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A day in the life of Joan...

After her initial email (a day in the life of…) I have extended the fictional email correspondence with Joan - one of the characters in 'Altered Egos'.

Hi Joan…seems to me that you (and the kids) could do without the same old wallpaper, pet… I know your mum drives you mad but as you get older you realise that these things come as standard eh? im so relieved to hear you put the portrait into storage. I know you’re juggling fire Joan, but if there’s anything I can do... ?

Thanks…no I'm fine. There’s been no real interest in the house yet, but I know these things take time. The weather here has been lovely. I'm so glad we came away; really doing the kids good. Hope you’re well?

Hi… hope all's well with you Danny and Chloe. Glad to hear you’re resting. I was talking to my neighbour today and her brother is moving up your way for a year in June, July…something to do with work? Are you still considering letting the house? If so shall I give her your number?

Hi. Yes please do give her my number. Thank you. Strange timing as I'm going back to Manchester on Thursday… cant stay away forever. Would be great if your neighbours interested…

Hi…I thought you said you were staying with your mum another week? Why the sudden change? Is everything ok?

Hi yes everything’s fine…ive just decided that its time I went back to face the music…as I say I can’t stay away forever. I’m also aware that the kids are missing their friends bless them…they don’t say but I know. My mums  been amazing Bernadette im going to really miss her. There’s a great little saying I heard once it goes…Q: ’why is a woman like a teabag? A: ‘because you don’t know how strong she is till you put her in boiling water.’ Well my mum has shown her true colours this time. It's ridiculous but I feel I’ve got to know her more in these last two weeks than in the rest of my life. I'm ashamed that it took this to bring us closer again. All that wasted time… over nothing when you look at it in perspective. Ridiculous.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 12 December 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 14 December 2011

A day in the life of Sophie...

To further my conversations with the characters in 'Altered Egos' - my series of monologues - I have extended the fictional email correspondence with Sophie. Let me know what you think?

Hi Bernie, thanks for your texts/calls. Sorry I haven’t replied. Is there any chance you’re free to help me shift the last few boxes? The house is being valued Tuesday. It's still a tip but I’m just useless when I’m there on my own (even in the daytime now). I’m sure these tablets the doctor gave me aren’t helping. I went round there this morning to collect the post etc. but his car was outside… I just can’t face him Bern… Christ what a bloody mess. Lots of love Sx

Hi… come on Soaf! You promised you’d keep in touch and let me know how you’re doing this time? Yes, I can only imagine what you’re going through but come on… play fair… after all let's face it soaf... when things get ugly it's not just you that hits the fan is it? I must admit it did add insult to injury when having not contacted me for weeks you only do so to ask a favour. You know I’m on your side here pet, but you’re going to have to start pulling your own weight (or at least try to). I’m not being a bitch Soaf, I’m just saying what you need to hear. That’s what friends are for eh? I’m in tonight… if you call me (!) we’ll work out the boxes etc…SHIT its just started raining and ive got washing out. Talk later x

I know and I'm sorry. John sorted the boxes in the end, so don’t worry about that (thanks anyway) good news… the house is worth more than we thought so that’ll make things a lot easier. John's renting a flat in Portslade but I don’t know if he’s still seeing her and I don’t know if I want to know. I’m still at mums. She’s been great... don’t know what I'd have done without her. I watched ‘Withnail and I’ last night. Remember it? Reminded me of uni… Jesus we didn’t know we were born eh?... lots of love x

Hello petal you sound perkier…! Im glad you stayed with your mum…(a miracle!) You're getting on so well… has she had a personality transplant? Don’t forget…if you fancy a change you know where my spare room lives! It was great to talk on the phone last night… I'd love to meet up Soaf. Let me know when you feel more comfortable about leaving the house. I'm really proud of you Soaf…love as ever xx

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 2 November 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 12 December 2011

A day in the life of Patsy...

To further my conversations with the characters in 'Altered Egos' - my series of monologues - I have extended the fictional email correspondence with Patsy. Let me know what you think.

Dear Miss Cremin
Automated reply… Please note that all correspondence with Miss Devlin must be sent via Dr Harvey’s secretary. Thank you.

To whom it may concern, can you please advise me how to make contact with Miss Patsy Devlin. Thanking you kindly.

