Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The reason I am wearing these rings...

This morning shortly after waking up I was put into a coffin dead with a load of vampires, skeletons and Cleopatra but luckily I was found by an explorer employed by the Queen of Canada. This explorer explained to me that I was dead but she could make me alive. She had better do it quick because Cleopatra wanted to mummify me and she apparently takes people's brains out of their skulls through their noses with tweezers. That didn't sound fun so I was pleased that the explorer was also the Queen of Canada's chief medical practitioner. She slowly took me through a series of medical treatments (some of which also involved hairdressing expertise) which ended in major surgery to restore my facial expressions. There was no anaesthetic but there was a blindfold. The doctor plays the Sugerbabes when operating and has to apply perfume during procedures to protect herself from dying. These rings we're then applied to keep me alive. After a week they can be removed and I will be fully alive. 

Apparently all this would have been solved quicker if we'd removed my beard. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

#InternationalMensDay #IMD #IMD2013

I am not an international man because I do not recognise the bullshit values of male honour, patriarchal family structures and patriotism. These are the ways patriarchy oppresses men and are not something to be celebrated: 


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Bat Contradictions: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/15/batkid-san-francisco-charity-make-wish

I do find this story heartwarming and at times it brings tears to my eyes when I consider the community spirit and compassion that went into it. Those bits in the movies always get me from "I'm Sparticus" to It Could Happen to You. And it's great to see people coming together and people embracing the magical and absurd. It is a candle in the darkness. 

But it also makes me think about how this magic event for one lucky kid is such a stark contrast to the lives of many kids. It makes me wonder why something like this happens for a child recovering from cancer and yet children with the preventable and human caused conditions of poverty and war do not get such amazing moments. 

I find myself questioning the value of a charity that provides wonderful moments to individual children who already have some luck and privilege going for them rather than putting those resources elsewhere. Even as I love them for making something so beautiful for all the rightest of right reasons. 

It's a complicated mass of contradictions and overlapping truths really. Like most things in life. 

One thing that I also find conflicting is that part of it involved the helpless woman tied up and saved by a hero trope. Which I'm not sure I'd advocate infusing the next generation with. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

@GBApodcast: What you might have missed:

So recently the feed on my podcast stopped working for a bit. 

The episodes of the GettinhBetter Acquainted (www.gettingbetteracquainted.co.uk) podcast that you may have missed due to feed issues are below. If you follow this link: 

you can resubscribe to the now properly working iTunes feed where they are all now available. Your old feed will look like it should work but it doesn't. 

Samantha Feeney #2 - relationships falling apart, becoming a single parent, getting your life back together and embracing a new start.

John Adamthwaite - playwriting, theatre, how to fit writing plays into your life and if it's a medium that is relevant the modern world.

Charley Lucy Harrison - family, divorce, storytelling, comedy, bitcoin, complicated childhoods, rat based tragedy and everybody's wall's.

Carl Jackson - travelling around the world, neuroscience, culture and the merely real.

Nina Gray - bullying, complicated childhoods, feminism(s), mental health, France, twitter and spider diagrams.

Paul Jerome Anderton - equal marriage, immigration, life changes and the death of his father. Running through everything a sense of history. 

Caz Dyer - changing perspectives and perceptions, Honduras, plans to cycle from the UK to Africa, teenage stories from the POV of an ex "Mean Girl" and an ex "severely bullied geek".

The Osmaston Family Special - A personal journey into the unknown territories of family history featuring rediscovered wartime diaries, the legacy of the British Empire, childhoods in India filled with tigers and elephants, engineering the industrial revolution, walking on graves, landed gentry and confronting the judgement of my 15 year old self.


Tony Hickson - knife throwing accidents, impersonating Elvis on Channel 5, being a paparazzi photographer, transgressive art, travelling with the Circus, the World Gurning Championships, and serial killer puppet shows.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

#RemembranceSunday: There is NOTHING honourable about war!

WW1 was not a time when people gave their lives for our freedoms. It was a time when the ruling classes of many countries slaughtered a generation of men. And in that atrocity the conditions were created that led to WW2. The war was not a war to end all wars it was a war that spawned war. We are currently engaged in wars. We have not learned from our remembrance. We don't call our wars world wars now because they don't involve the civilian population (of our country, not in the countries that receive our troops and our drones.) 

The brave and not brave men and the women and children who also struggled through these atrocities should not be forgotten. And part of that remembrance is the responsibility for us to remember things accurately and in context. 

