Rob Walton is a true gent. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him when he joined Elementary Writers a couple of years ago to give a reading. He’s a warm, funny chap and a brilliant writer.
I’m delighted to welcome him to the blog today. Here’s to a positive 2019, Rob!
Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2018?
There were various acceptances and publications of short fictions and poems, and some lovely dealings with several fantastic/hard-working/unheralded editors. Hats off to all of them.
Performance-wise, there was a gig in praise and support of Cullercoats Library at the Salthouse, which was great fun – with bonus swearing.
And how about a favourite moment from 2018 generally?
Much trickier because it really wasn’t the best of years. Probably pride at our daughters for getting through their GCSEs and SATs, and still being decent human beings in spite of the crap that school and society feeds them. I was also pleased my creaking body allowed me to do my 50th Parkrun. Then there was a strange pleasure in shedding a few tears at Durham Miners’ Gala, the day after being honoured to read at the launch of Paul Summers’s Arise! Luckily, I managed to replace the lost liquid with pale ale.
Favourite book in 2018?
The absolutely wonderful Love by Hanne ørstavik (Archipelago Books), translated from the Norwegian by my very talented mate Martin Aitken.
Patti Smith’s Just Kids. This had been waiting on my bedside table for years so I took it to New York in the summer, but didn’t manage to read it there. Instead, I read it in North Shields on my return. Probably just as well, otherwise I’d have been dragging my daughters to empty spaces/vacant lots in Greenwich Village, saying “Look! This is where she had a bowl of soup with Allen Ginsberg!”
Favourite film in 2018?
I didn’t go as often as I would have liked. I shared some laughs at the Jam Jar in Whitley Bay with my younger daughter, and got moderately freaked with both daughters by The Little Stranger at the Tyneside. I was probably most impressed by Wildlife and the brilliant but unrelentingly bleak Dark River. I was also lucky enough to have a sneak preview of the fantastic Pond Life at Leeds Film Festival. Look out for this next year.
Richard Dawson at the Pitmen’s Parliament, supported by Onsind. Or maybe Laura Veirs at the Cluny – the best I’ve seen her in years, although she’s always been very good. I’d also been looking forward to Misty in Roots at Cluny 2, but someone swapped my Dr Marten shoes for some very wobbly boots just before the gig started.
Favourite song of the year?
Ooh, got to be Russ Abbot’s Atmosphere. I return to it every year and always discover something new.
Any downsides for you in 2018?
Just bits of my life and the death of the Free World as we know it and all that Great Exhibition of the North nonsense.
With the far right on the move and the knowledge things are going to get much worse. I’ve been thinking about the best and most useful way for an inarticulate coward like me to respond. I’m going to make some cheese scones. I might put some chives in them.
Are you making resolutions for 2019?
I won’t actually be writing them down but there are lifestyle changes I want to make.
With my move away from North Shields, I need to get to know the dirty bits of Whitley Bay. I know all about the shiny Spanish City promenade bits, so it’s the underbelly I need to discover: the illicit ice cream dens of Monkseaton and the Briardene stolen conker warehouses.
What are you hoping for from 2019?
Even keel. Light. Warmth. Pale ale with friends. Possibly fewer submissions to magazines and anthologies and more getting my own stuff together. The world to come to its cheese scone senses.