Summer officially landed this week and the doors of The Cube were flung wide-open to welcome in devotees of Bristol's leading literature night 'Kill Your Darlings', and to allow them to spill out freely onto the courtyard for some alfresco drinking. It was apt that to coincide with the arrival of the hottest season, this month’s event sported the raunchy theme of 'Sex', and appropriate that novelist Ned Beauman (no stranger to the written sex scene), was the headline act.
Resident 'darling' and comedian Tom Clutterbuck took his turn playing host and whipped the audience up into ‘whooping mode’ before introducing the first act of the night, Byron Vincent, who performed his brilliant poem 'Sex Cake'. Although not written for the occasion (he admitted that he'd 'cheated' this month, as the poem had been performed elsewhere), it was well and truly on-theme and a treat for the audience. A hilarious piss-take of narcissistic, self-obsessive, naïve young love and its inevitable demise, ‘Sex Cake’ was delivered to perfection and the crowd was vocal in its appreciation.
Tom Clutterbuck followed with an amusing exploration of fetish fanatics before introducing writer CJ Flood. Just the second time the 'darling' had performed at the event, she read a peculiar little tale about sexual attraction, sexual tension, and an eventual sexual encounter. Facts about the life cycle of jellyfish were intriguingly woven through the story.
Making an unusually early appearance for a headliner, Ned Beauman informed the audience that being an 'act' was a new, slightly scary experience for him, as he's only used to giving low-key readings in book shops. Starting strong though, Ned told a particularly amusing anecdote about an inaccurate gossip item that The Independent ran, which resulted in his mum getting a ‘Google Alert’ about his problems disposing of used condoms in the family home! Reading from his new book 'Glow' and focussing on the (related) scene where the main character’s dog eats a used condom, it was a fascinating sample, containing a heady mix of sex, vodka and neuroscience. Ned’s engaging style had the audience totally engrossed in the story and the ideas presented through his work.
More 'Tom-foolery' ensued from Clutterbuck, as he discussed his 'fashionable face' winning him more sexual attention than he'd had previously, establishing that a beard and glasses are more than just a "remedy for bad eyesight and a ‘shit chin' nowadays!”. There was further amusement with tales of his late sexual blooming, and a cringe-worthy sexual experience which ended up, somehow, with him styling himself as the Magnus Magnusson of sex!
Next, Nikesh Shukla shared his short story focussing on the male 'sex' and stag dos in particular; it wasn’t a complementary insight. ‘Pharoahz’ nightclub, the avoidance of strip bars and witnessing vile, vomitty snogs sum up the evening sketched out by Nikesh, before he tackled the narrator’s main dilemma of whether to react to a racist comment and risk ruining the stag do.
The last 'darling' to perform was Chimene Suleyman, who read from her 1999 diary - a time before she'd had sex. This consisted of a schoolgirl obsession based around a boy she had a huge crush on and her retrospectively ridiculous behaviour around him. She finished with a couple of poems from her upcoming Canary Wharf-themed collection, one of which was about the paranoia of getting cancer from having too much sex!
Although the evening never quite managed to reach the dizzy heights of previous episodes, this fourth instalment of Kill Your Darlings was a fun and interesting night out in Bristol for word lovers, who also got to meet a great literary talent in Ned Beauman.
Photography: Darren Paul Thompson