Gary Allen, The Cockney Bard
“Hear the voice of the Bard, who Present, Past & Future sees….”
“Are you familiar with the Muse?” was the first question Gary Allen, the Cockney Bard, asked me when we met for lunch at E.Pellicci on Friday. “I believe that the soul is the mind,” he volunteered, leaning closer across the table, “and that the soul is separate from the brain – so I get inspiration.” In spite of his metaphysical rhetoric, Gary had a broad smile, a healthy tan and seemed very much of this world, yet as I peered credulously into his gleaming eyes there was an intensity that revealed something else.
“At thirty-three, I discovered I could write very quickly – somebody was talking to me,” he admitted, filling with amazement again twenty years later, “and when I read it back it, it was as if somebody else had written it. I didn’t know where it came from.”
Gary found that he had the ability to write fast, transcribing as many as two hundred words per minute in an unbroken sequence without punctuation, often in blank verse and archaic vocabulary. This was surprising in many ways, not least because Gary was an East Ender from Plaistow who had left school early and received no education in literature. Other mysterious powers were granted along with the writing – healing and second sight – Gary revealed. “Two or three months later, I began to hear the voices,” he whispered to me, “And the writing has continued, I could do it 24/7 if I wanted.”
“I wrote a message once and it told me to go to Belgrave Sq at 1pm and meet someone,” he confessed, “And I went there and met Ronald Bailey and I asked do you know the name ‘Ulla’? and he said, that’s my wife who died sixteen months ago, how did you know that?”
We had not yet ordered lunch and already my head was spinning at Gary’s revelations. “I’m not religious but I do believe in God as a the Spirit of Nature that created us all,” he announced, as if this were a clarification of what he had previously disclosed, “you have to believe in a magical creator who made everything and we’re all part of that.”
Around us, the lunch service clattered as Gary brought out a folder with his poems filed in transparent plastic pockets. Scanning his spidery writing, he read from the manuscripts, filling with strong emotion as he intoned the sacred texts – mostly melancholic meditations upon loss, in unexpected contrast to his seemingly-extrovert nature. “I gave up my business for this passion,” he confided, “I’ll admit life has been hard but this has been priceless.” Gary told me that before he was even dating his wife Shona, a singer/actress and Marilyn Monroe tribute artist, he informed her that they would one day be married at a medieval wedding and gave her the date as St Georges Day, and he was right. Furthermore, Gary dressed as a knight in armour and Shona dressed as a princess, and they arrived on horseback to their wedding that included minstrels and jousting,
“I’ve been on a personal journey,” he confirmed in understatement, “I want people to see the beauty. If they can see the beauty, my job is done.” I did not know what to make of what Gary told me, though it was clear that he believes in the truth of his own life. His writing, his healing and his insight are apparently normal experiences to him, yet he also seemed strangely detached from it all as if he were an enigma to himself.
“It’s not from me, I am just the vessel for it,” he assured me with a modest smile. A born showman, Gary is a paradoxically cheery mixture of modesty and big claims. “I want people to look for the flaw because there is no flaw,” he challenged, spreading his hands wide in declamatory style and smiling with an easy confidence.
An example of Gary’s writing.
Photographs copyright © Ravi Juneja
Poems copyright © The Cockney Bard