EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES
Luring holiday-makers away from the bars and beaches of Lanzarote into a two hour show of spoken word and music would sound like Mission Impossible, and even if Tom Cruise were their star guest, Lanzarote Creative Writing Group might find it tough.
However May’s edition of the monthly show was undoubtedly the best and smoothest so far and events of this quality will surely soon attract larger audiences. The mixture of comedy, competitions, spoken word and music was ignited by a fiery vocal performance by Aileen Hendry, with Spence on guitar and, along with Gill, offering vocal harmony. Her four song set was concluded with a lovely version of The Rose, made famous by Bette Midler and written by Amanda McBroom, who sounds suspiciously as Scottish in origin as we know Aileen to be.
Norm then decided that, although a girl might love the gift of a single red rose, it is cheaper for a guy to buy a bunch of them. So we moved on to Rosie, by one man band Don Partridge, and read by Ann Collins, the Ronnie Carroll version of Roses Are Red My Loveand finally some unpronounceable poem by a Scottish poet, called Rabbi Burns, who never quite made it did he? Still, his love was like a red, red rose. Not sure how The Proclaimers ended up in this, but we all somehow walked 500 miles.
Jim Loughrill was not to be left out, though, and he courted Aileen with a beautiful poem of his own, also called The Rose, that moved everyone in the audience, and was emotionally delivered.
Romance was pushed to one side, though, as Sue Almond delivered social comment, and also a political observation of the woman who May, or may not, become an elected prime minster next week. Not if Labour print Sue’s poem on all their election leaflets, she won’t !
Jim Collins took us from Charles Kinglsey, via Roger McGough, to Larkin and eventually to Jake Thackeray and Sister Josephine. Jim delivered as lugubriously as Jake himself used to, when he was making a habit out of this suspicious nun.
Norm bought us all tickets for a journey on a train they call The City Of New Orleans (by Arlo Guthrie) and then took us back to Texas1942 (by Guy Clark) to watch the first streamline train go hurtling through a small desert town
We then had a soothing musical interlude from Spence and Gill including a brilliantly harmonised version of a great number by Donovan, under-rated in the sixties in the shadow of Dylan. Their version of Try For The Sun reminded us what a good writer Mr Leitch was, and in fact, still is.
Jim Loughrill and Norm gave us news items from previous sketches by The Two Ronnies, and have promised that next time they will be Flannagan and Alllen or The Krankies.
Jenny Graham, who shares my own belief that pop song lyrics are the Shakespeare sonnets of our time, gave us a couple by Rachell Platten , and it was certainly true that, in the light of recent terrorist events, her This is My Fight Song had a quiet resonance. Jenny then held us all spellbound with her reprise of the Tony Walsh poem, Here It Is, which itself was re-incarnated at a memorial event for the recent Manchester bomb victims. She invested her reading with great dignity and moved me to tears for my city.
So, in a further nod to the young victims, I delivered two Tom Paxton songs, written for his daughters Jennifer and Katy.
A ‘Here’s Your Chorus’ competition saw three people share a small bag of toffees, the chewing of which prevented them from raising their voices on behalf of Aileen as she us offered fifty ways to hold a Brexit.
In fact, these poetry nights are a bit like Brexit, with the performers in and the audience out, but more nights like this and there is bound to be a swing vote.