It’s for you!

Don’t you love to receive a letter? A hand-written and just for you letter?

Jon McGregor, author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, So Many Ways to Begin, and a short story collection, This isn’t the sort of thing that happens to someone like you is professor of creative writing at the University of Nottingham. He edits a journal called The Letters Page, which brims with humour, seriousness, great writing, illustrations and ‘paratext’ – those scribbles, alterations and random marks that make a page more than the words written/printed on it. The journal, though digital, prefers to receive hand-written letters (probably for the paratext). I was fortunate to have a letter published in the ‘in house’ pilot journal – compete with computer generated coffee stain on my subversively word-processed submission. I’m delighted to have now been published in Issue 6 of the www available edition, wonderfully illustrated by Gwen Burns.


The red bits, writing and margin lines, folds above = paratext. Read it and be thankful not to be selling windows (unless you do, of course, in which case you might be glad of the work, and who could blame anyone for that?)

The top left scribble, emblem, emblem print (bottom), folds and discolouration below = paratext



Messiah for Nottinghamshire

In a few hours time, hundreds of singers and instrumentalists will gather at Nottingham’s Albert Hall – a modest building, comparatively speaking – to sing and play Handel’s Messiah. It’s one the of most powerful meetings of text (The King James Bible, The Book of Common Prayer version of the Psalms) and music.

I’m playing / singing all the right notes—but not necessarily in the right order.

Eric Morecombe would have fitted in well with this event. There’ll be singers and players who have never taken part in such a concert, or even attended one. Some of the singers can’t read music, some have done very little singing, but it will all come together. Seasoned singers will have performed the Messiah many times, and a smaller choir, the East of England Singers (of which I’m a member)  are taking on the trickier choruses i.e. the ones with more notes in a bar than some choruses contain in their entirety, such is the intricacy and delicacy of baroque music.

I’ve learned so much that’s invaluable to poetry making through music’s rhythm, phrasing, harmony and discord, and the ways in which these scribbles on a page generate deep immersion and intense emotion .

There’ll be a professional orchestra supporting the amateurs and accompanying the professional soloists. I’m looking forward to hearing the soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists who might never have performed with a choir and orchestra of this size, enthusiasm and mixed experience. It will be fun, it will have highlights, it will terrify then inspire some of the performers. It will bring people together, generate friendships, and be a strong message saying: music is for everyone. Which is why the organization undertaking this project is called, as you’d expect, Music for Everyone.

We’ll angelakaysmlbe led and conducted by the inimitable, and super-enthusiastic director, Angela Kay, who will no doubt come up with further additions to her extensive repertoire of analogies: In those fast sections with lots of notes imagine you’re in a swimming pool, don’t panic, just reach for the side, for the note at the end of the run.

Angela is a truly extraordinary women, her contribution to the music of Notts and the East Midlands is immense. She will have us laughing, we’ll feel anything is possible, there’ll be no shouting (other than to make herself heard) or barking, and it will be an extraordinary day.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Tickets are still available: 7.30pm kick off