Event: Tramlines 2017

On Friday we travelled over to Sheffield for the first of three days at the Tramlines festival. The poet didn’t take his camera, so these pictures are all from his mobile phone (apart from the nabbed poster).

Tramlines 2017

There are mixed feelings about this annual event. We think it’s great for Sheffield, and the taxi drivers and businesses agree that it’s a lift for them once the students have all gone home (there are two universities in Sheffield and a huge student population) and before the football (soccer) season starts again (they have two football teams too). Others think it should be a free event, as it was when it first started, and will boycott it, insisting on going to only live gigs that aren’t included in the program.

Whichever your opinion, it really does have to be good for business and for live music.

We got off to quite a bad start because we headed over to City Hall, where we thought we had to exchange our tickets for wristbands. We queued up there for over half-an-hour – apparently, they ran out of wristbands! – but when we got to our first main event, we then discovered we could have gone straight there.

Ponderosa at night (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We wasted quite a lot of time and additional taxi fares doing that. And then, to add insult to injury, they didn’t even check our wristbands at the main venue. And they were only checking women’s handbags. They didn’t seem too bothered about rucksacks or duffel bags.

The headline act we wanted to see was over at the Ponderosa main stage, the Libertines. And yes, he really did turn up. The weather was very kind to us – it didn’t start to rain until we were ready to leave. The sound wasn’t great, and the band were pulled off mid-song at one point. But the crowd didn’t seem to mind.

The Libertines, Tramlines 2017 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Saturday afternoon, we went back again, again to the Ponderosa, this time to see Toots and the Maytals. We didn’t get any pictures of these because we were there with family and when we weren’t listening to the music, we were chatting.

Toots was my favourite part. They’ve been going for such a long time, yet he had so much energy and a fine, fantastic voice. Again, nobody checked our wristbands, but we did see armed police today.

Waiting for Toots and the Maytals (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Sunday teatime we were back again, this time to see the poet’s godson in his band the Kavaliers. They were playing the Tramlines fringe at the Rocking Chair.

They did a short set, which gave us time to have a quick chat and then make our way to Devonshire Green, where the next and last band we wanted to see were playing.

The Kavaliers, Tramlines fringe (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We arrived about 45 minutes early and decided to nip into Pizza Express for a quick tea. The waitress said it could be a 30-minute wait, but if we knew what we wanted and got our order in before a hen party that had not long arrived, she’d see what she could do.

She managed to serve us within 15 mintues … but within that time and the time it took to eat a quick salad, a queue had formed outside the venue that trailed all the way up the road.

We waited for 25 minutes in this queue, in pouring rain. The Coral were due to start at 7:45pm, but they held on until 8pm. We missed the first two songs, but landed a nice spot with a good view.

The Coral, Tramlines 2017 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

What a mistake the organisers made in putting the Coral on at Devonshire Green and not the main stage at the Ponderosa. Some people we queued with said there was hardly anyone over there when they left, and here were we with the queue still snaking up the road long after we finally made it in.

We had a great time at this year’s Tramlines. I do think it could have been slightly better organised in places, and security should have been much, much tighter. Next year, however, if it clashes with the crime writing festival at Harrogate again, as it did this year, we might give it a miss.

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Dedicated to my diary (and a list)

I love my diary.

I like to be able to open a book and know what I’m doing or where I’m supposed to be without having to search for the phone or boot up the laptop. Last year’s diary had a lovely touchy-feely cover on it, but this year’s is a more functional, bog standard from Tesco. Last year’s didn’t have enough spaces inside for stuff, but it was nicely touchy-feely.

I like an academic diary too, one that starts in July rather than January. This is partly to buck the trend and to be filling in a lovely new diary when everyone else’s are already scribbled in. But I think it also stems back to when I was a teacher and every year started in the summer with enrolment.

Last night I started to fill in the new academic diary (2014/2015). But it took a lot longer than usual because now it’s not just my weekends and holidays that go in first; the poet’s go in there too. And his work trips. And his gigs.

Usually the session is done in one go, but last night I only managed weekends and holidays and next year’s Big Adventure (which was the first thing to go in there), and it took me All Night.

Because I’m very anal about my diary, I also had to complete this coming week of work, so that I know what I’m doing today for a start (I wasn’t writing a blog … which is one reason the diary’s written in pencil, as it isn’t cast in stone). But also because while I still have a lot of work in I need to keep sight of of when that work runs out. I need to be looking for more work now, or reminding clients that they haven’t sent me any for a while if there’s a gap looming in the near future.

I also had to add in the Doncaster Literary Festival, something that launched last year for the first time, I believe, but something we’d both like to go to this year, especially after I saw it posted on Facebook last night. It’s at the end of May.

I still have the birthdays and anniversaries to put into the new diary, and then the poet’s gigs, our visits to Birmingham and Doncaster, his fishing trips, my Leeds write-ins … then we’ll see what’s available for actual work …

We were scheduled to go back to the Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate at “the start” of this year (i.e. July), but we decided to book another holiday to Dent instead for that week.

