On Thursday I went to the Poetry Cafe in Betterton Street, Covent Garden, for the Survivor's Poetry night.
These nights are the epitome of Outsider poetry and music, with some acts being brilliant and some, valiant beginnings by older or vulnerable people. I have always found them hugely supportive of my own stuff, and what drew me to go out on Thursday was the reappearance of Kath Tait, after a long spell of looking after an old lady in Highgate, which is really quite a Kath Tait occupation, I think.
Next to Kath, best act of the night was a poet called Natasha, a young woman who patiently listened to everything before hitting us with some truly beautiful wordsmithery, proper poetry without trying to be comical; she tried to define childhood feelings through visual description and managed, by avoiding cliche, to evoke that childhood sense of wonder and puzzlement that is experienced in a framework of practicality put in place by the adult generation.
There was a lot of good stuff; even the odder acts were charming in their outsidery way, and then Kath was a joy to listen to, as always. She is gently humorous, and the audience, sweltering in the basement humidity (it was packed), sang along softly in the background, chortling under their collective breath as they recognised themselves and their dodgy motivation in Kath's lyrics.
Last night, my friend Joan The Animator took me to see Peter Blegvad at Cafe Oto. I had wondered where I recognised his name from and he used to be in Slapp Happy, a group my brother is very fond of.
Peter had a very interesting band; Chris Cutler on drums was amazing to watch, spidery in the same way that Russell who played with The Chefs was. Chris was also exceptionally laid back: before the end of one song, he reached over for a drink, setting the glass neatly back on the monitor before the final drum roll.
Blegvad is a genial performer, with some great lyrical ideas (like the man who swallowed light to become luminous). It was Peter's 60th birthday, and at the end, the very affectionate audience sang Happy Birthday to him. Joan bought his book for me, which I will investigate later.