I’m doing the Edinburgh Festival

Mike Scottish poster A3

I’m doing the Edinburgh Festival at the Scottish ARTS Club August 20 – 25 at 12 noon daily

I wouldn’t normally be interested in the hassle of it all but I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse

So, I’ve decided to have fun with two of my closest mates.

I’ve known them both for forty years and have loved the music they create so i set them a task of creating a soundscape to go along with my poem

I’ve decided to use a twenty year old poem and update it a bit – it was featured on BBC Radio 4 in May and Jackie Kay, The Scottish Makar responded to my Men’s Morning by writing a Woman’s Morning – it was Pick of the Week – have a listen here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07ctvg1

I received the music a week ago – so all in all, i’ve had a week to work on it

I could be stressed by that but I refuse to be because they are my mates and you can’t get stressed when working with your mates, can you? Can YOU?

If your in Edinburgh at all from this saturday – come along – see what we’ve created

The Scottish Arts club is beautiful – We are gonna Manc it up – be good to see you there

Men’s Morning and other Scottish tales

After an amazing weekend in Glasgow and Edinburgh with John Cooper Clarke and Simon Day and an incredible week of love and kind words from around the globe for Men’s Morning on BBC Radio 4 (If you haven’t heard it, you can listen again here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07ctvg1 ) and the Sottish Makar, Jackie Kay’s response to Men’s Morning, “Moss Side Mirrors” (If you haven’t heard it, you can listen again here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07dklgf#play )

I am very proud to announce that Men’s Morning will be Premiered Live at this summers  Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I shall be performing it at the Scottish Arts Club in Rutland Square in the heart of Edinburgh from Saturday 20th of August – Thursday 25th

Tickets are available at the The Edinburgh Fringe site https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/men-s-morning

I Truly Miss My Son Today

I truly miss my son today

I need to hear his name spoken aloud

I scream till I’m raucous when I’m at home alone

I sing whisper it when I’m stood in a crowd

We’ve not fallen out

We’re just miles apart

Makes me feel lost, lonely and Astray

My heart slow bleeds as my soul departs

And I truly miss my son today

 

I’m gonna hold that boy in these two loving arms

I’m gonna tell that boy just how his Father feels

How I’d walk across Europe and Asia in bare feet

Swim naked through the south china sea

For a moment of his beauty

For a instance of his grace

For a second of his cheeky northern charm

And I’ll tell him things I’ve never told him before

When I hold my boy in these two loving arms

Men’s Morning – Moss Side Leisure Centre

I grew up in a grey world

Grey buildings, grey pavements and grey skies

Photographs were grey

The caravan sites were grey

The beaches were grey and the people were grey

Then, Slum Clearance and we moved to new house and slowly, glimmers of light would flicker through peoples eyes and I’d hear singing in peoples voices and a thing called the sun was rumoured to live behind the grey clouds

Warmth existed in peoples words and kindness lived behind the beamed smiles

I went to new places

I experienced new things

I ate pasta

I started to live a new life and people inspired me, not pop stars or film idols, just ordinary people that I would meet on my street and in my neighbourhood

And they still inspire – Heroes, every one of them.

My formal education was atrocious but what I learned from certain experiences in certain places, was more than I ever learned at University

One such place was Men’s Morning at Moss Side Leisure Centre

Every Friday morning the whole of the leisure centre was a “man only “space – so, you were free to do activities such as 5-a-side, badminton, squash, weights, table tennis, swimming etc and it was all finished off with a good scrub and sweat in the Steam Room and Sauna.

At 12.30 all the men would leave and the afternoon was a Woman only space.

Equality in Moss side, circa 1980’s.

I first started attending Men’s Morning at the age of 13 – I had a football injury and my doctor recommended it. I think he recommended it more for the mind than the body. I loved it

I loved listening to grown men speak of “Grown up” things.  I loved the competitive nature of the sport. I loved the banter and the fun and the confrontations and hanging with the “bad boys” – I continued to attend through my teen years and into manhood (??) and i was amazed by the range of people and the stories and the lives that were shared.  It was a special place and it was made special by the people.

I can’t remember whether it was Arthur Rimbauld or Eric Cantona who said “An artist in my eyes is someone who lightens up a dark room.”  If that is the case, Men’s Morning was full of artists.

I write about the things I’ve seen and experienced.  I try to capture beauty in words and I want to share that beauty because the more beauty we see, the more beautiful we become. I wrote a poem called Men’s Morning that attempts to capture the essence of what Men’s Morning was about. Its people, stories, its spirit and its warmth and those things words alone just cannot capture .

It later became my first book, I remember typing it up on my old Mac Classic I bought from Johnny Roadhouse for £100.  (I’ve still got that computer)  Then, I got my mate Ant Ball to lay it out for publication and do a cover.  I got an ISBN and everything.

