Hey everyone It’s that time again, the time when having collected my thoughts i review the monthly edition of Words and Music. It is fair to say that in keeping with the tradition of the holiday season the July Sammy’s wasn’t quite as busy as we sometimes can be during the period from autumn to spring but as is always the case with Words and Music what we lacked in numbers we more than made up for in quality of the cultural fayre of offer to those 14 brave souls in attendance.
As is usual these days, I kicked off the evening by reading one of my own poems, and since my jacket was covered in loads of lots of yes badges it is I think fair to say that my choice to get this party started was a wee bit political. Well, this is me so that news can hardly be described as earth shattering. The poem was not only new to Sammy’s to was fresh to performance as this was the first time i had ever performed I Am National Collective at any performance event and let me say here and now it will not be the last. I say this as i am aware that some poems on the independence referendum will have a shelf life and may not last beyond September no matter the referendum result. This one however is one of those which will, like The Champagne Socialist, Tights Before Trident, and a few others be able to be performed any time Scotland raises her voice in protest. I am happy to report that it received a fairly good reception but I know it would be received more warmly by other audiences in a somewhat different location and this was a rehearsal for those events.
Having warmed up the audience it was mow time to get on with introducing the programmed performers for the evening and first to take the stage was a man who is rapidly becoming a Sammy’s regular Jim Ewing who read amongst other things a biblical haiku. This is perhaps not too surprising when one remembers that Jim runs an event called faith and unbelief and his faith tends to run through much of his work be it poetry or promise. Unlike myself, Jim is actually able to write both to a very high standard and i always enjoy his sets.
Next up to the stage was the man I call the maestro, yes none other than the genial host of Last Monday at Rio Mr Robin Cairns. Robin is as regular a supporter of Words and Music as time and commitments allow him to be and it’s always good to see him grace the stage and entertain the gathering in his own unique way. This month Robin read two poems, Angus, and the Girls in My Class, both of which were as always entertaining, thought provoking and excellent. I have to say though i enjoyed both of them i particularly liked the girls in my class as this took me back to my own school days and was with delivered with a gentle self depreciating humour
After Robin had regaled the crowd and showed why he is a poet i have always respected, it was the turn of last’s month’s featured writer Lesley McKay who for some unknown reason never likes the idea of reading first. Personally, this is something i can well understand as it isn’t always easy to kick off the night. On this occasion Lesley decided to read one of her short stories and i have to. say it worked a treat. The story Fish and Chips is set around the life of a school teacher whom Lesley described as a 53 year old teenager. Now, I don’t know why, but somehow I can’t help but think that this character could be loosely based on yours truly. Well it was my 53rd birthday on the Friday after this month’s event and I don’t think I’ve. ever grown up or at least I hope I haven’t.
Anyway, the story was packed with the black humour for which Glasgow has been famous and highly believable characters made this very enjoyable listening, I particularly liked the relationship between the eccentric teacher and problem teenager who was under pressure to conform and fit in to world in which he wanted no part. It is after hearing this story, easy to see why Lesley McKay is an accomplished novelist who pens her novels under the name LA Traynor and is already amassing an army of fans. which in my totally unbiased opinion can only continue to grow.
As Lesley came back to her seat it was the turn of Linda Grant to entertain us and this month she remembered to turn up. Having done the hard part, namely remembering the event was on, Linda read three poems Woman’s Words, Winds Of Change, and Looking Forward, all of which were written at Tollcross.
Talking of Tollcross it was Susan Milligan who followed Linda to the stage. This month she read Object of Desire. This was a story written from the point of view of Paul McCartney about his feelings for his late wife Linda. This I have to say was a difficult story to listen to and not a good performance to watch. If I am honest it went on far too long and badly needs edited before she reads it again. Well when you see people yawning and checking their watches it’s never a good sign. After this Susan read her poem Summer Dresses but by that time no-one was listening she had already lost her audience during a story which over ran by a country mile and was bogged down with irrelevant detail. As I said earlier this was not an easy watch this was a car crash for the second month in a row. The real tragedy is not that the car crash has happened but it has taken place after a few half decent performances which suggested she may be showing signs of improvement but I’m afraid she has reverted to type and settled for her usual place which is to use a geographic term somewhere south of mediocrity.
