A cut-out-and-keep Gossip and Grumble No 32
My Saveloy Party was probably, definitely, the event of the summer. Way beyond just A-list celebs, we had the whole alphabet there.
It started, like all good parties, spontaneously, without planning and pretty unexpectedly. My long-term ‘house guest’ Biggins and I were travelling by Eurostar, returning from a book signing tour in Brussels (we had managed to sign thousands before being politely escorted from the store, but that’s a story for another day.) We decided to come back by train so that we could both do some work on the journey. It was genuine research for a future Whistler wine column feature and absolutely not as if we were just having a lark on expenses. OK, admittedly we may have been a tad ‘exuberant’ but who wouldn’t be when doing a 32 brand Belgian Super Lager tasting ?
To be perfectly honest, we couldn’t have been that loud because only one person complained “Excuse me!” bugled a voice from the other end of the carriage. We looked around from whence the admonishment had been launched and, joy of joys, who should it be? My great buddy Dr Cazzer, or Loukey, as Biggins calls her. Caroline Lucas enviro supremo and all round Green party goer.
How we all laughed. “You are a Drama Green,” Biggins bellowed. “And you’re a Saga Queen” Cazzer retorted ‘ageistly’ in reply. At that exact moment, with the timing of a Giselle and the poise of cartographer, a new voice joined our game.
“If you ask me, you’re all SAGA LOUTS”. The whole carriage erupted in happiness, expressed by laughing. The arch humorist, a row back, stood up and bowed ceremoniously to thunderous applause. Joy of joys, it was my hirsute soul mate and bestest chum ever in all the world and everywhere else, Lord Melvyn Bragg. “Braggers!” Biggins bellowed in recognition of a fellow A-lister. How we laughed. Our now expanded four person ‘research’ team guzzled our way onto Ashford International, then changed onto the Coaster Express to Brighton that stops at all stations, and for some reason at Eastbourne twice. Cazzer was in fine form with her stories of derring-do and her various protest arrests. She can tell a story better than any politician I know. What is she like? They don’t call it the Green PARTY for nothing. With our boisterous boozing banter, our fellow passengers probably thought we were destined for St Leonards, not the bourgeois Brechtian Byzantine of Brighton. They should count themselves lucky that the Hirsute lad (Melly) had fallen asleep mid-paragraph, whilst telling a story about Brasier and Antcliffe’s new article, Evolutionary relationships within the Avalonian Ediacara biota for the Journal of the Geological Society. To be honest, I was probably the only one who understood what he was on about. I should do, I’ve been writing his questions to his guests for his Radio 4 programmes for years.
Our ‘research laboratory’ slowly pulled into St Leonards-on-Sea. I know everyone in St Leonards, especially since half of Hackney and half of Brighton have moved down there. The train doors unfolded like curtains on a stage to reveal Mr St Leonards himself, Mr Saturday Night, the vamper camper, Mr Graham Norton. “Well Hellllllloo Brighton train” he exalted to all and sundry. Naughty Norton immediately spotted me, then our quadrangle. Biggins and Norton greeted each other with a Stanislavski physicality, a probing, frisk assessment of a scrummage, itself worthy of an Ivor Novello or at least an Eminemmy award. Saggy Braggy had woken up and proceeded to decline a passed glug of Belgian Strawberry Champagne ‘As Favoured by Monks’. Instead, he opted to share Cazzer’s ‘Wheat Grass Milk Shake’. Thank God Melvyn had put his dental plate back in, although it would have been better if it had been the right way up. Melly had us in stitches with his stories, first about the notice he’d seen in a Dials shop saying ‘Only two MPs in the store at a time please’ and then the story of when he had stolen Sally Taylor’s saveloy. It takes the simplest thing, but that is the moment when together, as if one, in unison, we jointly all cried out “Let’s have a Saveloy Party!” Call it symbiosis or just mad, but we all had the same idea at once, spooky or what?
Our train eventually ‘steamed’ into Brighton station. Cazz and Graham collected the bottles and cans, each loading up a full trolley and continuing in search of the recycling bins. Cazzer has an upcoming election to be the West Hill rep at Parliament and the first Green MP in the British world, so naturally she was concerned to not just leave detritus as the security camera footage might be sold on to Dials-based Ricochet TV. We all have our public image to protect from scandal after all. The rest of us, queued at Sing Li’s Chippy in Guildford Road. We each ordered several of the red-skinned pig brained beauties. I ordered cods roe in batter for Casser knowing she is vegan. Slowly, or to be exact, virtually in a sound byte our creative cluster was causing tongues to wag. The inevitable enthusiastic throng of onlookers began to gather and onlook.
By the time the eco-warriors had joined us we were being i-photoed, blogged, and tubed-abused by the excited and enthralled ensemble of West Hilliers. In moments we had probably emptied both the Grand Central, The Trafalgar and The Yeoman. So many fans caused difficulty leaving Sing Li’s. Our captors cleverly became our rescuers as one by one we were ‘mosh pitted’ on high above their heads. With frisk assessing hands they carried us aloft upward and onward thither this way and that to Kenny Livingstone’s house. (I have had his keys for years and feed his budgies every Thursday. The regular ‘soirees’ there are my little secret.) We were certainly the flashiest mob in town, quite a sight, each 6ft off the ground, jostled a-top a seething swarm of buzzing people, all with our saveloys in hand. Then, to top it all we were ceremoniously joined by a team of 35 critical mass naked bike riders. At their helm, a triumphant waving Vinod from Buckingham Road’s Bright News. What a sight we were. Only in Brighton, B Right On! Yes, we all knew this was going to be the West Hill event of the summer so far and, dearest Whistlers, it was, believe me it certainly was….