Wednesday, July 16, 2008

City Lights & The Lavender Library


We have had two wonderful nights in The Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. On both nights we were there to support Polari and The House of Homosexual Culture, as they have their nights of Literary Debauchery and Decadence, as part of the London Literature Festival.

‘City Lights’ was a night of discussion by authors and the like (Rupert Smith, Stella Duffy, Q Boy, Paul Burston etc, etc) and their love for the city, and why gay men and women rush to the city as some kind of escape and re-invention. The conversations were very thought provoking. Daddy Burston and David Llewellyn (we’re working out if he is an uncle/cousin/step brother at present) were first up as ‘Small-town Boyo’s’ to talk about their earlier days – we aren’t saying ‘youth’ in case it offends and our pocket money is stopped – in Wales and their love for London. There were some very, very funny diary extracts from Bertie Marshall, some interesting thoughts on women who dressed up as women (like drag but women as women, it made sense if you were there) like Mae West from Andrea Stuart. Finale of the first half was Christopher Fowler on what the city has meant to him over the years.

The second half saw gorgeous fabulous wonderful Aunty Stella Duffy (can you tell we love her?) talking with Maureen Duffy about their work, the city, and how it can create a ‘reinvention’ for people. Stella read from ‘The Room of Lost Things’ which one of us has read (we won’t shame Polly – whoops) and can say is a beautifully written book about, starring and celebrating London and a host of wonderful characters and Maureen read some really moving poetry which she is releasing in September. Get us, first name terms with them all now. Funny Uncle Rupert then conversed with Brian Paddick (whom we warmed to muchly) about the city from a coppers perspective and as a closeted and then out gay man. Tres interesting indeed. Q Boy finished us all off (literally in some cases we are sure) with a very interesting speech about the work he is doing with kids in city schools and the dangers the city can have for gay people, as Brian had pointed out earlier. He then did some serious dancing and rapping over some disco and Kate Bush, what more could you want and that was night one. Below is a picture of us with Uncle Clayton who has a book ‘Dirty White Boy’ out later this year, in front of the mens loos no less! There are more pictures on Daddy Burston’s blog or in Daddy Agius’s photo’s. As this is our blog we’re making it all about us. Ha!

The Lavender Library was in the Queen Elizabeth Hall which is huge and it was at least two thirds full. Fabulous turn out. This was a night introduced by IoS Literary Editor Suzie Feay and kicked of with Funny Uncle Rupert discussing ‘City of Night’ by John Rechy which has a fantastic and saddening tale behind it and is no longer in print in the UK, Rupert felt very strongly about both the book and the fact that its not out here and we were quite moved by his passion. Next up was Diana Souhami who discussed the love affair of Gertrude Stein and Alice Tokias, we laughed (cowing) and were moved by this two. We would like a drunken dinner party with Diana, very dry sense of humour and wonderful timing. Singer David McAlmont championed James Baldwin and his novel ‘Giovanni’s Room’. Aunty Stella was up and discussing Patricia Highsmith and ‘Carol’ the first book where lesbians have a happy ending, and temping at Bloomsbury, we would love that job, we need say no more than this was a fabulous was to end the first half!

Daddy Burston opened up the second half with a talk on ‘Queens’ by Pickles, we shamefully had never heard of it but the excerpt showed that actually not a lot has changed on the gay scene (especially Heaven) like we like to think it has. Karen McLeod read from ‘Crocodile Soup’ which had everyone laughing and we are both desperate to become her new best friends and also get our hands on her book ‘In Search of the Missing Eyelash’ there are unconfirmed rumours she will be at Polari in January… cannot wait we may start stalking her! Not really, well, no we mustn’t. Andy Bell of Erasure discussed Joe Orton’s Diaries and had some very funny tales to tell. Julian Clary told us of EF Benson and his sexuality and Map & Lucia books. Phew, and then we were amongst the regulars Matt, Aruan, Paulo, Ben, May and Juliette of Polari (that we know so far) for some dancing and drinks. The bar closed too early but that didn’t stop us having fun from the last picture you’ll see. So with that we say goodnight and leave you with some pictures from Agius! If you’d like to see ones of other people other than us we’ve told you where to go… we mean other peoples blogs, we’re not that rude!

The Children of Polari with Daddies Burston & Agius and our gorgeous fabulous Aunty Stella.

Polari & The Gang... Everyone looking slightly like the Kids of Fame as Dom put it!

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