To the Lamb and Flag, Worcester for a reading with Templar poets Michael Woods and Jane Weir. Made the mistake of heading into the Birmingham rush hour at 5pm and at one point began veering towards Manchester; only when the Welsh mountains reared into view as I sped down the M42 did things start looking up. It also made me realise I hadn’t seen a real life mountain in over a year; the drawbacks of living in Suffolk.
A beautiful evening as I parked up and the famous cathedral wore a hazy yellow veil of sunlight; little time to explore as the gig began at 8pm and Spaghetti Junction had already stolen an hour from my day. Worcester reminded me of Norwich. In a good way.
Michael Woods was demob happy having successfully steered his A-Level English Literatature students through their exams, and some of these made up the attentive audience. Michael is a confident, theatrical performer equally at home as a raconteur and has an easy facility for the bon mot. He told a magnificent tale about a handome French classroom assistant called Fred du Pont who spent most of his time riding around Worcester on a bicycle, smoking Gitanes and attempting to seduce other people’s wives. ‘Do you love me?’ he demanded of one wife in a suburban kitchen. ‘Of course I do!’ she replied. His poetry was by turns lyrical, bawdy and irreverent and encompassed everything from burning Barbie dolls to documenting that forgotten figure of the Italian Renaissance, Kevin Medici. There was even a version of The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins in Cockney rhyming slang. Would you Adam and Eve it?
The pub had the flavour of an Irish boozer with any number of welcoming rooms, including a book lined lounge complete with fireplace. The landlord was just as welcoming (and bought a book!) .Very enjoyable reading – my new cowboy poems went down well (The Motor Cars of the Cowboys and How to Be the Lone Ranger) as well as such hoary chestnuts as Norfolk is Heading Out to Sea, The Manly Art of Knitting and poetry theme park poem: The Waste Land. Jane Weir read arrestingly well – and is in the middle of another textile led literary Odyssey. Alex McMillen compered the evening with easy grace.
The only pity was that I had to drive back the same night – so alas, no Worcester sauce for me. It was a seemingly endless voyage through midnight roadworks; like traversing the galaxy at light speed in a Seat Ibiza.