Was She Worth It?

I’m not sure whether I’m going to keep this title for my version of the Knight’s Tale but it’s quite apt. ‘Was she worth it’ is bingo jargon for 76. The number isn’t significant for my tale but the sentiment is. Great for a working title anyway. And, of course, bingo is all about gambling…

Have been rubbish at keeping up this blog because I’ve been writing. Once I actually put pen to paper, as opposed to trying to hold it all in my head, it was good fun and flowed quite easily. I like writing in this strange rhythm. But I’m going to change the rhythm in section two and walking through town this morning (I get lots of ideas when walking) I got excited about possible interruptions to the text, breaks in the flow, as in the original where pilgrims ask questions etc. So someone has to say House, or whatever they say. And it has to be relevant to the plot, not a device for it’s own sake. And later, one of the callers has to stutter or blank or something. Will be great fun technically trying to pull it off.

But enough background, here’s a version of section 1. May change once I’ve got to section 4 but about time I posted some new poetry: 


Two men in love, alas, not with each other,
with Emma, who loves numbers more than men;         
her sister, women’s libber, Hippy Lynda;
The Elephant, South London’s sparkling gem

whose shopping centre was to be demolished
but, darling, retrobranded by a queen          
who sprayed it glitter pink, and Bingo Palace,
more palace, now, than bingo, sets the scene

where both our men moonlight as bingo callers –
‘The Blues Brothers’, a double act, in debt
but dressed up to the nines. A million dollars
enters the hall. They haven’t seen her yet.

The mirror ball is spinning and the players
sparkle with youth, forgetting who they are –
the Dancing Queen with two left feet, the famous
Two Fat Ladies sitting at the bar.

Two men enter the stage as something fatal
enters the hall. A pause, and they begin
their double act that poses as a battle
of numbers, short and rounded, tall and thin.

They’ll fall in love and fall out with each other,
they’ll fall without a parachute or net,
and both their hearts will break. What are their numbers?
One’s One, the other’s Two. The stage is set.


I’ve been stuck for a while on what form my Knight’s Tale is going to take. I’ve spent the last few years generally knowing the form before the content and it’s how I best like to work. Once I know the form the writing flows. I wouldn’t normally agonise this much but as it’s the first tale and the original was quite conventional, I want to make it a little bit formal. I’ve shied away from blank verse ‘cos it’s not flamboyant enough for a drag queen. But I’ve also shied away from heroic couplets: the tale will be quite long and whilst Chaucer could get away with it i.e. he was the first to use it extensively, I don’t think I can. I’m toying with the idea of iambic pentametre rhyming (abab) with the ‘a’ line being hypercatalectic i.e. one syllable longer. I keep thinking I’ve read something recently that uses it so if anyone out there knows, let me know. It has the ballad, storytelling feel yet maintains a level of formality. I’ll use quite a few near rhymes too to give it texture. At the moment it feels right. I now feel I might be able to write the 50-word biog for Queen of the Castle (for the Parson’s Tale it felt essential to write the biog before the tale: in this case I have a sense of the character and some lines – all in my head). I wrote morning pages (one evening!) last week but didn’t write any of the tale. I needed my computer. It felt sad being so dependent on modern technology, I used to love the act of writing, the physical feel guiding the pen, of creating something tangible. Now I enjoy the fact that any old drivel can look as if it’s published. Very dangerous for the drafting process. At any one sitting I might get through two or three drafts before printing it off and calling it Draft 1. It seems such a waste of paper to print off every draft, especially when I might be reworking a particular quatrain as opposed to going through the whole poem and making changes.

Amy Riley from the Arts Council is writing a case study on Roving Mic for their website. It was good to give her some feedback, reminding me of the wonderful opportunity before me and that I need to get a move on and write on the computer (as opposed to ‘writing’ in my head). The problem with me writing in my head is I write ten words and delete twelve. Also, it reminded me to touch base with this blog. The holiday was great (and I did actually read Part 1 of The Knight’s Tale in the original) but I’ve got out of the writing habit. Also, a few personal things have infringed, a couple too big to ignore but they must firmly be kept in their place when I sit down to write. Thinking about it, maybe morning pages will help at this stage to get rid of the chaff as the parson would say. I wish I could commit to rising half an hour earlier but this is already happening as both children seem to think British Sumertime means sleeping an hour less every night and rising at six. I don’t do six o’clock unless it means going to bed at nine in the evening (or preferably nine in the morning for an early siesta). Going to bed at nine in the evening would mean I wouldn’t have an evening. Anyway, it feels good writing this and as I’ve had a really frustrating day (and now wish I’d committed to writing all day rather than doing house stuff) I’m going to sign off now and eat, and later curl up with some poetry, preferably in i.p (abab).

Queen of the Castle!

I’ve conceived a new character. Not a Knight to tell the Knight’s Tale, but a queen, a drag queen! I think it was inspired, if that’s the word, by visiting the Elephant and Castle shopping centre and remembering it’s camp as christmas days but noticing the Bingo Palace on the second floor and letting my mind wander. I did a virtual tour of various Bingo Palace’s which were quite disappointing. I was expecting the camp Victorian-style venues with red velvet curtains and mirrorballs. Instead, they looked clean but cloned. Part of a chain. Which they are. So I decided Bingo Palace should be rebranded (like Margate) and in doing that, the whole of the shopping centre would be glammed up. So I have a few ideas which I’m not giving away at the moment, not that I’m being precious or superstitious. Just that I’m going on holiday and haven’t packed anything yet. But was feeling guilty that I’d neglected this blog recently so wanted to touch base before disappearing. Worry not. The Canterbury Tales (as opposed to Chaucer’s Complete Works) arrived so it is on my bed to be packed. It will be my bible, my complete works of Shakespeare on the (desert) isle of Purbeck. Wish me luck!