Hey everyone. On Saturday the poetry clan gathered to celebrate the life and rhymes of one of Scotland’s true immortals. Mention the name Robert Burns and I’ll guarantee you’ll get every member of the great and the good of the proud Scots if you get my meaning, coming up with the only lines they know and often embarrassing themselves in the process.
Contrast this if you will, to the mention of the man many consider to be Scotland’s alternative bard William Topaz McGonagall and you will be met with either ignorance or howls or derision. However it was in his name that a group of poets gathered at the home of Colin and Irene Storrie to celebrate a poet some would claim to have a long way to go before he reached ordinary but whom we honour as a poet most extraordinary.
As the crowd descended on our genial hosts we were greeted by lovely mid summer skies to celebrate the longest day of the year which is the traditional day of this cultural feast. As is often the case with this event the majority of the crowd arrived somewhere between four and five pm. There were however some early birds such as Susan Milligan, Chris Young, myself, and Jim Monaghan.
After getting tucked in to some sweets and nibble and quenching our thirst with our tipple of choice in my case an Irn Bru we waited on the others to arrive. Amongst their number was a certain Derek Read who had just celebrated passing his course. Our congratulations go to him on his well deserved success, we know how hard he worked to achieve it.
As one by the throng gathered Colin called us to order and we assembled in the garden as he declared 9th McGonagall super underway.
As always, the first round of recitals were readings from the works of the poet himself before stopping for the feast and then reconvening for our tribute poems in his honour. By this time Derek’s all too brief appearance had come to an end as he had a prior engagement to attend a play at the Tron Theatre. The rest of us however had made no such arrangement and promptly got on with the business of enjoying ourselves.
Topics for this year’s tributes included The Tragedian by Alex Frew, Derek Read selected The Man With The Yellow Umbrella which on his behalf by Jim Ewing who then went on to perform his own effort The Great McGonagall and gave us an excellent debut with a thoroughly enjoyable poem. Chris Young wrote his poem on the theme of Beards Jim Monaghan another McGonagall debutant or as he said McGonagall virgin wrote a cracking poem entitled Beautiful Govanhill, and my topic of choice was the Commonwealth Games. So I think you’ll agree there was a wide and varied selection of material on offer.
At the end of the formal proceedings Colin proposed a toast to absent friends and I thought of Danny O’Connor, Marc Sherland, Paddy Hannrahan, Lesley MacKay, Etta Dunn and Freddie Fingers amongst many others who have graced the stage at previous McGonagall’s but perhaps most ironically of all I thought on Barry Dubber whose Beautiful Balmoral poem is the benchmark against which all future McGonagall poems must be judged.
He then opened the stage to anyone who wished perform any of their own work. This led to a brilliant set from Andy Fleming and Alex Frew under their musical comedy names of Frobisher and Gleeson as they performed classics such as the Pound Shop, There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible, And David Icke with which I decided to give them a wee bit of assistance whether they wanted it or not as it is one of my favourite songs of theirs. However there was one song they did for the company with which I wasn’t too familiar though I have to say I am now as I managed to get on my video phone and that was Rock jam which I thought was brilliant.
During this less formal part of there were also golden moments from Jim Ewing whose poem Bromance never fails to make me chuckle. Jane Overton, Susan Milligan,whose rendition of As Tears Go By was as emotional as it was heartfelt, Monica Pitman though her choice of the Peter Sarsteadt song Where Do You Go To My Lovely did seem to annoy Jane a wee bit however unintentionally.
There was also a cracking wee story from Rosie Mapplebeck and Colin sang a few of his songs including one of the legendary Tollcross anthems Alcohol.
I read two poems The Tartan Ronaldo on the pressures of fame and young footballers, and Tights Before Trident in which I argue that the price of a pair of tights is far more important to Scotland’s economy than having weapons we cannot afford to fire. You may not be surprised to know that I take my lesson from the Elle Woods school of economic theory and remember Elle Woods was smarter than anyone gave her credit for.
The highlight of the evening however was as it so often is Chris Young. Chris demonstrated the full range of his talents by performing A Loud Marriage giving in it his reasons why he believes Scotland should within the UK. After a brief break he went on again to do his famous and highly entertaining poem on the environment and then he left us all speechless with a stunning operatic performance. So I think you could say we had found the perfect way to celebrate mid summer’s day and I am sure a certain Tayside bard would have approved of our endeavours. Well any event which includes poetic thoughts on the commonwealth games facial hair, and tragedies then concludes with opera in the garden is living proof that mid summer mayhem came to town in the name of the great McGonagall.
Finally I couldn’t finish my post on this glorious day without recording my thanks and that of the assembled company to our hosts Colin and Irene Storrie for their generous hospitality to all who attended this wonderful event. You know it was Colin’s idea back in 2006 to have a McGonagall supper. Since that initial event he and Irene have made this one of the must attend gatherings of the spoken word summer and as I left at around 10.30. I couldn’t help but think that as the traditional summer bonfire lit up the Riddrie skies friendships made in poetry’s name will never be extinguished.
Love And Best Wishes