Tag Archive | Andy Fleming

Brownies Bromances And Missing Bits From Bibles Really Was The Best Of Summer Nights 

As tradition dictates the summer brings a mellow mood to Words And Music I think it’s the combination of sunshine and the upcoming holiday season that does it. That said , whatever the reason for it there is always a relaxed atmosphere in the summer months, especially July and as the 12 performers and friends who made the night what it was would agree,  it’s the perfect opportunity for  faces  old and new  to showcase their talents. 

July is the kind  of month which suits the kind  of performers who are easy one on the ear it was with this in mind that I selected Jim Ewing to be featured writer and Charly Houston as featured musician. Well that was the plan but when Charly was unable to make it due to work commitments I had to get another musician at the last minute. Fortunately our resident multi tasker, Andy Fleming was ready and able to step in and take over that particular brief as he has so often in the past. 

Comforting as it is to see Andy and the core regulars who make our nights what they are  it’s always good to welcome new faces to the club and July saw two newcomers find a home at our place. In Natasha Newman and Moki Goddess Of Mischief both of whom I first met at the Blue Chair Extra Second nights I knew we had unearthed two stars of the future and was delighted they had graced us with their presence. 

As host it was my duty to this summer night off to the best possible start even if I shamelessly plugged the fact that I had won the Faith And Unbelief title with my opening poem Faithful Daughter which is my poetic warning to the Church of Scotland to modernise or die. 

Having kicked off the night it was time to introduce the first of the billed readers and Mary Wilson read two nature based poems Fledging Bluetits and Fledgling Sparrows based on her knowledge of watching new birds finding their way in the world .

After Mary’s gentle start to the evening, it was time to welcome the first of our newcomers to the stage, and Moki Goddess Of Mischief hit the ground running with a powerful thought provoking poetic package which was very well delivered by a poet who gets better with every performance. Her selection of The Demon Queen and Winching showed two very different sides to a poet of real potential who gave a very relaxed and confident performance. Like me Moki hails from the North of Glasgow and in fact grew up not only in the same scheme I had a few decades ago but in the very next street to the place I once called home so forgive me if I’m just a wee bit proud of a local girl made good who is keeping up the scheme’s reputation for producing quality poets and before you say anything yes I do mean me.  I have to say I enjoyed both of Moki’s poems and I did notice that The Demon Queen produced more than a few shocked expressions whereas Winching had the audience giggling and contained more than a few nuggets of comedy gold. 

With Moki’s debut over it was time for a seasoned regular to entertain us and in Alex Frew we had the perfect poet for the job. Well, I say poet but on this occasion Alex being the contrary type decided to start his set with a song Leonard’s Lactose Lament in tribute to Leonard Cohen and followed it up with a short stand up set. This wasn’t so much Not The Nine O’ Clock News, it was more like Not The Weekly News but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that it was both funny and enjoyable which it definitely was.  

After Alex it was the turn of Susan Milligan to take the stage. This month Susan performed two poems Changing Your Mind, and Political Effects Two, before finishing her set with a song Carolina Moon

As one Susan left the stage another took her place, and Susan McKinestry performed two fabulous poems on the impact of social and economic disadvantage which left the audience spellbound. This was an excellent performance from a poet who was making only her second appearance at Words And Music  and had to be coaxed in to making  her first. Trust me this is a poet you will hear a lot more of  and a voice which needs heard in the fight for compassion and equality a fight we shouldn’t need to be having in the 21st century but unfortunately it is more needed than its ever been. 

After Susan It was time for the second of our newcomers to take her place and be the latest poet to add her name to the tapestry which makes up the history of our event and trust me Natasha Newman didn’t disappoint. As she led us to the bar break Natasha preformed a set of  four poems of truly excellent quality.She started her set with Summer Executions in which she  gave us her thoughts on what was for her and many others myself included was  a very disappointing election result. This was followed by Whole, before moving on to  the brilliantly titled Destination Unknown. This is a place that this poet and many others have visited a  lot more than they will ever care to admit but it also sums up where the future will take us as nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. For her final poem of what was a top class debut set , Natasha read Ignited Rhymes.  This was a great way to conclude the  set and indeed the first half of the show as Natasha’s rhymes have certainly ignited the spoken word scene since this quiet softly spoken poet made her debut on it earlier  this year at Extra Second. Make no mistake this performance marks the  arrival of a major new talent and when I’m proved right then remember where you heard it first. 

