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11th March 2013

Surprise and delight at The Castle Hotel

Bad Language’s spoken word event takes an evening in the pub into a realm of uncertainty and suprise

Bad Language is a literary organisation based in Manchester that holds a free evening of spoken word performances every month at The Castle Hotel on Oldham Street. When I walked into the small pub on February’s evening last week, I asked the bartender where ‘Bad Language’ was and she must have misheard me because she directed me to the toilets. The actual room was small, high ceiling-ed and low-lit, with chairs lined neatly in rows. I sat next to a young woman who offered me a cheese and onion crisp (I accepted) and told me about the novel she has been writing from her mother’s house in the middle of nowhere (Exton). Look out for a novel by Charlotte Haines!

There were a lot of different acts: a mixture of first-timers and regulars, poetry and prose pieces, and one short play/dialogue at the end. Mostly I preferred the poetry, it was snappy and funny – such as Fat Roland reading a poem from his book HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY, and a confident first-timer reading his poem about porn. Sometimes when someone reads out prose in a crowded dark room it’s all too easy to switch off for a second and miss something vital to the plot. This was not the case, though, when, for the headline prose act, Sarah Butler read from her debut novel Ten Things I Hate About Love. I was sceptical when I heard the book’s title, but she read it as if it was poetry, full of pauses and internal rhymes, so that – despite the microphone problems that made it sound like she was beatboxing when she said any word beginning with ‘p’ or ‘b’- it was very enjoyable to listen to.

I had passed the mass of people going into the Palace Theatre to see The Lion King on my way there, and I saw them flood out on my way back. I felt my evening compared favourably to theirs; as a ‘show’ where you don’t have to spend money, can decide to go an hour before, sit in any seat, and have the surprise of having no idea what you are going to hear or see that evening.

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