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4th November 2018


Whether he's singing about man's inhumanity to man, as in the Great War, or man's inhumanity to nature, as in fracking for profit, Greg Harper's songs are heart-rendingly appropriate. His melodious voice, his well turned lyrics and his soaring guitar music catches his deeply-felt emotions about the issues he addresses. His lyrics are poetic; his guitar playing is masterly; and he is a true performer.

The Write Angle audience was enthralled and the evening also brought in a good number of poets and musicians to share the limelight with Greg.

He started with an evocative song, Sweet River, about the changing countryside, in which the river still flows to the sea but no longer drives the mills in “the villages now hushed and deserted....paintwork all peeling and worn.” Then November Sky, a song about the bombing of Coventry a hundred years ago, based on the experience of three survivors: “...and time takes it away, a little bit further every day.” He followed this with Jezebel - “Does the smell of a lover linger on your skin?” - a complete, fascinating change of tone.

Adding harmonica to his guitar, he sang The River , prompted by the way we foul everything with plastic - “It makes me want to cry, to see something beautiful die.” Then belting out his anti-fracking song, a modern echo of Blake's dark satanic mills, Cool Clear Water - “Isn't it a shame, profit comes first.” Timely, with the start of operations and earthquakes in Lancashire! In No Damn Illusion, “you get nothing for free.” Greg followed with his song, Colours, which had been printed in a magazine; he had received a letter from someone whose life had been changed by reading it - “It seemed to me that everything was right there in its place.”

For King and for Country told of the hell in the trenches - “digging for my country, digging to survive, digging for the King, three cheers, digging for my life” tailing off into a thoughtful, mournful, slow riff. Gossamer Wings reminisced about the vanishing countryside of memory, followed by Birdsong, stimulated by a poem inscribed on a stone plinth on the Downs - comparing the peaceful life in the countryside with the trenches “But now I stare across no-mans-land....just waiting to kill a man like me.”

Meantime, at the open mic, Jilly Funnell sang Flowers on The Grass - “In the company of true friends, I am not alone.” Then, with her usual mastery of breaking-heart songs, she sang Looking Over My Shoulder - “Nothing lasts for ever and love's a funny thing.” Tongue in cheek, in Death, her poem said: “So he will try and search for me in all the wrong places,” up mountains and everywhere she is not. Richard Hawtree then read his poem about a Bishop of Winchester, Thirty-five Measures For Blind Bishop Fox 1448-1528, who created “seven flights of seven steps with seven paces between each flight so that you could ascend and descend like angels on Jacob's ladder...” Then there was The Night I spoke Irish in Surrey – a hilarious tour of the county culminating in “Next day we straggled out over Waterloo Bridge, the English jangling in our sorry heads.” He finished with Irish India, written in honour of Matthew Sweeney. We’re pleased to announce Richard has had a book of his poems accepted for publication

Newcomer, Fred Werner, stimulated by the discovery that his daughter was pregnant, wrote Love's Produce, Life's Ticket Reservation - “If I came from a seed, was my picture on the packet?” In The Wind Farm, he told of the dangers inherent in using natural gas produced by “dormitories full of wrinkly old chaps munching their sprouts.” He mused on what it would be like to ride a horse, in Beach Train - “like fingers drumming on a table top, the hooves so fast they cannot stop.”

Colin Eveleigh went sky diving with his family – indoors – and wrote about it in Pegasus Rising: “The heart is bound to race. But No! It's beautiful, uplifting, of course.” Ray Vogt with his plaintively wailing, resonator steel guitar, sang Seasick Steve's Walkin Man - “I'll stash my sleeping roll under your bed. That says more than anything.” Then he sang his Brexit song, David's Problem about Cameron's fruitless attempt to negotiate with Brussels.

Leah's Time On My Hands described an interesting shared taxi ride to the Tate: “The way he looked at me was just as he should.” Disappointed, she concluded: “You can find love in taxis but it's paintings that last.” Then I Stole A Skirt: caught stealing, “they locked me up in prison and they threw the book at me. The Book is Oliver Twist; it's great...I'm learning the art of something new: how to pickpocket....”

May read National Poetry Day, in which she would “take in the sun and rest on the wind ... laugh and dance and cry and sleep. …. lay down on the ground and stare into the night and marvel at the stars and howl at the moon.” Then Martin Niemöller's First They Came For The Communists – very topical in the modern witch-hunting age. In the light of that, May wrote Poets Awake, about the power of poetry - “Words are always much more than they seem.” With his hammer dulcimer, Bruce Parry played The Sky Boat Song then read his evocative Conker Time – “Conkers slide out from their summer coats, gleaming with autumn”; followed by the comic The Monkey Puzzle Tree and the Gingerbread House - “What's the point of a monkey puzzle tree with no monkeys to see?”.

It was a good evening for audience and performers – who all stayed longer than they normally do..The raffle sponsor was the excellent Links Tavern at Liphook with a meal for two.



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