I am nearly half way through my commission for The Green Festival 2015 and if you have not read other posts then I am the un-official poet in residence for the bus routes of Peterborough, all this in the hope of exploring the theme of sustainable transport and to show love to these routes that often are shown very little.
I have taken it upon myself to do 12 routes of the city, 6 of the main routes and then 6 of the country routes. I sit and observe the routes, people and the city and I make notes or make recordings of what I see. So far I have done 7 of those routes and after I have done the route then I write a list poem and I have already written an ode, a piece on kindness with a plan for a villanelle. (The villanelle was inspired by the wonderful poet Julia Webb)
When it came to the no 1 bus route which is the largest route in the city and the most notorious I decided I wanted to do this particular passage at night. I wanted to explore the rumours that surrounded this bus route and the only way to do this was after dark. My friend Sue Shields who is a tremendous visual artist asked if she could be my chaperone for this venture and I suggested that we wear beards to be inconspicuous and to also potentially ward off any drunk people. So last Saturday we met in the bus station at 9:45pm, Sue did indeed have a beard with her and homemade flapjack and she decided that she looked like Oddbod from ‘Carry on Screaming’ which I am still laughing about now, please see our photos to make your own decision on that. It was great to be able to chat to Sue as I went around as well and it was really interesting what sparked our imaginations as we encountered the route too, it proved to me that Artists do see the world in a different way, which can be beautiful and insightful.
When we started, we were both struck by how desolate the city centre was for a population of 180,000 and this sentiment followed us as we travelled through the city. There were very little lights in people’s houses, not many cars on the road, not many shops, pubs or clubs open. It felt as though a vortex had somehow sunk the occupants of the city into it. Its not a political stance just an interesting thought and maybe a question for those who organise the city to think about.
As for the rumours of the bus being full of drunk and disorderly passengers, well there was not a sign of disorderly just revellers who had seen live bands or had shared a drink in the post office club, going home and when we chatted to the driver, without any prompting he was really positive about the route and the people it served. My end thought on this is to not believe the hype and if I hear rumours then to investigate it for myself and to not assume or string that rumour out without any foundation.
If your thinking where the heck will we be able to see the work that is being produced then make sure that you check out the Green festival on the 23rd of May from 12pm-4pm and please take at this link for more info: http://www.pect.org.uk/events/green-festival-2015
Oh and if you see me and someone that looks like oddbod on the buses then come over and say hello.