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Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)

DigiTrad:
BELLE'S BONNIE BOGIE
CUTTY WREN
EVERYTHING GLOWS
GLORIOUS ICE
GOD MOVES OVER THE WATER
HARD CHEESE OF OLD ENGLAND
I DON'T LIKE MY BOOMERANG
ROSEVILLE FAIR (Banjo Parody)
TRAINS OF WATERLOO
VAN GOGH


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5 favorite Les Barker poems (17)
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Lyr Add: Hard Cheese of Old England (Les Barker) (12)
Lyr Req: Unigate Milkman (Les Barker) (8)
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Guide Cats for Xmas (6)
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Lyr Req: Les Barker song about a folk festival (9)
Lyr Req: Another les barker poem (3)
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Lyr ADD: Guide Cats for the Blind (Les Barker) (12)
Lyr Req/ADD: Sloop John 'A' (Les Barker) (19)
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Lyr Add: John o' Dreams (parodies by Les Barker) (5)
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Lyr Add: Who Are Your Heroes? (Les Barker) (2)
Les Barker Concert Portland OR - Sunday Oct 7 01 (12)
Les Barker (43)
Lyr Add: Eliza (Les Barker's parody of Delilah) (10)
Lyr Add: On and On (Les Barker) (2)
Les Barker at the Harlequin ? (16)
Lyr Req: Kings and Queens of England (Les Barker?) (13)


John MacKenzie 15 Jan 23 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,Roger 15 Jan 23 - 12:49 PM
Dave the Gnome 15 Jan 23 - 01:12 PM
r.padgett 15 Jan 23 - 01:35 PM
MoorleyMan 15 Jan 23 - 02:00 PM
Nigel Parsons 15 Jan 23 - 02:00 PM
GUEST,The Sandman 15 Jan 23 - 02:05 PM
Acorn4 15 Jan 23 - 02:06 PM
Steve Shaw 15 Jan 23 - 02:10 PM
Folkimages 15 Jan 23 - 02:21 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 15 Jan 23 - 02:27 PM
Charley Noble 15 Jan 23 - 02:40 PM
StephenH 15 Jan 23 - 03:06 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Jan 23 - 03:15 PM
Mermaid 15 Jan 23 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,raggytash 15 Jan 23 - 03:52 PM
Sarah the flute 15 Jan 23 - 04:25 PM
Herga Kitty 15 Jan 23 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryani 15 Jan 23 - 05:11 PM
Dan Schatz 15 Jan 23 - 05:30 PM
GeoffLawes 15 Jan 23 - 05:31 PM
Nigel Parsons 15 Jan 23 - 06:22 PM
GerryM 15 Jan 23 - 06:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Jan 23 - 06:58 PM
Tattie Bogle 15 Jan 23 - 07:27 PM
MoorleyMan 15 Jan 23 - 08:06 PM
Sandra in Sydney 16 Jan 23 - 12:29 AM
Sandra in Sydney 16 Jan 23 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,Joe G 16 Jan 23 - 04:34 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 16 Jan 23 - 05:49 AM
bradfordian 16 Jan 23 - 06:41 AM
Daniel Kelly 16 Jan 23 - 07:58 AM
Mrrzy 16 Jan 23 - 08:39 AM
Waddon Pete 16 Jan 23 - 10:59 AM
SPB-Cooperator 16 Jan 23 - 05:20 PM
GUEST 17 Jan 23 - 06:48 AM
MoorleyMan 17 Jan 23 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Graham T 17 Jan 23 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,Joe Nicholson 17 Jan 23 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,Anne Lister sans cookie 17 Jan 23 - 11:48 AM
Sandra in Sydney 17 Jan 23 - 04:16 PM
GerryM 17 Jan 23 - 05:31 PM
MoorleyMan 18 Jan 23 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,Little Robyn 18 Jan 23 - 08:51 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 18 Jan 23 - 10:31 PM
Eric the Viking 21 Jan 23 - 04:51 AM
GUEST 22 Jan 23 - 04:21 AM
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Subject: Obit: We have lost Les
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 12:37 PM

Sad news today that we have lost the wonderfully funny and clever poet Les Barker

Satirical recitations by Les Barker


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Subject: RE: Obit: We have lost Les
From: GUEST,Roger
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 12:49 PM

Sad news. I remember him well from the clubs in the Manchester area.
RIP Les.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 01:12 PM

Awwww, what a rotten shame :-( Les was a wonderful poet and person. Condolences to all his loved ones. I hope he has written his own eulogy!


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: r.padgett
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 01:35 PM

I have just seen reported that Les Barker has sadly passed on ~ he brought laughter to Folk clubs and was such a lovely bloke ~the kind you would find at Folk clubs, quiet and unassuming ~a clever bloke nonetheless ~ work and play decisions to the fore and no doubt quality of life

Ray


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 02:00 PM

Oh no! How very sad. The passing of a true genius.
RIP, friend.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 02:00 PM

R.I.P.

