City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Roger McGough - That Awkward Age Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 24 August 2009

Fringe 2009: Roger McGough
Show details
Assembly Rooms
Running time: 
Roger McGough (poet extaordinaire)

Roger McGough stepped on to the stark stage that was bathed in a warm purple light where he stood at the green lectern looking cool in his mohair suit over a fancy dan shirt, with multi toned orange shoes and of course his signature whacky glasses.

This award-winning and well-loved poet began reminiscing about his first Edinburgh gig in 1962 and his times with Scaffold whom he described to anyone in the audience who hadn't heard of the Liverpool singing phenomenon as "a cross between Oasis and The Cheeky Girls." That went down well with those who had heard of them and indeed went to establish his easy rapport with the audience.

McGough is a phenomenon himself. He is that paradox: a popular poet. He writes about ordinary things but gives them the subtle, surreal, zany twist that has created his distinctive voice in writing. With his dry, sometimes self -effacing wit, he creates a cross between stand up and poetry reading without going into the realms of performance. He writes, what is regarded as a dirty word in certain pretentious circles, accessible poetry and more power to him on that score.

His reading from his latest book of poems, That Awkward Age, ranged from a fantastic Health and Safety poem, In Case of Fire, to a tale of a Liverpool mugging involving Cartier Bresson, a poem written in the train's quiet coach, the fate of a pair of Paul McCartney's trousers, his surprising array of sporting relatives (Cousin Daisy who made her money "notwithstanding" got a special laugh) and the zany world of Carpe Diem.

His answer to Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife, where she writes about the wives of famous men, takes the form of the very funny tales of Mr Nightingale, Mr Of Arc and Mr Mae West. His most touching poem in the set was A Fine Romance, written about the potential onset of dementia, "...if I should call you by another's name , a lover perhaps from years ago, don't be startled. It's just a slip of the moonlight."

It was a pleasure to hear McGough and to see the queues waiting to buy his book as he sat waiting to sign resplendent in his black Ska hat. More Poetry Please!

Times: 24 August, and touring