CHALK at The Vic

Simon CHALK v2
Me, knackered, last week.

I PERFORMED MY SHOW CHALK at the Victoria Institute in Arundel, West Sussex, last week (Thursday 24 – Saturday 26 February).

I’ve raised nearly two grand for Alzheimer’s Society doing the show so far.

If you’ve not seen it, it’s me onstage on my tod for 75 minutes wearing a 1970s school uniform pretending to be ten years old. For the avoidance of doubt, ten years old is 38 years younger than my actual age.

Boy, the show hurts. It’s physically and mentally draining. There have been times when I’ve come off feeling like I’m experiencing shock or something, and that there must be easier ways of spending my spare time.

CHALK is about a man desperately trying to cling to his memories in the face of dementia. He experiences bewildering highs as the music he hears unlocks things in him long since buried and crushing lows as the illness shuts these memories down in stages. The world in Richard’s head begins as a sanctuary, finishes as a battleground. Some scenes are light, whimsical. Others are brutal. Somewhere in the middle of it there’s a message of hopefulness without mawkishness because I think that’s how the loved ones I’ve lost to dementia would have wanted me to tackle this.

I’m so proud of the show and the feedback I’ve been given but I never know how audiences are taking it as I’m up there in the middle of it. It’s exhilarating and terrifying all at once.

So, these words from Mike (c/o Arundel’s Big House band) who saw CHALK on Friday 25 February fair took the wind out of my sails.

Thanks so much for this, Mike.

‘Friday went to see the production titled “Chalk” which ran for three nights at the Victoria Institute. It was written and performed by Simon Carter and dealt with the subject of dementia, a challenging topic to say the least. I am in no way qualified to offer a critique of the evening, all I can really say is how it resonated with me. At a performance level it was an incredible outpouring of emotional and physical energy that surpasses anything I’ve ever seen on the stage. I’m normally knackered after a gig; the nerves, the tension and the act of creating all make a demand on you energetically. But Simon should have been allowed to lie down for a week to recover from one performance, let alone get up and do it all again the next night!

I thought the play was really cleverly constructed, alternating between moments of hysteria and disorientation, to vivid flashbacks from childhood and adolescence. The increasing blur between reality and memory world and the frustrations in communicating what was being experienced were all palpable. The disease itself was personified as an evil that no matter how successful can never claim the heart and soul of its victim, and most interestingly for me, an observation that I have encountered several times before, how successful music is in connecting directly to that heart and soul, serving as the trigger for moments of serenity and comfort. I have very little direct exposure to dementia, unlike Simon who had seen it work its evil through two relatives, but I felt from the play a sense of how it might be being experienced and how important are the sensory triggers, music in particular, in penetrating the veil it draws over the individual.

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t without a message of hope and dignity.’

  • See Mike’s original post here.


  • The first in an occasional series of ill thought through metal reviews, direct from the Metal Man Cave! Today – Babymetal.
Orville Etsy 2
Orville (not the real one, for copyright reasons). Ripped from etsy, or possibly the LAPD

SOME THINGS ARE HUGE in Japan. Sumo wrestlers, for example, because competition rules require this. And Godzilla is literally huge in Japan – thirty storeys high if the theme song from the spin off 1978 cartoon series is to be believed, and let’s not speak of Godzooky, Godzilla’s hapless reptilian sidekick in that show, just like Keith Harris’ Orville, but not a duck, a baby dinosaur, and not wearing a nappy, like Orville did.

Babymetal are huge in Japan too. They’re something called a kawaii metal band, a musical genre that blends heavy metal and J-pop, and they’ve been kicking around since 2010.

I was uninitiated in Babymetal until this morning when my friend Mark sent me this thing off YouTube.

I obviously thought this must be the world’s biggest karaoke place owned by some singing triplets, but not a bit of it. This is a full-on live arena gig (or possibly a stadium gig because to be fair the whole thing moves so fast I wasn’t able to properly check if there was a roof) with a largely unfeatured backing band and only the briefest of shots of the drummer’s feet. One of the singers has a very sparkly stick she carries around. This probably helps her move about when the high energy dance routines have done for her back.

