Roger McGough visited Ventnor, Isle of Wight for the Isle of Arts Festival last weekend, promoting his newly published book of poems ‘As far as I know.’ Dom Kureen was on the scene to take in a one hour show from the man dubbed ‘the patron saint of poetry.’
Roger McGough strode to the podium of the marquee stage like a contented Yogi after an extended meditation session, his entrance theme a rapturous cacophony of enthused applause and sporadic yelping.
The bar was set high before a syllable had been uttered, although this kind of reception is nothing outlandish for one of Britain’s most revered wordsmiths, following almost half a century of articulate ode.
Time has only supplemented the poignancy of McGough’s sentiments – ‘A cure for aging’ and ‘A good age’ both revealed his personal introspections regarding the anxious inevitability of getting older, whilst ‘Let me die a young man’s death’ provocatively jabbed at the futility of a peaceful passing.
Large sections of the show resonated with a predominantly sexa-octogenarian demographic that ushered the venue’s attendance towards it’s 400-seat capacity.
The fickle nature of mortality continued to prove a fertile source of material, with some of the afternoon’s loudest pops evident during and after the hilarious ‘Carpe Diem’ and sinister undertones of ‘I am not sleeping.’
Tributes to Charlie Chaplin, Carol Ann Duffy and Enid Blyton ensured that tolls were paid and heroes respected in a one hour set that served as a ‘greatest hits’ composite for a leading light of the spoken word genre.
The pacing of the gig might not have been to everyone’s taste, but the fact that the post-show book signing was halted prematurely due to all works of literature selling out was testament to the enduring popularity of the 76-year old.
Even after that, the author continued to sign scrap pieces of paper, ticket stubs, crisp packets and whatever else people could dig out to be inscribed, McGough seemingly having the time of his life throughout.