Saturday, December 17, 2011

Newport Pagnell in a Nutshell

I wish I knew Elton John's private number: I'd get him to bung ten grand or so towards The Watershed Cafe to fix their heating, pay some wages to the guys and give them a bit of a cushion to help them through the recession!
The cafe is positively Narnia-esque, hiding at the end of an eau-de-nil painted arcade in Newport Pagnell and demonstrating an enlightened attitude to both bands and audiences. In the summer, Acton Bell, the Anti Poet and myself played to an audience of fairly p*ssed teenagers, who absorbed the whole lot with bemused awe and then came up and talked to us all about it afterwards: quizzing the Anti Poet about their lyrics, Acton Bell about her cover versions and me about my guitar playing.
This time around, festooned in scarves, a bunch of people who had left the age of fifty behind a few years ago sat in the cold (broken heating system and not enough money to fix it) singing along to Herman's Hermits with wistful gusto, and soon warmed the atmosphere with their good will.
Wilky and Foolish Girl were both there, and so was Jim From Work (old work) who now works at the Open University and posts a lot of pictures of geese on his Facebook page. Indeed, we indulged in a riff about feeding the squirrels (of which there are also plenty, he assures me) to the geese and fattening them up for Christmas.
Andy, the genial and almost regal cafe proprietor who was presiding over a mega-plate of mince pies, told me that Attila the Stockbroker had reduced his audience there to tears with his poem about dementia, and he had gone to the local care home to deliver it to the relatives of dementia patients as a result.
Acton Bell, as Andy observed, has gained in confidence a lot since our last gig and she played three of her own songs this time, all of which held up well in her set of covers. Piece de resistance was Mull of Kintyre, which was fine without the bagpipes marching across the sand.
We did wonder if they auto-appeared when Sir Paul was on holiday about the place, say in Majorca trying to have a discreet sunbathe with the proles. Could be a mite embarrassing.
My fingers were too chilly to play Christmas Queen, although I thought through it privately in my head for the occasion. But I put in a full set anyway, debuting Mr and Mrs Songsmith, and joined for Heaven Avenue, Loverman and Freight Train by Ian and Paul (the Anti Poet) on double bass and washboard respectively. Their manager wasn't there (get well soon, Donna!) so they did a poem I haven't heard before which described some of the poets they sometimes put on at the Rrrants events. The chorus was 'What the f*ck, what the f*ck, what the f*ck, What the f*ck was that?'.
Actually reader, I laughed out loud as I am convinced I myself have watched these poets at their events, and recognised them quite clearly.
'Did they leave the verse out about me?', I wondered paranoidly. Bit naughty of them, but bit funny, too.
So it was goodbye to Wilky, Foolish Girl and Jim from Work; we will be back in six months and my New Year wish is for the council to start subsidising The Watershed, a little gem of imagination and anarchy in the cosy Home Counties.
Pic: the Anti Poet

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