Wednesday, 30 June 2010


which never seems the most productive
or effectual
way to be using my time
i do it chiefly because if i didn't
i feel i wasn't doing enough
so i approach it with characteristic unpositivity
and if in two hours
also rehearsing and eating an ice cream
i put up fifteen
then that is pretty good going
i've been putting up posters since 1994
and i've got pretty fatalistic about it
you have to do it but
it doesn't really get you anywhere

regina sask

morning mediua
media launch
i think
hard to tell
quite liking regina
its on a grid but it feels friendly and
off the main drags
the streets are nice
its a small town and it feels it but yeah
we'll see
but yeah
this might be good
lovely friendly billet
jeff culbert and martin dockery will also be here in this house
leanne and nicole from caberlesque in previous tours are both here
leanne apparently very pregnant
sharon nowlan is on her way
there's that super-tall australian allan
and to stick out as tall on the fringe
where many folks are 6" 2'
you have to be very tall
taller than keir tall
like ...tall

plus we got a house in edmonton
priscilla's brother clinton took a look at one for us and said
take it
so we took it
so priscilla is right made up and i'm

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

City of God


Just watched city of god for the fifth time

Am amazed by how different it is each time

First time I saw it it seemed wildly frenetic

Deliriously fast paced

With the fastest turnover of characters ever

But every time its different

Slower, more episodic

This time it seemed so slow I wondered if it was a wholly different edit

Which I assume its not

So what’s changed




bye to london
next stop regina
never been there
small fringe
all to play for

Monday, 28 June 2010

best headline

new york daily post
after the Americans go out
that's the spirit

as for the daily mail
hitler's favourite paper, lest we forget
if the few had defended as badly as England we'd all be speaking German now
which is just pathetic

and it has to be said, that
what was the worst thing that could happen in this world cup?
limping into the last 16
to get thrashed by the germans
that is the worst thing that could happen
and what happened

the end
done feebly
hard work
lost money
show possibly got worse
though it and i got tougher
some nice audience
but all in all not good
did a fringe benefit which was great
me and rob in an hour show
though giving myself away for nothing when i've
effectively lost money
did feel overly generous of me
nice show and audience though
and it felt very easy to do
compared to the stress i put myself through
before and during the full hour fringe show
a breeze in fact
next stop regina
a few days off to tighten the nuts and bolts
and conduct some light surgery
the show came out of Montreal in rocking shape and it
only requires extensive thought to
get it back there

Sunday, 27 June 2010


didn't see that coming

england germany

in half an hour
ullhhhh trepidacious morn

Saturday, 26 June 2010








and terror

God that was awful, just terrible

A dark voice rose from within me

Gaga aghast and agog

And threatened to swallow me whole

A slathering blackness of a maw


The show the show the hideous show

60 minutes

One horrible word after another

One horrible minute after another

Whatever persuaded me this was a good idea?

Whatever persuaded me I have any talent?

And this had any chance at all of being good?

And all those audiences and reviewers and friends

Who laughed and applauded and reviewed?

They were just having me on so the fall when it came would be

all the worse

More ghastly and hideous

And well

Last night was that fall

Sometimes you know, I’m quite good at this


Hard though it might be to believe sometimes

Like last night

Very hard

And sometimes I’m good and the audience are bad

And sometimes I’m not very good but the audience are great [my first two shows here]

But last night?

I was bad and they were terrible


Whatever persuaded me to come to Canada and do a show about a riot?


And I’m stuck with it the whole summer

It’s the end of my career

It’s the end of my sanity

It’s the end of my strength


I shut my eyes and I think of rusty swords in my guts

I wonder about the thudding impact of a spear on the torso as it goes in

I think of black slathering swallowing maws


southern ontario



my grampy kirby was in southern ontario when the first world war broke out

near kitchener?