Dear Miss Cremin thank you for your email regarding Ms Devlin dated 30 october. I am afraid Dr Harvey is on holiday until 19th November. If you would like to contact this office there after I will forward your query for his attention. Yours (pp)

Dear Dr Harvey I trust you had a pleasant holiday. Can you please advise me how to make contact with Miss Patsy Devlin. Thank you kindly…

Dear Miss Cremin. I understand that you wish to make contact with Miss Devlin? In order to take this request further can I please ask you to email my secretary on or call 01273 679635 to answer a few simple questions. Sincerely

Dear Miss Cremin. Thank you for your call last Thursday. I have spoken with Dr Harvey and bearing in mind the nature of your relationship with Miss Devlin he thinks it advisable not to contact her at this time. He feels she is particularly vulnerable at the moment due to a revised medication programme and is allowing only her parents to visit. As I explained, Miss Devlin is being held under section 3 following the unsuccessful attempt of supervised community treatment following her discharge in August. Her case will be reviewed in april next year. Sincerely (pp)

Thank you very much but what on earth is meant by "the nature of our relationship" that makes it unadvisable for me to have contact with Miss Devlin? How can this evaluation be made when I have neither seen nor spoken to Dr Harvey? Can you please advise me how to make an appointment with him to do so. Thank you

Dear Miss Cremin I am afraid that as you are not directly related to Miss Devlin, Dr Harvey is not available for consultation. If you have any further questions regarding sectioning and related issues please visit or call 03005000927. Sincerely

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 24 October 2011

Last modified by Anonymous, 6 November 2011

A day in the life of Trudy...

Following on from my experiment in writing emails from each character in 'Altered Egos' - my series of monologues in the writing - I have extended the fictional email conversations, starting with the loved-up Trudy! Let me know what you think?

Darling B, Sebastian’s being a real bastard again, not returning texts/calls since Leones party. (Think Jeremy suspects something’s going on but what’s good for the goose!!) He flies back to Dubai on Thursday anyhow so it looks like I’ll be solo in gay Paris after all thank God! Had catch up with Emmy and Jacq on Friday … I’m loving the refurb’ at china white. (Craig’s a genious) Mummy and Daddy are back…tans to die for and mummy’s cheekbones are fab’. Spa at the weekend? Love you darling. Tx  

La-la-la... You posh bints are all the same (knickers/none/coat/fur…make a sentence !!!) Sebs a smart-tart and Jeremy’s a minted gonk …(you know it …you love it … so shut it!) Seems Leonie's party let off a few fireworks!... did you know that some retarded tosser gave her puppy an ‘E’ ? It licked a hole in the parquet!… (My money’s on Jackson the left-field bastard!) Have fun in Paris you lucky bitch… I haven’t been to China-Whites since your birthday (they won’t let me in unaccompanied without a letter from my mum!) by the way… say howdy to Barbie and Ken for me. Spa my arse! Big fat hairy lovin’ sweet-cheeks! Xx

Darling B, No, I didn’t know about the puppy… Jesus Darling do you really think Jackson would do such a thing? Did you see?… Sebastian’s ‘become friends’ with some blonde whore on  fuckbook? I’m sure he does it to make me jealous…

You know I don’t do Facebook  baby girl… You and Seb are you and Seb… that’s why you and Seb are you and Seb!… the puppy died! Hate me if you need to but there’s too much nature on the planet if you ask me!...bfhls xx

Darling B, Oh I do love you Darling! He hasn’t changed his relationship status! I D.D. last night…his phone was off… I know he does it to make me jealous…Tx

She’s probably riddled…move on petal … God I’m so fucking bored… had an EBTG and Stella night last night… (period's due!). Craig sent me a link to his website… Jesus… he really is a real life celebrity. I knew he’d make it. He deserves it! I just hope it don’t fuck him up. He’s not as risqué as he makes out you know. Bfhls x

Darling B, he called last night… pissed, but he still hasn’t changed his status! Fuck periods Darling…try Tanquachin… some Chinese/herbal shit my shiatsu therapist recommended (love her Darling… I haven’t had a period since August)… Paris next week. God I’m so fucking bored! Love you Darling.Tx

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 19 October 2011

Last modified by Anonymous, 6 November 2011

A day in the life of Altered Egos...

I've written myself an email from each of the characters in my series of monologues 'Altered Egos' in an attempt to give a feel for the ladies and hopefully whet your appetite... for their story/situation (perhaps even my relationship with them). Let me know what you think?

