last night’s Light Night in Liverpool

Music For me, the undoubtedly highlight of last night’s Light Night in Liverpool, apart from sweeping into the ballroom of the Town Hall just as the Blue Danube pulsed out of the speakers and the waltzers on the dance floor began to flourish, was attending The Big Voice, a mass harmony singing event at Liverpool Cathedral, presented by the Sense of Sound choir. As I’ve written before, our school choir used to perform there every year and although I couldn’t really sing and learnt everything parrot fashion, I’ve rarely since experienced much with the excitement of singing my lungs out in that massive space.

Except last night I did. Not really knowing what to expect, I slumped in a chair at the front of the pews at about half-seven having walked over from the Town Hall, realising as I sagged that I probably should have availed myself of the free bus service which was part of Merseytravel’s contribution to last night’s event. On my way, I’d been handed a single song sheet, or rather a sheet with a single song on it, something called “Ain’t Gonna Give Up”. Someone sitting nearby noted the melancholy within the lyrics, all talk of “bloodshed weeping from out skin” and “anger screaming from within”.

But in the singing as we discovered, they became words of defiance. At the front of this motley congregation was a platform, a lectern and microphone and within a few minutes Jennifer John, the Artistic Director of the Sense of Sound Singers telling us that we were ready to begin. At this point I wasn’t sure if I was ready but I went with it, having noticed now that about three hundred people had now gathered in the chairs behind me. She introduced the song, or at least told us that it wasn’t a piece any of us might have encountered before, which was true, and that we were going to learn to sing it. That created the first murmur in the crowd.

The second murmur came when the Sense of Sound Singers were asked to join her at the front and that they would sing the song through once to give us some idea of how it should sound. And they’re good. Really, really good. It’s difficult now to really describe their work, since I while enjoying it I was (a) also trying to remember what they were doing and (b) distracted by the people sitting behind me saying things like “Oh, we’ll never do that” as well as “Have you got a pen, I'll have write these this down.” So yes, a murmur, a bewildered, nervous murmur or the kind I’d not heard since our school choir were handed one of the Te Deums in Latin, Purcell’s I think.

Then came the business of learning the piece. Jennifer sang us slowly through the song, line by line pointing out potential problems, with the Sense of Sound Singers dotted about the side for us to sing along to. The tune wasn’t easy to learn. Although there is a general scheme to it, there are a few rhythm death traps around syllables at the ends of lines. The aforementioned defiance developed from fighting against these problems, insurmountable problems like really being able to sing. But sing I did, full voiced, somehow feeling the noise coming out of my lips reach towards the roof of the cathedral, just as our school music teacher suggested it should.

At which point the obvious, magical thing happened. This crowd became a choir. Somewhere in the midst of our variable singing abilities what was collectively being created wasn’t the congregational singing of Songs of Praise or the Kop but proper choral music which resonated through the space and led still more people to join in at the back. That continued into the breaking of us into sections, the central trunk carrying the lions share of the song, the rest of us branching off into dub-a-dee-dubs and aaaahs. Some where clearly disappointed not to still be signing the whole thing, but I just saw it as an opportunity to set aside the words and just experience the joy of song.  Oh, yes.

Cameras hovered close-by and goodness knows what I must have looked like, arms by my side, shoulders back, my cavernous mouth blasting away.  I suspect I gave it some volume, which I probably needed to given the notes which were being asked of us, some of which I’d not even attempted in decades, our section handed the very high sections and the very low notes. But like I said, this was about defiance, setting aside embarrassment at our own abilities and just getting on with it. Now and then the lady from the singers who’d been assigned to our section would remind me of which dub-a-dee-dubs or aaaahs we were up to. Her attentiveness put us at ease.

Then an hour and half after we’d begun we gave it one final rendition and that was that. It wasn’t perfect, not always coming in at the right moment, not quite having our sections of the harmony entirely in tune, but that was us. A choir. Then after some applause for Jennifer, for Sense of Sound and for ourselves, it was over. Perhaps most impressive was Jennifer’s abilities as a teacher, the fearlessness that somehow managing to marshal together all of these strangers to create this sound, to convince us that we have that capacity. With great attention to detail, noticing even in this mass of voices where the harmonies were falling apart slightly and correcting us.

