Blog Posts

Alan Morris writes about his inspiration.

Alan Morris near seaOn today’s post, Alan Morris writes about the real life events that inspired his monologue.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  I know, another Portsmouth resident had already written that! But for us it was true.

We were an ordinary Pompey family, terraced house single parent occasional trips to foreign sun.
As the sun tan faded Kyle became unwell, Kyle was never unwell. Kyle collapsed I collapsed.
Years later Kyle was awarded his doctorate, not bad for a kid from Southsea who recovered from brain damage.

I was the proud Dad started writing about what we had been through together.
I wish there was a time machine to hand my story to myself in that hospital ward, perhaps I did.
I do hope someone reads our story perhaps going through something similar and manages to find hope.

Jules Garvey Welsh writes about self-publishing for reluctant readers

Originally from the Black Country I settled in Hampshire after completing my teaching degree Jules Garvey Welchat Chichester University. I am married with two teenage children and work part time as a primary school teacher.

My first self-published novel was called ‘The Drefus Academy’ (Agueda). I have a great passion for encouraging reluctant readers and so wanted to write a book which had an exciting story and plot, but which had accessible language for those children who were not quite ready for the more challenging text of popular novels.

The Dreyfus Academy (Agueda) is a sci-fi, time travel novel about a boy with exceptional observation and reasoning skills, who is recruited into a secret government academy, training young people for time travel missions. Encouraged by the positive reviews of the first book, I am currently working on the next in the series.

I have also written an anthology for adults called ‘Beyond the Bell Tower.’ The stories are written from many perspectives. You will see through the eyes of a desperate teenager viewing the world from the bell tower, feel the heartbeat of a woman accused by a medieval witch finder and experience the emotions of young soldiers in the theatre of battle.

This anthology offers passion and danger, intrigue and death and gives us a glimpse into the pain of the troubled mind.

Using a palette that explores the colours of life and loss, I have woven tales ranging from the deepest grey of the trenches, to the brightest hues of an afterlife.


The Dreyfus Academy paperback

The Dreyfus Academy download

Beyond the Bell Tower paperback

Linda Rushby – Social Media Manager, Writer and Indie Publisher

Linda Hadfield HeadshotI first came to the South Coast as a student at the University of Southampton in the 1970s. When I left at the end of my three year course, I knew this was the part of the country I wanted to live in, and was determined to return one day. Life had other plans: I moved to Bedford for my first job after graduation, met a local man, got married, had kids and ended up spending most of my life about as far from the coast as it’s possible to get in England. But fortunately, by the time I returned in 2015, I’d seen the light and settled in Southsea rather than Southampton!

Three things have struck me since I moved here: how many people I meet have moved to Portsmouth from other places; how many say that they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else; and how many are creative in some way, whether professionally or for the love of it: writers, artists, musicians, and craftspeople.

It’s this combination of affection for the city and a vibrant cultural and artistic scene that makes Portsmouth Plugged In such an exciting project and is the reason why I was delighted to get involved.  My role of social media manager involves setting up the Facebook page and Twitter account, keep them rolling  ( with lots of help and support from the rest of the committee (especially Charlotte).

I’ve had quite a ?checkered? /varied? career – including IT, academic research, administration, web design and print design – but one thing I’ve always done is write. I know that what I’ve written has defined me, whether or not it ever reaches a wider readership. I have the classic never-published typescript (a fantasy novel), another unfinished fantasy novel (first of a trilogy), a travel memoir which I’m currently editing prior to self-publishing, stacks of poems, journals and a ten year history of blogging. It was blogging which changed my relationship to my writing, making a daily ritual of capturing that stream of words which constantly flows through my head – and convincing me that there are people out there who actually want to read what I write.

I used to discipline myself to write a minimum of 500 words a day for my blog, and sometimes I did this daily for months on end. When it’s going well, it feels like taking dictation –  come to that, it can feel like taking dictation when it’s going badly too. There’s always some story going on in my head. If I catch the words when they’re in flight, it’s easier than trying to pull them out of nowhere at a later time – like putting up a net for them to fly into, as opposed to having to stalk them. You have to grab what you can and sort them out later. It’s no good trying to be cautious and canny and get them to come to you. If I wait for those perfectly polished phrases to appear fully formed, I’ll never get anywhere.

Recently I’ve become interested in the process of publishing too, and the way print-on-demand technology and e-books have opened up the market. I’m passionate about good writing and good book design – a sadly underrated and misunderstood craft. My pet hate is so-called publishing companies who will accept any unedited, ?unproof-read, poorly laid out pdf, then print or e-publish it and sell it back to the author without offering any help or advice. My dream is to raise the game of independent publishing by using my arcane collection of skills – good grammar, spelling, punctuation, layout design and proof reading – to help authors to craft their work into quality books which do justice to their inspiration and ideas.

