VERY funny night - some sadness too
We turned up in plenty of time to run The Liver Bards - our live poetry night at the Ship & Mitre in Dale Street, Liverpool, this Monday evening just gone.
The statue of Queen Mary on the ramparts of the nearby tunnel exit winked at us - a warning, as it turns out.
Because on arrival at the pub the poet Roger Cliff-Thompson and I noticed that the stairway leading to our regular performance space - the large Art Deco-style 'higher room' - had already been unlocked.
Odd that. It was only about 7.40pm, and our poetry night doesn't normally get going until 8.15pm. On inspection, it wasn't poets who'd crept into the room uncharacteristically early ... but Trekkies!
Well, they looked like Star Trek fans to me. About 20 rather grumpy-looking men. Actually they were setting up to play card games of various sorts. Some of the guys had beards.
And their grumpiness ratcheted up when I suggested they should move... because the room was reserved for us, The Liver Bards - poets no less! - on the third Monday evening of every month, and had been so reserved for several years past.
But the Trekkies weren't in the mood for moving. Definitely not. They were intent - passionate even - on playing a variety of strange card games (I think role playing might have been involved, too). Some sort of hobby club, I guess; but definitely NOT concerned with the Important Stuff of Life, such as we poets are; the nature of being human; the eternal verities etc.
Oh, the pub's excellent barkeep Matt was called in to help - to try to get the Trekkies moved into the adjoining, smaller room.
But - alas our beardy guys were having none of it. Some of them threw proper little strops, running up and down the stairs huffing and puffing and casting dirty looks at the poets.
Well, eventually, we poets had to make do with the smaller room - and it was a bit of a squeeze because there were 25 of us ... and some of us like a bit of performance space, if you know what I mean.
As it happened a rather lovely esprit de corps took hold of the poets and the evening went exceedingly well, with some great philosophical, humorous, political and spiritual poems being read and performed.
And the manager of the Ship & Mitre apologised for the booking mix-up. He even gave us a very big bunch of free drinks coupons, redeemable at the bar, as compensation for being squeezed into the small room.
Even me being told off in a very ranty way by local performer Tommy - who was in nark about some missing bag - didn't spoil the atmosphere of Magic Realism among the poets on Monday night. There is always such an atmosphere at the Liver Bards but on this occasion it was heightened. Maybe that was the result of all the free booze supplied by the pub!
Really, it was most memorable evening.
But there was just one interlude of sadness. We paused proceedings for a minute or so to hold in our thoughts and prayers the much-loved Liverpool poet Amanda DeAngeles, who died recently.
God bless Amanda's soul. Requiescat in Pace.