Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dusty Day, Dusty Cellars, and other strange events

My life at the moment seems to be one bizarre occurrence after another... and what disturbs me most is that it's beginning to feel like normality...

Last Friday I participated in The End Of The World - which was very pleasant indeed because it's actually a variety show at the Clerkenwell Theatre in Exmouth Market. Me and Connie were the warm up act while the punters were taking their seats - and then we hung out backstage nicking free cider and bread and cheese while the Tapdancing Twin Angels of the Apocalypse practised tumbling in the kitchen and got in the way of the waiters (who didn't seem to mind at all). That lovely man Alex Zane carried our keyboard down to the cellar for us, with James, the show's charmingly madcap impresario (just the way all impresarios should be, in my opinion). I have heard the cheeky Mr Zane described in television circles as the 'poor man's Russell Brand' in which case all I can say is I'm glad to be poor (and I don't say that very often) because I know who I'd rather be down the cellar with any day. Other non-starry behaviour exhibited by Mister Zane included tracking himself down a steam iron and mini ironing board, and ironing his own shirt before the show. I do like a man who knows how to iron his own shirt (even though I iron Beloved's for him... but then Beloved wouldn't be wearing a shirt if I hadn't made him do it in the first place...)

My brush with cellars didn't end there, as Saturday afternoon was spent in the Cellar of Joy, rehearsing for tonight's gig, while every other mortal with an ounce of sense was outside lapping up the sunshine. Including Honey, who forgot we were rehearsing (but she's had a lot on her mind recently what with marriage proposals flooding in and so on).

And my weekend adventures were crowned with the glorious Dusty Day on Sunday, in honour of Dusty Springfield's birthday. I trekked all the way across London to Finnegan's Wake on Ealing Green for the occasion, but my journey was dwarfed in comparison to that of some of Dusty's most devoted fans who had made the pilgrimage from as far afield as Holland and Canada for the event. When I walked into the front of the pub it was all beery blokes and footie on the telly, but in the back of the pub there were pictures of Dusty on every wall, and a huge video screen showing pictures of her in action. My friend Jonathan Cohen was providing the one-man-orchestra musical accompaniment for three of Dusty's original backing singers, who belted out rip-roaring versions of Dusty's biggest tunes. One of them was there in between courses of chemotherapy treatment, and sang like a goddess to a roomful of rapt listeners.

A very drunk - and heterosexual - young male friend of Jonathan's proclaimed in a loud voice: "Have you ever seen so many dykes together in one place?"
"Yes," came the terse response, "At Dusty's funeral."

Said drunk heterosexual was later steered tactfully out of the charity auction before his 'comedy' fake bids brought on the collective wrath of the entire roomful of Friends of Dusty (is that the female equivalent of Friends of Dorothy I wonder?)

I for one was honoured to be there - and even more honoured to meet Kay Garner, who sang with Dusty and many other greats, and who even said she would come along to one of my own gigs in the future, chemotherapy permitting. She was looking great, despite all her health problems - living testimony to the fact that Music Keeps You Young. Young at heart, certainly, which is the sort of young that really matters. I hope she gets well soon.