As we walked away, people could still be heard singing their bit to themselves.  I was too.  After just an hour and a half, the song was locked in our brains and probably will be for a while. Even stepping out at the front of the cathedral, a few of us began a mini-version of what we’d just created, a final ad-hoc affirmation which then dissipated, like us, into the rain. I did record the choir in our final “performance” but the result is poor, the tiny microphone crushing the sound and losing the sense of it. I won’t delete it, but I also won’t listen to it much. I’d much rather keep the memory of it. The memory cheats, thankfully.  But then, just this once, it doesn’t really need to.

"the chronological circuit"

Art Tate Britain is to rehang its collection back in the right order, thanks to new director Penelope Curtis.
"The chronological circuit of around 400 works will begin with early treasures such as Hans Eworth's 1565 Portrait of an Unknown Lady, showing works through the centuries to the present day including, said Curtis, both the unexpected and those that "people want and expect to see".

"Artists on display will include Constable, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Millais, Stubbs, Bacon, Hockney, Lowry and Spencer. There will also be dedicated galleries for William Blake and Henry Moore."
Disclaimer: Penelope managed me at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds in the mid-90s (but I'd be impressed nonetheless).  What I'd really like to see is a BBC Four series with Andrew Grahan-Dixon about Art in Britain to coincide with the relaunch.

"escapades not only went unpunished"

History If you're going to perpetrate a hoax, it helps if you choose the right target. The Atlantic reports:
"Each tale was carefully fabricated by undergraduates at George Mason University who were enrolled in T. Mills Kelly's course, Lying About the Past. Their escapades not only went unpunished, they were actually encouraged by their professor. Four years ago, students created a Wikipedia page detailing the exploits of Edward Owens, successfully fooling Wikipedia's community of editors. This year, though, one group of students made the mistake of launching their hoax on Reddit. What they learned in the process provides a valuable lesson for anyone who turns to the Internet for information."
Sometimes I wonder how many crimes would be solved if the details were posted online and Reddit or Mefi went at it.


Music Minnesota Public Radio has a free download of Beethoven's Sonata No. 30, Op. 109 recorded by HJ Lim.

 She's ambitiously recorded the complete sonatas. Spotify has some of the others:

Romeo and Juliet (Arden Shakespeare. Third Series). Edited by Rene Weis.

Finding new critical approaches to many of Shakespeare’s plays continues to be a challenge, perhaps even more so for academic editions which usually strive for a tone beyond a basic introduction that regurgitate the essentials.  Rene Weis’s interest in this new Arden edition of Romeo and Juliet is to investigate the balance between its main protagonists and suggest that for all the masculine prominence in the billing, the play’s really about the feminine side or rather that the title should more fittingly echo the final line of the play, “For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Weis argues that Juliet has a more thorough back story, that more time is spent setting up her extended family even to the point of paralleling her with a child born to the Nurse at the same time as the young Capulet who didn’t live.  Shakespeare investigates far more deeply into the girl’s passage into womanhood and she receives the greater number of speeches capturing the aggressive passion of teenage love.  Romeo’s parents are near ciphers and when Romeo does have narrative agency it’s usually in service of rounding out Juliet’s character rather than the Montague, his only real character development in shifting from platitudes to poetry with his infatuation moves away from Rosalind.

The evidence continues into the section about  how Shakespeare’s utilises time, the play structuring itself carefully across four days.  Glance at the included chronology and we can see just how many of the scenes, especially in the latter half of the play are about Juliet dealing with this secret love, outside the gaze of her parents, of Paris being foisted upon her.  The parallels with A Midsummer Night’s Dream are worthwhile in comparing how a similar situation, which also includes the application of potions is resolved in a resolutely comedic fashion rather than the realistic, chaotic worlds of Verona which ends in tragedy.

From here Weis delves into the dating of the play which, thanks to the play's rich contemporary allusion, the editor puts at late summer to the early autumn 1596, within thirty years of the play’s primary source Brooke’s poem, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet.  Shakespeare’s genius is often brought into question because of these borrowings, but as Weis explains, Shakespeare’s genius was in taking these sometimes mundane works and transforming them into plays which stand the test of time; how many similar poems and stories remain obscure because the playwright wasn’t interested?

With so much to cram in, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the production history isn’t as detailed as in some Ardens, but expresses its worth in concentrating on adaptation over more traditional productions, from Garrick’s interpolations to Berlioz’s symphonie dramatique through Prokofiev’s ballet and Tchaikovsky.  The closest analysis is of the modern film versions, of West Side Story, of Zeferelli’s 1968 film and of Baz Lurhmann’s in 1996 which Weis bravely brands, “the greatest Shakespeare film ever”.  My personal taste would still put Branagh’s Hamlet above it, but it’s difficult to argue with that assessment in terms of popular appeal.

