Wednesday, 30 March 2016

What is it with Bodybuilders and this QUEST Malarkey?



  Bodybuilders often post about their 'quests'. As thought they might be Jason in charge of the Argonauts. Or Cpl Alleyn, Second Parachute Regiment, defying incident protocol in the midst of an insurgency attack to rescue an injured Iraqi child. Or Maria leading the Von Trapp children yodelling over the alps. 
  One of the prettier bodybuilders posted this today: Image maintenance is vital. When you take care of it you show that such details matter, and you exude that right genre of confident - the genre that will have the herd behind you!

 Tell that to Queen Victoria, big-boy...

  Late in her reign, Queen Victoria went to Covent Garden with Maria Christina, Queen Consort of Spain. Maria Christina was tall, slim and elegant; and according to one observer, Victoria looked quite homely and underdressed beside her.
  'And down in the stalls, might there have been sighs of regret for our monarch as she stood at the front of the royal box much in the shadow of the Spanish Queen Consort?' 
  Maybe...
  But not for long. Because as the National Anthem came to an end, Maria Christina looked round to double-check before she took her seat, whereas Queen Victoria simply dumped herself straight down on hers.  She was confident that if her chair had not been where it ought, there would have been hell to pay. 
  
 The sighs of regret in the stalls turned to smiles of pride. 
  
  

Monday, 28 March 2016

Hecking Antiques Roadshow


  EXPERT. The legs are a feature of this table...
  ME.        ...otherwise we'd be looking at a flat piece of wood on the floor.

  EXPERT. If I just turn the jug over...
  ME.         ...it'll be something that we in the trade call "upside down". 

  EXPERT.  It's a cabinet...
  ME.         ...by which I don't mean the ministers in the government, but a piece of furniture against the wall of your sitting room, with sherry, half a pulled Christmas Cracker and Kerplunk! in it. 

  EXPERT.  Views of children are very sought after, for example...
  ME.         ...for example, is there enough room in the toe in these new shoes? 

  EXPERT.  If this Tonka Toy were in its original box, now, of course...
  ME.        ...it would be less fun to play with and you would have to accordingly muffle your broom, broom sounds. 

  EXPERT.  ...with this lovely gilt pin on the back...
  ME.        ...jewellers stopped putting the lovely gilt pin on the front following complaints from women that then brooches fell straight off the bosom. 

  EXPERT.  No, I should never...
  ME.         ...never give myself the weekend off trying to crowdfund my book and spend it watching TV. 


  

  




  

  
  

  

  

  
  

  

  

  

  

   

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Things I Say to the Cat while Watching old Made in Chelsea

 



  Who's she? 
  That's not her name. 
  She can't need that big a bag, she doesn't do anything with her day. 
  Aren't his nipples far apart?
  Unless she's taking her library books back. 
  Have they been abroad somewhere again and it's only online?
  Big Ben isn't in Chelsea. 
  I wonder what makes them decide for or against letting their parents appear in the programme?
  Where do they get the dogs from? 
  These party scenes are filmed at seven in the morning, like we all don't know. 
  With extras. 
  Except you can't call them that any more.  
  They're support artistes. 
  Like cleaners are ablutionary facilitators. 
  This early in the morning, filming done, the crew can then go on and do day-job filming. 
  Like on Location, Location, Location
  Or Doctors.
  Or Songs of Praise
  HIs nipples really are at the furthest distance apart humanly possible. 
  They haven't let that tea brew nearly long enough. 
  And she's got more eyeliner on her right eye than on her left. 
  Oh, now, they're doing the soap actor thing of never pouring a full cup of tea. 
  Can't speak lines while handling props.
  Can you please not wander off along the cushions during the adverts? 
  We have to watch the adverts or they'll stop letting us watch Catch Up. 
  Oh, okay, you can stare balefully out of the window at the twat opposite who needs silencers for his bike. 
  Why doesn't Bear Grylls just move indoors somewhere?
  I nearly fouetted into Kate Moss dancing at Club Kabaret. 
  That still isn't that girl's name.  
  How can her accent only be about a third as posh as her sister's?  
  If she's going to speak like that, they'll have to rename the programme Made in Wandsworth. 
  Mark Francis and Victoria are a gratin above the rest, though, aren't they?  
  He has housekeepers. 
  But you only see the ones in his foreign houses. 
  That's interesting. 
  And see on the bathroom shelf above the sink - as they're all boys living together - girls living together start menstruating in synch, boys start facing the heads of their razors and toothbrushes the same way.  
  For the feng shui.
  Actually, synced menstruation isn't anything to do with feng shui. 
  You know, if his nipples were any further apart, they'd be his arms. 
  
