Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Review: Unity Words 26 October 2016

The musical support was provided by Ichabod, who is from Chesterfield.  When he took to the stage, I thought, ‘Oh, bloody hell.  Here we go.  Another person who strums a guitar and sings.  Possibly another person who strums the guitar and sings VERY LOUDLY for emphasis.’ 


I have decided where the boring strummers go wrong: weak or clichéd vocals, weak right-hand technique (assuming that the player is right-handed), hackneyed subject matter. 


Ichabod is a master of the acoustic guitar.  Without any electronic trickery, he makes an acoustic guitar sound as strident as an electric guitar, but with control.  He made the guitar speak with both hands: the left hand fretting a rich variety of chords, with some pagan magic techniques that normal people should not have anything to do with, and the right hand varying from plectrum to finger-picking. 


Ichabod’s voice is 20 per cent slow-tempo Elvis, 20 per cent Willard Grant Conspiracy, 10 per cent Herman Munster, and the rest, his own.  He made a big mouth shape, almost as if he was going to swallow the microphone.  The guitar fretboard looked like a lollipop stick.  The soundboard looked like your mother’s/grandmother’s/great grandmother’s embroidery tin. 


Like all great performance artists, he kept the preambles to a minimum.  “If you have liked any of my stuff, it is available nowhere.”  That kind of nihilistic style works well. 


I didn’t get most of the subject matter of his songs, but his guitar technique, and his vocal style deserve not just to be heard more widely, but to be rammed down the throat of every “dink-ding-a-ding-dink-dink-ding – I wrote this song when I met some guys from Trieste” abuser who has ever tried to take to the stage.


Geneviève Walsh appeared with a larger-than-usual bouffant hair style, which was coloured blue.  That is not sexist.  Geneviève Walsh is a full-time goth, and so it is reasonable to comment on her hair.  To say nothing of her taffeta skirt, 18-hole Doc Marten boots, and corset.  Even by Gen’s standards, she looked dressed to impress. 


The poems she did were something like:  1. Why Are We Wearing Clothes?  2. The Woman In The Library.  3. You Sometimes Fall Off Chairs.  4. There’s Always One.  5.  Run, Dickhead.  6.  When The Last Of The Ink Runs Dry. 


She went from one piece to the next, effortlessly.  She was her usual, brilliant, self.  She has a voice, and it is her own. I am older than she is.  I’m a bloke.  Mi av a diffren’ sart a riddim.  But she speaks to me.


Geneviève has a collection coming out, soon.  It will be called, ‘Dance Of A Thousand Losers’. 


Next came the Pandemonium Poets, of which there were three, rather than the usual five.


Phil Pearce from Leeds delivered a poem called, ‘Fuck You, Cancer.’  It was an excellent start to a career in writing poetry.


Joy Bruce, from the Portobello estate in Wakefield, recited a piece called, ‘A Daughter’s Prayer’.  The controlling idea of the poem was brilliant. 


Simon Widdop, my friend from the Black Horse Poets, gave the best performance I have seen of him, yet.  He had a hammer in his last line, and it knocked everybody’s teeth out. 


Ralph Dartford, the compere, did two poems: Mr Samson, and Oxford Blue Shirt, both with bite in the last line. 


And so we now come to Luke Wright.  It is late, and you might expect me to gloss over this part and just try to get to the end.  Well, I’m not going to.


I saw him before he was due to go on.  I know enough about live performance to know what that feels like.  He had travelled a long way. 


He looked like a work-shy fop.  His hair was cut to a number 2 or 3 down the sides, with a kind of collapsed Mohican, and a hair-band holding part of it, down the middle.  It was blond.  It looked in very good condition.  It made you want to run your fingers through it, and caress it. 


He looked like a different person from the one I saw at the Theatre Royal, supporting John Cooper Clarke, about 4 years ago.


He wore a cravat, which he ostentatiously undid and put on the microphone stand.  He wore a grey morning coat, skinny-jeans, and slip-on Doc Martens.   


He took the mic off the stand, and wrapped the flex around his hand.  This was about the point that I started to fall in love with him.  I had put up a stout resistance until then. 


His first poem was called, ‘England, Heal My Hackneyed Heart’. 


He then delivered an exposition about Georgian history, during which certain things, not the least of which was his dress, slotted into place.  Anybody who is interested in, and really gets, Georgian history is all right, in my book. 


I unreservedly admit that my impartiality as a reviewer may, from this point onwards, be called into question. 