The wars have never been an abstract thing for me. My father was in the army during WW2 and whilst he had an incredibly lucky war many of his friends did not. He has always talked about it. I am proud that my Grandfather was a conscientious objector in both world wars (luckily his hypocratic oath meant he wasn't imprisoned or murdered for this principled position the way many "free" men were.) And I know many people who have or had grandparents who fought in the Wars. The sympathy and empathy we feel for these people we know is the same we should feel for those who are at war now.

Also our "freedom" is not unconditional nor universal. The men and women who fight our wars don't do so to give future generations freedom. They do it because they are ordered and paid to do it. They do it because they have little or no choice. 

Peace offers freedom and we don't have peace. Some of us, the lucky and privileged ones, have the illusion of peace. The illusions of freedom and choice. But that is not the case either globally or nationally. 

Remember the dead, grieve for them. I can understand donating to the veterans  although since it was the state that harmed them arguably it should be the state that gives them reparations. 

There are principled and reasonable POV's in terms of wearing or not wearing a red or white poppy, donating to or not donating to the poppy appeal, observing or not observing the silence. But patriotism and mythologising are not a part of that. 

Don't use Remembrance Sunday to lie to yourself. Teenagers crying in the dirt, covered in blood and full of fear. That's who those poor people in the trenches were. And all over the world we still have teenagers in the same horrible position. They are there because of the intensions and interests not of themselves but of the people running the wars. 

There is NOTHING honourable about war. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

#solidarity with #teacherROAR

I generally have a problem with public sector strikes. But that problem isn't with people fighting for better (or just not worse) conditions. That problem comes from the laws against general strikes, from the laws that dictate you can only strike for your own self-interest, that basically legislate against solidarity. And of course you can only strike if you are in a union (ie have one available and the money to pay into it) which locks out many people from the opportunity to withdraw labour for collective political aims. 

This results in problematic situations where better paid groups of people strike to maintain their own position and their strike makes life terrible for the lowest paid in society. Which is very different from how strikes function in the private sector. One of the many many ways that public and private sector are different!

A transport strike for example may mean un-unionised poor families go hungry because they can't get to work or can't arrange childcare for the extra hours involved. And the strike won't help them get paid more. It won't improve their working conditions. And you aren't allowed to strike for improvement for all. For say free public transport or cheaper public transport. Strikes under modern law are only legal if they are going to divide people. 

The teachers strike is different (although it will of course still divide people.) 

Here is their statement

But the reason it is different is that it is as close to a solidarity based strike as you can get without being arrested. 

Because children are not paid anything to go to school. They have no contract of employment. If teachers lose their holiday and work longer hours and have systematic things put in place to make it harder to teach, and to teach well, then all that is also being done to children. And as usual the poorest children will suffer the most from that. Children don't have power in society and it is up to adults to protect them. 

Parents and teachers should be on the same page on this. Many parents aren't of course, particularly the poorer ones who see better off teachers asking for more. And who have the same kind of problems the poor always get when essential services are denied to them, childcare, salary loss, extra stress during hard times, etc...

But if the teachers don't manage to stem this tide it will be the children who suffer the most. That's the children of public and private sector workers, that's the future adults who will inherit so much shit already to try and deal with. 

And talking about attacking the poor and taking public services away from people, if you think a days strike is bad look at the general policies of the Coalition government. How many disabled people have died due to being found fit to work?

And to address the strawman issues. The actual ones teachers have to list as their main reasons to strike hours, pay and pensions:

Teachers already work long hours. They  work far longer than their hours, and whilst their job isn't manual labour (and I think teachers talking about it as if it is need to spend some time working in a factory) it is tiring physically as well as mentally. They have to create an emotional and educational landscape in their classrooms that will engage 30+ kids (and manual labourers talking anout that as easy need to spend some time working in a school.) My step-dad worked in both and I don't think he'd always say working conditions were better in a factory. I think he got physically attacked more working in schools. 

I'm not saying things are equal. Many teachers and definitely head teachers are paid much more than many of the rest of us (although not teachers starting out who are paying off debt etc... on the lowest band of salary). But at present teachers are losing both time and money. Politicians aren't. Bankers aren't. 

Teachers aren't striking for payrises. They are objecting to paying in more money to a pension pot which (rarely for pension pots in 2013) can currently cover itself. 