  
  
  
  
  

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Oh, Lord, Protect me from Mine Wee-Chuckers





  I'm off to York this weekend with the Evening of Burlesque tour. Last time I was there was in 2000. I got off the train from Garforth and went straight to the Minster to pray. 

  I was up north for the Leeds 2000 Festival. I played the UK Play Comedy Tent, packed with mostly seventeen year old boys just broken up from school and off their trolleys on MDMA. Backstage I had bumped into Jason Baron, one of the Baron Brothers – the musical-comedy trio Baron Brothers based in London, you understand, not the Baron Brothers who own a plant nursery in Ventura, and guarantee their customers A Better Sod.
  ‘Not quite Klub Kabaret this gig,’ Jason said. ‘Strictly TTMAR…’
  ‘TTMAR?’
  ‘Take the Money and Run. Get them to turn your mike and your backing track up full blast so you don’t have to hear the crowd.’
  I was the opening act. My backing track didn’t come on at all. The seventeen-year-olds looked at me in the silence. I looked at them. A curly haired shirtless lad with a build like a college wrestler stood up and led the chanting: ‘Put your tutu on your head, put your tutu on your head. You fat bastard, you fat bastard, put your tutu on your head.’
  A ten minute potty-mouth slanging match followed, and I fitted what I could of my act proper around it. At one point, security pulled out a group of ten or so lads from the middle of the tent. They hadn’t actually been heckling but they were in my eye-line. I told one of them not to bother trying to pull the girl lying next to him: I had seen inside his sleeping bag and it wasn’t nice. They were on their way to the stage to rout me when security got to them first.
  I came off-stage and went into shock.
  ‘Why have you made me come here and do this?’ I blurted to Jill, the event promoter. She had expensive hair, status-defining accessories; the custard colour velour tracksuit was a comfort-choice.
  Jill said, ‘If you found it that traumatic, fine – you can go home now and I’ll still pay you for all the shows. But I think you’ve just been taken out of your comfort zone from the nice, London, Klub Kabaret, Regency Rooms, Cobden Club gigs. This lot are here to heckle.’
  A girl in a tie-dyed t-shirt and paisley sarong flapped out of the tent, looked round, spotted a portaloo and headed our way en route.
  ‘Please you’re going on again?’ she said to me.
  ‘What? The boys hated me.’
  ‘They didn’t. You just started it going back and forth and they were on it. If they had hated you, you’d know.’
  ‘How? What could possibly have been different?’
  ‘If you go back on…’
  ‘…am going back on…’
  ‘...have a look at the boys near the front – the one that started the chanting off – him and his mates. Have a look round about their feet.’
  ‘What would I be looking for?’
  She leant in and whispered.
  I made myself go back on. The slanging match kicked off again. I peered down at wrestler-boy’s feet. There were bottles lined up.
  ‘Bottles of piss,’ the girl had whispered.  

  Except I couldn't use that word in York Minster, praying for a better third gig - so changed it to 'wee'. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Latest Youtube footage...

Me singing So in Love, and being Tytania...as you do!

A thought for the Unbound Books Site

   Click here for the Unbound Books site

  I think there should be inter-author pledging on the Unbound Books site. We all went to see each other's shows in the Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh. Lizzie Roper and I would peep through the curtain at who was coming in to watch us in Ballet Who?! and make a note when we saw anyone else who was performing in the venue. Then as soon as we were able, we went to watch their show. 
  When we spotted the cast of the play where the leading character was a violin playing itself on a rock somewhere in the Shetlands we averted our eyes and tried to convince ourselves we hadn't really seen them.
  

