Life conspires to be ridiculous.
The evening promised great personal adventure, my quest and challenge – stand before an audience for the first time, narrate my stuff, and know inside my mind, know that if I did somehow back out with an excuse then I should forever be a kind of fat phony, that waster of everybody’s time with his long moans about…well, about what exactly. man? What is your bloody problem? Exactly…
I had e-mailed the owner, posted what a clever boy I was, and she said:
‘Come down on Wednesday.’
But surely Thursday night is the open mic, I thought, but no matter, and thank god I had not researched the flyer, and thank god I had no understanding of the term ‘spoken word.’ Words spoken – you old chaps might even now be saying; well, I say, you are all proper old fuddy-duddies and completely wrong. Spoken word is performance poetry, rapping – very popular with the young fellas and cool in all the right ways, but the thing is I had spent the day preparing one of these pastiche erotic medleys with the
‘Fountain spattering the walls like an inexpert decorator’ type dialogue.
‘Dude, what kind of poetry do you lick?’ he said, the young fella, the compeer and, you know, a proper gent.
‘Prose,’ I replied
and what with being all dressed up in a suit jacket like I was evaluating antiques, just the room fused when I spoke, and not necessarily in the right kind of fusion way. Twenty year old spliff rapper poets wearing trucker hats – they lined down the one side, an audience of women poetry aficionados lined down the other, and me spouting the foulest filth
‘he fucked her like a dog’
almost horror stuff. I should have explained I was trying to be funny maybe, but I was sweating behind that microphone.
‘Nobody quite knew what to make of you…’ she said, and he said, and I said
‘Yes, I have been there before, my friend…’ I said
and should wear a silly hat, telegraph properly, prepare people’s minds as to what to expect. It is especially difficult because when you get to forty-four you don’t have the right clothes to signal, or moves
and stuff and the men who do, well it is simply the middle-aged man in trainers rule, or the Paul Weller rule – I swear by it. Whatever, there were a dozen plus – rolls of laughter in my ten, fifteen minutes in the spotlight, though I’ll drop the fox killing story next time, it was an edgy enough performance without it, this being Brighton and all. Nobody seemed to mind ‘my second anal orgasm,’ or ‘like a skewered horse,’ and the boss lady said
‘That was absolutely fantastic, I loved it, and the Thursday crowd would have loved it too. I’d like both of your pieces for the magazine.’
So, good, a good result – and really great – with contacts and a half dozen new friends x