“I nearly… went with a local shepherd to explore the mountains of Nepal.
I was trekking with my then girlfriend and a friend in the Himalayas, a sherpa as our guide. We stopped at a habitation in the mountains and a woman came out with her baby in her arms, invited us to stay the night, shared her food with us. It was beautiful. The next morning we prepared to leave and she said, “My husband is a shepherd, he is coming home today. Why don’t you stay for a few days and he could take you walking in the hills?” I wanted so much to do that but the others said we had to get going. I still wonder what that would have been like.”
- Told by Jaques, Lilla Bagis cafe and bakery in Bagamossen, Stockholm.
I went to the South Bank Centre’s Being A Man Festival yesterday and heard a lot about men and mental health, the fact that 79% of suicides are male and that suicide is the main cause of death of young men in the UK. I spoke to volunteers from The Samaritans (where my Dad was a volunteer in the 1970s), and the wonderful CALM Campaign Against Living Miserably. All very inspiring. I talked to people about Nearlyology and began to think that with the pressure on males to succeed and fix things, the topic of what we’ve nearly done may have a special resonance. Nearlysex – which covers sexual failures, fantasies, harassment, friendships etc… is also a topic I’m keen to help men explore. Years ago I was in men’s groups and ran workshops with men, one for boys in a Sheffield youth club, talking about all kinds of difficult things. More recently I attended a Death Cafe (with my daughter, soon after my Mum died), and enjoyed the open conversation around this taboo topic that everyone has something to say about, from the heart wrenching to the hilarious. Now I’m thinking about a men’s Nearly Cafe event somewhere soon.
Wearing my ‘I nearly’ badge still has interesting results. Man in Tesco Metro Hornsey last night asked what it was about. I told him I gathered stories of nearly things and asked if he had one. Immediately he said he’s nearly been in a band. He plays the drums, was invited to join but didn’t feel confident enough at the time. Since then the band has broken up but his confidence as a drummer has grown. Maybe next time. I gave him my badge.
And the waitress in Cafe Circus, Crouch End, asked what the badge was about. I gave her my card and she looked at the site, said she really liked the idea. I thought she’d send me her Nearly Story, but she hasn’t… yet.
About a year ago, my friend Ariel nearly wrote to you for your book about things people have nearly done. But, as he never quite got round to it, I’ve written to you instead.
Hear Andy Leung’s fantastic track featuring my reading of the Nearly Manifesto – and then keep listening to his music. Andy performed in Trafalgar Square at recent Chinese New Year celebrations, and he was a member of Academy Inegales. He’s promised to put out a new track every month.
I’ve had an amazing time working as part of Academy Inegales. Here’s Nearly Music, recorded by Will Crosby who also came up with the idea of the ensemble nearly copying my speaking of the Nearly Manifesto. Recorded live at Club Inegales, Euston, London.
Here’s the video!
Performed at Club Inegales, 7th July, 2016: The Nearly Manifesto, with Academy Inegales.
And here’s an extract from Nearly Music
Academy Inegales perform my song, ‘In The Nearly’ with Nouria Bah on vocals (and I nearly play the trombone):
What a pleasure to work with such brilliant musicians.
Here’s the first animated nearly, made thanks to a course at City Lit. (This is old – just moved it here).
Recently we’ve made NEARLY MUSIC as part of ACADEMY INEGALES & performed in the TIME MACHINE created by artists collective ALL DAY BREAKFAST, in Bath.
Check out the LATEST NEARLIES
Peter Wiegold & Academy Inegales
Happy New Year!
Take a look at the nearly stories written by students on the Creative Writing BA at Bath Spa University, composed on Google Docs and written as a group writing exercise.
This photo of the puppets made by Bee Peak will feature on the cover of the Nearly App being developed by Dan Visel.
I’ve become a member of a fascinating thing called Academy Inegales
Writer Chris Meade recalls the Academy Inégales showcase which he helped curate through a programme consisting of quotations from Rebecca Solnit’s book, A Field Guide To Getting Lost. Read his afterthoughts below.
