So that’s my French Odyssey at an end. I’m back in Edinburgh and in my old flat. I have a new job. So all good. I’m writing again too. I’m on the last three chapters of my French opus, A Beer in Provence. I’ll post occasional snippets here as I go along. I attended my fist crit group the other week too and met some of our newer members, which was great. Very excited about having some new blood and new perspectives. I’ll no doubt be reading at some point soon as well – at the next Bloc show most likely. I’ll keep you posted.
When I first realised I’d got the job at Travel Horizon back in the May 2010, little did I know the months of teeth-gnashing, frustration, head-banging, pidgin French and general craziness that would ensue. Of course I was über excited about the prospect of living in Aix en Provence. Who wouldn’t be? Sunshine, fine wine, great food, real coffee. What’s not to like? If you’ve never moved country before, though, be warned. It’s an interesting experience. I think I rather naively believed moving to France would be un morceau de gâteau. It’s in the EU right? It must work pretty much the same way as the UK. Yes …. Anyway, first things first – before the off.
Preparation: a busy August
I left work a month earlier than I needed to so I could completely redecorate my flat and get it into a fit state for renting. That was a knackering month – not the least because I was working 15 hours a day on my place whilst blundering back and forth to and from IKEA, Homebase, and various hardware shops and suppliers like a total muppet. No fun. On top of that I was taking some French classes in a feeble and half-assed attempt to memorize some key phrases before I left – I should have just learned to shrug and blow raspberries, far more useful as it turns out. Added to that Writers’ Bloc were very busy – it being Festival month – and I was trying to cram in as much festival stuff and performances as I could. So by the time came for the off it was actually blessed relief.
A fishy fairwell:
I had a fish. A goldfish. This thing just kept on living. I had the same fish in the same tank when I moved into my flat in 2000. He looked like a piscean Elvis or Sly Stallone. His mouth was all squint – it’d been broken years ago. A Scottish goldfish. The dumbass critter had a habit of ramming its face into its stones on the bottom of the tank to sook food and algae off them. They sometimes got stuck. Usually he’d manage to spit the wedged pebble out after a while, but sometimes not. Then I had to delicately tease the thing out with a bent paper clip whilst holding the fish in a wee wet hand towel. Ridiculous, but it seemed to work. 10 years later the little fella was still going strong but I didn’t fancy his chances surviving a journey to Aix in a f*ck-off big van. Hell, I’m not even sure I fancied our chances. So one night in August in the wee small hours I clambered over the fence of a certain well-know financial services company that happened to have a big pond outside full of goldfish, and gave him his freedom. I really hope he’s still alive and doing well. I’m sure there’s a metaphor here.
OK folks, first of all my sincere apologies for the almost 2 year hiatus. Shocking. But in fairness I did move to the South of France. Which was kinda complicated and took a lot of time and effort. And money. But hey, we’ve been here a year and half now and it’s fair to say we’re pretty settled. And a lot’s happened in the meantime. The highlight of course being my engagement to my delightful, talented and beautiful fiance, Lynsey. But what definitely has not been happening is much writing. Dreadful I know. But, things are afoot. I have set my self two months to do a complete revision of Worse Things and I’m brimming with new ideas and things I want the novel to say. I’ll also be submitting a lot more material over the coming months and getting back in to Writers’ Bloc affairs (albeit remotely). So, proverbial finger out of arse and stay tuned! Also, over the coming weeks I’ll add some observations and anecdotes about la vie en France. Cos frankly it’s about time.
Some of you may not know, but I’ve upped ship and I now live in Provence. Aix-en-Provence to be precise. Of course this means I won’t be attending many bloc shows in the near future, but I do plan to get back over for guest slots every now and then. And of course, once I’m properly settled, I’ll get back to the writing, promise.
I’m going to be reading again at the wonderful Taste of the Fringe free night of stellar entertainment at The Banshee Labyrinth. The ever-dapper Gavin Inglis will also be reading. We are on from around 9.
We’re pure-mad excited over here at the Bloc Command Bunker. The next show is in the offing and it’s set to be the mutt’s proverbials. Planet of the Apps will be about all things techy, social media, webby, and with buttons that are just too small. Expect new stories about: next-generation Nigerian 409 scams; burlesque-themed alien abductions; stalkings via social media; park keepers dealing with digital debris; and a steamy extension to the Dewey Decimal System, all performed with our trademark energy and verve.
Planet of the Apps takes place at the Ghillie Dhu, 2-6 Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD, on Wednesday 21st July from 8pm. Admission is an affordable £4 (£2 concessions).
