Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Fred Slattern vaulted into top 100 live poets

From next year's Guardian "Fred Slattern made his debut public performance at Colchester Free Festival on 18 September 2010. With there being uncertainty about the exact time and place of Fred's performance, he couldn't depend on his loyal crowd of misfit friends to support him, and instead had to live or die on stage by his wits. Standing at a busk stop just inside the Castle Park gates, Fred had good footfall, and not all of it kept walking by. Witnessing an inspired performance from Colchester's wordsmith equivalent of Seasick Steve, some innocent members of the public has their ears assaulted by Colchester's self-styled slum poet.

Opening with a tale of sub-standard housing in suburbia "condemned" he led into "fear and loathing in Prettygate" a story of aging, isolation and fear. Slattern introduced each of the (mercifully short) pieces, his staccato delivery giving the impression of an accountant on EPO. He recited a piece about procrastination entitled "when I get my tattoo", a mordant ditty that he claimed he wrote at a "creative writing for no-hopers" course a few years ago. Upping the performance by several gears, he did a political piece about chavs, more specifically about those who revile them, with the cryptic title of "Council House and Van". Fred clearly fancies himself as the people's poet Rick from "The Young Ones".

Moving on to the whimsical "had James Dean lived, would he have shopped in Waitrose?", Slattern was into his stride, as he delivered some appalling wordplay involving car crashes and the cheese counter. Clearly Slattern had problems concentrating at school, or indeed at any other station in life. Then a topical piece written with an eye on the art gallery under construction and the vitriol in the local papers "when's it going to be finished?". But Slattern's session wasn't all about lampooning of the authorities and the media, it was about celebrating Colchester,with two pieces about the history lingering in our open spaces at "Hilly Fields" and "electricity" about High Woods.

Fred's finale consisted of pieces about the ever changing High Street "the High Street's full of cafes and charity shops" and "thanks for the sandwich" celebrating our Big Issue sales people. Twenty five people witnessed this tour-de-farce performance, vaulting him into the top 100 poets performing live today.

His banter between pieces was well received, and the sole poetry themed joke he could invent - about the iambic pentameter - was appreciated by at least two or three in the audience of mainly rural folk. A warm ripple of applause greeted the end of the show, maybe from a sense of relief, but mainly because these ordinary folks had, at last, found someone to blather on their behalf - a fanfare for the common man, with no side salad thank you very much. Fred Slattern, this modest man from suburbia, who has much to be modest about, has now been approached for other gigs."

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