The Arrival (a short story from 2002)

A committee was set up in order to plan for the visit. A chairman was voted for, an elderly gentleman with a walrus moustache. He was then replaced with another elderly gentleman. The secretary resigned because she objected to the name of the committee. The replacement secretary used to be the treasurer, so a treasurer had to be found. The original chairman wanted to be the treasurer but the new chairman objected. Both the chairman and the prospective treasurer then resigned from the committee, so a new chairman had to be found as well as a treasurer. The positions were eventually filled with a man who used to be a car salesman, who said he knew all about planning visits. And the Treasurer was shared among the other members of the committee on a rotation basis. Just like a quiz show on TV, someone commented. The comment was recorded in the minutes.
A name had to be invented. Someone suggested the Visit Committee, but there was another committee called the Visiting Committee and it was thought that this would lead to confusion. Someone else suggested the Committee for the Visit, but this was also voted down because it sounded boring. The person who suggested it was the person who was also the Treasurer on this occasion, and she resigned. A third suggestion was to call the committee something trendy, just like a modern company, a name which would hint at science and progress in the arts. Implosion was the name that was banded around. The secretary commented that it sounded like something from The Apprentice. The person who suggested it was very upset about this and he threatened to resign, but just as he did they came in with the coffees so he stayed on for a bit. This was recorded in the minutes.
They finally decided on the Systemal Function for the Application for the Arrival of the Visitor and His Entourage. Or SFAAVHE, for short. This was recorded in the minutes.
It was then time to decide what the committee would actually plan for the visitor’s arrival. There was no doubt that he was eminent, so it was agreed by all that he should have a red carpet when he stepped out of his car. Then someone said that he shouldn’t be in his own car at all. If he was so eminent, they argued, then, surely, he should be driven? OK, then. A limousine would pick him up from his house. But he lived two hundred miles away. This was a problem. They decided they would compromise. He would drive as far as the halfway point and then the limousine would pick him up. It was generally agreed that this was a good idea and it was recorded in the minutes.
Then someone pointed out that red carpets were hard to find, and they got mucky if it rained. The under-secretary was dispatched to source a long red carpet. She asked what sourced meant and the chairman said that it meant to go and fine one. She asked why he didn’t say that in the first place, and the chairman said that it was business-speak, that’s how they said things in the world of business. The under-secretary objected to the tone that the chairman took and she resigned. A new under-secretary was then voted in and he said that he would look on the internet to find a red carpet. Ten minutes later he said that he could only find a yellow one. That will have to do, the chairman said. And all of this was recorded in the minutes.
The meeting then moved on to who would be there to greet the visitor on his arrival. One of the members suggested the head of the department, but then someone else reminded her that the head of the department was currently being investigated for fraud and it would be best that he were to stay out of the limelight. The chairman said that this was not the way to treat the head of the department and that he should be there. The treasurer then reminded the chairman that he, too, was caught up in the same scandal, so the chairman then resigned and a new one was voted in. She thanked the previous chairman for his hard work, but then she spilled coffee on her lap. She resigned, so that she could go to the bathroom and wash it off. When she got back to the room, the original chairman had been voted back in. And all of this was recorded in the minutes.
The next item for discussion was the food that would be provided for the function once the visitor had arrived. Someone suggested prawn cocktail, but they were reminded that the budget would stretch so far. Someone then suggested prawn cocktail crisps, but they were laughed out of the room. Someone suggested those funny spicy sausage things that go on sticks and you have to move them upwards with your thumb as you eat them, and they are often seen in films set in North Africa, but no-one knew what he was going on about, so someone else suggested scotch eggs. Scotch eggs it was. Then the secretary announced that he was allergic to scotch eggs, and someone said that he wouldn’t even be at the function, he wasn’t important enough. He then resigned. A new secretary was voted in, and this was recorded in the minutes.
Much discussion then centred around the manner in which the eminent guest would be introduced to the members of the department before he entertained them all with his speech. One person suggested a strict clock-wise motion around the room, someone else suggested anti-clockwise. The chairman said that the guest should be left to speak to whoever he wanted, but that the most prominent members of the department should be introduced to him slyly, subtly, so as not to provoke suspicion that the whole thing was stage managed. Someone then suggested name-badges, coloured according to the importance of the person wearing them. It’s what we did in the war, he suggested. Even Hitler wore a name badge. There was a show of hands and it was decided that there would be name badges. The discussion of whether they should be in higher or lower case went on for half an hour. And all of this was recorded in the minutes.
The meeting had almost finished and no-one had resigned for a while. The secretary was asked to read out the minutes, but he objected, so he resigned. The new secretary was then asked to read out the minutes and he did so beautifully, but in Spanish. The next secretary read out the minutes. This included the reading of the last minutes, which included the reading of the minutes before that, which included the reading of the minutes before that. This went on for some three hours. By the time he had stopped reading the minutes, everyone else had gone home. And this was also recorded in the minutes.
The secretary then resigned, but as there was no-one around to record this in the minutes, no-one actually knew about it.

