How Wars Start in Cheltenham ….

On Friday 1st May, Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal and I will present How Wars Start at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. 

In the middle of last year, I applied for a Kidderminster Arts Festival ‘small-scale commission’ to create an interactive performance poetry piece called How Do Wars Start?  Having been successful, I felt it would be a better piece if I created it with another poet and immediately thought of Fergus. I’m a great admirer of his work and had a feeling creative sparks would fly in unexpected directions if we got together. He said yes, and we split the fee between us. What an excellent decision it turned out to be!

Influenced by Fergus’s approach to language and performance, I experienced a creative surge as I grappled with the challenge of identifying how wars start. Not the waging of war or the aftermath etc; how they actually begin. We sat one day in my garden brainstorming ideas then went our separate ways to each write 10 minutes of material. Our show needed to be entertaining, funny and visual. I collected ideas on our Facebook page, watched some wonderful street theatre in Kidderminster, assembled inexpensive props – a bit of old carpet, a plastic plant pot, a hand-puppet, balloons.

The pieces we had written slotted together easily and we both thoroughly enjoyed the whole process culminating in a day of performances in Kidderminster town centre, one to a captive and appreciative audience in the library and two in public thoroughfares where passersby were rather bemused. 


For Cheltenham, we’ve written lots of new material to make an hour-long show, 9.00-10.00pm in the Everyman Other Space Studio Theatre, 7-10 Regent Street, Cheltenham GL50 1HQ. Tickets are £7 / £4 .  Here’s a taster. See our Facebook page for more https:/ Hope to see you on May 1st!

Dummies’ guide to starting a war  by Heather Wastie

Part 1

The first step is to be born,

which of course you already have,

so congratulations!

That is half the battle.

Please now refer to the pack supplied 

with every copy of this book,

“Things to help you start a war”.

Open it up and take a look ….

First you’ll find a marker pen to draw in the air

a solid permanent thick black line.

Shoes to hang above the road,

so you can shout “Those shoes are mine!”

A gun, a bullet,

a bullet-proof vest,

A pump to help you

puff out your chest ……

To see the full Cheltenham Poetry Festival programme, go to

Mean time

Mean time

It is the custom of this land
to fiddle with the hour hand,
to move it back, which makes us curse,
to move it forth, and that’s much worse!

It puts us at sixes and sevenses
and unsettles all our elevenses.

I’ve got a message for the Queen:
Such indecisiveness is mean,
we like our ticks, we love our tocks,
we want protection for our clocks!

You’d hear lots of clapping and cheering,
if Time Lords would stop interfering!

© Heather Wastie


Saturday April 18th 7.45pm
Heather Wastie – “Idle Women and Judies”
plus folk group Keepers Lock

Trip boat, King Arthur, Gloucester Waterways Museum, Llanthony Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester GL1 2EH
£10 incl ploughmans
Tel Maurice Boye 01242 570457
or email mauriceboye at hotmail dot com

Friday May 1st 9.00-10.00pm
How do wars start? – Heather Wastie & Fergus McGonigal
Cheltenham Poetry Festival
The Everyman Other Space Studio, 7 – 10 Regent Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 1HQ
In this hilarious, explosive and highly entertaining event, slam-champs and performance poets Fergus McGonigal & Heather Wastie go head to head to explore the sometimes farcical nature of arguments.