Pensions are tricky things. Most people my age assume we won't get them and if we do we'll be much older than the current retirement age. Sure it's hard not to see people who have something good when you don't and wish they didn't have it. And teachers areprivileged individuals and they don't all know it, so many of the things they say can, through a lack of awareness about other people's work conditions, pensions, salaries, be aggravating. But that's a reason to point out their privilege (privilege that is nothing compared to Michael Gove's privilege by the way) rather than going to war against them. They are doing an important and thankless job. And they are often working with and for children who are not privileged. 

And they aren't the only ones. Don't forget that schools staying open longer wont just impact on children and teachers. There are lots of other staff in schools. Ones who don't get teachers salaries; teaching assistants, caretakers, office staff, caterers, dinner supervisors. Their lives and working conditions are also under attack. 

This strike is the closest modern law allows to a strike based on principal and solidarity. If the teachers had the pensions and the hours that they want (ie the ones they agreed to when they signed up for teaching) they would still be fighting the education secretary and the horrendous policies being put in place. They would just have less ability to use the withdrawal of labour as leverage. 

We should all be refusing labour until this government stops attacking the people for a crisis created by and for the financial sector and political classes. Gove's department isn't the only one damaging us. 

We won't of course because we would lose our jobs and most of us can't afford to lose pay permanently. Many of us can't afford to lose a days salary. 

But just because teachers can doesn't mean their cause is wrong. 

I offer up full solidarity to the teachers and to the students and to the parents and to everyone being attacked by this governments policies. 

The responsibility for hardships felt by anyone today fall on the wealthy people in power whose divisive policies are designed to protect and extend the inequality that surrounds us and keep us fighting each other rather than fighting for each other. 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Discussing theology with toddlers:

Child 1: Teacher, what's your name?

Me: David. 

Child 1: David. *thinks* There's a David in the bible. 

Me: Yes, there is. King David. But that's not me. I'm not a king. 

Child 1: No! David is a little boy. 

Me: He was when he fought Goliath. But he grows up to be a king. 

Child 2: Yeah, well our dad is Goliath! 

Child 1: Is he?

Child 2: YEAH!

Child 1: Our dad is Goliath. 

Me: Well that's good for him. I'm not going to be fighting him though. I'm not the same David. I don't fight anyone. 

(Child 1 = 3ish, Child 2 = 4ish, they are siblings.)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Edinburgh Festival: Podcasts and Live Shows‏

Hello everyone,

Dave related Edinburgh Fringe Festival News!

Stand Up Tragedy in Edinburgh:

SUT is a night where people stand up and tell tragedy. We make you sad; we make you think; we make you smile. Expect music, comedy, fiction, spoken word, true stories and more, all playing up to the tragic form but not always taking it seriously. The night ends, not with a whimper, not with a bang, but with a cathartic sing-a-long.

We are booked in nightly as part of the Spoken Word at PBH Free Fringe 2013 performing at 6.30pm at the Fiddlers Elbow from the 3rd to the 14th of August. We're also going to be releasing podcasts daily during the Fringe Festival. We'll be kicking off the daily Stand Up Tragedy season with a really amazing piece of true storytelling from comedian Josie Long on the 2nd of August.

We've been releasing podcasts weekly through 2013 and you can listen to them to get a taste of what is in store. They're available on iTunes, Stitcher Smart Radio and Soundcloud.

We have an amazing line-up booked in including Robin Ince, Rob Auton, Sarah Campbell, Jay Foreman, Superbard and more. We have cabaret acts, harpists, magicians, authors, true storytellers, poets, lecturers and more sharing their tragedies at our shows.

So if you are coming to the Fringe come and see us. We are on the Free Fringe so it is free to come and see us (although we will be passing around a hat at the end).

"Join Dave Pickering on his journey to get better acquainted with the people he knows. There are lots of shows about famous people. This is a show about the rest of us. Part interview show, part oral history project, the show was nominated for a 2012 Radio Production Award and was featured on the Radio 5 Live podcast special, Helen and Ollie's Required Listening. It has just finished it's first season on Resonance FM"

I am also going to be doing my weekly show Getting Better Acquainted at the Fringe. I'll be documenting the Fringe experience in one or two specials and releasing conversations that I record up there. Before that I'm releasing two conversations with remarkable true storytellers who have performed at Stand Up Tragedy. One with Allan Girod whose performance at SUT can be heard here, and the other with Daniel Simpson whose performance goes out on the SUT podcast on August 4th, but you can listen to him tell his story at Spark London here. Daniel will be performing with us again in Edinburgh.

