I went to the South Bank Centre’s Being A Man Festival yesterday and heard a lot about men and mental health, the fact that 79% of suicides are male and that suicide is the main cause of death of young men in the UK. I spoke to volunteers from The Samaritans (where my Dad was a volunteer in the 1970s), and the wonderful CALM Campaign Against Living Miserably. All very inspiring. I talked to people about Nearlyology and began to think that with the pressure on males to succeed and fix things, the topic of what we’ve nearly done may have a special resonance. Nearlysex – which covers sexual failures, fantasies, harassment, friendships etc… is also a topic I’m keen to help men explore. Years ago I was in men’s groups and ran workshops with men, one for boys in a Sheffield youth club, talking about all kinds of difficult things. More recently I attended a Death Cafe (with my daughter, soon after my Mum died), and enjoyed the open conversation around this taboo topic that everyone has something to say about, from the heart wrenching to the hilarious. Now I’m thinking about a men’s Nearly Cafe event somewhere soon.
Wearing my ‘I nearly’ badge still has interesting results. Man in Tesco Metro Hornsey last night asked what it was about. I told him I gathered stories of nearly things and asked if he had one. Immediately he said he’s nearly been in a band. He plays the drums, was invited to join but didn’t feel confident enough at the time. Since then the band has broken up but his confidence as a drummer has grown. Maybe next time. I gave him my badge.
And the waitress in Cafe Circus, Crouch End, asked what the badge was about. I gave her my card and she looked at the site, said she really liked the idea. I thought she’d send me her Nearly Story, but she hasn’t… yet.
About a year ago, my friend Ariel nearly wrote to you for your book about things people have nearly done. But, as he never quite got round to it, I’ve written to you instead.
Hear Andy Leung’s fantastic track featuring my reading of the Nearly Manifesto – and then keep listening to his music. Andy performed in Trafalgar Square at recent Chinese New Year celebrations, and he was a member of Academy Inegales. He’s promised to put out a new track every month.
I’ve had an amazing time working as part of Academy Inegales. Here’s Nearly Music, recorded by Will Crosby who also came up with the idea of the ensemble nearly copying my speaking of the Nearly Manifesto. Recorded live at Club Inegales, Euston, London.
Here’s the video!
Performed at Club Inegales, 7th July, 2016: The Nearly Manifesto, with Academy Inegales.
And here’s an extract from Nearly Music
Academy Inegales perform my song, ‘In The Nearly’ with Nouria Bah on vocals (and I nearly play the trombone):
What a pleasure to work with such brilliant musicians.
Here’s the first animated nearly, made thanks to a course at City Lit. (This is old – just moved it here).
Recently we’ve made NEARLY MUSIC as part of ACADEMY INEGALES & performed in the TIME MACHINE created by artists collective ALL DAY BREAKFAST, in Bath.
Check out the LATEST NEARLIES
Peter Wiegold & Academy Inegales
Happy New Year!
Take a look at the nearly stories written by students on the Creative Writing BA at Bath Spa University, composed on Google Docs and written as a group writing exercise.
This photo of the puppets made by Bee Peak will feature on the cover of the Nearly App being developed by Dan Visel.
I’ve become a member of a fascinating thing called Academy Inegales
Writer Chris Meade recalls the Academy Inégales showcase which he helped curate through a programme consisting of quotations from Rebecca Solnit’s book, A Field Guide To Getting Lost. Read his afterthoughts below.
A Field Guide To Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit is one of those books which for me works a bit like the I Ching; wherever and whenever I open it, there’s an extract that speaks to me. I’m a writer not a musician and when trying to think of a text that could work as the equivalent of my instrument for improvisation with the other members of Academy Inegales, Solnit’s book seemed a perfect choice. I opened it at random and soon found a line to chant: “Nor can I recall what the wine opened up for me.” Singer Nouria Bah echoed the words while I found other passages which felt right to speak with the sounds I was hearing. Until that point I’d known I wanted to be part of Academy Inegales but hadn’t known how I might participate with this talented and diverse group of musicians. Suddenly it was happening.
Afterwards I was asked by Peter and Martin to find a short quote from the book that might inspire each of the members of the Academy to compose three minute pieces working in pairs for our first performance together at the Club. Extracts sprang out from the pages which seemed right for each player. When I emailed quotes to fellow member, violinist Layale Chaker emailed straight back to say: “This is the story of my life in one phrase!”
Her quote was: “The mystic Simone Weil wrote to a friend on another continent, “Let us love this distance, which is thoroughly woven with friendship, since those who do not love each other are not separated.” This is the same section of the book that leapt out at me when I came back feeling sad from seeing my son and his family living happily but far away in Stockholm. It inspired a beautiful, plaintiff duet with George Sleightholme on clarinet.