This led into a poem about Edward Dando.  They buried him in Clerkenwell, beneath St James’s bells.  My late mother used to live in Clerkenwell, near St James’s Walk. 


He said, “cunt” four times.  ‘I make that Hilary Mantel look like a right cunt.’ 


His next piece was called, ‘Let’s All Go To Grammar School’.  I usually hate political poetry.  When I hear political poetry, I usually think, “Please, make it stop.”  I wanted this to go on and on.  It was controlled.  It was eloquent.  It was brilliant.  The voice (in the vocal sense) he used reminded me at times of Johnny Rotten, and again of Rik Mayall.


Next, ‘This is IDS’ (as in Iain Duncan Smith) in a Georges Perec stylee, using only the vowel, ‘i’. 


[Mildly disparaging remarks concerning, and impersonations of, Kate Tempest.] 


‘One Trick Bishop’.  ‘Who rings the landline at midnight?’  [Mildly disparaging remarks about Seamus Heaney, Gillian Clarke, and Carol Ann Duffy.] 


‘Burt Up Pub’.  An entire, narrative poem, using only one vowel: U.  Including explicit references to anal sex.  This was a lexical and inventive tour de force that few other writers, living or dead, could equal, and none could exceed. 


His final piece in his scheduled set was entitled, ‘The Houses That Used To Be Boozers’, and took his stage persona towards the Jack Sparrow direction. 


He was entreated to do an encore, of course. 


This was a performance by a relatively well-known artist who has, in my estimation, matured and developed very positively since the last time I saw him. 


What I saw from Luke Wright this time was genuine virtuosity, the right kind of combination of subtlety and power, the right blend of preamble with directness.  This was a spoken word performance that particularly delighted spoken work performers, but delighted everybody else, as well. 


As I felt after seeing Louise Fazackerley, I hate Luke Wright, because my having seen his performance means that I have to rethink my entire approach to spoken word. 


But I will rethink it. 

‘The Data Quality Analyst’s Lot’ by Hilaire

I am not entirely sure about the ending, but this is a well-crafted piece about a very difficult subject. It is worth not just reading for enjoyment, but studying as to its technique, as well.

And Other Poems

The Data Quality Analyst’s Lot

For every if, an else, a then.
For every cursor, a loop that ends.
Each open bracket must be closed;
so single quotes must come in pairs
and double quotes—ditto. Her joy
is found in datasets, in structured queries
and parsed syntax. Wild cards flourish
within her fields, while table by table
she builds her joins on left or right,
eschewing Cartesian product for defined
results. No variables are undeclared.
These are the parameters of her daily grind.
Before the screen her face is blank.
Outside the binary, her life is null.

Hilaire has published short stories and poetry in magazines such as Magma, Brittle Star, South Bank Poetry and Under the Radar, and in several anthologies. Triptych Poets: Issue One (Blemish Books, Australia, 2010) features a selection of her poems. She is currently working on a poetry collection with Joolz Sparkes, London Undercurrents

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A companion poem to Let Me Die A Youngman’s Death, by Roger McGough

As part of the recent Wakefield Litfest, I had the privilege of hearing Roger McGough give a reading in the main hall at Unity Works, and a brief chat with him afterwards, when he was signing books.  Valerie and I bought a copy of ‘As Far As I Know’.

I mentioned to him that I was the ‘Throwing Mother In The Skip’ chap, as shown in the Litfest programme.  He asked how long we had been performing.  I said 5 years.  Valerie said much longer.  I remarked that the spoken word scene in West Yorkshire is very active at the moment, with the centre of gravity arguably in Wakefield.  He seemed pleased, or, possibly, relieved.

I only need Brian Patten, now, and I have got the set.

Here is a pastiche I wrote.


Mad dancing

Let me skank a youngman’s skank

not a white-man’s wedding reception dance

not a silk shirt and money-in-the-bank

performance, but a once-in-a-lifetime

struggling, bubbling, youngman’s skank.


When I am 15

and aerobically rootical

may I hear the lyric

‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone’

in a students’ union hall

and dance harder because I knew it before.


Or when I am 21

in a cashmere suit

having cashed my first pay-cheque to boot

may I win the dance-off

while looking well-gay

at the East Kilbride YMCA.


Or when I am 35

skanking in broad daylight in Forster Square

may I be berated by a homeless man

and yet be taken by the hand

by strangers, and be complimented by

the polite lead-singer of the rude reggae band

which is playing at the time.


Let me skank to the last of my breath.