The visit did not go to plan. The eminent guest was not greeted half way by limousine because he caught the bus instead. And when he arrived at the department, (climbing off the number 443), he tripped over the yellow carpet because he though it was a continuation of the pavement. The head of the department met him, but just as he did so he was handcuffed by the police and dragged away for questioning. The eminent guest was then led to the hall where, instead of meeting and greeting, and looking at name badges – (the font of which was so small he couldn’t read them anyway, and he was colour-blind), he crammed a scotch egg into his mouth and promptly choked, before asking why they had not supplied, instead, those spicy sausage things on sticks that you see in films about North Africa. And on the way to the podium to deliver his speech, he almost tripped over the end of his scarf.
‘Ladies and gentlemen’, the chairman of the welcoming committee announced in to the microphone. ‘Let me introduce to you, Professor Zazzo Thiim!’
Nobody clapped, because the committee had forgotten to send out any of the invitations. It had not been recorded in the minutes.

The young man on the VHS tape : A writer’s journey.

There’s a line in one of the best songs ever written, Being Boring by the Pet Shop Boys, which goes, ‘I never dreamed that I would get to be the creature that I always meant to be’. I was thinking of this earlier today when I was going through some old vhs tapes, having borrowed a vcr from a friend for a couple of days.

As I was scanning through, hoping to see something which might inspire my spoken word shows, I found a brief clip of a video some friends had made back in the end of the 1990s. I’d just moved to Devon from Surrey and I didn’t know anyone, so, much to my family’s amazement, I joined acting classes at the local theatre. I was hopeless at the actual acting, but I really enjoyed the warm-up exercises, and the fact that I was meeting all new friends. And they were different to the friends I’d had in Surrey, who were the people I’d been to school and sixth form with. These were arty types, actors and performers, and while they were all around ten years older than myself, we became good friends.

Eventually a select few of us began to do projects away from the official lessons, and this is where I found my niche as a writer of sketches and scripts for the group to perform mostly on cassettes, hoping that one day we might get a radio show. I wasn’t keen on the performing part, but I would write all kinds of silly things, amusing scenes and monologues.

The video shows the group playing around, and then the camera pans over very briefly showing a glimpse of a good looking young thin man in his mid twenties sitting on the floor, watching everything intently, and yet with a slight hint of misery. The sort of hint of misery you get from someone who wants to perform but is incredibly rubbish, the sort of hint of misery you get from a young man who wants to come out to the world but feels unable and constrained. The young man was very good looking, or at least, i thought so, and I pressed pause. Of course, it was me.

It was a shock, more so that I hadn’t realised how much weight I’d put on in the twenty years hence. But it was more of a shock because I remember how I felt at the time, jealous of these actors with their training and their university backgrounds and their joviality and their knowledge of what to say and how to say it to gain the maximum laughs. They’re obviously performing something I’ve written, because I remember that every now and then I would suggest revisions, write new lines.

(I remember on one occasion writing a monologue about a rocket scientist who falls in love with his rocket and doesn’t want it to launch. I couldn’t see at the time how phallic the monologue was, and couldn’t understand why nobody wanted to perform it!)

But the biggest shock of all is that I now perform, and do so regularly, and get paid for doing so. Ok, so I’m not a comic actor or a playwright, but I use my mouth and the things I’ve written to make people laugh.

Sadly, I didn’t keep in touch with any of the people from the little group. It all kind of fizzled out, and we all moved on with our lives.

About ten years after the video was made, around 2008, I finally made it in to a play, a Northcott Theatre production of Sarah Kane’s Crave. The camaraderie was just the same and this time I have managed to stay in touch with some of the people in it. A year later I wrote a play, Fuselage, and amazingly it won a playwriting competition and was produced in a rehearsed reading with a professional cast. And a year after that, I discovered spoken word.