Other pairings included Martin Humphrey’s tuba and Andy Leung’s electronics recreating lost games of childhood, violinist Joanna Lawrence and tabla player Rishiraj Kulkarni making the sounds of our fear of accident or desertion when visitors don’t turn up on time; George Sleightholme dismantling his clarinet and playing on each section of it. His quote from the book was: “Now it is as decayed as a real book might be after being buried or abandoned, and when I think of the scraps that remain, I wonder what weather in the mind so erodes such things.” The whole evening was a rich mix of sounds and ideas.
I applied to be part of the Academy because I’m always interested in collaboration and this seemed an amazing opportunity to work with some fantastic musicians. I’m a transmedia writer, have recently taken to writing songs but have no musical training, am fascinated by the potential for collaborative writing in the digital age and how writers and translators could improvise live in the way that (some) musicians do, making work for specific times and places. Club Inegales in Euston is an atmospheric basement venue, and to be performing a piece of my novel in progress, creating a soundscape of looped words amidst such pleasurable music was a thrill.
Transmedia fiction involves thinking of a book not as text locked up between covers, but as story orbiting its reader, a landscape that we’re led through by the author who takes us along its sentences and paragraphs, points out good views, sings to us as we walk, hands us keepsakes and clues along the way, leads us to clearings where we can sit and converse about what we’ve experienced and what it’s meant for us. A real life venue like Club Inegales is a perfect laboratory for experiments in ways to make and share poetry and stories. We can put words on the tables, project them onto the screens, whisper them to new arrivals, write on the spot in response to the music, email them later to each ticket holder…
What I like about what (seems to me to be) the Inegales approach is that it uses experimental means to make captivating music. As a writer I’m bored of digital trickery that might look cool but fails to draw readers in. I’ve very much enjoyed the music at Club Inegales as well as been challenged by it.
Words are, quite literally, literal, which means they tend to define what’s going on around them. I slipped in one line from the Field Guide to an improvisation by 12 people and that line soon became the title of the piece. My next challenge is to find ways to include words as a more equal part of our unequal ensemble, so that the spoken word is no more or less important than the piano or the percussion, and for writers to jam together to make something of quality that works in the setting for which it’s made.
I’m looking forward to finding out more about my fellow academicians and the ways they compose and play their music – I know I have so much to learn from them.
Solnit writes: “It is in the nature of things to be lost and not otherwise. Think of how little has been salvaged from the compost of time of the hundreds of billions of dreams dreamt since the language to describe them emerged.”
Since joining the Academy Inegales I notice my dreams often involve a sense of being part of a large group capable of helping to make whatever it is I’m trying to do seem nearly possible.
Here’s the Nearly Pod at MIX DIGITAL 15 Conference at Bath Spa University, 2nd-4th July. The conference included presentations by the legendary Blast Theory, Naomi Alderman, Visual Editions, Florian Cramer… and many more. It was great to see Simon Groth of if:book Australia again, to meet up with good friends and make new ones.
The Nearly Pod, part of an exhibition of digital things, worked very well with people sitting round a table writing and drawing their nearlies. The puppets were much admired too, and I used them in my presentation to the conference about how I’m writing my novel in a transmedia way. I read an extract from the book, perfomed the Nearly Manifesto, shared nearlies gathered – and even sang a little song.
Here are the crop of fascinating nearlies gathered. Thanks to all contributors.
I nearly… became a city cycle courier racing through the streets dodging cars… instead I became an editor – when offered both jobs. Still fancy cycle courier – perhaps later on
I nearly… didn’t get to Istanbul. When I bought my ticket I didn’t know you needed a min of 150 days left on my passport. I had 154 – phew! Then I nearly didn’t get out. Traffic jams all the way to the airport. If it wasn’t for the skills of our ex-military commando taxi driver I might still be there now.
I nearly… went to Manchester (Salford actually). For the simple reason that they ‘headhunted’ me. Instead I held off and was accepted by the art college in Dundee. Look where that got me. – g.h. tims
I nearly became a biochemist… Instead I changed to study History… and became a journalist… a publisher… a writer… a nearly poet… and nearly many other things… Now I write about the natural world and the essence of living things; instead of their chemistry I try to capture them in words. I think words fit me better.
1) I nearly stayed doing what I was doing, working in a profession I wasn’t happy in, but didn’t have to think too much about.
2) I left. Without a plan.
3) It was the best decision I ever made.
I nearly… told my Indian parents, that I’m not a virgin.
I nearly missed this opportunity for leaving my mark HERE
I nearly… stayed in my perfect life with my wrong husband.
I nearly… wrote something important. something deep that I didn’t want to share, but this nearly project didn’t work for me – nearly got a dark secret but didn’t.
I nearly broke you, one last time, but you wouldn’t come see me.