So that’s me – a lover of words and a lover of books – not to mention a lover of Portsmouth, feeling as though I’ve come home at last.

Charlotte Comley: Project Manager

charlottephotoI’ve always been a fan of Alan Bennett, and I adored Talking Heads. I don’t know if you remember the series of dramatic monologues written for BBC television. The two series were first broadcast in 1988 and 1998, and have since been broadcast on BBC Radio and included on the A-level and GCSE English Literature syllabus. They have always been an inspiration to me.

Then a couple of Christmas’s ago Little Crackers a British Christmas comedy-drama was broadcast on Sky1. It consisted of a series of short films featuring stars of British and Irish comedy, including Stephen Fry, Catherine Tate, Chris O’Dowd, Kathy Burke, Victoria Wood, and Bill Bailey. And memories of the Alan Bennett monologues started to surface.

The creatives amongst us will understand the brain itch, the idea that grows bigger and bigger until you end up doing something about it. In my case, it was Portsmouth Plugged In. When I saw the call for creative projects in the Portsmouth Festivities the idea of producing a series of dramatic monolgues, once again took hold.

However, I did want to do something different. I still have the vivid memory of Alan performing in front of a large screen. And I decided that it would be a good idea. Luckily, Portsmouth University and the British Film Institute offered to help. I also asked members of the community to make some films so that local writers had a starting point to develop a monologue.

There will be a performance in June, which I’m extremely excited about. And I am curious what the city’s creatives will do with the challenge. It will be interesting to see the finished pieces.

Jessica Comley: IT Technician

IMG_3092[1]I’ve been involved with spoken word projects since I was ten years old. I really enjoy performing and I’ve had a great deal of fun. I have performed at Southsea Show, Lammas Day Festival, Day of the Dead and Pop-up Dickens amongst others. I have also met a lot of local writers and spoken word artists.

Although I have enjoyed performing – for Portsmouth Plugged In, on this occasion I’m taking more of a technical role. This is something I’m used to as I’m the go-to girl regarding technology because I live in the same house as two technophobes. They can no more turn on a DVD player as transfer pictures from a camera to a computer.

For Portsmouth Plugged In, I have made a video of a small Chinese shop on Commercial Road. It’s one of my favourite places in Portsmouth because I simply adore Bing Bing Bubble Tea. Don’t comment unless you’ve tried it! I recommend the passion fruit and lychee bubble! I’ll also be giving technical assistance on the day, which basic ally means I’m in charge of a projector.IMG_3093[1]

Jackie Green: Blog Editor and Anthology Proof Reader

jackiehertsCalories and Creative writing

As a newcomer to Southsea, I have spent the last year discovering some excellent spots for creative writing. A lover of coffee and all things calorific I am often seen in its excellent coffee shops which offer great views of the sea (The Coffee Cup Eastney Esplanade and the Beach Cafe), fab sofas (The Garage Lounge, Albert Road), great cakes (The Ninth Hole) and even some records I actually remember (Pie and Vinyl, Castle Street).

Coming from leafy Hertfordshire I was concerned I would miss the rolling hills and pretty villages but the somewhat eccentric but always friendly characters here on the South Coast have more than made up for that. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a port and holiday destination but if you sit for more than five minutes or wait in a queue for a bus, just about everyone chats to you. This has given me some wonderful material for characters and dialogue.

Mind you I have had to deal with some collateral damage along the way. Staring at the rolling sea is not a good idea when carrying a tray of coffees and danish pastries to the comfy but very low Directors’ chairs at the Coffee Cup. I failed to see the step down on the beautiful new decking and ended up spreadeagled across the floor wearing my Apple Danish delights and sporting some unusal coffee-coloured downlights in my hair. Several people, including the staff rushed to my aid and a fresh order was produced without fuss. After finishing, I grabbed my oversized shopping bag to hide the embarassing stains and hobbled down the esplanade homeward bound.

On the other hand, I have also found real gold in them there hills, or more precisely, Debenhams café. As I set my tray down and prepared to get my notebook out, I noticed something sparkly under the menu. An impressive gold ring with a stone to die for. My imagination went into overdrive. Was this a rejected suitor? I could almost see the distraught boy sobbing into his soup of the day. Or could there be a stick-thin fiancee trailing through the kitchen department looking for gadgets to liquidise her latest batch of mung beans and tofu? I ran to the counter and handed the lost ring in much to the surprise of the till staff. I pointed several times to my table so they would recognise any distressed owners that happened to return.

Despite putting on about a stone in weight since I moved, its been a discovery of delight. Southsea has given me a renewed enthusiasm for writing and I still have plenty of venues to try.

Anyone for another muffin?