There’s also a fella wearing a skeleton leotard in the crowd, just like the one Uncle Brian wore at that Halloween do at Carlton in Lindrick Working Man’s Club in 2007. It might actually be Uncle Brian at this Babymetal gig thinking about it, and it completely explains his mysterious disappearance.

Tim Martin 2
Lion-O from the Thundercats, yesterday

Musically, the track HEADBANGER properly rocks. It’s like ‘Painkiller’ era Judas Priest if Halford, Downing and Tipton were not Halford, Downing and Tipton but some Japanese triplets in ra ra skirts. Mind you, there’s some ancient Egyptian cat iconography in the background, so maybe they’re mumm-ra ra skirts. ThunderCats was, of course, vastly superior to the Godzilla cartoon series, with Lion-O going on to run the Wetherspoon’s franchise and lose a whole heap of money because of Brexit.

The backing band’s outfits are an obvious nod to Japanese horror film The Ring, or possibly the loonies in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Whatever, man. And I think I may even have spotted some dragons, because my current medication is that good. Also there’s a big shiny triangle with some symbols on it.

Try as I might, I can’t imagine Babymetal going down well at the local church’s open mic. I don’t know how they’d fit all their equipment in unless they moved the font, which has been standing there since the 1720s, or temporarily relocated Michael’s organ. Also, while I don’t understand Uncle Brian’s decision to leave Carlton in Lindrick in 2007, ultimately to turn up to a Babymetal gig in Japan, based on this track alone I have to respect it.

In short, I like Babymetal very much and will surely look at some more of their videos on Wednesday.

3.5 stars.

The Parish Council Minutes #10

  • More utterly riveting dispatches from Shufflehampton Parish Council, England. ‘Good lord, these people are clearly morons.’ MADE UP QUOTE

THE ACTING CHAIR convened the meeting at 7.30 pm.

Item 1

‘I’d leave it a few months if I were you’

Cyril Keenly, the Clerk of the Parish Council, dialled into the meeting because he was self-isolating. Councillor Watterson asked if anyone else was self-isolating because there was just him and the Acting Chair in the Council Room.

The Clerk confirmed everyone else was self-isolating though Councillor Pritchard didn’t really count because he was still in a coma after someone had attacked him with a pick-axe, Councillors Dean and Tomkins didn’t count because they were on trial for murder after the dismembered bodies of their ex-spouses were found at the Cow and Banjo and the Chairman didn’t count because he’d been photographed doing something ‘right dodgy’ and quite possibly illegal, forcing him to resign in disgrace.

The Clerk said Councillor Martin wasn’t able to attend the meeting because of a prior engagement with the Russian Mafia.

Item 2

Councillor Boothby, Acting Chair, asked Councillor Andrews if he could switch off his webcam. While Skype enabled Councillors to run meetings during the current pandemic with public gatherings restricted, this didn’t mean it was appropriate for Councillor Andrews to attend meetings sat on the porcelain. Councillor Andrews apologised and switched off his video feed. He also muted the audio, but not before everyone heard a tiny plop.

Councillor Boothby said the Parish Council needed to show real leadership during the public health crisis and should encourage social distancing.

Councillor Lathers said she’d practiced social distancing for years, mainly from her ex-husband, estate agents and people who read The Daily Mail. Councillor Watterson said that with supermarket shelves now cleared of loo roll because of panic buying, he’d found The Daily Mail to be soft, strong and very, very long. Councillor Andrews, switching his audio back on, said he’d heard rumours that The Sun was actually softer if you were a folder and not a scruncher. He’d also heard The Daily Telegraph was more absorbent, with a quilted edition on Sundays. He muted his audio again, but not before everyone heard a soft groan and splash.

Councillor Lathers said she’d touched a copy of The News of the World once and had to self-isolate for fourteen days.

Item 3

Councillor Gooding said this whole thing with the pandemic was just scaremongering and that Britain had survived the Blitz. Councillor Boothby said she was no expert, but understood you couldn’t generally catch the Blitz by somebody coughing next to you on a bus. You also couldn’t catch the Blitz by walking round in large crowds in deliberate ignorance of advice from qualified health experts that people should stay at home as an entirely sensible precaution to minimise the risk of infecting the elderly and those already in poor health.

