some stuff about hanging in there

Hanging in There – my isolated talk

I’ve been genuinely moved by the response to my talk which is called Hanging in There. I’m chuffed to bits that they accepted and published it.

A couple of people have pointed out that sub-titles might have helped. I was trying to create an emotional connection with the viewer and I think that subtitles would have detracted from what I was trying to achieve, and consciously chose not to include them. 

That being said, I appreciate that, for some, my Southampton-twang might be challenging to understand in places so I’m posting the text here. It also gives me the opportunity to explain/outline ten random things about the video. 

  1. I’ve spent the last year struggling to write anything that felt like it might touch people. I’ve written fourteen new poems for A Wicked Pack of Cards but it doesn’t feel like the right time for that kind of work. An upsetting and painful realisation. 
  2. Hanging in there is an attempt to answer one of the most difficult questions of our time: how are you?
  3. I try and write for the spoken word. I speak the words as I’m writing them. Try reading the script below out loud. In your own voice. Watch what it does with you.
  4. If you listen carefully you can hear that there are slight discrepancies between the script and the finished piece. I changed my mind and adapted the text to make it fit my mouth and the moment.
  5. The trigger for the piece was a Stanford University study on ZOOM fatigue.
  6. The protagonist is having a ZOOM conversation with himself.
  7. I spent an hour thinking about the last line. The original idea was to finish it with “Sorry, you are mute”.
  8. I’m glad I kept the ending the way it is. It really seems to have a strong emotional effect on people.
  9. There was one “dress rehearsal”, which I recorded. I watched it back and used it as the reference for the final take. This is part of my process and one of my speakery tips. Record yourself doing your thing - watch it, make adjustments and get better.  
  10. There was only one take. 

Hope you find any of that interesting. Here’s the final performance with the script for reference.


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Hanging in There. 

So. Here we are then.

One year later. 

365 days.

On screens.



Well, I did get out for a bit in September.
Big project.

Nearly bloody broke me
that one.
Learned a lot.
But nearly bloody broke me.

How have you been doing?
How have I been doing?

Hanging in there. 

Was doing fine up until Christmas.
Until they changed the rules.
Had to stay at home.
Which was fine, you know, because I live with my wife. 

I’d be lost without her.

I really miss my kids.
They’re grown women now, of course.
The youngest will be 21 years old this year.
Haven’t seen the middle one since Christmas 2019.
My eldest is a vegan. 
Seen them all on facetime, obviously.
But it’s not the same, is it?

Fell out with my mum and dad.
Not sure how that’s going to turn out.

Christmas was hard.
January was hard.
February was OK.

Hanging in there.

Doing a lot of writing right now.
Writing and looking at screens.
Looking at people on screens.
People as pixels.
Trapped in The Phantom Zone.
You know what that is right? Superman II.
General ZOD and Co… trapped in a screen - a pane of endless ZOOM fatigue. 

I try and cheer people up on my calls.
I’ve got little sound effects that make people smile.

Keep them happy.

While they’re staring at me
staring at them
staring at me from
our self-isolation-studios and lockdown machines.

I think it works.
They smile and laugh.

They’re hanging in there.

I’ve started to look at them, mind.
Like really, really look at them. 
Gaze deep into their eyes and see where they are.
Are they really hanging in there?
Is their grasp still tight?
Are their knuckles white?
Are they making do?
Or are their fingers slippy too?

I’ve put my new performance in a box marked 2022.
See you later, Joseph Blasphemous,
bye-bye A Wicked Pack of Cards
because there’s nothing I can do to make you work here.
Not in this space.
My set.
This room. 

It’s time to knuckle down
and shake off these pandemic blues. 

Things happen when you do things so
it’s time to walk the talk
and time to do the do. 

How am I?
My knuckles are white.
But I’m alright.
I’m hanging in there. 

But how the hell are you?