Grand Theatre, Blackpool
It is nearly 40 years since Pam Ayres won TV’s ‘Opportunity Knocks’ talent show, propelling her to immediate stardom, and from that moment on she hasn’t looked back.
While poets like Philip Larkin (librarian) and John Betjeman (broadcaster and teacher) needed to work to earn a living, Pam has done very nicely thank-you on her poetry alone.
The reason for this is simple. Pam has a wonderful command of the language and a sense of humour about everyday things ordinary people can relate to.
What I found remarkable was that she didn’t read her poems but recited them from memory, and not only recited them but acted them out with a sense of timing, in both conversation and gesticulation, that most comedians and raconteurs would envy.
She walked onto the empty stage of the Blackpool Grand Theatre, looking not at all like a granny in her tailored black trousers and top, and proceeded to keep a large audience highly entertained over the course of two one-hour spots.
She is a true performance poet. Her poems are better read out loud and, quite often, people were guessing and shouting out the last line of a verse before she said it.
Judging by the applause she received each time she started the first lines, her poems were obviously well known to the audience although she included many that she had written, she said, since she last appeared in Blackpool.
As well as the poems, she recounted episodes of her life, as told in her autobiography, addressing her fans in a conversational tone as if she was chatting to us all over a cup of coffee.
The evening had a twee, Midsomer Murders feel about it with a mainly elderly audience and nothing more vulgar than the odd mention of a bosom.
In other words, a piece of Olde England and none the worse for that.