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15 March 2007 Entry: "Did you see the news today?"

Did you see the news today?

I was reading Nora Ephron in the Guardian writing about blogs the other week. She said they had to be short and immediate, and sort of ‘did you see the news today’. So I am taking this on board, I keep thinking each blog has to be a golden nugget of information or discovery, and when I haven’t got one, I don’t write. I do write a diary, but at the moment it’s a bit Bridget Jonesy, as I’ve been told my cholesterol’s high so I am counting alcohol units. But I won’t bore you with the details, only to say that I was having acupuncture once and the acupuncturist said ‘You’re a writer? ah, they all have problems with alcohol’. Enough said.

The launch of Wall at 7 Stories was a lovely, friendly affair, with lots of Byker residents reading poems with me, plus Charlie Hardwick, to add glamour and showbiz appeal. It felt like an old Poetry Virgins launch. We sold a good amount of books and so far I’m getting lots of positive feedback. Pity about my picture in the Culture mag - taken from an unflattering angle below, I was wearing lots of layers of clothes because we were outdoors beside the Byker Wall, and then they printed my face across the middle of two pages, so I had staples up my nose. I’ll not sell books on the basis of my sugar babe looks, then.

I’m still getting exciting e-mails and phone calls from all sorts of poets, agreeing to write poems for The Ropes. One of the latest is Skinnyman, a rapper. We had a very interesting phone conversation about what constituted a ‘line’ of poetry. He doesn’t type any of his words up, they’re just hand-written then learnt, and then, when performed he freestyles (I think that’s the word) or improvises. I asked him for 27 lines including the spaces. He kept wanting to describe line lengths in terms of four beats of the bar, or eight or a sixteen bar line. In the end I said - just send it and we’ll make it fit.
This is going to be an anthology like no other, I think.

Did you see the news today? The Labour back benchers revolted and wouldn’t support the renewal of the Trident Deterrent. But Never Fear - the Tories stepped in and supported the bill. So we’ll have more money spent on weapons, when fantastic projects like Women’s Health in South Tyneside are losing core funding and desperately trying to stay afloat. The amount they need would be piffling compared to a brand new killing machine.

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