Hull Literature Festival 2004 
 the humber mouth  19th June - 4th July 2004

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Festival Critic

Sunday, 4th July
Illegal Media: Mute/Record and A Bastard's Tale

Friday 2nd July
Zoo & Logical Times

Friday 2nd July
Increpacion Danza: Tablao

Thursday 1st July
Ruth Padel: The Soho Leopard

Tuesday 29th June
Hijinx Theatre: Into My Own

Monday 28th June
Soulskin presented by Red Ladder
Review by Toni

Sunday 27th June
Richard Vergette: An Englishman's Home

Sunday 27th June
Tim Hunkin: Illegal Engineering

Saturday 26th June
Straw Dogs: John Gray's Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
Review by Toni

Saturday 26th June
Brian Patten: Gargling With Jelly

Friday 25th June
The Audience: The Worst Seat in the House

Wednesday 23rd June
Simon Crump: My Elvis Blackout

Monday 21st June
Geoff Dyer: Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It



Wednesday 23rd June
Simon Crump: My Elvis Blackout
Lamp, Norfolk Street

When someone is touted as a foul mouthed new writer, you fear the fucking worst.

Simon Crump's a very personable gent, though. Nervy, acting like he's scared of the microphone, he's the kind of fella I feel that I could take round to meet my mum. She'd quickly realise, though, that although the profanity count is less than expected and he looks like a rabbit caught in headlights, Crump is a twisted and troubled soul.

My Elvis Blackout is a collection of short stories inspired by the King. Not any old short stories, though. We discover stuff about Elvis as an embryo, hear about the time that the cheeseburger hunk of burnin' love met Chris De Burgh and follow Elvis all the way to the grave.

A small crowd gathered in Lamp to witness the blood, swearing and Elvis. Crump, returning to the city he once lectured in for the first time in a decade, announced that he'd like to say how pleased he was to be back in Hull. He'd like to say that but...thankfully, the rest of the material was highly original.

Crump did remind the throng that books are meant to be read, at home, alone and not out loud in a bar by a man wearing a jumble sale shirt. But his subsequent reading was as good a self-defeating argument as I can remember hearing.

Flicking back and forth selecting material from his slender volume, Crump quickly got into his swing but gave the impression that he was uncomfortable with the laughter.

But it's hard not to laugh when you hear a man tell you about Scatter, the King's pet chimp who ends up ripping E and Roy Orbison off by legging it with a swag bag full of their bank raid acquired cash (needs must - the pair had fallen on hard times).

In Gladys, Crump described Elvis's birth and how his mother breast fed and nurtured the big-headed child not realising that he had been dead for some time.

In the short story the book is named after, a vocalist realises that he's the worst pub singer. "The only thing I had in common with an opera singer," he said, "is that I was a fat bastard."

A pre-birth Elvis reared his ugly head in Elvis Fat Fucked Up Foetus, in which we learn that Elv' used to remove himself from his mother's womb and head out, wearing the dog's clothing. "But what did he care?" we heard, "He was the unborn king of rock 'n' roll."

Crump's fast-flowing prose is mad stuff that whirls around in its own logic but he does realise that the world he has created could have been much less believable. "However much drink or however many drugs I took when I wrote this book I wouldn't have had Michael Jackson marrying Lisa Marie. No way."

Elvis does, though, make it to With' Market, runs a glassware department and had a Turkey called Bow Tie.

Between the filth and the funny lurks the final journey that Elvis made, in his coffin, where his eyes eventually dissolve. It also transpired that Elvis only watched Chariots of Fire because he mistakenly believed it to be a film by Erich Von Daniken. But by this time his movement in a white suit had started to cause stain embarrassment.

No sign of such a problem for the hugely entertaining, moderately foul-mouthed, hip-shakingly devastating Simon Crump.

Simon Crump has left the building.

Dave Windass
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He is a critic for the Big Issue, The Stage and a full-time journalist for the Hull Daily Mail.
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