Early birds and bright sparks

Be prepared for eavesdropping....

So, the early birds are sitting smugly on their laurels, whilst the procrastinators rush round the house looking for a pen and shouting ‘Less than a fortnight to go!’ Today’s selection includes the Goldilocks writers – those who submitted not too late, and not too early. We have poems from Suzanna Fitzpatrick and Rosie Sandler, and a short story from Catherine Fearn, in our excitingly titled August 3rd selection. And there’s another thrilling prize to be won, so read on, dear Buggers….

There’s also new work from two more core writers – David Calcutt (co-host of Bugged) and Leila Rasheed (fresh from her honeymoon, so well done for focusing). We thought long and hard about the title for this document – we decided on Core writers – August 3rd. Leila’s piece has inspired this visual response by artist Helen White….

Now – that prize. Here at Bugged Towers we have snagged a copy of The Five-Minute Writer, which is full of useful spark exercises for all kinds of writing. As usual you have to earn it. We were tickled to notice that the BBC news site, which shows a constantly updated list of ‘most searched for topics’ was displaying the following three subjects this morning: KNITTING – POETRY – WATERCRESS. So your challenge is this: send us (via Comments on this website) a paragraph including those three words. The one that makes us laugh, cry or spill our beer with its creative brilliance, will get the book. Deadline for this little mission… ooh, let’s give you till Saturday shall we?

You can now book for the first Bugged launch in Manchester on October 14th here (it’s free, but it would be nice to know how many are coming). There is plenty of other great stuff in the programme for the Manchester Literature Festival, so look through the other events too. The Birmingham launch is on 21st October – more news of that soon.

There’s still plenty of time to send us your piece of writing based on an overhearing. If you need instruction, the basics of Bugged are here – ignore the bit about July 1st, you can eavesdrop any time. But don’t forget to submit via our Submissions Form – we can’t accept even the greatest masterpiece otherwise!

8 thoughts on “Early birds and bright sparks

  1. Re: knitting/poetry/watercress:

    [title] parenting

    after a tea of watercress
    with brown bread and butter
    mother sat knitting
    beside the winter grate
    empty of warmth until
    her husband set a match
    to the volume of poetry
    left for their daughter
    by a hopeless lover


    It’s been so long now I’m almost beyond hope. Seven weeks, three days, six hours, thirty-two minutes. It rained earlier and the slow drip from the gutter marks the seconds. I press her knitting to my face, the knitting she abandoned when the call came through. France again, I’ll be bound. Working with the resistance; dodging the Gestapo. That volume of poetry her constant companion. It’s time now. Time to summon my courage and open the package that arrived this morning. Pray God I’m wrong. Arthritic fingers fumbling – the brown paper rips… and no, I’m not wrong: it’s the Rimbaud. Mrs B brings watercress sandwiches on a tray and tucks a napkin under my chin.

    Paul Beech

  3. ‘Green Art’

    This year’s Turner Prize went to Moss Stitch for knitting & modelling a poetry jumper made out of watercress. The judges unanimously agreed it was one hell of a yarn.

  4. My entry to the knitting-poetry-watercress challenge:

    Doing my head in

    “No, no, not that way!”
    I’m getting flustered. I’ve never sculpted a head before. For that matter I’ve never sculpted anything, and I didn’t know you had to start with newspaper and chicken wire. My wire isn’t knitting together like everyone else’s seems to be and I’m wondering why I didn’t stay at home and clean the windows, which I know how to do and would have saved me an inordinate amount of money.
    “What colour are you going to paint her, dear?”
    I hate being called dear and why is she asking me this when she can see I’m bleeding from this ruddy chicken wire and there are several million stages to get through before painting?
    “I…I haven’t thought.”
    “Well, think now, dear.”
    “Ha! And what colour is flesh? It is every colour in the world. ‘To see a world in a grain of sand…’”
    Now the damn woman is quoting poetry at me. What on earth made me think this would be a relaxing day?
    “Look at your neighbour. Beetroot and raspberry reds, aubergine purple. What else do you see?”
    The woman next to me glares and I’m beginning to feel light-hearted from all the glue people are using in the room so I just blurt out the first thing that comes into my head: “Pistachio and watercress green”.
    “Marvellous, dear! Now you’re getting the idea.”

  5. I’m torn between two. Is that allowed?

    Once upon a time, in the Land of Nonsense, lived three lobsters called Knitting, Poetry and Watercress.
    Watercress was permanently confused (mainly because she wasn’t actually a lobster), and was at great pains to grow big and strong and make her way in the world. However, every time she raised her eyes above her Perspex window, somebody cut her head off. Poetry was in search of the meaning of life but was yet to find the answers he eagerly sought so drifted aimlessly between his friends, never making amends and trying not to get caught. Irritated, Knitting observed the pattern of their daily lives and offered help. “For two pins”, she said, “I’ll unravel your problems so listen carefully. Poetry, you can give me words which I can knit into rows – rhyming or prose – and then you can read for yourself the answers you seek”. “What about me?” said Watercress. “Go find some egg mayonnaise and come back to me” said Knitting with a menacing grin.

    (I promise I was sober when I wrote this! Perhaps I should take up drinking)

    Police swarmed below as Lilly Evans looked out from her tenth floor window. Knitting abandoned by her chair when she heard the scream, she now gazed down at the prostrate figure on the ground. She had heard it all through the paper walls; the initial meeting, the laughter, the silent pauses, the noisy sex and then the slamming of the door. She was drawn closer to the dividing wall when she heard her neighbour crying gently, not hysterically nor angrily. Softly spoken words floated round the room and, as she strained to catch them, she recognised poetry, the same lines filed into her own memories of long ago. She remembered him, confined to the darkness of her mind for more years than she cared to remember and was instantly at one with the woman only a few feet away. She had not known her, but Lilly sat and sobbed for the young woman whose life had been carelessly uprooted and tossed aside like wilting watercress.


    ‘’Watercress! Come here you naughty, naughty cat! You’ve redesigned mummy’s knitting completely; from a cable jumper to a meshy one! Take that supercilious look off your face ……. and don’t walk away from me! Yes, I know you can prowl like poetry in motion, but Mike won’t be thinking about that when he arrives at his cricket club, clad in a thick lacy crop top! No dins dins for you today my boy ……….. Unless you tell mummy you’re very, very sorry and promise never to be naughty again.’’


    I’d been knitting with watercress,
    made a soft squashy bar
    full of green goodness;
    we chomped in the car.
    We read poetry by Angelou
    in the soft morning glow,
    drank mead from old egg cups
    as you drummed on my toe.

  7. Knitting/Poetry/Watercress

    When I am an old woman I shall take up knitting and make a purple woollen hat and scarf to match. I shall eat watercress soup every day for my lunch while reciting my favourite poetry in restaurants in a loud voice. I shall certainly make up for the sobriety of my youth, although I have never felt the desire to spit, I have always wanted to hurl a pile of plates around a dining room whilst naked. (With apologies to Jenny Joseph).

  8. ‘Poetry?’ blustered the Walrus, knitting together hirsute eyebrows in a fearsome glare. The carpenter quaked, his spoonful of oyster and watercress soup suspended midway twixt bowl and mouth. ‘Poetry? What’s that?’

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