From Style Queens To Shakespeare & The Bubblewash Man They Came To The Harvest Gathering

Hey everyone. Being the first day of a new month it was also First Monday of October so the spoken word community made to our way to Sammy’s for our traditional night of Words & Music.

With this being the first week of October it is also Glasgow Poetry Week or its been retitled Glas-Goes Poetic. With this in mind I wanted to organise a cultural feast for main course at the family table & With Robin Cairns serving the words & Jim King providing the music I think it might have worked. If I’m honest the fact there are lots of events to choose from meant I had slight concerns about the impact on our attendance I needn’t have worried as despite a few call offs & some unforeseen circumstances 25 people turned up giving us our highest attendance of the year.

As 8 o’clock approached the seats were filling up fast & Monica Pitman congratulated herself on arriving early. Quite right Monica Uddingston is a long way to travel. However right on time I decided it was time to quote the immortal words of Pink to ‘Get The Party Started’. Andy Fleming was supposed to be first to the stage but since he needed a couple of minutes to tune his guitar he requested that I open the proceedings & this was a request I couldn’t turn down especially as it was seconded by Pamela Duncan & trust me when Pamela asks you to do something you do it.

So I kicked off the night with one of my recent poems Tears of a Style Goddess an appropriate choice considering I had received compliments on my outfit from Monica Jane & Pamela. After opening the gathering I handed over to Andy who entertained us with a couple of his classic songs honk for the living god & wired that way. Personally I don’t know where Andy’s wired too but I think planet genius may be an accurate guess.

Pamela was next up to the stage who read a poem on work related issues. She was followed by AC Clarke who read two poems on poetry. Following Anne is never an easy task & this month it fell to someone who was very much living the dream. Appearing at her first & maybe her only appearance at Words & Music Susie Sanchez performed two poems & both of them particularly the second one were very well received & Portugal can be very proud its adopted Irish daughter I know we were happy to hear the work of the woman who found us on google.

As Susie made her way back to her seat it was the turn of one of our seasoned regulars Pete Faulkner to entertain the crowd with a chapter from his novel about the life of young idealistic teacher at a secondary school. They say a good writer writes about what they know & Pete certainly does well he’s a teacher by profession. Still on the subject Susan Milligan’s set was also on that theme. it was Short sharp & well delivered from a poet who performed with confidence.

Linda Grant was next up to the stage like her fellow Tollcross writer Linda kept her short & god knows why but she even called on me for assistance with her last poem counting the seconds. The arrangement was that Linda would read the comments & I would count the seconds, needless to say I fluffed a line which sent the whole place in to hysterics & gave Linda to do what bossy big sisters do & give me a telling off. To be fair it was a moment of comedy gold & gave the rest of the crowd the chance to join in the countdown which heightened the dramatic effect & added to the performance . It was one of those brilliant comic moments for which Sammy’s has become famous over the years.

Talking of comedy it was good to see a real Glasgow comic take to the stage to entertain us in the shape of Tony Capaldi. Tony’s a quality performer who really knows how to work a room & work it he certainly did telling us tales of how a Glasweigan Noah built the arc in a slightly different way from the account we read in the bible. Having given Noah the treatment he then went on to tell us that Shakespeare & Scottish history have never met as he rhymed off a far more accurate version of Macbeth than Shakespeare ever managed informing us that this particular king, contrary to the Bard of Stratford’s belief Macbeth was actually the good guy. This reflects historical truth far more honestly than Shakespeare on this occasion. Well Tony’s a poet Shakespeare a dramatist,& dramatists a bit like unionist politician never the facts get in the way of a good story.

