Lyme Regis is the place responsible for nurturing and birthing some of the most creative thoughts that have ever rattled around my head and if I could do that languorous author thing where you just sit around and pour them out all day, I surely would.
Living in Lyme during the spring, summer, autumn or winter is nothing short of amazing. You might find this hard to believe but some people moan about being here off season, because there’s nothing to do; I think if grey cells were taxed, they’d be due a rebate.
Personally, I quite like the fact that the nights draw in early. You can hear Mother Nature keeping herself busy turning all the contrast and brightness down. I can wear my longest charity shop jumpers (I favour their kidney-warming capabilities over fashion any day). My overriding cooking dilemmas are what colourful veg and lentils to combine in today’s fart-foodie casserole and I can eat porridge more than three times a week without appearing boring. I enjoy keeping the warm in by drawing the 3.5 metre lined curtain across the single glazed, Grade II listed energy vampire of a window on the landing and I have a valid reason for turning on the three gorgeous old lamps in the office in the early afternoon. Their eco-bulbs cast a sumptuous soft glow around the room and they make me want to snuggle up with a large hot mug of tea whilst listening to classical music and writing life-affirming poetry and diary entries in secret books with beautiful covers that I’ll hide somewhere and my grandchildren will paw over them fondly when I’m long dead, saying, ‘Nanny West knew what it was all about, didn’t she’…
I’m also quite happy with the brisk reality of having no central heating because it presents me with a valid reason for taking my husband to bed early to fool around and keep warm, although keeping warm isn’t the primary driver (I’m not bloody dead yet). Unfortunately, the reality of work generally presses and like everyone else who dreams for a living, I have to dedicate most of my working hours to, you know, working.
On the subject of the weather, however, one personal downside to living anywhere during the chillier months is they tend to make me want to stay in during the evening. I am a very happy home bird, but if everyone that resided in a tourist reliant home town stayed in from November to February, their wonderful restaurants, cafes and shops would go bust in a heartbeat.
In late 2015, Simon and I decided it might be fun to create an event that sated our love of (a) the spoken word (b) delicious vegetarian food and (c) doing something in the evening on the weekend. We knocked together Vittles & Verse, a stand up poetry night hosted at Keian Gillet’s mouthwatering Galley Cafe on Broad Street in Lyme Regis on the second Saturday of the month and here we sit eight months on. We have some cracking regulars who come along to simply listen and lots of fabulous local poets who perform including Rob Casey, the Bard of Exeter.
It is a date that I truly look forward to embracing with open arms and despite the fact that I love it, I am really crap at penning my opening piece to kick proceedings off with! I usually do it last minute and I really mean, last minute. I have been known to scribble out my closing stanza while Simon has been setting up the amp and microphone on more than one occasion and whilst I recognise it can be fun to set yourself a time challenge to write a poem, completing it just before you go on stage is probably pushing it.
Anyway, I thought I’d share with you the poem I performed on Saturday just gone, finished 5 minutes after I should have been at the venue – thank God it’s only over the road…
The Afternoon Kip
I’ve had a lazy afternoon, we chilled and watched some telly
I had a glass of wine and crisps and nuts to sate my belly
The leftovers from last nights dinner would serve as early tea
I figured a crafty kip might squeeze a poem out of me
Life just got in the way for me to pen a nice fresh piece
I searched this week to find creative writing elbow grease
And by Saturday midday I thought, there’s no time to do it
It’s late, anything done will be rushed, I’d gone and bloody blew it
But with empty glass in hand at 3.15pm the bed sheets called
They tempted me upstairs and said I’d find one if I sprawled
So I got undressed and crawled under the sheets; my brain ignited
My poemy grey cells lubricated; I got all excited
My eyelids closed and I began to receive words in rhyme
But the Shiraz batted them all back; I needed sleepy time
I skipped right off with Morpheus as I starfished in the bed
Stanzas galloped towards me just like bardic thoroughbreds
An hour went past, then my lovely man woke me, brew in hand
And said, ‘The poem police were coming to put me on the witness stand’
I felt like a kid who’d left their revision until the last minute
There were only 60 of them left, could I please find one in it?
All the clever lines I dreamed up had now upped and disappeared
My reputation for poetic stand up would clearly be smeared
I’d have to look humiliation in the face and suck it
Or confess I’d had a crafty, lovely kip and thought oh fuck it
There’s much to be said for letting all the pressures go
It’s liberating to reject your angst; learn to say no
And if you find your muse and write that’s, good but never fret
Sometimes it’s time for cuddles and wine and the television set
If you fancy a cracking night out in Lyme Regis, come to the next Vittles & Verse on Saturday 11th June at 7.30pm. Entry is just five of your good English pounds and all performing poets get free cake!