Poetry and a Pint, St James' Wine Vaults, Bath, Monday 14 May (from 8pm)
The Museum of English Rural Life, Reading, Saturday 19 May (from 6.30pm).
Here's a not particularly typical poem from that collection:
All through her second wedding, your sister carried white lilies.
She chose Psalm 23 and we duly mumbled
‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’,
thinking this is more like a funeral
and trying not to giggle at the serious bits.
You dug me in the ribs and said,
with more feeling than you meant,
that this is what passes for life in Portishead.
Outside – we nipped out for a fag during ‘Abide With Me’,
tip-toeing past weeping aunts and teenage sons
in suits they’d bought for work experience
(a row of bulging parcels waiting for collection) –
outside you breathed again and then you said
how glad you were you’d escaped
what passes for life in Portishead.
And when you kissed me in the graveyard
with its blots of dead confetti like giant flakes of dandruff,
I was thinking: Yes, thank God, thank God,
if it hadn’t been for this town’s deep chill,
its icy politeness and evening classes,
its Sunday lunch drinks and over-cooked roasts,
the dismal rain on the Lake Grounds of a Saturday night,
if it hadn’t been for the gossip which spread
like a bushfire when you dyed your hair red
and started hanging out with unsuitable types
who played in punk bands like Chaos UK
or limped along the high street on farting Vespas –
if it hadn’t been for this town’s desire
to disapprove of all it didn’t understand,
you’d never have run for Cornwall and the sea,
you’d never have run for a place to call your own
and you’d never have run into me.
In the doorway of the church, I almost smiled and I almost said:
there are so many reasons I’m grateful
for what passes for life in Portishead.