I will also be recording two live GBA's as part of the PBH's Free Fringe 2013 at 1.40pm at the Banshee Labyrinth on the 12th and 13th of August. The guests are still to be confirmed but they will connected to the Festival. Come and join us if you're in town.

If you haven't heard the show yet there are lots of ways you can: It's available through via Stitcher Smart Radio and it's Soundcloud page. At this moment the iTunes feed is currently playing up but you can still get the first 119 episodes and eventually the feed will catch up. You can also follow it on twitter and like it on facebook.

Spark London in Edinburgh:

I may be missing the next Spark Hackney open mic (which I usually host) but to make up for it I'm running a Spark London workshop in Edinburgh. Again this is pas part of the Free Fringe. It's on the 8th August at The Fiddler's Elbow 12.15 - 1.15pm.

The workshop will explore ways to locate stories from your life with the focus on connecting with an audience spontaneously, without the aid of notes. 

The Hackney open mic isn't cancelled however. Radcliffe Royds is filling in for me and the them is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. There's a 2 for 1 offer if you quote "story time" to the box office. So if you're in London on Monday 12th August at 7.30pm why not go tell some stories at the Hackney Attic.

A Maze of Breaths:

Last month we launched A Maze of Breaths: Spoken Word at PBH's Free Fringe. The Stand Up Tragedy team put the album together. 19 tracks that show the variety, quality and energy of the Free Fringe's spoken word community. The whole album is £5 (or more if you wish to give it) and individual tracks are £1 (or more if you wish to give it). I've worked really long and hard on this over the last few weeks and I really think it's a quality album. It has at least something for everyone and is a mix of poetry, storytelling, music, comedy and everything in between. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The @GBApodcast Family Season 2013

All 4 guests new me at a time when I looked like this!

I've had writing this blog on my list of things to do for weeks and I'm only just getting to it now, in the last week of the season of Getting Better Acquainted that it's supposed to comment on. I've been busy editing the season and  the rest of my time has been spent working on the exciting and time consuming task of taking Stand Up Tragedy up to the Edinburgh Festival so it would be easy to put the delay down to that. But that's not quite right. I've been avoiding doing it.

If I'd have been ready to write this blog I would have found the time. Normally if I have a blog to write I do it using my thumbs on my smartphone while walking through the street or travelling on public transport. I needed to write this outside of the noise and barrage of this non-stop life I seem to have made for myself. I needed to write it in quiet reflection. Today I finally got that chance.

Each of the conversations in the Family Season 2012 is a big one for me; in different ways and for different reasons. By having conversations with my family I've been having conversations with myself, with my genetic and social makeup, with the people who make me me. The conversations in this season have been about some of the big narratives and emotions that have shaped my life.

I talked to my dad about women, sex and fidelity and to my mum about rage, depression and becoming like your mother. Both of those conversations exposed me in very different ways; the nature of the way GBA works is that it's an exchange. If I am going to ask people to be open and to share themselves I have to be prepared to do so myself.

With my dad I found myself swapping virginity stories, sharing experiences of sexuality in general and then, to my surprise, discussing with my father whether he should feel guilty towards his children because of his chaotic love life. It wasn't an apology I ever asked for. It isn't an apology I think he should make. It was a question he asked himself within the space that we created within our dialogue, where both of us reached for understanding of ourselves.

It was a conversation I found hard to put out into the world because it reveals things about me, actions and perhaps attitudes, that might change people's opinion of me. I take ownership for my actions. But not believing you should be judged is not the same as being unafraid of judgement. And I have guilt and shame aplenty that will always help stoke the fires of fear of judgement.

But I'm also aware of how privileged to have had this conversation. Not everyone has this kind of opportunity, not everyone has a relationship with their father that is open in this way, on a personal level I am so glad to have had it, even if I'm afraid to share it.

I am also struck by the uniqueness of a conversation between a 30 year old man and his 88 year old father about sexuality where they tell each other things for the first time. If feels an important thing to share.

And they all knew me as a teenager too.

With my mum sharing the personal revelations that come up scare me less. I'm less afraid of judgement but I still feel very exposed by offering this conversation up into the world. It was an incredibly important moment in my life where I had a real leap forward in the way I view my relationship with my mother, my sense of self and my understanding of her reality. There are lots of subtexts that flow through the conversation which I'm not sure will all be felt with people with less context, but I feel like many of them will be.