Abigail Comley: Writer and Film Contributor

I have been involved in storytelling from a very young age, often taking part in my mum’s performances. Now I’m older I have been taking a more active role in storytelling, becoming a professional storyteller in my own right. I have been involved in the Pop up Dickens event run by the Portsmouth City Museum, where I took the part of a street urchin and a goblin.

I have also been involved in Will Sutton’s Day of the Dead festival and have helped in lots of workshops at the Sustainability Centre revisiting around well-known tales like “Winne the Pooh” and “Alice in the Wonderland” as well as original tales like “How the Nettle got it’s Sting.”

Although I study drama at school, I can’t imagine working full time in this industry. I am hoping to start A Levels in September and explore a career in pyschology or medicine. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy to jump in and get involved in local community projects.

I am a bit of a technophobe, but I jumped in and made a video of the pet shop in Portsmouth. I also took the camera to Old Portsmouth at night, and while I walked the streets and looked at the inky black sea, the inns and the pubs, an idea for a monologue started to stir.

Margaret Jennings: Anthology Editor and Writer

I sometimes wonder what I’d do if my last thought on my death bed was, ‘Oh! I didn’t make it as a writer!’ Then I realise I’d just die – and I don’t suppose you can take any emotion, let alone profound disappointment, into the next world with you.

I have always been a writer, I will always be a writer. It is the way I am made. I didn’t always write because I somehow believed that writing was for people posher or more clever than me. This I expressed in a poem, “ Po-wit, Po-wit ? Where I come from / it’s like the froufrou stink of the bath / demented.”

For years, I hid my strange, pretentious, habit from others. But beautiful sentences sing to me, a new (and appropriate) simile or metaphor thrills me, and clichés do my head in. Now I chase the dream but the dream always seems to be running away with a fleeter foot than mine.

Many years ago, I plucked up courage and went to my first writing group which was lead by Denise Bennett. Then I went to University as a mature student to study English with Creative writing. I was fortunate in being taught by Vicki Feaver and many other talented writers. My work was received well and I went on to do a Masters in Creative writing. After a few years in the wilderness (studying for a French degree which I foolishly thought would give me time to write), I joined the Writers of Lovedean. I have had poetry and short stories published. People say they like my work. I go to open mic events. I have finished one novel and am half way through the second. I was long listed for the Bare Fiction prize. I work hard every day to improve my work.

Then Charlotte came up with the idea for Portsmouth Plugged in. I am a great fan of Alan Bennett and have always wanted to attempt a monologue. I met Alan once, sorry, Mr Bennett. I arrived late for a reading he was giving in Chichester. Amazingly they let me in. He was reading poems, so as quietly as I could, I found a space at the back. Then an attendant said I had to move because I was standing in front of a speaker and no-one could hear.

‘Look there’s a seat over there.’

Indeed, there was. In the middle of a row. I walked over and indicated to the woman that I needed to get to the seat. I didn’t dare talk because the Great Man himself was speaking. But instead of standing back against her chair so that I could edge through, she walked out into the aisle – and all the others followed, interrupting everyone’s enjoyment of the reading. Afterwards, at the book signing, I went up to Mr Bennett and apologised for disturbing him.

‘That’s all right,’ he said, ‘ I never noticed you coming in when I was reading my poems at all.’

I am still a fan despite being cut down to size.

I am looking forward to watching the films in Portsmouth Plugged In, and I’m keen to write my monologue. I’ve also been asked to run one of the workshops. This will mean analysing exactly what makes a monologue a monologue as opposed to a straightforward piece of first person writing. I might get in touch with Mr Bennett, mention that we have met before, send him some buttons because I have reason to believe he likes them, and ask if he would like to come and be our honoured guest. I know the answer will be no, but there’s no harm in asking.

My main role will be that of the editor of the anthology. And there will be no favouritism. I have to hope my piece is good enough to go in. If it is not, I shall do what Candy Crush has taught me; create lots of movement in the writing world by sending lots of stuff out, take time out to consider new tactics, treasure the advise of others, and keep going even when life seems to have you stuck on a level. And after sulking for a bit, I shall start chasing the dream again, in the hope that she now has a thorn in her foot and cannot run so fast.

And I will no longer have to fear a feeling of failure on my deathbed.

About Portsmouth Plugged In

Portsmouth Plugged In is the collaboration between writers and film makers and the Portsmouth Community.

Film makers, and members of the Portsmouth community are invited to make films about Portsmouth across three themes:

Portsmouth Past

Portsmouth People

Portsmouth Places

These will be available for viewing on the Portsmouth Plugged In Youtube channel.

Writers are invited to choose a film as inspiration for writing a six minute monologue. These monologues will be recorded on podcasts and put on the website. And some writers will be performing their monologue with the film playing in the background on the 24th June.

Portsmouth Plugged In is part of the Portsmouth Fesitivities.