their talents to use, taking the steps to put their words out there and facilitate the space for others to do so as well. I used to be kind of bitter about living here. Now I’m glad to be near Derby. Now my only gripe (and I always need to gripe about something) is that there’s so much going on here, it leaves me without the energy to explore other amazing nights in Nottingham and other places. The world is getting hectic! There’s a vibe, some intangible critical mass of energy developing. What will it lead to? A festival, a party, a riot, a legacy, or maybe all of these? I’m thrilled to be here, is all I’m going to say.

Oh, and come to our show.

 

Word Wise and Poetry in Derby

Skin

Question: What’s the most annoying thing about having skin? Is it the fact that it is weak and thin, the only thing standing between your innards and the outside world, a horribly breakable membrane? Is it its sensitivity to environmental damage, whether that be cold, central heating, air conditioning, low humidity, excessive humidity, insect bites, gorse bushes, or axe-wielding maniacs?
Does  skin’s weakness to poor diet, food intolerances, and contact allergies get you down? I’m not even starting on the internally generated quirks skin can inflict, from the well known yet remarkably varied and unpredictable reactions to hormonal changes, to auto-immune generated eczema and psoriasis. And there’s a whole catalogue of things that I’m not even medically qualified to mention, although I recommend that anyone curious browses the dermatology section of a medical training textbook sometime. 
 
Annoying skin, while obviously not the worst issue facing humanity, is… annoying. Having a dry flaky face makes me feel less able to face the world. I already have social anxiety, feeling my skin split when I smile doesn’t exactly make social encounters feel mutually rewarding. Eczema makes me itch and then people on public transport back away in case I have fleas. Spots make me feel like an idiot teenager. Wrinkles make me feel like an idiot teenager trapped in the body of an ageing Auntie.
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Me, in the dark, so you can’t see the red flaking skin round my mouth. Cool hat tho.
 
So, in an effort to cure my many, many problems I tried making my own skin stuff. Stuff from shops is all either way too expensive or made of garbage that doesn’t help in any way. And that’s without even starting on the animal testing, plastic packaging, petrochemical byproducts, and so on. Just trying to choose the correct, non-poisonous, effective skincare product is enough to cause a stress-induced breakout. 
 
So the news is that I’m becoming a punchable middle-class hippy cliche making my own skincare line. The good news is that you too can try my stuff. It’s made out of ingredients that I understand, and that are not toxic or massively destructive to the world (as far as is possible while having to negotiate capitalist structures while doing this). I got no illusions of this being an amazing revolutionary act, but it’s my new venture, trying to support positive stuff in the world while unfucking my fucked up skin. Mainly it’s fully reactionary, because fuck looking like I have some kind of face disease and walking around trying to subtly scratch myself under my clothes. 
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The first ever batch of Magical Skin Unfucking Salve. I’m told it smells very pleasant. 
Since I was a kid I’ve loved making potions, and I finally managed to make a useful one. I want to share that joy with the world. I’ve had eczema for years. And I haven’t managed to cure myself, probably because it’s caused by eating dairy, and you can pry my cheese from my cold, dead, horribly blistered hands. But my Unfucking Salve at least gets rid of the pain and inflammation and itching and shame for a while, when steroid creams have long become useless. This may be one of the first practically useful things I have ever created. Sat here now trying to think of any genuinely useful inventions I’ve got to my name, and really drawing a blank. If i can help the increasing legions of people who are annoyed by their skin, cumulatively that could make the world a very slightly better place. And if I can also persuade people to use stuff made out of local, non-carcinogenic, traditionally made ingredients, maybe the environment and humanity will be better off. Of course, burning down Unilever would be more effective, but that would also release a lot of toxins and particulates into the atmosphere, as well as landing me in trouble because ‘arson is illegal’ or some such bullshit. 
So instead of a campaign of pyromania, I’ll now be trying to formulate, alchemize, compound, invent, and whack together, some more beneficial skin stuffs. I’ve got a face cream trialling on myself at the moment, and I’ve had a shockingly low amount of spots so far. Like 2 tiny dots all week, rather than the usual uncountable multitude that outnumbers the very stars. 
In the interests of ethics and scientific enquiry, I’m testing all products on myself, my friends,and my mum. Which is way more ethical than these bunch. For once, I am not the literal worst, and that is quite heartening.
All right, I’m off to research the most environmentally friendly and non-toxic types of lotion containers, because this is my life now. Peace out, and if you have any skincare needs, give me a shout, I could provide you some amazing miraculous snake oil, mates rates, organic, and locally produced.
All I need now is a name for this lil enterprise. Suggestions on a postcard (or in the comments section). Selected winner gets a prize!
Skin

2017

Has seen some blessed times, but now I’m sad and sulking for missing my first gig of the year because I’m ill and skint and just not up for doing things. 2016 exhausted me. Had a beautiful time last weekend seeing friends though, drawing on happy memories to drg through. That and plans of better times ahead.