Councillor Watterson added that he was no expert either, but understood that comparing the pandemic to something that happened in World War II was at best naïve jingoism and at worst the intellectual reasoning of reckless simpletons.

Councillor Gooding said that British people were made of stronger stuff and even though he’d caught the virus at a darts match in the pub last Wednesday and had since gone to three concerts, nine supermarkets, two schools and a hospital, it would all turn out for the best if everyone just thought more positively, and believed harder, and Got Virus Done. At this point he coughed loudly and his line went dead.

Item 4

Councillor Boothby said it would be a truly beautiful thing for the people of Shufflehampton to set aside their longstanding and ultimately meaningless differences during this crisis to do all they could to work together for the sake of the most desperate and disadvantaged. Already Councillor Boothby had seen many inspiring examples of selflessness and love in the community which, in their compassionate simplicity, had done much to restore her ailing faith in the precious, innate beauty of humanity. In desperate times, she mused, it was astounding how distance could bring people together when proximity so often tore them apart. It was the ultimate paradox.

Councillor Watterson said they’d run out of Ultimate Paradox in the chemists but he’d got twenty boxes of Lemsip and what was left of the hand sanitizer.

Councillor Boothby hoofed Councillor Watterson in the cobblers.

Item 5

The Acting Chair asked if there was any other business. Councillor Andrews, switching his audio back on, said he didn’t know but he’d keep at it for a bit.

He muted his audio again, but not before everyone heard his wife come in.

The meeting ended at 8.01 pm, with absolutely no pasta anywhere.

copyright (c) carterbloke 2020

Minutes of previous meetings

Photo credits

The Implausible Escapades of Captain Custard #1

  • By Edith Carter (aged 10) and Simon Carter (aged 46) – as serialised in The Village Gazette, Calverton, Nottingham, UK. In this episode! The village’s newest (and to be honest, only) costumed superhero makes his first crime-fighting appearance in Calvo’s mean streets.

JIMMY SPINKS couldn’t believe his eyes. He’d had a plan, and to this point the plan had been perfect. He’d followed old Mrs Mallow from the cashpoint outside the Co-Op, where she stopped every Friday night to fetch her bingo money before walking down to the Geordie Club, and then stealthily nipped ahead to lie in wait for her in the shadows of the twitchel off Collyer Road. Then, as Mrs Mallow shuffled past, he’d leapt out from cover to snatch her handbag.

Jimmy Spinks hadn’t reckoned on old Mrs Mallow putting up a struggle. She was a sprightly eighty-two for sure, but certainly no match for Jimmy’s lumbering teenage burliness. This would all be over very quickly. Pounce from behind, steal the bag, scurry back into the darkness before Mrs Mallow had a chance to realise what was happening.

Jimmy hadn’t reckoned on any witnesses being around. At this time of night in this part of the village you’d get the odd dog walker, but that was about it, and dog walkers usually avoided the twitchel because the twitchel was dark and potentially occupied by unsavoury types. Unsavoury types like Jimmy Spinks.

And Jimmy certainly hadn’t reckoned on his attempted mugging of old Mrs Mallow being interrupted by a superhero.

At first, Jimmy didn’t think the mysterious intruder was a superhero. He thought he was a lunatic. The ridiculous-looking individual who’d suddenly appeared in front of him, as if from nowhere, didn’t cut an especially imposing or dynamic figure. He looked completely unfit to be fair, like he could use more trips to the gym and fewer trips to Fresh and Tasty.

And that costume. For surely that’s what it was, a costume. Nobody in their right mind would walk around looking like that unless they were on their way to a fancy-dress party.

‘Fear not, Mrs M,’ said the man in the bright yellow lycra suit, tight yellow underpants and billowing yellow cape, taking a precautionary puff on his bright yellow inhaler.

His voice was muffled because of the mask, but Jimmy could sense unease and nervousness in the tone.

