Rhyme and reading…

6 10 2013

What better way to start National Poetry Day than with a watery-themed Crazy Rhymey Challenge on the train to London!

Later, after dumping my bag at my friend’s house, us girls headed back into town to see Pam Ayres at Cadogan Hall with the free tickets I’d won for being shortlisted in the top ten in her recent competition.

We had a slightly tense moment when we got to Sloane Square and tried to find a pub that sold real ale rather than fizzy lager and overpriced cocktails. The clock was ticking, but thankfully we eventually stumbled upon a good old Rose and Crown tucked away in a backstreet. Then we headed for Cadogan Hall.

It’s a lovely old place, quite small and intimate. And our seats were perfect – slap bang in the middle five rows from the front.

I have lovely fond memories of watching Pam Ayres on telly with mum as a youngster and both of us laughing our socks off, so I’m not quite sure how I managed to forget about her for all these years – I found her again fairly recently on Twitter, and must admit that as I rediscovered her work I couldn’t help but wonder if those rhymes of hers I heard when I was wee have had some bearing on the rhymes I’ve penned since I got bigger…

Bang on time the lights dimmed, and out skipped Pam and proceeded to make our bellies and faces ache for a good hour with rhymes old and new, and tales from her memoirs.

Pam’s delightfully energetic on stage, and her delivery – be it a rhyme or a story – is spot on. Perfectly timed pauses, often with that cheeky, dimpley grin slowly spreading across her face, and hilarious actions. On the subject of those pauses, they were often punctuated by chortles of anticipation from the audience, and the faint murmer of folk filling in the next line under their breath.

After a short interval (during which I discovered the lady sitting next to me was the competition winner, and my friend nearly had a heart attack when a wall-mounted telly outside the loos suddenly came on very loudly as she walked past it – in her words, it was a good job she was on her way out the loos, and not in!), out skipped Pam again and made us ache some more. The occassional rhyme brought that other sort of tear to the eye – she’s a cheeky one is Pam, and sometimes drops a delightfully sad one on you.

Seeing her on live on stage is like shuffling into your living room in your favourite pyjamas and slippers, with the lights dimmed and a toasty fire burning merrily in the grate, settling cosily on the sofa, putting your feet up, then laughing so uproarously that you spill your cocoa and nearly choke on your After Eights.

Afterwards, we joined a little queue, picked up a copy of her new book each, and soon were standing in front of her doing the signing thing.

You’ve read here before my previous experiences at signing events, so I won’t go into detail. Now I don’t know if it was the real ale beforehand, or the after effects of all that laughing, but I managed to blurt out, “You were ace!” to which she gave such a lovely reply that my Fear subsided and we had a nice little chat about the competition and my rhyme (which she remembered!).

After my friend had got her books signed and had a natter with Pam about growing up in similar necks of the wood, off we skipped to catch our train home, feeling much lighter than when we’d arrived (despite carrying the extra weight of books) as I think we’d each laughed off a good few pounds during the course of the evening.

But that wasn’t quite the end of National Poetry Day. I had a few lines buzzing around my head as I went to sleep, and they turned into this:

I went to see Pam Ayres last night,
She really was quite ace;
Her rhymes and ramblings made me laugh
‘Til tears rolled down me face

Did I say I saw Pam Ayres?
She really was fantastic;
She spoke of snoring, cows and teeth
And white knicker elastic.

I went to see Pam Ayres last night,
She really was quite ace;
And afterwards I met her
And I told her to her face.

The following day I discovered that The British Library had opened an exhibition of children’s illustrated classics that very morning, so I headed off early and spent a lovely couple of hours soaking it up. Do go if you get the chance, it’s well worth a visit!

Then I had an accident in the gift shop and bought Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the milk… to read on the train home. Unfortunately, the large sandwich I bought at the station nearly resulted in a choking incident on the train as I gaffawed my way through Mr Gaiman’s most excellent story.

All in all I had a most excellent couple of days, full of rhyme and reading. I’m hugely grateful to Pam Ayres and the competition organisers for giving me the opportunity to go and see her perform – I’d highly recommend to anyone to go see her live, you’ll be smiling for days afterwards!

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