MOT Pantomime and Status Quo


On Friday 2/2/18 I went to watch a band, MOT, at the Halfway House in Rickmansworth.
I know the lead singers, Marco and Carmel as they run one of the Open Mic’s that I go to. I also know the bass player, Alan too. I cannot ignore that there are others in the band (Dave, Clive, Matt) who provide the keyboards, lead guitar and drums respectively and also vocals in their own right.

I have seen the band play in different places and the good thing is that their playlist changes from venue to venue. They are pretty eclectic in musical taste as I hear music from 60’s Rolling Stones and Beatles, to 70’s, Blondie (Debbie Harry -my childhood crush) and Kim Wilde to more recent- Daft Punk. This is all mixed with various Rock songs.
In looking at why this appeals to me is that in life we must not stop and sit still as the world goes on around us. Whilst the music is recognisable, there is a difference in the way it is performed and there is an opportunity for requests which may or may not have been practiced by the band ever- do they just wing it?
I have also watched various other bands whose playlist is the same wherever you watch them and sometimes it is great to be comforted to see the familiar and keep the status quo. Ironically, Status Quo (the band) evolved/ changed from psychedelia to Rock and put then later their own spin on older 50’s music in the 1980’s. A running joke was that they only played 4 chords and people would comment “Status Quo have just released a song and what have they called it this time!!!” This therefore is not totally true
This somehow leads me somehow onto Saturday.


The women in my life (wife and daughters) are involved in the local Drama club. Over past two weekends the drama group have been putting on a pantomime- Treasure Island. My three daughters had good parts, lead girl, comedy pirate and Spirit of the Sea, and my wife is the ‘go to mum’ and organiser behind the scenes.
Like everything in life, putting together the performance has to be worked on. There is a saying ‘piss poor preparation leads to piss poor performance’. The process of auditions, scripts, choosing music, songs, jokes etc. happens well before the first rehearsal starts. It doesn’t stop there, as the script gets readapted, songs change, and jokes are added and taken away. The director supervised the acting, ensures all know where everyone should be, everyone has learned their lines, and liaises with the sound, lighting and stage crew to promote the shared vision.

This is to ensure the symbiosis, as if one part doesn’t perform (the backstage crew or the effects) then the acting doesn’t work as well. If the actors don’t learn their lines or dance moves, then no matter how good the effects or the back stage crew are then the performance is ruined.
On the performance day, whilst there is a script, there may be times when something happens which will cause a change – someone forgets their lines, falls over, loses their voice. There then has to be adaptations, each knowing what was expected and helping each other out.
The audience also then becomes part of the team too by clapping, cheering, booing, and being encouraging and singing the community song. This year I got pulled up out of the audience to be the ‘captain of the left side’ when it was time to promote audience participation. If there is no participation then the performers and the performance can fall flat.
How this links together may be a bit tenuous but this year’s community song was “Rocking all over the world” by Status Quo, which I alluded to earlier.
As the Pantomime Dame was unwell due to tonsillitis, there was a change in ‘performance whereby the comedy pirate had to lead the community song unaided and ‘adapt’
Even Status Quo had to adapt and Classic Quo changed their drummer and guitarist before the mid 1980’s.This didn’t mean that Rocking all over the world was finished as when they toured, the new guitarist and drummer knew what to do. By the way the community song worked!!
In linking this to my poetry and my book writing, one of my poems, Friendship alludes to a childhood friend and how we used to listen to Status Quo in his bedroom and play along to Rocking all over the world on ‘tennis racquets.’
I cannot go back to those days but I can use those memories in a different way by writing and using the life lessons.
In using the analogy of the pantomime for my writing, the script/ content is there (poems), there is a need to get an audience to appreciate it (spoken word, open mic, reader, social media and so on), the effects ( the way it is written, the cover), the performance( the actual content of the poem and if spoken how it comes over to the audience).
Being a self-published writer, you end up pulling everything together yourself- a self-director. Every bit needs attention and if you forget one bit then the equilibrium- the balance is lost. However, good directors also seek help from their cast/ audience/ other directors and that it where belonging to the open mic/ spoken word groups comes in.
You get your feedback on what is working at present and you can seek advice.
However there is also an oxymoron-Seek others advice but don’t take it. This is better explained by
“Seek other people’s advice, but don’t take orders. And don’t take 100% of anyone’s advice. Make sure every decision you make is a product of your own conclusion. Be a student, not a disciple.” Jim Rohn

“In other words be confident in yourself”

Open Mic

I spent Sunday evening 28/1/18 at an Open Mic night in High Wycombe. This was slightly out of my usual area for Open Mic and I went there primarily to watch some friends performing at their home venue. I usually have seen them closer to where I live and I felt it was only fair to pay homage to them in their familiar surroundings. As I had hoped, there was an eclectic bunch of performers who performed covers and their own compositions (songs and music).

Firstly for me I saw Tina playing country music, which is not something that I usually like “not my bag,” (bit hippie sounding) but whether it was the change of venue or the amp, she sounded better than usual. She then gave way to Lorraine whom I have seen perform loads of times. It is difficult to categorise her musical style save to say that she relies not only on her guitar but her voice and that came in useful as she is a great acapella singer. Dave treated us to a few of his usual hits and a cover of Mustang Sally, with harmonica played by Freedom.

As I usually go to Spoken Word at this venue, I went to see Dane, in a completely different guise as a guitarist and singer. I was happy to say that Dane can play and can sing. It was good to see this different side of him.  Bit jealous of this lot as I am a frustrated guitar player. My own fault though as I SHOULD PRACTICE MORE.

Sadly before I went out, I found out that the head on my electric acoustic guitar had snapped off. I have only had it for a year. This reminded me of a poem that I wrote when I was at a different open mic called “I Need To Pick Up My Guitar” which is my lament at how I need to do just that. I suppose that I am getting better in that I am practicing and putting tunes to song embryonic songs that I have written.

As promised in my first post, I agreed to start writing my book. Having been speaking to Dane earlier in the month and having read some articles he had sent me, I will report on my progress so far. Previously I had started to re-draft of all my poems and have begun to triage and categorise them, some I think are good, I have removed some and written some new ones.

I have set up an account on CreateSpace and had a play around with the cover creator and a formatted template. (see below links). Using what I have written so far it was interesting to see what a book may look like. I still have, lots to do and I will report on this further. I have thought of a title and the sections of the book.

I then have had some other ideas so may have to re-categorise and re-title. Who knows, I may be writing 2 books at once!! Everything is exciting so far!! Need to keep this enthusiasm

I will add a few links that I have found useful so far.

Two poetry blogs I have read