A truly funny poet, a humble man, and a great draw to folk clubs whenever he made an appearance.

He'll be missed.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: GUEST,The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 02:05 PM

Sad news, I shared a room with him once at Saltburn Festival , a pleasant easy going man with a quirky sense of humour who never did anyone any harm.R I P


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Acorn4
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 02:06 PM

Completely unique and irreplaceable.

Sad news indeed. RIP Les.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 02:10 PM

I remember him with great fondness on the two (or was it three...) occasions we had him at the Tree Inn folk club in Stratton. Him and his déjà vu and occasional table... :-)


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Folkimages
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 02:21 PM

So sad, a lovely man that I first met at the Chorley July Wakes Festival in 1976 and have seen many a time over the years, I always left him with a smile on my face.
Here's a montage that I made of my photos for his retirement:
Les Barker


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 02:27 PM

What sad news. RIP friend. Glad I got to see him at Cleckheaton Festival. We will miss you.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 02:40 PM

So sad to hear this but he will never be forgotten.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: StephenH
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 03:06 PM

I first encountered Les Barker at the Redcar Folk Festival in, I think,
1977 - on a visit to the UK.
I was immediately taken with his odd, warm sense of humour. He was kind
enough to sign a copy of "Mrs. Ackroyd's Diary" ("Christmas Greetings from Mrs. Ackroyd + to a lesser extent me Les Barker")
"Have You Got Any News of the Iceberg?" became a family favourite.

Thanks for all the pleasure, Les.
My condolences to family and friends.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 03:15 PM

So many wonderful poems, many entering our own traditions, Earwig-O.
The best memorial for Les will be for others to perform his material!

Condolences to family and friends. He was an important part of the fabric of the British Folk Scene and will be sadly missed.

You know you've made it when you stop reading your poem half way through and the audience finish it off.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Mermaid
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 03:38 PM

What an awful shock though not unexpected given his poor health.
Les was an inspiration; definitely a comic genius but so much more. His serious poems too, sometimes hard-hitting, sometimes unbelievably tender will also stand the test of time.
Thank you Les, I shalll miss you.
Be peaceful
Pelagie


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: GUEST,raggytash
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 03:52 PM

A genius of the highest calibre who brought laughter, poignancy, witticism,leviety and pathos to thousands upon thousands of people.

Rest easy Les and thank you for all the humour you shared with us all.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Sarah the flute
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 04:25 PM

So sad - he was an amazing talent and had us in stitches as Morrigan when we were priveledged to support him at Twickfolk a few years ago and that was before he went on stage. Was planning to go to his gig in London last November but then he retired. Wherever he is now he will be brightening skies. RIP Les


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 04:34 PM

Very sad to hear this news - so many of Les's poems were wonderfully surreal and funny (and the serious ones were very thought-provoking too), and he was such a one off in delivering them. Accountancy's loss has been so very much our gain.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: GUEST,Martin Ryani
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 05:11 PM

Sad news, again. Never heard him - but bumped into his work over the years. RIP

Regards


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Subject: It Was the Surprise, More Than Anything (Barker)
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 05:30 PM

I said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating here - I didn't know Les Barker, but I sure wish I had. His poetry and parodies graced many a festival and folk club in the UK. Imagine a cross between Ogden Nash and Flanders and Swann, with a dash of Terry Pratchett thrown in for good measure. He gave us such classics as "This Preying Mantis Is An Atheist," and the polar bear's post-Titanic lament, "Have You Got Any News of the Iceberg?" Thanks to Les for sharing his poetry freely and widely, and for the host of British folkies who helped it reach a wider audience. To all our mutual friends, my heart is with you today.

And for good measure, here's one of his poems, because even through the sorrow, reading and listening to his poetry I just can't help but laugh:


IT WAS THE SURPRISE, MORE THAN ANYTHING
(Les Barker)

It was the surprise, more than anything:
I was unlucky, it has to be said.
While passing a tall block of flats
A rabbit just missed my head.

It was the surprise, more than anything;
A rabbit doesn't weigh that much
And could not therefore have done me much damage;
No, it wasn't the rabbit, as such.

It was the surprise, more than anything;
I'd have been glad to cushion its fall
And was pleased to be told later
It was hardly injured at all.

I like to help animals;
I always do what I can; Oh,
It was the surprise, more than anything
And the fact it was playing a piano.

I remember the Warsaw Concerto;
My memory couldn't be clearer;
I couldn't see where it was coming from
But I knew it was getting nearer.

