Tag Archive | Alan McGlas

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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When Cheeky Boys Met Karaoke Queens We Talked Of Childhood Days  And When We  Went To The Rock Jam Night We Knocked On Heaven’s Door 

​It seems slightly mad that my post on the June edition of Words And Music is being posted nearly a week after the July event  has taken  place. Note to self I really must stop misplacing my notebook .That said it  was with a sense of relief that the night actually went ahead.  I say this because the May edition of our event had to be cancelled as  your  host was unable to attend  due to a leg injury and not having a replacement compere on standby who could have stepped in to take over. Though not fully recovered from my setback I was in no doubt the show had to go on even if it meant taking a taxi to the venue and arriving before it had officially opened.  

There was at least one up side to my early arrival which was that I was there to welcome each and every guest as they arrived to play their part in the evening’s entertainment. This helped me to get myself in the mood for whatever the would bring and  as is always the case with any Words and Music event it would be what it would be and I for one was glad for whatever that was 

As I started I had some good news to share with the assembled company and that was that a team made at Words And Music and captained by yours truly  had won the Four Ages Slam which had been the only event I had attended in the  whole of May. Well as team captain I had not only to attend but lead by example and my teammates who were  our two previous featured writers for March and April Lesley Traynor and Angie Strachan were absolutely brilliant. This was of course exactly what you’d expect from two stalwarts of our club and shows the standard of featured writers I try to being to the club. 

Having performed my duties, I thought it was only fair to start the night with one of the poems I performed in our team’s set so I opened the night with Jewel Of The Clyde in which I take a reflective look to back to 1990 and Glasgow’s year as city of culture and examine the legacy it left it us both. culturally and politically.  

Having done my job and opened the night it was now time to crack on with the billed readers. First up was Derek Read and he had told me prior the event kicking off that he wanted to read what he teffered to as long poem which was written in memory of his former partner Gilbert particularly since this coincided with the anniversary of Gilbert’s death.  Unfortunately the occasion got a bit too much for Derek and he found himself too chocked with emotion to perform and asked if someone else could read it on his behalf.  Since I had met Gilbert on a few occasions I was more than happy to undertake the task of reading Luss Pilgrimage and I’m pleased to report that Derek thought I had performed it well. Derek then returned to the stage to read a short poem entitled Power before taking his seat to enjoy the rest of the evening. 

Next up was Susan Milligan who gave arguably her best performance so far at Words And Music with a themed set on friendship. Susan started  her set with a poem on friendship with in the family unit with a very moving poem entitled Absent Friends which was written in memory of her dad and youngest of her brothers who was her words taken far too early. She then moved on to her now customary song  giving us her rendition of the Andrew Gold hit from the late 1970’s Thank You For Being A Friend. 

As we thanked Susan for her contribution it was time to welcome another well kent face to entertain the gathering and that was Alex Frew who as is so often the case brought his own brand of mischief to proceedings. Alex started his set with a piece on Childhood Days though I’m not sure they any way resemble any childhood days I can ever recall. Alex than shared a song written by his friend Michelle who like Alex attends the South West Writers group. The song titled I Love Your Bum attracted more than a few chuckles and kinda made me think on The Cheeky Girls. Alex then concluded an entertaining set with what he calls his cycling songs Big Chunky Buttocks which I have to say has a very catchy chorus 

Next up was Alex’s partner in rhyme, crime, song, and lunacy , yes it was the other half of the Ayrshire version of the Cheeky Boys the one and only Andy Fleming. Andy performed three songs two of his own and one in tribute to a much loved late friend of our nights. Andy started his set with  Odin’s Dedication aka  There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible and The Rock Jam which though not one of his  most sing a long songs is strangely enough a song I love singing along to and demonstrates his talent for writing brilliant and bitingly clever lyrics. Having treated us to two of his own catalogue Andy concluded his set with a song made famous by one of our former favourites Crispin Allen titled footprints On The Dashboard Upside Down .For those of a certain vintage and I mean that in Words And Music years it brought back more than a few memories of a consummate performer  from another consummate performer.  