Let me skank in spite of the booing,

infarctioning  to my decease.

Don’t tell me off for “mad dancing”:

that would suggest

I didn’t know what I was doing.


Throwing Mother In The Skip: 1 October 2016

The Cluntergate Centre has two performance spaces: a smaller one, called the café, and a larger one, called the main hall. Out of concern for how many people would arrive, it was provisionally suggested that we should use the café. In the event, we used the main hall. The lighting in there is more controllable. We put café-style seating near the stage. I borrowed Jared’s amp (the one I had bought him for his birthday) to play the music.  Many thanks to Darren Bailey and, on the night, to Julie Yarrow.

Valerie was in charge of the bar. She had some help from Jane (Jared’s mother, my previous partner).

All the people I have mentioned so far appear in poems in my debut collection, ‘Throwing Mother In The Skip’. This was the first reading I have ever given at which they have all been present.

Rob Reed and Matt Abbott arrived in a taxi, a fact of which Matt had to try and make light by describing it in a posh accent. Despite his TV celebrity status, Matt still finds the mere act of riding in a taxi uncomfortable.

At 5am on the day the performance was due to start at 7:30pm, I was in my kitchen, drinking gin and sawing wood, in order to rebuild the stand that the mock skip requires to make it usable on stage. I am glad to say that Valerie slept through all this, and I managed to complete the task without injuring myself.

I think I thought of nearly everything, apart from who was going to collect the entrance money from people who were going to pay on the door. This was admirably taken up by Sarah Leah Cobham, in a display of initiative that would have done credit to the young Napoleon.

The audience was 25 people. This was pretty good, considering that only 5 tickets were sold through the ticket website. And they were 25 very good people.

The distance record, as far as I know, was taken by John Darwin, late of A Firm Of Poets, who had come from Manchester. YES, DEAR READER. SOMEBODY CAME FROM WEST OF THE PENNINES TO SEE THIS SHOW IN HORBURY. It was fortunate that I had communicated with him earlier about the best route to take. If you are coming to the Cluntergate Centre from Kirklees, or anywhere to the west, do not go via the centre of Wakefield: go via Dewsbury. The 126 and 127 bus from Dewsbury stops virtually at the door of the centre.

Rose Drew and Alan Gillott, my publishers at Stairwell Books in York, had also travelled a long way, and it was great to see them. They want to publish my debut short story collection, provisionally titled, ‘Something I Need To Tell You’, of which more later.

After a bit of messing about with the voice mic and Jared’s amp, Matt decided he would make a foray behind the curtain, and see if he could get the PA working. This he did, in a very short time. We were in business, with voice on one system, and music on another.

We started on time.

First up was Rob Reed. Rob reads from a medium-sized notebook with a black cover. He marks his running order with Post-It notes, which he tears off as he goes, and aggressively throws on the floor (before assiduously picking them all up after his set has finished). He did the modern, long run-up comedy routine based on multiple sophisticated word-play on the word, “Hello” that I had heard before. Everybody got it. He did serious stuff. He did other humorous stuff. He did stuff that defies classification as either serious or humorous. That was why I asked him to be there. That is why he went on first.

Rob is the only person I have ever heard to utter the phrase, “Jeremy Corbyn riding a dinosaur”.

It had occurred to me, before the show, to try to make up jokes about Matt Abbott’s recent TV celebrity. I needn’t have bothered because, of course, the best person to make fun of Matt Abbott’s TV celebrity is Matt Abbott himself.

Matt was also acute enough (ACUTE, I said) to observe that Rob had had a skip behind him while on stage (albeit a mock skip) and yet had broadcast his Post-It notes all over the place in the most wanton manner imaginable.

Matt’s set showed his accustomed variety. Politics. Pies. L20 1BG, which is about his mother’s cancer diagnosis. It appears in the Wordlife anthology, edited by Joe Kriss (ISBN 978-1-5272-0073-9) and, by something approaching chance, had been read by me on the last edition of Themes for Dreamers on PhoenixFM, broadcast from Halifax.

I started at the kitchen door. Valerie and Jane, who had been managing the bar, were sitting down. I stood in the doorway, off to stage left, and performed the prose piece that I call, ‘Buried Treasure’, which is an impersonation of my late mother. It has only been performed once before, at the now-defunct Sportsman in Halifax. It is quite an experimental piece. I think I just about got away with it.

Next: a piece I call, ‘Unfortunately’. https://www.facebook.com/sarahleahcobham/videos/10208832249377853/

Then a new poem, read from a piece of paper, and then onto reading from a copy of ‘Throwing Mother In The Skip’.