A Field Guide To Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit is one of those books which for me works a bit like the I Ching; wherever and whenever I open it, there’s an extract that speaks to me. I’m a writer not a musician and when trying to think of a text that could work as the equivalent of my instrument for improvisation with the other members of Academy Inegales, Solnit’s book seemed a perfect choice. I opened it at random and soon found a line to chant: “Nor can I recall what the wine opened up for me.” Singer Nouria Bah echoed the words while I found other passages which felt right to speak with the sounds I was hearing. Until that point I’d known I wanted to be part of Academy Inegales but hadn’t known how I might participate with this talented and diverse group of musicians. Suddenly it was happening.
Afterwards I was asked by Peter and Martin to find a short quote from the book that might inspire each of the members of the Academy to compose three minute pieces working in pairs for our first performance together at the Club. Extracts sprang out from the pages which seemed right for each player. When I emailed quotes to fellow member, violinist Layale Chaker emailed straight back to say: “This is the story of my life in one phrase!”
Her quote was: “The mystic Simone Weil wrote to a friend on another continent, “Let us love this distance, which is thoroughly woven with friendship, since those who do not love each other are not separated.” This is the same section of the book that leapt out at me when I came back feeling sad from seeing my son and his family living happily but far away in Stockholm. It inspired a beautiful, plaintiff duet with George Sleightholme on clarinet.
Other pairings included Martin Humphrey’s tuba and Andy Leung’s electronics recreating lost games of childhood, violinist Joanna Lawrence and tabla player Rishiraj Kulkarni making the sounds of our fear of accident or desertion when visitors don’t turn up on time; George Sleightholme dismantling his clarinet and playing on each section of it. His quote from the book was: “Now it is as decayed as a real book might be after being buried or abandoned, and when I think of the scraps that remain, I wonder what weather in the mind so erodes such things.” The whole evening was a rich mix of sounds and ideas.
I applied to be part of the Academy because I’m always interested in collaboration and this seemed an amazing opportunity to work with some fantastic musicians. I’m a transmedia writer, have recently taken to writing songs but have no musical training, am fascinated by the potential for collaborative writing in the digital age and how writers and translators could improvise live in the way that (some) musicians do, making work for specific times and places. Club Inegales in Euston is an atmospheric basement venue, and to be performing a piece of my novel in progress, creating a soundscape of looped words amidst such pleasurable music was a thrill.
Transmedia fiction involves thinking of a book not as text locked up between covers, but as story orbiting its reader, a landscape that we’re led through by the author who takes us along its sentences and paragraphs, points out good views, sings to us as we walk, hands us keepsakes and clues along the way, leads us to clearings where we can sit and converse about what we’ve experienced and what it’s meant for us. A real life venue like Club Inegales is a perfect laboratory for experiments in ways to make and share poetry and stories. We can put words on the tables, project them onto the screens, whisper them to new arrivals, write on the spot in response to the music, email them later to each ticket holder…
What I like about what (seems to me to be) the Inegales approach is that it uses experimental means to make captivating music. As a writer I’m bored of digital trickery that might look cool but fails to draw readers in. I’ve very much enjoyed the music at Club Inegales as well as been challenged by it.
Words are, quite literally, literal, which means they tend to define what’s going on around them. I slipped in one line from the Field Guide to an improvisation by 12 people and that line soon became the title of the piece. My next challenge is to find ways to include words as a more equal part of our unequal ensemble, so that the spoken word is no more or less important than the piano or the percussion, and for writers to jam together to make something of quality that works in the setting for which it’s made.
I’m looking forward to finding out more about my fellow academicians and the ways they compose and play their music – I know I have so much to learn from them.
Solnit writes: “It is in the nature of things to be lost and not otherwise. Think of how little has been salvaged from the compost of time of the hundreds of billions of dreams dreamt since the language to describe them emerged.”
Since joining the Academy Inegales I notice my dreams often involve a sense of being part of a large group capable of helping to make whatever it is I’m trying to do seem nearly possible.