‘Ay up, mi duk,’ responded Mrs Mallow, by instinct more than anything. Her eyesight was rubbish and she couldn’t really make out who the speaker was in the murk, later describing him to police officers as ‘a very kind and well-spoken six-foot banana.’

‘I shall save you, Mrs M,’ continued the man in the yellow suit, raising both his hands towards Jimmy.

‘Don’t think so, buddy,’ said Jimmy, advancing towards him with menace. A moonbeam glinted off the blade of the knife he’d just pulled out of his jacket.

‘Mrs Mallow? Duck,’ demanded the man in the yellow suit.

The old woman did her best to get out of the way as the unseen thug behind her violently flung himself at the giant banana.

A powerful jet of something yellow, gooey and warm took hapless Jimmy Spinks full in the face, temporarily blinding him. Whatever it was, it tasted just like something his nana used to make, which Jimmy thought was strange, as was this new sensation of suddenly hurtling backwards at great speed. Was Jimmy Spinks flying?

The would-be petty larcenist crashed into a tree as the sloppy yellow jets kept on coming, and coming. Jimmy was saturated now. The gunk had soaked into his clothes, his trainers. Every time he tried to stand he spectacularly slipped and fell over, unable to get any purchase in the sweet-smelling liquid slurry. He couldn’t see a thing because it was all over his face, in his eyes. And now, as the slurry began to harden, he couldn’t move.

Couldn’t … move!

Realising at last that Jimmy had been trying to pinch her bingo money, old Mrs Mallow raised one arthritic knee upwards into her assailant’s soft parts, just to help the giant banana out and teach this lad not to mess with her again. Jimmy groaned, mainly in agony but with a generous sprinkle of utter humiliation, then passed out.

Mrs Mallow, grinning triumphantly, turned to thank her hero because it was only polite. But the man was already airborne, already up, up and away. There was a mighty streak of yellow in the night sky over St Wilfrid’s Square.


‘Never seen anything like it,’ said Detective Sergeant Mick Quimby, shaking his head.

It was morning. Jimmy was fully conscious now but they were still trying to free him from what forensics had called ‘that weird giant chrysalis.’

As Quimby scribbled in his notebook, and uniformed officers attempted to extricate Jimmy with hammers and chisels from the bizarre thing which had stuck him fast to the tree trunk, Detective Inspector Geena Dobbs thanked Mrs Mallow for her statement.

‘I think our Jimmy may learn a lesson or two from this, Mrs Mallow,’ said Dobbs, smiling. ‘I don’t think Calverton needs to live in fear of this particular criminal mastermind anymore.’

Jimmy was bang to rights. But what of the ‘giant banana’ of which Mrs Mallow had spoken? Who, or what, was he? Why had he come to Calverton? And how had he managed to disable this numpty with … she reached down and dipped a finger into one of the several puddles of thick, congealing yellow liquid spattered all over the crime scene.

She sniffed suspiciously at the lump of it on her finger. Then, grimacing, she took a taste, just to be sure.

It couldn’t be.

Just like her nana used to make.


Quimby yelped, skittering in a puddle and falling down, hard, on his bottom.

  • Next month! Safely back at HQ, Captain Custard checks in with his brave young sidekick and plans his next crime-fighting move. Meanwhile, an old enemy resurfaces, intent on chaos. DAN-DAN-DAAAAAN!

The Parish Council Minutes #9

  • More utterly riveting dispatches from Shufflehampton Parish Council, England. ‘I’ve heard this stuff might be made up.’ MADE UP QUOTE

THE ACTING CHAIR convened the meeting at 7.30 pm.

Item 1

Cyril Keenly, the Clerk of the Parish Council, confirmed there weren’t many Councillors left because several had been suspended, or arrested, or had murdered some people, or all three. Councillor Boothby, Acting Chair, said she hoped that those who remained could at least organise the Christmas lights display in the town square without this also becoming a total fiasco.

