Friday, November 16, 2007

Happy Mondays

I have had the most amazing three consecutive Monday poetry gigs - all fantastic but almost totally different in their nature.

Three Mondays ago, I played the Reckless Moment comedy club, in the vaults bar at the Robbins Well, Leamington Spa. As I have written before, the Reckless is one of my favourite comedy clubs ever.

It is brilliantly run by two post-graduate film students, my dear friends Tom Hughes (pictured above with an act at the Fringe this Summer) and Pete 'The Meat' Falconer, and has a great atmosphere and beautiful audience. Which is just as well as performing poetry in a comedy club can go down like a string quartet at a heavy metal gig.

I was as nervous as hell, even though I had spent weeks writing material and poems for the gig. I was also surprised to find myself headlining the first half the show, going after proper (and brilliant) comedians such as my old mate Gary Delaney.

In the event I reckon my act went fairly well. Some of my comedy material got laughs (and some bombed), I kept going, despite nerves, and the poems were generally well received.

I kicked off my set with Probably Not, followed by some baldy material about Byron's love life, Loving You and a new (and I guess un-reuseable) poem about Byron's alleged sexual perferences!

I also did Cook and Drive and my comic poem Fat Ambulance, to which the audience joined in admirably.

My new slam poem shocked them a bit, I think, but my gentle send-up of Pete the Meat (pictured in the guise of Prince) - complete with consumption of a Class 1 English carrot - went down well. Overall, I felt it had been a good night and I really enjoyed the rest of the show and the remainder of the evening. And the fabulous comany!

The following Monday, I stayed in Lewes and performed an updated version of my bonfire poem, Advance Southover.

It went very well. I launched into the poem at the Southover War Memorial, after the minute's silence and revalie, at, I reckon, just the right moment. I felt confident, vital - bolstered by a stiff brandy or two. Afterwards, the mainstays of the gloriously reformed Southover Bonfire Society, of which I am sort of Poet Laureate, seemed pleased.

Bonfire in Lewes seemed especially good this year. It was the first year that the Southover Bonfire Society had a firesite. We didn't march but helped out marshalling at the site.

The Grand Parade was also very good and, when we eventually went to see the fireworks, they were awesome. (Images of the night are scattered through this blog).

A quintessential sea of hue and cry. A skyscape of colour. It was not a long display, but it was amazingly memorable. The images do not do it justice. Afterwards, people around us were saying it was the best fireworks display they had ever seen. I would not disagree.

The third consecutive Monday, this last Monday, I was in Oxford for a gig at the Gardeners' pub in Jericho, Hear The Word, a Christian-powered, unplugged, spoken word club celebrating its sixth birthday.

It was another extraordinary night. Cold out, but with great warmth in the long, narrow backroom of the pub.

I was highly flattered to find posters, complete with four little Byrons, being circulated to promote my next gig in Oxford, at the superb Back Room Poets, at Far From the Madding Crowd, on another Monday - 26 November.

The Hear The Word gig seemed very 'Oxford', a catholic mixture of story-telling, folk music, and poetry of many forms. I enjoyed all the acts and the featured poet was particularly special.

It seemed a tad strange standing in the little room with people on every side but I tried my best to turn around to see everyone.

For the first time ever, I performed, Last Day, my first poem which got me started in poetry. I also did another Catholic poem Lose Hill and Botley Cemetery Tennis Club, which is not quite right yet, but went all right.

I really liked Hear The Word. It has a surreal quality about it - such as a Mohican (young female) chef walking into on the poetry to deliver a basket of chips which were duly passed round; its Christian community quality with a large dollop of tolerance and a hectoring Marxist thrown in for good measure.

The evening was absolutely wonderful. I felt so happy afterwards, driving back from the Leckford Road to the Leamington Garret, into the broad, red, ribbed sky with the love-jazz on the wireless.

Mondays are meant to be blue, but these three Mondays on the trot have, for me, been a veritable oasis of happiness.

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Blogger Steve said...

Wow! Plainly there's a side to Leamo that I have never seen despite living here for 38 odd years!

Friday, 16 November, 2007  
Blogger Oliver said...

Yes, there is a lot to Leamington Spa that does not immediately meet the eye, as I shall explore in forthcoming blogs.

Saturday, 17 November, 2007  

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