As Andy rejoined the company it was Alan McGlas who led us to the bar break with  his story A Small Boy in which he recalls memories of his grandfather and why he seldom talked  about the war.  This  is a very moving story narrated with warmth, compassion, and dignity told in an authentic voice of which his grandad would be proud. 

After the bar break it was time for our featured writer and on this occasion the slot was filled by a Words And Music regular Pete Faulkner. Being a writer who is equally at home with poetry and prose I wondered what Pete would treat us to in his 20 minutes in the spotlight  

As it turned out Pete’s treat was to share a couple of chapters from his  novel in which the hapless  lead character a young English teacher Christopher Isherwood  is a facing a very stressful day at work and his journey to the school where he teaches makes a day which is already potentially fraught even worse as everything that can go wrong does so and that was just the start of the day from every young teacher’s hell 

On arrival at School the idealistic Isherwood would face an assessment from one of his harshest critics, who just happens to be head of department. As she sits in on his class she watches in despair as Christopher is continually interrupted by the class clown who interjects  with the comment ‘And what’s that got to do with the price of fish at every chance he gets and of course encouraged to do so by his peers who see this act as some sort of teenage rebellion and no doubt see themselves as very anti establishment in their actions. 

The fact that Christopher would in all probability as Pete hints but never states be a far better teacher for them if they had given him the chance to do his job is completely missed by his students who only seemed interested in what act of rebellion they could become known for.  

It hard not to feel at least some empathy for likable but hapless Christopher and I think the fact that Pete is a teacher by profession shows in the very real way he portrays his character complete with all the faults , flaws, and idiocincracies  which made him so authentic just the writer who created him. 

As Pete went back to his seat it was time for our featured musician to take stage and it was a pleasure to welcome Darryl Sperry (Pictured Below back to the Words And Music It was especially fitting that it was a pleasant evening in June when he made his return as it was exactly a year since he made his Words And Music debut as our first featured musician in our new venue.

(Picture 1 Darryl Sperry our featured musician)

Darryl started his set which was mainly comprised of his own songs with Seagull before to moving on to Me Myself And I. This was followed by I Don’t Wanna Be Everybody. This song illustrates the pressures of trying to be everything to everbody, pressures which I think are unfairly placed on so many people particularly the millennial generation. 

Darryl then moved on to  my favourite song of his set  The Sun Is Out Today. I love the fact that this song is so relaxing and the melodies are absolutely sublime. This is a top quality song from a top quality musician. Darryl concluded an excellent set which, showed why I booked him with an excellent version of the Bob Dylan classic Knocking On Heaven’s Door . Honestly this was an amazing set which was thoroughly enjoyed by the small but intimate crowd (well there were  only 9 of us in attendance and to those who haven’t seen yet , please rectify that  at your earliest convenient  opportunity I guarantee you’ll enjoy the  talent of one of the rising stars of the Scottish Indy music scene.  

At the end of Darryl’s set ànd with no-one else left to read it was up to me to bring the night to a conclusion. I did this by reading a set of four poems starting with Smelling The Roses in which I look inside the mind of a UKIP voter and reveal what I believe they are secretly thinking.  Well, I had to perform a political poem on this occasion. I had  no real choice to make ,especially as  it was only two days before the snap General Election Theresa  May had insisted on calling and I’m pleased to report that my satirical take on the kippers was very well received. 

From political comedy I moved on to more observational humour as read Lost The Plot which tells the story of a Glasgow girl’s Saturday Night at the dancing. This is one of my favourite  poems to perform and it always seems to get a good reaction. For my penultimate poem I paid a very personal tribute to former Words And Music stalwart  Ian Davison who died on Christmas Day with  my poem Glasgow Boy which was written in his memory. I finished my  set with one of my best known poems and one of the few I can perform  completely from memory or at least I can on most occasions  but this time I seemed to miss a verse of Karaoke Queen. The fact that nobody seemed to notice is neither here nor there . I noticed and me being the perfectionist I am I was somewhat less than pleased about it. Other than that I was happy enough with my performance on the other poems I read. 

