When A Sleeping Princess Was Awakened By A Midnight Lullaby Then I Knew I’d See Tears At The Bells

Hey Readers As we get ready to enjoy the February edition of Words and Music , It’s time to look back on our first New Year party in our new home.  It is I think fair to say, that as the cultural bells rang in another year we started 2017 in far better spirits than was the case twelve months ago when that  January saw though we didn’t know it at the time our last ever night at the venue formerly known as Sammy Dow’s. So it was with grounds for cautious optimism that we  welcomed our first visitors of what I’m sure will be an enjoyable  year.

 Among the visitors were a few members of the Words and Music family we hadn’t seen for a while such as Catherine Baird, and others without whom no new year would be complete such as Pete Faulkner , and our eternal matriarch the one and only Pamela Duncan. 

As hostess of the evening it was my duty not only to welcome the participants as they arrived but to get the night under way but before doing so I, asked the company to raise their glasses and join me in a toast to friendship and to Words And Music. 

Having toasted the health of the company it was now for the first poem of both the night and the year. This year I started with  Tears At The Bells.Though this is a poem which may on the surface show my football loyalty by celebrating  Celtic’s hogmanay victory against Rangers, I think it demonstrated to a far greater extent the close bond I had with my father and why in a house which was divided on such occasions (my mother and elder brother were  Rangers fans ) It is sometimes  when  I am celebrating  victories against our greatest rivals that the most emotional of all buttons can be pressed. 

After kicking off our new year party I called on our first foot to take the stage. Now normally, it is the custom that your first visitor should be tall , dark , and handsome. At words and music  however we like to things differently, so our first foot wasn’t in the traditional mould. Instead of tall , dark, and handsome, we went for small , ginger, and loveable and invited Derek Read to be the first billed reader of 2017. Needless to say the wee man (pictured below ) in his own unique and entertaining way. Derek performed two poems In My Madness, and Harmonies before finishing a quality set with a tune on his recorded.

Picture (1) Our first foot Derek Read kicks off Words And Music 2017 in his own uniquely enjoyable style. 

Derek was followed by Shaun Moore Shaun is a great supprter of Words And Music and attends the event as often as commitments allows. Though in saying that he was making his first appearance at our new home. 

On this occasion, Shaun performed two poems. In his first poem Calling The Shots Shaun pays a warm tribute to the tradition of radicalism in the Paisley and Renfrewshire area which though originally a Glasgow boy he now calls home and where he is very much involved in the local spoken word scene. 
In his second poem Revenge of the Nerds Shaun (see picture) looks at those gtoups so often marginalised by society and puts forward a  compelling case that far from ignoring this collection of those who the chattering  classes may dismiss as irrelevant we should actually be listening to them as they may be the only people on earth who care enough about it to save it. This poem is I illustrates the talents of a mighty wordsmith whose powerful, passionate, polemic , punchy poems rattle out rhymes of the highest quality that never miss their intended targets and the line ‘she’s one pickle short of a chippy ‘ served both as good use of language and a powerful reminder not to judge others. 

Picture (2) Shaun Moore makes a welcome return to Words And Music and an excellent first appearance at our new home showed why a poet of substance will always have a place among the gathering. 

If welcoming Shaun back to the fold felt like the return of my poetry brother, then things were about to go in to full emotional overload with the return of my wee poetry sister Catherine Baird. This was and have to admit a delightful and unexpected surprise as Catherine (see picture) performed an excellent piece of flash fiction entitled Degree and a story appropriately titled Come Back which is exactly what she did and hopefully we will seeing a lot more this very talented writer in the months and years to come. 

Picture (3) The Return of the Prodigal Sister as Catherine Baird rocks the Tin Hut with fiction that was over in a flash

As we moved on to our next performer, we welcomed a Falkirk bairn who unlike Shaun, and Catherine wasn’t making her first visit to the Tin Hut she was making first ever appearance at Words And Music. Yes there is a difference, and those who performed at our former home will know why I make the point that though Words And Music may have moved 10 minutes down the road we are still Words And Music and we still welcome allcomers from all over the central belt of Scotland and occasionally beyond. On this occasion Janet Crawford (pictured below) was our debut star and I and the rest of the company enjoyed a quality set which comprised of a poem written for New Year and a very enjoyable rendition of the Karine Polwart song I’m Gonna Do It All.  Being a fellow fierce woman I knew of Janet’s poetic talents but I wasn’t aware she had such a pleasant singing voice.

Picture (4) Janet  Crawford looking relaxed on her Words And Music debut as Lesley Traynor and Susan Milligan look on. 

After Janet had become our latest debutant and multi tasker it was time for one of the club’s stalwarts to take his five minutes in the spotlight and Pete Faulkner entertained the company with two pieces both on a slightly seasonal theme and January , and The Sleeping Princess well very well received by all in attendance.

As Pete made his way back to his seat  Jim Ewing gave us his offering for the month. Jim started by providing us with a poem written for the Extra Second event later in the month entitled A Meditation On Recent Events in which he expressed his views on both climate change and Donald Trump from a faith based perspective. This was followed up with Neil’s Prayer and In The Beginning in what was a thought provoking set which got me motivated to work on my own material for Extra Second as I was also scheduled to appear on that bill. 

Next up was Susan Milligan who performed two short prose pieces entitled Two Things I Need To Do and New Things And Thoughts before concluding her set with the Kay Star song Rock ‘N’ Roll Waltz. 

Susan was followed to the stage by Lesley Traynor,( see picture) who performed Thrawn , Waiting For The Train To Millan , and Cover My Mouth In Gold. Personally I prefer a nice red lipstick but as the old saying goes you pays your money and you make your choice.

