The turn of the year always brings memories. You think back across the years and remember the people who are no longer with us. For me the end of the year is largely focussed around the Society of Minor Poets.
Now you might wonder why I, the leading poet of my generation, belong to the society of minor poets. Indeed I am occasionally asked. The answer is simple. When I was still a very young man, just pushing the frail craft of my talent out onto the great ocean that is poetry, it was the Society of Minor Poets that welcomed me, nurtured me and even, from time to time, fed me. Not only that but in all candour I could never afford the bar bills and other expenses that go with membership of more prestigious organisations.
Amongst other events, every year the Society puts on an afternoon and evening entertainment. It is for the children and the elderly of the Ropewalk area. In theory we collect money, buy food, decorate our hall (which was in its prime a dried grape and carpet warehouse) and then invite our guests in.
Reality tends to diverge from theory. To be brutally honest, the juvenile street thugs who make up the children of the area are far better at raising money and providing basic foodstuffs than we poets are. They do a fine line in petty larceny and extortion which is far more effective than the flattery of poets. Then with regard to the elderly, they are hardly the helpless victims of our beneficence. Two weeks before the event I task various juvenile racketeers and their youthful hoodlums to fund raising and gathering supplies. Then a week before the event I will take the various supplies and buy more and deliver it to the older ladies of the area. This guarantees that we have as fine a selection of homemade cake and pies as one could hope for. So really all that is left for we Minor Poets to do is the decorating and provide the entertainment.
It is the decorating that I find myself dreading at times. Each year we chose some symbolic figure at random and nominally at least the event is held in their honour. I remember many years ago we found ourselves celebrating Notwin the Disembowelled, a figure for Port Naain mythology, perhaps one of the early Princes of the city, back in the days when such things were fashionable. I arrived early to help with the decorating. Most of the others were ladies of mature years who were dab hands at making decorations but were perhaps less agile than they once had been when it came to climbing over furniture to reach high enough to hang the garlands and paper chains. I was valued more because I was lithe and nimble, rather than for any artistic talent I might bring to the event.
I arrived to discover two of the ladies engaged in furious argument. You could tell they were furious; they spoke very clearly, and didn’t address each other directly even though there was nobody else present. Apparently forty years before Notwin the Disembowelled had also been randomly chosen for celebration and the first lady had decorated the place using intestines she’d acquired free from an abattoir, using them as streamers. The other woman was willing to admit the effect had been startling but so, apparently, had been the smell. So much so that barely a third of the food provided had been eaten. Needless to say one wished to reprise her triumph whilst the other was determined that she would not.
Continue reading here: Amateur dramatics