One of the literary highpoints of the upcoming Imagine Festival is the visit of world-famous poet and performer, Roger McGough. His evening reading/performance Said And Done will feature extracts from his 2005 autobiography of the same name –

When all’s said and done
There’ll be nothing left to say or do.

I hope he includes his 1947 experiences with Irish Christian Borthers, whom he described as founded by Edmund Rice – to help young people to stand on their own two feet and to change society that caused and slowed them to be poor. Not a lot of people in Ireland might think that but there ye go, we seem to prefer his verses about The Little Sisters of the Good Hiding.

McGough studied at university with Philip Larkin at a time when it was just possible to become a professional poet. McGough was a poetic hero of mine with those little Penguin books of Poetry – Modern Poetry 10, The Merry Sound and John Peel playing poetry on the radio. I could imagine McGough telling aspiring poets – thank you for sending me your poems, which I enjoyed reading. However, even though your heart is in the right place, I fear your words aren’t.

McGough had overnight success with a pop band, The Scaffold and a worldwide hit with Lily The Pink, that had Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike McGear, in it and he debunks the hippy era stuff of kaftans or flowers in your hair – our love-ins were a blushing, tame affair.

There is a sadder edge to the madcap zaniness and surreal word punning and his marital ups and downs –

I wanted one life

You wanted another

We couldn’t have our cake

So we ate each other.

Or he might chance to tell you about nearly sitting at a piano to write lyrics for Cats with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber or the maybe Narrator of Blood Brothers by Willy Russell or his near Broadway flirtation with The Wind In The Willows.

At the end of his autobiography he wrote –

And who knows, I might just be attempted to accept the invitation that has arrived to attend a literary festival in a town . . .

Might even pick up a hammer and hit the nail on the head.

Roger McGough did accept the Imagine Festival invitation and catch him: WIT College St. Chapel 8pm Friday 31 October and Children’s Shop, same venue. Sat. 1st November.