Inktober 1

I’ve been doing Inktober, though I started late. The idea is to do an ink drawing every day in October. I’m finding it really useful to get me back into drawing again, which I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. The first two are rollerball ink pen, then the others are combinations of brushed and penned bottle ink, sometime bleached using sterilising fluid. There are daily prompt words, which don’t necessarily relate strongly to the end result but are a way to get started.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images.


Oh The Burning of My Thighs

Another cycling song, which I started writing toward the end of the long first day cycling around Cornwall with a heavily-laden bicycle. The light was fading, my thighs were burning, and it was just starting to rain. It was a last-minute trip so I hadn’t built up or trained at all… Hence slightly melancholy feel, perhaps. I was wondering if I’d ever get to my friends’ house! But I did, and it was lovely.

Here’s the song

Numb Bum – New Recipe

So, I spent five days cycling in Cornwall over the weekend(ish). Saddle sore was once again an issue. I had a lovely time though, time to think and contemplate things, or not think about anything except getting up the darn hill…

The Numb Bum song (first written in the saddle in New Zealand) made a come back and has some new additions. Still very silly, but still heartfelt too, about the bumpy roads of cycling and life.

A Woodlousey Journey

I wrote another short story, learned it over the weekend, and terrified myself by telling it from memory at the Flying Monkeys story telling night in Bridport last week, singing a song after. Next month I hope to tell the other story I wrote. And sing some of my songs of course. The Flying Monkeys have been great, giving me a safe and welcoming place to put myself forward. Hooray the Monkeys!

[I’ve made a couple of tweaks to the text since then]

This story concerns a woodlouse. Just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill woodlouse, such as you might find under the bark of a log, or clinging to the walls in the downstairs loo of my parents old house.

They’re pretty resilient creatures, woodlice. They might fall off that wall unexpectedly, and hit the ground with a little audible “tick!”. But curling up and wrapping themselves in their prehistoric, armadillo-like shells, they are well protected against the landing, or anything they feel threatened by.

Perhaps their greatest weakness is that if they land on their back, the poor sods are scuppered. They have virtually no way to get back on their feet, stuck lying there, legs flailing around as if running along an upside down invisible treadmill. Occasionally, rarely, they might manage to right themselves, by curling up tight into a ball then throwing themselves out of it again. It’s tricky though.

One woodlouse had lived a fairly ordinary life, going about its business, bumbling and bimbling around, eating stuff, sometimes hanging out with other woodlice, sometimes preferring time on its own, sometimes curling into a ball and hiding when it all became too much.

It was continuing in such a manner, seeking a good life, when it found itself stuck in a rather overshadowed and oppressive fracture in a log. It could move around freely within the fracture and could sometimes see the world beyond, but was unable to leave.

Woodlice of course are not generally averse to dark places, and find much nourishment in some dank smelly holes where others might not care to spend time. But they value time and space to think for themselves. This particular woodlouse valued being able to charge around in the great outdoors like a loon.

Occasionally it caught glimpses of the colour and life out there beyond the log, little flashes of excitement passing by, moments of warmth and light.

Theses flashes and glimpses were fortifying, but also made the woodlouse gradually more aware that it was stuck in this oppressive place. It was isolated in there. The dark rotting wood overhung a long way, the glimpses of outside life were brief, and this daylight-deprived world became an increasingly unhealthy place to be.

The woodlouse spent increasing amounts of time curled up into a ball, feeling threatened. It felt as if it was stuck on its back, legs flailing on that upside down invisible treadmill, unable to right itself.

It was on the brink of despair, seeing no way to get from where it was to the world of colour and life it had caught those glimpses of.

Gradually some kind of strength grew within it. With it came excitement at the possibilities, but also fear. Did it have the strength to risk finding a way out of the log, and to cope with whatever unknown dangers or threats might lie beyond? Would it break free only to be squished unceremoniously under someone’s big foot?

It steeled itself for the moment, wondering if it would even be possible to cross the imperceptible boundary to the other world. But it believed it must be possible. It knew that somehow the first pivotal step across must be brought about by words alone. After that would be actions and journeys and effort – but that speaking of the words (whatever they would be) was key.

It was awed at the prospect that words alone could wreak such change, and have such power. It terrified it.

But finally, it could contain the pent up power of the unspoken words no longer. It spoke them, feeling the words with a physical force – viscous things to be forced up out of it into the world, to take their shape and begin their work.

And it’s world began to change.

It was immediate, the effect. Physically, the world still looked more or less the same. The inside of the log was still dark, the world beyond could only be seen in little glimpses.

But a way had opened up. With great fear and trepidation, the woodlouse began to follow it. And though it was a long way for a tiny woodlouse, it made its way down the path and the obstacles along the way, finding at the end that it had crossed into the other world, of light and colour and life.

It knew everything would not be easy there, but it felt alive, and was a free woodlouse! ‘Wahoooo!’ it cried. It began to sing songs, and meet people, laughing, sharing stories, talking with other woodlice who had made their own difficult journeys into this brighter world.

These friendships gave it strength, comfort, and joy. It valued them all greatly, thinking friendship the most wonderful and important thing. It loved the sharing of life and experiences. There was mutual support and understanding, much laughter, and many things to be gloriously, stupidly daft about.

The woodlouse was also was wary of its judgement – after all, it was by choice that it had first entered the log, not realising it would be so dark or contain it for so long. ‘Time’ thought the woodlouse, ‘time is key’. It worried about time too, for time is a slippery so and so. The woodlouse felt time slipping away, and having entered this world of colour and light and life it wanted to embrace every last moment of it, like an excited child, or a crazed dog leaping about in the waves on the beach.

But also, it knew rushing headlong into things was not a sensible course for a little woodlouse. It must allow life to progress and go where it will, and time to pass without a hurry. ‘Listen to Louis’, it thought. ‘We have all the time in the world’.

The Joy of Singing, Part 2

Just before the thoroughly joyous afternoon of group singing and harmonies, I indulged myself by singing some songs on my own before opening up the old chapel in West Bay for This be they! Gloomy Sunday (recorded by lots of people), Blue Would Still Be Blue (by the Guillemots), and Tonight the Streets Are Ours (by Richard Hawley). Slide mandolin on the first, ukulele with the others. I make mistakes in all of them, laugh at inappropriate moments in Gloomy Sunday and am singing a bit flat in Blue… but I don’t care because I loved singing and playing them in the chapel.

NB: it’s a YouTube playlist, so the other songs will follow (or click on top left of the player window) even if it looks like only one of them is here

The Joy of Singing

Word has been spreading about the pleasure of singing in the wonderful acoustics at the old Methodist church in West Bay, Dorset, which has been open recently for arts project. A few of us got together to sing some things down there just for the sake of of it, the acoustics and the general shared joy of singing.

In the morning I sang some things by myself which I’ll post soon. In the afternoon first three of us and then four of us sang some things together. The aim wasn’t highly polished performances but to have fun, we which we did, lots.

There’s at least another one to add, so check back soon.