Life was hard in 1912 buckinghamshire / oxfordshire so he came over and got work on a farm here

His letters have lots of detail about how they farm here

And then the war breaks out and

Despite his Uncle Ernest saying

Rather wisely

Don’t come back

He came back to get

Shot in 1914

Shot in 1915

Shot in 1916

And blown up in 1917

He ended up in a blind ward on the Kings Road in London where he was the

only one with a still functioning eye

And in the end they still sent him back to France but the

family created a stink and he got

posted somewhere quiet in Essex

he was ill for years

was never very happy

but got married

had three kids

including my mother

and lived for fifty more years on one kidney

The lettters are quite a thing

All written to his mother

All signed your affectionate son Wille

And all from 1913-17

From canada

and all over southern england and France

And the Med

We found them under his bed after my Uncle John died

Desperately sad really

Every friend he mentions is on the cenotaph in Oakley, where he and then my mother grew up

Which means all his friends died in the war

Including the friends he was farming with in Ontario

When you see there are over 50 names on the cenotaph from 1914-18

Which must have been near 10% of the population of the village

And how there is only one name from 1939-45

You realise why the British were so keen to do a runner from France in 1940

I remember seeing Field Marshal Haig’s grandson, I think

Defending his grandfather

The man who sent ten thousand men to die on the first day at the Somme

And did the same the next three days

And I remember thinking, you’ve got a nerve

What of the hundreds of thousands of grandchildren who never got born because your ancestor sent

Tens of thousands of men to their needless deaths…

While you’re around to open your stupid mouth
it could make you very angry if you let it

Friday, 25 June 2010

perch us on some purchase



perch us on some purchase

perchance us on some persuance

persuivance some puissance


day off
long walk
no rehearse
hour bath
i even read five pages of a book
starting to get well well cranky i ain't in toronto
they mucked me about rather
and there's the G20 shitstorm coming and my show is about a riot
it could have been perfect timing
just perfect

but it ain't

The Natchez Trail

Runs between Natchez on the Mississipppi

And Nashville

And you drive up it and there’s trees either side and it feels very nice

Like you’re driving up a forest

But if you stop and get out you can soon see it’s a very thin band of trees

And its farmland like a quarter mile from the road

So it’s not a forest at all

Its a deliberately planned cosmetic fake

Or is that what passes for reality down there?

some infinities are bigger than


Thursday, 24 June 2010


you mean an earthquake?
i mean an earthquake... in Ontario
but aren't we right in the middle of a tectonic plate?
we are... but... it was
and not a bad birthday
take it easy
too much walking in the hot stifling humidity
keeping out of the sun
flyer a bit
rocking show
just rocking
i was my best yet, and they were good
whereas the past two shows
they'd been good and i'd been
just soso
then rob buys me a steak bearnaise at the keg
with martin dockery and
megan from saskatoon
now a lawyer in London
i asked Martin to look out for certain aspects of my show and
tell me what he thought
and it was as i thought
hmmmm, a few things to sort
and then we go to jayson's no show
rob's on
filth is infallible
and we seem to have negotiated ourselves a show as a fringe fundraiser
double-hander me and rob
so he might have 3 shows that day
and stagger onto the black shire for a few before closing
as the entire fringe rabble dredges itself up on that shore...
a different meghan has got me a lemon meringue pie
which i hazily recalled being given on stage while the
Now Show audience sang happy birthday
dim recollection of these events
and which i wolfed down with a scotch in the black shire
before being carried home in a bucket
to wake late into murk, morn, and a whole entire single glorious yes
and who has a show during England Germany
o yes

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

happy birthday to me

an insignificant age
like 47
have had last 5 birthdays in ottawa
so its good to be somewhere else
i turned 40 in montreal/ ottawa
midnight show sellout in montreal
noon show, killer
bus to ottawa then first show ever there
half way through i show mention its my birthday so
producer of fringe appears from back with bloody great cream cake
everyone sings happy birthday
then they take me over the fringe tent where i hand out cake and they
buy everyone in the tent a pint for my birthday
then they get me legless and carry me
home in a bucket
not bad at all
best birthday ever, in fact
show at 8
then a meal
then some beer
here we go

