Wandering the River Taff: new posts on Caught By The River

I’ve written a couple more posts for Caught by the River. I’m really enjoying my column for CBTR. Also the teenage indie fangirl in me can’t quite comprehend that it’s happening. But enjoying nevertheless!

Below is a round up of the last few pieces I’ve written for them. It’s a nice focus for my writing at the moment. Plus gets me out of the house and walking, always a bonus.

Wandering the River Taff: A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy.

Did you know that Cardiff’s River Taff has its own Nessie, patrolling the waters, keeping wronguns away? Or at least it used to — an afanc of its very own. The afanc is a complicated thing to translate from Welsh, having been represented in Celtic mythology as anything from demon crocodile to barbarous beaver. It’s basically some sort of terrible beastie from the deep; a river monster that would attack and kill anyone who fancied a paddle or quick slurp from its waters.

Wandering the River Taff: Millennium Walk and the Doomed Graffiti Wall. 

Where can you find existential ponderings about mathematical logic, sharing wall space with messages about Mother’s Day, paedo ring cover ups in the BBC, and a sketch of Marge Simpson with a massive spliff in her mouth? In other cities, perhaps this sort of thing is omnipresent, but in Cardiff, there’s only one place: on the banks of the River Taff, at the graffiti wall on Millennium Walk.

Wandering the River Taff: Got Brains?

On my first visit back to Cardiff as an adult, back in 1999, one of the first things I remember is ominous lettering on a railway bridge, somewhere around the city centre, asking an ambiguous question that brought visions of the undead feasting on innocent Cardiffians: GOT BRAINS?

Til next time

Peas

Hx

Advertisements

Caught by the River: new column

So I promised I would write more. And here I am!

I’ve started contributing a new column to the wonderful Caught by the River website, inspired by my wonderings/wanderings around and about the River Taff. The column is called Wandering the River Taff, and my first essay for them is This is Rat Island. I mean I’m actually on to writing my third piece now, but you know, small steps …

As always happens when you start looking into something specific, it ends up raising more questions than answers …

bare_tree_river_taff

So what happened, nutshell style, is that I did a bunch of research (SO much research … internet, books, Cardiff Central Library’s local area archive, which is an incredibly rich resource that I recommend to local nosy people) and published my piece. One of the things I did was to contact writer Peter Finch, who happens to be local and whose Real Cardiff series has been a total inspiration to me ever since I moved back to Cardiff as an adult. I published my piece – then got a response from Peter which completely went against all the research and anecdotal evidence I had read. So had to publish a secondary piece, documenting all my research and asking for more comments from people who might know more.

I mean, when you lay it out like that it sounds boring AF but if you’re interested in local history, I recommend you read them both. Plus the photos are nice.

I’ll write more about my other instalments soon.

Peas

H
x

 

We Are Cardiff Press is launched!

I’m very (VERY) excited to announce the launch of a new small press in Cardiff, run by my pal Hana Johnson under the We Are Cardiff umbrella. She’s worked super hard on sorting everything out and is publishing the FIRST BOOK this November!

we are cardiff press 42b

It’s an anthology of short stories called The 42b, based around a fictional Cardiff bus route. We Are Cardiff Press is a non-profit social enterprise, where any profits made will be put back into making new books or running  writing workshops, encouraging local citizens to find their creative voice – through fiction or non-fiction. Books or blogs: stories are stories.

There are many reasons to be excited about this:

  1. It means We Are Cardiff moving from digital products to super lovely, high quality physical products
  2. It extends the project’s interest in stories from the realm of reality to creative fiction
  3. It opens up a whole new world of storytelling that can encompass long form writing, illustration and photography in a way that just isn’t possible online (and I say this as someone who works in digital pretty much seven days a week)
  4. (side note: what is reality other than a series of stories we tell ourselves, anyway?)
  5. The first story in the book is one that I wrote!
  6. Pretty much all the other stories are wonderful
  7. Pretty much all the illustrations are fabulous.

I feel like that’s probably enough reasons. But I can do more, if you really want.