After the break it was time for our featured writer and on this occasion it was Jim Ewing who entertained the gathering with a set which showcased his versatility at its best.  In 20 minutes Jim got through more subjects than mastermind as he took us on a journey through his work.

 Jim started his set with Trumped Up , a political haiku on American president Donald Trump . He then moved on to a poem l entitled For Her in which he described the lack of compassion shown by a mourner at the death of an addict . In his next poem To A Mother Jim illustrates the full horrors of the Orlando massacre and   his grief such  senseless slaughter

For his next poem Jim journeyed much further back in time and read Martyrs a poem on the political climate 100 years ago at  a time when the world was experiencing both wars and revolutions and the social and political upheavel that resulted from them. 

After this it was time for a change of direction as our featured writer showed his humorous side with the ghostly ghoulish goings on the world of The Man With The Iron Teeth. This was followed by  a trip to the past with Self Portrait 1900 before Carp Diem brought us back to the presen. Well it is the Latin for Seize The Day. 

In his next poem Bromance Jim took a light at the bonds of male friendship. This I have to say of one my favourite poems by any poet on this topic and is possibly only eclipsed by Robin Cairns Homeland Songs as my all time favourite on it.  

From this Jim moved on to Neil’s Prayer before reading  his Dusty Springfield poem Definitely  He followed this with Retrospective before concluding his set with Men At Lunch. 

As regular readers will know the featured writer is usually followed by the featured musician. However as Charly couldn’t make it due to other commitments  there was no featured musician at least not officially I was able to make an intelligent adaptation to the programme and let Pete Faulkner take the stage. This was a very good move as Pete is highly entertaining as well as being a consummate performer 

As was the case in June when he was featured writer, Pete read an extract from his novel. In this chapter the school is visited by a group French students as part of a foreign exchange and  Christopher is mortified by both students and staff alike particularly by the head of department who is doing the stereotypical Scot routine to perfection. 

As Pete returned to his seat it was time for Andy Fleming to be the featured musician for the night . As regular attenders will know Andy has more than one than string to his bow, and when he takes the  stage, you never quite know what happen you only know you’ll enjoy it when it does. 

Andy started his set by reading a very short  poem from his girlfriend Christine  before getting on to the serious stuff with his word association poem Genetic Typing Pool Shark Bait. I hadn’t heard this poem in  a long time and I really enjoyed listening to it again. He followed this with another piece from the achieve and it was great to hear and sing along to  the Job Centre Plus song.  From unemployment Andy moved on the topic of neighbours and aimed his creative fire at the kind of neighbours we would all hope never to have with  his classic poem Neighbours , Everybody Needs Good Neighbours ,  But Mine Are A Shower Of  Bastards. This poem never fails to hit the spot as almost everyone has had or knows someone whose had neighbours like the ones Andy so eloquently describes in this piece. 

Andy followed this up with  his own unique take on the disco classic I Will Survive before moving on to Roadrunner before concluding his set with that nice little sing a long number There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible.

With Andy’s set completed it was up to me to finish up the night  and I did so with a  set  of four poems . I started with  Slice Of Faith ,  a poem on celebrating. the end of  lent by getting back on the chocolate by enjoying  my favourite chocolate based treat otherwise known as the Blue Chair Brownie. Well if Burns can  do it for haggis than why can’t I do it for the brownies. I mean  it seems fair to me. 

I then got slightly more political as I read Scroungers which explains what can happen when people are faced with the reality that the press and media don’t always tell the  truth  and. you face them with alternative arguments they may not have been exposed to. 

 I then moved on to a poem on activism  entitled  Snowflake which illustrates that those who use this term to insult us are making  a big mistake as snowflakes like activists never arrive on their own.

I concluded  my  set with a poem the place I call home and My Glasgow showed you exactly that  my city for better or worse in what I hope is an affectionate but realistic portrayal of   my city. 

With that, another Words And Music came to an end  and as I made my way home I reflected on an evening of brownies, bromances, and missing bits  from bibles really was the best of summer nights. 

Till next time

Gayle X

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

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 Two Wise Men And A Very Wise Woman Shared Their Stories And Songs To Make Merry The Rest Of The Company Were Watching The Night And That’s Just What We Always Wanted.

Hey Readers

As we gradually return to normality after the festive season so the time has come for the first Words And Music of the New year. But before seeing what 2017 has in store for us all it is time to go back to the event which started the poetic festivities and look back on the December edition of our event and I have to say we saw 2016 out in far greater heart than was the case in 2015 which with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the club turned out to be our last Christmas in the place we called home for 25 years.