As I made my way home I reflected that my little trip on my final poem should guard as a warning against complacency. However , all things considered it was an enjoyable night,  indeed you could say that when cheeky boys met karaoke  queens we talked of childhood days and when we  went to the rock jam night we knocked on heaven’s door.

Till next time 

Gayle X

When Rabbie’s Lass Got Fierce With Words And Mused On Political Valentines We Searched For Silver Linings In A Tapestry Of Talents 

Never before in the history of  Words And Music have we held the  April edition of our club before I’ve had to reflect on the events of a March,  but such is the madness of NaPoWriMo that is what’s happened on this occasion and if it ever happens again it’s bound to  be in  the chaos that is such a regular feature of April these days.

As I look back on this night I am happy to say that was a night in which women played a very prominent part. After having no musician in February I was delighted that Bernadette Collier a well known and respected voice in the Glasgow folk scene was making her debut at our event. As I kicked off the proceedings dead on 8 o’clock, I was as always excited yet nervous as to what the night would hold. Well I’ve been attending spoken word events long enough to know that the only thing you can predict about a night like this is its unpredictability.  

I started the evening by reading The Clothes Of An Honest Man a poem written in memory my late father John James Smith who would if still among us  have been celebrating his 90th Birthday in the last week of February. It is I think fair to say that like most poems on my family this one was not without controversy as raised a few topical issues such as   the political cultural differences between my parents and on these issues I was very definately a daddy’s girl. 

After the opening poem it was time to hand the night over to the company and get on with the show as only we know how. First to take the stage was Angela Strachan who was making her first appearance since our Christmas Cracker in December. Angela who is April’s featured writer celebrated her return to the fold by reading a story titled Dandelion Feicht which she narrated from the perspective of a teenaged boy. Before starting to read  Angela asked me if she could have a wee bit of extra time to read her story and I said that wouldn’t be a problem because unlike some performers over the years Angela had the decency to ask rather than assume she could take it and get away with it and I must it was an enjoyable story which was well worth hearing. 

Angela was followed by Mary Wilson who read three poems Pigeons On The Menu , Robotic Cleaner, and Fitting Time. Like Angela, Mary was also making her first visit of the year and it was good to see her back. 

As Mary returned to her seat it was the turn of a man who needs no introduction to Words And Music regulars as Alex Frew has been entertaining us for more than 20 years, both at Sammy Dow’s, and now in our new home at The Tin Hut . Be it poetry , prose , or music Alex can always be relied on make us smile and think in equal measure. This time, Alex chose to read  a story or should I say the first part of a which told a tale of childhood and I look forward to hearing the second part of The Note as and when he decides to share it with us. 

From an experienced performer we move on to a debut girl and Susan McKinstery showed why I moaned the face off her to come and share her work with two  excellent pieces When Bad Things Happen, and the brilliant You, I , Us. You know I’m really glad that Susan decided to come along as her powerful , thought provoking pieces challenged stereotypical prejudices and added something extra to the evening . 

Next up was the other half of Ayrshire’s dynamic duo Andy Fleming.  Like Alex, Andy has been coming to Words and Music for over two decades since making his debut in 1996.  Having attended pur monthly gathering for as long as he has, it is fair to say that Andy has a large volume of work so large in fact that he is never quite sure what to perform on any given night. Andy however is a great believer in democracy, and more often than not will let the people decide his set for the night by getting those of us in attendance to shout out random numbers and his set will be selected by whatever numbers we decide to call out. On this occasion Andy’s form of democratic participation meant that the audience were treated to three of his all time classics  and I for one thoroughly enjoyed One Star Review, Trashwalk, and his environmental rant You Are Not A Cyclist. This was a set which brought back memories for some of us and created them for those who are just getting to know a man I am proud to call my friend. 

