Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Nice Wee Present from Scotland

A Nice Wee Present from Scotland is a very small collection of poetry, the title of which could also apply to its author, a Glaswegian who spent most of his life in England.

I used to live in North London not far from Ivor, who lived in a slightly nicer area up the hill near Hamstead Heath, while I was living in a grotty flat above an even grottier Irish pub (police tape and puke were regular greetings at our front door). I used to see him around from time to time, always distinguished by eccentric hat and badges. He might say a few words and hand out some stickers. He always wore earplugs because he couldn't stand the traffic noise.

I only saw him perform live once, in April 1989 at the Hackney Empire, the same month as John Martyn and Michelle Shocked played there. I was just about to take my A level exams, listening to the John Peel show and had heard a couple of Cutler sessions. As my friend's big brother drove us across London, we were unsure about the performance. Would it be poetry or music? Could one shout out requests for poems?

Ivor simply did his thing and was great. The flyer (A5 size) in the photo remained on my bedroom wall for some time afterwards until it was scooped into a folder during a house move, where it remained forgotten for many years until I rediscovered it this spring. It is now in a cheap frame and receiving slightly more attention.

I now live in Scotland. I don't think I could ever be described as A Nice Wee Present from England, but one tries...

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