The wait for a Paso Doble to Pirates of the Caribbean continues …


I love Movie Night on Strictly. This, combined with one of my favourite songs from a favourite movie being used by one of my favourite couples dancing one of my favourite dances means I was a very happy bunny last weekend.


Team StevO did everything and more that could possibly be asked of them, with a fun, bright and lively routine to I Wanna Be Like You that must have cemented them as firm favourites of those who like their dancing with bucket loads of personality. And that’s the last use of a word threatening to usurp the ‘J’ word with an ‘F’ word!

I thought I’d reserve judgment until three weeks in, so I could get a good look at all them doing Latin and Ballroom. In the meantime, we’ve lost Gregg and Jennifer (and, very sadly, the lovely Tristan :( …)  and I’ve decided I’m only going to concentrate on those I enjoy the most (rather than having to be positive about those I don’t – because I’m not an Internet Troll and don’t say nasty things about people – regardless of what I might be thinking!).

So Team StevO, having stormed upon us with a fantastic tango, followed with a passable cha cha that just needed a bit more hip action – which we have seen – so I’m hopeful for tonight. You might remember that Ola and Chris Hollins began with a terrific tango, and Steve is pretty much a bigger version. Normal, happy, fun, keen to learn. I’m just sayin’ … There is a danger we could see the rise of an ‘N’ word as we go along. I can’t be doing with grumpiness and tears (see earlier Strictlyfied post).

Frankie and Kevin’s Paso Doble blew me away. The passion and attack were brilliant, her timing, the acting – it was fierce. A lovely waltz and a slightly strange yet wonderful charleston-come-jive means she’s in my top three as a beautiful dancer but very natural and n… down to earth.

Caroline and Pasha I think are brilliant together. The rumba kept moving with some lovely shapes and lots of action, especially those twirly things – supported promenades? A sassy cha cha and a dramatic tango, all delivered with real commitment. And she’s n … n …. oh, what the hell. Normal. No drama, no grumpiness, just like one of us.

As a fiction writer, I know conflict is everything, and I know TV producers probably encourage it. But Strictly (as with the Great British Bake Off) is a different animal. We want cosy, we want cheesy,  we want to sit there wearing a soppy smile along with our sequinned aprons. Which is why, as an audience, we generally vote for the down to earth, good dancers, who aren’t having to work hard in front  of the cameras. One piece of constructive criticism for Simon – don’t be grumpy! That’s the only reason you ended up in the bottom two.

Tapping on the window, looking in at my top three are Jake, Alison and Sunetra. Jake’s salsa was incredible and his waltz and tango showed off his acting abilities with great technique. Alison is fabulous, so groovy and bags of personality brought onto the dance floor with her in all three dances so far, cha cha, foxtrot and jive. Sunetra is going to get better and better I feel, and will be challenging the top of the leaderboard – a 9 from Len for her foxtrot? Come on! She’s also shown how nifty she can be in Latin.

So will things change around tonight? Will someone else make a breakthrough onto my shortlist? Will one of the above have a complete meltdown and totally shred my musings into the nearest bucket and be thrown into recycling? I hope not …

Draw inspiration from Croquis dancers


Traditionally, Croquis is quick sketches drawn by artists watching a model who occasionally changes position. However, the Croqis being introduced to Medway is a collaboration between Rebecca Ashton of The Right Step Dance Company and Richard Squarecube of Squarecube Artisans, who’ve taken it a step further by incorporating dancers.


The artists are inspired in many different ways and are encouraged to explore the concept using their own techniques. Mostly, they’ll sketch with pencil or charcoal, but already one enterprising soul has used an iPad and others using different forms such as sculpting or modelling are also welcome.


Taster sessions will be held in November, with the official launch in January 2015. It’s an intriguing add to the creative pot of Medway events, so why not go along and try it out?

Sunday 16th November, 2-3.30pm ‘An Introduction to Croquis Events’

Sunday 23rd November, 2-3.30pm ‘Explore Croquis Your Own way’

Sunday 30th November, 2-3.30pm ‘What Can We Do With This?’

All held at Sun Pier House Gallery and Tea Room, Medway Street, Chatham, ME4 4HF

Just £15/session or £10/session if you bring your own materials.

Book one of the limited places now, by email to:

An invitation only promo session was held, for which there is an archive with images and feedback – the blog about it can be found here:

The artists also gave verbal feedback and that’s on the Facebook page:

There’s more information online…


Twitter: @Croquis_Events

A ramble around the garden


I’ve a stinking cold and took an opportunity between work stints to get some fresh air – the sun had briefly made an appearance and I didn’t need a coat!

The southern facing side was still quite colourful and I’ve been very shoddy of late in sharing any Wordless Wednesdays. So I thought I’d make up for it now! (And I’m posting this direct from my phone too, just to try it out, in case it looks a bit weird!)