Next up to the stage was Susan Milligan whose set focused on romance. This was no great surprise to me as this was the first Words And Music since Valentine’s Day. In this post Valentine’s set Susan read three poems Parting Kiss, One Last Look, and All Alone. I am also sure she sang a song and I enjoyed it but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. 

As Susan took her bow and rejoined the company to enjoy the rest of the evening it was Alan McGlas in his now customary position who led us to the bar break with his hillirious piece titled Ten Reasons Why I Dislike Dying In Hospital. This piece of quality satirical brilliance was the perfect way to end the first half of the night and get us in the mood for our featured performers but first it was time to catch up with friends and enjoy the social side of life which always plays such an important part on nights like this.  

After the break it was time for the first of our featured performers and as always we started with the featured writer and this month that was was the none other than the fiercest woman in poetry otherwise known as Lesley Traynor. Now those of you know Lesley (picutured below) will know she has a naughty side and she showed that mischievous streak with her first poem Big Bad Wolf in which she got more than a wee bit suggestive about this character in a fun filled poem which gave us all a fit of the giggles.

Picture (1) Our featured writer Lesley Traynor takes tin hutters on a very interesting journey

Having shown us her naughty side, it was now time for her  to show her sensative side with her poem My Sister Sleeps. This poem illustrates Lesley’s gentle tenderness as it tells the story of her close bond with her sister with the use of loving evocative language and stunningly beautiful imagrgy. 

In her next poem Rabbie’s Lass Lesley looks at the relationship between our national bard Robert Burns and the love of his life Jean Armour and does so very much from Jean’s perspective. This is a poem which narrates a tale of compassion from a 21st century woman who would never have put with even half of Rabble’s chat but times were different in Jean’s day and Lesley shows genuine warmth towards her subject in a poem which takes a look at Burns through the lenses of both feminism and time. 

In her next two poems Dancing At La Garre , and Secret Place   Lesley tells of her time in Eithopia and the adventures she had and the challenges she faced as a young woman in what was at that time a  very troubled land. As if to demonstrate her versatility Lesley then moved on performing Threads before taking us on yet another adventure, this time to Milan where after visiting a gallery in the city she was inspired to write Cover My Mouth In Gold. 

Lesley then concluded an excellent set with her final poem Thrawn. This is a poem which is  close to her heart as it was written for the women with fierce words event she organised for the Scottish Poetry Library for the first day of the Edinburgh festival fringe. The idea behind the event was that every poet brought with them a poem and a fierce word which described something about them and Lesley chose the old Scottish word Thrawn which can be used to mean stubborn or determined and Lesley is determined to get as many women as possible to record it in as many unusual venues as possible to illustrate that there is no place on earth on which a woman can’t be thrawn which reminds me I’ve still to record my version of the poem outside Celtic Park. This was an excellent way to end a top quality set which was enjoyed by all in attendance. 
After Lesley it was time for our featured musician and this month that honour fell to Bernadette Collier. Though I’ve known Bernadette (pictured below) for many years this was her first time at the club. Bernie started her set with a song that appealed to my pro independence sentiments titled If You Were Free. She followed this with a jazz flavoured number Killing The Blue

Picture (2) Featured musician Bernadette Collier makes a long awaited debut at Words And Music supported by seasoned regular Bob Leslie.

 For her next number she was assisted by Bob Leslie, as they dueted on  one of Bob’s songs Hook Your Train Up To My Wagon. Bernie followed this up with another transport related song when she covered Chasing Cars. For her penultimate number Bernadette sang a Spanish song which I not knowing the title can’t spell, pronounce, or translate but I did enjoy it.  For her final song Bernadette sang Dance Me and with that she did the quickstep off stage to enjoy what was left of the evening 

As Bernadette and Bob rejoined the company it was time for the penultimate performer of the evening and this month it was Claire McCann who had the unenviable task of following the featured acts and she did it by singing a song titled Look Whose At The Door. 