I wish I'd been hit by the rabbit
Because then the piano'd have missed;
I wish I'd been hit by the rabbit;
I used to be taller than this.

It was the surprise, more than anything;
I was speechless; I was; I was mute;
I wish I'd been hit by the rabbit;
I wish he'd been playing the flute.

I have caught a pianoforte:
I'm just glad he's not part of a band; oh,
It's no place to be on a Thursday,
On the end of a rabbit's glissando.

It was the surprise more than anything,
I thought as I lay on the floor;
I heard a sound and looked up
Which I should have done some time before.

"Have you seen a rabbit?" said the man;
"Is he down there? Did he fall?
He's passed all his piano exams
But has no sense of balance at all.”

It was the surprise more than anything,
I thought; but in time, a man recognises
The truth; it was the piano.
Pianos weigh more than surprises.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 05:31 PM

Very sad news. He will be missed.He wrote such a lot and amused so many.
INDEX OF SONGS AND POEMS BY LES BARKER , from Mainly Norfolk     https://www.mainlynorfolk.info/mrs.ackroyd/songs/

SONGS AND POEMS BY LES BARKER, on YouTube     https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_k3cKmJ1xCfYf-hPkYB1V75Ho3Rc1-EWzQ


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 06:22 PM

Now that Dan Schatz has given us one of Les's, I'll give my immediate response:

Here’s to the Les we all remember,
And Reg, who now is but an ember.

His doggy puns will come no more
And Mrs Akroyd waves a paw.

His burial won’t happen yet,
His shroud’s made from his camouflage net.

The wake is in the bar, and there’s -
A dachshund trying to 'mount' the stairs

So raise a glass while you are able.
They’re over there on that ‘table’.

A gin and tonic would be nice,
A polar bear provides the ice.

There'll be no more, There is no Les
And so we say, Good night, God Bless!


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: GerryM
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 06:39 PM

He made a lot of fans on his visits to Australia.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 06:58 PM

He was a magic performer. He could get an audience in hysterics just standing there waiting to read us a poem. For minute after minute. Every time he got ready to start, we'd be off again. He had an incredible sense of timing.

More than anything he made me think of Stan Laurel, but funnier.

He was a lovely man too when you met him.

They talk about National Treasures, and most of them aren’t really. Len was, and we were lucky to have him.   At least, though we'll never get to see him in the flesh again, there are a whole raft of YouTube performances to savour.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 07:27 PM

So sorry to hear this. Saw him performing on a number of occasions and in various places up and down the land, but one that sticks in my mind is the final number at Sidmouth Festival one year: it was a good way of emptying the big marquee quickly as we all sidled out of it, holding yards of toilet roll and singing”Earwig-O”.


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Subject: RE: 2023 Obit: Les Barker
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 15 Jan 23 - 08:06 PM

You put that so eloquently, Pelagie.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 12:29 AM

I remember a visit, it was summer, very hot & humid & he was sweating in his black & white cardigan!

And of course we chorused along ...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 04:02 AM

Les in Australia - videos taken by Wayne Richmond who runs acoustic venue Humph Hall

I have three videos of Les.

The first (with over 23,000 views) is a very rough handheld video of him performing Déja Vu’ at The National Folk Festival 2005.

The second (which I’m so glad I have!) is the full concert of him here at Humph Hall in 2010. It is a single video clip of the entire concert with links to specific items in the description.

The third is the Zoom session I facilitated in January 2021 which included Bruce Watson, Alistair Brown, & Winter Wilson.

A very sad day indeed . . .


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 04:34 AM

Very sad news indeed. I remember so many times being doubled over laughing during one of his sets. Very poignant at times too. One of the giants of the UK folk scene

RIP


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 05:49 AM

So many memories, all good.

Him giving out bottles of his dad's sloe wine at Pontardawe.

Late night extras at Sidmouth with "The Seal" in the audience.

Last year's performance at the South Lakes which I managed to get to while being rude and not staying for the rest of the concert I had been part of.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: bradfordian
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 06:41 AM

Gutted to hear this terribly sad news. Les gave us so much enjoyment and laughter for many, many years in the folk clubs and the festivals and through his many printed booklets and CDs which are a legacy for us. He is indelibly imprinted in our memories.
Unique, genius, absolutely. Rest in peace Les.
Bradfordian aka Barrie Mathers


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: Daniel Kelly
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 07:58 AM

Thankyou for so many laughs Les.

