Many of those who know me, through the curious catacombs of social media, will know me best as The Grumbling Gargoyle, writer, poet and lover of all things weird and wonderful.
Well, this Gargoyle has her own thing of wonder to share with you, and in order to do so she must strip herself of her stony garb and, as Lynn Gerrard, stand bare before you, to reveal all!...(no need for sick bags, I was speaking metaphorically)...let me explain.
In a bid to contain my excitement, I, that being the person beneath the granite, Lynn, am attempting to tell you this thing in a low key manner, whilst inwardly throwing a salvo of air punches to the sky!
Indeed, I am sat with a leisurely pose, breezily prodding at my keyboard, with the casual poke of a nonchalant typing finger.
Oh who am I trying to kid?....
.....enough of that feigned composure!!...let's release the rapture!!....
I HAVE JUST SIGNED A FOUR BOOK CONTRACT FOR MY POETRY!!!....*does a little dance*...Yes!! I know!! Fantastic eh?....*does another little dance*
Fabulous Wallace Publishing, after viewing my work, decided to sign me up and I am most ecstatic, to say the least! It will be a few months before the first book will be available for purchase, as there's a lot that needs organising prior to its release, but I seriously cannot wait!
I'm equally pleased because those loyal and much appreciated followers of my work, will finally be able get their hands on the book they have requested from me, for such a long time!
Of course, at some point, in the not too distant future, the first book will be available for pre-order and I'll make that announcement when the time comes so you are assured of being one of the first to get your copy either in paper back form or as an e-book.
For obvious reasons I haven't a title to share yet, or a cover to reveal, that will happen soon HOWEVER what I do have, is the promise of a fun packed launch party, to be held in my much loved home town of St Helens!
The venue itself has still to be arranged but wherever it is, there will be plenty of entertainment and lots for you to enjoy including performances by local artists and a smidgen of performance poetry chucked in, by yours truly!
Oh and don't worry, for those who live too further afield to attend in person, you won't miss out on the evening because you'll be able to join in with the frivolity online, via Live Streaming...(all will be explained closer to the time).
So, there we go! Exciting times indeed!
Now, whilst I am really looking forward to a future with Wallace Publishing, and delighted that they are keen to publish my poetry, I haven't forgotten everybody else!
I am most conscious that without the support and encouragement of my family, friends and of all those generous people who have, via Twitter, Facebook and through following my blog, shared my work with many other people, who might not have seen it otherwise, I may not have been in the position I am now...
So I will take this opportunity to say... "thank you everyone, I am genuinely grateful to you and you've done a great job" But no sitting back yet!...we've books to sell!
Those of you who have read part one of 'Grumbling Gargoyle and Mother Gargoyle...(GG & MG)...On Tour', will be familiar with the sufferings of my goodly self and those of my numerous neuroses, experienced during our stay with my fabulous and slightly unnerving, octogenarian MG, in a beautiful villa in Spain, last summer. For those of you who haven't a clue what I'm going on about, here's the link so you can catch up... CLICK HERE
As for the rest of you...well, let's carry on with the crazy!...
Still bearing the mental bruising from the previous week, I fell into week 2 with about as much optimism as a man expecting to win an argument with a woman.....exactly!! WEEK TWO: EXPLORATION Set off to explore beautiful village of Frigiliana - Reach destination, instantly regret wearing strapless sandals - Commence to walk around village, feet loudly slapping upon pavement drawing attention of bemused passers by - Consider that flippers would have been less of an obstacle!
Catch MG grinning as she flounces off, thanks to the confident strides her sensible, yet very fashionable, footwear of choice provides - Slap and flap a bit faster to try and catch up with her - Look like a runaway from clown school!
Despite splendour of surroundings, realise we haven't seen a smiling face since arrival - Wonder if entire village is on Depressants - Barely processed that thought when scooter-riding local buzzes passed with a cheery 'Ola' and a smile wide enough to put lipstick on his ears, had he been wearing any - Decide he must be the resident serial killer eyeing up his next project.