Monday, 21 March 2016

Thea's Final Wishes

  It was in Easter week that one of my closest friends, Thea, died and I sang at her funeral.  She had asked me to sing when she had been in remission.
 'And not something maudlin, either,' she had said.  'I don't want to be sitting up there on my cloud and looking down at you shouting for you to pull your daft self together!  I want The Holy City  - and let them applaud, none of that shushing them with your hands, respectful of what the occasion is. I want the occasion to be bonkers.' 
  As Thea and I had been so close, when she stopped me in the Saxmundham Station carpark a year or so later and said that she was now definitely dying, she added that I must go behind her husband and make sure he didn't leave her lying out in state in the church, as he planned. 
  'Lying there in full view of everyone, including some people that I won't know. I'd be ashamed. What? No, not in an open casket - who do you think I am, Mother Theresa of Calcutta?  But still the coffin would be Tom All Alone's there on the bier to be gawped at. And I don't want that. So, Iestyn, please make sure that Jock goes along with my wishes.  I want to be cremated.  On my own.  Oh, lord above, what does that sound like?  I'm actually not expecting him to cling to my coffin as it goes through the curtain, like a widower form of sati. Just, I need you to make sure I get cremated.  Now, go and get your lift into Aldeburgh before I get you to manipulate the colour of the smoke that's going to come out of the crematorium chimney.  God knows how you'd get it the exact shade of summer damson that I like...' 
  It was the last time I saw her. She was cremated.  I sang The Holy City.  And let them react as they would. 
  


Friday, 18 March 2016

A Reason Why I Love Maria Callas



  I went through a Forza Del Destino phase recently and listened to a different recording of it every night after I had spent the day sending out begging emails for crowdfunding for my book My Tutu Went AWOL! 
  I don't know if those two things were related...
  Anyway, I listened to these recordings: with Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Renata Tebaldi and Rosalind Plowright, awash with the beauty of the opera itself, of the singing; muttering to myself in awe of so and so's breath control, phrasing, or floated top notes. Then when I listened to the Callas recording my muttering was all: 'Open the monastery door, you stupid monk, which part of her brother's after her wanting to kill her did you miss? Oh, God, no...don't trust him, he clearly lives off nothing but his own hatred.  No, he'll still have his sword on him, don't help him...oh, for the love of all things, wasn't that just bound to happen? And look who's here now. Bit late, padre, she's dead.  Oh, no, she isn't, she's still singing.  But she'll be dead any time now...'
  Visceral, that's the word. 

Thursday, 17 March 2016

How to...Make the Best Coffee



  Overnight in a sealed container soak the required amount of coffee grounds in milk. Next morning add the resultant slush to the required amount of water and bring it to the boil on a hob. Let it swirl, take it off the heat.  Put it back on the heat, bring it to a swirling boil again, take it off the heat. And repeat. Take it off the heat, then add a few drops of cold to help sink the coffee grounds. Strain into cups. 
  Ta-dah! 


  

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Thoughts Nearing Easter



  This is the time when we look forward to what happened during Easter Devotions somewhere in Yorkshire in 1989. Mrs Hintley, church organist, played the required one hymn every hour on the hour for the service.  
  In theory...
  In reality, the Dog and Feathers was opposite the church yard gate and Mrs Hintley went over there to while away the time between hymns.  She needed to be helped up into the organ loft for "There is a Green Hill Far Away".  She passed out during the second verse of "Alleluia!  King Victorious". They left her up there to sleep it off.  She beer-snored well into the Resurrection. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Parable of the Poker Player


  Lance, an aspiring master Poker player, believed that winning was all about being able to tell when a opponent was bluffing. For hours, stretching to days and then weeks, he watched footage of future opponents to ascertain when they had been bluffing their way through a hand. 
  Lance commented, 'They would have betrayed themselves in various ways - circling a middle finger on the baize, raising a glass much more slowly than normal to take a sip, tilting a free hand straight up on its heel...'
  So now when Lance played, he would act upon all the knowledge that he had collated. But still he didn't progress beyond the semi-final stage in any tournament. 

  Perhaps if he had watched footage of himself, he might have spotted his own bluffing tic: a gentle flick at the card farthest right in his hand. 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Haikuesque Blog



  Recently I went back to perform at two theatres where I had previously performed in 2005. A bit sad that I'm still doing the same thing in the same places. A bit glad that I'm still being asked. 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Playing Sardines...or: My Tutu is STILL AWOL, peeps!



  Trying to stay positive and not hate, but getting friends to pre-buy my book is like playing Sardines, me going to hide, and nobody coming to find me. 

