Gertrude’s Diary #11

Gertrude's Diary

If you read Jim Boots” review of last weekend’s activities you may have noticed a passing reference to my expressed intention to write a review of Mikelangelo and The Black Sea Gentlemen’s (M&TBSG) show at The White Eagle in Turner. It might be better to turn this review into a cautionary tale on the dangers of Polish alcohol.

Cast your mind back to last Saturday night, the occasion of a much anticipated party at the home of some renowned sub-society hosts. I armed myself for the evening’s activities with a nap, firm in the belief that sleep beats speed as a pre-party refreshment; it doesn’t make you want to punch people or grind your teeth, for instance. So I was feeling fresh and keen at ten o’clock when I arrived in Reid, with just a touch of pre-party nerves to keep the small talk flowing with brittle vivacity.

The night was up to the high standard I’ve come to expect from these genial people, with nary a dull spot in the party, plenty of laughter, music and impassioned conversation, and even one dickhead to make the rest of us feel superior. By the time I’d drunk my four beers and sung myself (with Alison Proctor’s much enjoyed encouragement) into hoarseness, it was two in the morning and time to call it a night, thus apparently sparing myself from the worst debauches of the night and early morning.

After a restful Sunday I was ready to continue the celebrations with an expedition to see M&TBSG. It’s been some years since I saw Mikelangelo do his thing, (I don’t get out much), but I’d heard the fruits of his labour with the Gentlemen on “Journey Through the Land of Shadows”, so I was prepared to be impressed. Add to this the fact that the Polish Club had a buzz in the air, a queue at the bar, and a generous sprinkling of familiar faces among the crowd (including a few from my work), and I knew I was in for a special night.

I’d forgotten the sizzle that Mikelangelo brings to his act, a quality that draws the eye and admiration of a crowd. In this he was aided by some beautifully executed stagecraft by The Black Sea Gentlemen, with each musician bringing their own distinctive personality to the evening’s theatre. I thought they were the best thing I’d seen in years. Even if the music hadn’t been the complete delight that it was, the way that M&TBSG teased a response from the audience would have been entertainment enough. With robust comedy overlaying Mikelangelo’s brooding baritone and darkly-toned lyrics, the willing audience were carried along on a truly memorable ride from outrage to laughter and back again.

I”m not sure I can do justice to the standard that the musically inclined Jim Boots brings to his reviews by pointing out any sharp this or strong that, but I can confidently report that I definitely saw or heard, as the case may be; a suitably melancholy piano-accordion player; a clever, table-leaping violinist; a clarinet singing; and the deep, insistent comments of a double bass, all executed with mastery, style and impeccable timing.

The show finished but I stayed on, feeling buoyant after the music and three of the Polish beers they sell at The White Eagle. I’d like to tell you the name of the fine drop that I was drinking, but despite the bar staff saying it for me every time I bought one, I’m sadly unable to recall the pronunciation or the consonant-cluttered spelling of the brand. Maybe the 2.2-standard-drinks-per-bottle beer contributed to the fuzzy glow of unrestrained happiness that marked the close of the entertainment.

It’s at this stage that events become confused. I know I was mildly disappointed to learn that we wouldn’t be interviewing Mikelangelo. I remember going outside to smoke a cigarette and then being kissed by a woman I’d never met before; I remember rather dazedly returning inside to buy some honey vodka; I believe I approached Mikelangelo, who was happily chatting to Konrad Lenz, introduced myself and babbled incoherently about parody and the wonderful incongruities of “A Formidable Marinade”, at which time I was secretly relieved that our interview had been cancelled, because I had apparently lost the capacity for human speech.

Shortly afterwards I was guided into the 504 for the short trip home, and remember nothing until I awoke on Monday morning with a dry mouth, sore head, and the vague hope that the people from my work had left relatively early.


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