Proceed to quaint shopping area, delighting in the architecture and storytelling mosaics, Frigiliana's Moorish history has on offer - Marvel as traditional baker gently breaks silence of serene setting, by selling his wares through melodic song of his sales pitch - Grimace as random tourist, no doubt English, loudly instructs him to "Piss off" Agree with MG that coffee would be good idea - MG points to cafe, I point to another, MG sighs but we go with my one - I sit at table wearing infantile expression of smugness - MG orders beverages and pops to loo - Upon her return I make same visit
Find myself in small cupboard which worryingly doubles as loo and storage area for crates of bottled drinks! - Notice disturbing design on toilet lid of two penises, each supposedly coloured and sized to represent certain 'alleged' cultural differences.
Walk back to table and the arched, 'I told you we should have gone to the other cafe', eyebrow of MG - Sigh and sip my coffee, on the naughty chair. Mid week, excited to travel to Granada to visit home and museum of someone I've admired for a long time, playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Walk through the idyllic, leafy grounds with MG - Gasp as house comes into view - Quicken steps as reach front door - Pause to allow hand to brush upon the window shutter, the very one that Lorca himself would have touched, at some point. Struggle to turn door handle for access - Struggle some more - And then even more. Resist urge to kick door in - Consider getting MG to kick door in - Finally accept the museum is closed - Loudly explore numerous profanities.
Mind travels back to San Francisco visit of previous year with MG to see Alcatraz - Equally as excited - Tickets bought well in advance - 'The Voices' put on hold - We get there - Alcatraz put on CLOSED thanks to federal governments 'shut down'! - Decide only thing can trust is neurosis, they never completely shut down.
Begin journey back to villa - Stop at traffic lights near bus stop - Spot blind woman waiting for bus - Watch her pick nose - Watch her eat harvested produce - Watch her slowly chew - Oblivious to presence of other, inches behind her - Watch 'other' dry heave'
Last day before packing for home - Go into Nerja with MG for meal - Sit at table in beautiful sunshine outside restaurant - Order food - Listen to guy playing guitar - Am only one to applaud when he's finished song
Instantly he's on me - Hand out for money - Try to explain was just appreciating his music, wasn't looking to sponsor him - Recoil at MG's burning look of disdain, in my direction, as she passes him euros.
Drinks arrive - Large glass of wine each - Wrong wine - Nicely ask waiter to change it - Watch his temple throb - Note that 'attitude problem' needs no translation - Thank him as he slams revised liquid in front of me and MG - Conscious of him mumbling something under breath, maybe it was"I love my job"
In mid gulp when guy passes me business card explaining he is deaf and would like money - Consider scribbling note in return saying " am blind, can't read card" - Take another large gulp of wine instead. Food comes - As does another guy with a card in his hand to slap on table - This card explains that he needs money because he has a large family to feed and can't work as he only has one hand - I telepathically relay to him that had he used his singular hand for masturbation, maybe he wouldn't be so strapped for cash.
Try to catch eye of Spains 'Waiter of the Year' for bill - Watch him turn - Watch full bottle of wine drop from tray he is holding - Watch it smash to ground - Watch him begin to take some 'time-out' by drifting into a psychotic break
Watch approach of other members of staff, running to his aid as he hysterically grumbles incomprehensible obscenities, whilst kicking tables - No doubt his coat in the cloakroom will be a strait jacket.
Eventually return to villa - Drink in the panoramic view of mountains and olive trees for the last time, with a teary eye - Relish reflecting on every beautiful, mad moment with MG - Quickly dry eyes to avoid MG's questions - Pivot around to spot MG looking at me through living room window, warm smile, tenderly plumping her cheeks.
Go inside to face her, before packing for home, and to ask what memories she'll be taking back with her - Listen with eyes welling up with more tears as she says "There isn't one moment that hasn't brought me happiness. I only hope we'll get to enjoy more times like this some day. It's been good, hasn't it Plumb?" Hearing her call me by the nick-name she used to, when I was a little kid, soon had me blubbering snot bubbles and reaching for tissues - MG's last sentence helped plug the flow...
