On A Night When Culture Was The New Religion There Was No Resting Place For Champagne Socialists

Hey everyone It’s time to look back on the events of the March edition of Words and Music. Whilst it is fair to say that the impact of seasonal colds and the fact that the internationally renowned Stanza poetry festival being held earlier than its usual Mid March date had an impact on the attendance on the night those who did manage to come along were I have to say treated to a night of the finest cultural quality.

As I knew the Scottish slam championship were coming up later in the month I started the night with my poem Advice to Slam Virgins. This poem is a gentle look at the world of slams from the perspective of a battle hardened campaigner who is passing on their wisdom to a first timer and giving them the benefit of their advice with the most important words of wisdom coming in the very last line.

After my introduction to the evening. It was Susan Milligan who was the first of the programmed readers to take the stage where she performed a mixture of poems and songs. This I have to say was Susan’s weakest performance of recent months where I thought she drifted a wee bit too close to the poor me trap she all too often falls in to. I do however think that she is trying hard to improve it’s just a matter of getting the balance right.

Next up Katherine Walker showed why I rate her as one of the accomplished poets on the spoken scene reading three poems which underline her undeniable quality. Katherine’s use of stunning imagery combined with a simple but understated style of delivery really works well and her poems. The Filth Of The World, A Gaping Wound, and Step In The Right Direction showcase the very best of Katherine’s considerable talents.

After Katherine it was the turn of Pamela Duncan who read two poems Flight Of Fancy and You and I the second of which was written after a trip to New Zealand. As with so much of Pamela’s writing, these poems came very much from the heart and told very personal stories which is why they were so easy on the ear of those who heard them.

As one of the establishment left the stage it was time for one of the newcomers to take his place. David Forrest made his debut at Words and Music last month and this talented young writer left us wanting to hear more. I say writer rather than poet because I know that David unlike myself is equally at home writing both short stories or poetry.

On this occasion, poetry was his creative weapon of choice and like a highly skilled archer David hit the target with poems of excellent quality. Arise and, Missionary, were what David described as very spiritual poems and the last of his set Cross was a very personal poem on what his faith really means to him. It was this last poem which contained one of the best lines of the night ‘I want the crown but not the thorns’ This very powerful message was directed as those who want Christianity with conditions or as I prefer to call them sweetie shop Christians who quite like the soft centres but give them anything harder than a strawberry cream and they tend to a run a mile.

Next was the story of someone who wanted to run from God but found he couldn’t do it as Steve Allan read The Humbling Of Henry about how an environmental atheist is chased by a bear as the rest of his village were in the safety of the church. This story was a very funny morality tale and I got the feeling that a semi religious
theme was beginning to develop.
Following Steve is never easy but in Stephen Watt we had the perfect man to do it. After all he did succeed him as Words and Music open poetry champion in 2013 Unafraid to say what’s on his mind our 2012 champion winning the coveted Hughie Healy Memorial Trophy. On this form it would take an act of bravery or madness to bet against him winning again in the third week in May. I have to say I particularly enjoyed the opening poem of his set Deep Fried Nationalism which I thought to be both funny and thought provoking in equal measure.

Stephen followed his opening poem with entitled Lockerbie’s Wings and Moderate in which he gave a nod to Edgar Allen Poe before finishing his set with Mister Wonder Woman in which he played with the idea of comic super heroes and gender stereotyping. I have to say Stephen is a poet who is prepared to think outside the box and the result of this dangerous departure is top quality poetry which works both on the page and on stage.

It was Linda Grant who followed Stephen to the stage and though not her strongest set in terms of the poems selected on which I’ll say more in moment, Linda showed an ever increasing confidence delivering Garden Of Tears, Yesterday’s Darling, Hidden Feelings, and Love For You with an assurance which only comes with experience. Also the fact that she decided to do what we at Sammy’s call an Andy. In other words she decided to have a bit of audience participation and let those at gathering select her set. Therefore if Linda finds any fault with the set she can always blame the other poets.

After the break it was time to introduce our featured writer for the evening. This month the spotlight shone on rising star of the spoken word scene and tartantights discovery of the year Craig Scott. Craig’s rise to a place of prominence amongst his poetic peers has been nothing short of stratospheric and on the evidence of this 20 minute set it is very easy to see why. At this time last year Craig hadn’t even started his journey to stardom, now a regular at any and every event he can get to this young man showed why he is one of the reasons why the future of spoken word is in safe hands.

Craig started his set with Not Conventional in which he made reference to cardigans and filofaxs. Very 1980’s and Del Boy Trotter I have to say. Craig then went on to perform the Resting Place you could say was this was an exercise in taking the piss as he explained why he sits down to do a pee.