Darling B Sebastian’s being a real bastard again, not returning texts/ calls since Leones party. (I think Jeremy suspects something’s going on but what’s good for the goose!!) Anyhow he flies back to Dubai on Thursday so it looks like I’ll be solo in gay Paris after all thank God! Had catch up with Emmy and Jacq on Friday…I’m loving the refurb’ at china white. (Craig’s a genious) Mummy and Daddy are back… Tans to die for and mummy’s cheekbones are fab’. Spa at the weekend? Love you darling. Tx

Hi Bernie Thanks for your texts/calls. Sorry I haven’t replied. Is there any chance you’re free to help me shift the last few boxes? The house is being valued Tuesday, its still a tip but I’m just useless when I’m there on my own (even in the daytime now) I’m sure these tablets the doctor gave me aren’t helping. I went round there this morning to collect the post etc but his car was outside… I just can’t face him Bern… Christ what a bloody mess. Lots of love Sx

Dear Miss Cremin Automated reply… Please note that all correspondence with Miss Devlin must be sent via Dr Harvey’s secretary. Thank you.

Hello Bernadette I hope you’re well. I thought you’d like to know that I’ve decided to sell (or rent) this place after all. How could I stay? What on earth was I thinking? I’m taking the kids to my mothers for a while now that its all over…(before it all begins…) By the way I took your advice and put the painting in storage. Thank you Bernadette. All the best. Jx

Yo babes!! Here’s that number for them half price vouchers Kaz was on about.…not much going on here darlin’…same shit, different day. Looking forward to Friday…don’t forget The rollover kicks off at 7.30 so don’t be bloody late again. Take care hun. Tx

Hi Bern Thanks very much for your email. I was surprised they let you have my address (but I guess life is going to be full of surprises now) of course I’d love to see you, when will they let you come? Please don’t worry about me Bern. It's ok here. It may sound crazy but I have never felt so calm as I do now. Take care. Love as always your friend Vx

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 17 October 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 November 2011

Six birds v a one-trick pony

I was bored of the sound of myself, aware I had become ‘safe’ as an artist and thus petrified at the prospect of grazing my days away in the paddock for one-trick-pony performance poets.

So I polished my tie, combed my cufflinks and decided to smarten up my act. I think I just needed to convince me that I was still convinced by me. After all, if I was tired of me there was no hope for an audience or reader was there?

I think it’s sometimes easy to forget, as artists, what we’re doing and why. Although I am often redeemed by the restless seed sewn by Chris Savage in the late 90s in a Big Issue review he wrote for me which read: ‘Bernadette Cremin is the mistress of the underbelly of the human condition.’

It was my first published review and one I cherish because I remember thinking, ‘He gets me/it.’ And if Altered Egos can do some justice toward such an accolade, then I’m a very happy lady because I guess that’s where its heart lies -- in the ‘mucky stuff’.

I’ve always welcomed the (male and female) characters that have waltzed and wombled in and out of my poetry over the years and Altered Egos is, in essence, a homage to six of the women who have been lurking between the lines forever.

The first realisation I made when I started looking closer at my work was how well they had eluded me. I know that sound bonkers. Just trust me! I didn’t really have a structure (clue?) let alone some vision for the show when I first performed it in last year’s Brighton fringe. And in retrospect, I am really thankful for that. Because it literally found its own way once I started following haphazard footprints left through over 15 years of poetry.  And with the treasured help of friends, especially Paul Stones, it proved a priceless adventure.

But now its time to lace up my spats as the journey has just begun now that I’ve started working with the eminent director Mark Hewitt  of  Lewes Live Literature. It’s a prospect which excites and terrifies me in one breath because I know now that I’ll be punching well above my own weight.

You should be careful what you wish for Miss Cremin…

We sat on the wrong side of sympathy

as Dr Scott’s manicured words
outlined the shadow that has crawled
around your lung like spiteful ivy
since last autumn.

For the last time we faced that painting
that hung in her consulting room:
‘Mountain’ (oil on canvas). Abstract.
Signed by a contrived hand, underlined.

For a moment truth made the view bigger.
Outside, London was still happening,
red, amber, green.
Brixton was planning its tea.

You fussed with your cuff like a truant
as the diagnosis was disguised
in plain English for us to take home
to the kids, a gift-wrapped grenade.

