Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Seamen stained, Brass bosomed, mesmeric trapeze artistry, Aunt Ed and MacHeath

Mr Paul Burston struck a bit of a Mafioso pose as he opened another evening of treats at "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari last night, complete with shades, pinstripes - and a "MacHeath" stiletto blade!

Sat in "theatre style" rows for a change - the evening was so over-subscribed they had to add extra seating (of course the lovely Lauren Henderson aka Rebecca Chance had bagged most of the front row for her "gay husbands" and her real one!) - John-John, Ange, Paul, Jim and I sensed gangland trouble afoot, but nah... just literature!

Danuta Kean, an expert in writing and writers and regular columnist in the book trade press opened the proceedings with aplomb. Paul informed us it was her first public reading, but you'd never have guessed, as she confidently breezed through her short piece.

Next to the stage was a pirate! Actually, it was the historian and writer Peter Daniels, who provided us with a truly marvellous entertainment - his poem "The Ballad of Captain Rigby"...

Ned Rigby was a navy man,
the captain of the Dragon;
his famous ways with seamen
were a kind you may imagine.

The poem in its fabulous entirety is the newest exhibit in the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp - you will love it as much as we did!

The lovely Miss Barbara Ewing was responsible for one of our fave characters on early evening telly back in the early 80s - as the redoubtable big-bosomed "earth mother" Agnes Fairchild in cult comedy Brass:

Now she has turned her talents to writing, and has had reasonable success as an author of historical novels. Her chosen reading was from The Mesmerist - a dark mystery about the Victorian craze for mesmerism (or as we know it now, hypnotism) and how an attempted scam turns into something genuinely bordering on the psychic... Fascinating stuff!

After the break it was the turn to the rather cute Will Davis, who is apparently an aerialist (although, unfortunately, his feet remained firmly on the floor and he didn't arrive on the stage from a rope!) as well as an author and books editor for Attitude magazine. He read us a passage from his new book The Trapeze Artist about a man who runs away with a circus after suffering a nervous breakdown - and excellent it was too!

However, it was our headliner VG (Val) Lee - possibly the funniest and most entertaining reader among the "Polari Royalty" - who stole the show! Reading from her brand new novel Always you, Edina - a tangled tale of doomed family relationships - she delivered every delicious line in her customary hilariously deadpan manner, and we lapped up every word with relish. Simply marvellous!

Once again, a classic evening - and once again all over and done with far too soon!

"And Macheath spends like a sailor
Did our boy do something rash?"

The next instalment of Polari is on 10th June 2012, and readers so far announced are Alex Marwood and Kristian Johns - bring it on!

Polari at the Southbank Centre


  1. with your witty blog I feel as if I were there even though I wasn't ...

    I have booked a ticket for June - let's hope I'm bug free come the day


    1. Once more, you missed a very special evening - the Captain Rigby poem was a hoot! Miss Ewing was great, and Val was on top form.

      See you later at Clayton's book launch(?), or if not next Polari! Jx


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