A Night Of Paisley Patterned Performers Can Never Be Run Of The MIll

Hey everyone  It may not have happened at the usual time but the fact that it happened is what really mattered and so on the fourth Monday of a five Monday month, Words and Music took centre stage at Lebowskis in the wee back room we’ve called home for last 25 years.

Due the event having been cancelled on its scheduled date a number of regulars had prior arrangements and were unable to attend the gathering however i am delighted that 14 battled hardened citizens braved the elements for a evening which though it may have been short on numbers was not short on quality. Well with Shaun Moore  and Wullie Purcell as the featured acts we were always going to be in for an entertaining evening.

Before the night could get started there was however some sad news  which as host of the group i had to relate to some members of the group.  I say some as others like myself had already heard  of the death of long time friend of Words and Music Alexander ( Sandy) Hutchison.  Sandy was a man of wit, wisdom and perhaps most of all warmth and a gereat ambassador not only for Words and Music but for all the creative communities with which he was involved over the years.

As is  now customary, I opened the evening with one of  my poems and in this case it is a poem which was getting its first public airing at a spoken word event The poem entitled Candles In The Dark was this year’s commemorative poem for World Transgender Remembrance Day and I think I can safely say it was very well received by an appreciative crowd.

Having done my duty it was time to hand over to the people who really make the night what it is and hopefully always will be and let the billed performers take to the stage.

First up among this collection of equals was a man making a welcome return to Words and Music Falkirk’s most poetic of bairns Peter Callaghan. Peter’s contribution was part poem part song and was titled Mr Taxman which was sung to the tune of that well known 1960’s hit Mr Sandman was a real creative tour de force and this poetic polemic set to music kicked the Tories right where it hurts. This is never a bad thing in my book and it certainly had those of us who dance to a more liberal left wing tune smiling as we moved to its beat on the metaphorical dance floor.

Next up was that seasoned Words and Music regular and when Steve takes the stage you know the entertainment will be top quality. As if to prove my point Steve performed two excellent pieces both of which were topical and on point. Sometimes Just Isn’t Enough and the brilliant Universally Challenged In Nithsdale Road. These pieces illustrated the versatility of Steve’s work showcasing both his serious side and the humour for which he is renowned. In the first of his pieces this highly gifted Word Smith made a passionate plea for a more understanding society. whilst the second was a biting social commentary on yet another change of name for the venue we call home. Needless to say both pieces were well received by the regulars but it has to be said the second piece really struck a chord with the regulars.

Next up was Susan Milligan who I think we can describe as one of those regulars I’ve just mentioned. In her set which consisted of a story, a poem and a song Susan looked at angels, devils, and witches. This was an excellently chosen set filled with those kind of topics that your dad used to use to great effect when telling you ghost stories as a child on those cold winter nights. I have to say though there was nothing remotely scary in this set. In her first piece entitled Good Angel Susan told the story of a work college who looked out for her when she worked in a nursing home. After this she completely changed direction reading the quirky and very amusing Letter To Satan in which she challenged Auld Nick to justify his hedonistic self centred values before finishing what was arguably her most enjoyable set ever in the wee back room by giving us her version of The Eagles classic song Witchy Woman.

As Susan went back to her seat it was the turn of Pete Faulkner to regale the company with his own unique brand of entertainment. Well if there is one man we can rely on to be both entertaining and informative its the man who has such a striking resemblance to a former Doctor Who that I’m convinced he travels to the wee back room in a Tardis.

On this occasion Pete read two poems Autumn Leaves and Redbrick Station both of which had a distinctly seasonal theme to them and not unusually for a man of such ability some fabulous and evocative imagery.

After Pete, it was great to welcome Mo Blake to the gathering for the first time in many a long day. A Paisley lass, Mo’s set focused on poetry from the Mill Girls which is a show on Paisley’s industrial past when many women worked in the town’s world renowned cotton mills. Mo’s first poem was simply entitled Poem From The Mill Girls, she then followed this with Spinning Mill Number One At Ferguslie before finishing by reading Granny Purcell a poem written by our featured musician Wullie Purcell who as a poet, storyteller and musician, is a multi talented multi tasker in the finest traditions of Words and Music.

Mo was followed to the stage by another Paisley buddy in the upcoming talent that is Rashelle Reid. Though Rashelle was making her debut at Words and Music I had heard really good reports about her as had impressed a number of competitors at The Paisley Slam in the summer. Naturally I had hoped these reports would be true and believe me they were as Rashelle impressed me right from the start and her first poem Bairns And Bombs was both powerful and brilliant This was followed by two more excellent poems As We Remember and Ride My Unicorn in one of the most promising debuts the wee back room has seen for a very long time.

Following Rachelle was going to be a tough act and yet another Renfrewshire poet George Colkitto was the man who drew the short straw in that respect. George however was as cool as a cucumber provided a polished performance providing two top quality poems Terror God and Inglemass both of which were enjoyed by myself and the rest of the room.