And of course, I came out. In the year 2000. The start of the millennium!

This year I’m working on my Edinburgh show, Juicy, which follows on from Static last year, and they both probably might trace back their lineage to Fuselage, and then further back to the sketches I wrote, and perhaps even further back than that, to 1987 when, as a kid, I’d crank out humorous stories on my old typewriter which I still have now and use whenever I’m a Poet in Residence anywhere.

It’s been an amazing journey, and all conjured up from that one brief image.

As another Pet Shop Boys song might have gone,
‘I was faced with a choice at a difficult age, would I write a book, or should I take to the stage?’
So I became a spoken word artist and did both!

Branching out, a Zazzo Thiim story

Here’s an old one from 2007.
There has been much said and written about the following subject in the academic community, it seems almost superfluous to add my own comment to the wealth of material already published on this topic. And yet the story itself seems somewhat compelling, like all good mysteries, and more so because it is, quite defiantly, true. The fact that a senior practitioner in literary matters has attested to the honesty of all involved adds a touch of authenticity to the whole situation, and who are we to argue with the judgement of a colleague so esteemed as Professor Zazzo Thiim?

     ‘They were branching out, pure and simple’, he told me, one charged evening at the local pub. He leaned back in his chair and seemed, just for a second, incredibly tired, as it the events of the previous week had drained him of energy. ‘I first heard it reported to me by one of my younger students, a naive fellow whose panicked account seemed ill-judged and unworthy of comment. But then other students and colleagues began attesting to the fact. They, too, had heard and seen with their own eyes, that the local skateboarders were quoting from Alfred Lord Tennyson. I knew immediately that I would have to probe deeper’.

     The old man leans forward across the table and interlaces his fingers. ‘I started that very evening. With a flask of cocoa and a pair of opera glasses, I went down to the local skate ramp and watched them from the bushes. I felt like a television botanist watching the mighty gorillas of some dank, faraway jungle. How incredibly amusing their mannerisms, how obvious the social gradations and rank within their clique, that they might defer to the most able of their group, and lend advice to the weakest. I would surely have watched longer had not I felt a sudden hand on my collar and a policeman inquire as to what I was playing at. ‘We have a name for people like you’, he told me. I can tell you it wasn’t a comforting situation, but when I told him the reasons behind my being there, his face relaxed. ‘Ah yes,’ he said. ‘The poetry thing. We’ve been racking our brains over that one, I can tell you. Come down to the station’.

     ‘Why?’ I asked, ‘Am I under arrest’.

     ‘Not at all’, he replied. ‘We’ve just found one of them trying to break into the library. Perhaps you might like to have a quiet word with him’.

     The lad in question was a poor specimen, I can tell you, a pathetic, individual whose half-hearted attempt at perfecting the skater-boy look was almost laughable. On being asked exactly why he was breaking into the library he denied all knowledge that it had been such a building, that he was under the impression more that it was the off licence. When the constable slid a copy of Tennyson’s poetry across the table towards him he made a frantic attempt to grab it from his hands, only for the book to be snatched away from him. ‘Not so fast, sonny’, the constable said, in his laconic, laid-back voice. ‘First we need to talk terms. We can help you get your fix, but first you must help us. We need your skateboard’, he continued. ‘You see, there’s a little mystery here, and we need it cleared up’.

     The Professor lets out a laugh. ‘I cut quite a figure on the skateboard ramp, I can tell you. Sure, I fell off a few times, but I soon won respect from the posse not only for my aerial acrobatics but also for my detailed knowledge of Romantic-era poetry. Indeed, things were going along quite fine. How glad I was to see that the stories were true – a particularly athletic turn at the board would be greeted with the words, ‘At Arthur’s ordinance, tipt with lessening peak!’, or a bad fall decorated with the expression, ‘lay low and slay him not!’ I must say, I quite enjoyed my spell with the lads, and at no time did they twig that I was a seventy-four year old academic professor, except when I passed around a packet of sanatogan in the mistaken belief that it was a bottle of alco-pops. ‘A fine pinnacle!’, I yelled, heading up the ramp at great speed. ‘And made as a spire to heaven!’ Brad was especially vocal and conversant in Tennyson’s later works and at times he would exclaim, ‘Sluggards and fools, why do you stand and stare? You are no king’s men!’, or even the ultimate insult, ‘Let this be thy last trespass, thou uncomely knave!’ As the sun started to set, the dusk spread out her silken fingers and seemed to caress the shapely ramps, and in the encroaching dark came a camaraderie I have not yet ever felt, not even in the throes of really good group discussion on Hemingway. Joining in with their masculine bravado, I put up the hood of my jacket and, feeling somewhat exuberant, shouted, ‘While Jove’s planet rises yonder, were now to rage and torture the desert!’ Oh, how absolutely wonderful I felt!

