Tuesday, 1 June 2010

bye to scotland


To Glasgow, Trongate, to the Panopticon for the Music Hall show, which Robin Cairns is in … the oldest music hall in the world, where Stan Laurel, who’s Dad ran the place, made his debut, unknown to his Dad

An old-style Music Hall show too patchy to work… certain people are great, a young old-style operatic singeress, Robin, an Asian Magician complete with doves up his capacious sleeves [Aziz, what a great name for a magician... As Is...], and a few other good bits... but way too patchy…

The place like a museum, with old posters… one for a “Comedian and Descriptive Vocalist”… and I ask what that means of Judith Bowers, who runs the place, and she says a descriptive vocalist is what Robin does … and what I do too

And on the wall an RAF poster [1918]… where at the bottom is says if you join the Royal Air Force voluntarily you cannot be transferred to the Army or Navy without your own consent… well, if I’d been between a rock and a hard place in 1918, I reckon I’d’ve taken them up on it… and joined the air force... rather than being told to walk slowly towards some machine-gunner who’s already killed hundreds of you today


At the bar in Cumnock the English guy shushes the plastered guy in the boozer so the bar can hear the poet


Wee small miners town in Ayrshire

Got closed down along with the two pits, back in the 80s

Great gig

Forty folk in the Lounge Bar of the Mercat Hotel

Run by Robin Cairns, who I’m staying with in Glasgow’s Pollokshaws, and gigging for tonight…. a bunch of local poets, one nutter, and me

Very nice indeed… Robin got into performance poetry cos he saw Big Word and is now the main guy running performance poetry shows on the West Coast

Main act was Rab Wilson, who speaks in the dialect of Rabbie Burns, who is somewhere between saint and god as far as this lot are concerned, especially in Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire… Rab is old skool language, old skool left wing, new skool way of taking the world… great fun and interest to hear him… and this is an old type of bard in that he is speaking of and for the people round here, he is their voice, their antenna, their lightning conductor… is addressing, nae voicing, their lives and concerns in a way which very little media does

This is the bones… begins one guy

Is this the same Cumnock where someone told me the Orange, i.e. Protestant band, used to practice in the street outside the Catholic Church so they couldn’t hear their own service?… I think it is

Same guy told me about someone in Ulster who was the daughter of the Chief Rabbi, which meant she spent her whole life being asked the question… ahhh yes, but are you a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?… I have real trouble not finding that funny… Do you?

A well up for it audience, lots of fun moments and all round a good thing to do… Robin runs a number of gigs like this around

Apparently I ran the first ever poetry slam in Ayrshire, in Kilmarnock, which I never knew, or have forgotten… and probably in Dumfriesshire as well… after the slam, in Kilmarnock, I remember hearing Coward Of The County in a karaoke boozer and being deeply self-appalled to find I didn’t hate it, cos it is shite, and it felt like an old friend and made me feel warm and cosy… which gave me the best joke for the shopping/mall show I did in 2008, my most successful show yet… the joke operating around Contempt Breeds Familiarity… i.e. you can’t hate anything forever


Seeing the best thing I ever did was move to Scotland, should I be worried now I’ve left?


Then next day

Glasgow, sunshiny bank holiday

Titwood road

Low sandstone house on a wide street

Pollokshaws into town

In the café the waitress’s skaggy 25ish son wheedles for cash and smokes, he’s done it before and her face is made of brick as he ups the wheedling and gets more of both out of her… and she tries to reject but soon accepts his hug

Into Glasgow Green for the Guardian and the greenery, the queue for the ice-cream van longer by the minute

You’s looking for ketamine? I am too

Robin’s wife Karen is an architect and watercolourist, she sells two or three a week… she worked for the biggest architects in Scotland but the smaller place over the road offered her the same job but with a four day week… meaning she could paint on the day off… so she was went straight over the road, and is still there, surviving the recession, and selling two or three a week

and now Glasgow
dismal Tuesday morn
two hours to kill
departure from
a great time, a treat of a time, in Scotland
scotland was always pretty good to me
after four years i was described as
the godfather of scottish performance poetry
by the main sunday paper, Scotland On Sunday
which is pretty amazing seeing i'm from Surrey
like gobsmacking
killer show last night in Rio Cafe
felt marvellous to do
and a great reassurance
cheerio scotland
montreal sunday
nowhere to stay yet

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