As the crowd began to assemble for our first Tin Hut Christmas cracker it was good friends both old and new among the gathering and I could sense an air of optimism in the company which hadn’t been there in our last Christmas at the venue formerly known as Sammy’s.
Don’t get me wrong, we made the most of it and had a good night, but now settled in our new home, we could sense we were going to have the Christmas cracker to end them all and give a right good Christening.

As is now customary I opened the night and with this being our festive event I started the night with Christmas At Carol’s. This poem is my comic look at that friend you know the one we’ve all got that starts singing Christmas songs on the 1st of November though we secretly suspect she’s rehearsing them since Easter Monday. Anyway it seemed to get the job done and now the night could proceed as normal, or at least as normal as you’re at a Tin Hut Event.

As I gave way to the open mic crowd it was one of our newer members Angie Strachan who was next up to entertain us and she did so by reading a poem written in the style of Burns for what she said was the most Scottish wedding she had ever attended. This was despite of or maybe because of the fact that the happy couple came from Wales and The Czech Republic. Angela then followed this with a poem entitled Nickola Tesla’s Bird and finished up her set with a brilliant and thought provoking poem on Armistice Day.

Next up was our other new face Mary Wilson who read two pieces Time And I and Sam. During her second Mary got a wee bit emotional and apologised to us for doing so. Not that any of us thought an apology was necessary as it was quite obvious that this was a very emotional piece of work and the fact that she felt moved by the story she was sharing with us made us feel all the more privileged to hear it.

After such an emotional piece I hoped we may get a wee bit of humour to lighten the tone and Alex Frew delivered exactly what the doctor ordered with his first piece From The Pulpit for which Alex assured us he had done research as this poem was made up entirely from lines spoken in church by men of the cloth. Alex then slightly more serious for his second piece Moon Boot Muriel Is Going To Barbados. This piece was written about a real character that Alex knew from working in day care and was related with a warmth and sensitivity with which I’m sure she would have been pleased. For his final piece Homer The Winner Alex returned to his more natural comic style as he took what I would say was a deserved swipe at home town winners in poetry slams and knowing that scene well I think it’s safe to say that the bold Mr Frew  could touch a few raw nerves with this one. Fortunately though those sensative souls weren’t in attendence and those of us who were there throughhly enjoyed it.

Next to the stage was Alex’s friend and sparing partner Andy Fleming. As Alex And Andy were the featured musicians Andy’s set was like Alex’s a mere taster of what we would be in for later in the evening but boy that taster was good as he performed the Sex Pistols classic Anarchy In The UK and his own rather unique Christmas classic Grandma’s Turkey which I’m convinced would be the perfect song to get him the Christmas number one.

Andy was followed by Chris Young and on this occasion Chris started with a brilliant and thought provoking poem in which he examined what his life could have been like he been born female in If I Were A Woman. This is a poem of genuine quality and had many of us in sitting in silence and in awe as as Chris took us on this journey and asked some people to step out of there comfort zone.

Speaking as someone who is a transsexual woman as lives the life Chris is asking others to imagine I must admit I loved this poem and could readily identity with what he had to say. However just when we thought it was safe and Chris was going to be sensible he pulled his Christmas cracker and out came Aunt Matilda for her seasonal visit. This parody of Christmas to the tune of Good King Wenceslaus is one of my festive favourites mainly due to the chaos which this seasonal relative seems to cause.

Having had visits from the Words and Music version of the three wise men it was time for a woman to restore some sanity to the proceedings and Susan Milligan was the woman chosen to provide us with something different. She did this with a cracking wee set of two poems and a song. In keeping with the spirit of the evening Susan read Resolutions and Santa’s Dilemma and concluded with a song which through not a traditional song was a classic Christmas number one. The song in question was The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and I have to say she more than did it justice.

Next up was a man who I know celebrates Christmas but like me remembers the reason for the season and Jim Ewing gave us a cracking set as he looked back on the year. In an excellent set Jim read two of his most poignant poems as he paid tribute to both David Bowie and the victims of the Orlando massacre before lightening the mood with his last poem Gay When I’m Sober And Straight When I’m Drunk.

As Jim went back to his seat it was the turn of Suzanne Egerton to lead us to the bar break. For those who don’t know Suzanne will be our featured first foot and take in to us 2017 and she showed why with two brilliant pueces the heartwrenching Auntie May Declines , and the hillirious Snow Black which is her personal take on the Snow White story and if you ask me snow black had at least initially a lot more fun.

