We Came To The Gathering Where Happiness Lives And Magical Memories Are Made We All Have Home Wins At The End Of The Night As We’ve Scored Personal Goals On The Stage. 

With November upon us we prepare for a Words And Music which will undoutably feature the theme of remembrance. It is therefore important to remember the events an October edition which was memorable in many ways for the 12 of us in attendance and perhaps even a wee bit controversial in places. That however to this poet in particular is no bad thing as it is the job of the bard to tell their truths as they see them. 

It was with very much on my mind that I started my set with two poems the events in Catalonia declaring my support for Catalan Independence. In my opening poem The Currency Of Hope written on the Friday night before the referendum I wish my Catalan comrades good luck and urge them to stand strong against threats or dirty tricks from Madrid. I fillowed this with a poem written the morning after the vote and Storm Of Sorrow was my imeadiate and angry reaction to the brutality Catalan voters faced at the hands of the Spainish state police as they exercised their democratic right. 

Having got the night off to what some would say was a controversial start I invited Angie Strachan to the stage to restore some sort of sanity to the proceedings but then I remembered it was Angie and decided to let her get on with what she does best. Putting on her sensible suit at least temporarily Angie performed three poems the first two of which Happiness Lives, and Tandem Causa Bonna Triumphat gave the impression that Angie can be sensible when she has to be . However her final poem proved that Angie like me is sensible only in emergencies and Scarlet Fever the tragic tale of a burlesque artist proved that normal service had been resumed as she came back to her brilliant if ludicrous best.  

As Angie went back to her seat it was the turn of Mary Wilson to share her words with the gathering. On this occassion Mary started with a comic piece about A Snooty Thermostat, she then read two nature based poems after observing the behaviour and habits of squirrels before finishing her set with a poem on getting older entitled Dealing With Age.

Mary was followed by Susan Milligan whose pieces Beyond, and In Heaven For A Day were well received by the company before concluding with a song which this month was I Can Sing A Rainbow. 

As Susan rejoined the company it was time for Peter Russell to entertain the company and this he most certainly did with six excellent poems all of which were elquenty executed in his typical laid back style.  Peter started his set with Visit From A Taxidermist before changing tact completely for A Sestina On The Cafe Neon, he then read the  powerful and thought provoking Our Necks Saved , before noving on to my personal favourite in this set 62 Sunningdale Avenue which is a beautiful poem on his first childhood home. He then concluded his set with Are You Better Yet? and his final poem From The Ground Up. This was a top quality set of well crafted poems for a skilled and talented wordsmith with a keen observational eye. 

Talking of talented wordsmiths it was as always a pleasure to introduce one of my greatest mentors Derek Read who read three poems which were all tied to some extent to his quaker beliefs. In his first poem Diving For Atlantis Derek looked back  with affection on the life of the late Catherine Walker. He then read a piece from the Quaker book by Adrian from Brunei  before finishing with The Gathering. 

Derek was followed by Claire McCann who read a short piece before returning to her seat as Alan McGlas led us to the bar break reading The Hairy And The Smooth which he informed us was based on a biblical story and following it up with the bitingly funny All Over The Place which shall we say was slightly more personal in nature. 

After an enjoyable bar break It was time for our featured  writer and on this occasion it was club stalwart Alex Frew who took his turn in the spotlight. Though primarily known for his more humourous material Alex has many strings to his creative bow and he showed the full range of his work in a set which covered a range of different issues . Alex started his with a poem And Then He Spoke Of Death and followed it up with another slightly more humorous take on the same topic with a poem on what the comedian Billy Connolly would like inscribed on his gravestone entitled Is It That Time Already? 

This was followed by Cutting Down A Tree and a poem on what Alex referred to as night terrors called From The Deeps before the poem which I thought was the highlight of his set Three Photographs Of You in which he pays a brilliant emotional and heartfelt tribute to his mother . It was no surprise to anyone who heard this lovely piece of poetry that he got a wee bit teary on reading it but I’m sure his mother looked down and smiled as he did so and was proud of the son that she raised. Speaking as his friend of more than 20 years I know we are certainly proud of both Alex and his talents. 

