Universe Rebirth Dream (by )

I dreamed that the world had managed a kind of immortality and two people lived the life span of the universe but though this seemed fantastic it wasn't as it meant the whole universe could not move on to it's next cycle - the problem? Cyclic-evolutionary rebirth - those two people were stuck in their mid forms, in the medium of being, they had not lived out their allotted lives and now everyone was stuck. The god made a parasitic/baby universe from the dying one so that they could become and be once more. But they could not exist on their own so others of the universe had to volunteer to become corporeal ghosts to care for the infants and raise them threw their lives. Violent deaths stunted the process of moving up the spiral of lives that had to be lived so each life had to be lived well and just repeatedly killing them as soon as they were incarnate was out of the question.

Things were also hampered by the flesh ghosts who had a tendency to forget what their purpose was and think they were indeed alive. Their minds took the form that they had been in the most and as human form is the medium average for live, the form that most lives were lived in that was the form they mostly inhabited. There were strange effects for those who thought themselves alive - like being able to fly/float if you meditated and with concentration teleportation of a kind was achievable including breathing in space, sometimes the ghosts tried to kill each other which if they had been within the incarnation cycle would have sent them back a rung or two, the god wasn't sure what to do about that behaviour yet and it really was a minority action, hardly noticeable in the positive karmic stew of the new little life bubble.

And so with snow angles and story writing and climbing mountains and star gazing, the universe creeped and crawled closer to it's next cycle. The other gods admonished the god and said they would have just jettisoned the universe rather than mucking around trying to save it but the god could not waste all those souls that were unique and fully formed in this universe - one day they would be strong enough to break out of the universe and become, no there would be no destruction of souls. And besides this was interesting - they had done something not seen in any of the other universes and the god thought that there were lessons to be learned here. The other gods sneered, the god just shrugged and continued to be an interventionalist in the universe they had designed to run on a set of rules instead.

Horrid Henry isn’t Horid (by )

There is an article on the BBC news website asking - Should Parents Ban Horrid Henry?, my response to this is... NO.

Horrid Henry is not actually horrid - pretty much as soon as you ask should you ban a book the answer is NO (even bad books that really shouldn't exist should not be banned they should be watered down with lots of other books and besides if you ban them you have just made it more likely that impressionable people will read them as they are now EXCITING, it's what I call the prohibition effect).

The stories have progressions where the kids fight and resolve differences and get around issues such as dyslexia and ADHD etc... and the insecurities that brings for kids etc... they are a positive thing. They also covered headlice and all the other little things that dominate a child's world, yes they contain toilet humour but lets face it 6-12 year olds tend to love that sort of stuff (regardless of gender), just pomp loudly in a room full of kids and you'll see what I mean!

Jean's read all the books and for Mary the Too Cool for School episode/film thingy was immensely important as a confidence builder. In the article the actors main issue was that his kid started kicking up after watching it - my take on that... kids go through phases. Jean started kicking after watching Ben 10 the animation - this was a time to teach that you can't just blanket copy what you see.

Also the books have the easy read high content thing going for them which is exactly what reluctant readers and those with things like dyslexia need. They need a story they can get their teeth into and in this case they will often identify heavily with the protagonist i.e. Henry but it is not so bulksome and wordy that they will feel they are grinding their way through them.

Yay so Horrid Henry is not actually horrid!

15 Hrs to Go!!!! (by )

The kickstarter for the Gloucester Poetry Society's book Poetry Without Pretension has made it's goal!

This is epic and fantastic and lots of whooping is occurring and... there are still 15 hours left in which people can jump on board and get themselves some exciting goodies such as custom made wiggly pets, origami cranes and beautiful fine art prints!

Thankyou to everyone who has already backed the project - it means a hell of a lot that the poetry book actually got funded 🙂

Art That Needs To Be… (by )

As I write this there is about 60hrs left on the Gloucester Poetry Societies Kickstarter for their first ever poetry book Poetry Without Pretension. It is a beautiful book full of not just poems but art works and write ups on the poets that have helped create it. The visuals are amazing and are part of the reason that this book needs to be a physical thing and not just an ebook.