Item 2

Councillor Watterson reminded everyone that Christmas was a season of peace and goodwill to all men, and more recently women and children. In this vein it was important to extend a cheerful message to the people of Shufflehampton, even though the Council clearly disliked each other in private with some relationships having descended into bitter, pathological hatred. Councillor Lathers seconded this, saying she absolutely loved Christmas but detested Councillor Watterson, wanting nothing more than to yank his boxer shorts vigorously in an upwards direction so that his eyes would water for 4-6 weeks.

Artwork (c) Cllr T. Watterson

Councillor Gooding said this brought back bad memories of bullies giving him wedgies at school. Councillor Martin said she’d had a lovely plateful of spicy potato wedgies at the Cow and Banjo last week.

Councillor Gooding said that whatever happened, the Council shouldn’t ask Mark the Sparky to wire up the Christmas lights again after last year’s debacle. Mark had set up everything so dangerously that when celebrity guest Eric somebody from the Bay City Rollers had switched on the lights he’d been thrown backwards into the air and propelled over the road, smashing through the upstairs window of the barber’s shop into Malcolm the barber’s boudoir while Malcolm and Gladys were midway through some sneaky slap and tickle.

Councillor Martin said she hoped that Malcolm’s wife hadn’t been too upset. Councillor Gooding said she’d been very upset when she’d found Malcolm in the bedroom with Gladys.

Councillor Watterson said he wasn’t familiar with the phrase ‘slap and tickle.’ Councillor Lathers said this was when mummy and daddy were tickling each other very much.

Councillor Boothby said Mark the Sparky was still on the sick after being injured trying to fix the wiring. He’d somehow managed to pass electricity through himself, instantly burning off his unfeasibly shaggy bodily hair and permanently magnetising the larger of his trouser clackers. Even now, this caused his right leg to violently and uncontrollably spasm, like last week when he’d kicked the postman’s bike into the path of that bus, causing it to swerve uncontrollably into the local parliamentary candidate for the Brexit Party.

Item 3

Councillor Lathers said she was happy to go with any reasonable plan so long as organisers made sure the Christmas lights weren’t arranged in a rude and suggestive shape. She’d recently heard about a village in the East Midlands whose Christmas lights had looked like something very saucy one year when viewed from a pavement outside a restaurant which she seemed to remember had been called Oscar’s. She’d found a photo of the twinkling monstrosity in the Nottingham Evening Post which had made all her female friends chuckle and all her male friends feel inadequate.

Councillor Martin said the village in question must have been really embarrassed and probably wouldn’t want to be reminded about it, possibly by way of a column in the village newspaper. Councillor Gooding said the only way this could happen was in the medium of satire and only if the writer was friends with the editor.

Councillor Lathers urged everyone to stop making puerile jokes about this, and conversation returned to this year’s Shufflehampton Christmas lights erection.

Item 4

Michael Buble, yesterday

Councillor Boothby asked if there was time to get a celebrity to switch on the Christmas lights because the local parliamentary candidate for the Brexit Party had suddenly become unavailable. Councillor Martin said she was a big fan of The Krankies and would be sure to ask them if she saw them in the newsagents.

Councillor Watterson said that if necessary he could always dress up as Santa because it would make a change to do this for the general public and not just for his wife. Councillor Boothby said what about Michael Bublé. Councillor Watterson said this was a better idea, but he didn’t have a Michael Bublé costume.

There was a polite pause as Councillors Boothby, Lathers and Martin clearly had simultaneous naughty thoughts about Michael Bublé, judging by the expressions on their faces.

It was agreed that the Council reconvene in a week to firm up plans. There was no further mention of Councillor Watterson’s Santa costume because this just made everyone dead uncomfortable, to be fair.

Item 5

Under ‘Any Other Business’, Councillor Watterson said he could no longer restrain himself and Councillor Lathers was a loathsome harpy with spite and malice in her cold, black heart.

The meeting ended at 8.01 pm, with Councillor Lathers yanking Councillor Watterson’s boxer shorts vigorously in an upwards direction so that his eyes would water for 4-6 weeks.

copyright (c) carterbloke 2019

Minutes of previous meetings

Photo credits

  • Michael Bublé c/o Wikimedia Commons
  • Christmas card c/o

The Parish Council Minutes #8

  • More utterly riveting dispatches from Shufflehampton Parish Council, England. ‘If democracy wasn’t already dead, it would be dead now.’ MADE UP QUOTE

THE CHAIRMAN convened the meeting at 7.30 pm.

