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Racontesse Journal … Literary Loves, Sexual Frustration & a Lost Spouse

The last few weeks have been intense and I'm not quite sure where to start…

A big Thank you! That's right – to all of those who attended the Kensington and Chelsea Libraries’ author event. And to Nina and Lola, who organised and made sure the event ran smoothly. It was wonderful to speak with Nina about my work and share some literary-love.

Nina is as excited as I am to celebrate the short story and we are coming back in the autumn for a series of events championing the delicate craft of short storytelling. It’s going to be brilliant.

Still, Standing in the Woods, will discuss one story each episode and I will write a piece of flash fiction especially for every exciting instalment. My good friend and compatriot, Josephine Rydberg will co-host. Alodie Fielding, my favourite illustrator, is working on the fairytale inspired artwork right now.

Another fabulous event! Join us online to celebrate the release of Urban Creatures and raise money for St Christopher's Hospice. Commit the date to memory – 8 September, 7:30pm to 8:30pm. It will be an enjoyable evening of conversation and readings. From next week you will be able to book your tickets on Eventbrite. Welcome all!

I've been listening to the new album from Jarvis Cocker's current band Jarv Is, Beyond the Pale. It's everything one would expect from Cocker, and I'm alternately delighted and cringed out. Not afraid to reflect the existential struggles that we all deal with (sex on a kitchen top with breadcrumbs sticking into your arse and being a Pharaoh), to meandering complex tunes. Harp and violin add an ethereal note.

And I was there. Attentive and ready to go for the live online event to swoon at his beautiful, Sheffield tones in person. Jarvis assures us he is optimistic about the future, despite global warming and he's happy to accept the accolade: Figurehead for the Sexually Frustrated.

But he's still got it. Rave in the Cave is just that – Jarvis and his new mates rocked out in an underground cave and the outcome was quite spectacular. With his trademark moves, he flicks his eyes, hands and arse, the lights glow around him as if he is about to be abducted by aliens. It's quite a performance.

Staged is a six part BBC comedy series starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant. A jolly amusing take on the play, Six Characters In Search Of An Author by Italian writer, Luigi Pirandello. Ostensibly, Sheen and Tennant are using their time in lockdown to rehearse the play to be prepared for the reopening of theatres. But the online zoom rehearsals become the action, as they never quite get going.

Adopting fictional version of themselves, the actors look for meaning in a world gone awry. Self-reflexive, it pokes fun at actors’ vanity and the pitfalls of a precarious industry. Samuel L Jackson and Judi Dench are hilarious as the big hitters, who humiliate the lead characters into accepting their situation and getting on with the show. Clever, funny and enjoyable. I wish all TV was so accomplished.

Finding a new author who really lights up your neural paths is rare. But when I read Remember Why You Fear Me by Robert Shearman, my paths flashed - fully illuminated. And it got even better when I very quickly realised Shearman had published a new book. Not only any book, but 1,753 glorious pages full of story and packed with illustrations. We All Hear Stories in the Dark is an Arabian Nights style epic, a place where hundreds of stories intertwine –

You have lost your wife and by reading all the stories that ever were, you hope to find her. There is no fixed, chronological order and you must choose your path to find your beloved.

I waited a month for the books to arrive. It was worth it. I had to make preparations. Now, now I'm ready to embark on my journey….

Sarah Gray

7 August 2020

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