Again ideas of who is guilty came up, although it introduced to the conversation more intentionally this time. There is a moment very like the moment in my dads conversation where my mum wonders whether she can legitimately apologise for behavior that she can't promise not to repeat.

I am very vulnerable in this conversation. I found it quite hard to listen to myself when editing it because of all the complex emotions that were bleeding out of me. There is a moment where I can't formulate my words because I am too busy processing my emotions. And yet the conversation wasn't confrontational, and if not everything was directly addressed, everything was at least indirectly addressed.

I've been holding back these conversations for quite a while, they have been mentioned a lot in the episodes previous episodes, and many of the events and anecdotes covered have been told by other people in other episodes. For the GBA completists many strands get tied together in these four episodes and in some ways the conversations with my parents show the farthest limits of openness and dialogue that this show has allowed me to reach.

This episode contained a story about my Gran and was followed up with a special episode that documented my personal response to the conversation I had with my mother and gives context to the life changing weekend that surrounded it. This was another strange thing to share with the word, my blathering into a microphone at the back of a bus, and believe me I edited out a hell of a lot of nonsense, but it has shaped up into something I feel is worth sharing. It captured the truth of that day and capturing truth (even while knowing that truth always changes) is what I'm generally interested in trying to do.

My parents conversations are book-ended by two other different but also very personal conversations.

The season began with a conversation with my dads first wife, Sheila. This and the follow up GBA Extra, where my older sister as a little girl spoke with her grandmother, are conversations with dead people. The voices remain but the bodies that spoke the words have passed away. My older sisters asked for this conversation in its then raw unedited form to listen to in the immediate aftermath of their mother's passing and it helped them come up with ideas for her funeral. Being able to give them this resource was an amazing thing which I am so glad I could do.

When I was editing it I felt the weight of it. It was strange to be editing someone who was dead but who I had known. Our conversation completely avoided mentioning my father and so didn't end up in the kind of areas that the other conversations in this season end up. But in a way by not being about any of that drama it allowed me to see sides of Sheila I'd never seen before. I'd only ever really known her as an old person and by talking about her years as a child and teenager I got better acquainted with her in a way that  I'd never had the opportunity to do before.

The season ends with next wednesday's episode which I just finished editing this morning. It's a conversation with a family friend called Sue, who remained friends with my dad and both of his wives. She never chose sides. In fact all four people this season focuses on once shared a house. Sue and my mum were the lodgers and my dad and Sheila the landlords. That household ended when my dad left Sheila for my mum.

Sue is a wonder to me because she is both wise and kind. Her ability not to judge people at the same time as observing them is something I admire and aspire to. I felt hers was the perfect episode to end the season. Not just because she links the other three together through bonds of friendship but because we talk about whether people can change, listening to others,  being honest and open, challenging and speaking up for what you believe in.  The conversation really pivots around friendship, community, responsibility, empathy and sharing knowledge. Those are the things that run through this family season.

They are also ideas which I feel sum up the Getting Better Acquainted podcast project as a whole.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Quick comment on http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/05/stay_at_home_dad_sexual_fantasies_why_i_d_like_to_stop.single.html

The author of this claims to be anti-slut shaming but he then writes an article thought-slut-shaming himself. As a man who has lots of guilt surrounding my own sexuality and relationship to the fact that I am a man I could relate to his feelings, but the conclusion he comes to is not one I support. As a sex positive feminist man I think his approach is pretty bizarre, to achieve equality we need to stop oppressing women's sexuality and autonomy not oppress our own. It isn't wrong to fantasize about women it is wrong to treat women as if they are not equal human beings while you are doing it!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

New Album: A Maze of Breaths: @PBHSpokenWord at @TheFreeFringe

My name is Dave Pickering and I run a night called Stand Up Tragedy. We're taking a show up to the PBH's Free Fringe this year. As our show is also a podcast and we have lots of audio experience, we agreed to put together an album to celebrate and fundraise for the spoken word line-up at the Free Fringe, which our tragic variety show is proud to be a part of.

It's a selection of live and recorded tracks, bringing to your ears the spirit of the spoken word line-up at the PBH Free Fringe. We bring to you the variety and energy of the festival, making you laugh, think, feel and move with this collection that combines poetry, storytelling, music, comedy and everything in between.

