Sunday, 22 January 2012

Mum's gone to Iceland


We went into Soho last night with Nathan’s friends, Thorinna and Karl; an Icelandic couple who performed in the Rocky Horror Show with Nathan many years ago. They’ve been living back in the motherland of late (Iceland, not the planet of Transsexual) so this was the first time Nathan had seen them for many years.  I immediately understood why he spoke so fondly of them. They’re a delightful pair and we had a wonderful meal in an Italian Restaurant on Old Compton Street where the four pizzas we ordered arrived on an unfeasibly long platter.



We spent much of the evening quizzing them about Iceland. It’s a place which has always intrigued me, but I was hugely surprised to learn that the country is almost the size of the UK, but only has 350,000 inhabitants. I think this means they rather punch above their weights on the international stage. Bjork, Sigur Ros... and they’ve done a darn sight better than us in Eurovision since they entered...

I was particularly thrilled to hear about Icelandic Christmas traditions, where there are actually 13 different Santa Claus figures, who separately visit children in the 13 days running up to Christmas. Children leave a shoe by the window, and every morning another little gift appears within. American culture has somewhat railroaded the tradition, so each of the figures is now portrayed in a red and white Santa suit, but they have very specific identities, and names, which are governed by their characteristics. One of them is very little, so his name is Shorty. Then there’s Door Slammer, Ladle Licker... Each is only active for one specific day in December. I think it’s terribly sad that they’ve lost their visual identities. One day I think the world might simply be known as Americania...

I’m back in the centre of London, sitting on Old Compton Street, waiting to go to a cabaret which Nathan is singing in. I’m trying to focus on this blog, but an angry crack-head called Kez has sat down next to me, and won’t stop talking. At the moment, he’s whinging about gay parenting, and a long stream of hideous homophobic abuse is gushing from his mouth. There’s no point in trying to argue, or even rising to the bait, because he’s out of his skull on something and I don’t want to be stabbed. My mistake, of course, was to engage with him when he started barking. I didn’t want to blank him because I was sure he’d already been blanked 100 times today. I was hoping he’d be thrilled that someone wasn’t looking through him, or turning their nose up, but realise I’ve simply became a man more likely to give him money. He keeps asking me for two pounds. I’ve been through my wallet and only found a ten pence piece and a palm full of coppers, which apparently is “insulting” to him. I suggested he took it to see if he could swap it for £2 with someone more gullible than me. Poor bloke, though. He’s young as well. How can life fall apart at such a tender age?

PS - I survived the incident with the crack head and went to Nathan’s cabaret. He was, as usual, epically brilliant. He has such an ease about him on stage, which becomes so apparent when performing alongside some of these drama school leavers, who pop their clogs singing big belty numbers and forget that every song has a story which needs to be told.

350 years ago Pepys headed west for large dollops of Parliamentary gossip care of the good folk of Whitehall. The tittle-tattle has lost its bite over the years, so there’s little point in recounting great swathes of it here. Some of it was focussed on Barbara Palmer, the King’s Mistress. She actually bore King Charles II a total of five children, all of whom Charles acknowledged and titled, two of whom had already been born by 1662. Many wondered what would become of her when the official queen, Catherine de Breganza, arrived from Portugal. They needn’t have worried; she was giving birth to Charles’ babies as late as 1672, which was hardly surprising as she was considered to be quite a catch. Wikipedia describes her as “tall, voluptuous, with masses of auburn hair, slanting, heavy-lidded blue-violet eyes, alabaster skin, and a sensuous, sulky mouth.” Lush.
The central players at my god-daughter's birthday party yesterday...

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