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


quiet tuesday
absolutely belting down outside
nice billet off hamilton road
staying with kathy
who billeted me way back in September
its a small fringe but well-run and
a new fringe for me so its great to have a
new beast to confront in all its allness
new audience new volunteers new set-up
new streets new venues new faces...
and not be in Ottawa feeling pissed off
i gave up on Ottawa because i hadn't had a review in four years
which in fringe terms is ridiculous
one year without a review is bad, but might happen
two is someone failing somewhere
three is beyond ridiculous
and four is ...well
some distance after the point at which i should have quit
first show here was good
audience was nice
i was so-so
but it feels good and its a whole new beast to go for
which feels great to me
then it was jambalaya steak
followed by the pub
the Black Shire
... good to meet Martin Dockery again
not seen since Winnipeg last year
he was first of the gang off the roundabout last year
but this year he's going all the way
his show is the Bike Trip
which i assumed would be another travelogue
which would be a rather obvious choice for Martin after last year's
raging successful Wanderlust
but it turns out its about the first ever acid trip
Doctor Hoffman, inadvertent inventor of LSD
getting a new kind of spaced outon the bike trip home

followed by the No Show
the late night Cabaret Jayson MacDonald runs
a quiet Monday i suspect but still lots of fun
i was on and Jayson managed to get some sneaky tough questions in
yet it felt good and the
only way is up
i reckon

new order singles

playing New Order Temptation on youtube
i remember seeing them do that song before it was ever a single
my old mate Andy
a Scouser who grew up going to the matinees at eric's
the legendary Liverpool punk club
who saw
everyone between the ages of 14-17
and who's succeeding life down in Bristol was undoubtedly a
great disappointment after all tha
well he was used to seeing bands do songs before they recorded them
and learning the song so he could sing it at school
before everyone else
so he got the lyrics and tune of Temptation
from that gig at Trinity Hall
and we were a happy gang of twenty year olds
running home singing it all the way
if you watch the famous clip of joy division doing She's Lost Control on Something Else
Andy is the first on the right

interestingly Andy had a copy of Ideal For Living Ep
the first joy Division single
[and not terribly good
compared to what was coming]
which he subsequently sold while skint to Steve Rocker
but where the band had all signed the photo next to their heads
yes signed the photo next to their heads
wonder how much that's worth?
i also remember the day Blue Monday came out
because every person i met that i knew that day was
carrying the same black and red bag containing a copy of Blue Monday
everyone i knew bought it
and only one shop was selling it the first day
Revolver records
so everyone had a Revolver Records bag at the end of their arm
i mean we knew for weeks the record was coming
and Temptation was a killer single
still their best, clearly
and the intense excitement of the next had been building and building
and just everyone bought it

Sunday, 20 June 2010

out of that and into...

the choochoo to toronto to london
ontario serenely greenlies on by
sitting with a young theatre student
studying in montreal and very interested in theatre and the cognitive sciences
very interesting stuff about mirror neurons
the tour is long and full of changes and its always good to
take stock between one place and the
i start in London tomorrow
and that was Montreal that was
so its good to just
ease out of this
and into that
out of that and into

Saturday, 19 June 2010

goodbye to montreal

great time
hard but a laugh
done just ok
not killed
but show is rocking and
i emerge from full-on experience with
a show i'm
extremely happy with
all those lovely people
only a few of whom i've said bye to
that's the way it goes
and will go

diverse exhaustions

limited flow of words
outside montreal cooks in the humid june heat
the crowds throng on st laurent
and i lurk indoors watching a video of myself
which mysteriously blank
so i sleep instead
limited flow of words

Friday, 18 June 2010

no weep for the slicked

trash mania
long mornings failing to sleep after late nights
two days left in this great city
the days have hurtled by... as ever
show is incomparably better than just last friday
best show yet last night
near sellout [small venue] and rocking upforit audience
it never occurred to me the show would be this funny
adding the odd new bit
listening to audience feedback
so a wandersome time in the now sunny now pouring city
great food all over
many folks to see
late nights
nosedive off the wagon
with more than enough shows about sex
and my favourite shows poison the well and chris gibbs
next stop england algeria
pretty much got to win
this is fri and i'm off 10 sun morn
no weep for the slicked
that means i 've
only one more night at the thirteenth hour
only one more burrito primavera
two more shows
one more stroll up the mountain
two more strawberry cheesecake ice creams
and not enough time for sleep
my old motto use to be
here we go