The project is so nearly there but as is it an all or nothing project - it could still fall at the last hurdle and that would be tragic. It is a piece of art that needs to be!

We are only about £200 away from our goal, one of the rewards on the kickstarter is basically just pre-ordering the book. To temp those of you still umming and ahhing, here are some of the art works.

This one is a live drawing of one of the poetry workshops I run, the artist Julie Green sat in the room and drew her heart out.

These beautiful bird pictures were created by the artists Dave Seed.

Poetry Without Pretention – Kick Starter (by )

The Gloucester Poetry Society are in their inaugural year - from a little seed idea it has gone from strength to strength. With a growing and inclusive members list, and it has organised the first poetry and spoken word festival that Gloucester has seen, which will be happening at the end of October 2017 🙂

This has been an amazing endeavour, growing from the local community and gaining steadily with national and international recognition. Already the society has been involved in fund raisers and community workshops, giving back to the society and landscape that has fostered it's development. It has even been on tour!

As part of the festival and to mark our First Year Anniversary there is to be a book - a lovely book full of the richness and diversity of the Society. It is a book that needs to be, it is a book that will be going out digitally but it should also have a physical incarnation - a beautiful locally printed but globally available book.

It is to be published by my small press The Wiggly Pets Press but we need some help. There needs to be a cash injection to get the process rolling, this is not a vanity press, the poets are not paying to be published nor would I ever ask such a thing! And to be honest the poetry speaks for itself - they don't need a vanity press but the world does need their poetry and I want to be able to give it to the world.

So we have a kick starter where you can help us raise the capital and get some delicious rewards in return (not least of which is the poetry itself!).

Rewards range from origami made by members of the society, to fine art prints by the wonderful Jason Conway to... Wiggly Pets! Themed bespoke wiggly pets made by me... for you - if that's the option you choose 🙂

Looky at examples of Wiggly Pets:

Well what is it?

Wiggly Pets Mummy!

Ballet WigglyPet and WigglyWoo

One of my life mantras is that Science and Art are for everybody not just the privileged elite and I have focused huge chunks of my life on making these areas accessible to people - accessible to as many people as possible. Sometimes this takes place on a global stage sometimes it is in a pub or school or community centre with 2-30 people. Sometimes it is just passing on some craft materials to someone so they can try something.

This means when I was approached by Zack at a poetry event in Cheltenham and asked if I was interested in starting a Gloucester Poetry Society, I jumped on board without hesitation. The society runs on volunteers, membership is free unlike most poetry societies and it does as many events and workshops as it can for free. We rely on venues being kind and the odd donation and so far the generosity has been amazing!

We have even taken ourselves on the road and do regular events in the surrounds like Cheltenham and Stroud - this is a wonderful turn over of the "culture" structure that was in place when I first moved to Gloucestershire. It is considered that Cheltenham has the culture and Gloucester doesn't but more and more I was meeting people from Gloucester at events elsewhere and finding little hidden art gems around Gloucester. It has culture - a wide, rich and varied range - it just doesn't tend to shout about it!

The book is us shouting about it, of course this is just what the book and Gloucester Poetry Society mean to me - they will have different meanings for the other members!

So back to me... or rather The Wiggly Pet's Press. What is it, what's it doing and why?

When I was little my dad worked at the Pheonix Docks in Rainham Essex (also known as the Mulberry from the WW2 legacy), and he would walk along the River Thames made flanks and find bits of victorian rubbish: clay pipes, glass jars with marbles in, bits of ceramic dolls. He'd collect these and had the idea of reconstructing the dolls and so found that there was some stuff called puppen fimo which could be used to mould dolls and baked in the oven at a low temperature i.e. unlike clays and ceramics, no kiln was required, it could be done in the home with normal kitchen equipment.