" You've always been an ugly crier haven't you?"
Thanks MG....I love you too...
Over the last few weeks, I have been humongously privileged enough to be part of a project, Stand Up To Stigma, funded by Time To Change and delivered by The Comedy Trust, whose aims endeavour to tackle the problem of mental health discrimination.
A group of us, under the guidance of some remarkable and dedicated people, crawled, with trepidation, beyond the boundaries of our personal sanctuaries, to leave ourselves exposed to the whims and cruelties of human nature, by each of us performing a stand-up comedy routine, written by ourselves, in front of an audience. Friday, 16th January, 2015, was our finale celebration at the local library, and regardless of my being one of the performers, I couldn't help but feel flushed with pride to witness the talents and the bravery of each act, as they put any issues they themselves might be suffering, or any issues they were privy to others suffering, to one side, in favour of doing their best, via their well delivered performances, in a bid to help educate others regarding the complexities of mental health and the stigma attached to it. .
And I'll tell you something else, everyone of the performers routines was met with genuine hearty laughter! Indeed, quite a few people said that they had laughed more that night than at other comedy events where they had paid to watch 'professional' comedians...so praise indeed...and rightly so. I hope those who provide the funding will find a way to continue to do so, because money is running out now, and very,very soon, in about four weeks time, everything will come to an end.
There are a couple of possibilities in the pipeline, which I'll tell you about, at some point, when they are better developed, but essentially, for the more immediate future, some other way to inject longevity into the project needs to be found now! Maybe one of you can think of something? It needs to be recognised just what a vital programme this is, and the amount of people who have already benefited and WILL benefit from its continuing. Not just those suffering from mental illness, but those who would otherwise be restricted to adhering to supposition and archaic labelling theories, were they not better informed
AND, it is through this workshop and the subsequent performances, that I have also witnessed a growing interest, by the general public, in the issues brought to light.
More and more people are attending! More and more people are being made aware! Consequently, more and more people are being helped! Indeed, the general public should be given credit here, because their positive reactions and feedback is helping to revive the belief, that there really is hope for all of us, for those suffering from mental illness and for those, who before this project came to light, were limited in their understanding of it. In a world so dogged by tragedy, how wonderful to see a little comedy lighten even the darkest corner... May the laughter continue... I wrote this poem especially for the project Stand Up To Stigma
'BEHIND CLOSED DOORS'
Our world exists
Behind closed doors
Where we hide from being judged
By the duplicity
Of yours Yet even here we are not safe From the preconceptions And the prejudice. You see, the world out there
Needs to get to know The people whose lives Are lived and lost Behind closed doors Instead of branding and labelling All it perceives
Went for a bite to eat with MG ....( Mother Gargoyle )...recently, where, over a hot, festively frothy coffee, she reflected upon her childhood, eighty plus years ago, and the delightful simplicity of play, in a time when paved streets were the canvas upon which your imagination painted its own landscape of fun.
