When I was about 12, we had a poetry competition at my school, and two kids from each year with the best poems were given the prize of spending a day in the library doing a ‘Poetry Workshop’ with Roger McGough. I was lucky (or should I say ‘talented’) enough to be a winner, and got to meet the great man.
I was so moved by the experience that I even nicked one of his books from the school library – which I still have! I have also often enjoyed his shows on Radio 4 over the years, as meeting him so young has obviously given me abit of a soft spot for him.
Anyway, so when I happened to spot that he was appearing at the Southbank Centre, I booked myself a ticket.
When I got there, I must have drastically reduced the average age of the audience – although to be fair, I wasn’t the only ‘young person’ there, and probably wasn’t the youngest.
So, Roger came out and did a few poems. I love his poems, some of them are extremely short, and hilariously funny – and yet you only suddenly get it when you realise that he’s stopped. Very clever man. Some of his poems I can almost see as little sketches.
Anyway, he then said that he had some ‘friends’ who would be coming on and reading poems and singing songs. I hadn’t even thought that there would be other people. It actually was a pretty amazing line-up – especially if you’re silver-haired…which I’m not, but I was still dead impressed!
First on was ‘The Rochdale Cowboy’, Mike Harding – who read a couple of poems that were really good, and then sand a song that was basically about sheep-shagging.
Next was Kit Wright, who I had never heard of, but has apparently written a load of books, and he did An Ode To Didcot Power Station amongst others, which was pretty amusing.
Then we were treated to a quick three song set from trio Real Fur, who have apparently just done a tour in launderettes across the country of all things. They were actually really, really good, although not what I would have expected to have appeared amongst the others on the night. They were obviously pretty young, but I was having very inappropriately lusty thoughts about the lead singer who was pretty damn cute. Watch out for them (check out what’s going to be their first single (and also some pics of them) although I actually prefer ‘Pride’, if you click here you can listen to it. There’s actually a really good review of them here.
So, then we had an interval (the oldies needed to go to the loo – well, actually, I did too) and then Roger came out and told a few more poems, before introducing the next ‘guest’ who was Ralph McTell. “Who?”, I thought – until he started singing with that gorgeous deep voice…and I realised that he’s the one who sang “The Streets Of London”, which I know all the words to the first verse and chorus from the very few guitar lessons I had when I was about 10! So that was nice!
Next was someone I definitely had heard of – Willy Russell – he who wrote Educating Rita and Blood Brothers. He was excellent – told an old poem (“I hate poems!”) which has the immortal line “They don’t serve spam at the Barb-a-can!” he then read a passage from his book ‘The Wrong Boy’, which was brilliant and has made me want to read the book now! (As if I don’t have enough on my ‘To Read’ list!
And then it was back to Roger to tell us some more – my favourite of which was ‘Deadpan Delivery’.
Then everyone returned to the stage for ‘All In Time To The Music’ collectively. I’ve definitely heard Roger do this one on some radio show – and I’m not sure it was the right end for what had been quite a bouncy bouyant evening (aside from a couple of Roger’s poems earlier that had been about Alzheimers / ageing but were pretty touching – especially as that’s how my gran died).
The silvery audience were surprisingly raucous really – cheering happily to everything, even to the adorable Real Fur (although I don’t think they appreciated the lead singer’s bum quite as much as I did 6ft away from him), and laughing outrageously at even the hint of rude bits, let alone when some of it got pretty blue!
I loved it, I had a fantastic time – even on my own, in an older audience. I iz cultured!