     The effect, though, was immediate. The skaters stopped in their tracks. One skateboard, bereft of its rider, swung to and fro on the ramps before it, too, fell silent. ‘What was that?’ Brad asked. Flustered, I repeated my quotation. ‘You’, he said, breathing harshly through quivering nostrils, ‘Are an imposter!’

     The rest of the group crowded in on me. I stumbled, and tried to make some kind of retraction to my earlier statement, but the damage was done.

     ‘That was Robert Browning’, Brad pointed out. ‘What are you, some kind of freak? Who quotes from Browning at a skate ramp?’

     ‘Yeah’, someone else piped up. ‘What kind of a sicko are you?’

     I don’t mind telling you that I was scared. I escaped with my life, and for this I am monumentally thankful. 

     Naturally, the trouble vexed me for ages. Back at the department I toiled at my desk and tried to read into the whole episode some kind of reason, some kind of explanation behind the adoption of Tennyson. I looked at his rhythms, I looked at his metre, I looked at his rhyme scheme, but none of them matched with the rhythms I had heard on the skate park ramps. The content of his poems were also barren in their significance. I could see in his metrical skill and his lyrical genius no link to the satisfactory clatter of skateboard on concrete, no link between his romantic inclinations and narrative expression to the wearing of a hoodie. Late one night, though, thoroughly tired and dejected, I found the skateboard that I had borrowed that night, and the more I looked at it the more I could see that there was, however slight, a connection of sorts. Four wheels, I told myself, and one standing platform, just like the four isolated tenets of romanticism, the stylistically gothicism inherent, the reaction against enlightenment, imagination, vision and idealism, mixed with the surface and sureness of Tennyson’s reign as poet laureate – surely, this was what the skaters were alluding to in their adherence to his work? How relieved I was to get to bed that night’.

     The Professor frowns and he lowers his voice. ‘I wrote up my report the next morning and submitted it to the head of my department. That lunchtime I felt free. In the Spring air I could hear the clatter of a distant skateboard and I nodded, knowingly, to myself. The world seemed right, somehow. The world seemed a better place. But that afternoon I received an anonymous letter.

     How horrendous the news that it contained! It came from an ex-skater, whose adherance to the poetry of Tennyson had been questioned by some members of the group. He said that the skaters were not quoting from Tennyson – oh no – they were reading. There was a book stuck in the overhanging tree, he explained. And to prove their dexterity on the skateboard, the skaters in question would attempt to read a line at random as they were suspended in mid-air. If it had been a crisp packet, the anonymous writer concluded, then they would have read out the ingredients. There was no mystery.’

     The Professor drained the last of his wine and made to stand. ‘The department has been embarrassed by this whole episode,’ he said, ‘As you can probably imagine. I would be grateful if you could not mention some of the more lurid details of this story’, and with that, the old man was off.

     I followed a few minutes later. It was a dark night and there were a few stars hung in the sky. As I walked back to my car I was overtaken by a child on a unicycle, and he was quoting Oscar Wilde. But then, it could have been the drink.

Poem : A true story

I don’t often write pieces about true events, but this is one.


Two complete nobhead amateurs,
Bemused by shuttlecock shenanigans,
Intent only on fun,
A modicum of sporting pride,
The promise of a burger
In the pub over the road,
Having a laugh in the
Provincial leisure centre.

I must admit I’m winning,
Beating him as I invariably did,
Being such a sleek and agile sportsman,
Muscly, well proportioned,
The badminton bat an extension of my
Actual psychology,
You couldn’t get anything past me.

We didn’t take it seriously,
Like the time, accidentally buying
Different strength shuttlecocks,
Watching them sail over the other three courts,
Only once, our first game,
He sat in the changing room afterwards,
A towel over my head as he uttered
Just the two words.
Well played.

I serve. He misses. We laugh.
I serve. He misses. I laugh.
I serve. He misses.
His racquet whips the air,
Hits at nothingness.
I serve. He hits it.
Whacks me in the face.
He laughs.

