Safety Measures

“Fancy forgetting to buy vanilla essence,” she says to the cake tin. It will have to do without. Bran won’t notice. Or if he does, he won’t say anything. She smooths the batter and layers apple in concentric circles, harder to cut once cooked but prettier to look at. The oven is hot. The last shake of sugar on the top of the cake will burn nicely. She picks up the red, egg-shaped kitchen timer, a present from her two-year old grandson, or so the label said on the wrapping paper, and turns the dial past the wide segments of four and five minutes of egg-timing to the narrower bands of ten.

from “Safety Measures”, in Issue 4 of The Bolton Review, out this week.

Reading in Manchester

Next Monday, 25th April, I’ll be reading averboset live literature night Verbose, at the Fallow Café in Fallowfield, Manchester.

Okay, nothing special so far – but I get to headline with two lovely poets, Anne Caldwell and Evan Jones.

Anne is currently a  Literature Programme Manager for The British Council, which perhaps makes her sound very important. Good. She is.  She’s also a dashed fine poet, and will be reading from her brand new collection, Painting The Spiral Staircase (Cinnamon Press).

Evan is Canadian, which doesn’t matter in any way except that it gives his voice that beautiful Québécois intonation, and gives his poetry a similarly melancholic and introspective tone. And it’s about time he brought a new book out, since it’s been four years since Carcanet published Paralogues.

I think – and this is only a guess – that I’ll be reading a story called ‘Safety Measures’, though I’ll need to check the timings. I hope so, though, as it’s going to be published  in issue 4 of The Bolton Review, so the publicity should help. I understand that some of the other nine published and up-and-coming poets and prose writers performing might also premiere work from The Review, ahead of its launch next Wednesday.

Since being relaunched in January 2015 by Sarah-Clare Conlon, Verbose has welcomed such luminaries of the North West literature scene as Jenn Ashworth, Elizabeth Baines, Sarah Butler, Aisla Cox, James Davies, David Gaffney, Jim Hinks, Sarah Jasmon, Tom Jenks, John McAuliffe, Ian McGuire, Fat Roland, Nicholas Royle, John D Rutter, Geoff Ryman, Graeme Shimmin, Scott Thurston and Emma Jane Unsworth. Man Booker Prize shortlisted author Alison Moore has also read.

What I’m saying, in a roundabout kind of way, is that if you fancy coming along to say hello and to hear some excellent live literature, then I’ll see you there – the  Fallow Café, 2a Landcross Road, M14 6NA. Free entry, and doors are at 7.30pm. See http://verbosemcr.wordpress.com.