After the break we finally opened our featured cracker and who did we find but Jane Overton. Jane to me is the idel featured writer for an occasion like this. With her mixture of humour and pathos she has a catalogue of poem which any poet would be proud to call their own. Jane started her set with something we all need at Christmas just in case we have to take that unwanted present from our very own Aunt Matilda back to where she got it. 

This was followed by her excellent take on the classics, and she read on an Old Woman In A Hurry, This poem contained one of best phrases I’ve heard in a long when Jane mentioned the Glam Reiper.  I don’t know why but I just love the messsge of this image, it’s as if a scary ghost comes to visit women of a certain age to tell us our days of getting dolled up are over.

In her next poem which is on the topic of art, this versatile poet switches the focus from maturity to youth as she tells us that Antonia Gormley Aged 15 Considers Her Future. After showing us a teenager considering her future Jane herself considered religion in an thought provoking piece titled Absolution. This was followed by yet more cracking poems which showcase the variety of work including Balance Of Probabilities, Self Portrait, Lullaby In Pink, Convenience Dreams, and one that every poet will like In The New Small Print.

In Unreal Estate Jane wrote a poem on property and still managed to make it entertaining. This to me illustrates that the festive period really is the season of miracles. Jane then finished her set by performing her Christmas classic I Have Watched Too Many Cop Show Christmas Specials. This concluded a set which was enjoyable, educational, and highly entertaining and kept the audience engaged from start to finish.

Now there are times when the featured musician is the sensible voice of reason after some featured writers. This however was not one of those occasions. Well it couldn’t be because the featured musician was Andy Fleming with a guest appearance from Alex Frew. To say this was comedy gold of the thought provoking kind doesn’t even begin to do it justice though it is a very accurate description.

It was Andy who was first to take the stage and he opened what would turn out to be an extended set with The BLR Has Ruined My Sex Machine. This strangely titled introductory piece was followed by the song with the title every show, or Christmas panto hopes they never will see One Star Review. After this Andy performed An Obituary For Che Frobisher and Nosferatu The Vampire. Well Andy always likes to look at the unusual aspects of life and they certainly don’t come any more unusual, than the man who was the topic of the first song for which Alex joined him on stage the one and only David Icke. 

This was followed by the nearest they will ever get to a Christian song as they used their considerable talents to remind us of the consequences of disobeying the Lord with a song titled Jesus Will Kick Your Sorry Ass.

Having dealt with God this dynamic duo then delved in to the world of nursery rhymes giving it their satirical treatment in Nursery Rhyme Calypso. This one always goes down well the Words And Music crowd as does the one they followed it with, well even when it’s not Christmas the Pound Shop song is always a winner.

After these two traditional favourites they then played Toilet Cubicles In A Field. This is a first hand account of what life is like on the last day of a festival and trust me it makes me glad I don’t really do the outdoor festival scene. They concluded the set with their classic song There’s No Mention Of The Clitoris In The Bible as they brought to an end one of the amazing featured bills that Words and Music has had the privilege to enjoy. On thanking both the guys and Jane for making the night so majestic I was minded to inform the gathering that in 1983 Fun Boy Three released a song entitled the lunatics have taken over the asylum and this fantastic featured bill proved that not only had they done it but they done it style and brought smiles however all round as they did so.

Following these two wise men and a very wise woman would under normal circumstances be a very difficult job, however this is words and music and we don’t normal under any circumstances. Fortunately our penultimate performer Pete Faulkner has been part of the words and music family for long enough to know we don’t do normal under any circumstances.

On this occasion Pete read two pieces. Museum Of Winter and The Forge. Whilst I enjoyed both pieces I particularly liked his first poem in which he shared memories of his formative years in home city of Dundee. To me these poems in which geography and childhood memories play a significant part show Pete at his best and illustrate the strengths of a poetic storyteller who takes his audience on a geographic journey through time and space with place used to ground us in the memories he creates.

As Pete left the stage I was up to me to bring both the night and the year to a close and at this Christmas cracker I did it the only way I know how by getting out the Christmas poems and seeing the year out in style.

I started my set with The Best Christmas Present. Then having lulled the gathering in to a false sense of security by starting off with a sensible poem, I thought it was time to liven the place with a bit of seasonal comedy by reading Stocking Thriller.

Of all my Christmas poems one has to be my favourite as it is ever so slightly suggestive and tells the tale of a romantic adventure which goes tragically wrong I then decided despite protests from
the music lovers union to sing my take on the Cliff Richard Christmas hit entitled Mistletoe And Whine. Thankfully there were no Cliff fans in the crowd or at least no-one who was willing to admit to being a Cliff fan so I think I just about got away with it.

