Monday, 30 January 2012

On Friendship

23:52:00 Posted by Ashley Lister , , , 3 comments

by Jo Bell

Reader, I have a fondness for fondness. So when Word Soup’s lovely organiser Jane Brunning asked me to choose a theme for the January event I chose friendship. In the dark winter days, I thought, we should revel in the slow-burning, deeply warming relationships that furnish our lives. Not the sexual ones that provide the fireworks; not the family ties that come with their own incendiary baggage; but the friends who share nights at the local, food around your table, those who make the bright moments especially bright and the really crap moments slightly better.

I was delighted to hear the Dead Good Poets wrangling with the theme in their own readings on the night, and to share the mic with friends like Sarah-Clare Conlon, Fat Roland, Kim Moore and Martin Malone. My poems – like English Walkers or Break in and Leave Me Flowers – often start from small gestures that make me particularly glad of my mates. I read both of these at Word Soup, but I didn’t squeeze in the poem below, written after a delicious, easy late night/ early morning in Warwickshire some years ago.

The space we share with friends becomes invisible

Was that the time we visited Seville?

The night we all lay stoned in dunes at Druridge Bay,

me swearing I could see the Northern Lights?

Or were we on the boat, each bumping round to find a bunk,

excited by the smell of salt?

Perhaps we walked the fields behind my house

to see the hilltop obelisk at dawn,

and soaked our ankles with the dew.

We did that, once.

I cannot say. For every night we’ve spent

is present now in every night we spend.

As like as not, we drank too much.

At any rate, we talked and laughed and spent the time

like hoarded coins: amazed, as usual,

to find each piece increase in value

simply by the keeping.

Nights like Word Soup are the life-blood of the spoken word scene, and it was brilliant to see the DGPs tackling the whole event with such professionalism and energy. I arrived horribly late thanks to a disastrous traffic jam on the M60. So I missed one or two of the Dead Good Poets whose own friendly, chatterbox blog I had been following in recent days. But the welcome was warm, the feedback extremely generous and it was a real pleasure to join you all on stage at the New Continental. There was a real feeling of companionship. Thanks to all of you and I’ll be back as soon as I can!



Ste said...

Thanks for posting, Jo. Re: 'Break in and Leave Me Flowers', I remember thinking at the time that I wish I had neighbours like that - mine just steal my credit cards from the mail! Was great to hear you read and I'm very sorry for chewing your ear off about 'The Raw Shark Texts' I think another DGPS trip to Wordsoup may be in the offing

Ashley R Lister said...


Fantastic line:
"For every night we’ve spent
is present now in every night we spend."

Thanks for joining us here on the blog.


vicky ellis said...

One of the best things about friendship: stealing.

Stealing ideas, words, food, expressions, CDs, books, clothes, sobs, observations, and other friends.

Another of the best things about friendship: recognising your words falling from your friend's lips. Seeing them wear your scarf and knowing they thought of you as they wrapped it round their neck. Wondering if they remember you every time they walk past that book on the shelf and hoping that they'll get round to giving it back one day, hopefully over a pint or three. Watching them laughing with your friend and knowing they're laughing at a joke you made.

Love the poem Jo. I stole one of your friends today because he's ace :) Better keep a tight hold on that dress (like it would fit me).

Hope to see you perform again soon x