This was the first time the line, “with inadequate French bacon” got a laugh. Rose Drew attributed this to my having fore-shadowed it with the “Buried Treasure” piece about my mother. That seems like a good explanation.

Enough people turned up. The venue was great. The concept I had had in mind for the show worked. I expect to be running similar events at the Cluntergate Centre in the near future. I learnt a lot, and the next one may be even better.

We still need to insure Matt’s hair.

Matt Abbott: Nationwide advert

Pay attention, because I am going to explain to you why I think Matt Abbott is a literary genius.


Before you start, I have two technical criticisms of this piece, which is an advertisement for Nationwide Building Society.  The first is that the D-alliteration is overdone in the first two stanzas.  The second is that the image of the roast dinner, used both literally and as a metaphor, over-simplifies and idealises familial relations.  I come from a family which ate a huge number of roast dinners, with all the elements, including the gravy, cooked from first principles, but the members of that family mostly disliked each other.

Be that as it may.

I will now give you five reasons why Matt Abbott is a literary genius.


  1. He got on television, at the age of 26, in his capacity as a poet, reciting his own work. John Cooper Clarke did a voiceover for McCain chips, but the material he had to do was about chips, and there was no image of him on the screen.  This is Matt Abbott, in person, reciting a poem he could recite at any of his live readings.  It is worth bearing in mind that most of Matt’s audiences are people who regard Jeremy Corbyn as being on the centre-right.
  2. The manner of his delivery is in harmony with the material. I go to a great many live poetry events, and I see people with good material and poor delivery, and other people with good delivery and poor material.  It is rare that I see someone with the delivery and the material in such harmonious balance.
  3. He has his audience in mind, but still speaks in his own voice. It is difficult to express this point without repeating point 1, above.  His poetry is miles better than the doggerel we usually get on advertisements.  Yes, it rhymes, but when was the last time you heard the word, “examine” rhymed with the word, “famine”?  I am sick of hearing myself telling other members of the Black Horse Poets not to use two-syllable rhymes, unless they want to produce a comic effect.  Matt Abbott uses a two-syllable rhyme by breaking the rules.  As Kurt Vonnegut said, every great writer breaks all the rules, except the first one: use the time of a perfect stranger in such a way that he or she will not consider it to have been wasted.
  4. It is a good poem. It passes all of my standard tests of poetry.  1.  What voice is speaking?  2. What is this voice talking about?  3. Why might this be important?  He passes all those with flying colours.  He is also commendably concise.
  5. He is, along with Rob Reed, supporting me at Cluntergate Community Centre on Saturday 1 October. The performance starts at 7:30pm, and tickets are available from:  http://www.wakefieldlitfest.org.uk/events/226-throwing-mother-in-the-skip


Now that I have established that Matt Abbott is a literary genius, I need you to join me in the campaign to INSURE THE HAIR.

Throwing Mother In The Skip: Saturday 1 October 2016

I will be headlining at Cluntergate Community Centre on Saturday 1 October, as part of Wakefield Litfest 2016.  The event is called Throwing Mother In The Skip.

Cluntergate Community Centre is in Horbury, near Wakefield.  The buses from Wakefield bus station are the 126 and 127.

I will be appearing with Rob Reed, and Matt Abbott.  Matt Abbott has recently done an advert for Nationwide Building Society:


which means that he is so bloody famous, it just isn’t true.

You can buy tickets here:


It costs GBP 5 to see three established performance poets.  FIVE QUID.  That’s all.  FIVE QUID.  What can you get for FIVE QUID, nowadays?

Beer and wine should also be on sale, at competitive prices.

Review: The Addams Family at Leeds City Varieties, 29 July 2016

This production is two, related musical comedies by the City Varieties Youth Theatre, directed by Lizi Patch. I have only seen one of them. I have seen the evening performance, in which the major roles are played by the age 16+ cast. I have not seen the matinee performance, in which the major roles are played by the age 12-15 cast. In other words, some members of the 12-15 cast have to play two roles.

The City Varieties has a fairly small stage, and is an intimate theatre, even if you are sitting in the circle, as my wife, Valerie, and I were. The set was basic, with back-drops featuring gravestones, or stone columns, or windows, lifted and lowered throughout the play, with a variety of lighting. A hint of yellow was added to most of the lighting, to give the impression of sunlight. Dramatic and gothic moments received white light with a measure of blue and ultraviolet. This contrast was used to good effect.