At page ninety-four, such criticism gives way to the text and textual analysis.  Like Hamlet, R+J exists primarily in an oddball first Quarto, more authoritative Q2 and of course F1 and like Hamlet the relationship between them is hotly contested.  R+J’s Q1 is about eight hundred lines shorter than its later sister work, with some sections omitted and others rewritten and the argument has generally shifted away from memorial reconstruction to a players edition produced either by a printer or Shakespeare himself for playing in the sticks.  It was certainly considered useful enough to be glanced at during the type setting of Q2 for textual confirmations.

Arden published Hamlet’s Q1 in a separate volume with F1, properly edited.  For Romeo & Juliet a facsimile of the British Library’s copy has been included as an appendix, some of the margin notes included, slightly abbreviated.  Part of me wishes that this too had instead been a properly edited version, but given the academic timescales and that its already been thirty years since the last Arden edition, it's understandable that Weis should concentrate on the play as it's best known with a few interpolations.  Plus facsimiles allow us to glimpse the text as it was originally seen by the Elizabethan public, without four hundred years of further editorial intervention.

Romeo and Juliet (Arden Shakespeare. Third Series). Edited by Rene Weis. Methuen Drama. 2012. RRP: £8.99. ISBN: 9781903436912. Review copy supplied.

"like I’m a dancing hologram"

Dance More audience interaction, this time with a fire dancer who tours some of the worst night clubs in the country:
"But flaming solitude doesn’t last. It’s never more than ten minutes before someone stumbles over with their arms outstretched. Do they think the flames are made of beer? Now I begin another show, called ‘Don’t Give Clients a Concussion.’

"Drunk students try to walk in a straight line through the staging area like I’m a dancing hologram. Keep smiling, keep dancing, don’t let anyone wander into the path of fire, or worse, the heavy metal pole, which flies around at a blurring speed. Trying to save these people’s skulls, hair, clothes, and testicles from their own sozzled stumbling is the most tiring part of the job. It’s where I really earn that plane ticket."

"Not you too, Bob."

TV Long have we suspected it but as prophesied by Doctor Who's Fear Her in 2006, Huw Edwards has been confirmed as the anchor for the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. Back then this seemed entirely unlikely - especially since in that episode the event was relegated to BBC News for some reason.  Plus Dimbles was still in ascendancy to some extent.

Expect "Not you too, Bob." to be trending on Twitter that day. Notorious I gave Fear Her a relatively decent review even going to far to praising Huw's performance, suggesting he "sold it really well." Which he does if we accept that he's voicing exactly the kinds of platitudes you might expect him to voice in the event of the entire audience disappearing.

Let's hope the real thing is just as entertaining. And that he's sport enough to say those immortal words himself, should anything out of the ordinary occur like David Tennant really lighting the Olympic flame in his Who costume.  Here's the episode in five minutes including these amazing scenes.  Pity it's the wrong logo.  Shayne Ward's Greatest Hits isn't available yet either.

"it was enough to trigger a song"

Music This week's How We Made in The Guardian has Gary Kemp and Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet on writing True, which brings this trivia:
"I wrote the song at my parents' house, where I was still living at the time. As a working-class boy, I wouldn't think of moving out till I got married. I was infatuated with Clare Grogan [the Altered Images singer and star of Gregory's Girl]. I met her on Top of the Pops and, at one point, travelled up to Scotland to have tea with her and her mum and dad. Although my feelings were unrequited and the relationship was platonic, it was enough to trigger a song, True, which became the name of our 1983 album, too."
Grogan. Sigh. Someone's going to have to update the song's Wikipedia page.

Shakespeare's Restless World released on cd and download.

AudioGo have just sent out a press release with details for a cd and download release of Shakespeare's Restless World, which completed its radio broadcast last week:
"‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’, especially for William Shakespeare in the reign of Elizabeth I. Hot on the heels of the hugely successful A History of the World in 100 Objects comes Shakespeare’s Restless World in which Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, looks at the world through the eyes of Shakespeare's audience by exploring objects from that turbulent period. Examining different artefacts, Neil discusses how Shakespeare's audiences understood and made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed.