Job done. I’d made my first book.  I launched it in May 2000 on a boat called “La Pinta” in Salford Docks and I read it with my beautiful friend Diké Omeje (rest in peace)

It was an amazing night – amazing things happened and continue to happen

Sixteen years later, someone from  BBC Radio 4 heard it and liked it and asked me to make a programme about Men’s Morning.

I love Moss Side. It’s the back drop to much of my poetry.  It made me what i am and who i am.  I am so proud of the place and it’s people and i’m proud to have grown up there.  So, when Radio 4 asked me to go back and to talk to some of the people from my poem and men who attended men’s morning, I felt honoured.

The programme will be broadcast in May and part of the programme will be a live reading of the poem from Moss Side Leisure Centre on Wednesday March 23rd.

The boat was packed in Salford on the launch night and a kind of magic happened that only happens only a few times in a persons life

If it felt one millionth as good as it did that night on the boat, it will be beautiful.

It starts at 7 and your invited but we’d love you to get there for 6.30

It’s going to be emotional

and we will see colour

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness

2016 is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg‘s Howl – a seminal piece of work that changed the world of poetry and one could argue, that it changed America

Now, i could go on about his influence on Kerouac and the other Beats but it’s the personal things that mean so much more to me

Like the time I was playing at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in the Big Sur in California. I met a guy who grew up in San Francisco but his family had a cabin by Bixby Creek Canyon close to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin where Kerouac wrote “The Big Sur”.

A beautiful man who took me for a walk down the canyon, under Bixby Bridge and onto the beach he played on as a kid.  He told me some amazing stories but my favourite was the time he was walking to the beach as a young man and saw someone stark naked on Ferlinghetti’s cabin porch, just stood there, looking out – starkers – “A tall hairy man” he described him to his father.  It was Alan.

 

When I’ve played with Philip Glass and Friends, we always finishes the show with “Footnote to Howl by Alan – It makes an amazing climax to the show and allows everyone involved to come on stage and share in the reading of the poem.  Usually, he gets Patti Smith to read it but when Patti isn’t with us, he asks me to read it – What an honour and what an amazing poem – Here’s Pattie performing it with tibetan monks for a special visit from the Dalai Lama

And finally, My Gaffer, Dr John Cooper Clarke told me a story about him and Alan Touring the UK and Johnny introduced Alan to his mum. Alan said it was a pleasure to meet her and described Johnny as “One of the most polite men he’d ever met” – Johnny was really pleased by this and explaining this to me he said, “What else does a mother want to hear?  It’s the greatest compliment that can be given to a mother about her son”.  And on reflection, he’s probably right.

Yesterday was the  Anniversary of that famous reading of Howl in Berkley and today we are celebrating it with a Beats Day in Luton.  The day celebrates Allen Ginsberg, his life and his poetry

The day looks like this

2pm – Opening of Beat day by Jeff Towns who introduces the day and his

2.15pm – Allen Ginsberg and GUERRILLA TV – New York filmmaker David Shulman in conversation with Jeff Towns. They will explore David’s 1990 film and show rare footage of Ginsberg narrating the introduction.

3.05pm – Black Breton: White Negro – Ideas of Race in Jack Kerouac’s writings: talk by Professor Daniel Williams.

3.45pm – Ah! Sunflower – British writer, documentarist, film maker and poet, Iain Sinclair introduces a screening of his seminal film of Allen Ginsberg in London in 1967.

4.30pm – Break

5.00pm – Mike Garry – Live dynamic performance poetry. A passionate Mancunian, his “Saint Anthony” on YouTube is read by Iggy Pop. He performed backed by New Order at New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has just written the libretto for a new Phillip Glass commission.

5.45pm – American Smoke – Iain Sinclair talks about his Travel/memoir across America in search of Beats, described by The Guardian as “grippingly haunted”.

6.30pm – A rare screening of No More to Say & Nothing to Weep For – A fine filmic eulogy to Allen Ginsberg.

7.30pm – Howl – a live performance with Ceri Murphy as Ginsberg reading the poem accompanied by graphic illustrative projections.

8.30pm – Round table summing up with Iain Sinclair, Dan Williams, Mike Garry and David Shulman, who will discuss the topics raised – chaired by Jeff Towns.

 

It looks like an amazing day & tickets are still available, so come and join us and for more info and a 10 time better blog than mine, have a look at what my mate Jeff Towns is saying as he’s arranged the day – http://ginsbergblog.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/fridays-weekly-round-up-260_18.html?m=1

Christopher Seddon 1942-2015

For this tree is a ladder and each branch a new rung

So, kids who once on branches swung 

They learned to climb

Did their time

Held tight – feeding each other

Like family – like brothers

I’m honoured to have done some work with Seddon Ltd.  They’re builders based in Bolton.