Please play Sardines with me...


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Good Deeds Done in Threes





 Whoever programmes the pedestrian crossing by the Salisbury has split Green Lanes in two. You wait for the green man and the beeping noise to cross to the middle, then wait there for the green man and more beeping to cross to the far side. I was caught out the first time: seeing the green man and hearing the beeping I assumed I was good to go right across.  I leapt back onto the traffic island as an oncoming car with the right of way braked and swerved. 
  The driver was ever so pleased, nicely!  
  Yesterday a blind man next to me reacted to people playing chicken and to the beeping coming from the far side and stepped off the kerb. I put my arm across him. 'No, stop! Those people are being naughty, and that's the ringy-loolah noise from the far side only.'
  Good deed number one. 
  On the down escalator at Victoria a man with tufty hair and a wide-load scarlet rucksack wasn't paying attention, didn't step off at the bottom and stumbled back into the elderly woman directly in front of me.  I clasped her by the shoulders to stop her falling. 
  'His fault,' she hissed at his retreating back.
  'I know.'
  'Thank you!'
  'Welcome.'
  Good deed number two.
 And walking along Upper Street I was able to help a woman desperately in need. She was in a brown municipal coat, lurid trainers, wearing a scuffed laminated name badge: Brenda M - Islington Council: Education.  
  'Sorry to interrupt,' I said. 'But I just overheard what you said to your colleague. Please, nobody is ever, ever in "dialogueious relations" with anyone. They're simply "talking to them".'
  
  Writing about the beeping sound at crossings reminds me of the time I was showing some tourists the Royal Opera House foyer and an American woman asked me,
  'I've been wondering - my first time over here - what is that beeping noise at intersections for?'
  'That's to let blind people know that it's safe to cross.'
  She looked pityingly at me. 'Oh, you see, in the United States, we don't allow the blind to drive cars.'
  

Monday, 7 March 2016

On Performing - Don't be a Twat

  Perhaps especially when you're starting out. Take Simon. He graduated from Oxford a few years ago, set up a one-man theatre company and came to me for voice coaching before his first round of showcases. We worked on Romeo’s "Tis Torture And Not Mercy Speech".
  He commented, 'I have to say I agree with the thought processes you choose to underpin the emotional journey he goes on in that speech. I have an advanced sense of structure these days. We all do. Oxford did that for us. I find I can glean just so much information immediately at the sight-reading stage.'
  'That’s so useful,' I said. 'Now, just say for me again: “sight reading stage”, and remember to move your tongue further back. No…that’s too forward, it’s almost “thight reading “thtage”. No, too spread, we’re getting "shight reading shtage" now.'
  In our second session, he said, 'Now is the time, I’m finding, for me to make decisions about what type of work, and the professionals potentially providing the work, to audition for.'
  'Simon, now is the time for you to audition for anyone who stands still long enough. And could you just say “decisions” again, and be neater with the tongue? The z's shouldn't be sounded as for the native pronunciation of Zsa Zsa Gabor.'
  Actually, Simon was very good. Once we had tidied his speech, I recommended him to a friend to read at a words and music evening. He was chuffed. But then too close to the gig for comfort he said he didn’t think that the comic poem he had been given was serious enough for him. 'And will performing for your random journalist friend - and I've your word that she's anyone of importance - get me where I need to be?'
  He cancelled. 
  'Simon,' I said. 'With a correctly placed tongue, for once, Say “shithead".'

  My random journalist friend was Libby Purves, and other actors that read for her at these evenings included Joanna Lumley, Sir Timothy West and the late Warren Mitchell. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Diva MO




  At last night's gig, when I needed to concentrate on checking my tutu rigging in the mirror backstage or on double checking sound and lighting cues, I was having my ear bent about a certain cabaret producer. The one who owes me so many back payments, I'm putting him down on my HMRC form as a tax-deductible dependant.  He's now blacklisted by the gay community, oh my god, how tragic is that? They're so sick of his madness, recidivism and those hats. I know - the one with the peak, what's that about? Next a showgirl flapped over to piercingly shriek at me how I ought to have forewarned her that the squaddie I'd fixed her up with on a date (that didn't go well) was upstairs in the green room and she'd just walked in and not known he was going to be there, and she wasn't doing her special walk and didn't have any makeup on and was just wearing her old sweater and jeans and Ugg Boots and her hair wasn't done and a nail-job was overdue. And...
  And when I went on for my act all too soon afterward, there was no lighting set, my mic wasn't in the stand and my tutu was undone on the far side of its undercarriage and fell down during my pirouettes. 
    The great soprano Jessye Norman would send memos ahead to venues stating, amongst other things, that staff must not speak to her unless she had spoken to them.  This sounds way too diva, but I could have done with adopting her MO last night, frankly.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

A Contribution to World Book Day

  



 An opportunity to pre-buy my diary of touring Iraq and Afghanistan in a tutu. 