As Claire concluded her performance it was my job to bring the evening to a close  I did so by performing four poems I kicked off my set with my tribute to the late great Tommy Gemmell. I titled this poem The Goal That Changed The Game as that is exactly what he did with the equaliser which broke Inter Milan’s defensive wall and with it their resistance thereby setting up Celtic up for my club’s and Scottish football’s greatest ever victory. I followed this up by reading Quartet.This is my tribute poem to Orcadian band Fara who I go to see at every chance I get. For my penultimate poem I decided on a bit of satire with my Valentine’s Day poem Political Musings On Valentine’s Day in which I take a no holes barred look at the Valentine’s that certain politicians and organisations should have got. For my final poem I stayed on the theme of politics and in Silver Linings I took a reflective look on my journey back to normality after the disappointment of the referendum and the part poets and musicians played in brightening my mood. 

It was with that optimistic note that I ended this edition of words and music and yet another night was written in to our history. It was a night when the 13 of us who made it along were thoroughly entertained.So when Rabbie’s Lass got fierce with words and mused on political valentines we searched for silver linings in a tapestry of talents. 

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

A Treasure Trove Of Memories In A Room Full Of Friends As We Came To One Last Carnival And Said Farewell To Rio 

Last night was an emotional one for the Scottish poetry community as it signalled the end of the cultural institution that is , was and ever shall be Last Monday at Rio after 10 amazing years in the heart of the both the west end and the Glasgow spoken word scene.  

 
Picture (1) The main man and host of this event Robin Cairns kicks off the final night of his reign at this cracking wee venue by taking us down memory lane as he performed the poem that opened the very first night at Rio and we meet the school teacher called Old Lochgelly. 

Picture (2) Peter Russell takes his turn at the mic 

Picture (3) Shows A R Crow and Shannon McGregor relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere of the night 

Picture (4) Sees Jim Monaghan share his thoughts on Rio and why it will always have a special place in his heart. It is the mark of a man of principal that Jim would sooner speak with integrity on the part that Rio has played on his spoken word journey than perform on such an important occasion. 

Picture (5) Is of a stalwart of this event and many others over the years. A man who has entertained us in his boxer shorts and worn his party candidate rosette on stage and had his hand up so many puppets that he could were he not so principled get a job as a Tory Chief Whip. I refer of course to the one and only Chris Young. 

Picture (6) Shows Shannon McGregor taking her turn to entertain the company .

Picture (7) It was an emotional night for Stephen Watt who regarded Rio as his poetry home and has done since making his performance debut on this stage in 2010. Over the years since first meeting him in this cracking wee cafe I have come to respect Stephen as a poet and even more so as a man and have valued his friendship support and advice. 

Picture (8) Has our very own Falkirk bairn Janet Crawford at the mic. In her introduction last night Janet informed us that it was Stephen Watt who encouraged her to go west with her poetry and I for one am very glad he did. 

Picture (9)  Shows a poet whom you can always rely on to raise the bar, the brilliant Katharine MacFarlane who went for a poem on sex and brought us all in to a fit of the giggles.  

Picture (10) Shows the man whose had more headline slots at Rio than anyone else the man who Robin described as the best poet in Scotland today the amazing poetic tour de force that is Kevin Cadwallender. 

Picture (11) Sometimes in life it’s the small things that make us happy and that’s certainly the case in the poetry world when Sam Small performs his work. 

Picture (12) As reached the penultimate open mic slot it was time for A R Crow to share their thoughts on what happens when Scots get a glimpse of the sunshine with their hilarious poem Taps Aff. 