Anyway, with the musical interlude completed it was time to get back to the poetry and my penultimate poem of the year Watching The Night told the story of the arrival of the baby Jesus in slightly more Glaswegian terms than you’d find in Luke Chapter 2. Those who know their bible will get the reference.

As for my final poem of 2016 I ended the Christmas cracker in what has become the traditional way in the last few years by performing Christmas Lies or if your diplomatic to your relatives than I would be when you get that unwanted, present you can think of no earthly use for Just What I’ve Always Wanted. This one always gets a good reaction and is the perfect way to bring the curtain down on what was a year that got better for us the longer I went on.

When we started 2016 little did we know that our January edition would be the last at our old home and due to circumstances beyond our control we had an enforced break until we June as we searched for new premises When we eventually reconvened in June, we did so not only our plush new surroundings but also on a different night of the week as first Monday’s at Sammy’s became first Tuesdays at the Pollok Ex-Servicemen’s club or as we’ve come to know it the Tin Hut and as we end the year our club has consolidated our place in our home and goes from strength as a part of the Glasgow spoken word scene. So as I look back on the night and the year, I think I can say that when two wise men and a very wise woman shared their stories and songs to make merry the rest of the company were watching the night and that’s just what we always wanted.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

The Night With Two Endings Was The Night We Saw A Star

Hey Readers.    
As I get ready for the annual festive shenanigans which is the Words and Music Christmas cracker it’s time to look back on the events of magical November in which our featured acts were a mixture of youth and experience and there was the welcome return of some our most popular characters to our cultural family fold.

As is now customary I opened the night dead on 8 o’clock and this months opening poem was House Rules a comic poem on the rules I believe every girl should set before moving in with potential suitor. 

Job done, it was time to open the floor to the first of the billed readers and is was a tremendous pleasure to welcome my long standing friend and supporter of Words and Music Alex Frew to give us his unique take on the world. In his first apperance at our new home Alex read three poems starting with My First Telly, before moving on to the more serious topic of Care Homes and then lightening the atmosphere with his final poem Trumpets which was his ‘ tribute ‘ to  followers of a certain Donald Trump. This was a top quality set which illustrated why Alex pictured below with Andy Fleming) is so highly rated by yours truly and such a welcome addition to our company whenever he can make it along.

Picture (1) Alex Frew And Andy Fleming take in their new surroundings with Maryanne Hartness looking on.

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Next up was first time performer Mary Wilson. Mary had attended the October edition of our event just to see what she thought of it and I’m delighted to say she decided to come back. On this occasion Mary decided she would perform and on her debut performance she read three poems and I can remember the titles of two of them This Is Where We Come In and Canvassing Time. I have to say as a political activist for the SNP I really enjoyed canvassing time through I’m not sure I agree with all the, sentiments expressed in it.  

Next up was Peter Russell who read two poems Sandy Denny’s Wake and Only Those Who Change To Themselves Stay True. Both of these poems were powerful , passionate and filled with brilliant imagary which is the hallmark of one of most refreshing voices on the spoken word scene at the moment.

Peter was followed to the stage by the man I view as my mentor, the one and only Derek Read. On this occasion Derek read a poem by Louis McNeice and one of his own poems on The Closing Of The Burrell Collection and it’s great to see a talented poet beginning to find his way back to the spoken word scene as ill health has curtailed his appearances in recent times.

Picture (2) Derek Read Regales the company at the Tin Hut with his unique brand of entertainment.

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After Derek it was the turn of Alan McGlas to entertain the company and Alan read three pieces Silver Birch, Difference, and Glasgow Docks all of which he delivered with his customary aplomb before taking his seat to enjoy the rest of the evening.

As Alan made his exit Susan Milligan took her five minutes in the spotlight reading two pieces Fancy Veichle, and Back Doors On Buses before concluding her set with a song about Shipbuilding.

After Susan’s set it was the turn of Suzanne Egerton to share her cultural thoughts with us Suzanne started her set with Autumnal an excellent prose piece which showcased her ability as a storyteller who really knows the power of language and the impact it can have. Unusually for Suzanne who has gained a reputation as a quality prose writer she decided to show her poetic talents with us and Tuppence For him which she wrote about the closure of the Ravenscraig steel works was the work of a quality wordsmith Suzanne finished her set by returning to the world of prose for Arc Of An Affair before returning to take her place amongst the faithful.