He serves. I hit it. He misses.
And so it goes on, I’m like a
Badminton gazelle, my muscly well-toned legs
Able to counter any attack.
He serves. I whack that mother.
Ooof, right in the goolies.

Deep in the game, now.
I am about to serve,
He lifts up his tshirt, wobbles his
Spherical beer belly, shouts,
Mesmerising, his stomach gyrates and convulses
Like a crocodile trying to upchuck a half digested zebra,
It completely puts me off my serve,
And as a scream rings out from the next court,
He laughs as I go to serve again.

She runs across our court.
That’s put you off again, hasn’t it?, he says.
We both laugh and i try a third time,
But something isn’t right.
A man, on the court adjacent,
Is on the floor.

He’s hit the desk, stone cold dead.
I run over, as do others.
He lets out a groaning grasping breath.
A hero from another court begins CPR,
While I run back, phone for an ambulance,
Fingers fumbling in the jacket I’d
Slung over the net post,
As if subconsciously anticipating this.
The first aider arrives.

We can’t stay here, I whisper.
I push the net post,
Then we go and sit in the changing room
Where we might philosophise,
Wonder if it’s the way he would have wanted
To go,
That badminton was all he lived for,
Trying not to think of
His family.

You never know when life
Might suddenly cease.
And we were having such a good time.
My face still ever so slightly stings
Where the shuttlecock hit it.
I can still hear his last breath.

Your belly, I tell my friend,
Would’ve been the last thing he’d seen.
He smiles.

The game is obviously a forfeit
And one changing room locker
Will remain closed for the end of the day.

Thoughts from on the road 

I’m on the road at the moment, with three gigs in three towns over three days in three different parts of the country. It isn’t normally like this. In fact I can go for months on end before there’s anything outside of South Devon.
And it’s the weirdest feeling, because a lot of effort goes into travelling around, and it’s all because I stand on stage and say vaguely funny things and try to make people laugh through poetry. In fact, if you’d told me ten years ago that I’d be doing this, I’d have laughed, derisively.
But this time has been different, and I find myself clinging on to every moment. I don’t know why this is. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting old. Perhaps it’s because I still can’t really believe that spoken word is making me do all these things. So I concentrate on small details, such as the carpet pattern in the venues where I perform, the people I meet, the things that I might not necessarily remember.
Last nights gig was in the function room of a hotel in Bristol. It was the most unexpected space, in an urban environment, looking more like a Manhattan loft or comedy club than the function room of a family pub. As the night wore on a full moon drifted past the window, which only seemed to add to the candles and the fairy lights and I thought, hmmm, this is a good existence. We all came together and made an evening for people to enjoy. This night will never, ever be repeated exactly as it is right now.
I spent the night in Bristol and now I’m off to London. I’m looking forward to having a good old poke around Tate Modern this afternoon before the gig, no doubt enhanced by the anticipation of performing to a new audience.
It’s the people you meet that make the journey worthwhile. That’s where the anticipation comes from. It doesn’t even have to be because of the spoken word, it’s the idea that I, and others, have travelled to a specific place to be sociable and cultural and to share enthusiasm. As I sat on the station at half eleven last night in Stapleton Road I wondered where I would be in twenty four hours time and who I might meet.

