At the December congregation of the Scribal Gathering, Mr Stephen (“that’s with a ph”) Hobbs delivered the Top of his Poetry Pops for 2014 oration, assisted nobly in this endeavour by Mr Philip “PowerPoint Presentation” Chippendale, Bard of this parish. As the countdown proceeded in the manner of the BBC’s lamentable/late-lamented (delete as applicable) popular music charts rundown programme Top of the Pops, Mr Chippendale, on this occasion paper-free and unplugged, was required to provide acapella the catchy opening riff of popular beat combo Led Zeppelin’s early opus Whole lotta love, which Mr Hobbs had transcribed as “Da da da da dan, dan dan.” As things developed, Mr Chippendale was joined in desultory fashion by some members of the audience. Here, almost verbatim, is the text of the oration, though not, you may be pleased to see, in the Comic Sans font Mr Hobbs provided. (Oh, and Close Encounters/Brief Encounter – anyone could do it.) Lillabullero is honoured to be featured at No.13; other events of the evening will be mentioned in despatches at a later date.
Hello Poetry Pop Pickers!
This is the Top of My Poetry Pops for 2014. Da da da da dan dan da.
[This refrain will now be taken for granted for the duration].
In at Number 20!
The 4th Bardic Trials in January 2014! Despite being match fit with 6 gigs in two previous weeks Stephen Hobbs was knocked out in the semi-final with the Bardic Crown going to Phil “Pyrophoric” Chippendale. Pyrophoric – an ancient word meaning “How the fuck did he DO that?”. [Stare at Phil]
At Number 19!
At An Evening with the Bard in June Bard Chippendale demonstrates his Bardic credentials by imitating an agitated methane molecule followed by a four-apple juggle in the courtyard. The audience agrees that this transcends poetry.
At Number 18!
Richard Frost’s final Scribal Gathering before flouncing off, despite Stephen Hobbs’ heartfelt poem imploring him not to go:
And give a nod to the Scribalman’s trick
Of putting the dick into Bardic!
But much much more is owed
To the Scribalman who sowed
The poetry seed that fell on stony ground
But flourished all around.
And whilst this metaphor
May not make us feel better for
The frost that kills these plants
We’d rather take our chance
And keep his capability to help us grow.
Richard Frost – please don’t go!
But Richard went…..so much for the power of poetry.
At Number 17!
Naomi Zara Wilkinson’s breathtaking Naked Zoom at “Stony Live!” A powerful confessional narrative of poetry and drama which deserved its sell-out audience.
At Number 16!
Danni Antagonist’s debut poetry collection Empty Threats sells out its first printing! Hooray! Danni orders a second printing with “additional swear words”! A great stocking filler at only £7.
At Number 15!
The first two printings of Steve Allen’s debut poetry collection Forbidden Fruit are now sold out; but it remains the only poetry book to have been sold at The Stables! What a trooper and still no television!
At Number 14!
John Cooper Clark at The Stables. The man who invented performance poetry back in the 80s. Even then he looked like a walking cadaver. I expected a greatest hits dawdle and went to pay my respects to the Mick Jagger of performance poetry. What I got was fire and brimstone from a man clearly at the height of his indignation. Wonderful, and life-affirming.
At Number 13!
Dave Quayle’s blog Lillabullero – tintinnabulation in a humanist key from a Kinks fan which is always the first go-see after a Scribal night or indeed any happening in Stony Town. We all say we don’t care what Mr Tintin thinks about our performance, but we do still like to take a peak and get a tad miffed when we are not even mentioned. You will have to forgive all the train and Kinks stuff (we do not watch Brief Encounter for the trains) but you will find gold and inspiration in them thar hills. [Aw shucks – ed]
At Number 12!
Stephen Hobbs finally wins a poetry slam. Having first ascertained that both Mark Niel and Richard Frost (infamous slammers) were out of the country. He even “forgot” to tell his poetry chum Dick Skellington in case he should take it from him. Three times he denied his conscience! But £30 AND a 30 min headliner slot in November? Come on?
At Number 11!
The Echo Chamber BBC Radio Four Sunday afternoon at 4.30pm. At last a poetry programme that isn’t poetry easy listening aka Poetry Please. Shame on you Roger McGough! Paul Farley’s new programme is all muscle and sinew. This is what poetry is really about. Glorious!
Da da da da dan, dan dan: At Number 10!
