As the cold wind blows to welcome in November and with it the onset of a traditional Scottish winter, it is with warmth I look back at the October edition of Words and Music. This I have to say had that unique atmosphere which made has Words and Music the kind of night it’s went on become and hopefully will always be with the accent firmly centred not only poetry, stories , and songs but on friendships that bind us together.
As always I started the proceedings with the opening poem of the night and on this occasion I indulged in something which is always going to be popular in Scotland namely a bit of Tory bashing with my new poem Breakfast Means Breakfast which is my take on Theresa May’s ludicrous Brexit Means Brexit line.
Needless to say this went down with the majority of the crowd in the gathering and set us up perfectly for the events of the night ahead so it with confidence I called Angela Strachan to the stage as the first of our billed readers.
On this occasion Angela read a short story entitled Hold The Bag And Take A Bite which was a very powerful piece of work and held my attention from beginning to end. This I have to say is no mean achievement and illustrates a good storyteller as and I’ll be honest about this I have the attention span of a poet.
Talking of poets they don’t come much better than A C Clarke who was making her first visit to the Tin Hut since July. As always I enjoyed to the work of this top quality wordsmith who shared three poems with an audience who listened intently to her words.
Anne started her set with After Work a poem based on a picture of an Albanian refugee. This was followed by She Came To The Door before concluding her set with Remembering 2011
As Anne went back to her seat it was the turn of Derek Read to grace us with his presence.
Like A C Clarke it was Derek’s first appearance since the summer and he started his set with Sandy’s Funeral which a warm and fitting tribute to former Words and Music favourite Sandy Hutchinson. Derek followed his opening poem with Dark Dreams a poem on mental health issues and concluded his five minutes with a poem entitled In My Madness
Derek was followed to the stage by the only man in history to arrive at the Tin Hut by tardis the one and only Pete Faulkner. As we were now at that time of year famed for mists and mellow fruitfulness Pete started his set with Autumn Leaves which is the tale of four girls at a bonfire. This was followed by The Reckoning a tale of a knight coming home from the crusades and Pete finished his set with a couple of ghost stories which provided more than the odd spooky moment for a suitably enthralled audience.
Alan McGlass was next to entertain the company. Alan started his set with Anchourous before moving on the brilliantly titled From Ryan Air To Knock. He followed this up with his hilarious take on Morris Dancing Honey Noni Nay. Alan then finished his set with a poem in tribute to the leading evolutionist Charles Darwin written in the style of a certain William Topaz McGonagall. This was a brilliant way to finish the set and welcome one of life’s true performers back to the spoken word scene from which he has been badly missed.
Following Alan is never an easy task but if anyone could do it then Kevin Gilday was just the poet to do it. Like many others Kevin (see picture) though a keen Words and Music supporter was making his first appearance at our new venue and his first since his younger sister Lisa was appointed as my deputy.
Picture (1) Kevin Gilday makes his first appearance at Words And Music since we moved to our new surroundings.
Undaunted by this development Kevin performed three poems all written about his recent trip to Japan entitled Secuda , Land Of The Unfamiliar and Tokyo Boy. This was an excellent set and in my opinion produced the biggest lump in the throat moment of the night. This was an emotional set from a young poet who unlike so many, west of Scotland men isn’t afraid to wear his heart very firmly on his sleeve.
After such an excellent poet it was only fair that it was a storyteller who followed him and this Suzanne Egerton we had a performer who mixed flash fiction with a bit of Americana with her story Tilted Picnic and as usual kept us interested from start to finish.
When she did finish Suzanne gave the stage to Susan Milligan and it’s fair to say that this was a bit of mixed bag of a night for her. This wasn’t helped by her choice of a controversial first poem Wolfe Whistles in which Susan who must have been on a day trip to the 1950’s advised women to enjoy this male attention and in her words make hay while sun shines. Needless to say this went down like a led balloon with the feminists among us and got her set off to a nightmare start. This however is not the Susan of old and instead of folding like a piece of paper she cracked on with her poem on the Clutha tragedy and one on Celebration before finishing with a song which in this case was My Funny Valentine which is probably in my opinion the one she does best and is certainly my favourite from her repertoire.
Susan was followed by Jim Ewing whose set of four poems was a mixture of two themes music and faith. Jim started his set with an invitation to the audience to guess which musical star his opening poem may be about.
With the title Sugar Me and me like Jim having had my teenage years in the 1970’s. I kinda got the fact this highly enjoyable poem was about Lynsey De Paul.
