Narky poets and saloon bar solace
What a grumpy atmosphere at the Bards poetry session I went to in New Brighton on Monday night!
And in truth that left me feeling pretty depressed. I set up the Bards seven years ago, you see, and I've always thought of it as a life-enhancing event.
So it took me the whole of yesterday to shake off my despondency over the somewhat sour and untypical atmosphere I experienced.
My blues eventually lifted in Hell's Waiting Room, my local pub in New Brighton. More about that later!
Hopefully last Monday's bad-tempered poetry session was a one off - probably triggered by our well-attended meeting (some 28 of us) being initially crammed into a small side room at the Margarine Arms, instead of our usual big room at the back.
Eventually we were led into the big room, but by then everyone was discumbobulated. It doesn't take much to discumbobulate poets.
And, as I say, there seemed to be 'a bit of an atmosphere' for the rest of the evening.
When the singer-songwriter Tauntonator, a long-time performer at the Bards (we do have a few musicians as well as versifiers), was missed out for a performance slot he stomped off in a huff, causing quite a scene.
Now, it was a shame that Tauntonator went back home to the badlands of Moreton without getting a chance to perform. I felt sad about that. I felt sad about other things on the night too ...
There was a lady poet there, recently recovered from illness. I'd invited her specially, and she deserved to experience human warmth and grace - not grumpiness.
Also, I had a visitor down from Scotland for the poetry, and he thought the tense 'atmo' most odd.
I have my own views on why the evening had a narky edge to it, but it wouldn't be particularly helpful to air them here.
Rest assured that Bards' live poetry nights are usually a hoot ... uplifting, spiritually good ... all that stuff.
Now, that's not to say all poetry groups are like ours - brimming with positivity. There are some small dolorous gatherings of poets from time to time on the local scene where depression is almost guaranteed!
But that is emphatically NOT the style at the Bards. Nor is it the case at our sister poetry club in Liverpool - the Liver Bards!
But, as I say, our session at the Margarine Arms on Monday night did send me into a proper trough of despond.
To shake off my miseries I went for a long walk in Birkenhead yesterday, and in a rather female attempt to cheer myself up, I bought a pair of shoes and a pair of fingerless gloves (for smoking outside in winter; because of the hateful smoking ban in pubs).
And I had a cooked breakfast. And a gin-and-tonic in Oxton Village.
And later in the afternoon I was given a pep talk by a kind friend who runs a giftware shop in Vicky Road, New Brighton. She was alarmed to see me shuffle in looking so depressed - so she gave me a big hug and a cup of tea. Bless her. I was so grateful I bought a scented candle from her.
Blimey, I went out buying shoes and scented candles because I was feeling low! Am I turning into a girlie?
Any road, even that encounter didn't quite restore my spirits, so later I forced myself to go for a run and that seemed to do the trick.
After the run I showered and arranged to meet my friend the Quaker for a drink in Tallulah's Bar at 9.30pm. We shot the breeze with the marvellous barman, the Medieval Saint, while listening to one of my favourite songs 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' by Bonnie Tyler played repeatedly.
After that we toddled off to Hell's Waiting Room where we were greeted with warm, restorative smiles by barmaid Isobel and one of the new landladies, J1.
Yes, I should have mentioned that this venerable Magic Realism pub, which has been 'my local' for the past eight years, is under new management. Nothing much has changed there, superficially at least, under the new regime, which is good.
The Quaker insisted on bringing a tray of greasy smelly chips into the pub, but my mood had improved so much by then that even that didn't irritate me.
We chatted with people in there, including the ever-cheerful Kerching!, a Scouser (as is the Quaker), and you know what Scousers are like; you can't get a word in edgeways.
I have such great memories of the characters I've met over the years in Hell's Waiting Room. The Bacardi Queen is the one I miss the most. She was barred for a while, but maybe she'll be allowed back in now.
There were some of the 'old guard' of mature ladies in the back room last night. But I'm glad to say that the fearsome Elivra Bittergob wasn't among them.
Keep your eyes on this blog, I will be posting more about life in New Brighton and Hell's Waiting Room in future - like I used to in the old days.
Anyway, I'm restored to relative cheerfulness now. As usual, I found solace in a saloon bar...
Those who want to experienced poetry of a cheerful nature, please join us this coming Monday 15 October at the Ship and Mitre pub in Dale Street in the heart of the world capital of poetry - Liverpool. Come and read your poems - or just listen.