As regular readers of tartan tights will know August is by far the biggest month of the year for the spoken word community as we head towards Edinburgh to conquer the fringe. Or at very least let it know that the Glasgow bards are alive, well, and giving it laldy as my dad used to say.
So it is perhaps not too surprising that it is a month where attendance’s at Words and Music are shall we say not exactly at optimum capacity
This however is not something I worry about I prefer to think on the quality of the entertainment rather than the quantity of bums on seats. Well if being a regular attender at the fringe for the past 12 years has taught me anything it is that no matter what the show must go on and the attendance of 7 whilst hardly magnificent was considerably higher than a few top quality shows I attended during my month of madness on the mile.
As,is always the case these days I got the night under way with a couple of my poems neither of which had been performed at Tin Hut and both of which had been written in the last few months. I kicked off the evening with Bus Stop Conversations which is about those moments when women will talk to the nearest available sober or at least not puggled female to avoid the attentions be they amorous or otherwise of some random drunk males intent on invading our space.
I followed this up by reading Diamonds a poem to celebrate the achievements of my local girls brigade which proves that when absolutely necessary even I can compromise sometimes and poem I am quite fond of it because I know the girls it’s about and I’m very proud of all of them.
Having got the night under the way I then invited Susan Milligan to make her monthly contribution to the evening and what was I think her best set in the five years she’s attended the event Susan read her poems Summer Of Discontent, Sand, and the very funny Holidays Are Us. She then concluded her part of the night by giving her rendition of The Beatles classic hit Here Comes The Sun before returning to her seat to enjoy the rest of the evening.
As Susan rejoined the company it was the turn of Steve Allan to take the stage and have us rolling in the isles with laughter as he his classic poem The Moon on how different poets react on seeing this object of wonder This was followed by Sarah and Stu and the brilliant Disarm before finishing up his set with a set of Haiku’s some of which were his own and some of which were the work of other writers known to Steve and I during our time at Survivors Poetry Scotland including a great friend of Words and Music the late great Sandy Hutchison
Next up to the mic was another seasoned Words and Music regular Suzanne Egerton. Suzanne is a gifted storyteller and this month’s offering entitled Clearances was no different in that it had fantastic imagery running all the way through it as it related the tale of a house clearance after a death of a loved one with all the memories that can bring especially if like the character in the story someone may be a bit of a hoarder.
As Suzanne returned to her seat it was the turn of Lesley MacKay aka Traynor to take centre stage and trust me when I say this not something with which Lesley ever has a problem. Anyway Lesley led us to the bar break with three pieces The Dust, Jewellery Box and the hillirious I’m In Love With A Big Bad Wolf. As is usually, the case with a born performer such as Lesley all her pieces were very well received but her last one on the big bad wolf will ensure that I never look at fairytales in quite the same way ever again.
After the break it was time for our featured writer and when you have a writer of the calibre of Victoria McNulty (pictured below) to entertain the gathering then I would be lying if I didn’t say I there had been a bigger crowd to see such an outstanding talent. Well let’s be honest Victoria is one of the rising stars of the spoken word scene and though some might say I’m wee bit biased I think I’m just stating the obvious. After all she has starred at Loud Poets, been featured writer at Last Monday At Rio, and and had her work featured on BBC The Social. Not bad when you consider that two years ago when Words and Music got ready for our referendum special, Victoria had still to find her performance voice and was yet to make her debut on a spoken word scene she has since gone on to electrify. It is i believe fair to say that she has
You know there are times when your day job can have a beneficial impact on your poetry particularly when it comes to organising sets and Victoria gave a cracking example of this as due to the smaller attender she did what those involved in lecturing, teaching , or training are encouraged to do in certain situations and make an intelligent adaptation to her planned set. This allowed her the chance to try out some new material which she hadn’t performed before so in that way at least the small crowd worked to her advantage.