George was followed to the stage by one of this year’s Clyde built poets Finola Scott. Finola who voted was making only her second or third visit to Words And Music read four poems with Start Right, and Spiral being particular highlights in a top quality set which illustrated the quality of her work and why she will always have a place at the gathering any time she wants one.

At the end of Finola’s set and given the sensible tone of the evening I decided to read a wee light hearted poem to lighten the mood before the bar break. The poem of choice was Pulling Crackers which shows how dreams made in the dancing with the help of vodka goggles can and more than likely will end in disappointment when we girls that what we thought was the Saturday night hottie wasn’t quite as hot as we thought.

As we reassembled after the bar break I noticed that we were without one of our key stalwarts in Audrey Marshall and Pete Faulkner explained she had to make an early exit as she was feeling unwell. To me the fact Audrey made the effort to attend in the first place illustrates what the spirit of Words And Music is all about and shows the loyalty that many of us have to each other. This is a loyalty forged in friendship and there is no stronger bond.

Undaunted we cracked on with the night next up was our featured writer Shaun Moore. Believe me when I say this is a poet whose star is very much on the rise and having performed at both the Yes Bar and Hope Over Fear Words and Music held no fear for our Paisley patterned patter merchant. Well he’s a Johnstone boy actually but there are times when one has to use poetic licence.

Shaun started his set with Slice Of Life. This is a poem which showed his softer side, hardly surprising when you learn it was written about the birth of his son. I thought this was a stunning piece of poetry illustrating as it does a father’s unconditional love. This is something with which we are still uncomfortable in the multi national conglomerate that is UK PLC Indeed it is my opinion that we are deeply uncomfortable with any kind of emotions in the land of the stiff upper lip. Maybe that’s why as many a woman will testify many men are emotional wrecks.

Being a perceptive individual Shaun explored this theme to an even greater degree in his next poem Man Up in which he shows the pressures faced by young boys to adhere to this outdated and emotionally backward model of how men should behave and the problems this can and does cause with their emotional development.

Shaun then moved on to read a poem on the tragic events of the Clutha. Vaults and how in the most tragic of circumstances Glasgow showed the recentf it’s character as a city came together in the aftermath of the most horrific of nights.

Now Shaun wouldn’t be Shaun without what the author and comedian Ben Elton once described as a little bit of politics. So a poem on the warmth of west of Scotland humanity was followed by a poem on the recent appointment of wonder bra inventor Michelle Mone a consistent and bitter opponent of Scottish Independence a cause which both Shaun and I support, to the House of Lords as a Conservative Party peer. Believe me when I say that his poem Baroness Moantaefuck doesn’t miss it’s target as just as he gave Glasgow its character he did the same to the new Tory peer. The thing was though that this time the character given was a lot less complementary.

This was followed by another topical poem Saft The Wind in which Shaun shows his support for the powerful people led movement that was Yes Scotland and his continued backing for our country to return to our people as an independent nation. It will I think surprise no one that this is one of my favourite poems from a highly talented poet and performer.
Shaun’s final poem was a poem about a poem which brought to an end a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining set from a smart well versed word smith who really knows how to connect with an audience

As tradition dictates the featured writer is followed by the featured musician On this occasion that honour fell to Wullie Purcell a man who is perhaps better known for his poetry and storytelling than for his music but believe me he is more than capable of holding a note.

Wullie started his set with that well known and well loved Matt McGinn classic The Pill in which McGinn pokes fun at the church and its attitude to contraception. Wullie followed his McGinn inspired opening with The Banks Of Scilly, Travel Away, MacPherson’s Rant and one of my favourite Scottish ballads Peggy Gordon before going back to the Matt McGinn songbook for the hauntingly funny Dundee Ghost. As if o hadn’t been spoiled enough by Wullie’s choice of songs , he proceeded to get all the company singing along to the song which I believe should be an independent Scotland’s national anthem. That or course is the brilliant Freedom Come All Ye Wullie then concluded his set with another excellent song to get at least some of us singing that well known Scottish patriots rallying call Ye Jacobites By Name.

At the end of Wullie’s set there being no more billed performers it was left to me to close the night In doing so, I performed three poems which I hope illustrated the range of my work. I started with the Scattering which is a poem on both autumn and the highland clearances. I then moved on to Over And Done in which provide a list of ways you can and a relationship which is no longer working out, and for my final poem I read Hero which I wrote as a tribute to my late dad John James Smith and with this I concluded the November edition of Words And Music.

Looking back on the events of the evening I would say that the fact it went ahead after a. postponement earlier in the month made it an unqualified success and despite being universally challenged we showed that when you have a night of Paisley patterned performers the results will never be run of the mill.

Love And. Best Wishes
Gayle X


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