Forever gracious you offered to drive
knowing I am petrified of twilight.
We sat, gridlocked, then as if it didn’t matter
you leant forward, let a violin out of the radio.

We pulled into the drive, parked.
Chloe’s bike was still against the shed
where yesterday had left it….
Now is where the end begins:

I’ll start to collect your silhouettes,
fingerprints left on glass and plastic,
your discarded shadows, left-over profiles
and rough sketches I’ll never show you

for the portrait I’ll paint,
David (oil on canvas). Abstract.
To hang at that sly angle
only you would understand.

Posted by Anonymous, 14 September 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 September 2011

I guess it is about time I introduced you to ‘Altered Egos’

Altered Egos is my one woman show. It’s a sequence of six dramatised monologues which tell the tales of six women ‘on the edge’. It aims to weave a loose narrative script with poetry from my three collections.

I first performed it last year at the Brighton Festival (see Colin Hambrook's review) where it won ‘runner up’ for a Latest Award (best literary/performance fringe event.) I was all set to ‘go again’ this year but in true Cremin style having just been discharged from hospital following surgery. I tripped over a bloody golf umbrella (which I’d been using as a walking aid!) and broke my shoulder necessitating more surgery! (welcome to my world!)

Consequently I wasn’t capable of doing up my bra let alone bounding around a stage squatting in the haphazard worlds of Trudy, Joan, Patsy, Val, Tina, Sophie with any conviction! Also, although I welcome a challenge, I concluded that trying to remember  lines on a staple diet of Tremadol and liquid morphine would have proved too steep a ‘learning curve’ for the most hardcore thespian let alone little old moi!

Altered Egos is really the consequence of a ‘happy accident’ in that although I’ve been performing my poetry for more than a decade (ouch!) I’ve never really thought of myself as an ‘actress’ until Emma D’Arcy of Iambic Theatre twisted my arm to ‘go for it’ having seen me read  in character at Jane Bom Banes in Kemp Town.

if I’m honest I didn’t have to waste too much bait luring this rag-bag of women out of their somewheres and nowheres… once I’d lent myself to the daydream they just seemed to cat walk and crawl off the page to take centre stage.

I’ve been asked many times if these women (and my poetry per se) are based on people I know personally or situations I’ve actually experienced… I think this is a very sticky (possibly libellous!) question to ask a writer but suffice to say that I do feel a very real affinity with each one of them and yes, it is true to say that I have grazed in all their worlds in one way or another over the years…

She keeps the bits
of manicure sets
that no one understands

a cheap bottle of perfume
rusted by the sun
she’s accidentally let in

a buckled postcard from Paris
signed by a dramatic hand
and three kisses

rolls nervous chewing-gum
in ash with matchsticks
wears pinching patent shoes

that she didn’t choose and sits
catatonic as porcelain
so close to the window.

Celia has spent herself
dissecting the trivial street
through drizzle blistered glass

oh how she knows the weight
of damp traffic and coats
jamming paving stones

as they shunt home
to migraines junk mail
the same unmade bed

her silhouette is a cut   
out of sour cloud
her shadow a spill

under ugly furniture
that she didn’t choose
her own hostage

in a magnolia room
that lets the cold in,
when no one is looking.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 7 September 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 17 October 2011

Artists and philistines side by side...

I was sent a link to an extract from a book called ‘The Creative Personality.’ I, of course thought DAO readers might be interested in the article but I also wanted to ‘stretch and test’ my opinion of it and so I hosed down the dusty sociologist in me and conducted my own little experiment.

I forwarded the link to three overtly ‘creative types’ (actress, musician, poet) and three self-professed (loud and proud in one case!) philistines and asked them to send me 100 words in response. All replied.

In short all agreed the terms ‘creative/artist’ were problematic in themselves for a host of reasons. It was agreed that creativity is innate and the traits mentioned were simply human and not exclusive to ‘artists’ it was suggested that ‘tangible’ art actually kills creativity…an echo of Paul Valery who once said ‘a poem is never finished, only abandoned.’

It was commonly felt that the article implied that ‘artists’ were somehow ‘superior’ and the implication of a higher IQ was a real ‘hottie’ The point was made that by calling artists ‘complex’ suggested non-artists were simple. One ‘philistine’ was particularly miffed by the intro which inferred that creativity is the only way to achieve true fulfilment and experience the most interesting/important aspects of life thus implying that philistines lead inferior existences.

