18 Cultured Citizens Turned Up For A Night With The Birthday Girl For A Night Of Poetic Pizza Garnished With Well Chosen Words

Hey everyone. Last month marked the beginning of a new era for Words and Music as Sammy Dow’s is no more and Lebowskis is now our new home. One thing however never changes and that is our commitment to provide the best entertainment you’ll find anywhere on a Monday night and that means that though there will be changes on some levels at least is it true to say that the more things change the more they stay the same.

For one month only the event was moved to the second Monday of the month as the pub was being renovated on the day of our usual time slot. This however did not prevent a decent attendance for our first night under new management and getting the event off to exactly the start we needed.

As tradition dictates I got the event up and running with two poems The Day Job Pays The Bills in which I look at the difference between misplaced dreams and everyday reality and Outsider where I examine the challenges facing incomers as they attempt to settle in to new surroundings.

As I made my way from the stage it was time to introduce the first billed act of the evening and on this occasion that fell to Frank Somers who sang two songs Van Demon’s Land and Chase The Dragon.

At the end of Frank set it was a welcome return to the family fold for JJ Turner. JJ is a poet who is always worth listening to, sharp and passionate with a powerful delivery he performed three poems on his first visit to Words And Music since the independence referendum. Never one to hide his opinions JJ opened his set with his excellent anti sectarian poem The Bigot Tree before moving on There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lung and The Convert. I have always liked JJ’s poetry because this is a man who is not afraid to tackle controversial issues which polite society would sooner sweep under the nearest available carpet such as sectarianism and religious fanaticism. However like me JJ believes that if we have to wait for the chattering classes to tackle these important issues we could and probably will be waiting for a very long time.

Pete Faulkner was next up and delivered a top quality set in which I particularly liked Churchyard By The Sea. Pete is a poet and novelist of warmth, depth, and humanity and this really shows in the quality of his work.

As Pete left the stage Shaun Moore entered stage left and proved what I’ve always believed it isn’t the number of poems you read or perform that get you it’s quality of them. In his poem the Restaurant Man Sean examined both the Americanisation of Scottish culture and the communication difficulties this can create between the generations.
This was an excellent full of the biting wit and social comment I’ve come to expect from a top quality poet and performer.

After Sean it was Susan Milligan’s turn to share her unique take on the world and she did this by reading three poems Two Faced I Hate It, Good Politician and Bad Politician before finishing her set with a rendition of the Diana Ross classic Love Child. This wasn’t one of Susan’s better performances, the political poems were way too simplistic, poorly performed and showed a lack of awareness of the topic but in saying that she has improved both as a performer and writer in the last year so.

As Susan went back to her seat it was Linda Grant who took to the stage and performed which though a bit on the short side she only read two poems Farewell To Arms and Kingdom Of Birds the poems contained more depth than the fluffy Linda we are all to used to seeing showing a more serious side to her nature and I must admit I enjoyed it.

As we had reached the end of the first half far quicker than is normally the case I decided to read one of my poems to take us to the bar break. The poem of choice was Birthday Girl as it had been my birthday just on the Saturday before the gig and I had written this poem to take a lighthearted look at my 150 or so birthday message as a thank you to those who had sent them.

After the bar break it was time for our featured writer and Jim Monaghan is always worth a listen. A poet who speaks from the heart Jim tells it as he sees it and that always makes for an interesting set. Jim kicked off with an anti austerity poem undiscovered country in which he paints of picture of world a million miles away from that of the old boys network of Cameron and Osborne and it’s a picture that they really need to see.

This was followed by Song Titles Which Were Drastically Wrong Lies About Iraq and The Armani Trousered Philanthropist in which he takes a look at the idea of the a villain being on the Secret Millionaire TV show. For his next trick Jim performed one of my personal favourites of his Political Correctness Gone Mad in which dismantles the right wing myth that every bit of social progress we’ve made through equalities legislation is Political Correctness Gone Mad as they hanker back for a Britain of community spirit and ration books. Now forgive me if as a transwoman with epilepsy I’m much more keen on Jim’s poem than I am on their version of a country I never lived in and would like to remain undiscovered.

Jim finished an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable set with What Did You Do In The War? What I Got For My Birthday’s and First World Proverb thus giving the newly renamed venue the cultural baptism it deserved thus showing that the more things change the more they stay the same. Well if Words and Music is about anything it’s about quality and Jim Monaghan is a top quality poet.

Jim was followed to the stage by our featured musician and good friend of Words And Music Bob Leslie. The bold Robert entertained the company with 20 minutes of musical magic with songs which ranged from serious to silly in the best tradition of the night. As befitting a man of his stature started he his set with the with a comic song which has a serious message One Size Don’t Fit All. This is something I think we would do well to remember sometimes as it would be a boring world if were all the same.
He then went on to sing a variety of songs including the Sex Life Of Trains, and The World Came To Springburn before concluding with My Foolish Heart. Yet another excellent set from a man whose big in both height and in talent.

The featured acts having done their work it was time to get on with the rest of the evening’s proceedings and what better way to start than by introducing a newcomer to Words And Music Adam V Cheshire. In a fast paced set Adam performed two poems one on the faults of young people or in his case his peers and the other a fantastic piece or perhaps I should say poetic slide on Pizza. I have to say I forgot the title of the poem as I was far too busy being hungry. Yes Adam you certainly gave me food for thought ain’t that the truth.

Adam was followed to the stage
by another newcomer to Words And Music Claire McCann. On her debut Claire sang a song which was a wee bit short but I look forward to hearing more of her work in the months and years to come.

Next up was the penultimate reader of the evening and Words And Music regular Audrey Marshall. Audrey read but one poem on this auspicious occasion The Turmoil Of Nightmares. I know from many late night facebook chats Audrey sometimes has trouble sleeping but that’s something the audience will never do when this accomplished poet takes the stage.

At that the time had come for me to bring the night to an end with the final set of the night. I performed four poems starting with Yesterday’s Battles. This poem always tends to get an outing in July usually as a reminder that Scotland has its own battles at this time and they do tend to focus on yesterday rather than tomorrow. I followed this up with what I believe to be the my best protest poem Tights Before Trident in which I explain my reason for believing that a woman’s purchasing power is more likely to kick start the economy than wasting £100 billion on weapons which we can’t afford to use as to so would almost certainly lead to armageddon.

I then performed Profit And Loss a poem written in memory of my dad which I hadn’t performed at any event since his death in July 2003. This though short was a difficult poem to share especially since I was reciting it from memory. However it was made easier by the fact Audrey, JJ, Pete, Shaun, and our two featured acts were present at the gathering as these are people who actually get me for who I am rather just than know me through the poetry scene and I have always said there is I think a fundamental difference between the two.

I concluded my set and the evening with one final poem Just Like The Waltons. This poem centres round the pressures we women are under to build the perfect home and family but how us West Of Scotland girls know the difference between what is and isn’t possible and with that we went our separate ways back on the road to the Glasgow and West of Scotland streets we know so well.

As I reflected on the night I was pleased that despite several absences we managed a respectable 18 cultured citizens to the wee back room in what is now Lebowskis It was as it has been so often in the past an excellent night filled with good craic, and even better friends, and this on a night when a birthday girl got a slice of poetic pizza and a restaurant man seasoned the dish with a well chosen garnish of words.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X


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