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

classy fuel/ best burrrito

burrito primavera
with prawns
from that chilean enchilada place at bullion/ napoleon
la chilenata i think
best burrito i've ever had
just had a chinese buffet in chinatown
prices go up each year but the food also seems to get better
great prawns mussels spring rolls etcdoval, i think
also had killer portuguese chicken each year at that place on marianne
took rob gee there for his birthday yesterday
patati patatas at st laurent and rachel is well cheap and not bad
and i was very surprised by how good the ribs were in main on st laurent
day off
must sleep
every year i wander down to notre dame
the cathedral
which is one truly beautiful and peaceful to sit and gaze around in

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

re Dramaturkey

quote from email regarding Dramaturkey
Please try and be on time because we will be attempting to rehearse a two-hour event in only one hour.
you gotta laugh
its going to be very bad indeed
i have the scripts in my hand and they are terrible

impossible uncontainable excitement

having a marvelous time
murky adrenaline overload morning
fried breakfast
sun warming morning streets
ronnettes be my baby on youtube [ache]
the total workout of the physical performance of my show means i'm feeling healthier than any time all year
great show last night
biggest house yet
not as killer as saturday's
[no cat kidd leading laughter]
and i need to vary my voice
and i do get exhausted
but the show is radically better than it was friday
has come on in absolute leaps and bounds in only four days
yes, its just four days
and so much has happened
plus i get off stage and i'm on the thirteenth hour at the just for laughs venue where blimey, its fun and i even dance, for the first time since errr, last year on the thirteenth hour
having trouble sleeping
having trouble stopping
having trouble not talking about myself
and tonight i'm in dramaturkey... actors go straight with wilfully terrible scripts
we'll see

Monday, 14 June 2010

first canadian review... the hour

REVIEW: One Man Riot, by Jem Rolls

One Man Riot, at the Hour Stage, is the latest one-man show from British Big Word Performance Poet, and popular Fringe Fest regular, Jem Rolls. And he breaks out the batons on this one. Easily the most entertaining and wholly engrossing thing I've seen at the Fringe thus far, Rolls leaves it all on the stage. It's a fascinating, furiously paced, 45-minute race down memory lane as Rolls recounts the hair-raising and often hilarious origins of his discovery of the power of language (in the middle of a British poll tax riot, no less). Rolls didn't take his foot off the gas for a second for this performance, and by the end was bathed in sweat. Which may have as much to do with the lack of air-conditioning as the energy he drove the show with. And he even manages to throw a ghost story into the mix. Be sure to indulge in a couple (Molotov) cocktails beforehand, but not too many, as you're going to want to be able to keep up.*Essential viewing info: The expression "Old Bill" is British slang for "police." Like the dummy I am, I spent the first 10 minutes wondering who this Bill character was and why he was always showing up at these riots.

the tape of the show in my head

does anyone else have this?
i have in my head
a kind of tape of the last show i did
if i run through the show in my head i can kinda
hear how the last show sounded
can remember all the new things i did with voice and face and body
all the mistakes i made
and all the laughs
this is very handy
its only there for the first mental runthrough i do
so i have to be careful to do that first runthrough with no distractions
so i can play proper attention as i think it through
but it is there
which, like i say
is v handy
its like a computer facility
does anyone else have this?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

sunday life

handsome summer couple on roller skates

without moving a muscle
down St Urbain
towards Downtown
on Parc Jeanne Mance the
Brazilian drummers beat out the
subtlest gentlest
sunday rhthym
further up the medieval jousters
hippy - grunge types with weapons of recycled plastic
stage ancient combat
and i
furtively muttering my show to myself
bump into
jeff colbert
also furtively muttering his
imminent show to

and back on the streets
the line-up at the ice-cream store grows longer
strawberry chocolate cheese-cake
from Ripples on St Laurent
great stuff

its started

killer night
everything fringe nights are meant to be
way different to the jetlaggy isolated early nights of late
rocking show
much better than yesterday
better than i thought it could be
and this is only show number 3
much much funnier than it
ever occurred to me it could be
so the audience love it to bits
there's at least two reviewers in
i make three big mistakes but kinda get away with them
and it rocks along
then, wired with post-show glee
i abandon all plans of an early night
and go for beers with geoff nancy and cat
and roll down st laurent to the great fun
thirteenth hour
the late night cabaret
which is a right laugh and where i
meet a whole bunch of folks and me
cat geoff and geoff's brother
newly arrived
ten hour drive
from the east coast

go to a stuffed Main on st laurent
meaning i have a rack of ribs in a
white container in the next room
and i wake at a thoroughly respectable 11.15
four hours later than normal
to begin a new day dominated by the show in
the very juicy timeslot of

here we go again

Saturday, 12 June 2010

the legendary montreal fringe spoof wedding


I’ve had towards 50 geat nights out in Montreal

But the best was probably the spoof wedding the Fringe ran

At the Thirteenth Hour

When it was in Bar Aacademie up by St Jospeh [?]

