Thursday, 25 February 2016

No Previews for Miss Korsakova!

                                     c Magnus Hastings

  When I performed for Combined Services Entertainment in Kandahar, a South Carolina army captain, known as Solo, made me an Honorary Southern Belle. Tanned, bantam weight and with a buzz-cut, Solo said that Madame Galina reminded him of ex-and current-girlfriends back home in Calhoun Falls. It was her flounciness, screaming imperiousness and habit of stopping mid-flow to stare into the middle distance as though a catatonic seizure had just hit. 
  'That's why I felt I just had to, I mean it needed doing, really I felt it behoved me to cuss out that New Yorker you got onstage for not carrying you correctly. Lack of manners. I mean just not chivalrous. I'm saying graceless.'
  Solo shouting that the New Yorker was a fucking yankee dickweed had nearly caused fistifcuffs. 
  He and I were sealing the Honorary Belleship deal over table football in the Welfare Hall next day. I recited the following, learned by heart from countless rereadings of Florence King's Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady. 
  When God made the Southern woman, He summoned His angel messengers and He commanded them to go through all the star-strewn vicissitudes of space and gather all there was of beauty, of brightness and sweetness, of enchantment and glamour, and when they returned and laid the golden harvest at His feet, He began in their wondering presence the work of fashioning the Southern girl. He wrought with the golden gleam of the stars, with the changing colors of the rainbow's hues and the pallid silver of the moon. He wrought with the crimson that swoons in the rose's ruby heart, and the snow that gleams on the lily's petal. Then, glancing down deep into His own bosom, He took of the love that gleamed there like pearls beneath the sun-kissed waves of a summer sea, and thrilling that love into the form He had fashioned, all heaven veiled its face, for lo, He had wrought the Southern girl.

  Solo was awash. 'You are pure-bred Southern Belle. I mean, pure bred. Just the purest bred. How, but how, I mean: how have you got yourself quite so geographically displaced? Now promise me, give me your hand on it, tell me you will come and see the South one day where you really come from?'
  I promised. 

  Which all reminded me of the time I upset the Welsh press displacing my parents for the sake of publicity. 
  Regional newspapers countrywide will for the most part only cover something that has local relevance. To get previews for my tour dates in Wales I was lying that either of my parents had been born wherever my next booking happened to be. I got caught out when I spoke for the umpteenth time to what I had failed to grasp was the same woman from the same central press agency. 
  Phoebe had suddenly paused mid-interview. I could hear the sound of typing. She said, 
  ‘Iestyn, last time we spoke your mother was born in Rhyll, the time before that in Prestatyn, the time before that in St. Asaph. And your father has so far been born in Caerphilly, Merthyr, Bargoed, Llandudno, Llanelli, Brecon and Llantwit Major. Perhaps we should vary it a bit. Where were you born?’
  ‘But you have a very Welsh accent.’
  ‘Didn’t you tell me you were brought up in London?’
  ‘You’re putting the accent on, aren’t you? God, why would you?’

  Phoebe imposed a press blackout on my forthcoming Ballet Star Galactica in Abergavenny.

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