Having enough caused chaos for one night Tony returned to his place amongst the gathering & Words & Music’s most prominent Shakespeare fan took her chance to shine. Anyone who knows Monica knows she is a born performer & she likes nothing better than gracing the stage. As befits such a Shakespeare fan Monica’s first poem was a 21st century adaptation of Romeo & Juliet.
It was in this poem she undoubtedly produced the best line of the night ‘ Juliet Capulet retiring to her kiplulet is a brilliant piece of writing be it in Medievil English or today’s more modern version. Oh well as I said you can always rely on Monica to provide an entertaining performance. At the end of her set it was the turn of one of our newcomers Peter Mohan to read an extract from a longer piece of work. in this episode he takes us through the eyes of a hitchhiker through the countries of central & eastern Europe finally finishing back on the stage just in time for the bar break.

As tradition dictates we started the second half of the evening with our featured writer & this month it was the turn of a Robin to rock words & music. The Robin in question was the man I call the maestro Robin Cairns. One of the good guys of the spoken word scene you can always rely on him to make you laugh & think in equal measure now that’s what I call real multi-tasking. My personal highlights of an excellent set was when he asked us to go on a journey with him in to the oldest musical theatre in the world the Britannia Panoptican & through his poem gave us a real sense of what the theatre is like & would have been like back in the day & his brilliant & thought provoking new poem the bubblewash man which I heard for the first time on Sunday at the Govanhill baths. In this poem he examines the complexities of the human condition . It was a top quality set from one of the best writers & performers on the Scottish & British spoken word scene.

Following Robin is never an easy thing to do however someone has to do it & on this occasion the task fell to Freddie Fingers & trust me he delivered & virtuoso performance by treating us to the poem he wrote for this year’s McGonnagall Supper & the crowd lapped it up. After Freddie it was that the turn of Billy McLean who performed a set of three poems the most topical of which political correctness was a quite astonishing attack on the Human Rights Act. Though the poem did highlight some of the abuses which take place in the name of Human Rights one could be forgiven for thinking that this was the poetry of the Daily Mail.

As Billy left a crowd in shock, it was time for the featured musician This month it was Jim King who supplied the music & Jim always a welcomed guest at Sammy’s entertained us with a quality set which illustrated the range of his work from the mellow melodies of beautiful swimmers to the biting social satire of songs like little posh kids a damning indictment of the Cameron-Clegg coalition & The Gathering in which he warms us of the dangers of intolerance. It really was a wonderful set from a true friend of Words & Music.

As we headed towards the twilight of the evening Jane Overton gave us a set in which she pondered the meaning of life from the perspective of a fruitfly. This poem would go down really well at the faith/unbelief poetry workshops which are hosted by the next poet to the stage Jim Ewing. As I said Jim is a poet with a strong faith& this is often demonstrated in his work which we may hear more of as I have approached him to be featured writer next month.

As we approached the finish of another enjoying evening Maryanne Hartness performed only one poem but as usual with Maryanne she made it count delivering her poem with the quality I’ve come to expect from such a fine writer & performer. Sometimes I think Maryanne doesn’t realise how good she actually is.

This is something which can’t be said of our penultimate performer. Colin Storrie has the confidence & ability to command any stage & does so at every chance he gets. Its been a wee while since Colin’s last appearance at Words & Music as due to work commitments he can’t manage down as often as he would like However when he does appear he makes an impact. This month Colin came down for one reason & one reason only to perform the poem I rate of one of his best The Day I Went To Taynault. This is the story of the day Colin helped his friend John Gillies to load his hay in to his barn & since John was on a visit to Glasgow Colin decided he would like to perform the poem for John at Words & Music. I thought this was a nice touch & in my opinion Colin gave a good performance of a poem I know means a lot to him

As I signed off the night I read two of my poems A Harvest of Hope & I’m Not Prejudiced But. Both were well received by those in attendance but it was no accident that I ended the night with a wee bit of humour. Well its always best to part with a smile & on a night which the diversity of our talents & way in which we use our words & music to express ourselves our cultures & identities, I think its safe to say that from Style Queens to Shakespeare they came to the harvest gathering.

Love & Best Wishes
Gayle X

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