Next up was the ever entertaining Fingers who led us to the bar break with two of his more serious poems which he tends to read around the time of Remembrance and So The Politicians Said and Keep The Home Fires Burning, certainly gave us plenty to think about as we stopped for a well deserved bar break.

After the bar break it was time to welcome our featured writer and in Marc Sherland (pictured below) we had a man of experiance and a consummate performer who is well practiced in the art of stagecraft and knows how to work an audience

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Picture (3) Our Featured Writer and keen Words And Music supporter Marc Sherland takes The Tin Hut stage

Mark started his set with Flourish, and moved on to Rumination, Braveheart which has I am pleased to report nothing to do with the Mel Gibson movie of that name but was a very moving tribute to his late brother who endured a personal battle with disability throughout his life. After this emotional and personal piece, Marc read the Edwin Morgan classic poem Strawberries, and his reply to it Kirkpatrick Hills which I enjoyed as every bit as much as Morgan’s original. He continued his set with Rip It Up And Start Again and Practising My Best, before concluding a fast paced and enjoyable set with This Is For The Fireman Who Saved My Life and his final poem Nice Shoes.

As I said I enjoyed this set but then I always enjoy Marc’s work he’s a quality writer and has a style to his  performance which like his sonnets can only be described as uniquely Sherlandian and that to me is great news for the Scottish spoken word scene.

After the featured writer it was time for our featured musician and in debut girl Caitlin Buchanan who was making her first appearance at Words And Music I believe we have unearthed a star who will enrich the Scottish, British , and Global traditional music scene for decades to come.&nbsp

Caitlin (pictured below) started the best debut set of any featured musician since a certain Anna Meldrum with The Cinema she followed up with moving Another Top, and The Tallest Tree which is my personal favourite of her songs before moving on to Hope Of Release and finishing an outstanding debut performance with the excellent Fools Gold. I have to admit I enjoyed a spot of bias as knowing Caitlin from the Blue Chair open mic nights I knew how good she was going to be as did Grace Alison who had come along to support her. That said it was great to hear her getting praised by the likes of Andy Fleming and Marc Sherland who unlike me had never seen her on previous any previous occasions and Marc was so impressed by this dynamic young singer songwriter that her gave her his business card at the end of the night.

At the end of her set I had one of those mammy moments with a girl who I think is destined to follow someone else I tipped for stardom the first time I saw her at the Danny Kyle open stage at Celtic Connections her name is Rachel Sermanni. As those who know our traditional music know Rachel went on to win a Danny Kyle award and has gone to much bigger things. Now I don’t know why but I believe I saw someone else who can also follow that path and her name is Caitlin Buchanan.

Picture (4) Our Featured Musician the brilliant Caitlin Buchanan rocks the Tin Hut with her breathtaking Words And Music debut set.

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At the end of two fantastic featured sets it was the turn
of Maryanne Hartness to take the stage however on a night which would still have some interesting twists and turns before it was over Maryanne politely declined to go up as she believed that Caitlin should be the last of the billed acts to perform at that I should wind up the night. With Andy saying earlier in the night that he wasn’t going to perform. I thought I was getting up to bring the night to close and as I read three poems A Stain On The Sunshine and Dress Sense that was exactly what I thought I had done. It turned out that this eventful and enjoyable wasn’t quite finished as half way thorough my round up as I was giving my thanks to the performers, a slightly scootered Derek said that I missed someone was Andy by doing this threw the night in to chaos but for some reason known only to the almighty this seemed to work as Andy then decided to get up after all and performed I Love America in his unique style which makes him such a hit with the Words and Music regulars.

With Andy having made his Words and Music comeback in a way that only he can Maryanne decided that she would after all make her first performance since the flitting and read two poems Old Stories And Halloween before
I brought the night to an end for a second and final time by reading the final poem of the night Walk Of Shame which is a humorous account of a women’s most embarrassing moment and is always well received particularly by the women in the audience. Well let’s be honest they’ve all been through it at least a dozen times and probably will be again. It is what Arielle Karo would call one of those relatable poems on moments only women share.

As I brought the night to an end and everyone made their way back in to the chill of an early November evening I stayed for a while to chat Caitlin and her friends on how they enjoyed the Words and Music experience. As they gave me their feedback which was I am happy to say very positive I told our newest singing sensation that this may have been her first appearance at the event but it certainly wouldn’t be her last.

