For the past few years I have co-hosted an event called the London Literature Lounge.
The Literature Lounge is an eclectic mix of live music, spoken word, sometimes dance and always incense.
We meet once a month at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden and every two months or so we also take the Lounge on the road.
Last Friday I co-hosted an event in a theatre in Harrow, where I also run a weekly writing group.
I was also billed to read from my new novel, Dear Dylan.
I had really been looking forward to it.
Do you sense a bit of a ‘but’ coming, dear reader?
The night got off to a great start, and not just because I was sitting down wind of the incense stick and was pleasantly high on patchouli.
Blues singer and guitarist Robert Hokum had kicked things off with a cracking opening set and I could see my dad – who I had invited along for a ‘night of culture’ – tapping his feet away and getting into the groove.
My dad is known for his ryvita-dry wit so inviting him along to things always brings with it an added terror; knowing that if it fails to live up to expectations you will be hearing about it for a mighty long time to come.
So I breathed a patchouli infused sigh of relief at his obvious enjoyment and settled in to enjoy the night.
My reading went well - as did everyone elses’.
In the interval my dad said he was having a ‘very nice time’ – praise indeed.
The second half was opened by a performance artist called Stacey Makishi.
She had been booked by somebody else so I knew nothing about her or her act, or indeed what ‘performance art’ really entailed.
I sat down next to my dad and prepared myself for some kind of poetry-plus – a few lines of verse interspersed with dance perhaps? Or song? Or maybe even mime?
The one thing I had not been expecting was for her to walk on stage holding a cabbage.
In hindsight it might not have been so bad if all she had done was ‘hold’ the cabbage.
But I got a terrible sinking feeling the moment some ‘sexy-time’ music started playing and she started slow dancing around the stage with it.
On one side of me my dad began shifting in his seat. I remained frozen rigid – and on my other side Robert Hokum start to shake with silent laughter.
Then she brought the cabbage to her lips and started to kiss it – whilst making low guttural moaning noises.
‘Holy mother of God!’ my dad whispered under his breath.
Robert bent over double in some kind of spasm.
I remained transfixed whilst mentally calculating how many pints of beer my dad had consumed and whether it equalled enough to begin heckling.
I took a deep breath and tried to compose myself. Surely it couldn’t get any worse? Surely soon she would put the cabbage down and read a poem or something?
But no – of course she wouldn’t. She hadn’t made love to the cabbage yet, had she?!!!
Now, I don’t know about you, but I find there is nothing more excruciating than finding yourself watching a sex scene on a film or TV with one of your parents present.
Well let me tell you – there is nothing, NOTHING, more excruciating than watching a live sex show involving a woman AND A CABBAGE with YOUR DAD who has consumed at least FOUR PINTS OF BEER and is well known for his SARCASTIC HUMOUR.
On and on she thrust herself at that poor cabbage.
To my left I could see Robert wiping tears from his face , whilst to my right my dad sat bolt upright, his bottom jaw hanging open.
Please, please, don’t let him say anything, I silently prayed.
Finally the thrusting stopped.
She put the cabbage down and treated the crowd to a post-coital smile.
There was a moment of stunned silence and then my dad spoke:
“Jesus Christ! I used to like cabbage!”
But the show wasn’t over yet! I shrunk back into my seat and watched mortified as she started to wretch. And wretch.
When a brussel sprout came bursting out of her mouth I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Robert carried on doing both.
My dad was thankfully stunned into silence. However, I did receive the following poem from him in the post today:
You might trust your daughter to take you
Where the arts would help to make you
So unlike the savage -
Who would ravage a cabbage!
But what you see will certainly quake you!
For those of you who would like to share my pain you can see ‘Cabbage Love’ on You Tube by clicking here.