All the tracks were donated by people who are either taking a show up to PBH's Free Fringe or who have done so in the past. Performers either sent in tracks or arranged for us to record them live. We had lots and lots of amazing submissions, which I whittled down to this selection. I've tried to order it so that it flows as an album, but also to highlight the contrast between the types of spoken word that are contained in these 19 tracks.

The quality of the work submitted really took my breath away. There are a lot more songs and soundscapes than I'd expected. There are also some brilliant live performances, some of which were captured by the Stand Up Tragedy team. Shout out to Bryony Hawkins (who produces the SUT podcast) and our sound technician Steven Harvey, who also mastered this album and set up the bandcamp site.

The artwork was donated to us by another Free Fringe spoken worder, Max Scratchmann. 

Track By Track:

1. Katherine McMahon with Fiona Keenan – Blackberries

This track is as sweet and tasty as its title suggests. It gives me a warm feeling inside and seemed the perfect track to ease the listener into the album with its combination of gentle music and wonderful words.

2. Dan Simpson –You Make My Flesh Crawl

This is a romantic and macabre story set against the backdrop of the zombie apocalypse. I recorded it live earlier this year at Richard Tyrone Jones' spoken word event, Utter Shite! For me this is one of those poems where the last line blows you away and gives you a new understanding that you can't quite explain. I chose it as the second track so that people would get used to the way the tracks switch between live and produced sound. And also because it meant a transition from relaxed energy to tension; from sweet to bitter sweet.

3. Fay Roberts – Blissful Chance

Inevitably an album showing the range of what spoken word can do will also show the range of what the human voice can do. This is the first of two tracks from Fay Roberts, the current director of spoken word for PBH's Free Fringe, which mixes speech and song. It's also another take on the topic of relationships.  Love has, of course, been a preoccupation of poets and singers through the ages and this album is no exception.

4. Flea Circus: Superbard – Brixton’s Afloat

This tremendous track is the first longer form set-piece of the album. It's also our first straight up story. The relationship element this time is a subplot for the main narrative as Superbard imagines what would happen if a man who thinks Brixton will be flooded is proved "right". Beautiful vocals form a stirring chorus. Powerful and dramatic electronic scoring and a sad and funny tale give us something to really get our teeth into.

5. Isadora Vibes – Lady V

This track takes an often neglected and historically ignored part of the female anatomy and anthropomorphises it to a thought-provoking and often comic effect. Sex, like love, is perhaps one of the timeless topics of poetry, and it’s great to hear so many different voices and perspectives on this subject in the album. A range of sexualities are explored, so hopefully there’s something for everyone.

6. Friends of Friends (Vera Chok, stephenmcaines and Pascal Barras) – Victor Lou (Sequin Edit)

This track is a wonderful piece of music. The spoken word element is almost secondary. The voice functions as another instrument and a texture which helps create an engaging musical atmosphere.

7. Sophia Walker – Around the World In 8 Mistakes

This track was recorded live at a Stand Up Tragedy event. It was written on the day of the performance and is fresh, surprising and thought provoking. It takes you in all sorts of directions and has a strong ending. This is the first track that focuses on another age-old preoccupation of poets: the self. It expresses the interior emotional journey through a series of challenges and experiences.

8. The Morris Quinlan Experience feat James McKay– The New Bali Ha'i

This piece makes me think of Joy Division or Depeche Mode. It’s a poetry and music collaboration that fits strongly into the tradition of John Cooper Clark. Its lyrical content is surreal, ambiguous and evocative. And at track 8, we have the first meta track(!) which examines what it is to be a poet or make spoken word. But this isn't empty naval gazing in any respect. It explores the external as well as internal. To me, it’s about half connections, the unexpressed, and everything in between. It's pretty epic.

9. Alan Wolfson – Love Sickening

This was another track I recorded live at Utter Shite! It's a mix of the funny and profound, and is an example of what can happen when you force yourself to force the rhymes.

10. Richard Tyrone Jones – Visiting Time

This is a new poem from Richard Tyrone Jones, who is currently taking a sabbatical from being the Director of Spoken Word at the Free Fringe so that he can tour his poetry all over the world. This track is part of a live performance he gave at a Stand Up Tragedy event, and it focuses on his grandmother’s dementia. It really is a beautiful collection of observations and feelings. The context he gives the poem is as profound and poetic as the poem itself.

11. Catherine Scott – That Fucking Cockerel

To liven the mood, we go from personal sadness to the frustration of having a cockerel crowing outside your widow. This is a fun poem, which is also a kind of love letter to the swears we scream and things we think when we run out of patience.