For his second poem Jim (see picture) performed what I call his Dusty Springfield poem and it’s no secret that I love this poem and judging by the reaction it received I’m not the only one.
Picture (2) Jim Ewing takes the stage at the Tin Hut. No Honestly it really is Jim.
This was followed by his penultimate poem No Honestly which like the first one shares a title with a Lynsey De Paul song Jim
finished his set with a fantastic poem on faith titled I Went Down To The Crossroads With A Suitcase In My Hand and brought to an end one of the best and most enjoyable sets I’ve ever seen him perform in all the time I’ve known him.
It was Anna Crow who led us to the bar break with a short but enjoyable set which left those in the audience with plenty of food for thought.
In her first poem Two Years On Anna reflected on how she felt in the aftermath of the referendum and why her commitment to an independence is still as strong as ever if not even stronger because of lost opportunities and the disturbing direction the United Kingdom has taken during this period especially since the vote to leave the European Union.
Anna’s second poem Sunday Lunch was on a different kind of politics which is more of the personal variety in the sense of the politics of position in the family. I love this poem as I get the sense that Anna’s Sunday’s are very much like the ones which shaped my formative years in which any difference was perceived as dangerous left wing radicalism maybe that’s why this poem spoke so clearly to my liberal leftie heart.
After a much needed bar break during which we had been joined by Michelle Fisher and Victoria McNulty who had came over from the Castlemilk Against Austerity event to enjoy the words of wisdom of our featured writer Jim Monaghan. It’s no secret that I’m big fan of Jim’s work and I think Victoria McNulty was bang on the money when she described him as the Scottish poetic version of Jack Dee due to his dry humour.
On Introducing Jim (pictured below) I said that he was like a younger version of my dad you know the kind of brother if you were lucky enough to have him in the family that you could argue with every day but still depend on when you really needed support.
Picture (3) Shows our Featured Writer Jim Monaghan sharing his poetry with the gathering.
Jim started his set with his popular anti war poem Tell Me Lies About Iraq before reading his poem For Blake which is based on his poem Jerusalem. This was followed by poems for his two grandfathers . Firstly he read one for his maternal grandad Archie Kirk and then followed it with one in memory of the man he was named after Jimmy Monaghan. The later piece titled What Did You Do In The War? was arguably my favourite poem of his set. That said both pieces were enjoyable heartwarming and delivered with a gentle warmth which would have made both men very proud of their talented grandson.
Still on the theme of family and those who matter most Jim’s penultimate poem was that old favourite What I Got For My Birthdays. I have to admit I love this poem as gives the listener an insight to the memories that shaped the man we’ve come to know and whom I consider to be a valued friend. Jim then finished his set with The Songs Are Wrong before leaving the stage and taking his place amongst the company.
As always the featured writer was followed by the featured musician and in Lisa Gilday we not only had an excellent singer/songwriter to entertain us, we also had the future face of Words And Music.
Lisa (pictured below) started her set with one of her own songs approximately titled My Song before moving on to cover Be Mine. This was followed by another one of her own the excellent Walk Away after which she treated us to her version of The Gardner. In her penultimate song Lisa treated us to another of her own compositions which had the very philosophical title of The Stars Will Keep On Shining before concluding a majestic set with the song that started a friendship which for those of you who don’t know is the classic Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow ? This is the first song I ever heard her sing back in an early summer evening in 2012.
Picture (4) Shows my recently appointed deputy Lisa Gilday providing the music and enchanting the audience in a way only she can.
At the end of Lisa’s set it was time for our penultimate reader of the evening and it has to be said Fred Fingers, didn’t let us down. In a set predominantly focused on humour Fred performed four pieces and started with his only non humorous one which was a tribute to his late wife. Fred followed this with Tree Feller , and Faces before finishing up his with Pet Phobia.
As tradition dictates I brought the night to an end. On this occasion I read two poems and I started with A Women’s Voice which I deliberately selected for Michelle Fisher as like me Michelle is a fiercely proud feminist and since this poem was written to explain to a female friend of mine to explain why women should vote I thought she might like it and it turned out I was right.
I followed this thought provoking poem with something a wee bit humorous and Lost The Plot was the perfect way to end what was an excellent and entertaining night. As I reflected on the events of the evening I thought everyone who attended played their part in making the night a success. It was like the best type of west of Scotland family gathering where you had every kind of character and somehow in spite of this it just seemed to work. So as we sat down to a cultural feast we were told that Breakfast Means Breakfast but when someone asked What Did Do You In The War it was time for a good Sunday Lunch
Love And Best Wishes