Last night Dan, Joe and Nici hosted another marvellous Bad Language evening at The Castle Hotel on Oldham Street.
Dan opened with a poem about the now ramshackle, onetime competition to Coney Island (which will in my mind forever be linked with Cloverfield), then gave up the stage to #beatoff's very own Dave Hartley, with a concoction about the Bridgewater Hall in space. The next #beatoff member, er, up was Tom Mason with a slightly longer version of his 2nd Violin from 330 Words. Also in the first third was Bugged co-creator, prolific poet and fellow boat person Jo Bell, who raised more than a few laughs with Coming, and one of the Bugged contributors, Calum Kerr, with a short short story about one man's innovative solution to writer's block. Nici rounded the section up with a dark tale of seeing in the New Year at Beetham Tower, though not in the traditional way.
After an interlude for recharging our glasses, star-of-the-show David Gaffney gave us The King Of Powerpoint, which I'd seen him perform on Short Story Day, but went down a real treat with the Bad Language crowd. He also read from his new Salt collection The Half-Life Of Songs, which is reviewed by Peter Wild on Bookmunch (where I've also written some reviews, if you're remotely interested). This was the third time I've seen David read (the first time was at the Bad Language Literature Quiz back in September), and I'm worried he's probably starting to think of me as some kind of Gaffney groupie. Or a stalker.
Talking of which, after another break (the drinking is as important as the readings), Joe gave us a stalker story, then, as if by magic, Bad Language newbie Joely "@thecharmquark" Black read Psycho, another 330 Words story, which she even got into character for. #beatoff's Fat Roland also "performed", extracting the letters making up his story, Despondent Correspondent, from various parts of his anatomy and vestments (as well as penning the award-winning Fat Roland On Electronica, he posts creative writing here). Another short story came courtesy of Guy Garrud, a regular (along with #beatoffers Dave and Ben, and John Andrew Hutchison, who I also had the pleasure of meeting last night) at the Manc Spec Fiction group at Madlab.
Then there was little old me. I read one of my new stories, White Rabbits, which involves a character called Alice, a John Tenniel artwork (above), a looking-glass and a life-sized bunny. I'd gone for this as today happens to be the birthday of Lewis Carroll (who, according to Wikipedia, pretty much invented Scrabble, coincidentally the board game of choice on the Bad Language logo). Thinking about it, I should have dedicated the story to rabbit-watcher extraordinaire and natty waistcoat-wearer Mr Hartley (the story even includes the phrase "natty waistcoat". One day I'll share it with you. Maybe tomorrow, who knows).
There were also loads of poets, so once again the evening offered a good mix. In no particular order (largely because, having consumed copious amounts of strong Dutch lager and not bothering to take any notes, I can't remember) the poets included: Dominic Berry, with his vegan-coming-out poem; a (possibly Spanish) lady called Mercedes (@cedered on Twitter); Scouser Gerry, who gave us a great poem about fighting girls on the Scottie Road in Liverpool; Heather, who read last time and this time treated us to the fantastic line "scum of clothes"; Anna Percy, who runs the night (which I think is on Mondays at Sandbar) Stirred: For Women Who Write, and Anna's pal whose name alluded me. Forgive me if I've missed anyone: as you can see, it was quite a roll call.
Finally, news on the night was that, 1) the next Bad Language shindig is on Wednesday 23 February at The Castle, and 2) following the success of I Know Where The City Has Wings and Scattered Reds, submissions are now open for the third Bad Language anthology. All the details are here and the closing date is 2 March. Ace.