As Far as I Know

Roger McGough
Liverpool Playhouse
Friday 1st Febuary, 2013

Reviewed by Darren Guy

I’m not a great fan of Roger McGough’s poetry; at least I’ve thought that for years, reading from the pages. Although many of his poems are witty and at times very funny, I find them to be generally lazy. However, I have never seen him read them aloud.

Reading to a packed audience at Liverpool playhouse, the 90-minute performance went as quick as a train from Liverpool to Euston – well quicker actually. Before I knew it, it was over and that says a lot. McGough’s poems, I believe, are meant to be read aloud and listened to. His voice is calming and witty, he settles the listener and takes them on trip through his life, he still has his Scouse accent, albeit slightly posh. Poems from his latest book, in particular As Far as I Know, took us back to his younger days, with a great delivery of Let Me Die A Youngman’s Death:

When I'm 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

He moved and educated me as well as making me laugh throughout. And all around me, the predominantly elderly audience was also taken on that journey.

The nicest thing about McGough was the lack of pretention; he spoke directly to the audience and chose the order of his poems very precisely, from humour to sadness, from young to old age and back again. Perfect precision, perfect gesticulation it is great how a poet can get a packed house in this day and age.

O Lord, let me be a burden on my children
For long they've been a burden upon me.
May they fetch and carry, clean and scrub
And do so cheerfully.

Let them take it in turns at putting me up
Nice sunny rooms at the top of the stairs
With a walk-in bath and lift installed
At great expense.....Theirs.

McGough’s play The Misanthrope is on at the Liverpool Playhouse until 9th March 2013. His latest book As Far as I Know is out now and can be bought in News from Nowhere and Waterstones.

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