"He also analyses the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape Shakespeare’s works and considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. With contributions from Shakespeare scholars, historians and experts on witchcraft and warfare, fencing and food, luxury trade and many other topics, these programmes are both diverting and enlightening. They discuss the issues these objects raise - everything from exploration and discovery to violence, entertainment and the plague."

"conversation understandably turned to cult movies"

Film Over the past couple of years the BFI have released a series of off beat films from their archive in a series called "Flipside". In a series of articles, The Digital Fix are following the development of the latest release, Andy Milligan's Nightbirds, aided by Drive director director Nicolas Winding Refn, who now owns the director's original print:
"Refn’s fandom extends beyond Milligan and into all areas of obscure and forgotten cinema. Unsurprisingly he has also been fully aware of the Flipside strand for some time and took the opportunity, whilst in London following production on Drive, to extend his enthusiasm in person. Lunch was arranged with the BFI’s head of DVD, Sam Dunn, and conversation understandably turned to cult movies, cult filmmakers and, inevitably, Andy Milligan. When it was mentioned that Refn owned prints of two of the London features (vampire flick The Body Beneath having also been among the eBay acquisitions) a future Flipside was posited. After all, the main feature was a perfect fit. Here was a British film that had languished in obscurity for decades, had never been previously released in any format, and was “weird, wonderful, offbeat and rare” - so rare in fact next to nobody has ever seen it."
If only all studios seemingly took this care in producing.  I've seen blu-rays in which look like the company's simply utilised some old dvd transfer.

Thatcher botherer

Film He was the man with the masterplan, but could this really be former script editor of Doctor Who and Thatcher botherer Andrew Cartmel correcting an error on the letters page of this month's Sight & Sound Magazine?

As we know having overseen the literal cliffhanger at the end of Dragonfire episode one, Andrew knows exactly what scenes that "don't serve any evident purpose" look like, so it must be.

It's a third edition of AHistory!

Books If you've been following my Doctor Who reviews very long, you'll know the closest thing I have to a bible that isn't Shakespeare's complete works is AHistory, Lance Parkin and Lars Pearson's bonkers attempt to rationalise Doctor Who into some kind of workable chronological order from the big bang through to the far future.

The last edition was in 2007 and we were told at the time time it would be the last edition, ending with the third series of nuWho, first series of Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures's Invasion of the Bane (along with whatever spin-off material was concurrently knocking around).  The book's TARDIS Index file says Lance:
"has stated that the practical limitations of researching a third edition and putting it into one volume would make a third edition more or less impossible."
Yes, well, would you look at this:

It's a third edition of AHistory!

Or the fifth if you include the two earlier editions of A History of the Universe this sprang from.

The last edition had Mona Lisa on the cover and it seems just right the 3rd should feature Vincent's self portrait.  I've had a glance around and the only other mention I can find is on the publisher's own website which reveals it'll be out November 13th 2013 in time for the 50th anniversary.

As to contents:  According to the Amazon page, this new edition has 784 pages.  The 2nd edition had 432.  What'll be filling the new 352 pages?  You'd need at least a hundred to explain what's going on with River Song, but what about the rest?

Presumably it'll be updated through the seventh television series, to the finale of Torchwood's Miracle Day (good luck with that) and the end of Sarah Jane Adventures, with the mass of Big Finish audios, AudioGo specials and BBC Books as well as the DWM comics.

But will they also now have the comics from IDW, Battles in Time and Doctor Who Adventures?  The authors have also long resisted short stories because of their often experimental nature, even to the point of including comics but not those from annuals.  Perhaps they'll be in now too.

Thanks Lance and Lars!  And good luck.

Updated 15/06/2012  AHistory is actually out November 13th 2012 and not has an Amazon pre-order page.  So not as long to wait.  Hooray!

how to create bespoke rss feeds for The Space.

About If you use Google Reader, here is what to do if you want to set up an RSS feed for a website which has none, particularly if you want just search for a particular topic.

The example I'm going to use it The Space, the new joint venture between the Art Council and the BBC. I've wanted to keep track of when the various Shakespeare content is uploaded for my own benefit and so that I can add something to @shakespearelogs but rss feeds haven't been included yet.

So here is how to create bespoke rss feeds for The Space.

Firstly I went to the Google Alerts page, which you can see if you're logged into Google here:

In the site query box, type "site:" and then the URL of the website so:


Sometimes, as it the case with every link on the website flows into the preview box on the left.  But we want to just the Shakespeare links from The Space, so:

site: shakespeare

Then select a result type.  Since The Space is a static website, we need to select "Everything" from the drop down list so that it includes web pages.

