Tag Archives: John Rae

The convent school comedienne who now does the sand dance in Brighton

A few days ago, I blogged about a bizarre night at comedy club Pull The Other One in Herne Hill and a very large black man with one eye, a speech defect, a shaven head, a beard and what appeared to be an MP3 player plugged into his ears.

Charmian Hughes, who compered an early part of that show, tells me she has now received from the aforementioned gent “a special painting for being intellectual… apparently it has Egyptian connotations.”

This is presumably because the mysterious and rather eccentric gent was impressed by Charmian’s… erm… unique on-stage sand dance, part of her latest hour-long show Charmian Hughes: The Ten Charmandments which she is performing for the next three Sundays at the Quadrant on the Brighton Fringe.

Her show claims to reveal ancient wisdoms “straight from the camel’s mouth” and she will be taking it up to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

Charmian was one of the first six girls admitted to Westminster Boys’ School in 1972 which, she says, was a bit of an “intense experience” for her.

“I had come straight from my convent boarding school,” she tells me. ‘I had been educated privately in minor fee-paying convents as the only Catholic in my Protestant family – an accident of various widowings and divorcings. At Westminster, the housemaster who interviewed me hated the head, John Rae, and I think admitted me to annoy him.

“My mother didn’t even really believe in girls’ education – she’d love Afghanistan – but she wanted to shaft my father for the fees and also thought I’d get a rich husband. She really did. My dad never paid up and my mother was very disappointed in me not getting married at 18. But she did frighten off all my male chums by demanding whether their intentions were honourable in a shouty voice.”

From such beginnings are comedians made.

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