EVEN after 35 years on the road there are towns in England I have never performed in. Another one was ticked off the list last Friday week when I made my debut in Southport. In a restaurant.
Given the disgustingly cheesy references in a couple of my poems I had certain misgivings about performing to people who were eating but everything went splendidly and fellow poets Ron Ellis and John Sutton, who co-organised the gig, kicked everything off in style.
Southport may look like Eastbourne but it’s got spirit and thanks to Hungry Monk owner Paul for taking a chance on a rude red poet from the Sussex coast. I’ll be back.
And your chef may have got a couple of new recipes for cheese sauce. Yuk.
The following day, having cheered the Seagulls to probable mid-table mediocrity with a 1-0 win at Blackburn, I did a benefit gig in Glossop for Kids in Gaza, ably supported by my old friend, the excellent singer-songwriter Darren Poyzer.
Unfortunately this coincided with Glossop North End’s FA Vase semi-final trip to St Austell, which meant that many of the potential audience were 320 miles away.
Nevertheless a good time was had by all and money was raised for a very good cause. Given the result of the recent Israeli elections, it seems to me the situation there is just going to deteriorate, with implications all over the Middle East. A tragedy. Two state solution, the only solution...
Book review time. I first met Janine Booth when she was 16, when she came to interview me at a gig the night Brighton reached the FA Cup final in 1983, which means I don’t remember much about it.
A few years later she joined our ranks as The Big J, a clever and forthright political performance poet and we did some great gigs together.
Then she went off to work for London Underground, get involved in the struggle, join the RMT executive and raise a family.
Now she’s back on the poetry scene and, having done storming gigs all over the London spoken-word circuit, she has just published her first poetry collection, accurately entitled Mostly Hating Tories and it’s well worth a read. Even better, catch her live — she has a natural aptitude for verse.
Here’s my favourite, an excerpt from her rewrite of Rudyard Kipling’s If:
“If you can buy an MP or a question Or hire a lobby firm to do the deed If you will pay the price of an election Ensure the ‘business’ candidates succeed If you can fill the unforgiving boardroom With men whose moral compass points to none Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it And — more — you’ll be a capitalist, my son!”
Janine’s book — and a full roster of her countless other activities as a political activist and author — is available from janinebooth.com.
Finally, last Monday night I went to the best gig I have ever seen by a band with no guitars in it, the first Brighton performance in 30 years by the mighty Laibach from Slovenia.
They are in a niche of their own. I’d describe them as socialist-realist avant-garde keyboard-driven neo-Titoite punk disco propagandists.
Their songs Whistleblowers and Eurovision are brilliant summaries of the Assange/Snowden approach to cover-ups and the Euro crisis respectively. But their crowning genius is to turn pappy Europop hit Life Is Life into a soaring Wagnerian-Marxist epic. Tongue, cheek, genius.