Monthly Archives: December 2013

The last Ping! Of 2013

So, 27th December 2013 and the traditional post Christmas Ping! cornucopia of music, performance, poetry and more……
If you live in Leicestershire and love/are faintly curious about spoken word events and fancy a very supportive environment to try your hand at reading your work to audience…..come and check it out.
The last Tuesday of every month @ Duffys Bar on Pocklingtons Walk in the city centre.
This may or may not be a selling point…..but you can usually hear rubiesandduels read something.

And some ( sadly not great quality ) pics from the post Christmas evening….an evening that celebrated queer culture, metro-sexuality, traditional Indian music, jazz and the spoken word.






New Walk Museum, Leicester – Poetry and Art inspired by words

I have to admit some personal interest here, all the poets taking part in this exhibition are colleagues in writing @ Leicester Writers Club and they are all writers whose work I admire, so I was interested to see how their words had inspired artists from the Leicester Society of Artists.
It’s a well put together, easy to follow exhibition, with work from the poets linked to the art pieces they inspired.
Some thought provoking work and within enough genres and styles to provide something that most people will like or perhaps more satisfyingly, take strongly against.

It’s easy to forget about New Walk Museum, particularly if you live in Leicester or to see it just as somewhere to take small children to stare at the dinosaur….but a new hanging of some of their rather good modern art collection, the always pleasing Picasso ceramics and about to be opened new gallery of their Victorian art and often interesting touring shows, means that perhaps we ought to get there more often.

Exhibition details below…

And a few sneaky photos too.







Happy Holidays

Happy Christmas and best wishes to everyone who has taken the time to visit this blog in 2013.

I hope everyone has a splendid and creative break and that 2014 brings you everything you need.



Watching the swans with Shane McGowan – fragmentary writings

Years ago, my mother moved to Bray, a seaside town near Dublin and looked for a property to buy. My brother, always a man with grand designs at heart, discovered that the Martello Tower which guarded the harbour was for sale and campaigned, hard, for my mother to make it her [ and his] home.

Later still, I found out that the tower had been owned by a member of the U2 management team and loaned to Shane McGowan for  recovery and drying out.

My mother bought a bungalow.


I am standing with Shane, safe in the shadow of the Martello Tower, built to warn the invaders, the interlopers, that others might come, blown across the grey sea, with their own plans to take this poor land.

We are watching the swans, Children of Lir, huddled in the harbour, buffeted against the jetty. Their plumage, snow-white, bone white against the customary grey, brown of the Irish sea, interlopers and alongside them, other outsiders. The yachts, playthings of the playboys of the western world, or at least the western coasts.

These yachts belong somewhere else, somewhere with azure seas, skies that blend, fall from other shades of blue into the gentle swell, not this landscape of hard lines and cold breezes.

Shane discourses, poetry, womanizing, the arts of falconry and warfare.

And we walk in the footsteps of poets and warriors, taking the waters, but not the water of life because Shane is drying out, drying up, moving towards  the years of silence.

I learnt to swim in the other harbour, concrete wall built to trap the sea and in water so dark that we could not see the bottom and so we learnt to swim, a lesser terror than sinking into water we knew had no ending, no sanctuary  for feet, clenched in cold, searching out safe harbour.

We never expected to find this sea swimming pleasurable, water so cold it would

” knock the very breath out of ye”

and in homes where the threat to

“knock the very breath out of ye, see if i won’t”

was commonplace, the sea held no fear for us. The cold a rightful punishment for almost pleasure, our catechism re-inforced

“Who made the world?”

“God made the world”

I wonder what Shane looked at,that winter, when the sea and sky met, bands of grey and brown and white, dirty white, another shade of pale, a million miles from the plumage of those swans rocked against the winter waves.

I wonder if he looked out to sea or turned inward, inland.

Th Italian chipper, our reward, wrapped in cardigans and our anoraks, our knees and lips blued by over immersion in the sea.

The chips, our reward for childhood bravery, child stoicism, we ate them, huddled ourselves against the constant winds, hot, greasy, somehow more delicious the colder we are.

And then, we walk past the Amusement arcade, because nice children don’t go there, licking the tang of salt, sea salt, chip salt from our fingers as the purple fades from our knees, our lips.

