As we arrived for the August edition of Words And Music we did so in good heart as many of our gathering prepared ourselves for a very busy month which would see us travel through to Edinburgh to play our part in the greatest show on earth otherwise known as the fringe. As is often the case there were a few of our number who couldn’t make it to our night and amongst them was our regular bartender Carly who was performing in a show that week as part of the Merchant City Festival.
With 15 in attendance which was our best August attendance since the move I kicked off what would be a history making night for us but I did it with a poem which showed my gentler side, yes contrary to some people’s belief I do actually have one as I illustrated with a poem entitled Keeper which I wrote to celebrate the wedding of my friends Patricia and Steven a gifted young couple I know from the traditional music community.
Next up was my brilliant co-host the lovely Jen Hughes with her hilariously funny poem The Moon Is A Lesbian in which she tackles the ridiculous notion of gendering the planets with the razor like wit for which she is gaining a growing and well deserved reputation as a writer and performer of considerable talent.
With both of us having read it was time to introduce the first of the billed readers for the evening and this time it was Mary Wilson who filled that role. On this occasion Mary performed five poems in what I think was her best set to date. Mary started her set with Unpredictability a poem on how different poems can be interpreted differently depending on the audience. After this Mary moved on to perform four more poems Blinkered, A Helping Hand From Gran, Heatwave a poem about summer memories from childhood and her final poem Friends about the value of real friendships.
As Mary returned to her seat it was the turn of Angie Strachan to entertain the company and she did exactly that with a most intriguing tale entitled Eminem Meets Dido which was thought provoking and hilarious in equal measure. In many ways it was the perfect piece to read before launching herself on the unsuspecting citizens of Edinburgh.
After Angie’s top class performance it was turn of Moki The Goddess Of Mischief to take to our stage for only her second appearance at Words And Music. Moki who like me grew up in the north of the city started her set with Son Of Satan which gave us a mischievous look at being the child of the fallen angel. They followed this up with Mini Slender (The Wrong One) which looks at having a high school crush who does not share your sexual orientation and the devastation of the unrequited love which follows it. Moki finished a highly enjoyable set with a brilliantly titled take on student life for the millennial generation The Hunger, The Fear And Other Student Problems. This honest but topical poem was the perfect way to end a fabulous set and leave the crowd wanting more.
From a poet of the millennial generation we moved on to the slightly more seasoned voice of Derek Parkes. Derek started his set with a couple of poems on food opening up with Nan’s Kitchen, which he followed with Ham Haugh which took me down memory as the cut of meet of which Derek writes so fondly was used a staple for my mother’s Sunday soup and the roast which followed it. This was followed by Tuscan Eve and the excellently titled Long To Rain Over Us in which the intrepid Mr Parkes bemoans the inclement weather so lovingly bestowed on us by our geographical position in the world. Derek concluded his set with How Change Came To The British Tourist Industry a poem in which he laments the dad if neccessary demise of the British seaside towns and the rise of package holidays to sumnier climbs of Mediterranean Europe and beyond.
Next to the stage was Joanna Hughes whose set had us howling with laughter start to finish. Joanna opened her set with Bumblebee Deceased or as she described it with Tagert like accuracy the callous murder of a bee on the Newton Mearns Bus Now I don’t know about you but I certainly believe this is a case which requires the skills of our late Glasweigan detective or at very least one of his auccessors.
This was followed by Baywatch Blues (A Post Feminist Lament in which yet again the giggle meter was at full force as a gifted writer gave her brilliant and devastatingly accurate critique of what used to be essential early Saturday viewing for girls of the Jackie generation.
Still on the theme of sunshine Joanna concluded her set with Sun Worshippers Orgy before returning to her seat and taking the kind of applause that some people can only ever dream of. And trust me when I say that applause very well deserved after what was a brilliant performance.
As Joanna rejoined the company it was neither myself or Jen who introduced the performer who would take us the bar break. Instead we gave way to his dad as Steve Allan introduced his son Ewan to perform A Comic Monologue about asking a girl on a date. On taking the stage Ewan became our youngest ever performer at Words And Music and showed that when it comes to talent it was very much a case of like father like son. Indeed so authentic was his distress at the beginning of the performance that Jen actually went over to him to check if he was okay.
With the debut boy having giving a fabulous performance it was time for the bar break and not only that it was time for celebrations and I don’t mean the chocolates I had brought along I mean the fact that we were celebrating no fewer than five birthdays starting with my own which was back early July and ending with Jen’s in early to mid September. The others celebrating during this period included both our featured acts Steve Allan And Susan Milligan and club stalwart Andy Fleming. Naturally there was cake to celebrate such an auspicious occasion and it wasn’t just any cake it was cake or should I say cakes baked by my wonderful co-host aka our Jen and both her chocolate and banana cakes would totally delicious. Trust me if she ever gives up on writing which is not something I would ever advise she could easily win The Great British Bake Off.
