Month: November 2014

Renegade Readers 2nd Meeting

Last Thursday Renegade Readers met again at Newcastle-under-Lyme Library. There were five of us which although down on the first meeting was pleasing, with one new person and enough apologies to know there is an interest.

Like October there was a real mix of things read out. For those who weren’t able to attend or who are interested this is what was read:

It is always a pleasure to hear people reading and also finding out! James Kirkup should have been known to me and I have found it fascinating to read his work since Thursday and find that one of his poems, The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name was the one which caused so much furore in the mid 1970’s when Mary Whitehouse took Gay News to court on blasphemy charges (and won) for printing it. I had forgotten about the whole event which filled many miles of newsprint and hours of discussion.

Renegade Readers meets on the last Thursday of each month, at Newcastle-under-Lyme Library starting at 11am until 1pm. In December we are bringing the meeting forward to Thursday December 18th as it clashes with Christmas Day (though I would happily spend time reading!), then in January it will be on January 28th. You are most welcome to attend whether you wish to read or just listen. There is no theme or genre, passages from any book, play, poem can be read out, it is up to those who attend and what they bring. For more information e-mail





On Sunday I got the bus up to Werrington, where I was brought up. At the time we lived there it was still a village on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent, across the road was a track leading to the moors, and there were lanes into rather unremarkable countryside. It was grey and clay. Now there are large estates and a feeling of suburb, but go down Salter’s Lane and Clough Lane and it drops back into the wet farmland I remember with no great features. I wasn’t there to find some sort of enchanted childhood, but found a few gates, rather different than those where I live now. It was a grey chilly day which as soon as I got on the bus home turned into a beautiful sunny afternoon!







Ethical Appetite

I’m not sure how ethical it is to use someone else’s exhibition as compositional matter, but I have, and anyway I am older than he is so am allowed to! In Stoke-on-Trent’s city centre, Hanley, there is an exhibition of photographs by one of my favourite photographers Mark Power called The City of Six Towns organised through Grain and Appetite Stoke. It’s an outdoor show, though my criticism of it is that it doesn’t use the space, it is an indoor show put outside, the exhibition designer could and should have done a lot better in using the space. The photographs don’t really offer me a new or different view of where I live, as I’d expected they are technically excellent, but there are a couple of lazy shots (the elderly woman struggling past a pole dancing class; the homeless man), but everyone working in the arts does lazy work, some make a very good living from it! The exhibition is certainly in a position which many people will see a show and discuss the content, even if as I would guess many disagree with Mark Power’s viewpoint of the city (which I don’t). Many will see the show who would not venture into a gallery, that is important and one of the main points of the Appetite funding. It is also good to get artists from outside the area to show work and work here, too often ‘local’ artists only get funding and new ideas not shared.

So on my first visit  to the show in gloom (it isn’t lit properly) I could see the possibilities for compositions, and yesterday I took a few, one of these I call a lazy image, very obvious.





Mellow Yellow – Burslem Photo Walk 1

Artist Chris Reader led a photo walk around Burslem as a follow up to her PCNS exhibition. One of her main subjects are the double yellow parking lines, so along with looking at the town we were urged to look at the shapes they create, the way they wear down or replaced. I had worked in Burslem for around 10 years and know it ‘backwards’ but oddly except for photographing work events have never photographed in Burslem. So this was new, as was working in a group, there were 7 of us. I probably wouldn’t have covered as much in one go without the group and concentrated on one much smaller area, but I thoroughly enjoyed being with people I had never met (except for Chris). For those outside my area, Burslem is the oldest of the 6 towns which make up Stoke-on-Trent. It is now a bit lost with many schemes to develop it and get it back to its former ‘glory’ which all seem to founder. There are some fine crumbling buildings alongside new builds. I didn’t photograph the feature buildings (the angel on the former Town Hall appears) as they can be found all over the place and it is well worth looking at images of the Wedgwood Institute, an empty building that must be amongst the finest Victorian buildings in the UK. I notice I ended up with a lot of doors and gates.










Dull Day part two…

…so the sun came out amidst the thick cloud. The ‘tunnel’ is just over half a mile away, and of course by the time I got there, the sun had gone, so I took the photograph (about 50 actually), it still isn’t quite what I want but here it is. It won’t go away so I will go again. This version actually used a flash. I only took a monopod and most of the rest were not as sharp as I wanted. I took some more on the way back including as it was windy some long exposures of dead weeds. As I don’t have a car things can change walking over there!