Picture (13) Kirsty Nicolson makes history as the last open mic poet ever to grace the stage at Cafe Rio with one of my favourite ever poems Being From Lewis Is on the stereotypical images people have on the island where she was raised and her family roots are planted.

Picture (14) Our last ever headliner who took not only to the end of the night but to the end of an era was the excellent Hamish MacDonald. A consummate performer Hamish’s poem Ma Bit is an outstanding example of what can happen when people become too territorial and attempt to exclude others from what they believe to be ‘their’ communities.

And so it was over. 10 years of not only of quality spoken word but a valuable part of Glasgow’s cultural and social history. During a decade in which Glasgow has undergone many changes we have heard 1,000 voices speak their truths on a wide variety of topics and listened to everyone who shared them.  In doing so we have created a treasure trove of memories and we’ve done it in a room full of friends. I can think of no better legacy than that. 

Picture (15 ) Our host and compere for the last 10 years.

Thanks Robin. 

See you somewhere else. 
Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

The Little Lessons Teach You A Lot About Yourself If You Listen To The Voices In Your Head

As I prepare for the March edition of Words and Music  it’s time to look back on the events of a very eventful February. To me February is the month when we cast aside our party clothes after the excesses of the festive season and return to a place of normality as we wait to see what the coming year will bring us. It was with this in mind that I allowed myself a quiet smile of satisfaction as we began to gather for the evening ahead. 

 You see it was at this last year when we started our enforced break having been told by our previous home only at the very last minute that  they no longer opened on Monday and Tuesday nights news which threw both myself and the event in to chaos. Eventually however we did find a new home and having settled in to it baptising with the kind of Christmas and New Year shenanigans that only we can have , it was now time to settle in  and enjoy it as the surroundings take on that comfortable feel you can only have when you feel truly secure on your journey to the future.  

Talking of journies, our featured writer had travelled from Edinburgh to be with us and Matt MacDonald being the kind of sensible organised man that he is had even arrived at the venue before I had. Now that’s what I call dedication and as we enjoyed some pre event social time Matt told me how much he was looking forward to the night. 

As the crowd gathered I got the night started dead on 8 o’clock as I tend to do these days. I think the change of home has been good in this respect as whilst at our old familiar venue that was our home for 25 years I was mindful that Pamela would often get me to hold back from starting to wait for some latecomers to arrive, however on moving home I decided to change this and start as soon as the clock strikes 8 and welcome others as they arrive. 

As soon as the clock told me to,  I started the evening with a new poem which hadn’t even been written when we gathered in January to bring in the bells.  The poem Winter Miracle, recalls a childhood memory in which I relate the story of a boy who had never seen before in arriving in Glasgow and how  our teacher didn’t share our excitement at sharing a winter memory with our classmate and friend.  

With my job done, it was time to move on and enjoy the rest of the night and who better to kick off the madness that will forever be Words and Music than Andy Fleming who marked his first appearance of the year by singing Voices In My Head. Now I don’t know if Andy does get voices in his head but if he does they must be very talented ones to produce the kind of work he does. 

Andy was followed to the stage by his friend and mine Alex Ftew who read three pieces Land Fever, No Parrots, and a cowboy story entitled Lannigan which reminded me of the kind of wild west programmes my dad used to watch in the 1970’s. 

As Alex returned to his seat it was the turn of another of Words and Music’s most regular contributors to entertain the company and Pete Faulkner did just that with a witty yet sensitive story about a shy boy who becomes a superhero This was an entertaining and heartwarming story with which despite the gender differences I could easily identify. Well it’s a little known fact that the minute I put my tights on I become the tartan wonder woman 

Anyway that’s enough of my ramblings for Pete’s sake and as Pete Faulkner left the stage it was another Pete or should I say Peter who was next to bring his talents to the table and trust me Peter Russell is a man of considerable talent. 