Naturally Caitlin was pleased with the news and told me she liked the fact she had an appreciative audience willing to listen to her songs. I have to say this comment made me smile and the more seasoned Words and Music regulars will know why. You see we were brought up by good cultural parents, and Hughie and Pamela would always remind us that the best of nights are always enjoyed when poets really listen to the music and believe me we listened as the night with two endings was the night we saw a star.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

A Wandering Samaritan Found A Ghost In The Flat On The Night That Started Christmas

Hey Readers Having given the events of the festive season full and due coverage I now take you back to the night that started Christmas. Well it did for me, as it always does and that is the Words And Music Christmas Cracker.

It is my personal tradition that regardless of how many doors you’ve had from your advent calendar this is the official start of Christmas and it was good to see a healthy attendance of 17 poets, musicians and cultural types in the wee back room to do what Elton John commended and step into Christmas. 

As compere it’s my job to get the night under way and I did so by performing a seasonal poem, entitled Mary Christmas. Well it’s what I do at this time of year you know. In particular poem I look at the idea of having Christmas as the family name and think what be the most unfortunate name to give a daughter and in my opinion that name would be Mary. With that being the case I decided to give Mary her chance for a Christmas rant and it seemed to go down well with those in attendance.

As I took my seat it was John Moody who was first up to entertain the crowd. Needless to say John duly obliged by reading two pieces Breath of Life and Wandering Samaritan. Though it would be fair to say I enjoyed both pieces I really liked Wandering Samaritan because of the powerful moral tale behind it.  As a Christian I felt it was a piece with which I could really identify and though not seasonal in the festive sense of the word I did make think about the reason for the season. 

After John it was the turn of that well respected Words and Music stalwart Pete Faulkner to claim the stage as his own. Pete is a reader I always enjoy listening to and a man who knows how to captivate an audience.  On this occasion he read two poems both of which a seasonal theme to them, The Museum Of Winter, and The Forge. Pete believes as does Samuel Taylor Coleridge that poetry is about the best words in the best order and when it happens the result can be stunningly beautiful imagery as is the case is in the second of Pete’s poems when the image of the Blacksmith’s shop in the snow somehow conjures up  memories of rural Scotland in the biting cold of the season.

Next up was the man who will be our featured first foot and lead us in to 2016 the one and only Fred Fingers. In a taste of things to come, Fred delivered poems on Inflation, Hemroids , and Graffiti and it was this last one entitled Writing On The Wall which I thought was the best one of his set and best illustrated why he will be the featured writer who will be our cultural first foot of 2016.

After Fred had entertained us in his own unique style, it was time for Susan Milligan to grace us with her presence. On this particular occasion Susan read a story entitled The Black Tardis which though enjoyable was and it has to be said a wee bit on the long side. If she ever wants to read this story again as I suspect she will I think the best plan would be to read the first half one month and the second half the following month. Well sometimes it really is best leave your audience wanting more rather than feeling they’ve eaten two full Christmas dinners. Anyway, that said it was a good story and as often the case Susan left us with a song which in this case was I’m Not Dreaming Of A White Christmas. It was I think the ideal way to finish her contributions to  Words And Music 2015.

At the end of Susan’s set it was time to welcome back an auld acquaintance who certainly shouldn’t forgotten and that is Billy MacLean. In his first appearance in the wee back room in a guid wee while and it was nice to have him back among our number  Billy performed a set of four poems starting with We’re from Glasgow, then moving on to one with the brilliant title Every Lie I Tell Is The Truth
and which he followed with one written for his wife,  entitled My Best Friend, before concluding a heartwarming set with a poem which all poets can I’m sure can identify as it has the title Poetry At Half Past 3 and as I certainly testify that is when many of the best ideas come to me.

As Billy returned to his seat it was the turn of JJ Turner to take the stage. JJ is an excellent poet and has a varied selection box  from which to make his choices  This time he decided that festive poetry was not the way to go and instead read a brilliant set of three poems on Mental Health. Before starting his set JJ talked with honesty, integrity, and sincerity as is the mark of the man and his poems Death Of A Cycle, Blue, and See Me were not only works of genuine quality, but they were written with authenticity  and spoken from the heart. I particularly liked the raw courage illustrated in See Me  As has often been the case since his return to Words and Music a man I admire and respect was supported by one of his daughters sometimes there have been more than one but on this occasion it was Rebecca who was there with him and I know how proud she is of her dad. Well I say this not only to her but to all her sisters you have good reason to be proud of a dad who loves you and who is a man of genuine stature, warmth, and humanity.