Item 1

Councillor Martin’s gangster friends, possibly imaginary, yesterday

Cyril Keenly, the Clerk of the Parish Council, confirmed that the minutes of the last meeting were to be amended to show Councillor Pritchard not being brutally slain with a pick-axe. While Councillor Pritchard had seemed dead when he’d been found in the hallway, it later emerged he’d only been seriously injured when he woke up suddenly in the morgue, making the cleaner do a big poo in his undercrackers.

Councillor Lathers said she’d been denied entry to the hospital ward by armed police but had learned that Councillor Pritchard had fallen into a coma, stopping him from spilling all he knew about the bodies recently found under the Cow and Banjo and also from coming to meetings for a bit.

Councillor Martin said all this silly nonsense could be sorted out discreetly and professionally through her contacts in the Russian mafia, and would anyone like a coconut macaroon.

Item 2

As per the new procedure, the Chairman asked Councillors to declare any murders.

It was noted that no Councillors had murdered anyone since the last meeting. No Councillors had tried to murder Councillor Pritchard either because they all had perfectly plausible alibis, and anyone who thought any different could jog on, quite frankly.

Councillor Boothby said she was concerned about the reputational damage all this was causing the Parish Council but was glad there was nothing else anyone knew about which could make matters worse.

Councillor Watterson said not so fast, baby cakes.

Item 3

Councillor Watterson said the recent ladies’ night hosted by Shufflehampton Women’s Institute at the village hall had descended into debauchery. As was the case with a similar event at the Cow and Banjo, food and drinks were served at tables to sozzled guests by half naked waiters, causing innocent people to be hurt and / or lightly fondled in the process.

Councillor Boothby said her son Brian hadn’t been one of the waiters this time because he was still being treated for the severe burns he’d received last time from that red-hot sausage plait. This had been so traumatic it had put Brian off any future career in catering, semi-clothed or otherwise, and even now he couldn’t walk past the hot pastry counter at Greggs without getting unpleasant, involuntary twinges. Often, he’d wake up screaming in the night with a recurring nightmare about being chased down a corridor by a giant, freshly baked steak and ale slice with hot coals for eyes, laughing at him.


Brian, still in pain, still applying the cream

Councillor Martin said the involuntary twinges she’d had at the ladies’ night hadn’t been unpleasant at all and she’d not had feelings like these since that holiday fling with Enrique in Marbella in 1978.

Councillor Watterson said he’d seen photos on Twitter of Councillor Lathers canoodling in a hedge with a young male model and Councillor Martin hoisting a pair of enormous frilly knickers up a flagpole. Councillor Watterson said several Parish Councillors were setting an appalling example to the community and it was high time they were removed from office.

Councillor Gooding agreed, showing Councillor Watterson a photo on his mobile of Councillor Watterson at a karaoke party, standing in a bowl of warm custard, drunkenly singing Barry Manilow’s Copacabana with a colourful peacock feather sticking out of his sequined hot pants. At this point Councillor Watterson stopped speaking.

The Chairman asked if anyone had any dirt on him. Councillor Gooding passed the Chairman his mobile to look at some other photos, and the Chairman immediately resigned.

Councillor Martin said all it would take was one phone call, and Sergei and Anatoly could make all these problems go away. One phone call.

Item 4

Councillor Boothby assumed leadership of the meeting as Vice Chair. She said that in the circumstances it was probably best to end this meeting and reconvene another time. Those Councillors who hadn’t already left the meeting in shame, embarrassment or disgust agreed with Councillor Boothby, and then left the meeting in shame, embarrassment or disgust.

Item 5

Under ‘Any Other Business’, there was no other business because there was no-one left, to be fair.

The meeting ended at 8.01 pm, with Councillor Martin making a phone call.

copyright (c) carterbloke 2019

Minutes of previous meetings

Photo credits