Merry Mondaymas dear friends. Hope you’re well, finding pockets of joy in the diminishing hellmaze that is human existence. I finished working on my novel last week, so I’m in that confused, shellshocked state of the recent retiree – sort of happy, but unsure of his place in the world, staggering about, secretly terrified of his newfound liberty. But I have lots on! A couple of school visits this week, teaching kids how to shout their opinions at strangers for attention and profit.

This week, I have gigs in Norwich and London.

On Wednesday the 19th, at 8pm, I’m appearing at the Norwich Arts Centre, supporting Ross Sutherland. Ross is previewing his new Edinburgh show, Stand By For Tape Backup. I’ve seen a bit of it and it was flipping amazing. This gig is my hot tip. Ross is brilliant, and I guarantee you will enjoy it.

On Thursday the 20th, at 8pm, I’m appearing at the Invisible Dot’s ‘Stories’ event in Kings Cross. Peep Show writer Jesse Armstrong will be there too. It will probably be great.

On Friday the 21st, at 8pm, I’m doing a gig at Epic Studios, in Norwich. Apparently they’re filming it – it might even be live-streamed over Youtube. Luke Wright will be performing as well – we’re both doing about 45 minutes. If you’re about, I’d love you to come to this one in particular. Be lovely to get a good crowd in, so I can finally have some non-shit footage of me performing poems.

And Sunday will be my first wedding anniversary! I am so glad she hasn’t divorced me yet. I feel incredibly jammy to be married to such a wonderful woman. This isn’t a gig, as such, but if you can find me you’re welcome to watch as I enjoy a day with my wife. Not conventionally entertaining, to be sure, but free.

This Week, I Have Mostly Been Reading

Lost World by Dorothy Hartley. It’s a collection of essays published in the Daily Sketch between 1933 and 1936, where Hartley wanders round England, waxing poetical about vanishing rural industries, like clog-making, charcoal-burning, and shingle-gathering.

Hartley has a strong political agenda. Upper-class and vociferously right-wing, she portrays the rural working class as blissfully happy with their lot – industrious, obedient noble savages who know their place on the estate. On the one hand, there’s a genuine love of England’s countryside, of craftsmanship, of regional traditions and the richness of rural communities; on the other, the articles build into a thinly-veiled paean to feudalism. By her own admission, Hartley spent much of her time with her head and heart in the fourteenth century. It’s a short leap from praising the modest, uncomplaining country labourer, to villifying Bolsheviks and ‘cosmopolitan adventurers’ and advocating a return to the land, the sort of dog whistle politics of which Oswald Mosley was so fond at around the same time.

Am I calling a sweet, pottering old lady a Nazi? No. But it’s worth remembering that fascist sympathies don’t always announce themselves with moustaches and boggle-eyed shrieking. Ideology is a lot more insidious than that, and nasty things can emerge from ostensibly good intentions.