There was a traditional orchestra pit. The band featured electric keyboards (used to mimic piano, and sinister pipe-organ in a Bach toccata and fugue stylee), drums, violin, cello, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, electric guitar, and electric bass (a 6-string bass). They were admirably conducted by Sam Dunkley. The music was of a rich quality which filled the auditorium without overpowering it.

Between the orchestra pit and the front row of the stalls was a walk-way which led off the stage, which was extensively used. It was not very wide, but nobody fell off it, in either direction.

The show opened with a scene played by the younger members of the cast. This featured cow-girls, cave-people, flappers, matadors, soldiers, flight attendants, and gothic brides. All these characters were the spirits of the dead ancestors of the Addams family. The depiction of characters from disparate eras from history, plus liberal use of cadaverous, pale make-up, gave the impression of death’s being pervasive over a very long time.

The main themes of the plot were to do with conflict: conflict between the Addams family’s way of life and that of the “normal” world; conflict between generations; conflict between siblings; conflicts between husbands and wives; internal conflicts between a character’s own perception of his/her self, and how he/she develops. A plot infused with so much dramatic tension was bound to be engaging. The advice about love and life-decisions conveyed by the play was, for the most part, bloody awful, but that did not diminish the entertainment.

Lucy Herbert as Wednesday Addams was the presence upon which most of the plot was based. This portrayal of Wednesday Addams is more conflicted than any I have seen before, and the conflict was brilliantly portrayed.

Garry Campbell as Gomez Addams had not just to deliver dialogue in a Spanish accent, but he had to sing in a Spanish accent as well. And dance. Wednesday’s character drives most of the plot, but Gomez had most of the stage time and carried most of the action. He looked liked Gomez Addams. He sounded like Gomez Addams. He was Gomez Addams.

Juliana Eigbe played Morticia Addams. This portrayal of Morticia was quite a dislikeable character, but she captivated the audience with the grace and dexterity of her movements, in perfect keeping with her dialogue, or singing, or the dramatic moment. And the way her character contributed to the resolution of the story represented the biggest individual change, and she conveyed it with complete conviction.
Morgan Handley was cast as Pugsley Addams: Pugsley in this production was a girl. This was a brilliant stroke. Her character plays out the theme of sibling conflict. Her solo singing contained some of the most potentially sensitive references of the whole play, to do with relationships and physical harm.

Daniel Hunt played Uncle Fester. Oh boy, did Daniel Hunt play Uncle Fester. Fester starts as the voice of understanding and reason, and in the end goes completely off the rails. His part in the last scene was full of pathos and tenderness. It made my wife and me cry.

Shauna McSwiney played Grandma. A businesslike performance, which might be described as, “supporting” but could equally be described as, “subversive”. This character knew she didn’t have much to do to drive the plot forward, and was determined to have a good time on everybody else’s dollar. Bravo. And there was, in fact, one key contribution she made to the plot.

Jake Throw played Lurch. What can I say about him, except, “Come to my arms! Come to my arms!” ? He was outstandingly the character that I empathised with the most. He played his character exactly the way I would have tried to play him. When you get cast as Lurch in a production of The Addams Family, and there are two or three actors on stage who are taller than you, you know you are good.

Jacob Bennett played Lucas Beineke. He played the role with aplomb, and was a convincing foil to Wednesday Addams. His character started as a dweeb, but the way he broke out of that mould was a significant part of the development of the story. Like Mrs Beineke, played by Gemma Armitage, and Mr Beineke, played by Newlyn Evans, these characters end up moving out of their original orbits because of the influence of the Addams family.

This production is further proof, if any were needed, that Leeds is still the goth capital of the world.

I have told you about the auditorium, the set, the band, the characters. I have not told you what happens, because I don’t want to include any spoilers.

This is what happens, in the end.


Love conquers all.

Review: Mr Jolly, by Michael Stewart

Published by Valley Press (2016)
156 pages
ISBN 978 1 908853 60 8
GBP 8.99

[None of the following is true.]

I walked into McGarry’s office with as near to an appearance of nonchalance as could be mustered by a man who knew he was doomed.

‘Help yourself to tea or coffee,’ he said, as he leafed through the bottom drawer of a filing-cabinet. I looked around, and could not see any hot beverages on offer, and so I took a mouthful from the Americano I had bought at the station, laced with something from Poland, and I don’t mean a heating engineer.

I sat down in the vacant chair.