Having completed what was undoutably the hardest poem in his set Alex (pictured below) decided to give us a musical interlude with a song titled You Ain’t There before returning to poetry with a piece entitled Patterns. This was followed by the brilliantly funny My Friends Are All On Prozac before winding up his set with Doctor Krippen and A Dear John Letter.  

Picture (1) Our featured Writer Alex Frew shares his thoughts with the gathering)

As Alex went back to take his place amongst the gathering after an immensely enjoyable set it was time for the featured musician to take their place on stage and  this time that honour fell to Alex’s partner in rhyme , crime and musical mayhem and the other half of Ayrshire’s answer to Batman and Robin the one and only Andy Fleming.  Andy like Alex has been a Words And Music regular since the 1990’s and has entertained audiences in his own unique style ever since. 

Andy (pictured below) started his set which with the exception of his last song was made up entirely of covers with Killing By Degrees (Bad Karma) This was followed his rendition of  that well known country song A Heartache Following Me. He then sang both country and Motorhead songs before his unique Johnny Cash style  performance of that 1980’s girly classic which was one of my personal anthems  Girls Wanna Just Have Fun.  He moved on from this with That’s What People Say before performing what he introduced as the Bum Songs but was actually Sea Of Heartbreaks and followed it with the Run DMC song My Adidas And Me before an excellent rendition of the Talking Heads classic Physco Killer  and concluding his planned set with Word Up before we demanded an encore for which he sang one of his own songs Jesus Will Kick Your Sorry Ass. This I think was a fitting way to end a kick ass performance from a top class musican and consummate performer.

Picture (2) Andy Fleming our Featured Musician struming his stuff whilst covering classics 

After our featured performers I sometimes look for someone to bring the room back to normality. Unfortunely I couldn’t find anyone who would do that on this occasion but thankfully Steve Allan who was making a welcome return to the fold after a period of absence was availble to be the penultimate performer of the night and bring even more madness to the evening with his hilarious story about some people arrive in heaven in very quick succession. Since Steve said it didn’t have a title I decided to call it God’s Spreadsheet as I think kinda fitted the narrative of the story. 

With everyone who wanted to having performed it was up to me to bring the night to a close with the final set of the night. I did so with a set of four poems three of which were receiving their first ever performance. 

I started my set with Home Comforts a poem on homelessness which is the only poem in the set which had been performed previously as I have read at a number of events in the last few years. Mindful of the fact that Scotland still had a slim chance of qualifying for next year’s World Cup Finals in Russia  I followed this up with a very personal football poem titled Home Win which chronicles my first Scotland match as a woman and shows the emotions I felt on a day which ended with good results for Scotland and for me.

 For my next poem I moved from football to feminism and in Sugar And Spice I set out my very personal agenda as to why stereotyping is a never a good idea and why I set my own rules in life. It has to be said this poem was not universally popular and one good friend went as far as to tell as much when I chatted to him after the event. I feel however that everyone is entitled to their opinion and though I do not agree with him and he by no means spoke for the room his opinion is nonetheless a valid one and I accept it for what it is and agree to differ with him on this opinion. I concluded my set with Badge which was written after a visit to the theatre to a trans related play. This was one of the most personal poems I’ve ever written and to share it with a group of writers which included some of my closest friends just hours after I wrote it meant a lot to me and judging by the reaction it received at the end of the performance I think it also meant a lot to them. 

At the end of the night Steve Allen was kind enough to give me a lift home and as I reflected on the events of action packed evening I thought that we come to the gathering where happiness lives and magical memories are made we all have home wins at the end of the night as we’ve scored personal goals on the stage. 

Till next time .

Gayle X

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