Rochester Literature Festival 2014: Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know



We’re delighted to be opening this year with an hilarious and heart-warming one woman show with actress Sunny Ormonde – the outrageous Lilian Bellamy from BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, the world’s longest running soap.

Over the course of the next ten days, we’ll be joined by as-seen-on-tv-off-his-trolley comic genius Phil Kay, master of freeform performance and storytelling, and notorious Australian, Trenton Oldfield – who served six months at her Majesty’s Pleasure for disrupting the 2012 Boat Race in a protest against elitism.

We will be hosting two wonderful authors who’ll fascinate you with insights and anecdotes from their latest books: Angela Buckley introduces us to The Real Sherlock Holmes – Detective Jerome Caminada, whose methodologies mimicked Conan Doyle’s genius, and Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, who will discuss the impact of reality on fiction. While No One Was Watching is set against the backdrop of the Kennedy assassination and the abduction of a young girl from the grassy knoll on that fateful day.

Sadly, we have to announce the postponement of one of our family events,Assassin, due to technical issues. Featuring the fantastic Joe Craig reading extracts from his Jimmy Coates series – part boy, part weapon, totally deadly – and music from Jacob Bride, Graham Sykes and Jamie Godfrey, this will hopefully take place early in the new year. However, we do still have the awesome Keeper of the Realms author, Marcus Alexander, who is Charlie’s Keeper, who will entertain and inspire you with his delightfully wicked fantasy adventure series – get your read on! Waterstones in Chatham have kindly agreed to sell books in the venue on the day, if you need to complete your collection.

Our interactive story game this year is Murder in the Crypt, in which you’ll be invited to solve mysteries and puzzles with Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes and Auguste Dupin. In addition, we’re holding a Cafe Crawl, where you can sample poetry and storytelling, while Bookmark’d is a chance to buy books, swap books or just listen to books, read aloud by their authors.

Our Night at the Theatre will this year be held in conjunction with Chatham Grammar School for Boys and be presented by award winning 17% playwrights,Sam Fentiman-Hall, Sarah Hehir and Maggie Drury. The Spirit of My Dream is inspired by Byron’s poem The Dream and features new plays with a fantastical theme.

An exhibition curated by ME4Writers especially for the festival, An Assemblance of Judicious Heretics, has channelled Byron to produce work inspiring madness, badness and dangerousness in the hearts of artists. A live reading will bring the visual carnage to life!

Byron’s Teapot will be our finale – a mad mix of unusual and quirky music, poetry and theatre, featuring The James Worse Public Address Method, JP Lovecraft,Dylan Oscar Rowe and Brides of Rain.

We look forward to welcoming you to our exciting – and only slightly scary – second full length festival!

To read full details, download a copy the 2014 programme and buy tickets, please visit

If you have any enquiries regarding any of the events or festival in general, please email or telephone 07904 643770.

We look forward to seeing you :)

I’m getting Strictly-fied!


It’s back, and with Tess and Claudia in charge as many of us wanted, so Yay!


First impressions … Greg was wearing a permanent, infectious grin and Jake looked pretty nifty but too stoney faced. Frankie and Pixie, as expected,  were trim and precise, but Alison outshone both with bags of oomph. Judy seemed a little stiff but her posture looked good – she’ll no doubt warm up, while Thom could well be the whole package – as long as he’s not too earnest. Tim made me laugh – twice – his partnership with Natalie (hurrah, she’s back) already very charming and natural – and he likes flinging himself around, which is something I always want to hear. Simon clearly has a lot of talent, as we’ve seen before, and Caroline can channel the Strictly on Wheels experience to good effect. I didn’t see enough of the others to pass any judgement.

The ‘Unfair advantage’ lot are already pointing fingers, so let’s stop for a moment and discuss: It’s bullshit. Learning to dance ballroom and Latin is totally different to shaking your booty. The pop stars may have the timing, but the sporty folk have the stamina and discipline and the actors bring character. The TV and radio presenters have less experience being on stage but the nature of their jobs is to make the most of their personalities.

Which brings me to the Dos and Don’ts of how to win Strictly:

Don’t be too earnest and over analyse everything – let yourself go and enjoy it.

Don’t moan, cry or complain – we’d give our right legs to be in your position. Which would make things bloody awkward but you get my drift.

Do what your Pro tells you.

Don’t backchat the judges – they know better than you. However, they (and we) love a bit of banter – learn the difference.

Don’t keep telling us how funny you are. It’s like laughing at your own jokes, don’t do it. Make us laugh without meaning to – see note re Tim above.

Be confident, not arrogant.

Do fall in love with dancing – it’ll be obvious to us if you don’t.

Do realise that the worst case scenario of falling over, forgetting your steps or having a major wardrobe malfunction is still massively offset by being given, at the very least, four weeks intensive training with a professional, and two days of pampering and spangly frocks/tuxedos to play at Cinderella or Prince Charming.

Easy, isn’t it?