Off he went to the local craft supplies shop and bought some fimo. Fimo is a polymer clay, basically it is plastic with a solvent in it that makes it malleable, until the oven's heat drives off the solvent. You can form it just like clay and unknown to us at the time - it comes in a huge range of colours and as it turns out three different hardnesses.

Initially he picked up Fimo Hard, it was stark white and quiet hard to actually use and form into shapes. There were some little bits left after his experiments so I had a play. At the time I was in my mid teens and was still playing with coughs plasticine - I had some idea of making animations but had no camera but I was story boarding and making up characters all ready for when I did.

The first thing I made was a bear with little hat and flower - mothers day was coming and I needed a present!

Then I started making little creatures - I was obsessed with the idea of animation still and I love the plasticine stop motions such as trap door and morph - I'd grown up with Tony Hart on the TV. I also used to draw comics for my family on a Sunday afternoon after Sunday School whilst watching Time Tunnel and 40, 000 Leagues Under the Sea and I had this notion of little helpful creatures who always got things slightly wrong.

The first wiggly pets were made sans arms and had to be painted afterwards. I'd planned to drill holes through and add bendy pipe cleaner arms for easier animating (I still had no camera).

And that was kind of where they stayed for a few years - until my Dad found that the craft shop had a new and different type of fimo in... Fimo Soft! And it was in so so so many colours!

This coincided with me being laid up on crutches whilst three people I knew ran the London Marathon - I sat and watched it on telly and made little wiggly pets in their favourite colours, holding trainers and with post run wraps around their shoulders announcing it was the London Marathon (I can't actually remember if it was the year 2000 or 2001 :/).

These wigglypets had arms - the fimo soft was much easier to use and to get to stick to itself and I nicked a few of my mothers seed beads to be the middle of the eyes.

I then spent the next few years making everyone wigglypets - there were 21st Birthday wigglypets presented in wine, pint and shot glasses, ones in rowing boats, with wizard staffs, holding pot noodles, playing guitar, on little base boards with "you're 50" cakes (I discovered a lot about the limits of the clay - like if you make something to thick the clay cracks and it's not good if you forget to tell people they are cooling in the oven and they pre heat the oven on heat temperature for pizza! cough cough bark).

Then I met Alaric who thought they were so cute that he helped me buy the fimo soft in bulk - people commissioned wigglypets and then finally I got a camera! Well I say me but it was actually a wedding present to me and Alaric and it was digital and unlike the other cameras I'd had these were not just point and click - I could focus the damn thing!

The wigglypets began to go on outings and have adventures and I took lots of photos with the idea of turning them into a comic book. Stop motion I realised pretty quickly was still out as I had no way to run the photos together and I needed to build back grounds and have it set up in a corner and we lived in a flat and only had one camera and the little tripod Al got me for the purpose was just too flimsy and moved the framing around too much.

By 2006 I was working on the idea of the webcomic with them again except... I was really into blogging so I decided to set it up as a community blog (the community being the wiggly pets) and do photo stories. These were much easier for me to put together with the tech I had than a comic was and I could share it. This was the Wiggly Pet Blog - which should have been better than it was but our house was flooded in 2007 and we were out of it for about a year.

However I kept writing and making and trying and slowly other creatures and story forms added to the mix such as the WigglyPet's arch nemesis the Snobberlinks and the Muse Monsters... and then I started printing little booklets of the stories and stapling them together because the people kept asking, and then I made colouring sheets and poetry ebooks for download and then... suddenly it was The WigglyPet Press and then there were actual print books and....

That leads us to now and the next phase of The WigglyPet Press - Poetry and works by others - either published by the press or in association (i.e. Indie publishing collaborations). It has been a long and twisty journey but I hope that there will be some support out there for this next part of the adventure!

Oh and I might also now be working on cuddly versions of the WigglyPets but more on that later! 🙂

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