12. Mellor and Steele – Beat 'n' Trachea

This is another longer form set-piece. It examines the voice itself, how we make sound, what sounds we make and how we choose to use them. It's part science lecture, part song, and part manifesto. I was so impressed with the cleverness and execution of this track.

13. The Antipoet with percussion by Mark Gordon – Hanging with the Poets

Some more self-referentialness as The Antipoet sings a song about hanging out with poets. It's a camp and humorous take on the spoken word performer’s lot in life.

14. David Lee Morgan – DUH-MOCKRACY

We go from a farce to a powerful and sincere piece from David Lee Morgan in the tradition of political performance poets like Gil Scott Heron. An evocative piece of wonderfully delivered rhetoric that considers what democracy is. 

15. Mel Jones – Porn

This track from Mel Jones' album, Fuckin' Mel, takes a look at the state of modern pornography. It's an earthy and funny discussion of pornofied culture, which posits an alternative approach to the one that currently dominates much of the Internet.

16. Stand Up Tragedy – An extract from a true story by Andy Bodle

This is the submission from my show, Stand Up Tragedy. It's an extract from a longer true story told by ex-stand-up and core member of the SUT team, Andy Bodle. It gives you an idea of the tone we go for at our night. A sad and thought-provoking story of a teenage suicide attempt that will make you laugh.

17. Jem Rolls – I know what the birds are thinking and I understand that look in their eyes

This was recorded by Bryony Hawkins at a Bang Said the Gun night in London. Jem's performance style made his set hard to capture as he moves around the stage a lot and doesn't use a mic. But I'm so glad we did capture it, as this is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Its delivery combines a wonderful mix of humour and anger and it will make you think about birds in a completely different way.

18. Marcel Lucont – The Tits Of The Brits

Marcel Lucont is a comic character that affectionately parodies both poetry and French people. It's a bawdy, ironic piece which playfully provokes, and it was performed live to an appreciative audience.

19. Fay Roberts (featuring Gav Sirisena) – Turn Again

This is the second track donated by our current Spoken Word director, Fay Roberts. Like many contributors, she gave me a few tracks to choose between; in this case I decided to use both of them.  I think they both give different flavours of what spoken word can be. This track is backed by music and forms, with the first track, Blackberries, a set of mellow musical bookends. The title for the album was taken from this track, although the shortlist included lines from many of the other artists.

Anyway those are my thoughts. Hope you enjoy the album that we've put together for you. Some of it is rough and ready, some of it beautifully produced, and all of it brings you some of the spirit and flavours of PBH's Free Fringe.

With love both spoken and unspoken,

Friday, 21 June 2013

Stand Up Tragedy with Josie Long, the launch of A Maze of Breaths, GBA has 4 more weeks on Resonance FM and more!

Hello everyone,

So much exciting Dave related news that I will start with a Dave related news contents: 

  1.  An overview of what Stand Up Tragedy is doing.
  2. Stand Up Tragedy's 4th July gig (which will feature Josie Long)
  3. Stand Up Tragedy's Crowd-funding campaign (14 days left)
  4. The Spoken Word at PBH's Free Fringe Fundraiser (which will feature me and Phill Jupitus) and "A Maze of Breaths" the spoken word album that I've put together to raise money for the PBH Free Fringe.
  5. Getting Better Acquainted is extended for 4 more weeks on Resonance 104.4 FM
  6. Spark London Hackney Open Mic (now with a 3 for 2 ticket offer) 

1. Stand Up Tragedy : Overview

SUT is a night where people stand up and tell tragedy. We make you sad; we make you think; we make you smile. Expect music, comedy, fiction, spoken word, true stories and more, all playing up to the tragic form but not always taking it seriously. The night ends, not with a whimper, not with a bang, but with a cathartic sing-a-long. 

We are booked in nightly as part of the Spoken Word at PBH Free Fringe 2013 performing at 6.30pm at the Fiddlers Elbow from the 3rd to the 14th of August. We're also going to be releasing podcasts daily during the Fringe Festival.

But we need your help to do this!

2. Stand Up Tragedy : 7.30pm Thursday 4th July at The Dogstar with Josie Long

One way you can help us to go on our Edinburgh journey is by coming to our fourth London based live show:  Dogstar in Brixton on Thursday 4th July.

Tickets are £5 in advance and £7 on the door and you can get them here. We'll also be having a tragic auction on the night to help raise funds.