Talking of geographic terms I decided to add a wee bit of political spice to the night by reading my poem on the geography of immigration Twenty Four Romanians. This poem which tackles head on the right wing attitudes of certain sections of the British press and media is always a popular choice and it was no different on this occasion and was in my opinion the perfect poem to take us to the break.
After our refreshments it has long been tradition that we start with the featured which on this occasion was John McGlade. However during the break I was approached by Freddie Fingers who asked if he could take the position just this once. As protocol demanded I had a brief chat with John who said he would have no objections to Fred’s request, in fact he said it actually suited him as it gave him more time to prepare his set.
As is always the case with Freddie his sets were a mix of the entertaining and the educational, the brilliant and bizarre but Freddie is Freddie. and we wouldn’t have him any other way. Starting with The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword, he . then read The Mickey Take, On Kipling, The Dudley Dell, Musical Numbers, Heroes his token sensible poem of the evening and Captain Zoom. This was an excellent set which showed Freddie at his best even if he did take slightly longer than the 5 allotted minutes, but it worked like a dream and by the time he finished our featured writer was more than to take his place on stage.
What can I say about our featured writer? Well John McGlade is a man I have wanted to fill this slot for a very long time. Indeed John informed me at an earlier event that it had taken him seven years to get to featured writer slot. In my defence however I feel must say that the fact he disappeared for around three to four years due to work commitments may not have helped his cause. Anyway the main thing is that he is back amongst our number and grabbed his chance to seize the spotlight in the finest traditions of Words and Music with a brilliant set of breathtaking quality and lots of moments which were comedy gold. Amongst my personal highlights were News At Sammy’s. I Do Declare, The Declaration Of Arbroath 1320 Ice Cream, The Tardis. Yes I could spot the inner Doctor Who fan and his satirical takes on Glasgow Words and the racism problem A Winter’s Tale Add to that the fact that John is no mean Limerick writer and you can see the quality of the man who often uses comedy to tackle the bigger issues in society and who won’t need to wait another seven years for his next featured slot.
The featured musician for July is a long time friend of both myself and of Words And Music and the songs of Dennis Oliver provided a gentle laid back style which contrasted with the fast paced delivery of our chosen wordsmith. Dennis started his set with Good To See You which always a good introduction to any set before moving on to Dance Me. His next song was based on the works of the poet Emily Dickinson 249 Wild Nights. It was the first time I had heard this number and I have to say I really liked it. He then followed it up by singing one of my personal favourites of his It Was So Beautiful which was followed by the gently melodic Cream In My Coffee, Dreams, and Just One Hand in what was I have to say a wonderful 20 minutes which like John’s slot passed all too quickly.
Going on as the next act after the featured sets is never an easy task but Suzanne Egerton made it look effortless with a set which departed from her usual style. You see Suzanne is best known to Words and Music as a prose writer and often reads a chapter from her novel. This month however she decided to be daring and read what she described as four wee poems. I particularly enjoyed Auntie May Declines and the Camaraderie Of Writers as both showed Suzanne’s razor sharp wit at its devastating best.
Next up was the penultimate reader of the evening Maryanne Hartness who read only one poem entitled Crow. Now I enjoy Maryanne’s work and this was no exception but I do have one complaint she doesn’t read nearly enough of it. Hopefully however I can get her to change all that.
As Maryanne went back to her seat I concluded the evening with a slightly longer than usual set. Well I had the time and I thought why not. I started with this year’s McGonagall poem Poetic Musings On The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, I followed this by reading Night Shift which is one of my many poems on working woman. Then in another change of direction I read Multi Linguist and Mother Hen, before concluding both the set and the night my independence poem for July entitled It’s Time in which I lay out my personal vision of a better Scotland and say why we should make it happen.
And so ended another enjoyable and topical night of entertainment Words And Music style. This was a night in which we were treated to Ice Cream served with Glasgow words from a top class cultural menu which catered for all possible tastes and that is why words and music has found a recipe for success.