Life lessons from performing spoken word 

Life lessons from performing spoken word
1. If at first you don’t succeed, act as if you’ve never failed.
2. Image is everything. If you arrive straight from work wearing a shirt and tie, then this will become your look and people will always see you as a performer who wears shirt and a tie.
3. If a poem isn’t working, give it a third verse freak-out. Then take out the first two verses.
4. Watch out for light fittings when using props.
5. The audience wants you to do well and will be on your side but try not to balls it up in the first place.
6. The whole world is an audience even if you’re not performing.
7. You never stop performing, even when you’re not performing.
8. If you need to ask the host if you’ve got time for ‘one more poem, a short one’, it means you haven’t rehearsed. In any case the host will always say yes, because they’re just being polite.
9. When you’re rehearsing, stand at the bottom of your bed and rehearse to the pillows. They will stare back kind of blankly. 
10. Like sex, there’s no wrong way of doing it.
11. Like sex, you can get a lot of laughter from just one look.
12. Everyone has a voice. Authenticity is everything. Every stage character is just an exaggerated version of yourself.
13. If humour’s your thing, the obvious joke can often be the most effective. Sadly.
14. If it’s a high concept poem which needs a lot of explanation, then it’s probably not going to work very well. But don’t stop experimenting.
15. Music stands to hold your book allow you to make extravagant hand gestures if you haven’t learned the poem by heart.
16. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t learned the poem by heart. Just make sure you don’t hide behind a huuuuuuge folder.
17. You can imagine the audience naked if that helps, but the audience might be imagining you naked too. In fact they probably are. How else to explain the amazing amount of people who upchuck during my gigs?
18. Everything becomes subject material for your poetry. Emotional turmoil, break-ups, losing your car keys. The last time I had a break up I thought, oh good, I’m going to get some poems out of this.
19. It was going to happen eventually, the bastard.
20. By all means copy the mannerisms and style of your heroes, but for goodness sake, innovate.
21. I mean I thought it was going ok but then one day I suddenly thought, hmmm, we’re just going through the motions.
22. Spoken word artists get their points across, they draw attention to injustice and prejudice, they make you laugh, they make you cry. They play with language and dance on grammar, they play with rhythm and rhyme. It’s always sickening when this is all done by one genius youthful bright-eyed performer. I remember the Bristol Poetry Slam. I was up against someone performing an excellent poem about the death of their grandmother linked in with the entire history of the British black experience from slavery to the present day, and then I went up and did a poem about liking beards.
23. Don’t worry about anything.
24. Just a small planet in deep dark space and our time on it is incredibly small in the general scheme of things, everything is relative.
25. You can take the mic off the stand if you like, but move the stand out the way. Take down that barrier!
26. If you enjoy it and have fun, then so does the audience. And so does everyone. Even the people you see on the bus on the way home. Enjoy it. The world becomes a better place.
27. There’s no subtle way to plug a book. 
28. My book is available here.

Life lessons from the British Touring Car Championship 

Last week I did a corporate gig at the Nationwide Building Society headquarters in Swindon, where a bunch of us poets were asked to write on the spot poems for staff members on whatever subject their chose. During the day I met some lovely people and wrote poems about wives, boyfriends, kids, badminton, extreme frisbee (whatever that is), and the joy of working for the Nationwide Building Society. However one young lady asked me to write a poem about the British Touring Car Championship, and she really couldn’t have picked a better person to come to.
Since before I was a teenager I’ve been a fan of the British Touring Car Championship. In fact with the possible exception of spoken word, it’s one of my obsessions. I’ve watched almost every Live face on tv and I’ve been to some of the races too. I would say that it’s a guilty pleasure, but there’s no guilt here. I absolutely adore it. We spent far more time than is healthy, myself and this young lady, talking about our favourite drivers and races. The best thing was that she wanted me to write the poem for her mum, because she was also a fan of the BTCC, and they go to several races a year.

I was immediately Jealous!
The BTCC is amazing. The racing is pure and much more brash than open wheel categories, and the personalities are less robotic than in other sporting series. In fact the drivers seem more human, able to express their frustrations or their joy in a way that other sports seem to shun. The cars are recognisable, too, and the circuits are less clinical than those in formula one. There std three races during every meeting, and they are all shown live on ITV4, so on the day of a meeting I’m usually glued to the television for most of the afternoon. It’s heaven.
I’ve always been a fan of certain drivers. In fact, that’s another good thing about it, the drivers seem to hang around for decades. Jason Plato has been in it and winning regularly since the mid 1990s, and all of the other top names, such as Matt Neal, Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Gordon Shedden, have been in the series for over ten years. In fact Rob Collard is one of my favourite drivers, we’ve often chatted on Twitter and he would probably win more races if he could qualify better. He’s one of the best overtakers in the business.
Obviously, I’m not used to writing about the BTCC. I’m a spoken word artist, and the community to which I belong is similarly small, welcoming and human. There are parallels between going out into a race and going out on stage with a mic. When I see a driver pull off a great overtake I often think, hmmm, that’s the same feeling I get when the audience reacts to a good line. I know just how they feel.
Except I don’t, not really. Motor racing is different, and I can only guess at the forces and the fears of stepping into a car and racing it hard. Those who are at the top of their game are very, very good and put in a lot of work to be so, and in a way, this is the same as with spoken word, or with any pursuit.
So I’ll be watching the races on tv today thinking of the young lady from Swindon with her mother.