They Emailed me and asked me to come in for a meeting with the prospect of doing some work together.

I thought, building firm and poetry??? – Sounds good.  Sounds interesting.  So I tweeted

“Anyone done any work with Seddon Ltd?” and within 2 minute i was tweeted 4 times by people saying

“Yes, Seddon.  They Built my mothers Care Home and were brilliant.”

“Yeah Seddon, they built a new block at our school – Bolton Firm aren’t they?”

“Seddon built the hospice my Gran was in and were wonderful”

All positive and all good. So, i went and met them and was amazed.

I discovered that they’re a family owned Building company that span three centuries and 5 generations.  Established in 1897 when George and John Seddon, two orphans,  who climbed out of a coal mine and set up their bricklaying firm in Little Hulton. The business now delivers nearly£200 millions of building projects across the UK employing nearly 800 people.

But, Seddon are not your average business – their priority is not profit and their values run right through everything they do

To behave as a family, providing support to our customers, staff, supply chain and stakeholders

To act ethically and do the right thing regardless of personal consequence

To take the wider view in decision-making, looking at longer term rather than short term gains

To provide stability in the employment and training of our people

To enjoy what we do and have fun in doing it

 

I decided to write a poem about the history and ethos of the company and present it at an annual event organised by Seddon.

To write the poem, I worked with a range of their employees in their offices in Bolton but I also went out to building sites and talked to brickies and Sparks and apprentices to capture the essence of what they do – i.e. Build Houses.   Captured here by Granada Reports https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ0chgkoFlw

I worked closely with the family as well, notably with Jonathan Seddon, the Managing Director since 2007.  He amazed me.  Early 40’s, young family, learned his trade “hands-on” doing a YTS at the age of 16. First as a Brickie, then a Spark, then a plumber.  He learned the fundamentals of building houses. His dad treated him like any other employee, harsher most probably, so as no-one thought he was getting “special treatment”.  They guy still cycles to work.

I spent some time with Christopher as well, his father. He retired in 2007 but couldn’t resist continuing to be involved with the things that interested him at Seddon. But, he was the captain of the ship who had steered her through many years of growth and development and couldn’t just “let go” over night.

I was quite scared of him to be honest.  He reminded me of a really strict but decent Headmaster.  It was fear with great respect. He was sort the of guy who wouldn’t say a lot but what it did say, you listened and listened carefully. And, having done so much research on the company and it’s history and politic, I knew what this man had achieved and how hard he worked to achieve it.

I wrote a poem about Seddon and their history and ethos called “It Runs Right Through“.   A section of the poem focuses on Seddon’s work with Young People, something Christopher Seddon was passionate about. So passionate, he made Seddon’s commitment to delivering first-class apprenticeships part of the company’s DNA.

An apprentice bricklayer himself was later awarded an MBE for his services to apprenticeships and local charities he had worked for 56 years.

I’ll never forget delivering the poem to the family and company heads sat in the Board room at Seddon headquarters in Bolton – I was petrified that they wouldn’t like what i had written.

I read the poem…………….waited for a reaction……………………………………….. and Christopher stood up and walked toward the door but stopped in front of me, patted me on the shoulder and said

“You’ve done a great job.”

Nothing else mattered – I knew that if he like the poem, I’d “done a great job”

Sadly, Christopher died in August 2015 after a battle with Cancer.

Now, I could sit here and write endless lists of Christophers achievements.  I could write wonderful testaments to his character and tell you what a great man he was.But I’m not going to because it wasn’t his style and it isn’t Seddon’s style

However, to commemorate his life and most importantly, his commitment to working with young people, I’ve taken a section of the poem, worked with closely with Seddon staff and made a video that we believe champions the work Christopher.

 

Please feel free to share it –

RIP Christopher Seddon 1942-2015

Salford Song

A Salford son sang of Salford dirty

He sang of this town old

Of loving folk who still salt the earth here

Within a climate cold

 

No factory croft

No Gas works wall

Landscapes have changed

So’s the shape of the ball

 

And all the Champagne, Cigars and caviar of the incoming Noveaux Riche

Cannot buy A Taste of Honey

Where tradition runs rich and deep

 

Where you’ll still see the odd mongrel dog on the pitch

Smell Bovril at half time

Hear cold turnstiles go click

See rattles in hands

Small kids with freckles

Match stalk men from Lower Broughton

North Country Boys from Eccles

 

And a Mayoral Monkey driven in sane

Blyth Spirit from a Christmas past

Or will the underdog bite Again?

 

Predictions are useless

But the winner takes it all

The champagne cigars and the cavalcade of stars

In the FA Cup 3rd Round draw

 

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