Hey Readers Having given the events of the festive season full and due coverage I now take you back to the night that started Christmas. Well it did for me, as it always does and that is the Words And Music Christmas Cracker.
It is my personal tradition that regardless of how many doors you’ve had from your advent calendar this is the official start of Christmas and it was good to see a healthy attendance of 17 poets, musicians and cultural types in the wee back room to do what Elton John commended and step into Christmas.
As compere it’s my job to get the night under way and I did so by performing a seasonal poem, entitled Mary Christmas. Well it’s what I do at this time of year you know. In particular poem I look at the idea of having Christmas as the family name and think what be the most unfortunate name to give a daughter and in my opinion that name would be Mary. With that being the case I decided to give Mary her chance for a Christmas rant and it seemed to go down well with those in attendance.
As I took my seat it was John Moody who was first up to entertain the crowd. Needless to say John duly obliged by reading two pieces Breath of Life and Wandering Samaritan. Though it would be fair to say I enjoyed both pieces I really liked Wandering Samaritan because of the powerful moral tale behind it. As a Christian I felt it was a piece with which I could really identify and though not seasonal in the festive sense of the word I did make think about the reason for the season.
After John it was the turn of that well respected Words and Music stalwart Pete Faulkner to claim the stage as his own. Pete is a reader I always enjoy listening to and a man who knows how to captivate an audience. On this occasion he read two poems both of which a seasonal theme to them, The Museum Of Winter, and The Forge. Pete believes as does Samuel Taylor Coleridge that poetry is about the best words in the best order and when it happens the result can be stunningly beautiful imagery as is the case is in the second of Pete’s poems when the image of the Blacksmith’s shop in the snow somehow conjures up memories of rural Scotland in the biting cold of the season.
Next up was the man who will be our featured first foot and lead us in to 2016 the one and only Fred Fingers. In a taste of things to come, Fred delivered poems on Inflation, Hemroids , and Graffiti and it was this last one entitled Writing On The Wall which I thought was the best one of his set and best illustrated why he will be the featured writer who will be our cultural first foot of 2016.
After Fred had entertained us in his own unique style, it was time for Susan Milligan to grace us with her presence. On this particular occasion Susan read a story entitled The Black Tardis which though enjoyable was and it has to be said a wee bit on the long side. If she ever wants to read this story again as I suspect she will I think the best plan would be to read the first half one month and the second half the following month. Well sometimes it really is best leave your audience wanting more rather than feeling they’ve eaten two full Christmas dinners. Anyway, that said it was a good story and as often the case Susan left us with a song which in this case was I’m Not Dreaming Of A White Christmas. It was I think the ideal way to finish her contributions to Words And Music 2015.
At the end of Susan’s set it was time to welcome back an auld acquaintance who certainly shouldn’t forgotten and that is Billy MacLean. In his first appearance in the wee back room in a guid wee while and it was nice to have him back among our number Billy performed a set of four poems starting with We’re from Glasgow, then moving on to one with the brilliant title Every Lie I Tell Is The Truth
and which he followed with one written for his wife, entitled My Best Friend, before concluding a heartwarming set with a poem which all poets can I’m sure can identify as it has the title Poetry At Half Past 3 and as I certainly testify that is when many of the best ideas come to me.
As Billy returned to his seat it was the turn of JJ Turner to take the stage. JJ is an excellent poet and has a varied selection box from which to make his choices This time he decided that festive poetry was not the way to go and instead read a brilliant set of three poems on Mental Health. Before starting his set JJ talked with honesty, integrity, and sincerity as is the mark of the man and his poems Death Of A Cycle, Blue, and See Me were not only works of genuine quality, but they were written with authenticity and spoken from the heart. I particularly liked the raw courage illustrated in See Me As has often been the case since his return to Words and Music a man I admire and respect was supported by one of his daughters sometimes there have been more than one but on this occasion it was Rebecca who was there with him and I know how proud she is of her dad. Well I say this not only to her but to all her sisters you have good reason to be proud of a dad who loves you and who is a man of genuine stature, warmth, and humanity.
Following one of the best sets I’ve heard in the history of Words and Music was not going to be easy but in Suzanne Egerton we had just the writer to do it and her story Autumnal was an entertaining take on the idea of Christmas panto’s which certainly brought a smile to the faces of those who heard this quirky festive tale.
