ConFab Cabaret V Was another night of excellent quick-fire entertainment organised by Amy Rainbow and Catherine Crosswell. More spoken word than previously – as a spoken word bod myself I love this but I do hope the mix of other forms (music, comedy, burlesque and anything else) builds again. I know there’s music afoot for the next ConFab so that’s going to be good start for 2014.
Opening with Prepare to Share threw newcomer performers – and some more experienced – in at the deep end, which is the best way to learn to swim, my Dad insisted (he used to throw me in and then dive in to rescue me. Not sure I’ve ever been comfortable in deep water since but…). There was more Sharing in the second half – good on the keen wordsmiths of Malvern!
Matt (‘Just been told I’m too “pretty” to be a boxer’) Man Windle’s poetry held everyone; thought-provoking, moving and funny – often all at once. I don’t think I’d describe him as “pretty” (wouldn’t dare!) but his words are gorgeous (and he is rather lovely, too).
ConFab was lucky nabbing international opera star, Montserrat Carbonara. She had declined a performance at the Royal Albert to come to Malvern (probably persuaded by her friend, Heather Wastie) but her orchestra and chorus had, unfortunately, gone to the Royal Albert (“Hall”, she said, but I think there’s a pub called The Royal Albert in Newport). Wonderful arias and delightful insights into the Great Woman’s lifestyle.
Confab closed with Dan Duke, who is ranty and passionate and full of energy as his poems call out politicians and other stupidities of modern life. His description of the MPs expenses (and other) scandals, inspired by Attila the Stockbroker’s visit to Malvern a few years ago, is sublime.
Before that, though, we had the audience poem, this time on the audience’s selected theme of “The Queen” – as she’d been mentioned a few times earlier in proceedings. Indeed, that very evening she was hosting a party to celebrate British Poetry. Obviously we’d all been invited but, like Ms Carbonara (talking of Great Women) with the Royal Albert, we’d declined because ConFab is THE place to be.
Thirty-one – THIRTY-ONE! – slips of paper with poetry (or, in some cases, “poetry”; in some cases illegible) lines were returned. There’s something magical about the way all the disparate scribbles make something so much more when Selotaped together; however, the finished poem was nearly as tall as me and fractured under its own weight when held-up to read. Either I need to be less stingy with the sticky tape or, perhaps, it’s time to be more choosy with the lines included. The poetry suggested some of us might be doting corgis but I suspect rather more of us might be on the Doughnut’s watch-list.
Let’s start with artwork handed in, apparently depicting Matt Man Windle:
And now for a selection from the Audience (with the Queen) Poem:
The Queen: have you seen the Queen,
all glitter, going to dust, in time?
Did you see her at Coronation, Jubilee,
or did you switch to ITV and leave her be?
Smile again, nod again, Liz
to the geezer in grey and old woman in green.
The Queen loves Amy Rainbow because she welcomes all shades of view.
The Queen, the Queen. What rhymes with Regina?
[long pause while the audience calm down]
Charles is the third. Will five then George minor.
The queen sits all alone
white-gloved upon the throne.
Queeny, Queeny, you are such a meanie
I’m worried that my dreams about you
verge on the obscene-y.
Your head on a stamp sold for pounds with your
head on, exchange heads, can we change the head of state?
Learn to talk just like that
learn to wear that bloody hat
[A quick plug for the best voice for those lines!]
One’s grandchildren do embarrass one
One’s grandchildren are thick
One’s life is full of privilege,
One’s subjects make one sick.
She suddenly struck out with her handbag
and drove her frightful fetlocks
into Phillip’s straining thighs
… as she handed a particularly sugary
doughnut to Camilla.
One day she’ll wring those damned swans’ necks
with support tights bought from M&S.
The sheen of respectability that comes from the Queen and her mother
won’t last the succession of Charles or his brother.