You Took The Last Bus Home: The Poems of Brian Bilston

By Brian Bilston

First collection from the Poet Laureate of Twitter

Monday, 29 February 2016

Easier shed than done

Dear Guardians of the Shed,

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve journeyed down to the bottom of my garden to pen you all a post and for that - and so many other things besides - I can only apologise. So here’s an update on progress – and what a lot of progress there has been, too.

Firstly, the book is now 145% funded. That means, in layperson’s terms, that the book is more than funded. The consequence is that I now need to deliver a final book that is at least 45% better than I originally intended in order to deliver VALUE to the CONSUMER. Those very kind people at Unbound tell me that if we can get to 200% funded then they’d like to be able to offer some additional special “stuff”, free to those who have helped to support the project. This, for instance, could take the form of an audio recording of some of the poems in the book. If you have any particular favourites (or indeed ones which you simply dislike slightly less), then do let me know and I can get my vocal cords warmed up.

And, if you can continue to spread the word about the book amongst your friends, or your frenemies if you’d rather, that would be hugely helpful.

Secondly, I have been beavering away to get my poems in tip-top shape for submitting to Unbound. There are over 160 of them. Some poems I have left in their original, pristine condition. Others have undergone mild tweaking. Others still have been utterly dismantled and then reassembled in different and radical forms. For example, a haiku I had written about Piers Morgan has now evolved into a Pindaric ode which offers a rumination of, and critical response to, Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man.

And then I’ve been sorting out the running order. Having originally thought to sort them by theme (for example, Poems about Love, Poems about Waste Collection, Poems about Jeremy Clarkson etc), I have now decided to sort them in Random Order. Well, sort of random. Mediated chaos. Like a poetry collection set in iPod shuffle mode.

Next up is some kind of Preliminary Matter in the form of an Introduction. That’s my job for this week and then off it goes to Unbound assuming, in the interim, I don’t lose either my laptop or my memory stick. Or my memory itself, which is something that seems increasingly probable.

I shall leave you with a poem from the collection concerning the seasonal migration of ice cream vans.

Please do swing by the shed for a chat soon.


The Ice Cream Vans

It has been warm this winter
so it was not until today

that I saw the vans begin
their slow rumble south -

startled into movement
by the early January frost

which had gathered softly
upon their windscreens

before waking them suddenly
as if from a night sweat.

I watch this strange procession
as it passes, a curious sight

suggestive of fun and funerals -
an ice-creamed cavalcade,

a cornettoed cortege
of lollies and ninety-nines,

all pinks and whites
and Mr Whippy markings -

bound for North Africa.
Not all will make it.

And, as they pass by,
I hear the wayward chimes

of Greensleeves, O Sole Mio,
Half a Pound of Treacle

for these are the songs
they sing to each other

as they start their journey
and I feel myself charmed

even though they do not
chime for me.

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Pip Meadway
 Pip Meadway says:

As an alternative to making it 45% better you could give 1.45 books to each person, or give one book to every 0.689655172413793 of a person.

posted 29th February 2016

New Hedgehog Bookshop New Hedgehog Bookshop
 New Hedgehog Bookshop New Hedgehog Bookshop says:

You could go for BOGOHP which is even better than 45%.
Or you could come and sing your poems in the bookshop. We have tea and a kettle.

posted 29th February 2016

Brian Bilston
 Brian Bilston says:

Thank you. That's a very helpful suggestion - and one I will run by Unbound. But imagine if it got to 200%: you could have 2 books each and then be able to read it in stereo.

posted 29th February 2016

Brian Bilston
 Brian Bilston says:

The bookshop recital is another good suggestion - although I would prefer it if I could drink tea whilst letting the kettle sing my poems.

posted 29th February 2016

Helen Waldron
 Helen Waldron says:

You could do an international tour for the non-UK residents. I teach English as a foreign language in Germany and my students love your poems as much as I do. Have you done a poem about an impecunious language teacher yet?

posted 29th February 2016

Nick Murza
 Nick Murza says:

If you get to 200%, a 3D version would be really cool, because 3D makes everything cool. You know, something that really makes the poems leap off the page and smack you in the face? Or add scratch and sniff. Imagine turning the page to see "The Ice Cream Vans" and be overwhelmed by essence of diesel fumes and Funny Feet.

posted 29th February 2016

Pip Meadway
 Pip Meadway says:

In reply to Nick Murza...this sounds great although, depending on the topic of the poem, there may be some I wouldn't even want to scratch let alone sniff.

posted 29th February 2016

Angela Zemp
 Angela Zemp says:

I'd like a 45% bigger signed photo, please Brian!

Or, if that's not possible, a 99 with a flake. ;) xx

posted 29th February 2016

Brian Bilston
 Brian Bilston says:

Thank you for all the feedback. If I'm correct, so far we have:

- 1.45 copies of the book to each person
- bookshop appearances including tea
- international language school tour, including personalised poems for teachers
- a 3D version
- a Scratch and Sniff version, although perhaps not for the Jeremy Clarkson poems
- a signed photo enlarged by 45%
- and a 99 with a flake

That is all very helpful. I will review these options and any more that come in.

posted 29th February 2016

Arie-Willem Bons
 Arie-Willem Bons says:

Do hope you'll to 200% funding! The thrill will be that there's no way of telling what will come of this! ;)

posted 29th February 2016

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