Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Knee deep in the hoopla

Hmmm. You can tell it's been a good (or at least an alcohol-soaked) Duckie when it takes me several days to pen the comedown post.

Me and TSB undoubtedly drink more than the somewhat arbitrary Government-set Recommended Maximum Number Of Units. We went through a period not so long ago of not drinking at all during the week: this was all well and good but, come Friday, we were practically bursting forth from our respective workplaces like Bart Simpson on his skateboard, hurtling o'er bridge and under tunnel for Soho. Set the controls for the heart of the pub!

This weekday/weekend distinction's been relaxed a little and we sometimes break open the wine or G&T of an evening. We've yet to completely lose the Friday pub-scramble, though. We likes our booze, we does.

After the exotica of Liverpool Is Burning and last week's more cabaretastic pleasures, we were hankering for a chunk of ye olde original Readers Wifes. Kim Phaggs awol this week but Chelsea Kelsey ably assisted by Jock (with both Cloths on the door plus Amy and Simon, making a healthy five out of six) did the business, tickling our aural G-spots to perfection.

There's usually something visually engaging playing onstage at Duckie before the cabaret starts. We found ourselves increasingly engrossed in an evocative little black-and-white film about two apparently deaf-and-mute grafters in a grotty bedsit in 1950s London. The industrial landscape was all-encompassing, making both me and Mel (sporting the black version of her teardrop necklace) think of a host of Smiths songs. It occurred to me that the basic message of many (most?) of this kind of British drama of the period was Life Is Grim, Don't Get Ideas Above Your Station. In this case, there was a "moral" dimension too, as one of our hapless deaf-mutes canoodles, post-pub, with a young woman who's clearly No Better Than She Should Be - and subsequently dies, pushed off a wall into a canal by some feral children. With horrible irony, his friend passes by but doesn't see him and can't hear his cries. So he dies. The End. Life's a bummer. Don't Have Sex (With Tarts-With-Hearts).

We were all, including Gareth, briefly traumatised by this abrupt and rather shockingly downbeat ending. TSB later discovered the film is called Together and features the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi (designer of the Tottenham Court Road Tube mosaic!) as the surviving main character.

Amy was working a vaguely '80s silver-and-black look, including a chunky pendant fashioned from what appeared to be a tea strainer.

Starting cabaret act was the first of two turns by Probe, a duo who performed a Fred 'n' Gingeresque dance in vintage evening dress. Very swish. As Theo, the handsome male half, stood at the front of the stage at the beginning, a voice to my left said thoughtfully and appreciatively, "quite big bulge" and we all tittered like big ol' gays.

They made it all look sooo easy.

Their second act was a more contemporary piece that took the piss out of po-faced contemporary dance ("and then I did this... and suddenly the gap between here and here became significant"). Quite a few Duckie virgins around (I'd found myself becoming Mr Crankypants Thirtysomething around them, particularly when they squawkily invaded the stage between acts and I felt compelled to tidy away a pint glass that seemed permanently on the verge of being knocked into the audience) and their attention seemed to drift a little during this part.

At one point, Antonia, the female Probe, put a foot wrong and fell backwards off the stage. There was an audible gasp of maybe half a second but she was caught in the arms of someone standing in the front row and sprang immediately back onstage as if on elastic. Impressive.

Final act was Marawa, hula hoop artiste extraordinaire. I've seen her before at Duckie (I think - Amy seems to have a particular love of hula hoopery and there've been a few hula girls over the years) and was excellent this time too, really working the crowd. Her calypso outfit, moves and some of her expressions (exaggerated by enormous fake eyelashes) reminded me of the bit at the beginning of Belleville Rendezvouz featuring the Josephine Baker caricature.

(Armwavey pint of beverage not photographer's own.)

'Twas a bit of an odd night for me, as I kept glimpsing an ex-colleague of mine in the middle of a moderately rowdy group of people (one of several birthdays in the RVT that night) and wondering if I should go over and say hello. At one point, I turned around to find him directly behind, looking right at me without a hint of recognition. I said (shouted) hello. Still no recognition. After a minute or two, I was reminded that my ex-colleague had a twin brother; it was he I was talking to. Heh.

Another in-house arts installation thingy, this time "being photographed taking poppers for free" (as Amy put it) in the Tavern's upstairs bathroom. At 1.30am, the results were projected onto the onstage screen and I was moderately glad I hadn't taken part.

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