Ready Eddie: Wunderbar! Eddie Izzard’s farewell tour

Six years after giving us two nights at the arena, Eddie Izzard returns for more two nights in a more intimate venue. This is being billed as the 57-year-old transgender comedian’s ‘last stand-up show’. Last time round, his (surprisingly short) show felt tired, the edge blunted by his campaign to become London Mayor. In the next General Election, he hopes to win a Labour seat. Nothing funny about that. Eddie comes on in leather jacket, fake boobs ‘from IKEA’ and a tartan kilt. Brexit and the fate of the planet features only at the beginning and end. Donald Trump does provide the punch line to one brilliant, surreal, extended joke. But most of this is Izzard doing what he does best, wild tangential humour where…

25 Years of the Creative Writing MA at NTU. Launch on October 23rd.

I don’t post much about my day job here. In 2002, I took a one year part-time contract to teach on Creative Writing courses at Nottingham Trent, in Clifton, including their MA in Creative Writing, one of the oldest in the country. Eighteen months later, I found myself running it, and introducing a module on Children’s and Young Adult Fiction. I was able to bring in script writer Michael Eaton and novelist David Almond as Visiting Professors and did the job for seven and a half years before standing down. Seventeen years later, as of today, I find myself running the MA for a third and final time (I was Programme Leader a second time the year before Rory Waterman took over. This semester I’m…

Green Man 2019

That’s me above, in front of the Green Man which is ceremonially burned to mark the end of the Green Man festival in the Brecon Beacons, which I first went to in 2013, when I decided it was better than Glastonbury. I’ve been for the last three years in a row, which is a record for me. This year, the forecast was bad. While I located a good pitch in our usual area (I’d holidayed in Abergavenny beforehand but the rest of the gang were driving over from Nottingham) there’s not a lot you can do about a day of heavy rain when you’ve only got a ‘festival quality’ tent. I bought the one pictured above for GM 2017 and it’s served me well so…

Stanley Middleton’s Centenary #Stanley100

My friend Stanley Middleton, novelist and neighbour, died 10 years ago, a week short of his 90th birthday. This year his widow Margaret, who remained a dear friend, followed him, aged 95. Despite his working class roots and strong connection to the city (born in Bulwell, he moved two miles to Sherwood after publishing a couple of novels and stayed for the rest of his life), Stanley doesn’t get as much acclaim as some.Perhaps that’s because he set most of his 45 novels in a fictional version of Nottingham, calling it Beechnall, which critics occasionally assumed was in the Potteries. He wasn’t interested, never getting an agent, turning down an OBE, not for a moment considering moving to London. He liked to write, and he…

Ian McKellen at 80 – 25.6.19

This is an extended version of a review I wrote for the Nottingham Post for the paper published on July 27th, 2019. A month ago, Sir Ian turned 80. To celebrate, the Burnley-born actor began a tour of British theatres from his long career. 80 dates at 80 is no mean feat (he’s just added 80 more in the West End), but there’s a kicker. He isn’t making a penny. All proceeds go to the charities of the theatres he’s performing in. Sir Ian’s two nights here will net £50,000 for the Playhouse Shine and 50:50 appeals, bringing in young people who, as Sir Ian points out, would otherwise not be able to come and widening the theatre’s participation work. If you think that kind…