St Ives poetry: Anna Chen reads Kicking A Dinosaur

Madam Miaow is back from St Ives … and this time it’s personal.

I had a delightful time in St Ives but it was an odd one. It got off to a disastrous start with me trashing my utterly reliable X-reg Ford Focus on the A30 on a foggy Bodmin Moor, aquaplaning into the back of a Jeep when the traffic came to a sudden stop due to an accident.

The damage was light enough for us to be able to complete the journey but the insurance declared it to be a write-off due to the age of the car — an estimated £1.500 repair bill for smashed bonnet and light plus suspected trouble with the suspension.

So, of course, unless we wanted to end up sitting on the street with a ton of luggage, our return required a hire-car which required both parts of the driving licence plus utility bill which, luckily, like everyone else, I always carry about my person. Only joking. Said paperwork was locked up in the filing cabinet at home in London which required my mailing keys to a friend who had to mail it back recorded delivery, and then there was the expense of the hire-car … it was a right mess.

Sometimes, though, the universe requires a sacrifice in order for wonderful things to happen. Steve McIntosh got me a little gig at the new Café Art (see video above) on top of my regular appearances at Bob Devereux’s Norway Square and the Big Frug, plus I did a lively set for Charles Shaar Murray and Buffalo Bill Smith at their St Ives Arts Club evening.

Another unusual element of the my stay was making a programme for BBC Radio 4 on the town: St Ives and Me. My lovely producer Chris Eldon-Lee stayed with us so we could record and show one aspect of what the town is about from the inside. It was great fun and I found out a few more facts I’d never heard in a lifetime of visiting and living there, all of which will be in the programme (broadcast 11.30am Thursday 1st Dec 2011).

I may not have had the R&R time on the beach relaxing and reading a book that I usually try to squeeze in, but there were plenty of activities to make up for it. I took part in the St Ives School of Painting all-night drawing marathon — a cabaret of talent from locals and professionals and professional locals, which we had to draw. Have you ever drawn moving subjects? I hadn’t but I did a good enough job for one of my drawings to sell the next day in the art sale of the night’s work. A whole tenner! I have officially sold in St Ives. Whoop!

I waded through a sea of balloons at the Tate, tried out the numerous local ciders competing for attention in some booze festival, fetched fish from Newlyn for a fish blow-out including one of Denise’s awesome paellas and, best of all, hung out with dear friends. And, as the ultimate postcard, I’ll have my radio programme sharing the experience to remind me of my stay.

I’ll be posting pix soon.

St Ives Festival 2011 pix: Artists & Tate Balloons
St Ives Festival 2011 pix: The Island and St Nicholas Chapel
St Ives Festival 2011: “Big Society: on a conversation in the Foundling Museum” video
Steve McIntosh’s festival blog and pix here.

Madam Miaow says … visit Anna Chen’s website here:


Anna’s food blog here:

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