As Suzanne finished her story it was time for Lesley MacKay who took us to the bar break with her story entitled Whispers. As with all of Lesley’s prose , this was a well written piece which was enjoyed by a captive audience.
After the break it was the turn of the featured writer to take to the stage and this month it was one of the most talented young poets in Scotland Kirsty Nicholson (pictured below) to fill the 20 minute slot. As you can see Kristy came dressed as Christmas due she said to the fact that she didn’t have any Christmas poems. This however is Kirsty and she can be forgiven for anything. Well she can in my opinion, and anyway not having a Christmas poem isn’t a mortal sin. So that said Kirsty cracked on with a set which had in truth a little bit of everything.
In her first poem Do You Hate Me? Kirsty tackled myths around asylum seekers with a personal, political, polemic which challenged those who would discriminate against head on by writing a piece directly from the point of view of those who seek only refuge yet find only barriers. This was followed by Imagine, and another with a thought provoking title in Nothing Ever Changes. I really like this poem because it states the obvious without stating the obvious if you know what I mean. Even if you don’t know what l mean I’m sure Kirsty will it’s an island thing.
Anyway, after that the adventurous wee soul that she is Kirsty read three poems with one word titles. Of these poems Boy, Tree, and Guppy I have to say that though I enjoyed them all, the first of them was my favourite in this section because not only of the story it told but the warmth in the way it was told.
Kirsty’s next poem Ghost In The Flat recalls the story of a Celtic player whose ghost is said to haunt her flat. Well Kirsty at least it’s a Celtic player so I know you’ll be surrounded by good spirits rather than the forces of darkness but hey as a Celtic fan who remembers the date the 10th April 1991 and that defeat by Motherwell all too clearly I would say that wouldn’t I?
In her penultimate poem Being Cool Part 1 Kirsty examines the societal pressures of trying to perceived as cool at all times and making sure that hanging about with the cool kids is something you can actually do rather than just talk about.
The set was completed by my personal favourite of all Kirsty’s poems which is Being From Lewis Is. I love this poem because it rips in to the cultural stereotypes that so many people have of island life. It really was the perfect way to end a truly wonderful set.
As tradition dictates the featured writer is followed by the featured musician and in this case that was Andy Fleming who and it has to be said with my blesing has now become the only featured musician in the history of Words And Music to incorporate a 15 minute poem in to the featured music slot. Some will no doubt call this madness though personally I prefer innovative genius but you see I know Andy is a serial multi-tasker who when you give him the opportunity will do precisely what he likes so it really is just best to let him get on with it
Before treating us to his epic poem which I have likened to going on a mystery tour, Andy started his set with another poem Tiny Tears Of Troon , he then gave a stirring rendition of Cockney Knees Up before. his epic poem This meant he had only enough time not to mention vocal chords for one song and though I would have liked to hear both Grandma’s Turkey and The Pound Shop he really could only manage one so since I hadn’t heard The Pound Shop for so long it seemed like the logical choice
With all the billed traders having performed it was my duty to bring the night to an end which I duly did by performing a set of three poems and a song. My mistake was starting with the song as I’m sure that my take off of I wish it could be Christmas Every Day titled I’m Glad It’s Only Christmas Once A Year cleared every music lover from the building. I then followed this with three Christmas themed poems. Christmas At Carols, about the type of friend and we’ve all got one who starts talking about Christmas before the Edinburgh Fringe. I then moved on to Stocking Thrillers which is the unexpected Christmas treat which doesn’t quite go to plan, before concluding both my set and the evening by reading Christmas Lies the poem which we all secretly know to be true as we all have at least one family member and possibly a lot more who will make a complete balls up of buying the right present which is why we need to be thankful for the Boxing Day salesJob done I made my way back to Baillieston in a happy frame of mind. You see I witnessed a Wandering Samaritan saw a ghost in the flat, read writing on the wall, and hear voices that spoke from the heart as they joined us on the night that started Christmas.
Love And Best Wishes
NB This post is later than it should have been as it would have been posted yesterday in time for the January Words and Music last night but the battery on my phone. ran out.
Resolution I must be more organised this year and write my Words And Music reviews earlier in the month.