Engrossed by her tales of yesteryear, of her growing up in a gas lit, terraced street of the 30's, I gradually became conscious of a warm glow filtering through the chilled atmosphere of winters trappings to rest upon my heart, as I delighted in watching MG's face brighten with her happy reflections. That's when MG casually chucked into the conversation how her and some of her friends would knock upon a neighbours door and ask if they could view the dead!..." Ah those were the days"... I thought I'd misheard her, and I told her so.... "Oh no" she answered with a warm smile " It's what you did back then, we always did it!" "Hold on mum, you 'always' did it? What do you mean? Did you just knock on random doors and hope there'd be a dead body inside or was it part of a tenancy agreement that you kept one? Was this a weekly occurrence...you know...like, was there a specific day set to one side for it...like wash day or shopping day...did you have 'visit the dead at home day'?" She did that thing with her eyelids, you know, that thing you do when you half droop them like a narrowed shutter to minimise the amount of stupid your eyes are witnessing! And then after a swallow of coffee she continued... "It was the custom, back then, that when someone died in our street we'd go round to the house and ask to see the body" she paused here, for another little slurp, before finishing with...."and then we'd kiss it" Instantly I regretted just having taken a huge gulp of my own coffee, as my flabergasted state caused me to spray most of it over myself and everyone within a 1 metre radius of our table... " Oh for God's sake mother!! Kiss it!!! Why the hell would you do that???" I asked incredulously With an exasperated 'tut' she went on... " Because that's just how it was!...anyway, I stopped doing it when old Mrs Green from over the road died, because seeing her gave me nightmares...it was a struggle to kiss her, I can tell you!" My face went through a series of expressions worthy of gymnastic merit, each displaying varying levels of repulsion, before asking..."Why, what was it about Mrs Green, in particularly, that scared you?" Sitting back in the chair in the eatery, after a lengthy sigh and with a little bit of a shudder, MG sat forward, somewhat conspiratorially, to share with me in quieted whispers... " She was a small grey haired woman, tiny and withered....her eyes were wide open and staring. Her mouth was open too but they'd stuffed cloth into it...REALLY stuffed it in!...She had a surprised look on her face and hollowed cheeks!" reclining back into her chair she shivered with the memory and drifted into a contemplative swig of her coffee. My mind was flitting from...the possibility that given Mrs Greens post-mortem state...( bulging staring eyes...rag stuffed into gob )... maybe natural causes wasn't much of a truism to have etched onto the Death Certificate...to a series of business cards, that would have come in handy at the time, advertising the services of the most industrious partnership called 'Kiss A Corpse Inc'...and the slogan?.....'You Snuff It. ~~ We Snog It'........Hm...I think there's room for a revival here!.... Anyway, just as I was mentally sifting through the possibilities for merchandising this, cups, T Shirts...Lip Balm!....our food arrived... I'd ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad, which, by the look of it, had been designed to represent the death of Julius Caesar himself! The lettuce lay across the plate in a theatrical state of withered collapse, like a disassembled laurel leaf crown, bearing the scars of a frenzied knife attack! This being apparent by the profusion of brown, wounded leaves which were evident. The 'brown', as I'm sure you know, occurring due to the oxidisation process caused by the reaction of metal upon the lettuce....( impressive eh?...*smug grin* )... As for the rest of the ingredients, as sparse as they were!...well, the chef must have flung them onto the plate via catapult whilst to-ing and fro-ing, at some speed, from his lofted position on his mood swing!!!...They were just measly, scattered offerings of chicken that wouldn't have provided sufficient nourishment to feed the actual chicken in the first place!...had that bizarre situation ever occurred. MG had ordered fish and chips which, unfortunately, had also succumbed to the effects of the chef's psychotic break! To be fair his mindset, despite its meltdown, remained loyal to a theme, and on this occasion he had seen fit to cook my mothers fish as a tribute to the victims of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, AD 79. Indeed, looking at the fish, which lay preserved, in an impossibly curled position upon the plate, it was obvious that it had been subjected to the same pulse of thermal energy that the poor residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum had suffered on that fateful day! All that was missing from this pseudo-biblical tableau, was a layer of ash from the chefs fag! Well, whilst the culinary trip through the dark annals of history had been an engaging affair, our grumbling stomachs demanded to be fed and so, after voicing our complaint, the previous disaster was replaced with fare of such equally disastrous content, as to convince me that the chef had finally managed to attain a level of psychosis never before known to man nor lobotomist! The chicken, and whatever other unidentifiable scraps which accompanied it, were even more meagerly distributed than before, and whilst the lettuce was more fresh this time, psycho-chef had used enough of it as a filler on the plate as to feed the entire cast of Watership Down for several sequels!! This time, MG 's fish had taken on a mummified appearance, dry and tightly bound in breaded wrappings, applied haphazardly in such a style as to suggest the chef was wearing boxing gloves!
It was at this point myself and MG, our appetites now depleted, decided to admit defeat and so, after acquiring a well deserved refund, we made our escape from the restaurant with a backdrop of clanging pots and pans as an accompaniment.