Thursday, 24 October 2013

Reading Event/New Fiction - 'Freeman Street'


Freeman Street Market - circa 1955



“… like me dad used to say, when the absent friends outscore those who’ve turned up, it’s time to call it a day.”

Freeman Street is a new short story (at least I think it's a short story) commissioned for this year's Great Grimsby Literature Festival.

Although its foundation is partly in research carried out for the social history book The Women They Left Behind in 2008/9, Freeman Street tells the entirely fictional story of Julie, once the wife of a fisherman, who finds herself on a pilgrimage to Grimsby after thirty years away. As the trip unfolds and once familiar streets roll by, Julie is increasingly haunted by an episode from her past.

I’ll be reading Freeman Street for the first time at Grimsby Minster on Friday 25 October as part of Local Life, a lunchtime (12.00-1.00pm) reading session for adults, alongside other new pieces of work commissioned for the festival.

 

Monday, 7 October 2013

HUMBER MOUTH 2013 In Conversation with Mike Hodges/Get Carter Screening

 
In the Observer review of Get Carter, written on the film's release in March 1971, you get the feeling the reviewer is in something of a quandary. He dubs it his 'commercial film of the week', but seems to feel a little ... dirty about it. He writes of the film's dubious morality and, whilst finding it impossible not to identify with Michael Caine's anti-hero, Jack Carter, 'a very unpleasant thug who goes up to Newcastle to find out who murdered his straight brother...' he is less easy with the way he 'kills or screws anything that moves'. In a week where the other main commercial release was Love Story,  the reviewer finally admits his 'shameless enjoyment', concluding that Get Carter is like 'a bottle of neat gin swallowed before breakfast. It's intoxicating all right, but it'll do you no good'.
 
All of which is a roundabout way of announcing I'll be in conversation with Get Carter director, Mike Hodges for this year's Humber Mouth Festival at The One Gallery in Hull on 13 November. The event starts at 6.30pm with a screening of  Get Carter, followed by an in-conversation session and concluding with an audience Q&A.
 
Inviting Mike Hodges to Hull for Humber Mouth 2013 is something of a coup for the festival organisers, Shane Rhodes and Wrecking Ball Press. I'm thrilled to have been asked to take part. Forty-two years after its cinema release, Get Carter  - adapted by Mike Hodges from Ted Lewis's 1970 Scunthorpe-based novel Jack's Return Home - remains an era-defining crime thriller in which whatever was left of 1960s optimism gets a dose of cold, violent reality. It still packs a punch and, for me, it is the point at which the British crime thriller comes of age. 
 
 
Keep up to date with this year's Humber Mouth Literature Festival via the facebook page and twitter @humbermouth
 
 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Great Grimsby Poetry Relay - Reader 51


There was something rewarding being Reader 51 for half an hour or so this morning for the Great Grimsby Literature Festival and National Poetry Day poetry relay. Leaving the laptop for the morning and taking a walk to the bridge, I found the east walkway closed, so schlepped under to the western path. The further onto the bridge, the more pronounced the thunders and rumbles of articulated lorries. They feel close, really close. 



The noise, the movement, the vibration, the grey-brown river churning up sandbanks - it's a long way down. In place, just beyond the Barton side pier - some 500 metres from the shore - in time for the 11:44 reading. I said the words. A brief extract from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sail'd softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze -
On me alone it blew.
O dream of joy! is this indeed
The lighthouse top I see?
Is this the hill? Is this the kirk?
Is this mine own countree?

It's not surprising that rivers, oceans and waterways inspire poetry. This place is no exception. Philip Larkin's poem A Bridge For The Living put it far better than I can exactly what this great structure means to the region. The poem is wonderfully read by Tom Courtenay in Dave Lee's stunning film, originally made for the 2011 Humber Mouth Festival.