There are no beat poets out there, reciting beat poetry in beat coffee houses. But there is Tim Minchin. And there is Storm.
Tim Minchin is an Australian gentleman, sometimes to be found barefoot and in guyliner doing the kind of hardcore atheist one-man-at-a-piano gig that ends with the whole audience in tears singing Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah", sometimes to be found writing musicals like "Matilda" with genuinely smart lyrics that are actually about something good, like literacy, and using intelligence. He’s a really nice man.
Storm is probably really nice too, although she drove Tim to beat poetry and Shakespeare. But Storm doesn’t listen.
I grew up surrounded by Storms of all shapes and kinds; emotionally, my heart is with them. That I have not named a character Storm is only because there’s one already in the X-Men, and is no evidence of virtue on my part. It’s just my head, my foolish, rational head, that keeps reminding me that, as Carl Sagan pointed out, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".
(Although now I come to think of it, I do not remember Carl Sagan ever saying anything about fairy tattoos. Personally, I rather like fairy tattoos.)
While I normally do not enjoy listening to sceptics argue with believers over dessert any more than Tim Minchin’s wife or his hosts do, this is the best possible version of that argument you can encounter. It is concise. It is well-said. It is wise. I loved it when I heard it first on Tim’s album "Ready For This?" I loved it again when I saw it animated on YouTube by DC Turner and Tracy King.
And now it returns in a version with pages you can turn, and words printed on the pages so you can say them by yourself. Clever words filled with cunning internal rhymes. You can even recite them in a beat coffee house if you want. And, if you can find one, you probably will.
Storm by Tim Minchin with DC Turner and Tracy King is out today from Orion for £12.99.