Following one of the best sets I’ve heard in the history of Words and Music was not going to  be easy but in Suzanne Egerton we had just the writer to do it and her story Autumnal was an entertaining take on the idea of Christmas panto’s which certainly brought a smile to the faces of those who heard  this quirky festive tale.

As Suzanne finished her story it was time for Lesley MacKay who took us to the bar break with her story entitled Whispers.  As with all of Lesley’s prose , this was a well written piece which was enjoyed by a captive audience.

After the break it was the turn of the featured writer to take to the stage and this month it was one of the most talented young poets in Scotland  Kirsty Nicholson (pictured below) to fill the 20 minute slot. As you can see Kristy came dressed as Christmas due she said to the fact that she didn’t have any Christmas poems. This however is Kirsty and she can be  forgiven for anything. Well she can in my opinion, and anyway not having a Christmas poem isn’t a mortal sin. So that said Kirsty cracked on with a set which had in truth a little bit of everything.

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Kirsty Nicholson (aka Missy Christmas)

In her first poem Do You Hate Me? Kirsty tackled myths around asylum seekers with a personal, political, polemic which challenged those who would discriminate against head on by writing a piece directly from the point of view of those who seek only refuge yet find only barriers.  This was followed by Imagine, and another with a thought provoking title in Nothing Ever Changes. I really like this poem because it states the obvious without stating the obvious if you know what I mean. Even if you don’t know what l mean I’m sure Kirsty will it’s an island thing.

Anyway, after that the adventurous wee soul that she is Kirsty read three poems with one word titles. Of these poems Boy, Tree, and Guppy I have to say that though I enjoyed them all, the first of them was my favourite in this section because not only of the story it told but the warmth in the way it was told.

Kirsty’s next poem Ghost In The Flat recalls the story of a Celtic player whose ghost is said to haunt her flat. Well Kirsty at least it’s  a Celtic player so I know you’ll be surrounded by good spirits rather than the forces of darkness but hey as a Celtic fan who remembers the date the 10th April 1991 and that defeat by Motherwell all too clearly I would say that wouldn’t I?

In her penultimate poem Being Cool Part 1 Kirsty examines the societal pressures of trying to perceived as cool at all times and making sure that hanging about with the cool kids is something you can actually do rather than just talk about. 

The set was completed by my personal favourite of all Kirsty’s poems which is Being From Lewis Is.  I love this poem   because it rips in to the cultural stereotypes that so many people have of island life. It really was the perfect way to end a truly wonderful set.

As tradition dictates the featured writer is followed by the featured musician and in this case that was Andy Fleming who and it has to be said with my blesing has now become the only featured musician in the history of Words And Music to incorporate a 15 minute poem in to the featured music slot. Some will no doubt call this madness though personally I prefer innovative genius but you see I know Andy is a serial multi-tasker  who when you give him the opportunity will do precisely what he likes so it really is just best to let him get on with it

Before treating us to his epic poem which I have likened to going on a mystery tour, Andy started his set with another poem Tiny Tears Of Troon , he then gave a stirring rendition of Cockney Knees Up before. his epic poem This meant he had only enough time not to mention vocal chords for one song and though I would have liked to hear both Grandma’s Turkey and The Pound Shop he really could only manage one so since  I hadn’t heard The Pound Shop for so long it seemed like the logical choice

With all the billed traders having performed it was my duty to  bring the night to an end which I duly did by performing a set of three poems and a song. My mistake was starting with the song as I’m sure that my take off of I wish it could be Christmas Every Day titled I’m Glad It’s Only Christmas Once A Year cleared every music lover from the building. I then followed this with three Christmas themed poems. Christmas At Carols, about the type of friend and we’ve all got one who starts talking about Christmas before the Edinburgh Fringe. I  then moved on to Stocking Thrillers which is the unexpected Christmas treat which doesn’t quite go to plan, before concluding both my set and the evening by reading Christmas Lies the poem which we all secretly know to be true as we all have at least one family member and possibly a lot more who will make a complete balls up of buying the right present which is why we need to be thankful for the Boxing Day salesJob done I made my way back to Baillieston in a happy frame of mind. You see I witnessed a Wandering Samaritan saw a ghost in the flat, read writing on the wall, and hear voices that spoke from the heart as they joined us on the night that started Christmas.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

NB This post is later than it should have been as it would have been posted yesterday in time for the January Words and Music last night but the battery on my phone. ran out.

Resolution I must be more organised this year and  write my Words And Music reviews earlier in the month.