Unless you want to create an email alert, ignore "How often".  You'll see why.

If you look at the preview box, you'll see it's not "everything".  That's because "only the best results" is selected in "How Many".

Change that to "all results".

Select feed in the "Deliver to" menu box.

Click the red "create alert" button.

This will bring up your list of alerts.  Scroll down to the one you're looking for and you'll see next to it the selections you made plus a link to Google Reader.

Click that link.

Google Reader opens and usually automatically subscribes you to the search.  The first entry is an automatically added welcome thingy, but after that the post you saw in the preview box will appear and then any new entries after that.

Needless to say a feed based on:

site: shakespeare

updates whenever a new page featuring his name is added to the BBC website.  You can also add subdomains if you want to just search a particular section.  That works better on some websites than other.

Hope that's of us to someone.

My Own Shakespeare.

The BBC's Radio 4 blog as a post about the making of My Own Shakespeare which has now begun on that channel and Radio 3.  Interestingly the same recording session also yielded the play excerpts for Shakespeare's Restless World, including this rendition of To Be or Not To Be from Rory Kinnear:

Kinnear received an Olivier nomination for his 2010 appearance in the role at the National and it's worth speculating that this is a fragment of that original performance.

Helen Mirren's Ophelias.

Shakespeare Philip Ward writes an excellent blog cataloguing and analysing the performances of Helen Mirren and in today's post, as well as nodding towards the bizarre Celestino Coronada film of 1976 mentions her appearance as Ophelia in the 1970 RSC production with Alan Howard as Hamlet:
"Ophelia is so often seen as an absence. She appears in only five of the play’s twenty scenes. We know little of what passed between her and Hamlet before the play opens. She doesn’t struggle with moral choices, as he does. ‘I think nothing, my lord,’ she tells him – a line that he chooses to interpret in the bawdy sense – but which the Gentleman echoes without irony when faced with the mad Ophelia, commenting that ‘her speech is nothing’, mere ‘unshaped use’. Mirren’s Ophelia was no shrinking violet. She was not prepared to go quietly."
Sounds enchanting.

Updated 21 October 2019: Philip Ward now has a book available about Helen Mirren. Becoming Helen Mirren is now available here.

About half three.

Theatre I'm sure I've posted this before but Matthew's post about fire drills reminded me of this short play I wrote in the late 90s about a false alarm in a student hall.

It uses some of the characters from a television series I failed to make sense of at the time because it attempted to make an hour's worth of drama without supporting players.  Or something.

The idea was to create a piece which could be used by a drama group with loads of actors which gave them all something to do, as part of a variety night or some such.

 Parts of it, like the Beckettian repetitions and the lack of scenery I'm pleased with.  Other parts, like the gender politics, are a bit embarrassing, but here it is all unvarnished:




Bare stage. From stage left, a man appears in a dressing gown. He looks around the stage, then simply stands there nervously. This is Mitch Clarke. From stage right, a second man appears; slightly older, also wearing a dressing gown. This is Alex Richards.

He yawns.

Czech singer Pavel Novak

Music Recently uploaded to Spotify is this compilation of cover versions from Czech singer Pavel Novak. A quick check about online finds little background on the singer, at least through an English search but given the position the country was in during the 60s, can we assume perhaps this was one of the only ways music fans accessed the music of Bob Dylan, The Monkees and Mr Tom Jones?

His back catalogue is expansive. I'd welcome input as to who he was and what this was about.

"Must See Entertainment"

Film HMV's advertising slogan is "must-see entertainment" but just sometimes it doesn't quite fit the products it's trying to sell ...

Dark Progeny.

Books  After a couple of experimental numbers, Steve Emmerson’s Dark Progeny despite what the cover might suggest is a novel so trad it might as well have Christopher H Bidmead running through it like a stick of Blackpool rock.  Or Llangollen rock depending on which decade we’re talking about  That’s the thing some of us love and some of us loath about Who – no matter how experimental it becomes, it will always return to first principles pretty sharpish (or eventually in the case of Big Finish’s wayward Divergant universe stories).

With Anji suffering from some kind of telepathic metacrisis which is also effecting the TARDIS’s systems, the Doctor stops off at the nearest planet with half decent medical facilities.  Ceres Alpha’s in the process of being terraformed by WorldCorp, some futuric, morally ambiguous version of Halliburton and after they’ve been rescued from one of the planets unending storms it takes little of the Doctor’s bluff to convince them he’s someone else, a visitor from Earth Central, and that his friend needs some medical attention after a crash.  Fitz meanwhile’s still stuck out in the sticks, mortally wounded.

