Shall we meet then, you and I… In Skyros

Shall we meet then, you and I, on a Greek island in September? Any day between Saturday 4th and 11th? Admittedly you will have to pay for this – but think what fun we can have…

 

This will be the 4th time I have taught a course this year called ‘Mindlessness’ on the island of Skyros and here are the reasons why you should come and be my student this year

 

The island is beautiful (see pics) and so in September is the weather. The Skyros Centre lies in the tiny capital of the island – a jumble of white dwellings, groovy bars and restaurants.

 

My  ‘lessons’ take place in the mornings on a stone terrace overlooking the blue Aegean Sea. Laughter is inevitable. Peace is available in the afternoons when you can make the short walk to sit on the sandy beach, swam in the sea, eat fresh seafood or write your novel.

 

This is the blurb about my course:

Mindlessness

Mindlessness is a course for people who are interested in laughter, both doing it and making it happen. If you want to be a comic novelist, a playwright, a writer of screen plays, sketches, poetry and gags or, if you are really deranged and want to be a stand up comedian, then there will be something here for you. If, on the other hand you have no such ambition but just want to sit around laughing in the Aegean sun then you too are welcome.

There will be discussions about what is funny and exercises in how to make funny happen. You will be invited to write stories, poems and one-liners, and to recount anecdotes about your shameful past; you will learn about the rule of 3, the importance of the call back and how to cope with deranged hecklers. Most importantly, at the end everyone gets a certificate.

Some of my methods are old school e.g I will cane anyone who is more than ten minutes late and I must be addressed at all times as sir.

 

You need not be desperate to become a writer or comedian to come along – my students have included retired teachers, an optician, the newly-divorced wife of an oil executive, a Norwegian nurse, an MI5 operative and a bicycle repair-man

 

Some of my methods are ‘old school’ eg I will thrash anyone who is more than ten minutes late and I must be addressed at all times as ‘sir’.

 

If you have failed to clock that that last sentence was a joke then we have some work to do. Good.

 

 

Xxxxxxxxx

 

 

Theseus died on Skyros and Achilles left from there to take part in the Trojan Wars. And, for someone like myself, educated at a grammar school in the sixties, when we all had to know the poets of the First World War, Skyros has a special resident –  Rupert Brooke is buried there. His most famous lines take on a new poignancy when you stand at his grave in an olive grove that lies on the barren, goat-attracting Southern tip of the island:

 

‘If I should die, think only this of me.

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England’

 

So, hope to see you there and if you are till uncertain this is the clincher

 

EVERYONE GETS A CERTIFICATE!

 

A Holiday with Arthur Smith

Sun 4th to Sun 11th – Mindlessness: Comedy Writing – A course for people who are interested in laughter – Skyros Centre, Greece – Course & Booking info

 

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After Loose Ends

 

 

I am on Radio 4’s Loose Ends today, a programme I have enjoyed doing since the late 80s. These days it is fronted by the splendid Clive Anderson, pre-recorded on Friday and goes out at 6.15 on Saturday, but back then it was live for an hour at 10am and was hosted by the unforgettable Ned Sherrin. This is a bit from my autobiography about the post-Loose End pleasure of those Saturday mornings…..

 

 

“After Ned’s closing topical quip he removed his headphones and rose from the table.

 

‘Thank you everyone. I am now going to the George pub round the corner. If anyone would like to join me I shall be buying the first round.’ And so, at 11am, we arrived for opening time at the pub, where Ned would buy his promised round, even if there were twenty members of a band supplementing the guests. Here, hair was let down, anecdotes unsuitable for broadcast were told and, occasionally, a liaison was made. The latest I ever left the George was 9 pm but the record was held by David Soul, who, by staying for twelve hours, completed the full day’s drinking session.

 

More usually, I would leave after a pint and unwind by walking through the West End. Great Portland Street to Oxford Street, where I duck away from the crowds down the avenue that takes you past the Palladium Stage Door, along Great Marlborough Street, right into Berwick Street with its sociable market stalls and So High Soho, a temple of femininity where, for comedy purposes, I sometimes buy funny costumes and copies of the Cunt Colouring Book.

 

Past the Raymond Revue Bar, left along London’s premier gay thoroughfare, Old Compton Street, to the Cambridge Theatre at Cambridge Circus and down alongside the National Portrait Gallery, siphoning off left before Trafalgar Square to Charing Cross Station, where I take Villiers Street to the river and cross the Hungerford footbridge to Waterloo. On the skyline to my left, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, ahead the Festival Hall and the National Theatre, beneath me the swirling grey waters of the Thames. To the right stand the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

 

Every one of these names recalls stories and characters from my past. Oh London, multicoloured metropolis, the only world city in Europe, the town that bred me, my London, look at the big old capital on a Saturday lunchtime, greeting all the world, relaxed, glamorous, glinting with promise, pulsating with a billion possibilities.”

 

Lots of Gigs to be found here

Laugharne

Stage – Laugharne

 

The first ridiculous thing about it is its name. Laugharne starts with the word ‘laugh’ but is pronounced as one syllable, ‘Larn’, despite having an absurd 9 letters. I asked my audience in the Millennium Hall if they could think of another place that could match that. ‘Luton’, shouted one woman, failing on all counts.

 

Then there is its location; it sounds like it should be in Ireland but my train ticket took me to Swansea, then Carmarthen where I was picked up and driven the last fifteen miles to the village-sized town. It is situated beautifully on the estuary of the River Taf and, unless you are planning to drown yourself in the quicksands or your Satnav is badly awry, you do not pass through it on the way to anywhere else – ‘We never had evolution in Laugharne,’ explained one local.

 

If the name rings a bell that is because it was, for several years, home to Dylan Thomas and his family, and is thought to have been an inspiration for the fictional town of Llareggub, which the Welch poet describes in Under Milk Wood.

As a teenager I was obsessed with Thomas’ boozy lyricism so I was intrigued to hang out there

 

The meagre population is swollen frequently by visitors to the festivals that take place in Laugharne every year.  Which is how I found myself there 2 weekends ago as part of a series of events which referenced some anniversary of Thomas and included Keith Allen talking conspiracy theories with David Icke and Phil Jupitus DJ-ing in the local pub.

 

Like Llareggub (‘bugger all’ backwards – good gag Dylan) the town is full of colourful characters; in the space of about 2 hours I met a man who installs Richard Branson’s billiard tables on his island of Necker, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction who gave me a fag, Roy who sits in the same spot in the same pub every day from 10 til 5 and another wild-haired dude who claimed, quite plausibly, to be 700 years old.

 

I spent a happy hour sitting in ‘the boathouse’, where Thomas lived and wrote from 1949 until his untimely death in new York in 1953, explored the large crumbling castle that gazes out towards the ocean and conducted the following conversation with a man in the graveyard where Dylan is buried.

 

Old lady: Good morning

Me: Good morning. Though, technically, that should be ‘good afternoon’.

Ol:  Really? What time is it?

Me:  Five o’clock.

 

The day after my show (very well thanks, since you ask) I rose at dawn and sat on a bench overlooking the broad watery sands and sky. I was immediately accosted by a woman with a clipboard doing a survey which posed the question, ‘how could your stay have been improved?’ My only thought was, ‘by not having to answer a questionnaire when I just want to enjoy the view.’

 

In the end I was pleased to be heading to London so I could find some peace and quiet at last. Festival season is upon us – make sure you get to at least one before the leaves start to fall.

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

 

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Arthur Smith Talacharn2014

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Arthur Smith Talacharn2014

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young

Photographs Copyright Emyr Young