Today was another day of thirds, which started with Fiona, who stayed at ours last night, and a lazy brunch at the local spoon. We took ourselves for a morning walk around the woods, and put the world to rights with conversation. She told me the story of a colleague of hers who was taking pictures of his niece and nephew in a swimming pool and was accused by some passing nut job of taking pictures of random children. An argument broke out. He showed the nut job and the life guard who'd been called over the pictures he'd taken (which were all of his relatives and no one else's kids) and supplied his name and number to put the nut job's mind at ease. It turns out that the nut job was actually part of some crazy vigilante crusade against paedophilia. It was a few weeks before Fiona's friend realised that the nut job had googled him and contacted all his prospective employers to tell them that he was a paedophile. He instantly had jobs cancelled with no one bothering to contact him to ask if there was truth in what the woman was saying. I don't know if it's worse that this woman took it upon herself to drag a complete stranger's name through the mud or that his prospective employers would cancel gigs simply because they didn't want to be involved in all that. Accusing someone of paedophilia is now the easiest way of ruining a hard-working, decent man's life and the tragic witch hunt has to stop.
I worked in the afternoon, and knocked the title song from my new musical into some form of shape. By the end of the afternoon I felt I had a song, which has been forming shambolically for some months in my head. I've written the song with Ben Jones in mind. I tend to write better when I have a voice in my head. The only trouble is that when I write music for his ridiculous vocal prowess with its epic top range, I end up with songs which very few other people can sing!
This evening Llio and I went to watch our mate Greg Ashton performing in two very beautiful short plays at the Hope Theatre on Upper Street. Ash actually wrote the plays himself and they're paired under the title "Two Short Plays About Gays." There were three actors in total, Ash, who is so fabulously comfortable on a stage, a lovely, subtle young actor called Joseph Martin, and Louise Jameson, who is a tremendous actress. If Jameson's name is familiar, it's probably because she played an iconic Dr Who assistant called Leela from the Tom Baker days, who wore a lot of leather way back in the 70s. She was also in Eastenders and Bergerac.
Anyway, Ash's plays were loosely linked. The central protagonist in both shows was probably the same person. Ash didn't want to labour this particular point. He wanted the audience to make their own minds up. The first play focusses on the trials and tribulations of a young rent boy who arrives in London and shacks up with a kind, old drag queen. Or is she?! It's a really very charming and witty piece. Ash plays a variety of roles: the older version of the rent boy, a series of drag queens, various clients. He interacts with his younger self throughout. His younger self being played by Joseph Martin.
In the second play, another two-hander, Jameson plays the older character's Mum, and we realise fairly speedily that she is appearing in ghost form, very much the Mum which the central character (by now a drag queen himself) has created for himself on account of his not actually having seen his Mum since she threw him out of home after discovering he's gay. The mother apologises for the being a bad Mum, and claims she's finally come to terms with her son's sexuality, giving credit to gay characters in soap operas for her sudden enlightenment. But there's a devastating plot twist.
Jameson plays the fragile, tragic, brittle character brilliantly, so brilliantly, in fact, that you feel unable to hate her for treating her son so brutally. We begin to learn why she has behaved like she has, and actually start to sympathise with her plight. It's refreshing to see this sort of story told. I have long since felt that we can't blame anyone for the way they responded to gay people at the height of HIV and Clause 28. It was a very moving and laugh-out-loud evening of theatre. I definitely recommend it.
We came out of the theatre and sat in the pub downstairs waiting for the actors to come out. A bloke sidled over and asked if we were waiting for the Charleston class downstairs! We were a little perplexed. I was almost tempted. I love a bit of Charleston. When we looked around at the gaggle of people plainly going to the class, we noticed all were wearing burlesque-esque retro clothing, and had beautifully quaffed hair dos. At that point we realised why Llio, with her bright red hair and me, with my curly 1920s moustache had been singled out!
When Ash introduced us to Louise Jameson she stared at us both for some time before saying, "you are the most beautiful couple." It was such a lovely compliment from someone so wonderful that we almost went along with it! A great evening.