We’re trying something new too! We plan to have a live twitter feed during the show and we want you to get involved. As well as your general Bloc chat, we want you to submit twitter short stories leading up to and even during the show. The best story will receive a prize (more about that soon) and we’ll publish our favourites on the Bloc site.
Even more fun than that, we’re handing creative control to you, our beloved audience. As you may know, the titles for Bloc shows are rigorously researched months in advance, and much care and deliberation goes into the choice of theme and title…… honest.
Anyway, we want you guys to submit your ideas for themes and or titles for the show following our signature Halloween show. We’ll let you vote on the night for the best title/theme and we’ll make that the focus of our post-Halloween show. You have been warned.
You can follow us on twitter as Writers_Bloc_UK and use the hashtag #blocshow for all your tweets.
‘App killed App! App killed App!’
Nick Cave, David Whitehouse and Jed Milroy are this month’s guests, hosted by Salena
For the culturally curious and lovers of after-hours good times, Canongate Books are
joining forces with the Edinburgh International Film Festival for a midsummer,
film-spiked installment of their unique literary club night, Irregular. Expect treats for
the ears and eyes with great writers, short films and the best in live music and DJs, all
savoured beneath the fabulous (deconsecrated) arches of one of Edinburgh?s most
breathtaking gothic spaces.
This month we are hugely excited to be joined by the legendary Nick Cave, who will be
reading from the newly published paperback of his bestselling novel The Death of Bunny
Munro, a brilliant, dark and provocative tale of one man?s road to ruin.
David Whitehouse will give a sneak preview of his debut novel Bed, published by Canongate
in 2011, an enchanting tale of two brothers and why one just won?t get out of bed. The
book tackles mortality, decay, obesity and depression, and yet it is life-affirming,
warm, moving and utterly unforgettable. David will also be showing his short film The
Archivist (Warp Films), which opened the BBC Electric Proms in 2008 and won accolades at
Berlin and Seattle Film Festivals.
Irregular will be the first to screen an exclusive interview with ?godfather of hip hop?
Gil Scot-Heron from Ridley Scott?s RSA Films. Canongate recently reissued his novels The
Vulture and The Nigger Factory, and poetry collection Now and Then, alongside his
critically-acclaimed new album I?m New Here, released earlier this year on XL Records.
Taking a break from touring with The Aliens, roving musician Jed Milroy will complete
this stellar line up with sweet melodies and finger-picking acoustic songs summoning wild
places and beautiful people.
The evening will be hosted by Salena Godden, one of the biggest names on the poetry scene
and The General of The Book Club Boutique, Soho’s hippest literary salon.
Ticket at Venue
Tickets £8/£6 on the door.
Advance tickets available from www.roxyarthouse.org.
Catch me at the Banshee Labyrinth (formerly Nichol Edwards) next Tuesday night. I’ll be reading something violent/strange/horrific/sweary and/or pornographic. Possibly all of the above. Times to be confirmed. A great night of free entertainment in the wee cinema room through the back.
The Library opens its doors after hours for this first evening of spoken word and performance. Gutter is Scotland’s new independent magazine of fiction and poetry. Under the eye of tonight’s master of ceremonies, Mr Alan Bissett, well known names and some new writers on the block will present their diverse, delicate and sometimes dangerous work. The bar will be open, so come and enjoy what Gutter has to offer.
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND
George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EW
When it looked like Ken MacLeod’s next book, The Restoration Game, would be published in March rather than in July, Blackwell’s on South Bridge very kindly and cannily offered to host a launch party at (6:30 for) 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday 17 March at the nearby Pleasance Theatre. We’ll have to wait another four months to see the novel, but the event is still on — and you’re invited.
It will now consist of readings followed by discussion with Ken, and Writers’ Bloc personnel Charles Stross and Andrew J. Wilson. Ken’s own reading will be from The Restoration Game, and anyone pre-ordering at the event will get an early copy (signed, if you like). Charlie may well be reading from his novel-in-progress, Rule 34, and Andrew will offer a short story.
This event is ticketed, but all tickets are FREE. Tickets are available from the front desk at Blackwell Bookshop, 53-59 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1YS. For more information or to reserve tickets, please contact Ann Landmann on 0131 622 8206 or
The Restoration Game has been briefly and favourably reviewed in The Guardian [www.guardian.co.uk]:
As ever, MacLeod’s grasp of political intrigue is first rate, and in Lucy he’s created a complex heroine forever in doubt as to the true nature of events.
Hope you can make it,