Saturday 17 May

Back in Chorlton village for the annual Arts Festival I first call at Jemima’s station to surreptitiously enquire as to the results of a recent, top secret autopsy. At first I can only imagine my ex-wife’s sudden tigerish demeanour to represent a sentimental harking back to the boy and girl-sterous days of our youth. Luckily, before swooning with lustful nostalgia, I manage to interpret her code while mentally replacing her uniform – the two unfortunate victims, Bjorn and Cindy Battenberg, were BITTEN to death.

A fate worse than death awaits me at the Festival’s poetry evening. Having informed the organiser that I would read in an emergency (should local legend Wasteland Jones, say, be attacked by bats – for what isn’t possible now?) I am surprised and vaguely horrified to find I’m scheduled to headline. Having elicited support from Dempson, Izzy, Erick and Growler, not to mention Jill and Conrad (the poems in question concern the soul-rippingly painful exing of the aforementioned ex, against a scenic Chorlton backdrop), I must now ask them to sit through three hours of other people’s uninvited words. As so often, they + beer do me proud, and the moment I take the stage is greeted by whoops and hollers from Growler in particular. Aptly, when relaying poems about love, it’s all over far too quickly. I have no dazzling introduction; no book to sell, and the reading of this mechanical journal is painful enough in one’s own head, without considering its verbalisation aloud. We leave, hurriedly, the audience wanting, and quite rightly expecting, more.

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