Saturday, 21 June 2014

Chapter 17: The Warm Up Act and Girls on Fire.

Let's set the scene.  It's a balmy Friday night and I'm at home.  Husband takes kids off for the evening, I have the place to myself.  Exit family stage left, enter best friend, stage right.  And she's on fire.  She is nervous, skittish, elated, confident, radiant, frustrated.  There is passion simmering in the work place and she's on the cusp.  We haven't seen each other for a while and the stories come tumbling out.  Maybe because I notice the neighbours' cat threading her way past the kitchen window I'm thinking Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  Streetcar Named Desire.  Southern belles ringing. 

So I make us both a cuppa.  Tea.  Yes, really.  At the kitchen table, a nice, safe space. And then we move out into the garden and open a bottle of bubbly left over last weekend's family celebrations.  We take our time over a glass. There is no hurry to make our way over to Brixton.  Kate Tempest doesn't headline at the Hootananny until 11pm, at the earliest.    We talk life, the universe and everything.  And circus.   Obviously. This is a friend who came on the Circus Experience afternoon with me, and who sent me the "Circus Boudoir" photo of the Selfridges display that I use as my background on this blog.  We would love to be with other friends watching the psychadelic aerial show "Mauré", by the Spanish-Argentine group Voala,  opening The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, but fabulous as JK Rowling is, she has yet to release Hermione's Time Turners to the general public, and we can't be in two places at once. 

By the time we do get to Brixton we are starving,  and stop off for some takeaway onion bhajis and samosas.  The queue for the club moves quickly so I smuggle the brown paper bag through a hole in the wall to the beer garden.  We had not expected to be carded on the gate, but luckily a debit card and wrinkles (mine) serves as a passport.    

Once in, would you believe that the only table free is home to a seriously fit Brazilian guy, let's call him Ed, who invites us to join him.  He must be the only Brazilian around not to follow the World Cup, and claims not to watch television at all, but loves the arts.  Portuguese writer Jose Saramago (see NoFit State in Chapter 9 ) and the Brazilian singer Seu Jorge, from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is about my lusophone limit, and that does just fine. Soon afterwards his friend, Marcelo joins us, who speaks very little English.  Much to their surprise, we quickly establish that it's ok because we are all Spanish-speakers.  What are the odds, right?  Ed lived in Spain, Marcelo in Argentina, ché!, so we switch tongues.  As it were. They have come to the Hootananny as it is their local, and so I'm soon selling the poetry of Kate Tempest to them establishing her in the great oral tradition that dates back to medieval romanceros, balladeers and troubadours, the décimas of Violeta Parra, and beyond.

Some of her work will be lost in translation, sure, but the music's great too.  

More join the table, Brickston lads, some hod carriers by day, musicians by night. We talk languages and music - the more you learn the easier to pick up, mix up, swap around.  There is a girl who shares the same name as the president of Brazil.   What Lula?  Muppet, I'm a bit behind the times. Dilma speaks Portuguese too, and French, and Spanish.  Soon we are all swapping identities and languages, histories and herstories.  And names.  Ed is highly amused to find out my name is Lucy.  As in Lucía, right? Lucía Lapiedra.  I'm sorry, who?  Lucy Stoned? You must have seen her on late night Spanish tv, she's famous.  Well, infamous really.  But I thought you didn't watch tv?! Let me guess, she's some sort of cabaret act.  Oh great.  She's a porn star.  Genius. 

Time spins by, it's getting on for quarter to twelve, and no sign of Kate Tempest, but we move in side anyway.   On stage struts a beautiful burlesque act, doing a saucy striptease.  Look, we tease, there goes Lucía Lapiedra making a spectacle of herself again, spectacular.  Then on comes Kate Tempest. I am beyond excited.  I feel a hand on my shoulder.  A whisper in my ear.  "Luce, I really like this guy." I take my cue and slip away, deep into the heart of the crowd, without so much as a backwards glance.

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