We’ve still got bedbugs…

I’m back in London just in time to do my best to avoid the Olympics, and in the meantime I’ve been able to take part in a few exciting events. Last week I had the opportunity to perform my poem, ‘A Bedbug in Manhattan,’ which I wrote and performed for The Mustard Club’s Resonance FM Radio programme ‘The Gilded Vectors of Disease,’ based on the golden critters adorning the outside of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The LSHTM is displaying a freeĀ 2012 Showcase Exhibition, highlighting some of the exciting work they’ve done over the past year. Rebecca Tremain, who arranged and hosted the radio series, invited me back for a live reading, and I was backed up by the dulcet tones of singer Patricia Hammond and musicians Emily O’Hara and Simon Marsh.

We then proceeded to play with insect costumes.

The other exciting bit of news is that the guided walks, Sick City, which I’ve lent my voice to, is now live! The brains and voice behind the project is Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow Richard Barnett, who also played host to the ‘Bedbug’ programme above, at Rebecca’s invitation. Richard writes and presents live guided walks on the medical history of London, and he’s gone digital, putting them online in the form of a smartphone app, which is free to download. So, if you are in London, take yourself on a guided tour. If you aren’t, though, these are a delight to listen to anyway, for fascinating insight into what lies beneath the streets of London, in layers of time, history, and physical earth. Click on ‘conceived in gin‘ to hear one of the more challenging pieces I read for one of the walks – on the history of gin!

 

Catching up from the Atelier

A day trip to Ghent with new friends.

It was probably ambitious to think I’d write weekly in a month of sitting for six hours every day, five days each week, and then using my afternoons and days off to explore Belgium. So: I survived the month of modelling in Bruges.

On one hand, the modelling itself was as you might expect: ‘I sit, they paint,’ I wrote to my mom.

Bill Whittaker’s stunning – and rapid – portrait of me, done in about 4 hours.

But in fact, there is a lot going on – in my head, in conversation, and especially in Bill’s teaching. All of this, I wrote down as notes for what will become ‘The Naked Muse,’ my non-fiction reflections on this experience, combined with my five years of past modelling experiences.

So instead of writing about that here, I thought I’d put up a few more pictures of exploring, a few artworks by the wonderful people I met, and say how much I recommend a holiday to the quirky, waffel-filled, pocket-sized, picture-perfect city of Bruges, where I was privileged to live for a month.

Something that’s pretty exciting right now is that my writing of ‘The Naked Muse’ book has been interrupted, because a publisher has asked to see the first two chapters of the non-fiction travel memoir I proposed to them about my Vespa adventures to, and in, the South of France. I’m calling it ‘Vespa for Beginners’.

Amazingly large stork nest in Sluis, the Netherlands, where I cycled twice, the second time with Leslie Duke & Meghan & Brian Sours.

I want to thank my blog readers for this, because I hadn’t thought of the journey itself as something to write about until I began to tell people what I was doing, and they asked me to blog so they could read about the trip. So, it might become a book! Here’s hoping.

It was awfully silly that it hadn’t occurred to me, really, since I try to turn everything into a book. And you’ll be pleased to hear that I still need to collect Vespa from Les Adrets, and have booked the return trip for the end of September – so stay tuned for Episode II…

Brilliant illustration of me reading Jane Eyre, by Meghan Sours.

There’s quite a lot of book-related stuff fizzing and bubbling right now, actually, and it’s all come up in the past week. I’m going to keep mum until there’s anything concrete, however, and we know how long that can take. It may be heartening to hear that it involves two novels I’d ‘shelved,’ so though I don’t know what will happen, it’s nice to think that old work mightn’t be dead.

I could say the situation ‘has great potential,’ but then I’d sound like I work for Foxtons. And I could say ‘fingers crossed,’ but really, we’re all writing and typing and that would be awkward. Sometimes it feels like I’ve built a house of cards: it could fall and reveal a solid, pleasing little structure, or it could fall, and there will be nothing underneath.

Because people tend to have difficulty recognising me, I can look so different (I should be a spy) – a photo from two days ago, after my haircut!

So this may be a bit of a post where I’m not saying much, only to say I’m off to Bulgaria tomorrow, where it’s supposed to be awfully hot and sunny, and I’m glad for that. But I have missed rainy, grey London, and I’ll look forward to being back for a stretch, and hopefully to having more to share, and hopefully seeing some of you, whom I know, in person. Meanwhile, good luck writing, reading, etc!