31 Jan 2010

Post 183: Trying not to be Miserable despite Les Miserables

A couple of things have made me laugh this week, the first was listening to an audio CD of a show I went to see last year of not universally liked Comedian Russell Brand's Dome show 'Scandalous' (post 121 in Apr 09). If my mother and the army of middle aged, middle class, far right, daily mail reading illuminati are to be believed he is 'terrible','awful','appalling', 'the spawn of Satan etc. Brand being Brand probably takes this as a compliment. In my opinion this sort of irreverence needs to be applauded. When it was recorded it was hot off the back of the 'Manuelgate' scandal. Sure the original prank call might have been questionably funny but the subsequent daily mail orchestrated national outcry, the tarring and feathering of Brand and Ross which led to their sacking from BBC Radio2 was far from a proportional response. It provided Brand with ample material for 'scandalous' and the sort of publicity money can't buy, and gave Brand the opportunity to say in his show 'thankyou for coming to see me in a medium in which I am allowed to flourish' and 'the funny thing about the uproar, is that I do worse fings everyday'. I do take a bit of issue with his overdone mockney but it does remind me of a little story. Before my stroke I was chatting to a good friend of mine and observing that her accent (which when I'd first met her had been good old fashioned sarf Laandan) but since leaving university it was rather more clipped and plummy, without missing a beat she shot right back 'interesting you should say that, because you've gone the other way'. I've always had the piss taken out of me for being a bit of a posh boy but yesterday I was reminded of just how irritating posh voices can sound. Every Friday as part of my physio I go and have chips and grilled fish with Ian (and whoever else is around) in the local pub (where I always go) The Bear, now before anyone says that doesn't sound like therapy, I can tell you it certainly is, because I don't take my wheelchair! With Ian and the help of a crutch we walk out of the house to the car (20ish yards), we then drive to the pub and park in the rear carpark, we then walk the 100 odd yards to the table, I sit in a normal chair, this is therapy for me, not to mention exhausting and Ian and I take it in turns to pay – it is now one of the things to look forward to in life. Not much, eh? And it was almost spoilt yesterday. I have almost learnt to put up with crying babies and loud, disruptive,obnoxious small children because I'm at that stage in life where a lot of my friends have them but yesterday bore witness to a much worse foe that seems to be part and parcel of living in this part of the world; the uber-posh 40-something lady who lunches, they're still not as bad as the footballers and their entourages who behave and sound like chavs with money, swearing is not used for comic effect, it is used to make them sound more aggressive. I hate this. Anyway they're a target for another day – not that what other people think makes any difference to them, Anyway the object of my ire was this woman, who I wished I could just ignore, clearly some city tw*t corporate financiers wife, frightfully pleased with herself and how she's done, had a couple of children in late single figures at boarding school or (as on Friday) was trying to decide on which independent school to send 'little Ellie' too. And rather too loudly (I thought) was spouting forth about how 'uniforms create the right impression'. It's one of those things that deep down you tacitly agree on but while trying to eat my lunch I felt like shouting 'shut up you vapid whore', a phrase added to my Rolodex of insults after I listened to the Podcast of comic genius and mad professor-a-like Daniel Kitson , like him, I feel that words are now my tools and being widely read (well, listened) is important for inspirational purposes (and occasional attributed Plagiarism) and because I can no longer achieve my dreams I can pretty much say what the hell I like! Which sort-of brings me back to Russell Brand, whom I admire for his relentless pursuit of the better things in life, apart from his liaison with Heroin Addiction his pursuit of happiness through love (sex in his case) and laughter (and often laughter at his own expense) is to be applauded. There are few people who can claim to have met Britney Spears with an actual Elephant in the room, a story so funny, it always makes me laugh so I'll reproduce it. Brand before making his ill judged 'vote for Barack Obama because George W Bush is a retarded cowboy' quip at the VMA awards, . A ceremony that he hosted despite being relatively unknown in America. By his own admission his 'personality doesn't work without fame' and his hair 'just looks like mental illness', his so-called testosterousers just look like he's wearing leggings,he certainly can't call his dick the ''fame wand' that turns sluts into celebrities'. Anyway because of his lack of fame in America the MTV executives that had booked this unknown 'edgy' British comedian decided to try and associate him with some US celebrities, one of whom was Britney Spears. Before the appearance of the real Elephant, Brand had said to the MTV suit, 'What are we gonna talk about?' 'won't the fact that she's gone mental and shaved 'er 'ead be a bit of an Elephant in the room, then Brand says 'to the MTV execs eternal credit he said 'what if there were an Elephant in the room?' The thought of this makes me cry with laughter. I was almost crying for a different reason last night when I was taken out to see 80s supermusical Les Miserables by my great college mate Richard (the reverend) Lloyd and his lovely wife Vicki
who I hadn't seen since their amazing wedding back in October 2009 (post 162). Richard is a connoisseur of all things 80s so even though I had suggested Cirque du Soleil I was authoritatively overruled, well he is Senior Chaplain and a schoolmaster of a school down the road. I keep my heretical views to myself when I see Richard and he very gently gets god into the conversation but not at all in a Stephen Baldwin-esque way telling Vicki and I that Les Miserables was very much a modern parable explaining how the modern church allows forgiveness and change (parsonified by Valjeans journey whilst the old inflexible church is parsonified by Javert (the policeman). I resisted my puerile urge to say 'you're a priest, it's your job to find a parable in everything'.
It has been 20 years since I last saw Les Miserables at it's old London home the huge Palace Theatre and now it is in a smaller more sustainable home, the queens theatre on Shaftesbury avenue
it has lost none of it's allure and power. It is a masterpiece and I'm a little ashamed to say, I know every word to every song, which is a legacy from going on a skiing holiday 18 years ago where we had to drive for an hour everyday to the only place with snow, the only tape in the car was Les Miserables, that's how to learn by rote kids!
Even though yesterday evenings modern parable was extremely enjoyable despite any religious connotations seeing Richard and Vicki looking so happy together was great, when Richard was getting the car after the performance I asked Vicki how she was finding married life and her answer was great; 'well you know Richard and I hadn't known each other that long , I'm so glad we got married quickly rather than leaving it for ages' - I thought that this was a resounding thumbs up.
Yet more married friends of mine took me out for lunch yesterday, Becky and Harry Morrison took advantage of the fact their 14 month old twin girls were at Becky's parents for the weekend to treat me to lunch at the Bear- I hadn't seen them for a little while but since they moved in down the road from where I used to live in Brixton they always entertain me with the latest local lowdown from the inner city.
Yesterdays choice morsel was they were telling me about the farmers market in Brixton. 'Where the hell are the farms?' I said. It sounds as Oxymoronic as the 'Lambeth country show' an event that had to be seen to be believed. I of course used to go every year to take in the ridiculousness of seeing falconry tents alongside south london towerblocks juxtaposed with 18th century battle re-enactments and rastas smoking suspicious smelling roll-ups, aside from these uneasy bedfellows they also sold the kind of flat scrumpy in old plastic milk containers that was so potent it made you hallucinate, on a nice summers day this heady cocktail almost made the plentiful jerk goat and the inevitable loud reggae music bearable!
Anyway, today being Sunday I haven't got much planned bar the arrival of a couple of old mates I haven't seen for a while, Simon Winstanley and Jonnie Random (aka Jonathan Edwards) Simon, being a Brixton dweller will know exactly what I'm talking about.

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