I wanted to post soon after returning from London on Monday 22nd May but I returned with what seemed like a flu, our eldest cat Nadine was unwell and had to be taken to the vet (she's fine now) and the Manchester bombing which was not just a shock but left me taking a step back from social media to preserve my sanity. I decided the best approach to the week was a little R&R 2017 style; that's reflect and recuperate.
You may remember that a few months ago hubby and I saw a drag performer by the name of Ripley at Halfway II Heaven (our London local), well we were able to go to her one woman show Like A Sturgeon at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on Friday, 19th May. If you didn't make it, you missed one hell of a performance. We invited some friends along, I would say all but one is now a fan but that person did vote for Brexit and well, more on that later.
Ripley began the show with what is now my favourite impersonation of Melania Trump guiding us through her own journey from Slovenia to "luckiest" (in that she doesn't have to see Trump as much as the rest of us) and most definitely the least popular First Lady in US history. Ripley mimed to her own spoken word, popular music and a genius segment in which famous speeches suddenly came out of Melania's mouth as she addressed the crowds in "her own words" of course. I think Marina and The Diamond's would be proud of Ripley's "Hollywood." Ripley's next character was our very own "Prime Minister," Theresa May. I actually think Ripley does Theresa May better than Theresa May. Hubby thinks Ripley at least shows the softer side of Theresa May. Perhaps we are both right? Go see her live if you can or find a video clip on her Facebook page. Honestly, the amount of boos shouted at Theresa are enough to make even the most sceptic voter think we can oust her from Number 10 (sideline, anyone else picture flying monkeys, a la Wizard of Oz style when you see that woman speak? Even worse, picture the heads of her cabinet on the bodies. I would be so dangerous if I could photo shop). Theresa May went down a storm with the crowd and two of our friends noted that this was the type of performance needed right now more than ever. I couldn't agree more. Ripley's final performance of the night was the namesake of the show, Nicola Sturgeon. Now, first of all, her referring to May as "wifey" cannot be unheard. Also, when Nicola sings to May to "Let Scotland Go" in the style of Kim Wilde's "Keep Me Hanging On." Yea, that song is now bettered for me and I love that version partially because I remember fancying Kim Wilde in that music video (I too doubted my own homosexuality once, although I found out many years ago that fancying Kim Wilde was more common amongst gay men then most people would think, anyway back to Ripley). Nicola pulled a Scottish Flag from between her legs as she sang "You Don't Own Me" and not once did it seem disrespectful. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world and it worked because Ripley works. The level of production and hours of rehearsal were evident in her performance and I am going to keep raving until everyone I know goes and checks her out because these troubled times call for her brand of thought provoking humour.
Those with a sensitive anti-Brexit disposition, please proceed to the next paragraph. Now I mentioned about a member of our group who wasn't as keen on the content. He was warned and still came. Now, here has been my dilemma since the EU Referendum and the election of Trump. Yes you remember that I happen to be a citizen of both countries. I can't separate the two because of the similarities in both campaigns. My dilemma is that we have gone beyond the idea of politics. Politics used to be dismissed by so many people and as a result we are now where we are. I find it difficult to be around or engage with people whose views are fundamentally opposed to mine. Now, this is not about not accepting disagreements or differing views on issues. This is about the cruelty and hatred that both the Trump and Leave campaigns ran on and won with. This is about a disregard and lack of compassion towards one another. The uncertainty of the Brexit terms in relation to EU citizens both here and abroad (I refer to UK citizens abroad as EU citizens because we are EU citizens no matter what the hateful media tells you here). Why? Because it is not a political statistic or some imaginary thing. These are your neighbours, friends and possibly members of your family. I simply cannot get my head around how someone can be a friend of mine or have foreign friends and have voted for that; and are okay with a government refusing to guarantee the rights of those who have contributed to the prosperity of this country. It makes me angry, it makes my blood boil and it is why I find it difficult to engage in Brexit conversations with those who voted for it. That is the frustrating truth and I don't know how to move on from that. I don't know what the answer is. I do believe that even if we rejected the final terms of Brexit and remained in the European Union the damage is done. It will be generations before the scars of that campaign are healed and I don't see it happening in my lifetime. You can't discuss Ripley without Brexit and I am sure she wouldn't mind my side note there.
It was good being back in London, it felt like home in a way it hadn't for a while but it also made me angry to see the poverty on the streets that is the picture Theresa May wants to ignore yet continues to contribute to. This is her reality of Britain and it simply cannot be ignored. Ripley doesn't ignore it, neither do her fans.
Check her out when she performs at a venue near you. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram whatever platform you can find her on. A special thank you to Ripley as well for chatting to hubby and I when you were in such high demand after your performance- Keep doing what you are doing!
Hubby and I would also like to thank the performers and staff at Halfway II Heaven for always ensuring that our weekend is enjoyable and messy. Saturday we headed down after a lovely morning and a boozy lunch in Camden with friends. We had fabulous tapas, mojitos and lost three games of pool. We had no idea when we got there that it was Mrs. Moore's birthday complete with a performance extravaganza that was an homage to Mrs. Moore herself. Rose Garden presided over a stage that included Tanya Hyde (out of drag, our first time seeing here perform and we were impressed), Baga Chipz MBE another artist we had never seen who entertained and offended equally, Miss Penny who is fabulous and remembered us from hubby's birthday back in March and after that things got a little hazy so I apologise now for not remembering more names as we indulged in the complimentary prosecco and more rum and cokes than I can remember. What I do remember is going to Ed's Diner in Soho and being passed out by 9.30pm (punk rock!)
Sunday we headed down to Greenwich by boat and wandered through the streets, markets and park up towards Blackheath to Mycenae House. This is where eleven years ago this coming July, we had our civil partnership reception. It was one of the highlights of the weekend to go back as we are now, so many years later as strong as we are now. We lived in Southeast London prior to moving to Berlin and there was a sense of wonder and nostalgia in the air until we had to get that train back into town. The rail travel was a stark reminder of why we came to hate living in Southeast London and in general, the perils of nostalgia.
We eventually made it back to Halfway II Heaven for Sundays with CK. If you have not seen Crystal d'Canter and Kelly Mild, you really need to get out and have yourself the best start of the week or best end of the weekend; depending on your perspective in life. The energy and laughter in the room is what life should be about. This is spoken entertainment, banter and singing along to your favourite tunes. Crystal and Kelly were the first act we saw at Halfway II Heaven last year when we began to re-engage with London after a notable absence and they keep us coming back (back, back, back). They had a special guest, Alexis StClair who CK described as "you won't be able to look away." They were right, we couldn't and her performance added to the energy of the room. That is the thing about Halfway, the performers all bring a unique style to the stage that will ensure you stumble out of there with a smile on your face and drunk off your arse.
Thank you all again for making London the drag it should be.
John Lugo-Trebble considers this more of a space to engage personal reflections and memories with connections to music and film.