(This is not a sad story.) Last week I nearly got married. It seemed like a sensible grown up thing to do. We have been almost-married for ten years so it seemed like a good idea. We booked a date at the Registry Office. But that’s all we did. As soon as we did, we both realised at the same moment that we never wanted to get married. We thought we might so we waited. We didn’t invite anyone. We didn’t plan anything. Mostly, we forgot about it and just had fun together instead. We lived our lives wrapped up in each other. We tried to list reasons to get married but couldn’t think of any. So, we cancelled it. I tried to explain to the woman on the phone that we nearly wanted to get married but didn’t really want to. She sounded sad. Her job was about helping people get married.
So, a week ago we nearly got married but we didn’t. I had completely forgotten about that, until this moment. It all seems a bit silly now. Good job we never told anyone else. So, instead we shook hands and agreed to stick together, be kind to each other and not mess this up. The End.
I nearly… got a job at Oxford Uni. Was second. Now at Bath Spa. V. Happy.
I NEARLY NEVER WON A RACE… I started before the whistle.
I nearly had a transmedia show made – TV drama, TV chat show, internet elements, novel. It nearly happened in Spain with nearly the best production company, distributors etc. It nearly made me feel I’d done what I nearly have done before – shown what I can do. The Spanish crash made this only a nearly. It’s ok though, it grew me and changed everything and I’m nearly settled in that new me. – Elspeth at Mix
I nearly… caused a fire whilst cooking chicken nuggets. Instead I switched the grill off & ordered Pizza
I nearly… plunged into digital media but THEN I found myself writing a novel AGAIN…
I nearly… went to east Ukraine now but my family are persuading me not to go because it is too dangerous. So I probably won’t…
I nearly…married a burglar. I didn’t know he was at the time. There was just something off about him. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But it had all happened so fast anyway, so I put a stop to it. Six weeks later I was burgled. My laptops, all the digital gadgets, and my car keys (and my car) all gone.
Then he phoned me and said “I had a premonition, a feeling that something bad had happened.” and he thought I didn’t know. I changed my number.
I nearly… grew up in another country – the country I was born in but moved away from at a young age. This other me, however, still lives there. I am quite sure of it.
I nearly became an antiquarian bookseller, a singleton and a coffee drinker. Instead I set up a business embracing the early morning and thrilled myself with herbal tea.
I nearly had a very serious head injury that almost certainly would have killed me when I fell out of a Range Rover (don’t ask). Instead, I hit my back and the impact my back took, lessened the impact on my head. I was in hospital for a week with a minor head injury and just got out in time to go to university.
THE MAP… (secret map – I’m not drawing it) was beautifully and drunkenly drawn by a colleague I don’t know very well. And I NEARLY told him I love maps but I never use them to find the way, but I didn’t because then he would have stopped drawing and then I wouldn’t have seen the bridge on his map with buildings on it. A bridge I thought I’d dreamt or imagined, but I must have seen it when I last came to Bath when I was 10. As soon as I saw the bridge on his map I remembered the labyrinth but when I pointed to where it would be on the map he said there was a rugby ground there. When I got off the boiling hot train I nearly didn’t use his map because I like to find things by chance, but then I got it out and found the way . I NEARLY didn’t go into the gardens near the bridge because you had to pay, but I paid and I could see the bridge but I couldn’t see the labyrinth but I did get to sit in a deckchair. Then I left the gardens and I NEARLY didn’t look further for the labyrinth in case I had imagined it, but I walked a little further and it was there. I crossed the bridge and found it’s actually a maze. I NEARLY walked round it. WHen I went to Bath and NEARLY walked round the labyrinth (that isn’t actually a labyrinth) thst I’d NEARLY completely forgotten about. I NEARLY didn’t go to the pub because I had to be up early for a conference, but I went. I NEARLY said no to a G&T, but I said yes and that was how I got the MAP…
I nearly didn’t fill this in because of spoiling the blank paper but if I didn’t act and only nearly did this then I realised I wouldn’t be able to join in and I do want to join in – so I will try to do instead of nearly doing!
I nearly successed!
Rough designs for the book app.
Here are the first two of three glove puppets designed by Bee Peak, cartoonist of Dodo Pad fame, which will be used in nearly workshops, readings and animated sequences of What Didn’t Quite. Meanwhile I’m doing a Flash Animation course at City Lit, London, and attended a day on Writing for Puppetry at the Little Angel Theatre.
Here are a few nearlies from a successful workshop at Bath Spa’s Early Years Research Conference last week: https://nearlyology.net/read-the-latest-nearlies/. Next up is a workshop at the Mix Digital Festival at Bath Spa later this summer.
Meanwhile I’ve finished a very rough first draft of the whole novel and started talking to an excellent app designer about making a demo of the piece.