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.
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.