On this occasion, Peter read three poems The Becks Blue Blues, Mr Murray’s Words which is written as a tribute to Les Murray, before concluding his set with the brilliant America First, a poem which offers hope for a troubled country as he reminded us of the resilience of the American people 

Next up was one of my favourite poets and one of my favourite people, I refer of course to the excellent A R Crow. A R, started their set with a poem on mental health issues titled Ask Me If I’m OK. This is not only a wonderful piece of powerful thought provoking poetry but also serves as a reminder to the audience and society at large that we should be looking out for each other more in these turbulent times . 

A R continued their set with a poem on anxiety, before concluding on a poem entitled Queer Is This I poem I really enjoy despite the fact that as a trans woman  I would never use the word Queer to identify myself. I do however recognise that A R who identifies as a non binary person in other words does not identify with the notion of male or female gender identities is using the word in a positive context to empower themself rather than the negative stereotypes which were associated with it when I was growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s 

As A R rejoined the company it was time for Susan Milligan to claim her five minutes and take us on a trip to her world. On this occasion Susan performed Mia, Love Lust and Lullabies, My Not Sonnet , and A Laddie which was written in Scots, and finished as she usually does with a song . As Valentine’s Day was just a week away at the time of our event I think the song of choice which was the Conny Francis number Where The Boys Are was I think a fitting one and I know that it’s a song she likes singing. 

After Susan it was Alan McGlas who led us to the bar break as he performed three pieces which started his classic Honey Nonny Nay before moving on to Hors D’oeuvres and bringing the first part of the evening to a close with his take on A Happy Marriage. 

During the break I caught up with Robin Cairns who was making a welcome visit to Words and Music and he told me of a new project he’s working on which is by far his most ambitious to date and his most serious piece of theatre since Sawney Bean and believe me it sounds intriguing and like all of Robin’s projects I’m sure it will be top quality entertainment.  

Talking of quality we started the second half of the night in   traditional way with our featured writer and in Matt MacDonald we had the kind of poet whose thoughtful well crafted work is always a joy to hear  

Matt started his set with poems on his home city of Edinburgh kicking off with a poem on friendship entitled 29th September 2011. He followed it up with Bloodlines , before moving on to Arthur’s Seat and then the last  poem of this part of his set The Island Of Broken Sky. At the end of this poem Matt took us on a journey not to broken skies but to the Western Isles of his ancestors and in particular the isle of Harris which his cousins still call home.  In his first poem in this section of his set Whisky Pebbles relates a tale of childhood adventures that warmed the hearts of the audience as we travelled back in time to share the experience with him. This was followed by Little Lessons a poem Matt wrote for his grandfather.Matt then moved on to another Harris based poem and Packing Up in which he shares a memory of a trip he made with his mum. For  his final poem Matt (pictured below) read Signposts In Gaelic To My Edinburgh Eyes and in doing so completed a  truly magnificent set which was both educational and easy on the ear. This is a poet  worth hearing and enjoying a poet grounded both in the craft and his heritage who writes lovingly of his family and trust me his family have a lot to be proud of. 


Having  Matt travelling all the way from Edinburgh and being up to my neck in Celtic Connections for practically all of the festival meant there was no featured musician but this meant I decided to double Matt’s fee and I don’t think there was anyone who would object to my decision.  

After Matt’s sublime performance, it was Claire McCann who had the challenging task of following him and to be fair to Claire she  gave it her best shot performing  two poems The Room, and The Square. Personally I thought The Room, was the stronger of the two as it focused on the impact of social class on  friendships and relationships and I have to  say I quite enjoyed it 

Claire was followed by January’s featured writer Suzanne Egerton whose storytelling skills have won her many friends over the years she’s been attending Words and Music. On this occasion Suzanne read a story entitled Patience and as usual her characters were brought to life using the  warmth and gentle  wit for which she’s become know.