It was half-Jewish half Mooonie

The Fringe hired 20 wedding dresses

And El Supremo Jeremy Hechtman dressed up as a Rabbi

And everyone [actors!] took it super seriously

And all the vows were things like

“everyday I willl remind you how talented you are and how nobody apppreaciates you as an artist”

And Jeremy led and everyone replied in a susurrating whisper to their intended

And it reverberated round the room as a susurrating whisper

“everyday I will tell you what a great actor you are and how nobody understands the artist within you”

And people got married three or four times in a few minutes

Someone marrried a cup of coffee

And then they played that dance from Fiddler on the Roof

Which it turns out is the Jewish Wedding Dance

And danced like crazy

And then everyone got hammered

And me I laughed for days

And who can say how many of them got laid

But a lot

[I might be the only one who didn’t]

Mucho shaggo

And the next night they had a mass divorce

Except no-one showed up

Cos they were either still in bed together or

Too hungover

Friday, 11 June 2010

got offstage an hour ago

it was ok
but was it good?
funnier than i thought
and more exhausting
but was it good?



90 mins


after all, i've had a lot of practice

same conversation as last year
in exactly the same spot
and the year before
and its a good conversation
i'm very good at it
after all,
i've had a lot of practice

and i don't want to boast but
my other six or seven conversations
ok, i exaggerate
the other three or, errr four
they're bloody good as well
i'm very good at them
as well i should be
after all, i've ...
had a lot of practice

Thursday, 10 June 2010

hot white sauce ... and liberace chopin

never had a hot white sauce before
errr, fnaa fnaa
i wander into this caribbean restaurant off st laurent
cos the cheap chinese combo place
5 bucks for best chow mein and general tao ever
is shut
and its antillaise, so from the antilles
big chummy caribbean lady
and the chicken is great yet the salad has a
hot white sauce on it
what is that?
boy it was good
never had a hot white sauce before
and before that my mate steve sorts out the music for my show
and at one point its air supply
i'm all out of love
which seeing how i actually like the canadians
is a bit unfriendly
and then i find liberace doing chopin
and its fably bad
great stuff
montreal morning
a dismal english rain on the grid of streets
destroying my cheap photocopy posters
so i'll have to trawl around again

6pm yesterday
the big scramble too get posters up at the fringe park
parc des ameriques
st laurent and rachel
a hundred people battling to outdo each other in
i never get any better at wielding a roll of tape
i was lousy at art at school and i still look it
which, with the wind, means most of my posters look bloody terrible
so i go for a brace of beers with rob, dwayne morgan and cat kidd
a bevy of performance poets
not seen cat for 2 years
one of my very favourite human beings
today, try and take it easy while getting various minor stuff done
the usual run up to a fringe
first show tomorrow

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

the plateau

the plateau
very nice to lightly stroll the locale and feel your way in
rachel duluth clarke marianne st-urbain
st laurent for coffee and slow organising
thinking of how different canada is to everywhere else i've been recently
its most like scotland
the ease
the streets
the faces
the clothes
the bodies
the traffic
the warmth
the light
to slowly feel my way in and
as this is the most european of the canadian cities i've been to
easily get to know the place again
not bad
not bad at all
first show friday
teched yesterday
rob gee came to advise
not bad
not bad at all


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

the ghost of a moon

up in the clear blue sky of
montreal morning
near the yellow sun
ash grey
the thin spectral slither
of a new moon

bananarama are rubbish

bananarama are rubbish, and they always were rubbish

there's a part of the show where during the riot i go into Boots and its a total other world and the only thing i remember about the sound is that Bananarama were playing but i've been youtubing around and there's nothing good, nothing, its all lame rubbish, i kind of remembered them as not that bad but, no, they were bollocks



