EDitorial ± 23-Jul-2012

Latitude 2012

Thursday night and I'm off to the Latitude site to drop off Eldest and friends. Bucketing down, it was, as I waved them off across the slippery slidy drop-off field. Happy camping!

Saturday morning and I've got a day ticket and, unlike last year, the car to meself. Well, that was true until I used gocarshare to offer a lift, there and back, and duly gained another Ed as a front-seat passenger. Dad, he could be a serial killer, said the kids. If he was, he was perfectly charming as we talked of shared gigs, both music and comedy.

Wellies and raincoat on as we get wristbanded and agree to meet in about 12 hours time. Can only reach outer limits of comedy for Infinite Monkey Cage so grab coffee number one and hit the (dry) poetry tent for funny and full-of-life Superbard: ad-lib a compliment, he says. Squeezed into the cabaret for most of Sara Pascoe -- tall tales of school assemblies -- then over to the Lake Stage for the curiously named Dingus Khan, one of the local BBC Introducing bands. Couldn't help break into a smile as the massed guitarists and drummers did their stuff. "We started this set as Dingus Khan," says the front guy, "and two songs in we remain as Dingus Khan." Buzzy, tunes, and ambulance choreography too. Those Manningtree lads will go far.

Glimpse of rhymin' Luke Wright and over to the Obelisk for Baxter Dury who sips brandy and does most of Happy Soup, then a hot choc meet-up with Eldest. "Dad," she hypers, "I met Brian Cox!" As you do. I know, I'll grab a good place in the film & music tent if I arrive early. Several hundred other people have had the same idea before me as we queue for festival favourite Adam Buxton. We all somehow cram in for his latest BUG show -- not the hungry hippos! -- and the clothing layers are peeled off as the temperature rises. Blimmin' hot by the time that Bronhom appears and a relief to be back in the rain. Meantime:

  • Django Django make some pleasing Beta Band-esque noises,
  • drizzling as Richard Hawley croons and sits with his broken leg,
  • SBTRKT doesn't hold my attention,
  • then the mighty Elbow prove worthy headliners, Guy Gravy going Mercury with the crowd

Gone 11pm and it's a full house for Scroobius Pip. Couple of texts later and Ed & Ed 'ead off, heads full of tunes.

... and still missed Josie Long, Pat Nevin and Laura Marling.

Sunday night and I'm off to the Latitude site to pick up Middler and friends. Not raining for once. I go to one pick-up point, they find another. We'll remember when these were all fields.

EDitorial ± 18-Jul-2012

When Those Brazilians Hit The 'Swich

Machado De Assis sits in the Ipswich Reading Room
Seu Jorge in West End Music strums a mellow Bowie tune
Behold Oscar Niemeyer gazing up at Foster's Willis
While Heitor Villa-Lobos wonders where Gilberto Gil is

Joaquim Cruz is Northgate bound, his race is nearly starting
As Ayrton Senna overtakes at Anglia Indoor Karting
Down by the docks stands Lucio Costa checking out The Mill
And poor Cesar Cielo hoped to swim lengths at Broomhill

Paulo Coelho has a dream of travelling to Coes
Gisele Bundchen, wax complete, eats BBQ at Rios
Kaka's kicked off at Portman Road, he's scoring goals for fun
Watched by Astrud Gilberto, the girl from IP1

Meanwhile, at the Black Adder, an unfortunate melee
Sees Socrates resuscitating Ipswich Town's Pele
The numpty's had too much champagne, now Alan's feeling ill
Please someone fetch an awful lot of coffee for Brazil

EDitorial ± 12-Jul-2012

Light Lunches: Camargue Cafe, Wickham Market

When any passers-by flick through this in a year or two's time, they'll read that the sun was shining in mid-July. No big deal. Except summer hasn't started yet in 2012, apart from those radiant weeks back in March. Today, however, Thursday 12th July, there's a mass of incandescent gas up there and it's warm out. Which is welcome.

We whoosh through Wickham Market with a wink at the under construction Co-op and a wave at Cafe 46, then weave out the far side of the triangular square, who knows where. Hopefully Andy, who's driving. Join another road, head off right, and ooh, there's a sign pointing towards a one-track mind, er, road. Like The Skids, we've gone into the valley, for here we are at Valley Farm, home of all things horse-related. We're less interested in the New Young Pony Club and more concerned with that place over there, the Camargue Cafe. Instantly reminded, visually, of the Riverside at Orford.

