Get them before they’re gone

I’ve got a brief respite, having sent off the first draft of the book I’m working on (rewrites next week and publication in May is the plan, but I suspect it’s more likely to be June. When there’s more definite info, I’ll stop being mysterious about it). Time for a quick catch up then. Lots of people showed up at the reading in Beeston two weeks ago, which was a friendly, relaxed event. OK, Nigel could hardly be described as relaxed, being a claustrophobic giving his first full reading in an overcrowded room, but he read brilliantly. There’ll be more in the autumn, with readers like Matthew Sweeney, Lee Harwood and Clare Littleford. Clare, who joined us for dinner afterwards, is a former NTU Creative Writing MA student and I’m looking forward to reading her second crime novel, Death Duty, which is out in paperback this week.

The following week, my friend, the poet Martin Stannard did two very enjoyable, interesting sessions at the university, one for students and one for academics. He writes about them in his new blog, an entertaining diary that I urge you to read (it’s much more regularly updated than this one).

No gigs since the last entry, but I’m going to see the Scissors Sisters next week and, after Easter, Franz Ferdinand. I’ve just learnt that they’re being supported by the Fiery Furnaces, the most interesting new American band of the moment, making it a must-see show (tour sold out, I’m afraid). Also probably sold out, but maybe lingering in the odd WH Smith or neighbourhood newsagent, is the new NME, out yesterday. Now I must confess that I stopped getting the NME after its relaunch last year, having been a regular reader for more than thirty years. The new magazine version is aimed at a maximum age of 19, so the only thing that ever draws me back is a free CD (nearly all the news is on the website first anyway). This issue has a brilliant free CD, the best magazine freebie in ages, called Kurt’s Choice, a selection of songs that influenced Kurt Cobain, who took his own life ten years ago this week. I’d only heard five of the thirteen tracks before and some of the ones that are new to me, for instance Mudhoney, the Butthole Surfers and The Vaselines, are rivetingly good. It also has one of my favourite singles of all time, the Gang Of Four’s ‘At Home He’s A Tourist’.

Finally, I got up late today, so missed the Radio 4 Today show April Fool’s Day spoof, which can be found here for a while at least, but was told all about it before Sue went to work. I was briefly caught out by Jo Whiley on Radio One talking about the happy and sad texts she’d been getting from people who’d either bought or missed out on Glastonbury tickets. In fact, tickets for this year’s festival don’t go on sale until 8PM tonight. I’m not going this year, and, if you don’t hit the phonelines tonight (0870 830 2004), I suspect you won’t be either. Good luck!

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