Night Owl: Extravagance at Number Nine

When I first moved to this city, I knew I didn’t want to fall into the eat, sleep, work, repeat rhythm that sucks all of the joy out of life. One of the reasons I am determined to branch out on my own is because it ensures I get to stay geographically close to the people who matter most to me. I went out with my friends on Saturday night, not, as one might expect, to a rowdy nightclub in the centre of town, but instead, to a nearby apartment block, for a dinner party.

Terribly, I did not get one picture of the marvellous spread our hostess laid on for us. She did a wonderful job at catering for my gluten-free needs. There was special bread, houmous, vegetables, roast peppers and sweet potatoes, roast tomatoes, cheeses and plenty more for us all to share. The evening was made complete with flowing wine and this delight:

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Our hostess is a talented chef and this pavlova was to die for. I did have seconds and I don’t even care about admitting that. She had foraged for the blackberries that were grown locally and whipped yoghurt into the topping to give it a tang. A wonderful time was had by all who were present.

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But after having an evening away from rationed food, I did notice more of a bloating sensation than I have been experiencing lately. It was a treat to have a meal with friends, don’t get me wrong, but I am becoming more and more convinced that rationed food is the way forward. I’ve also lost three pounds in the last week and a half. Now, I do have a fairly active job, but still, I think my shift in diet has played a role in that weight loss. I know I will have other blow-out dinners in the future, but for day to day eating, rationing wins for me.

The centre of the universe

It’s not the norm for me to post on Sundays, but this is a post that deserves to be written as soon as possible.

On Friday evening as I ventured into town, I saw many new University students. The Freshers were grasping Sainsbury’s bags, laden with various cans and bottles. They were inevitably making their way to pre-drinking parties before the big party at the end of Fresher’s Week. I wasn’t going to this party. I was heading to the grounds of Winchester Cathedral to take part in The Big Sleepout.

We arrived, registered and listened to the welcome speeches about the event. We then went to the sleeping area. Many groups who had arrived earlier were drinking and laughing, tucking into the hog roast and browsing the stalls. It was a party atmosphere. We lined our own area with black sacks and laid down the sleeping bags side by side. The witty conversation and piles of sweet treats did make me feel at ease, like I was camping. Even when we retired into our sleeping bags, I felt optimistic about the night ahead. The full moon was shining brightly and the starry sky was beautiful to fall asleep beneath.

But sleep evaded me. Even with our blanket of bin bags, the grassy ground offered little comfort. I was constrained by my sleeping bag but I didn’t dare leave the safety of it. The Cathedral bell tolled frequently, dragging me back into consciousness just when I was on the brink of sleep. But the worst obstacle was the cold. Although my body was insulated, my face and hands were not. I stuffed on gloves and pulled up my hood. I rammed on a hat and pulled the brim over my face. But the biting cold that centred its attack on my nose kept me awake. Eventually, exhaustion overcame me and I secured a couple of hours of precious sleep.

In the morning, I sat up and surveyed the scene with bleary eyes. Participants were eating bacon sandwiches and cupping mugs of tea. It was then that I realised that this activity was not about me. This was not about my comfort and preferences. This was not about making myself feel smug by undertaking charitable acts. This was not about my own satisfaction. It’s about sharing what you have, your time, money and self, in order to benefit others. Not just when there is an organised chance to do so, but whenever and wherever possible.

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I’m turning 21. It feels correct that I learn that the world doesn’t revolve around me just before I reach this milestone birthday. I have become more aware about the different lives of others and have raised my own consciousness about people and sharing. How very grown up of me.

Night Owl: The Walls Have Voices

An intimate venue, a glass of wine and a bag of Haribo Tangfastic. It’s all very relaxed at the venue for my first poetry performance night. I await the start with bated breath. It’s not an evening I’m used to, but new experiences are wonderful in their uncertainty.

DSCN1229Hurrah for complementary drinks!

            We were introduced to the evening by host Antosh Wojcik, a witty student with clear enthusiasm for his craft. He briefly informed us that each writer would be reading from a different area of the room. The various outposts of the large room worked perfectly with this idea. It became clear that the poets were performing. This was not a boring, monotone reading off the page. Individual voices rose from all corners of the room to immerse us all in delicate verse. The effect of hearing poetry from several different locations was mesmerising. You could hear every word, which is understandably important for poetry. I didn’t know if it was to be a sombre evening, what with poetry being a fairly intimate writing style. My doubts were unjustified as there was laughter in the first few minutes which continued throughout.

I enjoyed the fact that each poem was different and they clearly hadn’t been hurriedly written in order to fit a certain theme. Ideas of entrapment, death and inward questioning seemed to appear in more than one poem, but there was no stark moral being shoved down audience’s throats. I appreciated that. It allowed to me to appreciate the poetry for the craftsmanship and emotion that goes into it. Each poet had a definitive style which kept the whole performance light and interesting.

DSCN1224An upwards view of our venue.

            It surprised me when our host introduced a musical act. I’m not sure music has its place in a poetry performance night, I almost want to keep the siblings separate. Matt Jones has a beautiful voice, but it undeniably interrupts the smooth flow of the poetry. He performed with his guitar from a balcony perch that I couldn’t see due to my positioning. Even my fellow audience members gave up craning their necks to watch, instead opting to stare ahead with a glazed expression. The music is wonderful, but I did not buy a gig ticket.

I wonder if it is the intellectual connotations of poetry that is the reason that I’m relishing the evening. Perhaps. But the poems are making me laugh. I’m with friends. The free glass of white wine is going down a treat. Although our adventure with poetry performance ended at the interval (my companion had an early start), I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. This will not be my last poetry performance night.