Come and swim with me.

On the hottest day of the year I invited all my friends from my facebook page to come for a swim with me and I was really pleased at the responses.

I started at 10am and it was busier than normal as from 9am-11am is normally the domain of the regulars. It seemed I was not the only person who had the idea of spending  the day in the cool. After around 30mins of being in the blue, I was getting messages that my friends were waiting outside and one of my dearest loves, waited an hour to get in! As Record Breakers used to say that’s dedication! for you.

Some of the people who joined me, had either not swam in the Lido for at least 20yrs or had never swam there and I was so pleased that they all had a lovely reaction to being there.  The Lido is such a mix that at one point there was two poets, an actor, theatre director, dancer and two artists all doing laps and the other poet Viv Foster who joined me for a swim was inspired to write the below poem and I just had to share it with you all.

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Water Ways

Waterways move, the water travels

From a place, past you, to another place.

Rivers, streams, dykes and drains, leats, run-offs and overflows

All going somewhere.

This water, though, this rectangle of no tide

No current, no destination, moves through time.

Like the little ripples that flop to and fro

That crumple against the tiled edge and reverse themselves

This water, reflecting sunlight from eight minutes ago

Moves forward and back, past and future,

Time that was and time unborn.

That old green roof is still the same,

The heavy over-painted turnstile still impedes

Each eager, towel-draped body.

So now you can look into the chlorine-scented

Ripple-dappled depths beneath the shadow

Of the three tiered diving boards to see

Me swimming purposefully – eight, ten

Sixteen lengths, trailed by a ten-year-old brother

While the seven o’clock sun shines on two bicycles

Leaning against the wall.

The ripples flip and curve and re-combine and now

You see me slowly performing school-taught breast stroke

Resting at each end. Two, four, maybe a few more

Before going home in a car whose parking

Costs nearly the pool entrance price.

We called it The Pool, not the Lido, it was

The only swimming place that was not a river.

The sun is blinding now, flashing off warm water,

Confusing sight. See me, safe on a rug

By the paddling pool while a twenty-first century child

Toes the blue steps, shrieks a toddler’s joy at the wet,

Demands an audience for his first

Walk in water

And high above, the golden weather vane of Walter Cornelius

Continues to fly above the shining children.

By Viv Foster

July 20th 2016

 

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Oh and I was also joined by a Unicorn, which will be part of an event called Wet Sounds which is happening at the Lido on the 28th of August. The info about the event is here. Check it out and maybe see what that unicorn is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Refraction

Okkee dokkee, I am lucky that as part of my residency to have also commissioned four excellent poets to write about the Lido as well and I enjoy tremendously including other poets in my projects as they  have another point of view and some incredible voices to add and enrich my own practice and ideas. Plus there is power in a number of poets and I love being inspired and the more poetry the better. So I thought I would share a poem from one of the talented wordsmiths I am working with.

The first poet to join me on this wave of Lido goodness is, Charley Genever who is our present Peterborough Poet Laureate and she has done some remarkable things in the last year and she also produces a spoken word night her in Peebo, called Freak Speak & if you can then please go along. Please follow her at @charleyfarleyha or check out her blog at: charleygenever.wordpress.com

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Charley came with me for a swim and this is the poem she wrote afterwards which is incredibly beautiful and touching and I am pleased that 10 lengths with me could help to produce the following.

 

 

Refraction

The water caught in my ear creaks

like a full bag of flour does in your hands.

I haven’t seen you in weeks.

Not out of choice, I just seem to be stiffer these days,

more leather than I remember,

and with all these open ends to tend to

work, deadlines, the dog, poetry, sleep –

my body is made of failed plasters

I float along in bits; spotted and guttural.

I start thinking about you.

Memories we made in water

fall from my sunbeaten back;

a galaxy of flickering fractals merge with the waves

until I am swimming between synapses.

I have two laps left.

Remember our matching red and dotty cozzies?

Two laps. I miss that costume.

How Mum made us both cry from brushing our hair too hard

and it felt like our brains might actually fall out?

Two.

