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JOHNNY HANDLE - A Good Line Of Patter

JOHNNY HANDLE - A Good Line Of Patter
Private Label

It was a surprise to find inside the back cover of this handsomely produced paperback book of poems, a CD which has Johnny reciting every one. Such a bonus to hear Johnny’s marvellously earthy Geordie delivery: so authentic that even the late Owen Brannigan might have wondered if he himself had a plum in his mouth...!!

Of course, I don’t pretend to understand all this pure Geordie delivery, even with the text before me. True, there is a glossary at the back, but its 50 words just scratch the surface. Actually a good number of those words I knew anyway, being universal colliery words, and I am the son of a Rhondda Valley coal miner who died from the dust at just 56, when I was 10 years of age. And seeing your dad slowly suffocate to death in front of your eyes makes you always simpatico to coal mining poems, and Johnny’s The Abandoned Mine is his standout mining poem here.

My job once took me to every town in North Tyneside and the Durham coalfield, and I have more than a smattering of Geordie, but a handful of words like “tyen” in this poem, foxed me.

Of his other poems: I loved his Dog At Whitby (with his hilarious footnote “this poem is best when recited by a dog”). But best poem in the book is his hymn of praise to that glorious town of Richmond, Yorkshire. By golly, his Swaletown (Geordie Visitor) captures its very soul.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.