Hitchhiker’s UK Tour starts next week – some shows already selling out!

Exactly 2 years ago to the day, I performed an early version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family for the first time. It’s a show about me hitting the road in search of my dad. From next week, that show about me hitting the road in search of my dad is hitting the road. A great many roads in fact, all over the country. Here’s an article the Guardian wrote about it, called ‘On the road in search of dad’. Roads. Dads. Searching.

It kicks off with two nights in Oxford at Oxford Playhouse, then hits York, Cardiff, Ipswich, Maidenhead, Leicester, Nottingham, Farnham, Newcastle, Lincoln, Bristol and Bromsgrove, before finishing with 3 performances at the Southbank Centre in London in late November. As of this morning, tickets for all of the shows are now on sale.

Some dates are already sold out or almost sold out, so book tickets soon to avoid crushing disappointment, mild annoyance, or, at very least, a sense of completely unwarranted FOMO just because you always feel like you should be doing something, don’t you, when there’s so much you could do every day? If you do decide to ‘do’ my show, I like to think you’ll note it down in your book of things you did as 70 minutes well spent.

Some shows sold out or nearly sold out, so book soon!

Some shows sold out or nearly sold out, so book soon!

Poem A Week #22: RHS Tatton Park commission

I was recently commissioned to write a poem for a garden. Odd. And – it turns out – wonderful. It was dreamt up by the visionaries at Hosta, a Nottingham-based horticultural consultancy whose mission is to ‘green the grey’ and try and get our cities breathing again, putting roof gardens on shopping centres and ‘pocket parks’ in previously disused public spaces, giving people a place to relax as they work, shop, and generally just exist in the centre of town. They wanted to incorporate some new writing into their next piece of work to celebrate Nottingham’s recent status as a UNESCO City of Literature and that’s where I came in. The poem was to be engraved on to the walls of their first show garden, a back-to-back pocket park destined for the 2016 Royal Horticultural Society Tatton Park Show in Cheshire which will soon be relocated back to Nottingham for everyone to enjoy. Together we imagined a poem that celebrates the garden as something both apart from, and simultaneously a part of, the city; in conversation with its urban environment rather than in opposition to it. I wanted to explore the idea of the garden as a place of inherent ancestral and anthropological calm, at once strange and familiar, exotic and comforting, stimulating and restorative.

The garden, called ‘A Drop of Urban Green’ and designed by Ed Higgins, won Best Back-To-Back Garden and an RHS Gold Medal at Tatton Park, and was featured on the BBC coverage of the event. Catch it on iPlayer here (featured at 28 minutes in).

Watch me perform the poem:

Poem for RHS Tatton Park

Poem for RHS Tatton Park

Poem A Week #21: Dad Joke, for two voices

We often try and kid ourselves, in the depths of teenage angst and an insatiable craving for individuality, that we have nothing in common with our parents. Especially not the one who makes desperately uncool jokes. God no! And then you go away to university and start inadvertently making those same jokes, and the flimsy tapestry of self-delusion unravels with a warm and fuzzy shrug.

Poem A Week #14: It’s difficult for children to pinpoint the exact moment they realise that nothing lasts forever, but rather it slides into view, like the silver wink of the sea as the family Astra rounds the bend of a Lincolnshire hill

PAW #14 is a very personal one, about the breakdown (and slow -ongoing- rebuild) of my family. About seeing your parents as 3D, fallible people for the first time. I hope there’s something in it for anyone whose folks have separated. The garden path to happiness is paved with truth, even if the bricks scratch your feet a little, even if it’s covered in weeds…or something like that.

Poem A Week #13: Data Retrieval

This poem means I’m a quarter of the way through my year of poems! If you’re enjoying them, please share them around.

Almost every device I own and use daily broke simultaneously recently, and – among other things – I lost all my laptop files. This is about the things that are really worth saving…

Poem A Week #12: Washing Cars with John Kennedy Toole

PAW #12 is about John Kennedy Toole, the ill-fated would-be novelist whose book A Confederacy of Dunces was repeatedly rejected by publishers throughout his life, which Toole prematurely ended when he gassed himself in his car in Mississippi, aged 31. The novel was later published when the gatekeepers realised the error of their ways and Toole won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in the 1980s. That’ll teach them.