Peter Ball’s spoken word programme The naked word on the radio on http://radiomk.co.uk/. It’s ostensibly an extended interview with local arts folks but there’s a hint of Kirsty Young and Desert island Discs about our Peter. This is in addition to his writing, his poetry, his music (fiddle, melodion, keyboards, vocals) and his painting! There’s a lovely two hour chat with the late Dick Skellington which is worthy of your attention. [Here’s the Mixcloud link for Dick’s appearance: http://www.mixcloud.com/radiomk/the-word-02-sep-2014/ ; other show featuring some Scribal regulars can be found at http://www.mixcloud.com/radiomk/]
At Number 9!
The 30 minute headliner slot in November at Pure and Good and Right in Royal Leamington Spa – Slam Winner Stephen Hobbs. Let me repeat that: The 30 minute headliner slot in November at Pure and Good and Right in Royal Leamington Spa – Slam Winner Stephen Hobbs. Yes, I know that Slams are trivial and demeaning poetry events: but just occasionally, once in a Blue Moon, just for a change, (nobody gets hurt) it’s so nice to be asked if everything is all right and knowing that no one has a stopwatch on you. Stephen Hobbs is working on his rider.
At Number 8!
Being the Value Added Poet at Coco Comedy (twice)! It’s a neat trick of the AntiPoet to stage comedy nights in Croxley Heath for a fiver where you also get a free Value Added Poet whether you wanted one or not. What poet could resist? To add insult to injury poets are then paid a tenner – half what the comedians get.
At Number 7!
Memories of Dick Skellington who died in September. He was also knocked out of the Bardic Trials in the semi-final along with Stephen Hobbs. He called us the Nearly Bards. He curated a performance of First World War poetry, which after his death had 4 performances of varying length throughout Milton Keynes. Back in the 1970’s Dick spent a night in prison for throwing a tomato at the Minister for Education, one Margaret Thatcher. He missed! Dick Skellington – a true friend of Scribal but a lousy tomato thrower.
At Number 6!
The people who somehow find their way to Scribal and then discover their inner poet. The scribbled scraps of paper, the moleskin notebooks, the printed sheets, the smartphones and the iPads. It may have been a dare, a bet, or even half-acknowledged therapy. It can’t have been for the lollipop! Long may this curious process continue.
At Number 5!
Poeterry guest comperes Scribal. Let me repeat that: Poeterry guest comperes Scribal. POETERRY GUEST COMPERES SCRIBAL. Whilst his poetry carers despair; Poeterry demonstrates that rules and conventions are for mere mortals, and that the true spirit of poetry will not be constrained. Terry, we love you! Me done!
At Number 4!
Richard Frost sneaks back to Scribal Gathering after his “hiatus”. It’s a partial open mic-er return in October, followed by the Full Monty compere thingy in November. It’s a dream evening. Frost gets his mojo back and all is well with the world.
At Number 3!
Not strictly poetry but any performance from Terrie Howey (aka Red Phoenix). Who can forget her bloody porridge, her Death scrumping pears, or her acorn up the anus actions. Her Crown of Feathers & Fins was the great under-rated event of “Stony Live!” And she directed and shaped Naomi’s Naked Zoom. A truly magical weaver of words and emotions. At last we have a true artist living in the Frost/Phoenix household. Terrie’s even got a Churchill medal; and surely due a second one for sharing a hearth and home with ex-Bard Frost!
At Number 2!
Any AntiPoet gig. The Chinese have a saying: Today is the best day for business. And so it is with the AntiPoet. It’s always “Yes” – worry about the actual gig later on. It’s always 100% and it’s always as if it’s the very first time or the very last time they’re doing that material. They never cruise or just go through the motions. Watching the AntiPoet has taught me that if you don’t love and cherish your own material, then why should anyone else? Faced with a poetry dilemma I do ask myself “What would the AntiPoet do?” This year it’ll be over 250 AntiPoet gigs and that’s in a rest-from-Edinburgh year! So to the Antipoet I say thank you Ian, Paul, and Donna. Mwwaa mwwaa.
Da da da da dun, dun dun
At Number 1! The Top of My Poetry Pops for 2014 is ……
Scribal Gathering! In February next year Scribal will celebrate its 5th anniversary and its 50th gig! It is a curious beast and for its continuing survival we must thank Richard Frost and Jonathan Taylor with, of course, special thanks to their respective carers Terrie and Jill. Scribal has come through that difficult fifth year; and I would like to acknowledge the quiet, unassuming, but vital contribution of Jonathan Taylor. Would Jonathan and Richard please step forward to receive “The Top of My Poetry Pops” award for 2014. [Present giant lollipops] Thank you.
And step forward they did. And those lollipops were enormous. And so say all of us. Normal service will be resumed shortly.