  Shelled, chased by camel spiders, still refusing to dance the Sugar Plum Fairy under any circumstances.  Becoming mascot to 42 Commando Royal Marines - against the MOD's recommendation - falling foul of the Regimental Sergeant Major's square-bashing fixation, crowned Honorary Southern Belle by South Carolina army captain Solo. 

  'Our eyes and ears out there...hilarious and touching stories! Go, Tutuboy, you rock!' 
                                                               Joanna Lumley

  'I must thank you for your magnificent efforts!' 
                                                               The First Sea Lord
  
'Princess, we're in Iraq - those pretty, purple-lit mountains aren't the Himalayas!' 
                                                               Royal Marines Commando 'Stacks' 


Click here to pre-buy My Tutu Went AWOL!

  

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Things I say to the Cat I'm Sitting




  You're always so quiet crunching your dried food and you never gnaw it with your side teeth.
  Actually, is it dried food?
  Oh, it is. 
  Maybe I could have done that with a between-fingers test and not with my teeth. 
  Mad Max eats cat food.

  Isn't that sound of chains we can hear like Marley's ghost coming up from the cellar in Scrooge's house? 

 You can't go outside now, sorry, it's dark.  And I saw the dog fox. It was enormous! Looks like it's had extra midsectiony bits grafted onto it.

 'Oscar ran to the door!' Sorry, I used to shout that when the doorbell rang at Lady Cave's when I was housesitting, and her sheltie had made his usual dash for it to bite whoever it was. 
  You don't tend to do that, no. The most I've noticed from you when the doorbell rings is a slight turn of your head. 
  Talking of which: when I put the TV on, your head was right near the edge of the blind you were hiding behind; interesting that you reversed right back all the way along the window sill and come out bum first to watch Ibiza Weekender.

  What are you watching now?  I was only getting another glass of stout. Look at these people. They're the kind of gay who adopt because they know they're too old for Disneyland themselves. 
  
  Have you eaten your breakfast?  Yes, I know I can get up from here and go and see for myself, but the last time I did that it was only semi-dark, so I didn't bother switching the light on and fell over the garden timber stacked ready for the next day. 
  Yes, you did indeed find that hilarious.
  But have you eaten your breakfast?

 Here's the nice gardener man come to see you. Yes, he's going outside. He has to because that's where the garden is. And it's daylight. 
  If he works until it gets dark, I promise to reassess the going outside boundaries I've set for you.   
  I know foxes aren't strictly nocturnal. There was the one at South Villas who used to sit on the picnic table underneath the music room when I was doing my singing practise. 
  But that fox was mangey, infirm and scared of next door's Burmese.
  He would probably have even been scared of the mice when the Bulgarians in the basement caused the infestation. 
  Who puts chocolate in traps in the food cupboard and then leaves for Bulgaria for all of Christmas and New Year? 
  I had two mice in my bedsit during King Kong
  To be strictly fair, it was the remake so much longer than the original, which would affect the ratio of sightings to timescale. 
  But you're still not allowed outside when the fake-middle-section fox is in the offing. 


  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

She Dies Near the End



   Stacks, Royal Marine, was asking if I'd added what he'd recently remembered to the manuscript of My Tutu Went AWOL! 
  'In Kandahar, when Major Stolen-Bagrat arranged for you to see all the Russian weaponry seized from the Taliban.  He must still be the only person ever to have been fooled by your dodgy Russian accent, surely? Oh, and I want Tom Hardy to play me in the film of my book.'
  I asked, 'Who should play me?'
  'An actress who was in something far back like The Towering Inferno. What?  Oh, stop making your beaver with PMT face. It would be one of the more leading actresses that got incinerated quite late on.'