It is hard to imagine a more fitting or joyous evening to celebrate the talents of Adrian Mitchell than yesterday evening (9 December) at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
The platform full of poets and musicians, the stage decked with bunting and the tone of the evening from the very outset fitting for the man. The evening began with music in the auditorium whilst we took our seats then the performers wandered on to the stage, chairs being moved, Clive Rowe appealing to us in the cheaper seats and then Michael Rosen calling the proceedings to order in the nicest and best possible way. Carol Ann Duffy showed why she is such an exciting Poet Laureate and the list of names continued with all the poets reading a poem of their own and one of Adrian's - the musicians playing and (mostly) his daughters - all blessed with wonderful voices - singing his songs.
To name names and to make all of you jealous the line up was (in no particular order) Michael Rosen, Brian Patten, Jackie Kay, John Hegley, Michael Horovitz, Patience Agbabi, John Agard, John Berger, Andrew Marr, Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Lochead, Roger Lloyd Pack, Roger McGough, Jonathan Pryce, Pete Moser, Mike and Kate Westbrook, Andy Roberts, Joanna Macgregor, Clive Rowe, Caitlin Stubbs, Beattie Mitchell, Sasha Mitchell and a whole further wonderful line up of musicians and singers.
The poems and the music was in turn humourous and reflective. And best of all no one hogged the limelight. The evening was filmed but whether this was purely for their own record I don't know, but it would make a great DVD.
All performances were greeted with tremendous applause, but none more so than the fine song Victor Jara of Chile sung by Beattie Mitchell and accompanied by Andy Roberts on guitar. Andrew Marr mentioned that Adrian's play Jubilee Singers where you can hear this moving song will be on Radio 4 sometime next year.
The evening over-ran but didn't feel a second to long and was bought to a close by his wife, Celia, and a rousing rendering of Marie Lloyd from Mind your head.
What did feel too long was the grid-lock on the A13 because LimeHouse Tunnel was closed for some reason - but arriving back in Suffolk in the early hours was a small price to pay.
The last collection of Adrian Mitchell's poems Tell me lies has just been published by Bloodaxe, illustrated by Ralph Steadman and available for just £10.95 direct from the publisher if you don't have a local friendly bookshop firstname.lastname@example.org and his last children's collection Umpteen Pockets from Orchard Books and wonderfully illustrated by Tony Ross plus Shapeshifters with extraordinary illustrations by Alan Lee is published by Frances Lincoln.
You can read the interview with Adrian Mitchell on the Carousel website under issue 30 - this took place during the summer of 05 and as Adrian had admired Chris's blue jacket he wore it at the celebration last night.