In we trot -- hey, there's panels showing the indoor riding area -- and a sign on the counter apoligises for today's limited menu 'cos the owners are away. Never mind. No Revett's (the local butcher) meaty goodness for us though there's still soup, sarnies, wraps and paninis. Sandwiches and cans are ordered and it's out onto the decking. Did I mention the sun? Perfectly good BLT with salady bits soon appears, ditto Andy's brie & bacon. All rather fine to be nibbling away while wondering about the workings of "horseball" as a sport.

Briefly back inside to run a critical eye over the wall's watercolours and equine snaps, then to seek sweetness in the guise of two slices of chocolate and cola cake (and a coffee). They didn't last long. Memo to us: come back another day to sample the full menu. In the meantime, clear round with no faults.

If it was a car -- Rolls-Royce Camargue.
If they were passing by -- Cornelius Lysaght.

EDitorial ± 9-Jul-2012

Writers' Cafe 2012

Before the clocks sprung forward, a postcard -- an actual card with an arty picture -- appeared on the mat. Dear Ed, it began, would you be interested in co-hosting this summer's Ip-art writers' cafe? Moi? Heck, why not.

Course, I've been along to these events before. I hereby claim to be the first reader at the first such event fully five years ago. I'm pretty much the Armstrong of these affairs. That'd be Neil, not Stretch or Lance.

My co-host will be one Ruth Dugdall. Ruth is a proper writer from that Felixstowe. Ruth has not only written three novels but had them published too. Ruth's stuff is available on Amazon or for the Kindle. If this was pro celebrity golf from the late 1970s, Ruth would be Lee Trevino to my Ronnie Corbett.

All too soon the event comes around. Not the greatest of starts when I meet Ruth at UCS but neither of us knows exactly where we're going nor which building we're in. We amble over by the Question Mark and finally meet people (hi, Sara) we know. It's agreed that we'll both read from our work -- Ruth from her paperbacks, me from my, er, website -- and we propose to say a few well chosen words after each reading. Usually someone comes up, does their stuff, sits down. This will be better, wethinks.

Folk start to turn up and off we go. Ruth goes first. She's very good. I suspect she may have stood up in front of people before. She's equally smart at saying something constructive per reader. My turn after the break, next name comes out of the hat, and it's concentration levels up to 11 as each person reads. I like that phrase, that ending's good, etc. I get through it without falling over. And there's some genuinely good writing IMHO. Name checks and pats on the back for:

  • first group: Sam, Sally, Paul, Kate and David
  • second group: Anoup, Clive, John, Gerry and Mai
  • third group: Una, Jean, Huw and Ric Hardacre, Ip-art 2012 short story winner!

Everyone's very positive afterwards. It's gone OK. Tell you what, though: it's an awful lot easier sitting at the back.

EDitorial ± 6-Jul-2012

Ipswich Lunches: Snobs Coffee

You'd need to be mad to start a new business in times such as these. Not being mad would be good. Being nomadic might help. Itinerant, if you will. Of no fixed abode, if you must. Which is why you may already have encountered these fine folk in Woodbridge market or outside UCS opposite Loch Fyne or as far afield as Bury St Edmunds. They move around, see. Keep you guessing.

Until now, that is, when Snobs have landed some temporary accommodation in the dead centre of IP1. In connection with Switch Fringe -- running in the underbelly of Ip-art -- their pop-up cafe has popped up in the delightful Town Hall galleries. Yep, straight up the steps, straight through the doors and straight ahead into gallery 1. There's often some of that there art in here, but now you can relax on a sofa and take some refreshment. What a good idea.

When myself and Andy stopped by, there were no savoury goodies to be had. OK if we bring in something from the market? No problem, said Abby and Steph, the Snobs Sorority. Which we then did, before getting down to the main business of the day: coffee. My latte looked leafy and tasted terrific. And the custard tart on the side was what Del Boy might call the piece de renaissance. Got your art on the walls, got your arty books to peruse, got your light, and you've now got your jolt too. There's more fliers in here than a Howard Hawks flick. As my boss is fond of saying, there's a lot going on.