So this is why my diary plays such a big part in my working (and personal) life. I love to fill it in because it means I have work – and a life. And here’s this week’s to do list as a result:

  • write blog post x 3
  • daily competitions x 4
  • surf job boards daily x 4
  • pay for Big Adventure
  • diary work (started)
  • write walks report
  • submit walks report to 7 x local newspapers
  • manual edits on non-fiction #1
  • electronic edits on non-fiction #1
  • send non-fiction #1 back to author
  • send non-fiction #1 for typesetting
  • author reviews on non-fiction #2
  • proofreader reviews on non-fiction #2
  • return non-fiction #2 for 2nd proofs run
  • manual edits on non-fiction #3 (will become #1 next week)
  • invoicing (hurrah!)
  • Monkey Dust gigs x 2
  • Leeds write-in (possibly …)
  • Trip to Birmingham
  • Trip to Doncaster

This is why I’m more than capable of sitting on a riverbank, doing nothing and gazing at the water. For hours. When I get the chance.

One I prepared earlier - this is last year's diary for the same period I'm starting just now.
One I prepared earlier – this is last year’s diary for the same period I’m starting just now.

Great weekend

So after the hassle of the past week or so I finally got some time off and was able to enjoy the weekend.

On Saturday morning at around 10am-ish, we headed off to Harrogate for the 2013 Crime Writing Festival. We were meeting Carol there, who was clutching our tickets in her little hand. We made it in good time, with just 10 minutes to go before our event, the New Blood panel discussion chaired by Val McDermid.

The beautiful Old Swan Hotel (where Agatha Christie is believed to have stayed when she disappeared for a few days) was packed again, but the weather was glorious although cooler than of late, so it was pleasant to sit on the lawn after our event with a picnic and a Pimms – my first ever Pimms. (I’m being spoiled rotten at the moment.) Carol and I were also treated to a new book each and it was my fourth time seeing Val McDermid. She told me I’d start to get bored of hearing all the same old jokes if I carried on at that rate, but she always makes me laugh and she always, always has good advice well worth heeding.

After our picnic we parted ways with Carol and nipped into the Mercer Gallery to view the current free exhibition of art. It was all very civilised and we had another lovely day.

A quick pit stop at home, then it was off to see one of my favourite bands with three of my friends. We all had a great time there too. I’m having a fantastic private life at the moment.

On Sunday I had a chat with my dad and with my mom, which is always nice, and then I worked … or I started to work. I’d really like someone to remind me to do my expenses on a monthly basis this year, please. I keep pushing them to one side and then it’s a mammoth task that takes the best part of a day when it would probably take just half-an-hour a time if I just kept on top of it.

I think I’m going to schedule in a new diary item: once a month – expenses.

I also pitched for 3 jobs and was invited to pitch for another. I had one job confirmed, and then another single job made into 2 jobs will hopefully be confirmed imminently. I still need to pitch those 2 writing jobs; this is why I need to keep on top of routine jobs like expenses so I have time to do everything I need to do when I need to do it.

Today, then, that double job will hopefully land on the desk, but I have a book to edit if it gets delayed and the walks report to write. Then it’s going to be busy, busy, busy as I’m a day down this week due to a Do Diddle Day, when I also hope to drive down to Birmingham to see another fave band play, with some of my Brummie friends.

UK call centres (mini rant alert)

So, after spending the best part of a week arguing the toss with a government department and finally getting a result on Wednesday, Thursday saw me hurtling into a similar ding dong with my telephone and internet provider. I really am at the end of my patience, though – what little of it there is – and once I realised I was speaking to another ignoramus  I hung up.

Today I received my customer satisfaction questionnaire … oh, did I enjoy filling that one in this week. Every reply was 1 (totally dissatisfied) and my reason was the script-reading buffoon at the other end.

And so I have made a momentous decision. When my telecom contract comes to an end (end of January), I’m moving to a company that employs British staff on British soil for British customers.

Really, I’m all for helping employment in other countries, but not when they’re total rubbish and less when we have such huge unemployment in our own country. We should get our own house in order before aiding other countries, and, despite being quite the socialist, this is the way I’ll be leaning in future.

I’m sick to death of dealing with incompetents.

My patience is also worn thin because I’ve been struggling with the formatting of a novel I’ve been editing. I’ve already done it once, but it wasn’t translating well to the FTP server thingy, so I’ve had to look at it again and I can’t see what the author has done. I should have saved a version in .rtf, but then I would have had to do a lot more basic formatting too, and they don’t pay me enough for that as well.

Today will mostly be that editing/formatting job. I’ve pitched for another 10 jobs since Wednesday and I’ve done my diary for next week. I still need to get 2 writing pitches out, so I’ll be working for some of this weekend.

I’m off to Harrogate tomorrow with a couple of friends for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival. We had a corking day last year, and the weather looks set to be hot, hot, hot again.

Tomorrow evening I take friends to a gig so they can talk to the band about something.

It might be too warm to drive the dog down to Birmingham (no air-conditioning in the car), so Sunday will probably be a writing day instead. I need to shift some work.

I have lots of writing work to do. I have the novel to be cracking on with, I have those 2 new pitches I need to get out, and I need to get the freelance writing WiP moving again. I have a daily allocation for freelance writing in my diary now and I really should use it. I also have interviews to transcribe for the non-fiction book.

I have a new editing job to start too with, hopefully, another on the way – we thrashed out the details yesterday evening and now I’m just awaiting confirmation.

And I have my tax return to schedule in and an additional application form to complete.

Looks like we’re set for another nice weekend. The rain-dance isn’t working. I’ll have to switch to just talking to the Universe. But y’all enjoy it. 🙂