At the end of Suzanne’s set it was time for which the penultimate performer of the evening and it was great to welcome Robin Cairns back to the Words and Music stage. On introducing his set Robin said that he had been inspired by Eveline Pye’s set of poems which documented her time in Africa and as a result of this inspiration he has written his own set of poems on a topic he knows well and that topic is commerce and industry. In a highly enjoyable set Robin read commerce and industry before finishing with That’s Why The Lady Is A ….. in which he showed that if satire’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. 

With everyone who wanted to perform having done so , it was my job to conclude the night and bring it to a close. I did so by  performing two poems Global Warning which was based on my mother’s unique and slightly eccentric  reaction to the idea of climate change and Yesterday When I Was Young which takes a reflective look at my life to date

With the evening now satisfactorily concluded we made our way in to the night and started on our homeward journies. As we did so I mused on the fact that the little lessons teach a lot about yourself  if you listen to the voices in your head.  

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

  

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 

An Eclectic Cultural Selection Box Was Just What I’ve Always Wanted. (My Review Of The Christmas Last Monday At Rio) 

Hey Readers

I start this my 22nd Blogmas post  with a very serious question.

When is an event which is usually held on the last Monday of the last month held before the last Monday of the month?

The answer is when the event is Last Monday at Rio. Now come on readers especially the poets amongst you I said Last Monday at Rio. The poets should now be shouting Rio as they read this. You see the reason that there is a slight change of date for December is because the man I call the maestro and genial host of this amazing night, Robin Cairns likes to take a nice wee break during the festive season so by tradition we congregate just a wee bit earlier than ususal for the December edition of the event.

On this occasion coming so close to the day itself there was a very festive atmosphere with everyone in top form for what was for many of us myself included, our last performance of the year.

Amongst the highlights on excellent evening of entertainment were fantastic contributions Alisa Williamson whose set on the joys of married life made me wish I was in my mid 20’s rather than my mid 50’s, Jim Ewing (see picture below) whose poetic review of the year went down a treat and Suzanne Egerton whose story The Christmas Tree illustrated why I have selected her to bring in the cultural bells as January’s featured writer at the New Year Words and Music

Picture (1) Jim Ewing At Christmas Edition of Last Monday At Rio


There were also outstanding sets from Jane Overton who was this month’s featured writer at Words And Music, Anna Crow, Nancy Lippold Ingram, Peter Russell, Lesley Traynor, Janet Crawford whose poems about her love for sons had me welling up emotion, Alan McGlas who had us all in stitches with his bagatelles and Monica Pitman whose set included a traditional Lithuanian Christmas song. 

To perform in such exhaulted company is indeed a great honour but I seemed to get a few giggles and some audience reaction with my performance of Christmas Lies, (Just What I’ve Always Wanted ) Having enjoyed my short spell on the stage I decided I wanted to do only  one poem to get maximum impact, I went back to my seat to take in the rest of what was a fantastic night with Karen Jones, (see picture below) and Alain English the pick of a very merry bunch open of mic slots. 

Picture (2) The brilliant Karen Jones entertains the company as Karen Cairns, Suzanne Egerton, and Alain English look on. 

As for our featured act Colin Donatti I must admit to having a very slight bias. You see, Colin was one of my earliest influences as he was one of my first writing tutors back in the early 1990’s. So I knew I would be getting a writer of quality and substance as that was exactly what we got as Colin shared his poetic thoughts and musings with a crowd who were only too willing to listen. 

And so ended this year’s Last Monday at Rio and with my performances for 2016. You know it’s strange to think that despite the event now coming up for its 10th birthday which I believe Robin said it celebrates this coming April and me having hosted an event for 11 years and performed at venues at various locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and beyond, it took me till March this year to make my debut at this event. Now however, I’ve performed a fair few times at this excellent evening and see it as an important part of my cultural landscape. One thing I love about Rio is the variety of acts and topics which make up this manic but magical Monday and from Christmas Trees to reviews of the year and Lithuanian Carol’s this electic cultural selection box really was just what I’ve always wanted  

Love And Best Wishes 

Gayle X