A mark of the esteem he was held in by the folk community was the willingness of well known artists to sing his parodies of their songs.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: Mrrzy
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 08:39 AM

I hope someone reads Detritus at the memorial service.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 10:59 AM

Every now and then someone comes along who seems to transcend the normal run of folk musicians. Some have called Les a genius...well he was. Some said that he had the gift of humour....well he had and he didn't keep it to himself. He shared it with so many of us. It didn't matter if you were a folkie or a non-folkie, his humour could have the most unlikely of people laughing. The true mark of his genius is that you can reread his poems (or recite them) and still laugh even though you know the punchline! Yes, he should have been the Poet Laureate. That would have been amazing! There were no airs or graces to Les. He was a 100% decent bloke. I remember being on the same bill with him at a festival one time. It was very cold in the marque we were performing in yet he stayed for the whole session, not just his segment and clearly enjoyed himself. Not goodbye but adieu, see you again soon the next time someone reads one of your poems. Les is in the "In Memoriam" thread and I sent my condolences to all those who love and miss him. RIP


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 16 Jan 23 - 05:20 PM

I like to think that Les has already written his own Eulogy especially for the occasion.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jan 23 - 06:48 AM

I met Les once a few years ago. A delightful and totally unassuming genius. The world has lost a one-of. He’s irreplaceable.
RIP, Les.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 17 Jan 23 - 07:13 AM

Good thought, Steve!

And it's a measure of Les's standing and inspiration that at least seven of his works were performed in tribute at yesterday's Mudcat Worldwide Singaround...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GUEST,Graham T
Date: 17 Jan 23 - 07:22 AM

A detailed account of Les's life and career here from his friend and agent Jacey Bedford. The details of his demise are very sad - he deserved far better than passing away in a football ground carpark with no-one around.

https://www.jacey-bedford.com/LesBarker.html


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GUEST,Joe Nicholson
Date: 17 Jan 23 - 10:16 AM


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GUEST,Anne Lister sans cookie
Date: 17 Jan 23 - 11:48 AM

I'm so sad to have lost a good friend, who must have been in my life for over forty years. However it's become clear to me that Les was not only a unique talent, but also had the ability to create friendships wherever he went, and there are so many of us who are feeling bereft.
In terms of a legacy, I can't think of anyone else in my life (possibly apart from Shakespeare) who has made such a difference to the way my husband and I use the English language. We can't say "déja vu" to each other without the obligatory "a rhyme" following on, we can't talk about occasional tables, camouflage nets, boomerangs, dachshunds, Thunderbirds (always "are OG"), Jason and the Argonauts (always the Arguments) and so, so many other references.
Thank you, Les, for this and so much more.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 17 Jan 23 - 04:16 PM

from Guest 17 Jan 23 - 06:48 AM

I met Les once a few years ago. A delightful and totally unassuming genius. The world has lost a one-of. He’s irreplaceable.
RIP, Les.

didn't the US govt (or some section thereof) refuse him a performers' visa once upon a time as anyone could recite poems????

a google search "les barker visa site:mudcat.org" & this came up as the first result - Les Barker US tour canceled! 2006 - read the comments, he's "not culturally unique enough" (tho he was 3 years earlier) but then neither were Andy Irvine & others

one comment - Not surprising, Les used to be a chartered accountant.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GerryM
Date: 17 Jan 23 - 05:31 PM

Several more after you left, Moorley Man. I count ten altogether:

Will the Turtle be Unbroken?
Reinstalling Windows
Turtles
The Franco Prussian War of the Spanish Succession
It Isn't Matter Any More
A Year, a Day, and Twice Forever
The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies, Eh
My Granny's a Wild Flying Dove
The Hard Cheese of Old England
Custard Creams


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 18 Jan 23 - 03:37 PM

Ha! Thanks Gerry!
There was also "Salmon", after "Will The Turtle..."! So that totals eleven!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GUEST,Little Robyn
Date: 18 Jan 23 - 08:51 PM

John Archer has posted a couple of new poems on NZ Folk FB site - too good not to share.

Poems by John Watterson
On a cold rainy night in a thousand folk clubs
People stand, as if straining to hear
The world was in shock at the loss of a wordsmith
The one they had worshipped for years
They clutched at their hand stapled booklets
To read through what they’d read before
And had heard him recite a thousand times over
To join in his punchlines once more
Have you got any news of the poet
I just need to hear him you see
Have you got any news of the poet
He means the whole world to me

Déjà vu. A Eulogy.
It is impossible to listen to a
Les Barker poem just once
I reckon,
The first time you get the point of a Les Barker poem
Is the second
Déjà vu……


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 18 Jan 23 - 10:31 PM

Time, it is a fleeting.
   May any of us living..


Guide Cats For The Blind


Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Remorse not ... but aspire each to bring just one new smile into 2023.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 21 Jan 23 - 04:51 AM

Sad news indeed. Such great comic wit. Saw him several times. Beck, Crosby, Barker, what a sad start to 2023.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Les Barker (1947-2023)
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 23 - 04:21 AM

The poems two posts above are great.
Deja vu all over again. ??


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