I'm sandwiched between The Boy and my mum watching Slinky Sparkles and Candy Girl slowly strip one after the other in front of a bare stage with nothing but a chair and two over-sized fake plastic lollies as props - I have to wonder if there is something wrong with this picture. An evening of Burlesque for beginners ends a week of morally dubious scenarios.
Scenario One: I find myself inadvertently being paid to stand in a church aisle and monitor 15/16 year-olds during a fifty minute “re-dedication” service in one of Westminster Abbey's chapels. As a devout atheist I long ago stopped parroting lines vicars and priests spout at me and ceased participating during the prayers. These days I am generally only in church twice a year and occasionally manage to whittle these visits down to once a year. From a family with rigid Christmas and Easter traditions and ceremonies, it's pretty difficult to escape family visits to the church on these occasions – there was in fact one memorable incident when The Boy attempted to avoid a church outing but found himself locked outside and shoeless with little choice but to get in the ready waiting car.
I generally feel happier and less hypercritical not joining in with the “worship” but this week standing on display the discomfort returned. As the member of staff nearest the front in the central aisle of the church, I couldn't help wonder if I was being scrutinised by bored fidgety pupils. Then there was the other matter of the school's Head. Watching his flock and ensuring full participation, he paced at the front of the church where I was clearly in sight and even walked up and down this central aisle passing me by. Surely he'd have seen my still lips and heard my lack of participation? I couldn't help but wonder whether as an adult “role model” failing to repeat the appropriate lines or join in during the prayers would be a disciplinary matter if part of the regular staff? Standing in such a prominent position reminded me of being a school pupil when I'd mouth the words rather than join in with the singing of the hymns - I was almost tempted to mask my principles by returning to this favoured method of old.
Fast-forward to Scenario Two: I'm attending the BBC Four World Cinema Awards for one of the many websites I write for. Aside from the host, Jonathan Ross, I am not expecting to see many recognisable celebrities but then suddenly Tilda Swinton is waiting to be seated across the aisle from where little sis and I are expectantly waiting. Respectful of Tilda as an actress with a varied and often selective back catalogue, I watch her with interest but neither her greatest fan or critic, I am not particularly desperate to speak to her. My sister, however, contemplates a conversation with Tilda and as someone who is inexplicably annoyed by her very appearance, decides attempting to chat with her merely because she's famous would be a hypercritical act, unless of course she was to show her contempt.
I'm back in the Hastings auditorium, I began this entry from and Scenario Three is well under-way. Having watched two dull strip acts, I seemed to have upped my Minstrels intake and wonder whether chomping on chocolate and watching ladies strip are appropriate activities to combine. One of the male audience members directly in front of me doesn't seem to need any snacks – he'd do better with a safety harness, he's leaning so far forward in his seat, I wouldn't be surprised if he dived over the Upper Circle's railings. After an appalling magic act courtesy of “Biff the Magic Dragon”, it's a relief to have ex-Parisian Playboy model, Chrys Columbine, on stage to inventively combine Burlesque with Classical music.
Thankfully after a much needed interval, the reappearance of several embarrassingly named frankly mediocre acts is redeemed by an entertaining stint by the talented “Hula Girl” and a finale from the show's star, Amber Topaz. With it's wartime theme, feather fans and titty tassels, our evening of Burlesque may have incorporated the appropriate props and figures but the seedie-looking organiser, Mr Moonie, clearly lacks imagination and cast members, resulting in a noticeable absence of choreography, chorus lines, dazzling costumes and the splendour of The Moulin Rouge. The most entertaining memory of the evening? Big G reminiscing about her trip to Paris and disappointingly complaining the show was too tame.
Final Consideration: Should a strip show ever be “too tame” for your mother's eyes?