Or what about Squirtle versus Vaporeon in a sea of stupid Magikarp?

Remember the earring I lost, the one with the oval flower?

Nearly there.

And when I swam so fast you said you saw lightning?

One lap left. I’m making good time.

Or that time I dived head-first into you

because I was trying to beat the older boy into the pool,

and you swam to the shallow end to get away from me?

What about the ice cream, oh my god, the ice cream?

The bite marks in the floats,

Your turquoise toes,

The wasp I wouldn’t swim anywhere near,

Handstands.

When you asked me ‘how come the lines aren’t straight?

They look like Curly Wurly bars.

Keep going.

I told you to stop asking and start looking

and dunked your face under, because I didn’t know either,

but I had to find out as soon as we got home,

because I wanted you to learn everything from me,

remember that?

Remember that?

When light hits a condensed surface

like a pool, it kinks, causing refraction

and the angles of intention change.

Sometimes, the rays cross,

and the path becomes clearer, brighter, a caustic.

I’ll call you when I get home.

By Charley Genever

June 9th 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refraction

The water caught in my ear creaks

like a full bag of flour does in your hands.

I haven’t seen you in weeks.

Not out of choice, I just seem to be stiffer these days,

more leather than I remember,

and with all these open ends to tend to

work, deadlines, the dog, poetry, sleep –

my body is made of failed plasters

I float along in bits; spotted and guttural.

I start thinking about you.

Memories we made in water

fall from my sunbeaten back;

a galaxy of flickering fractals merge with the waves

until I am swimming between synapses.

I have two laps left.

Remember our matching red and dotty cozzies?

Two laps. I miss that costume.

How Mum made us both cry from brushing our hair too hard

and it felt like our brains might actually fall out?

Two.

Or what about Squirtle versus Vaporeon in a sea of stupid Magikarp?

Remember the earring I lost, the one with the oval flower?

Nearly there.

And when I swam so fast you said you saw lightning?

One lap left. I’m making good time.

Or that time I dived head-first into you

because I was trying to beat the older boy into the pool,

and you swam to the shallow end to get away from me?

What about the ice cream, oh my god, the ice cream?

The bite marks in the floats,

Your turquoise toes,

The wasp I wouldn’t swim anywhere near,

Handstands.

When you asked me ‘how come the lines aren’t straight?

They look like Curly Wurly bars.

Keep going.

I told you to stop asking and start looking

and dunked your face under, because I didn’t know either,

but I had to find out as soon as we got home,

because I wanted you to learn everything from me,

remember that?

Remember that?

When light hits a condensed surface

like a pool, it kinks, causing refraction

and the angles of intention change.

Sometimes, the rays cross,

and the path becomes clearer, brighter, a caustic.

I’ll call you when I get home.

Replacing water with poppies.

Its been an incredible day! Its been all about the land today, no water metaphors in sight.

I was lucky enough to be asked to write a poem for the Sky of Poppies project which is currently installed in Queensgate shopping centre in Peterborough.

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Created by artist Charron Pugsley-Hill to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and to also to pay respects to the 131 men who lost their lives from this city. The work includes a 1,000 felted poppies, all created by the community of Peterborough. I was asked to write a poem to reveal at the opening and I felt my first edit was very clever and I sent it to Charron and she said gingerly,  ‘I don’t like it, it doesn’t feel right’.

Charron was of course, spot on and I am more than happy to get a commission on the button and I took on what she said and I re-wrote it in half an hour and instead of trying to be all intellectual, I just felt it. When I sent her the final version, I was so happy that Charron loved it because this time I just let my heart write instead.

Please go and see the Sky of Poppies or find out more about  it at Charron’s blog here: http://www.charronpugsleyhill.com/

Its in situ till the 13th of November. Also check out Eve Marshall: http://evemarshall.co.uk/classes/   who also worked on the project too as her felting expertise is incredible.

Oh and this is me performing the poem and trying not cry.  Just click on the link to go through to Youtube: Sky of Poppies

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Me and Eve Marshall bathed in Poppies and sunshine.