Feedback re artistic sensitivity was amusing (even if offensive!) here the camps really did divide and the philistines really put the boot in! Interestingly 4 people felt artists were more extrovert and liberally minded where one felt art was a means for social incompetents to express themselves!

Interestingly it was unanimously agreed that such research is a waste of time and money. One respondent even suggested it was only conducted so as regimes can be devised to control/inhibit free thought and expression! What do you think?

Ten Paradoxical Traits of the Creative Personality is published on by academic Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 19 August 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 September 2011

Back on solid ground...

Well my life’s certainly got its hat on back to front after 10 days in the Fair Isle. It proved an itchy adventure (I’ll elaborate later) but first I’m compelled to say how horrified I am about Amy Winehouse. Moreover, I’ve been shocked by the lack of compassion that I’ve seen toward her from some, stunningly even a few of my friends, surprisingly unable to read between the lines of our vindictive media, and see it for the bastard it can be, and indeed the abusive role I suggest it played in her demise. 

I’m aware too, that many of those all too ready to write her off as a ‘worthless junkie’ are ignorant of her music except of course ‘rehab’ (an exemplary  example of market engineering methinks). I’d suggest that Amy was a blessed artist who suffered from one of the cruellest and misunderstood disabilities on the planet, that of addiction. I realise this is an explosive issue, but here I see a typical example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and it is heartbreaking.

Forgive my cynicism but I’d wage a handsome bet that Universal records, who rejected her third album will have it polished and pretty just in time for Christmas following the global success of Amy Winehouse Greatest Hits of course, which I reckon will be on our shelves by the autumn! The awful news was thrown at me by a lard-arsed pubescent girl with bad teeth, relentless NYC accent and bad attitude in the belly of the Kerry mountains where I was chewing my way through a family reunion BBQ! Where were you?...go on…tell us all!... go on.

The main purpose of my trip was to visit my new publishers ‘Salmon’ in Co. Clare, but unfortunately this was derailed after I had two fits at a bloody poetry reading! (O’Bheal) in Cork city (in the pub my dad bought his first pint of Guinness in1949 (looks like God is bored again!) However, a new meeting has been agreed and my collection is still on track for January 2013… happy days!

I’m delighted to say that I’ve now secured two performance dates for my one woman show Altered Egos in October (details soon… please read the review on DAO of a performance I did in Brighton Fringe in May 2010) I’m trying to seduce other venues, which has meant having to meet copious new email addresses (!) and a few new faces (whose names I seem to have forgotten reflexively!)

Paul Stone (my director) has managed to find a free rehearsal space (hero!) and we started kicking it around again on Wednesday. It felt wonderful to let the 6 ladies out to play again. We’ve started working on Trudy first (a rich little daddies girl) as she needs most character development (I would gleefully indulge myself in the method before next weeks rehearsal but alas an uncooperative purse, cockney accent and middle age make this impossible…!) I’m seeing a fundraiser next Tuesday for financial advice (as Paul and I are self confessed administrative chocolate teapots!)

I did manage to scrawl a little ditty this week too, inspired by the paedophile issue in Eire which (as you may imagine) is a wild cannon out there!
I’m afraid that writing new work for Peacock is taking a back seat at the mo’ although I have been cruising round town with photographer and collaborator  Robin James on his dawn photo shoots for my pamphlet due out in Spring… and what a magical time of day it is too…x

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 1 August 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 September 2011

Dipping my toe in the fire

I guess this is good a place as any to start my waddle into the wonderful world of blogging? Until now I like a handful of others left on the planet have resisted spilling myself all over the Interweb as I am a dedicated (aka paranoid!) cynic regarding all things Cyber.

I’m also a self confessed technical car crash and tend to avoid anything you have to plug in (apart from the kettle.) In order to prepare myself for this unknown territory I bribed my foolish friend with a pizza and he came round, held my hand and took the piss mercilessly while watching me bumble my way round

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to the seasoned blogger that it left me feeling a bit like child at Christmas meets dead dog! I found myself both fascinated and bored senseless (sometimes at the same time!) but as this is my natural state of being I conclude that there’s been no harm done!

No I jape…overall I am pleasantly surprised and pleased to say that I’m learning to walk in a straight line again (albeit in baby steps) with my tail between my legs.

I can’t pretend to know where this spooky marriage between me and technology will lead but it seems I’ve officially joined the gang so watch this space!

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 15 July 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 September 2011