‘Sit down,’ he said, when he had finished excavating the site in the bottom drawer. ‘What have you got?’ I like that about Mr McGarry: he gets down to business. I had rehearsed this a hundred times by the time my train left York. Two hundred by the time it got to Malton. Three hundred by the time it got to Seamer. But this was Scarborough. I mean Scarborough. I was nervous. ‘What have you got?’

I took another gulp of my ‘wine of Poland’, and gave him my best shot.

‘I’ve got a quirky story about an obsessional character with conflicted sexual tastes, described in detail, with the reader left with the task of working out how this person fits into society.’

‘OK. And?’

‘I’ve got a dialogue-driven story in which a protagonist is tricked into getting into a dangerous situation by a lying interlocutor, with another twist applied, even after the reader has got the main thread.’

‘Sounds good. Go on.’

‘Er. The next piece is called ‘How To Be An Alcoholic’. It is about a character in conflict with his own setting.’

‘I see.’

‘And in ‘Deleting dadsbooks’, there is a very skewed dialogue, of which the reader only gets one side, until the last moment.’ I could see that I wasn’t selling it to him. He reclined, and composed himself to listen, politely, to my last endeavour. ‘I have a story which uses childhood recollections in an unexpected way. I’ve got nine others. I think I’ve got enough for a collection, Sir.’

He sat upright in his chair, and then opened a drawer. He pulled something out and slammed it down on the desk.


I knew that I was beat. Just like the man on the cover.

Lyrics news 4: an extract from The Today Programme*

The time is now 17 minutes past 8.

The Home Office has been under considerable pressure in recent months to explain its policy on the prison system, and on the rehabilitation of offenders. In the radio car, we have a spokesman for the Home Office, Mr Desmond Dekker. Mr Dekker, can you hear me?


Thank you for that microphone test, Mr Dekker. Now, can you tell me how you perceive the current problem?

At ocean eleven

I am going to have to stop you there, Mr Dekker. Surely you are not trying to invoke
a George Clooney film in order to deflect criticism.

And now rudeboys have a go wail
‘Cause them out of jail
Rudeboys cannot fail
‘Cause them must get bail

Well, yes, I am sure we all appreciate all that. These people are marginalised, and left with very scant resources.

Dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail

Well, yes

A Shanty Town

Nobody is in any doubt that poor housing is a fundamental part of the problem, but, as I was saying

Dem a loot, dem a shoot, dem a wail
A Shanty Town
Dem rude boys out on probation
A Shanty Town
Them a rude when them come up to town
A Shanty Town

Mr Dekker, forgive me for saying so, but you seem to be repeating yourself a greal deal. What our listeners want to know, particularly those who, in spite of the uncertainty in the global property market, may still be considering a move a shanty town, is whether:

Police get taller
A Shanty Town
Soldier get longer
A Shanty Town

What do you have to say to that?

Rudeboy a weep and a wail
A Shanty Town
Rude boys a weep and a wail
A Shanty Town

And so are you saying they weep and a wail because the police get taller and the soldier get longer? Yes, I see.

Thank you, Mr Dekker. I think that is all we have time for.

* This isn’t true.

Review: Josie Long at The Red Shed, Wakefield 18/04/2016

Before going on stage, Josie Long consumed a green salad, without dressing, a plum, and a packet of nuts. She drank water. In spite of this, her performance was raucous.

Josie Long alternated between standing on the same floor level as the audience, and standing on the stage. I have stood on that stage. It is small, and covered in a very fogey-looking carpet. She spoke about the experience of performing at The Red Shed, but she didn’t mention the carpet.

I love Josie Long’s vision of socialism.

The funniest part of her performance was not about politics. It was about things that putatively might happen in the shower. I won’t tell you the subject matter, because I don’t write spoilers, but it was cosmically funny.

Josie Long applied the same technique to the Red Shed raffle, in aid of the booklet to celebrate 50 years of The Red Shed. She made the raffle funny.

While she was talking about her home town of Orpington, in Kent, I was working out how old Josie Long would have been during the ’84-85 Miners’ strike. I think she was about 2. This explains why there was no mention of the Kent miners, who went on strike in ’84-85.

Josie Long’s humour is in her face, mainly her eyes, in her voice and delivery, and in her body. She has one of the most subversive bodies I have ever seen. The easiest way to make a mess of left-wing humour is to take the piss out of everything. Josie Long builds as much as she tears down.

Josie Long needs to play Unity Works, the next time she comes to Wakefield.