I am standing in the shelter of the Martello Tower, taking refuge from a storm, one eye on the horizon, grey and brown and white.

Watching for interlopers.



christmas wishes from rubiesandduels

And just to whet you appetite for tonights’ little piece

“Watching the swans with Shane at the Martello Tower” – here is the man himself and the stunning Kirsty McColl – Happy holidays to everyone who has visited this blog in 2013 and best wishes for 2014.

Watch this space for what may be the last writing of 2013!


Almost a Christmas ghost story……

The woman is cold, her clothes which seemed quite suitable when she left her city home this morning, are subtly, slightly not right for this place.

She stands, not quite sure what to do with herself, all too aware of her interloper status and all too aware of her frozen feet and hands.

The women around her are all, it seems, tall, with rangy bodies, padded gilets, expensive, although mud encrusted boots and around all of them are the horses.

She is here at the invitation of a woman who may or may not become a lover in the future. She has come to meet this womans’ horse, to show an interest, although her own interest is in something quite different.

That woman, her almost friend, keeps vanishing, re-appearing to do something confusing, complicated to the large brown horse in the stable where she, still cold, is standing.

And because she has nothing to do, does not know what to do or even how to do it, she stands and looks around, stares at all these busy, purposeful women.

A woman steps in front of her and catches her eye, does more than that, actually takes her breath away. This woman is tall, slim, in fact thin, her body lean, muscled, taut. Her face is tanned, even on this icy winter day and her hair is steel grey and short, close-cropped to her skull. She looks completely self-contained, her face tight with concentration. She notices that our woman, our frozen, foot stamping woman is looking at her and nods, curt, but not unfriendly and then she steps out of view and vanishes behind another stable block.

Later, when our woman and her almost friend have found a pub and our woman is sipping brandy, trying not to shiver, trying to flirt,just a little, she asks her almost friend, almost lover about this other woman, but her friend does not recognise her from the description and conversation veers off onto other paths.

Time passes, the almost friend does not become a lover – the friendship withers over too many late phone calls, too many almost flirtatious brandies, but, surprisingly, the horses stick.

Our woman learns to ride, learns to wear the right expensive, mud encrusted boots, learns to complete all the tasks that so confused her then, so many years ago on the wintry December day.

She has her own horse now, spends time with the all the rangy horsey women, feels at ease in that horsey space and then one day, another wintry December day, she catches sight of herself in a mirror, dressed to deal with the cold.

The face that looks back at her is tanned, even in the middle of winter. Her hair has grayed, become almost silver, she has cropped it for convenience, its tidier under a riding hat. She has over the years lost weight, grown muscle, become athletic looking.

The face that looks back at her is the woman who took her breath away, so long ago.

She crosses the stable yard, deep in thought as to what this could mean and notices a stranger, eyes watering in the wind, feet shuffling on the gravel, an attempt to keep warm and nods before she  steps out of view and vanishes behind another stable block.

Hearseespeak Art – one woman show in Leicester

Nothing says Christmas quite like a decorated rams head, so rubiesandduels was very happy to be invited to the opening night of a new exhibition by Leicester based artist – Samantha Brown.

Her delicate rams heads are bejeweled, feathered and generally funny, witty and fabulous. They made me smile, want to touch them AND own at least one of them.

The artists’ professional background in fashion styling is apparent, these sculptures are beautiful, covet able items which would sit happily on the perfect body of any of the current crop of top models.

You too can go and admire @

6 Silver walk
St.martins Square
17th of December 2013
to the 4th January 2014
Opening times 10am to 5:30pm

(For seasonal opening times please contact the gallery direct on 07712 717 860)

and happily the exhibition is in the upstairs space in a very lovely shop selling things I didn’t know I needed until I visited… a channce for retail therapy away from the dominant pressure of chain stores selling mass produced ordinariness.

Her work then transfers to

The Brick Lane Gallery

The Annexe
93-95 Sclater Street
E1 6HR
21 January – 3 February 2014
Opening times 12pm to 6pm

t: +44 (0) 207 729 9721

and if you’d like to know more about her and her work, please visit her nicely put together and well presented web site –