Friday 7 May 2010


I was down at the scout hut on Redcliffe Wharf last night, for a reading by Philip Gross. It was a good location for his readings from The Water Table, whose subject matter is the Bristol Channel and its to-ings and fro-ings. The event was organised by Stephen Morris, editor of the Bristol Review of Books, who had kindly invited me. As he seemed a bit busy, I took over the galley, and doled out the wine at £2 the glass. Big glass, mind you. So I can authoritatively report that people who go to poetry readings all drink red wine rather than white, unless they drink Rooibosch tea.

Philip's voice was accompanied by the bells of St Mary Redcliffe, which were being enthusiastically exercised above us. Stephen closed the door out onto the balcony, which made not the slightest difference. A blackbird joined in from up on the roof above; and there was a regular low rumbling, like distant cannon fire, which I eventually identified as the sound of traffic on the bascule bridge. All in all, it kind of worked, as an accompaniment.

From my perch at the back of the room I watched the boats splash up and down Welsh Back - the rowing club was out practicing, and so were the Guides and Scouts. I saw the cormorants and Canada Geese swing by, the sky darken.

Later, walking back to the car, I met my friends from the Bristol Flickr goup, sitting outside the Ostrich pub. The Rag Morris people were dancing on the quayside right next to them, and the temptation for a group of people heavily accoutred with camera gear was far too great to resist; there was a regular broadside of flashguns going off, and the suggestion of a naval battle was further encouraged by the tattered costumes, suggestive of sails and rigging shot away, of the Rag Morris team as they danced The British Grenadiers.


  1. Sounds to me like they're going to have to change their name to the local flashers group, I've never liked Flash on the camera but your description of performance art work created by your flashers brought a big grin to my face.

    You paint some great pictures with words.

    Caroline XXX

  2. They certainly know how to set the scene down Bristol way. What a lot going on for a Thursday night

    We've got the primary school's scooter races in our street this evening.

  3. Thank you, Caroline. I hate flash; the only time it works for me is when it goes off accidentally in full daylight and creates interesting effects.

    I love it down by the harbour on evenings like that, Anji; loads of people out doing their thing; it feels quite continental. Though the big dockside meat factories are already powering up to produce the insanely drunk and rowdy people we get all over the city centre round midnight.

    We don't get primary school scooter races, though. Now that I'd like to see!

  4. Anji should write about La Rochelle in the evenings where the streets round the harbour are closed off to traffic and when I was there did not have drunks on the street but a whole community out enjoying themselves.

    Caroline xxx

  5. Yes, I remember La Rochelle that way too; also Marseille, St Malo, Bergen, in fact just about any city that wasn't in England....

  6. If you wan't to see the drunks on the port, step over sick, broken glass etc. you need to be there at about 7 on a Sunday morning.

    It's great in the summer when the streets are still full of families at midnight, there are stands selling (very expensive) gifts and buskers....