05 Sep, 2018
Mike Garry was a librarian for 15 years before becoming a poet. His gritty poetry has won the admiration far and wide and his collaboration with New Order in New York's Carnegie Hall in 2014 received five star reviews. Mike's Ode To St. Anthony, a poem dedicated to the Factory Records boss Tony Wilson and put to classical music by the composer Joe Duddell, went to Number 1 in 3 Official UK charts in August 2015. The video features dozens & dozens of Mike's Manchester friends and colleagues, including Steve Coogan, Christopher Eccleston, Shaun Ryder, Mark Radcliffe, Terry Christian, John Cooper Clarke, Philip Glass, Miranda Sawyer and so many more. Oh and Iggy Pop. We have had it on repeat for months at The Good Life Experience HQ and highly recommend a watch, it's spine-tingling stuff.
Mike has worked in thousands of schools and his books have become schemes of work in educational establishments throughout the UK and his poetry is regularly heard on BBC Radio and TV. He has read his poems in Prisons, Young Offenders units, Mental Health Hospitals, Children’s Homes, youth clubs and local pubs. He’s passionate about bringing live poetry to places it wouldn’t normally reach and to people who wouldn’t normally listen to it.
We're incredibly proud to be Mike's favourite festival. Here's why, in his own words...
People. Dead sound, peaceful… the sort of people who say “hello” when you’re out walking. OK there’s a few Tarquins and Ptolemnys in the gin tent, but they’re peace loving people.
Line up. Well, I’m on the main stage with the Cassia String Quartet on the Sunday at 2.45pm, but I’m most excited about seeing Darren Hayman doing his amazing “Thankful Villages" stuff. And there’s loads more with Gwenno, Arun Ghosh and his band, Norman Jay and loads of other cool DJ’s. But what I love about The Good Life is that you can be stumbling round and suddenly you’ll be drawn to a tent by a sound and when you get there, there’s 20 Moroccan drummers making the most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard.
Great talks. On Sunday morning I stumbled into a tent last year and had my hangover cured by an incredible guy talking about the decline of the hare population in the UK. No, honestly, it was brilliant. That’s the thing, if you get people who are passionate about their subject, they’re great to listen to.
Caught by the River. Poets like Will Burns and discussions with Jeff Towns and a whole heap of stuff that makes you wish you read more books.
Food. The centre of the festival is the Farm Shop. OK, I can hear the bells ringing. But it’s cheaper than the burger stall at the shit festivals and the food is all grown on the Hawarden Estate. So, it’s fresh from the fields. Food is central to the festival – Good Life! Get it? There’s more chefs than you can shake a ladle at – all top notch – all doing demos. If you're into the cuisine, it’s the place to be.
Axes. I love throwing knives and axes at people – but it’s Illegal – but at The Good Life you can throw them at targets and pretend they are people you dislike. There’s bow and arrow there and it’s a great opportunity to bring out the hunter gatherer in yourself and not get arrested for murder.
Fun Fair. I hate Fairs – They’re neither fun nor fair – Full of chungy men with unwashed jeans and lots of keys pretending to be David Essex. But at The Good Life, it’s different. Firstly, it’s free! That means no grubby guys hanging off the edge of your waltzer, palms outstretched. Secondly, it’s vintage old school victorian – it’s beautiful to simply look at because that's what I had to do when they wouldn't let me on anything 'cos I was too big.
Mobile Library. I’m a librarian. And worked for many years in Manchester. That’s why I love Jeff Towns – he bought a mobile library from an auction to store all his books in – his Mrs hit the roof when it didn’t even fit on the drive, so now Jeff drives it around festivals and events up and down the UK sharing his beautiful bus, books and booze. He ain't in it for the money, he must lose thousands the amount of books I see him giving away to kids. And there’s a whole fringe thing going on the bus with impromptu readings and absinthe consumption.
Location. You're on a beautiful estate – fields of green go on for miles – no mad fences and gates or meat head security bullying you about. (See people section above.)
Price. I’m very tight. I don’t really like paying money for things. Neither do you if you admit to yourself. That's another reason I love The Good Life Experience – A weekend camping ticket is £155 for an adult. Compare that to Glastonbury, Leeds/Reading as a matter of fact, compare to all of them. It’s the best. An adult day ticket is £79, youth day ticket is £45 and under 12’s are free. You’d spend that on a day trip to Alton Towers just to throw up after going on rides that your kids bullied you into going on.
Do something different this weekend and bring the dog.
We love Mike. And we know loads of you do too. Be sure to catch him performing on the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon. Or catch him sat next to you at your favourite talk / workshop / demo. Just give him a wide berth at the axe throwing!