Whistling in the dark

Yaffa Phillips writes sporadically

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Enveloped in Teesside – Bob Fischer and William K.J. Anderson

Went to The Olde Young Tea House for another Pay for the Piano Recordings gig. Bob Fischer and Old Muggins and William K.J. Anderson. Bob Fischer is a presenter for BBC Tees. His co-performers Old Muggins were in the room plus a couple of handfuls of other. The banter was flowing in dulcet Teesside tones.

One guy told how he was the first kid on Teesside to have a Daim bar because his dad worked on the docks. Henry told how his nana was the first person on Teesside to use paprika because it was special ordered for her for a recipe she wanted to try. Some more craic about the Boro…Rob Nichols was in the room. I was an observer enveloped in Teesside with the decade before me and the decade after in the form of William K.J. Anderson (DARTZ!, Algiers) and his family and friends. Two sets of songs, with local references, some I get and some that I don’t – it doesn’t matter, it was a friendly kind of night.

Culture gets to the core of a place like nothing else.

Reminded me of this passage from The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

There were eighteen men all told, plus Corlath and herself; and she was sure she could have recognized them as a group, as belonging together and bound together by ties as strong as blood or friendship, even if they had been scattered in a crowd of several hundred. They had an awareness of each other so complete as to be instinctive. She knew something of the working of this sort of camaraderie from watching Dedham and some of his men; but here, with this group of strangers, she could read it as easily as if it were printed on a page before her; and their silence – for none bothered with the kind of greeting Harry was accustomed to, any Hill version of hello and how are you – made it only more plain to her. Rather than finding their unity frightening, and herself all alone and outside, she found it comforting that her presence should so little disturb them. That instinctive awareness seemed to wrap around her too, and accept her: an outsider, an Outlander and a woman, and yet here she was and that was that.

She didn’t notice when the conversation began; it proceeded too easily to have had anything so abrupt as a beginning, and she was preoccupied with how to manage her food. From the tone of their voices, these men were reporting to their king, and the substance of the reports was discussed as a matter of importance all around the table. She understood no word of it, for “yes” and “no” and “please” and “good” are almost impossible to pick out when talk is in full spate, but it was a language she found pleasant to listen to, with a variety of sounds and syllables that she thought would well lend themselves to any mood or mode of expression.

Her mind began to wander after a little time…

Bob's setlist
no more cake






Bob Fischer and Old Muggins


William K.J. Anderson

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I love World Book Night

Yesterday was World Book Night and Middlesbrough Literary Festival on Twitter asked people to share their favourite books. RESULT below!












As if the ability to thank an author who has given me a lot of joy, whose books I have read hundreds of times over many years, and receiving a tweet in return was not enough, this morning a colleague at work, who was a book giver, had extra copies and handed them out to half the department inspiring the idea of a work book group to take place every few months.

World Book Night is a powerful force.

Programme for Middlesbrough Literary Festival 2012 available here.

If you’re looking for a great story to read with strong and funny female heroines try The Hero and the Crown followed by The Blue Sword.

The covers I grew up with are below. The first, The Hero and the Crown was given to be for my 12th birthday. A classmate gave it to me, I think he may have bought it from a supermarket nearby with a rotating book rack, as a I saw another copy of it a few days later. I ended up reading this book hundreds of times, as comforting as any well worn, fuzzy, blanket.













The continuation of the story was actually released before its prehistory above. I read The Blue Sword, in a hardcover version, many times over taking it out of my school’s library. It may have confused any other students who took it out to see my name multiple times on the card slipped into the pocket glued to the inside of the back cover.

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Bar and Books

Bar and Books
Today was the first Bar and Books. Really happy with how it went and excited that it happened.

Had the idea for a while and loved the book swap at the Durham Book Festival.

20-something people turned up with hundreds of books. yay!

People swapped books for free and if they wanted additional books they paid £1 per book to go to charity. A lovely baker from the Vintage Fair, taking place next door, also dropped off some cupcakes to be sold for charity.

The first Bar and Books raised £13.80.

In the sign in book people were asked to name charities for any money raised to go to. Here’s the list:

Huge thanks to Blu bar in Middlesbrough for having us. They were also kind enough to let us store the leftover books for the next Bar and Books event!

Questions for consideration for next time include whether there should be an admission charge / suggested donation to aid in marketing and make sure there’s money to go to the charities people nominate and also how to distribute to the charities.

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Kickstarter: Replacing the N Word with Robot in Huck Finn

Only 49 hours left! Watch the video – back it on kickstarter.

$1 will get you a pdf and a part in a completely brilliant plan. More will get you art,  robots and jewelery oh my!

Watch the video, really, to see why they’re doing this.

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Recommended Books 2009

Beat the Reaper: A Novel by Josh Bazell – Super quick read, set in NYC which gives me the warm fuzzies when it’s done well ever since I’ve moved away, involves mafia and medicine with awesome  footnotes. A great first novel – can’t wait for the next one.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff – Story set amid polygamy in the US, intense to read.

Juliet, Naked: A Novel by Nick Hornby – Nick Hornby back to writing about relationships and fandom – yay!

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – Vampire novel for bibliophiles with action taking place in beautiful libraries.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows – Tells the story of WWII occupation of Guernsey via letters. Each character has a unique voice – it works and also involves love of books.

Ten Storey Love Song: a Novel by Richard Milward – Set in the north east of England, saw him do a reading from this and you can too. (Not the reading I was at but enjoy!)

I’ve also included Her Fearful Symmetry: a Novel by Audrey Niffenegger. I haven’t read it yet. It is waiting on my bookshelf. I am including it based on how much I loved The Time Traveller’s Wife.

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