#TheIdleWomen tour begins!

I’m about to embark on a 49-show tour of Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways – an Arts Council funded double bill with writer/performer Kate Saffin. Although I’ve spent many holidays travelling on a 70ft narrow boat, this will be a very new experience! I will be blogging about it on the Alarum Theatre website www.alarumtheatre.co.uk so may go a little quiet on my own blog.

To find out a bit more about this work, see/hear these interviews:

A BBC London interview with myself and Kate  click here
An interview (just me) in Theatre Weekly  click here

And have a look at the Alarum website which has all the dates and lots of information.

Wish us luck, and I hope to see you at one of the shows!

IWWW 2017 e-flyer

The crew at Fishery Wharf

Narrow boat Tench with L to R: Steerer Heather, performer Kate, owner & steerer Alex, performer Heather

Peter Kay’s Car Share (3 tiny poems)

This morning I was interviewed on BBC Hereford & Worcester and BBC WM about being commissioned to write poetry for the Nationwide ad campaign. BBC WM asked me if I wouldn’t mind writing a short poem for them on a subject they were discussing – Peter Kay’s ‘Car Share’. Now I happen to love that programme, so I agreed, and came up with:

Peter Kay’s ‘Car Share’

Thrown together to share a car
They chat and dream and travel far
Kayleigh, John and Forever FM
A situation comedy gem

© Heather Wastie
written for BBC WM 12th April 2017

For the film of the Nationwide ad, I was asked to wear a beanie or bobble hat. During the filming day I got chatting on the subject of hats with a lovely guy from the film company called Jon who inspired this:


I’m happy in a beanie
And I’m partial to a bobble
For I like to wear a hat that is
Both warm and comfortobble

© Heather Wastie

And for no particular reason, I’ll leave you with this thought:

Important question

Now the Queen’s an oldie
Is she going mouldy?

© Heather Wastie


Words are not enough

In the spirit of NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) here’s a poem written and posted the same day:

Words and stuff

Words are not enough, look
expressionless bare without
an excess of exes
crowds of emoticons
colons stolen by brackets
the last surviving punctuation?

we are bored with words
nuances bullied
by shiny shouty

© Heather Wastie
3rd April 2017

Nationwide exposure

You may have seen the series of Nationwide Building Society tv ads which has been running for a while now, featuring poets performing their own work. Well now it’s my turn. I was one of several poets contacted by The Poetry Takeaway and commissioned to write poems fitting a brief to do with mums and sons. I was asked to write 2 poems, one lasting 30 seconds and the other just 10 seconds and film them on my phone. Of the poems written, mine were chosen to be filmed by VCCP to be used on tv and in cinemas if all went well. So ….

I travelled down to London by train from Kidderminster then got in a taxi to Bexley Heath, a bit of a nightmare journey as it coincided with the tube strike. Then I spent a day in a vast allotment recording my poems over and over again, outside at first, then in a car when the weather turned. In the morning it got pretty chilly sitting around between takes but there was a lovely chap who draped a sleeping bag over me whenever there was a long enough break, and I was plied with hot drinks all day. The director and film crew were a real pleasure to work with and the owner of the plot we used came and had a look. She asked me for an autograph for her son, which was nice, and apt.

That was in January. Now, at the end of March, the ad is actually going live. A couple of weeks ago I went down to London again to record the longer poem for radio, and it will be in print too. I have been paid for every stage of this project, and also for a day writing poems on demand at Nationwide’s conference for all their employees, at the NEC. Some of the employees wrote poems of their own saying how much they enjoyed their work. I very much enjoyed mine too, and this collaboration between poets and a building society, brokered by The Poetry Takeaway, is doing a great job of bringing a variety of poetry into people’s homes and raising the profile of poetry and poets.

Here’s a link to my 30 second poem https://youtu.be/z7q9zmc4hjY?list=PLF9206AD222A37AA8

#TheIdleWomen Recreating the Journey

My collaboration with writer, Kate Saffin, has gone from strength to strength since we first met, just a year ago! Our show Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways is about to embark on a major Arts Council funded tour, travelling by canal, recreating the journey worked by women trainees during WW2.

IWWW 2017 e-flyer

To read an article about us in the quirkily named online magazine, The Floater, click HERE or to go to the Alarum Theatre website click HERE.

In the Silent Section

In January I mentioned on my blog (see Silent Practice ) that my nephew had sent me material for a poem  Actually it was more of a vivid rant! Here’s the piece I wrote using his words.

In the Silent Section
for Matt 

I am in the silent section
and I’m very very stressed;
there’s a girl walked in with headphones;
she’s an irritating pest.

She is ‘whispering’ the lyrics
thinking no-one else can hear
and she’s not the only person
making noises in my ear.

There are two guys sat behind me
clearly DO NOT understand
if they chat they are NOT silent!
Now it’s getting out of hand.

There’s a guy who’s begging sympathy
across the ‘silent’ room;
he is snorting and he’s sniffling
and I’m going to kill him soon.

There’s a bag left on the table
(‘table hoarding’ drives me mad)
with a phone in and it’s RINGING!
JUSTIN BEIBER!!! Add to that

the bloke who’s up a ladder
fiddling with a faulty light
chatting on his walkie talkie,
it strikes me he’s not that bright.

We are in the Silent Section!
As my ears begin to bleed,
I scream out in sheer frustration
It’s a library! Can’t you read???!!

© Heather Wastie

Torrey Canyon and loss

Just over 2 years ago I had a conversation with musician Sam Underwood http://www.mrunderwood.co.uk/. We talked about disasters, both public and personal, and I wrote the piece below for him, using words found in a news report about the 1967 Torrey Canyon disaster. Click here to read the report

As well as thinking about the devastation caused by this tragic event, I also had in mind the effects of losing someone close to you, more specifically what it’s like knowing you are about to lose someone close to you. I think that’s probably what inspired the title.

Not long after writing this, I did some recording for Sam who encouraged me to sing as low in my register and as slowly as possible. A very cathartic experience.

An everyday thing that changed the world
for Sam Underwood

March 1967. Torrey Canyon has run aground,
hit Pollard’s Rock in the Seven Stones reef,
a supertanker, snagged on rocks, breaking up,
bleeding its cargo of oil into the sea.

Troops patrol the coastline, standing by
as the giant oil slick heads towards beaches.
The oil could cover the whole of the coast
for a year.

Tens of thousands of tons of oil,
a slick 35 miles long and 20 miles wide,
sludge a foot deep,
the biggest problem of its kind
ever faced by any nation.

Bombs rain down on Torrey Canyon
but the stricken tanker refuses to sink
to the bottom of the sea.

Holiday makers gather on cliffs.
The towering column of flames and smoke
is seen a hundred miles away.

70 miles of Cornish beaches seriously contaminated,
tens of thousands of seabirds killed;
the heavy use of detergent more damaging to marine life
than the oil.

This is the worst environmental disaster to date.
This is the costliest shipping disaster ever.
The slick can only be dispersed by favourable weather.

© Heather Wastie