Last night, I went to flame-haired comedy temptress Janet Bettesworth’s 70th birthday party in a room above the Bedford pub in Balham, Gateway to The South.
Downstairs, the pub was a scene like something out of the Black Hole of Calcutta mixed with the Sacking of Rome by the Goths & Vandals and with a noise level similar to the arrival of ‘Fat Man’ in Nagasaki in 1945. That’s a World Cup Saturday for you.
Upstairs, at Janet’s party, it was comedians socialising and a very loud folk band, though sadly no nudity.
Yesterday afternoon, though, there WAS nudity in Central London.
I went to the starting point for The Naked Bike Ride, just outside the new St Martin’s College of Art behind King’s Cross station.
In previous blogs, I have mentioned comedian Juliette Burton’s enthusiastically-anticipated (certainly by me) upcoming Edinburgh Fringe show Look At Me, which is about whether who we appear to be is who we actually are – and whether we can change who we are on the inside by changing who we appear to be on the outside.
Among other things, it involves her being videoed in public wearing a a ‘fat’ prosthetics suit, being transformed into a man… and nudity.
So, yesterday, she was going to take part in the Naked Bike Ride which – allegedly – was being held to protest against the pollution caused by Society’s dependency on oil.
I say ‘allegedly’ because it is an annual event and, as far as I can see, just an excuse to get your kit off for reasons of exhibitionism, Bohemianism or eccentricity – mostly the last two and nothing wrong in either.
As I waited for Juliette to arrive, I was handed a flyer for a naked Streak For Tigers run being held at London Zoo in August. Fortunately I will be in Edinburgh and will miss the inevitable carnage.
She told me how she had just been screwed by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
“We spent a while with the make-up artist this morning,” she told me, “advertising my show on my back and advertising my boobs on my front. Then I put my clothes back on and went to get the Boris Bike.”
[Note to non-Brits: The publicly-rentable bikes causing traffic chaos all over London have been nicknamed ‘Boris Bikes’.]
“We had paid our £2 for the code to access a bike,” Juliette explained to me, “and we went round every single docking station in this row of bikes off Caledonian Road and none of them would let us have a bike. Boris screwed us over. So we walked here, just so we could salvage a shot of me standing around supporting the good cause surrounded by naked people and getting my things out.”
Juliette had been planning her naked bike ride since last December with Frankie Lowe – not only her musical director but also her cameraman – he is a man who wears multiple hats simultaneously and, yesterday, literally.
“We had been going to start here at King’s Cross,” explained Juliette, “and then do Haymarket and have Frankie film me on Westminster Bridge by the Houses of Parliament…
“I had taken my Dutch courage – a half a glass of Prosecco before I left. And then Boris screwed us. It’s very disappointing.”
“Though,” I said, “as of this week, you now do have the even better…”
“Except you cannot blog about that yet,” said Juliette.
So I won’t.
“Frankie,” continued Juliette, “made a very good observation that it was ironic we were prevented from doing a protest against oil dependency by the ineffectiveness of a city-wide bicycling scheme that is meant to help people not depend on cars.”
“Frankie should wear a PR hat on top of his other two,” I observed.
After the massed naked cyclists set off, the three of us had a drink nearby. This also gave Juliette time to go off to the toilet and take off her pasties.
I forgot to mention that Juliette had bright pink circular coverings over her nipples.
Apparently they are called pasties – pronounced not ‘pass-ties’ but ‘paste-ies’ – and are/were stuck on with the make-up artists’ equivalent of super glue.
When she re-emerged from the toilet, looking slightly shaken, Juliette observed:
“Everyone suffers for their Edinburgh Fringe show, but I didn’t know I was going to suffer this much physical pain for it.”
“Suffering pain from tits is common in Edinburgh,” I suggested.
Rule 17 in blog writing: always try to give yourself the last line.