So, here are my plans/goals/wishes for this year:

  • learn to drive
  • cycle regularly
  • more poetry
  • perform at some more places
  • get some performance videos done
  • perform at festivals
  • get my show on the road
  • write a new book of conceptual stuff
  • actualise some visual/video/multimedia creation
  • get some decent boots and walk
  • walk long ways
  • have adventures
  • get strong – lift weights, run, yoga, eat food that isn’t cheese
  • blog and diary and record everything
  • get some proficiency in tarot reading
  • meditation focus
  • graduate from DBT having learned all the skills and able to use them in life
  • carry on helping out at Derbyshire Refugee Soidarity
  • do more Belper stuff
  • get new glasses
  • go foraging
  • get my stupid painful tooth sorted out/stop moaning about the tooth
  • go to more amazing camps and festivals
  • visit many friends, especially the ones I haven’t visited in years
  • learn/revise Basic First Aid
  • learn a few tunes by heart on the tin whistle
  • learn to crochet
  • sell a load of stuff to declutter and fund all this
  • apply for a Masters (finance permitting)
  • don’t drink all the damn time
  • get some independent self sufficiency
  • get some community
  • Edited to add: Run the Tenby Half Marathon again! What am I even doing?! My family talk me into these ridiculous things.

I think  that’s enough to be going on with. I’ve made a start today by putting a couple of things on ebay, and I’ve been keeping organised with a Bullet Journal and to do lists. I know Bullet Journal sounds like an enraging gimmick, but I was doing the basic form for half of last year and found it really helpful,so I’m carrying on. Got no memory in general, so writing it down helps.

Keep your peepers open though folks, maybe some interesting things will happen this year…

2017

Christmas Thoughts

I’m in Turin. Church bells ringing midnight, calling in Christmas. I just cracked a cold beer and nestled under the blankets on a sofa-bed that creaks every time I move.

My parents bought me here. Dad is renting this apartment for a short-term work contract. He’ll be moving out in a week or so. They paid for me to come and spend Christmas with them and see Turin before he goes.

This is the first Christmas I’ve had with my parents but no brother. It’s different. No partner in crime.

Turin is beautiful, historic and grand with the joins showing where history and war and modernity have built palaces, torn them down, added and removed bits according to the whims of kings and the visions of architects, the necessities of time and change. Streets are grand avenues wider than anything in London, in this city with a single Metro line. Walking through, you can feel dwarfed by the scale of the huge buildings, rising solid and ornate, ten stories high. That is, until you see the graffiti tags, the stickers on every lowered shutter. I even spotted a few posters for anarchist federation demos plastered in the grand arcades.

It’s history but not a theme park. People live here, really live here. Christmas Eve, and the centre was packed. Last minute shopping, enjoying the Christmas lights. We walked all afternoon, walked for hours just looking in windows and at buildings and statues, at a culture similar but different.

No Christmas traditions this year, apart from eating and drinking too much, and exchanging a couple of gifts. Which is, I guess, the essence of the thing. Gluttony and goodwill, a shout of drunken defiance against the long Winter nights, a warm hug to hold us until the Spring sun thaws our hibernating hearts.

I’m not going to pretend I love this season. Yule, Christmas, Winterval… it’s always been a source of anxiety as well as joy. I know some of you are suffering, while others are loving it. And many more are somewhere inbetween, fighting life’s stresses and darkness to claw out a nest of happiness and ragged tinsel, a drunken sanctuary, a holiday holy day for the holes in hearts and minds.

As I grow older, it becomes clearer how valuable, how absolutely essential it is to take time out to connect with your people, to take a moment away from the usual hurry and distractions of life to say: “You are important. You are loved. Your love gets me through the dark Winters, and I share with you alike, the warmth of my heart.”

So, from Turin, I send you my love.

Merry Christmas, buon Natale, Winter wishes, and may Spring come soon.

 

 

Christmas Thoughts

Just an Update.

I did the abseil.

It wasn’t frightening.

Sponsor me here, if you so feel. It’s for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity.

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I was kind of hungover for abseiling, because the night before was a truly uniquely beautiful night at City-Zen One Mic. So many talented people, and I got up and did a couple of new spoken word bits. People come together to create and talk bollocks and drink and dance and it’s magic. And raised £100 for Rojava Solidarity.

 

Spent the rest of the weekend with family, which was really nice. We all live kind of far apart, so it’s great when we do get together. Stayed up way too late putting the world to rights (and I managed not to get into any terrible political arguments even though my family are not yet woke to the true necessity of anarchism).

 

These things have been good beyond measure. In between times, things have been bad beyond measure. I don’t know if I’m actually losing it. Fuck abseiling, this is the real extreme sport. The mood graph prickles like a porcupine and shoots a facefull of quills into my idiot life. Trying to hold while everything spins. I’m too dizzy to run anywhere. My hands hurt.

My fucking heart hurts.

 

 

Just an Update.