Victoria started with one of her new poems A Pig Called Taboo before moving on to Love In The Gallowgate or as some people may call it Flirting In Irish Bars. This is a poem I never tire of hearing and it does remind me of many a good weekend spent in some of my favourite bars.
This was followed by Observing In Soho the newest of all her poems which she had only just completed before taking the stage. This piece was written about a trip down to London which she had just returned from the previous evening.
In her next poem Victoria paid tribute to grandfather in her poem Dalriada This is a beautifully written poem in which the warmth of someone who is one of my best friends shone through like a rainbow in the summer sky.
After this Victoria returned to a genre she has made her own with another football based love poem about being in love with a Hibs fan. This followed by the poem which to me best represents a woman who has powerful passionate principles and shows her fire and compassion to empower those who need her support.
In Coffins From Derry Victoria who is a proud Irish Scot illustrates her support for displaced people of Palestine and Syria with one of the best lines I have ever heard when she states ‘ I can never forget my Scotland is cut from the blood of refugees ‘ I have to say that anyone who listens to this poem and is not moved by sentiments expressed in it has no soul and will not get in to heaven. Yes, it really is that good.
In her next poem I Want To Be Your Bonnie Victoria looks at the kind of passionate love which often results in the can’t live with you can’t live without you kind of relationship. This was followed by London Calling a poem which looks the issues facing UK society and gives what the establishment would call a radical left wing critique of what needs to address them. Personally, I don’t think that this poem is all that left wing but then that be because I am a Scottish leftie from a Glasgow housing scheme so I can identify with the problems it raises.
This was followed by another political poem and Alba is s thought provoking piece which really speaks to my condition as a Celtic supporting, yes voting, Irish-Scots Republican. This is a brilliant and highly emotional poem which tells the story of the Glasgow Irish community and recognises in a way no governments of any political hue has ever done the valuable contribution we have made to Scottish history, politics, and culture.
Victoria followed this a new poem entitled How Dye Works, before closing a fantastic featured set with That Generation a poem about the time of hope she had growing up in a world of Brit pop and the belief that anything was possible before seeing it cruelly shattered by the actions of the war mongering Government of Tony Blair who put personal gain before the people in whose interests he was supposed to be governing.
After a set which can only be described as stunning it was the job of the featured musician to bring us back to earth and far from doing this, Bob Leslie, decided that he would keep on planet good times with an excellent and highly enjoyable 20 minutes which illustrated to me at least why the bold Mr Leslie is one of our most regular musical visitors.
Bob (pictured below) started his set with Starting Over before moving on to The Shenokie in which he related a tale of those who have both the gifts and the wisdom to tell tales to others. This was followed by Collateral Damage (Nothing Else To Do) before moving on to a number which may or may not be about a distant relative of his Sir Alexander Leslie who played a very significant role in the way the Russian Army was run in the days when Russia was ruled by the Tsar’s.
Bob then showed his gentler side in the songs Dancing With Me Darlin , and Bessie Mennie before rounding off his set with the humourous and autobiographical song Big Dead Bob and the bitingly sataricial One Size Don’t Fit All.
At the end of Bob’s unique style of entertainment I realised there was only performer on the bill to round off the night and that of course was me. Having read some new poems at the beginning of the night, I decided to revert to old favorites to close the evening.
I started the set with a Twenty Four Romanians which I know to be one of Victoria’s favourite poems of mine as it tackles the issue of migration and shows migrant workers and communities are all too often demonised by the press and media outlets. I stayed on the political theme for my next poem Self Service Cafe which looks at what our caring Conservative government are planning to do the benefits system. Though written in 2013 I think this poem is possibly even more relevant with every day that passes. I then concluded my set and the evening with Lost The Plot which is my personal take on a girl’s night out and believe it or not it has more than a grain of truth in it. Trust me names have been changed to protect the guilty.
With this another Words and Music night came to an end. As I reflected on the events of the evening I think it can be summed up like this When went to search for diamonds we looked in the jewellery box but we found them when bonnie searched for Clyde in Irish bars.
Love And Best Wishes