The random element designed to stop the Doctor fixing Anji and Fitz and getting them all off the planet sharpish is the children.  Colonists who’ve become pregnant on Ceres Alpha are giving birth to creatures rather than human babies, aliens who judging by the cover resemble the typical imagery employed at Roswell for abduction happy greys.  WorldCorp’s response, led by Gaskill Tyran (Morgus with an inferiority complex) is to convince the parents their babies have died and then experiment on the creatures.  The Doctor’s response is that he has to stop them.

None of which really feels like an Eighth Doctor story.  Of course that begs the question of what an Eighth Doctor story is like, but even with his amnesia and the wayward back story that underpins this run of novels, there’s not much here which could just as well have been done as a past Fifth Doctor novel, with the Mara the cause of Tegan’s problems.  It’s essentially Warriors of the Deep directed by Steven Spielberg with the visitors from Close Encounters instead of the Myrka.

It even exhibits some of the problems of the fifth Doctor era.  Emmerson doesn’t seem quite sure what to do with Fitz and like I said, he spends most of the novel in the wilderness befriending and being interrogated by some colonists trying to get back in the city were his friends are – nothing he does as far as I can see has anything to do with the main plot other than shading in some of the world.  It’s the kind of narrative approach that parks Adric next to a buffet table for a couple of episode or Nyssa in the TARDIS feeling unwell.

Which makes sense on screen with time constraints and the union threatening to turn off the lights at ten o’clock, but in a novel with all of these pages to fill, it's weird.  Emmerson’s far more interested in fleshing out the incidental inhabitants of Ceres Alpha, like the parents of one of the children who’re attempting to break through the company’s subterfuge.  Except that section feels like it should be playing out as a mystery but like the Doctor’s runaround during Daleks in Manhattan, since we’re told up front the information they’re searching for, it’s not clear what the intent is.

But the novel does work towards saying something interesting about the march of progress and respecting the past, as Bains, an archaeologist works to preserve the legacy of the peoples of the planet against the human need to have somewhere to plant crops or open a Starbucks.  Predictably he’s about the only character apart from the creatures the Doctor has any affinity for, and undoubtedly their interactions are the best parts of the book as the Time Lord attempts to break him out the kind of shell I’m all too familiar with.

All of which sounds like I’m trying to deliberately trash the piece, and I’m not.  On its own terms, there’s nothing especially wrong with it, and there are plenty of tense moments particularly as we view the Doctor from the colonist’s point of view, this mysterious, shadowy, unknowable force.  The final few pages are lovely.  It’s a recalibration, a respite from the cookier excesses of the series and probably much needed too since as I can now see from the coming soon section at the back, in a couple of novels time we’ve the double whammy of a Miles followed by a Magrs.  Ooh.

the official launch party

Life Perfect moments. Last night I attended the official launch party for Liverpool’s latest culture blog/website The Double Negative hosted at Camp and Furnace, the arts and events venue off Jamaica Street in the centre of the Baltic Triangle in the building which used to be the AFoundation and before that a factory. It made the local papers recently for its indoor caravan park. After a first tentative half hour in which I attempted to look happy with a Cherry Coke for company, the DN’s Laura was the perfect host and introduced to me to some people and the next hour or so passed quickly and happily.

I’ve previously worked in the space in 2006 during the Liverpool Biennial and I was forever being told by my co-workers how beautiful it was after hours in the very late shifts as the main industrial factory floor space became illuminated by the night through the transparent ceiling, a cosy atmosphere created by spot lights here and there. I never was given a later shift but I now know what they meant. In the middle of our conversation, dusk happened and suddenly this massive room became intimate, the long congregation of tables somehow shortening. Or at least that’s how it felt.

But the perfect moment came later, just before I was about to leave. I was with a friend by a stage which had been erected, a band, Trouble With Books playing a mix of acoustic and I suppose grindcore electronica, sometimes in the same song. Disco flashed across the crowd and the smell of charcoal wafted in from the yard nearby were smokers gather. As the guitarist delicately picked away, just briefly I simply stopped and looked around, at the way the light played against the walls, against faces, against smiles of people genuinely enjoying themselves and the warmth of the fire wafting over me like a hug.  I couldn’t stop smiling.