You can PRE-ORDER copies of the book through The 42b Indiegogo Campaign, where you can also opt for extra rewards like limited edition prints AND spaces on forthcoming writing workshops!

wacp-fb-cover

We’re having a launch party for the book on Thursday 5 November, at a secret Cardiff location (don’t want to reveal EVERYTHING all in one go!) – more details will be released closer to the time, but if you want to keep an eye on what’s happening, there’s:

The launch party is taking place as part of the Swn Festival “fringe” this year. More information about the full music festival here: Swn Festival.

I’ll post more about that soon. But in case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been the past few months, this is one of the many places and projects I’ve had my nose in …

Laterz

HP
x

It’s been awful quiet around these parts …

But I’ve had a really good excuse! Honestly!

pile of paper on a table

 

So, that massive headache of paper on the desk (yes I was having breakfast in Wetherspoons, what about it?) is MY NOVEL. Or something like a novel. It’s a really freaking long story.

THAT’S what I’ve been doing.

 

In case I haven’t mentioned it on here, and I don’t think I have, I am a MASSIVE Parks and Recreation fan. Leslie Knope is the greatest character ever created. Also I massively identify with parts of her personality, in particular her inability to focus on doing one thing at a time (I refer you to Season 4 Episode 16. ‘Sweet Sixteen’, where Leslie tries to run her campaign, work in the Parks department and arrange Jerry’s sweet sixteen birthday party, and ends up messing everything up because she’s spreading herself too thin).

I took some good advice from that episode, and also from my Editor-In-Chief, who told me I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO DO ANYTHING ELSE – NOT EVEN PLAN ANYTHING ELSE – UNTIL THIS WAS FINISHED.

Ron Swanson is not my Ed-In-Chief (although CAN YOU IMAGINE), but his advice is sage, and good for everyone.

Don’t half ass two things (in my case, fifty things). Whole ass one thing.

That is what I am attempting to do. And hence, the radio silence.

The novel, or “the long thing” as I’ve been describing it to people, was spawned from a creative writing exercise I took in a novel writing class, last March, run by Cardiff University’s Lifelong Learning Centre, and tutored by the AMAZING Lynne Barrett-Lee.

If you’re based in Cardiff, and thinking about maybe taking a writing class, I would definitely recommend hers. As well as being a great writer, she is a really, REALLY good teacher. Those two things don’t always go hand in hand, but she’s brilliant. There are details about all Cardiff Uni’s writing courses here: Creative Writing and Media classes.

I had no idea about what I would write before I took the class. I didn’t even think I would write anything. I just wanted to take a class to try and get myself into the habit of writing regularly, and picked this one purely at random, because it fit my work schedule. I had not planned to write this story all my life, or anything like that. It literally (ha! literally) came from an exercise in that class, and then grew and grew, and here it is. One hundred thousand words later.

papers and post in notes on a bed

Apparently, NOW the hard work starts?? wtf.

More updates soon…

Music writings

amps

I’ve been a professional journalist writing mostly about music for far longer than I’d actually care to remember (since 2001, if you must know…). I’ve written for Rolling Stone, NME, CRACK magazine, as well as various titles that have come and gone in that time (Sound Nation, Plan B, Kruger). I also wrote the first unofficial biography about Lady Gaga, published by Orion in 2010.

For examples of my music writing, click here.

We Are Cardiff goes to Glastonbury!

I went to Glastonbury for the FIRST TIME EVER this year, and blogged about it over on the We Are Cardiff site. Read on for my experiences!

We Are Cardiff

Bit of a misleading title seeing as the GREATEST FESTIVAL ON EARTH was nearly two weeks ago now. It’s taken me THIS LONG to recover and manage to write up my experiences. If you’ve no interest in reading about HOW AMAZING GLASTONBURY IS, then you best toddle off and read something else.

Photo by Andrew Allcock

So. Firstly, a confession. Or an announcement. My name is Helia Phoenix, I am 33 years old and up til this year, I was a Glastonbury virgin. There are a lot of reasons – I wasn’t allowed to go as a teenager, early 20s I was too chicken to jump the fence and I couldn’t afford a ticket, blah blah. All the powers of the universe converged this year to allow me the disposable income for a ticket, and a friend who managed to get through and get me one. So, I was in. Signed up. Ready…

View original post 5,973 more words