After the break it was time for our Featured Writer and this month it was Steve Allan who entertained the company with a highly enjoyable mixture of poetry, prose, and jokes in the style he’s made his own.
Steve started his set with a cautionary tale about daughters wanting toys as he told the story of his daughter Georgia wanting the latest toy which in this case was called the wubble. In an amusing tale of misadventure Steve (Pictured Below) related the story of giving in to his daughters demands and buying this seemingly indestructible toy which was hopefully designed to keep his highly active youngster occupied for many happy hours. This however is Georgia and Georgia has a tendency destruct the indescrutable and did so with alarming ease. There is I think a moral to this story and it’s that no matter how much you love your children there are times when you need to run a mile when they want a new toy.
Picture (1) Our Featured Writer Steve Allan sharing his thoughts on poets, daughters, and the potential for wubble trouble.
Steve then regaled the company with a wonderful story of all different types of poets you meet at a typical poetry in a brilliant poem which is appropriately titled Poets. This is a poem with which all poets can easily identify and I certainly got a number of references which were aimed at friends of ours and there was one line which I thought was quite accurately fired in my direction. Not that I was complaining as this is the kind of poem that poets actually want to be included in as to be left out would mean you hadn’t made enough of an impact to be noticed.
Our featured writer then went on to his joke on The Fire Station before moving on what I think has to be one of his finest pieces with his poem Hypno Poetry. In this piece Steve reveals his scepticism when it comes to hypnotherapy and when on visiting a hypnotherapist he is told that the hypnotherapist can make him hurt himself Steve mocks the idea till he is asked to tell the hypnotherapist something he enjoys doing. When he mentions that he likes writing poetry, he is put under a spell and experiances a negative reaction and ends up slapping himself every time the word is mentioned. The result is hilarity as poetry meets slapstick in the most literal sense possible.
Our intripid poet then moved on from hypnosis to Spreadsheets and his piece on a Spreadsheet raised a fair few giggles on a topic which is normally as dry as the Sahara Desert.
Having tackled some really unusual topics Steve now was on to the penulimate poem where revealed what he believes is the worst chat up line in the whole of human history with I Write Poetry. This take on what topics to avoid when dating will I’m sure be a valuable reference for generations of future poets as he a light hearted look at a subject most of us would avoid like the plague.
In the final poem of a fantastic set Steve ventured in to the field of country music and related the tragic tale when someone finds out their dad is a Daniel O’Donnell fan. As he bemoans the lack of support groups for family members Steve insists that this is a genuine affliction and is despite what some people may claim is no laughing matter. As for the audience we may have viewed it somewhat differently and I know that we really enjoyed a brilliant set which was packed with comedy gold from beginning to end.
Having enjoyed a fantastic set from an amazing featured writer it was now time for our Featured Musician to make the stage their own and this month the honour fell to club regular Susan Milligan. Susan (Pictured Below) started her set most of which were from the 1950’s and 60’s with Bluebird a song I hadn’t really heard till I heard her sing it earlier this year.
Picture (2) Our Featured Musician Susan Milligan delivered a set of songs which were entertaining, enjoyable, and easy on the ear.
She followed this up with the Dusty Springfield classic I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself before moving to two songs with moon in the title both from the 1950’s. The first of these was the Danny Williams song Moon River which is one of my favourites of Susan’s extensive repertoire which she followed up with Blue Moon
For her next song our resident songbird belted out her take on Ain’t That Sweet which she followed with the Kay Starr song Rock And Roll Waltz. Next on her list was another 1950’s hit Where The Boys Are after which she treated us to Carolina Moon, My Funny Valentine, and Crazy before concluding her set with a wee bit of musical comedy and an excellent sing a long song with Henry The 8th I Am to finish what was easily her best ever set at Words And Music.
After two top quality featured sets it’s never easy to be next to take the stage but someone has to do it and this time that someone was Andy Fleming. On this occasion included covers by Gerry Rafferty, and Pink Floyd but by far the highlight. of his rock style performance was what he called Techno By Numbers or what Steve Allan described as R2D2’s orgasm. Yes it really was that weird.
I suppose it was fate which meant I followed Andy and as the penultimate performer I decided that comedy was the way to go and that Lost The Plot was the perfect poem to continue the lunacy after Andy’s last piece. Well it does relate the adventures of a group of women at the dancing and believe me these nights can and often do get a lot more ludicrous than any of us will ever admit in public.
With my contribution completed I handed over to Jen who brought the night to a close with Interpretive Dance a poem which is as entertaining as it is thought provoking and shows her talent for imagery is only surpassed by her ability when it comes to creative language use.
As Jen closed the night with an entertaining and energentic performance all that was left to do was to plug a few events at the fringe and send everyone all who were Edinburgh bound our best wishes for a happy and successful time at the greatest arts festival of them all. As I reflected the madness of what was a truly amazing evening, I smiled with satisfaction as I remembered that even R2D2 thought our evening was orgasmic as a night of five star birthdays had a recipe baked with friendship.
Till next time