Photo Henry Normal

Huntingdon Hall, Worcester 10th June 2023
“Rude to dunk in public?”

Like Hitler, Henry Normal approached the stage from the back of the hall, as if emerging from the people. However, once on stage Normal veers to the left…politically! And he can’t be accused of dictating to his readership, for this was a very gentle night of poems, tender anecdotes and warm humour.

The Nottingham poet has an impressive resume which includes writing credits for little known comedies The Royle Family and Gavin & Stacy but he is probably more famous for having a beer named after him. Famously, the esteemed writer is even more renowned for his poetry…

As Adrian Mitchell once wrote – “Most people ignore most poetry as most poetry ignores most people” – Normal ignores this observation and writes poetry for the people. The language is accessible, “the metaphors are shit and the similes are like shit,” the rhythms match our breathing and the verses sing to the soul as his poetry polishes the prose of the everyday.

Dressed in his summer cardigan our avuncular poet appeared on stage for two hours; reading, reciting and recounting his written & spoken word for a cohesive audience who perhaps “really should stay together for future events.” If you think poetry is not popular you should have witnessed the turn-out for Normal – the Etihad stadium would have been impressed.

An impressive silver salver of topics and subjects were served up for the night’s contemplative poetic tapas. The poem about Dominic Raab which ended with the punchline…”he’s still a number two”…drew a knowing chortle. A poem focusing on swimming in the sea…“going through the motions”…brought forth guffaws. A specifically written poem celebrating varieties of biscuits garnered an affectionate and extended “aaahhhh.”

The affection with which the Henry Normal talks about his wife, son and writing colleagues is as comforting as dunking biscuits in your mug of tea. Awareness of class and the expectation of etiquette ensured one anecdote of receiving a slice of apple pie with a choc-ice balanced on top was not lost on the informed audience.

By way of thanks the in-form audience were keen to join Henry Normal applauding the staff of the Hall for undertaking a superlative job – with a special mention to Janet!

Despite the laser-visioned attention for detail on current politics, there was no divisiveness or the need to seek a scapegoat or the need to blame anybody else. The night for me and for those around me was as comforting as a full biscuit barrel.

By: Swilgate Scuttler

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