Sunday, 17 July 2011

Well, I've enjoyed my week... how was yours, Rebekah?

everyone got involved. Joanne and Amber planning some mischie... on Twitpic Oliver being interviewed as the cheshire cat at @cheeseandgra... on Twitpic the great kids dressed up for the world record attempt at the... on Twitpic

Enjoy these fabulous pics from - this is what happens when Frome works its magic on a crazy idea.
I'm at home relaxing after quite a busy week.  The Frome Festival is a world-renowned Arts and Culture celebration in the heart of the West Country. Unfortunately this year I have missed pretty much all of it, by making appearances in eight events in ten days. If you haven't heard about the Frome Festival, click here to find out more, or go here to read lovely Crysse Morrison's blog reviews of various Festival events.  I'm going to tell you all about my week, because a) my blog is called, after all, 'Everyone Listen To Muriel', and b) because I've had a simply super time. Thank you.

On Thursday 7 July, I performed a poetry set at the FROME FESTIVAL LAUNCH PARTY. You can read a review of the evening on fellow Fromie Richard Greenhalgh's blog. This was a very exciting evening, sharing the billing with Dizzi Dulcimer, Barbara J Hunt, Benji Kirkpatrick, Morales/Watts and Luke Concannon, as well as films from the talented Media Arts students of Frome College.  Compered by the delightful Dave Clark in a fetching top hat, the audience was treated to a multi-talented kick-off event for the 2011 Frome Festival. Dizzi and Barbara's sound was one of tender beauty, and Leander Morales' stage presence was superb. Luke's set entertained everyone late into the night with his infectious rhythm and vocals, and his energetic connection with his audience. What a night! Photo: Crysse Morrison
On Monday night, I hosted the 2011 Frome Festival Laureate Poetry Slam at the Garden Cafe. Sadly Joel Stickley, the advertised guest poet, couldn't make it - but his place was filled by local star poet Gordon Graft, whose hilarious, captivating verse thrills me every time I hear it. We also heard from Dianne Penny, the delightful Laureate of 2010, and once agin some marvellous contributors in the open-mic slot. A big welcome to Jack Jones, who shared a piece written, in part, right there on the spot: a fresh new talent from whom I hope we'll hear more.  The newly-declared Laureate is David Davies (pictured right): David's words can be seen elsewhere in the frome Festival, alongside the work at Inside Out Artists' Open Studio event, where he created poems inspired by the art. Photos: Crysse Morrison

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I stayed up far too late reading Bedtime Stories. For Adults. Why does that have to sound filthy? As a matter of fact, it was all thoroughly genteel: I may be a poet, rather than a scholar, and a poet who rather likes dressing up and poncing about at that, but when it comes to Literature I favour the classics.  In our adult lives we don't get to hear stories read aloud to us all that often... so this week I snuggled up in the Barn at The Bell, Buckland Dinham, with a wonderful audience, just to share and enjoy some of my favourites.  On Tuesday we heard an extract from Persuasion, in which Capt. Wentworth was tempted to visit Bath; on Wednesday I lined up some choice snippets from Cold Comfort Farm - a lifelong favourite. Finally on Thursday evening we indulged ourselves with a modern classic: The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  What a pleasure to read aloud and discuss some great books! I feel as though I made some new friends.  Photo: Muriel Lavender

Friday: Bells and Whistles! Before I head for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on 5/6 August, I tried out my one-woman show at The Bell@Rode. This warm and friendly country pub-restaurant has recently welcomed David and Sally Smith as the new owners, and it was such a pleasure to perform there that I simply had to bring the whole family to dine the next night. Once again the audience was fantastic, we found plenty to laugh at, and at the end of the evening I treated the adorable chefs to an encore! Goodness, that sounds positively outrageous.  I am sure some lovely pics from this performance will follow, but in the meantime here's one from a previous show featuring my knitted knockers - and a fine pair they are... Photo:Linda Carroll

By Saturday morning I was beginning to wonder what I had let myself in for... but once again the wonderful people of Frome showed what makes them the very best of folk by miles.  The Great Frome Festival World Record Attempt (pictured above) took place at the Cheese and Grain on Saturday 16 July. We may not have made it into the record books, but I think we did something even better: we set a Frome Festival First by gathering together no fewer than 145 people of all ages dressed as their favourite storybook characters. This wasn't just a unique way to spend a wet Saturday morning - this was history in the making! From my vantage point on the stage at the C&G, I could see how children and mums and dads, grandparents, teenagers and high-spirited book-lovers from all over the region had gone to all kinds of effort to make marvellous costumes, in celebration of books they love. Here's the Mayor of Frome, Nick White, reading us all a story about Pants. Continuing the theme, the smaller participants then cried out for a story about Knickers. Still, I was reassured to see the classics represented, from the Pied Piper to Alice and the Cheshire Cat. There was even a tiny participant in an Enid Blyton-inspired outfit, as well as Miss Marple, Mary Poppins, a magnificent Rapunzel and an adorable little visitor from Kazakhstan - whose mamma rushed home to dress her in a traditional folk-tale costume! Well done Frome, you've done it again. Photos:Fleur Rush

Once all the fun and games of the morning were over, and I'd finished my interviews with Whitespace and, I headed for Frome Library, where once again I was indulging my passion for storytelling. This time I was reading to youngsters - introducing them, maybe, to Shakespeare. They were fantastic - we chatted about our favourite books, then I read a superb child-friendly version of Macbeth. Child-friendly, in that the language was rich yet accessible: all the gory bits were left in.  Yay!  A great success, and I have enjoyed some delightful and touching emails and messages from some of those who came along. Thank you to all - I really enjoyed reading to you. This picture of the gorgeous Mark Rylance as Hamlet has almost nothing to do with this bit at all, but I just like it.

 That's it from me for now - I look forward to seeing you at my final Festival appearance on Monday night, in 'Later... with FCC'.  Frome: thanks for the inspiration; Edinburgh: here I come!

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