Amongst other topics covered in this high octane set were poems on a 29 year old divorcee, a poem written in a call centre in which Craig demonstrates brilliant use of illiteration and imagery with the lines memories misplaced myth and my brain is like a butterfly. In his next poem our featured writer performed God’s Won’t which chimed in very well with the semi religious theme of the evening. In this poem Craig challenges the accepted social order by asking if things are often described as God’s Will what the hell is God’s Won’t. Make no mistake this an angry poem written by a poet with a heart for humanity. I especially liked the fact he described himself as having ‘highers and a masters degree from the school of hard knocks’.
He then moved on to the last poem in his social trilogy, the brilliantly titled Cowboys And The Pakistani Man. A fast paced set was soon completed as Craig rattled through a few more poems at breakneck speed before finishing with Eyes Of An Insomniac. Insomnia by the way is something Craig’s poetry could well be a cure for as there is no chance whatsoever of anyone falling asleep when this highly talented young man is on the stage. At the start of the evening Craig introduced me to the two main women in his life his mother and his sister. I hope they were very proud of their golden boy, believe me they have every reason to be.

After our featured writer it was the turn of our featured musician to entertain the company and who better to follow Craig than the man who was his main rival in for the discovery of the year title Bob Leslie. Bob is always good value for his 20 minutes and this was no exception.

As he started his set Bob got us laughing by singing about a difficult relationship between himself and the father of a former girlfriend in the amazingly titled Her Father Called Me Frankenstein. Now anyone who has ever met Bob knows he is a wee bit on the tall side especially when standing next to me, though I feel I have to qualify that last remark by saying that Mickey Mouse may be considered tall when standing next to someone at approximately 5 foot 1. I have to say however as for Bob and Frankenstein I really don’t see the resemblance.

Bob continued his set with Me and Kenny the brilliant One Size Don’t Fit All which is a subtle warning to value diversity rather than attempting to in to what you think may be socially or culturally acceptable, before moving on to his Pro Independence rallying call Just To See What Its Like To Be Free which he dedicated to me. Well what he actually said was Gayle would probably kill me if I didn’t sing at least one Pro Independence Song. Mr Leslie knows me far better than I thought he did. I mean if he hadn’t done so he really might have been Big Dead Bob.

That last joke sets me up nicely to say that Bob has recorded a song with that title and it was this chose to close his set and bring the featured acts to an end. At this stage of the night there was a bit of an exodus so with only Andy Fleming and myself left to take the stage we could the luxury of extended sets and believe me we took full advantage of the favourable circumstances afforded to us.

As the penultimate performer there are sometimes time constraints on what you can do but not on this occasion. Andy had free reign to do exactly what he liked and believe me he gave it laldy from the moment he got on stage. Andy started his set with one of his classics Adolf Hitler Was A Vegetarian only to be told by Susan that Hitler was also a dog lover. Why she felt the need to share this mind blowing snippet of information no-one really knows. Personally I get the feeling she will say anything for attention and her social skills need urgent improvement.

Anyway, Andy undaunted by her bizarre intervention carried on with his song and indeed his set and his next song was in keeping with the theme of the night though the title of this tongue in check rant Jesus Will Kick Your Sorry Ass was a wee bit on the militant side. After dealing with Fascists, Veggies, and Religion, never an easy combination I’m sure you’ll agree, Andy then did a version of the Flintstones in a Bruce Springsteen style before finishing up with the very sinful but totally brilliant There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible. To me at least there was only one way to follow that and that was for me to bring the evening to close and perform the final set of the night.

Like Andy my set was a wee bit longer than usual and I started it with a poem I haven’t read for ages namely Star Spangled Banter. I thought this was appropriate as the oscars had been on Hollywood’s Red Carpet the previous night. I then read about a different type of Champagne guzzlers namely those kid on lefties who talk of social justice and appear to shit themselves every time they hear words like principles, values, and backbone I refer of course to those most loathsome of creatures known as Champagne Socialists and let’s put it this way Galloway and Blair have more in common than they want us to think.

Keeping on the politics I followed my attack on the phoney left with an attack on the ranting raving right which is and ever shall be the Daily Mail readers. I did this by performing Twenty Four Romanians which centred on the theme of immigration and the associated scare stories which can sometimes accompany this topic. Next was my poem for St Patrick’s Day. Titled A Day For Donegal, the poem is centred round a day with my favourite band and enjoying the music and friendships made on days like these. My penultimate poem was the question that we girls should never ask our men on the grounds that we won’t get a sensible answer. The title as if you haven’t guessed was Do I Look Good In This. And guys there is only correct answer to this question and that of course is Yes. Finally I concluded by reading a poem inspired by the woman who got me in to blogging the one and only Kate Higgins I Was 16 In The Days Before Thatcher which looks back at my teens and how they made me who I am today and that brought to an end another enjoyable evening of culture Sammy’s style

With an attendance of 14 this was actually quite good for March which is by tradition a month in which our cultural calenders are so busy we can’t fit everything in to them. In past years Aye Right was held in March though this has now been moved to April. This Year it was Stanza being held a wee bit earlier than is usual for that event and of course there are always other attractions such as the St Patrick’s cultural week and the internationally renowned comedy festival. However on a night when culture proved it could be the new religion Big Dead Bob was found alive with no Champagne Socialists to distract him.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X


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