We have an amazing line up: Josie Long, Nish Kumar, Frog Morris, Emily Capell, Daniel Barker, Jen Adamthwaite, Daniel Simpson, and Polly from Slate Islands.

Plus a PBH Free Fringe Spoken Word showcase featuring Fay Roberts, David Lee Morgan and James Bran. 
3. Stand Up Tragedy : Crowd-funding Campaign : Current total $1,910 of $3,500 Goal with 14 days left
Thanks so much to those who've backed us already and if you were intending to do so now is a great time!

For those of you who haven't our crowd-funding campaign is where you can contribute to our funds and help us get there. In exchange we are offering some brilliant perks such as pieces of art, songs, mechanise, specially written songs and stories, a meal cooked for you by an excellent chef, exposure on our podcasts and more!

Seriously every little helps, from $1 (less than a £1 by the way) to large donations. We're aiming for a small amount in funding terms but it's a sum of money we urgently need to raise. We appreciate whatever you can donate and we are excited to be able to reward our funders directly for their support. Another way of helping is to spread the word about the campaign, reach out to your own social networks and see if they want to get involved in the Tragedy!

We release a weekly free podcast produced by Bryony Hawkins with excellent sound quality that you can listen to to get a taste of our nights. They're 
available on iTunesStitcher Smart Radio and Soundcloud.

4. Spoken Word at PBH's Free Fringe Fundraising:
The Spoken Word at PBH's Free Fringe are having a fundraiser on 
June 26th at the Hackney Attic. I will be performing at this on behalf of SUT, along with an amazing line-up of amazing spoken word artists including Phill Jupitus, Rob Auton, Fay Roberts and Richard Tyrone Jones.

We'll also be launching A Maze of Breaths: Spoken Word at PBH's Free Fringe.  This is an album that the Stand Up Tragedy team put together. 19 tracks that show the variety, quality and energy of the Free Fringe's spoken word community. They will go onsale on the 26th June, the whole album is £5 (or more if you wish to give it) and individual tracks will be £1 (or more if you wish to give it). I've worked really long and hard on this over the last few weeks and I really think it's a quality album. It has at least something for everyone and is a mix of poetry, storytelling, music, comedy and everything in between. 

After the launch date please spread the word about it. This is where it is: http://pbhfreefringespokenword.bandcamp.com/
5. Getting Better Acquainted on (and off) Resonance FM

"Join Dave Pickering on his journey to get better acquainted with the people he knows. There are lots of shows about famous people. This is a show about the rest of us. Part interview show, part oral history project, the show was nominated for a 2012 Radio Production Award and was featured on the Radio 5 Live podcast special, Helen and
Ollie's Required Listening."

Getting Better Acquainted has now been extended on Resonance 104.4 FM. There will be 4 more episodes running through July making the first season 17 episodes in total.

Each episode is a half hour edit of a full length episode that has already aired, the 13 episode season tries to represent every element of the podcast as a whole, whilst also targeting topics, people and places that will fit in with remit of the station in general. The episodes are available locally on fm radio and globally on the online player.

GBA is not going away as a weekly long-form podcast however. If you haven't heard the show yet there are lots of ways you can: It's available through iTunesStitcher Smart Radio and from the website.  You can also follow it on twitter and like it on facebook.

I can will be recording two live GBA's as part of the PBH Free Fringe 2013 at 1.40pm at the Banshee Labyrinth on the 13th and 14th of August.

6. Spark London

I host the monthly open mic at the Hackney Attic and doing social media for the brilliant Spark London.

The next one is on Monday 8th April and the theme is "Tragedy". The night kicks off at 7.30pm and only costs £3. We now have a 3 for 2 offer running so if you quote "story time" at the box office when buying your ticket on the night three people can get in for the cost of 2!

You can listen to our weekly podcast on Mixclouddownload it from iTunes or stream it on your phone using the Stitcher
Smart Radio app

In general our live events happen this way each month:

1st Monday of the month: Spark London Curated Stories at the Canal Café Theatre
2nd Monday of the month: Hackney Open Mic at the Hackney Attic
3rd Monday of the month: Brixton Open Mic upstairs at the Ritzy Cinema

Like us on facebook and follow us on twitter?

Thanks and as usual let me know if you want to stop getting these emails.



Getting Better Acquainted: 

Stand Up Tragedy:

Spark London

@GBApodcast @StandUp4Tragedy