Picture (5) Lesley Traynor takes the gathering on a cultural journey   

As Lesley rejoined the company it was Alan McGlas who led to the bar break with the hilliarious Murder Of Crows or A Balderdash Of Collective Nouns. In this piece the ever pendantic Alan decided to be grammatically correct and explain whether or not he thought the terms used to describe  certain collective nouns made any sense. This was in my opinion a bitingly funny piece of observational humour and the perfect way to end the first half of the night.  

As tradition dictates we started the second part of the evening with our featured writer who in this case was Suzanne Egerton. For those of you like me who have become familiar with Suzanne’s work over the years you will know why this was a long overdue featured slot for one of our club’s most regular supporters. 

Suzanne (pictured below) started her set with her tribute to David Bowie and in doing so made me think on how quickly time passes Yes, as Suzanne reminded us it is really is a year since the star man left this earth. 

Picture (6) Our first featured writer of 2017  Suzanne Egerton who really was the perfect choice for a party 

 Suzanne followed an excellent opening piece, this was followed, by a biting and brilliant story on the dynanics of writers groups entitled The Camaraderie Of Writers. This had me in stitches as I thought on the writers groups I’d been in and believe me the characteristics described in the story most certainly apply to some of those I’ve met over the years.

Ever one for a bit of variety Suzanne who is better known as a storyteller performed her poem Mister Kiwi Digs and proved she is a better poet than she gives herself credit for. Indeed it is my considered opinion that this is a versatile writer who is at home with both poetry and prose and though more comfortable with prose I have enjoyed any poem I’ve heard from her. 

 For her next piece Suzanne was back on her familiar terrain and her story State Of Independence  had me hooked from beginning to end, this was of course due to the fact that Suzanne has a lovely storytelling voice and creates highly believable characters with whom the listener can readily identify.  

Suzanne finished her immensely enjoyable set with Getting A Life which was I think a fitting way to end especially with New Year being a time of resolutions when people resolve to change our lives for the better. Now, I know better than most, that there are many changes which I can make to improve my life but one thing I won’t be changing is the quality of featured acts I bring to Words And Music. Believe me this is something on which I refuse to compromise and I will endeavor to bring you best quality performers I possibly can to grace our stage and I believe that with Suzanne Egerton I have started as I mean to go on in 2017 and beyond. 

Having had our first featured writer of the year, it was now time for our first musical foot of the year and who better to provide our new year musical, madness than our good friend Bob Leslie. Bob (pictured below) started his set by reminding us that Life’s Too Short To Wait For A Miracle before  continuing with a song which  I think was entitled Jack Knows though what Jack knows I’m not entirely certain. 

Picture (7) Our musical first foot Bob Leslie entertains the gathering with his songs 

Drawing on his Orcadian roots Bob  then sang Bess Millie a which tells a tale of the sea, and its power over island communities. This song brought out the softer side of a man often known for his more upbeat and satirical numbers a number of which are quiet political in tone. 

Talking of politics, Bob’s next number Comes A Time was a song in support of Scottish independence which is a cause in which he has long believed in. This I have to say was very well received by the vast majority those in the room many of whom including yours truly could be considered fellow travellers on this particular journey. 

From politics Bob moved on to comedy with political overtones with one of my favourite songs of his One Size Don’t Fit All in which he takes a gentle shot at those who would stereotype others. 

As he reached the final section of his set, the  musical mayhem was completed with The Seanachai   I Would Dance, and his final song  A Moussy Went A Walking brought a top class twenty minutes plus to a highly entertaining conclusion. 

After two top class featured acts it was time for one of those timeless traditions which make the January Words And Music so special. I refer of course, to the Words And Music New Year raffle.  I’m pleased to. report that everyone who turned up did end up going home with a prize As for me,   I’m delighted to say I won what I would call an autumnal green top which I had been eyeing up all evening and I have received many compliments  on wearing it to events at Celtic connections. 

The raffle now over, it was now up to me bring the night to its conclusion with the final set of what had been a busy and enjoyable evening. I did so by performing two poems the first of which Midnight. Lullaby, was like my opening poem on the death of a  much loved family member who had a very significant influence on me and in shaping the woman I’d become and that was my maternal grandmother Jessie MacDonald Robertson Russell who passed away on a cold and frosty morning in January 1982.  

As both my previous poems had been on death I thought I should lighten the atmosphere a wee bit with my final poem. It was with this in mind that I decided I should perform Every Saturday Night as this tale of a would be Casanova and his misadventures at the dancing always leaves the audiences giggling  and that to me at least is the perfect way to end a night. 

 And with that the first Words And Music of 2017 had been safely put to bed.  It was a night when old friends came home to the family table and new ones spoke with ferocity but when a sleeping princess was awakened by a midnight lullably  then I knew I’d see tears at the bells. 

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

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2 thoughts on “When A Sleeping Princess Was Awakened By A Midnight Lullaby Then I Knew I’d See Tears At The Bells

  1. Thanks for your kind words, Gayle. A couple of corrections though: the Orcadian spaewife was called Bess Millie and the one about the storyteller was The Seanachai (both to appear on my forthcoming album featuring Avril Cleland, Kate Kramer, and Wendy Weatherby – I’m in a girl band!). As I said at the time, I enjoyed your New Year poem greatly. Keep up the good work!

    • Hey Bob Have made the corrections you highlighted and those kind words you refer to were fully merited. I’m glad you liked Tears At The Bells as it’s one of my most personal poems about the bond I had with my dad.

      Love And Best Wishes
      Gayle X

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