Who knows how long the baristas will be brewing up in here? Current hours are 10am to 5pm, so get yourself down there and support a truly independent local business. Perfick for the culture vulture.

If it was a car -- Peel Trident.
If they were passing by -- Mary Blake.

EDitorial ± 3-Jul-2012

Spiegeltent Stories

Ip-art 2012 and all's gone to plan. Short story competition (previously) has returned with a theme of RECOVER. Zero inspiration until a last minute idea surfaced on the day before entries were due in. Started my piece on Sun pm and finished it Monday, early hours thereof. Reformatted it in daylight and handed it in. FF a few weeks and an email pops in. I've been shortlisted and I'm invited to an event on Fri 29th June at which the winner will be announced. Double yay.

That Friday arrives and my mum, whose entry has again been sadly overlooked, accompanies me to Christchurch Park inside the spiffing Spiegeltent. Before the announcement will be a literary chat with two Booker shortlisted lady authors: Sarah Hall, the story judge, and MJ Hyland. Apologies, says Georgina Wroe, local radio presenter (and novelist), but Sarah Hall can't make it due to illness. No problem. So it's a solo show with MJH instead who is open, risque and highly entertaining. During the interval, outside in the evening sun, we exchange a few words while she's having a cheeky ciggy.

Back inside and here it comes. MJH reads some notes prepared by Sarah Hall. Blah blah high standard blah blah record number of entries blah blah. Runner up is "funny, poignant, well observed". Congrats to ... Ed Broom! I'll take that. Up to shake hands, collect my book token, and sit back down. Happy. Winner is "frighteningly suggestive". Congrats to Ric Hardacre. Applause but nobody gets up. Except me. Er, he can't be here tonight, I say. He's stuck in Colchester in a toxic gas incident. This I have learned from Twitter in the last hour. No matter. Georgina reads his entry anyway. After which I'm invited back to read mine.

Up again, this time seated at a microphone, and I'm aware that (a) my mum is in the audience and (b) she's not seen my story. I mention both points before starting: "Mum's not with us anymore..."

There follow various awkwardly staged photos with me, the local judges, the lady mayor (bling), MJH (who says some very kind words) and, of course, my mum. Lesson: turning up is half the battle.

EDitorial ± 2-Jul-2012

Ipswich Lunches: Isaacs Coffee Tavern

The wheels on Andy's EcoBus don't only go round and round, you know: they go round and round in a sustainable way, even when there's only a handful of us on the lunchtime journey. Driver is good enough to let us alight near Stoke Bridge (Sid Little, engineer) leaving a stroll past DanceEats to a venue that's only recently appeared on the ToDo list. I see Isaacs. Yeah, that's right, I'm not doing the apostrophe.

Previously I'd always thought of this place -- the dock-facing part of the Isaac Lord complex -- as a pub, prob'ly from its time as the Malt Kiln stroke Vodka Bar. Weaving past earlier this year on the way to UCS Kai, I noticed the phrase "coffee tavern". Er, OK, you're in and we're here. There's tables out but we're eating in, ta very much. Those parasols are doubling as umbrellas today.

All nicely kitted out in here with beams and wood and stuff. Grade I listed, I believe. Up some stairs is the Merchants Bar (and further still, the Top Bar), humming with folks starting their weekend early. We're sticking down here in the Malt Kiln Furness. None of that laminated ten page menu nonsense here: one medium b&w board has everything you need from jackets to fish and chips. Neither of us makes it past item number one, the chicken & bacon sandwich. Big ticks for free Wifi and newspapers, plus local flyers and even Ipswich postcards for sale. My goodness, we've come a long way around these parts.

Service is friendly and efficient (did that waitress really pronounce "quay" as "kway"?) as our clubs sarnies appear. Wot no garnish or couple of crisps? No problem, good and tasty anyway. Feel slightly cocooned in here which is no bad thing, staying out of the driving summer rain. From the handful of slices on display, I'll go for the big ol' choc brownie to soak up the Americano. Proper coffee, too. Nothing exceptional but I could easily imagine popping in here for a quick-ish lunch if I was back working in town.

If it was a car -- Issigonis Maxi.
If they were passing by -- Santiago Cabrera.