Ian McMillan + Tony Husband – Heart Centre, Leeds – 10/02/17

A few years ago I noticed that friends (Hi Helen, Hi Jim) had the cartoonist Tony Husband as a facebook friend. I’ve been a big fan since his ‘Oink!’ comic days so messaged him to see if he wanted an MP3 version of the ‘Oink Song’ – I’d kept the 7” version I had in pristine condition (I used to sing the kids to sleep with it). He did and we too became facebook friends.

Just before Christmas I saw a flyer for this evening’s show with poet Ian McMillan and snapped up some tickets. I’d first come to love Ian when he was on ‘Mark + Lard’s’ evening Radio 1 programme – they introduced me (and I’m sure many other uncultured 20-somethings) to many poets thanks to those shows. Lard (aka Marc Riley) also worked on ‘Oink!’ and recorded the Oink song…..circles within circles…..

As we entered the Heart centre, Ian was there full of beans chatting to everyone as they came in. We were the only ones with kids “You’re the youngest by about a million years! Come to the front so they can see” – So we ended up on the front row for what turned into a fabulous night.

Ian – a self confessed small fat bloke from Barnsley – takes the first half with a motor-mouthed comedy routine that takes in signs he’s pinched from various church halls and schools they’ve played (‘Waste Food’ “What kind of instruction is that for a child!”) interweaved with his poems. My son Matty laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair twice – which Ian loved. He got Sally and Mia in on the act too…..his empathy and kindness shone through…..the kids had a hoot!

In the second half (“There’s no interval because people don’t come back”) we made up a poem, line by line, which Tony illustrated ‘live’. It was loosely based on the fact that we were in an old school building: ‘Gerty Cunliffe’ – a teacher who went mad with late night marking and OFSTED checks, threw herself off a cliff but was saved by landing on a friend. Excellent stuff!

The kids got to keep some of Tony’s original artwork (now on their bedroom walls) and we got his new book ‘From a dark place’ which charts his sons descent into drug addiction, and rehab with the help of professionals (LUF) and photography – Paul was the photographer a friend’s Mike+Jo’s wedding and they are spectacular photos!

Managed to catch up with Tony for a drink post gig and after mentioning that the misses speaks German, he gave me a German copy of his other ‘serious’ book ‘Take Care Son’ (about his dad’s Alzheimer’s) for her – what lovely, lovely men these two are – a highly recommended show!

Bob the Chiropodist

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