I had a pretty good birthday, really. Michelle chipped in to help me buy a futuristic and exciting Kindle device, at exactly the same time as the Kindle precipitated all-out-fucking-war in the book world (it's things like that which make me miss the book trade: sure, the job I'm in now pays better and this means I have more time to attend to my own literary activities but nothing, nothing, beats that sense of being one of the grunts on the ground in a bookshop, facing the 'it's cheaper at Asda!' barbarians at the gates on a daily basis, scrabbling desperately to shore up the collapsing edifice that is the printed, bound codex and bitching about it every single second you can spare from shelving and sorting and shaking your head at the mess, the fucking mess, those animals make of the toilet...but I digress); we went to a fantastic Mexican restaurant, and the pictures, and the pub (not all in the same day, mind you), plus I ate a lot of chocolate and nachos and cake, oh my!
One of the main features of the weekend was that I got waxed for the first time. At the risk of sounding overly macho (an ever-present risk on this testosterone-soaked slice of the web, I'm sure you'll agree), I have to wonder what people are on about when they say it's incredibly painful. For me, the main issue seemed to be the fact that it tickled when the wax was applied in certain areas, which was slightly embarassing. I'm willing to admit, though, that this may be because, as the nice lady from Jesmond Beauty Clinic informed me, I actually have (well, had, in the waxed areas - grin, grin) quite fine, not-exactly-manly body hair, which comes off quite easily. I suppose if one were possessed of a thick, George 'The Animal' Steele style mat of follicles, one might find the experience more tortuous. But I have to say I rather enjoyed it. So nah.
And thence to the Lamplight Arts Centre in Stanley for the first Lamplight Poetry Slam of the new season. Hosted by Steve Urwin and James Oates, the slam was deservedly won by Jenni Pascoe, but featured fine work from Jeff Price, Alfie Crow, Poetry Jack, and many more, including myself. I'm proud of my own contribution, not only because I scored a personal best by getting through to the third round (well, okay, the first round was a warm-up round so doesn't strictly count; but reaching the second round of a slam is still better than I've done in like, ever), but also because I read pieces I've been afraid of reading for a long time, and I read them well. Let's face it, I'm highly unlikely to ever win a slam with my material (an awful lot of my stuff is genderqueer misery, and what lighter stuff there is in my set tends to be about S&M - I'm kind of a niche interest), but the challenge I set myself with this gig was that I should memorise the poems I planned to do and concentrate not just on reading them from behind the comfort of a file of plastic wallets, but on performing them. And that I think I achieved in spades. My second round poem, 'Eggshells', held the room so strongly that you could have heard a pin drop while I was reading: it was a real Little Earthquakes moment. Follow-up poem 'NSFW' also went over well (James even contending it was his favourite poem of the night), but it didn't have the shock power of the earlier poem and, as I say, I was up against a strong field. And hey, I went out in the same round as Jeff and Jack, so there's no shame in that.
All in all, the fact that I made such a good showing is a good omen for the London gigs coming up. After which - well, who knows? It might be nice to take some downtime from performing and get on with writing new stuff; then again there are a few other intriguing offers I've been made so...we'll see. Yes *steeples fingers* we shall see, indeed...moo hoo ha ha!