Imagine that - poet in Lennon contest final
A Norfolk writer has reached the finals of a national competition honouring ex-Beatle John Lennon and is heading for the Fab Four's home city of Liverpool, hoping to impress judges including Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
David Mason will join 11 other performance poets for the Liverpool Lennon Poetry Slam final on Saturday at the city's Institute of Performing Arts, founded by Sir Paul McCartney.
The competition, organised by the Beatles Story museum, is among events marking Lennon's 70th-birthday year and the 30th anniversary of his murder in New York.
Mr Mason, 50, from North Walsham, nearly missed out on the chance of winning the �1,000 top prize and title of Liverpool Lennon Performance Poet 2010 after sending in his entry at the 11th hour.
He and his wife Helen, who have six children, were travelling in France when he received an email reminding him that the contest deadline was imminent.
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'We were doing a 400km journey from Bordeaux to the Pyrenees and I wrote it in my head while I was driving and just hoped that I'd remember it overnight,' he said.
The next day the family left their remote campsite and drove a further 40km to a McDonald's restaurant so that Mr Mason could use its internet links to email his entry.
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He added: 'We only decided to drive over there because the weather was bad and we couldn't walk that morning.'
The humorous poem which earned him a finalist's place is called 'Lennon's Lenses', inspired by the ex-Beatle's iconic round spectacles; a style also worn by Mr Mason.
It ends with a sung verse to the tune of the Lennon-penned classic 'Woman'.
Mr Mason will also be performing a second, serious, poem he has written about Lennon called 'On the Street where you Live.'
Although not a true Liverpool-born Scouser, Mr Mason hails from nearby The Wirral, in Merseyside, and used to catch the ferry across to the city as a boy.
He remembers that in the late 1960s Sir Paul McCartney's cousin Ruth, a regular customer in the plant nursery where his mother worked, gave Mrs Mason autographed photos of the Beatles for her two sons.
'I can't believe it now but we sold them for half a crown and probably bought ice creams with the money,' Mr Mason recalled.
'The thing I most admire about Lennon was that he had strong opinions and was outspoken. Nowadays, because of programmes like the X-factor, musicians are just dolts in the hands of their marketing people.'
Mr Mason has had a number of children's story books published, as well as poetry for all ages. He has performed in schools and other venues across the country for the past 10 years. For more information visit his website: www.inspiretowrite.co.uk