Monday, 7 June 2010

montreal uber allez

one of my favourite cities on earth
been here every June since 2002
for the fringe
its a small fringe and its the best party of the lot
its a great party
a rocking party
there'll be a number of mates from all over the planet i haven't seen since last year
[see september]
and the late night cabaret
the Thirteenth Hour
run by Dan and Anders
is plain excellent
but it doesn't start until one ay em...
its Montreal
a great city for walking
if it ain't too hot
and, in the main, a very good-looking bunch of people
try standing on st laurent on a late friday evening watching all the very handsome couples go by
so the chief problem is that this is the first fringe of the long summer
the epic summer
and a great extended every-night late night party would not be top of my priorities right now
yet here it is
in two weeks time when my show is up running then fine
bring it on
but right now?
yet here it is
while in fact i want to
take it steady and
get into my first show which
despite all the hundreds of rehearsals
is still going to be rough
around the edges
at least
until i've done it a few times
and i'm gagging to
do it
gasping eager desperate mad to
do it
to get to my first audience
and start finding it out
in those ways only an audience can show you
if the tour was the other way round
and started in Vancouver and which is more chilled
and then ended up in Montreal
then all would be fine
but it doesn't
it opens amongst the din of one enormous goforit great fun bloody party
here we go
the great
nothing else quite like it on earth
one side of the continent to the other
here we go

Sunday, 6 June 2010

here we go

next stop montreal
cab to blackwater
train to gatwick
gatwick to
next stop montreal

Saturday, 5 June 2010

bought new docs and hitchhiked to Barcelona

one time i

just bought new docs

cherry red doctor martens

they're pricier than they were

i used to get them from a shop/ lean-to on the waist in kingsland road, only open saturday afternoons

kenny's it was

i got them there for years till it shut down, so then it was leith walk


so ouch, the price, barnett's on the royal mile, cheaper then anywhere else but still ouch

one day i'll be poor again, its just a matter of staving it off for as long as possible

so, ouch

cherry red though, so nice


but one time i

bought new docs and hitchhiked to Barcelona

which is up there with the stupidest things i ever done


bloody hell


by the time i got there i had

five things wrong with each foot


walking was horrible

concentrated pain

god awful bloody blisters

athlete's foot


ingrowing toenails, sometimes bloody

and this awful general bone ache which was undoubtedly my whole foot saying NOOOO at the terrible treatment

i've done a bunch of stupid stuff

who hasn't

i'm 47

but that's up there with the stupidest

aches itches sorenesses pains and agonies

every footstep a pain, abloodygony

oww, those lovely boulevards
sangria helped,
as i recall,
while i was unnecessarily lost in the barrio gothico

Friday, 4 June 2010

in the hot crucible of that hour

And in the hot crucible of that hour I cracked,
And in the hot crucible of that hour I hardened,
And in the hot crucible of that hour I purified,
And in the hot crucible of that hour I softened
And in the hot crucible of that hour I desiccated,
And in the hot crucible of that hour I shriveled,
And in the hot crucible of that hour I became flexible,
And in the hot crucible of that hour I expanded

Thursday, 3 June 2010


inconsonant bowels
incontinent vowels

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

war casualties

3 bomb disposal men die in Gottingen
1000 pound bomb...

those are second world war casualties
which makes me think

Clydesdale 20


In Scotland three different banks issue bank notes

and the third bank’s, the Clydesdale

are well iffy

one time I was in Cyprus with a well unnecessary cashflow problem

and nowhere in the South would take them

they’d take one look at the funny colour, the mickey mouse crusader, and politely refuse

but in Northern Cyprus, the Turkish bit

they were absolutely desperate for foreign currency

what with hyperinflation and being a Mickey Mouse country themselves

only recognised by the Turks

so they were all too eager and I got

45 million lira for it

Yes 45000000

A bunch of notes

And they don’t have commas between the zeros

so you have to look hard to see if it’s a

10000000 or a


It’s the only time I’ve ever been a millionaire in any currency

Well, till I got to Lao and Vietnam last year

And the 45 million lira?

They only lasted me ninety minutes


That was three lunches and a coffee

Bloody hell
the million greens of English june
yesterday dismal in
and now here glorious
back into more rehearsal

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 cafĂ© 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