Monday Night's Entertainments.

On Monday night, I went to that show at the Counting House, which as you recall was a benefit for a Cambodian orphanage. I got there moderately early and found Lara and Seth at a front table. I debated which seat to take, and then sat in front of the table, facing backwards, for ease of chatting to them until the acts started.

This Had Consequences.

  • Bellydancing Caroline

  • Caroline turned out to be a familiar face from Beltane events, and according to Lara (who's done a little of this) is quite good. I had an unexpected problem, though - having taken, as I had, a seat right at the front, she was within arms' reach most of the time and I found it quite hard not to look her in the face and keep making polite eye contact the whole time. As she was moving her arms and belly and . . . yes, well, as she was moving around generally this would have been missing the point rather. Moral - next time, sit further back.

  • Performance Poetry

  • I don't remember the guy's name, but he was a bit beardy. Short beard, but definite facial hair. It was not bad stuff, in an ecowarrior kind of way.

  • te Pooka

  • te Pooka is an offshoot of the Beltane Fire Society, and they do more general circussy/entertainment things. There were only two of them in this slot, although in general they are legion.

    So, these two guys stumbled on with a little suitcase and proceeded to work their way through various pratfalls and bits of juggling. As far as I can tell they were working under the name The Craprobats. Suddenly for no readily apparent reason they grabbed my hand and hauled me onto my feet - I told you that front seat was a mistake - and then did the same to Seth. They had us grab each others' shoulders and then one of them - the lighter one - jumped onto Seth's shoulders and did what I suppose you'd call a shoulderstand on our arms.

    Seth then got to sit down.

    I didn't.

    That front seat was definitely a mistake.

    One of them growled at me. Obviously I growled back. That's what one does under these circumstances. I have a motto - one of my subsidiary mottos that I am fortunately not called upon to live up to very often - which says that sometimes you'll realise that it's much too late to back out gracefully, and at these times your only reasonable option may be to stoke the fires and order Full Steam Ahead. So I growled back. As one does.

    A poly bag was produced and I was ordered "Choose your weapon!"

    I looked inside. It was full of bananas. Obviously I chose the most dangerous-looking one. I may be stupid, but I'm not suicidal.

    One of them - the lighter one, as before, who unlike the other doesn't seem to be called Ian - took a banana and brandished it. I raised my banana and did my best to look intimidating. He didn't, though, seem very intimidated.

    "Load your weapon!" he shouted, and started to peel his banana at me. Unwilling to seem a coward, I did the same. He took a bite. So did I.

    He spat his chunk of banana at me. Ah, I thought. this is the way it's headed. I've just paid five pounds to have a stranger spit chewed-up banana at me1. Still, it was a new experience, so I'm not going to knock it too hard. I don't think it counts as folk-dancing, after all.

    I spat my mouthful of banana at him, and hit him on the shoulder. Sadly, it only seemed to be a flesh wound, for he was soon reloaded and ready to fire another volley. It soon became obvious that the banana, despite what Intelligent Design advocates may tell you, has some terrible functional flaws. It's appallingly inaccurate, for a start, and does very little damage. Hardly more than cosmetic, in fact. And the magazine is far too small - it only holds about four or five rounds, so I was finally reduced to throwing the skin at him.

    He fired one last round, and then gave me a big hug - pointedly filling my earhole with mashed banana - shook my hand and sat me down again. I cleaned the fruit out and caught my breath. They finished their act with some juggling with one standing up on the other's shoulders, which obviously meant he had to be very careful not to hit the chandelier, which was about level with his forehead.

    There are two interesting points resulting from all this. One of them is that I can now tell you without fear of contradiction that it's very easy to get through a crush to the bar when you're widely-known to be covered in chewed-up banana fragments.

    The other is that I have absolutely no memory of any audience reaction whatsoever, so you should probably be imagining this in terms of a roomful of people sitting in complete silence, divided between extreme embarrassment and utter mortification. Still, at least I didn't have to help clean the banana up afterwards (although in fairness it would have been only just).

  • Nathaniel Slade

  • He turned out to be Than, this spring's green man, who also carves rather beautiful sand dragons. And, as I just learned, sings and plays acoustic blues. Clearly too talented to be allowed to live.

  • Boy Jed (and friends)

  • A four-piece band. Slightly jazzy, upbeat, quite pleasant music. Only their second gig, apparently, but it didn't show.

  • Orkestra del Sol

  • About a dozen or so people with various instruments - lots of wind, a couple of drums and an accordion. They brought on a souzaphone at the end, which was pretty impressive. As before, various polkas, some samba, and other quite energetic, tuneful, danceable stuff. At one point they launched into a conga, which then headed out of the door and off towards the bar. Various members of the band ran off in hot pursuit.

  • Hot Rhythm Riot

  • Two couples dancing to swing. Very impressive.

  • Winter court drummers

  • Not quite all of them, but they still packed a fair punch. It was a shorter set than before, but still impressive. It was them I'd come for, really, and they didn't disappoint.

  • DJ Anonymi.

  • Didn't happen. We were out of time, and so went home.

[1] : To be fair, that's not entirely true. One of them - the blonder one with the slight 'tache, who was a bit lighter and not called Ian - bought me a pint afterwards, so actually I only paid two quid twenty to have chewed-up banana spat at me by strangers. It's these little points that make all the difference, don't you think?
I love banana but only when sort of chewed and mashy. I only eat bananas alone or with bluerose here as I have to slide my teeth up and down them to mush them before I'll get my coat...