So we're sat outside at the Kings Arms pub and, right facing, is this giant stencil of John Cooper Clarke looming on the wall. Beyond the Beezley Street Bard and Shaun Ryder, you'd be hard pressed to think of any Salford poet who's got status…
…But now get JB, who comfortably mingles Salford nostalgia with literary smart and clever humour, slapped through with a political consciousness born in Little Hulton. JB's tagline is `just a scrote done good from Salford'…
"It's a term of endearment really" he explains "At school it was drummed into you that you were a scrote and weren't going anywhere. My teacher said to me `You're going nowhere, you're a waste of space' and I thought `What do you know?'
"… And then I left school, got on a YTS scheme and thought he was right because there wasn't any hope" he adds "I think if you've got the ability to write something or paint or be creative it's almost …on our estate if you were in any way artistic there was something wrong with you. And if you were a poet, well…"
Words Escape Me is the double meaning stage name used by JB that makes you think twice. It's also the title of a poem that sums up where he's coming from…
`Sometimes I struggle to believe what I hear
It's all like a turd falling into my beer
Katie Price up for 'Mum Of The Year'?
Words escape me
Unmanned drones sent to kill and to mame
Thatcher's grandchildren desperate for fame
Nine billion pound for the Olympic games?
Words escape me
What does the compromise of innocence entail
When it's the smoke from celebrity dreams they inhale
From fat pushy parents with children for sale
Words escape me
Dignity and respect brought by unions that care
Then we applaud Gordon Ramsey when he bullies and swears
We're allowing forced labour through scams like workfare!
Words escape me'
JB's work is ultra contemporary, slagging facebook warriors (Too Many Fingers Not Enough Feet), closet racists and claimant abusers (Don't Look Down), and media manipulation (Problem Reaction Solution). But loads of the poems are also set in Salford past… "very nostalgic" he decides "which is probably one of my traits, or faults according to my girlfriend."
It's these nostalgia poems which make up the bulk of his Words For Class Heroes show for the Greater Manchester Fringe at the Kings Arms on July 16th.
"My writing comes from more the funny side of Little Hulton, rather than the dour, dark depressing side" JB explains "A lot of my stuff comes from things like the conversations of old dockers who used to go into the Labour Club. When I left school I had a job collecting glasses there and it was just a fascinating time – the committee man and the treasurer, all that national service generation."
Subject matter also ranges from the tacky foreign holiday souvenirs that people used to have lining their mantelpieces (Spanish Dolls), to Panini football stickers, Kicker tags and Jubblies (Mam), to Chinos, suedeheads and Arctic Rolls (When The World Was Young: And So Was I). These are funny shared memories that sit well with a Salford audience.
"The original idea was to do the show for Edinburgh but through one thing and another I never got to do it, so I'm doing it here" says JB "It's all the stories and poems about those times. They are in print but I always say that my poems sound better performed than read, there's more passion when they're heard."
And most poems are around a minute long, so it's quick fire, quit witted verses that should keep people on the edge of their seats at the Kings Arms.
The John Cooper Clarke stencil on the wall is looking a bit weathered. There's a new poet on the block who is more than `just a scrote done good from Salford'…Words Escape Me.
Words For Class Heroes
Tuesday 16th July 7:30-8:30pm
The Kings Arms £3
With support from Matt McAteer
For more details of the show see here and to book tickets – click here
To more of JB's poems – click here and click here
See also Facebook: TheWordsEscapeMe