Friday, 4 September 2015

Do Put Your Puppy on the Stage Lady Bedlam, oh DO put your Puppy on the Stage (with apologies to Noel Coward)

The Summer that never really got going here in soggy ol' England is over. Last weekend saw the end of the holidays, such as we didn't have. To mark the occasion, it ended as it began, with more water pouring from the sky and, also appearing as if from Heaven, our blog. Please refer to the previous edition for a photograph of rain, it hasn't changed. And if rarity increases value, then these posts shall soon be priceless.

August may have been a meteorological wash out but it was characteristically dust dry in terms of trade. It happens every year but still we start to think the phone will never ring again when the only thing through the door is tumble weed. But lest you mistake this for a missive of gloom, be reassured that the Bedlam pecker stayed aloft with all sorts of heart warming jollity, a selection of which we lay before you here.

The first diva from our troupe of high kickin' stars is Molly, who took delivery of her Bedlam horse blanket in her dressing room stall at This was her shamefully belated reward for her starring role in the Jocks & Nerds photo shoot half a lifetime ago. As per the one presented to Pimms,  her colleague, it sports a dedicated carrot pocket. It is trimmed in pink fake fur (sourced for Elisabeth Ratiu's coat) and made up of fine fabrics left over from our tailoring jobs.

Then an ingenue starlet appeared up our stairs, bearing the name she was born with, Flora Pettit. Flora, like the goddess of Spring, wafted up our stairs like fresh, fragrant air, if unannounced, to ask if we needed an intern. I was about to send her away as we were in the middle of a fitting, but having heard she came up from Brighton especially, I told her to conceal herself behind the curtain until we were done with our client. Her Fashion Degree course at Westminster University requires her to do two placements. For her first, she worked for H&M in Stockholm, where she saved her money in order that she could do a stint with someone small and poor (that'll be us). She was only required to stay two months but put up with us until August 28th. She made an enormous contribution and we hope to one day lure her back with a fat salary (or blackmail and threats). I have compiled a little tribute album on our Facebook page thus allowing room for more here. Facebook-phobes, be not afeared, you can click and view without signing over your soul:

To pick one of our faves from the album. here's a jolly shot of Flora with Mr Wesley & another showbiz doyen, Mister Simon Le Bon. We are excited to be making a suit for him at the moment. Simon was but one of many projects Flora got to work on - she also made a silk scarf for Nile Rodgers and a little something for the Pope (yes, THE POPE, not "Mister Pope" but THE Pope).

Simon has been wearing our t-shirts on stage, and this shot below, from a show in Austria, is particularly hot. If you'd like one, click this way:

Dipping one's own toe back into the world of talent promotion, in early June one accepted delightedly the invitation to host a musical evening at the studio. This was to promote the latest album from Theo Jackson, Bedlam's musical ambassador. It goes by the name of "Shoeless and the Girl".
We dubbed the night "Son et Fou-miere", opened some crisps (Polly, our prima inter pares client, baked a quiche!) and were thrilled by the turn out. Theo had had the idea of performing in strange contexts and there's now't so strange as the Bedlam atelier. In the audience was Dave Swift, friend, client and celebrated bass player with the Jools Holland band and others. He sat in for a number with Theo, as did the fine keyboard player, Giazonne Reyes, allowing Theo to stand up to sing a few numbers, with Marco Quarantotto on drums. We direct you to Theo's website to hear clips

And then some rowdy friends of my parents (it's always the oldies, is it not?) made a song and dance about yours truly taking the stage. Seeing as I'm not allowed to post the clip of Theo OR the clip of Kevin, the Bard of Bedlam, reciting his Ode to Flora, I will post a roughly topped and tailed clip of the consequences ENTIRELY in the spirit of self-deprecation as I was velly, velly drunk at this point and look like I've fallen out of a tree. Tim'n'Ian (Bedlam Global Area manager and Auxiliary Graphic Dept. respectively) remarked, "Weren't you relaxed, checking Facebook messages while you were singing!"
Peering myopically at the lyrics more like. It's been a while. Once upon a time I didn't wear glasses and could remember all the words. Sadly my edit deprives you of hearing Clive the Upholsterer play the harmonica towards the end but that would make it taxingly long. So here's a taste of the great musicianship upon which I was privileged to impose.

Another space appropriated for a show over the summer was Hyde Park. As ever, we were spoilt to stand in the wings to watch Nile Rodgers and his gang of Chic-sters perform on the same bill as Kylie and Grace Jones. We told Ocean, youngest scion of Mr Wesley, that we were going. Having form as a stage-crasher, body popping next to Nile in Juan-les-Pins a few years ago, his face lit up like a super trouper and his limbs started twitching in anticipation - "I will dance?!"
I explained as gently as possibly that that was not guaranteed, that it was entirely at the gift of the person whose show it actually is. We arrived and stood looking out at the sea of fans. The pent up energy in Ocean was palpable and I wondered if I should attach an elastic lead to his back so I could ping him back if he made a dash for it.

Jackie came to tell us to move round to the other side, where we found Kylie grooving as a warm up for her own set. Before you could chant un, dos, tres, cuatro, my old pal Mark Moore of S'express turned up so we grinned for the camera before someone brighter suggested we face the other way to give you a sense of where we were:

Then the cue came for the giant dance party to invade the stage and Ocean was off like an eel to claim his spot centre stage next to his "best friend" and hero.

 To get a bit of piece and quiet, Nile moved down the cake walk into the crowd -

 Bruno from Strictly Come Dancing had a go at upstaging Ocean but he generously conceded backstage later to our boy.

The Edge didn't get to close to... the edge, having tumbled off stage during a U2 gig a few weeks earlier. Perhaps we should attach an elastic lead to the back of his jacket?

A comely young lady came up to congratulate Ocean on his dancing. Generously, he said she could have a picture if she liked. Possibly, it was a refreshing novelty to the Face of Our Age to encounter someone oblivious to her fame.

Back stage, more people came over to express their appreciation of his moves, Nile of course, the wondrous Miss Kimberley of Chic, Sam Smith, and, once out in the crowd, untold people who recognised him from the close ups on the big screens either side of the stage.

At the waggy tail end of June we were invited to take part in the Lambeth Palace Fete. This is staged in the back garden of the Archbishop of Canterbury's London pied a terre, whichis not normally open to the public. We printed up some "Lambeth Walk" t-shirts especially as the local road names we had made up for the Cleaver Square Fete had been a hit. Mr Wesley used the original playbill for "Me & My Girl", the musical that brought all walks of Londoners together, from the actual King & Queen to the Pearly Kings & Queens, during the War with the anthem "Doing the Lambeth Walk". (It occurred to me the other day that my parents' generation will be the last that can say "The War" without everyone going "Which war??"). There is a council block behind our studio on the Lambeth Walk called "Lupino House" and we wonder how many of its residents know why? Lupino Lane was the star of the show.

And then it was time to muster on the lawn for the Dog Show, a hotly contested parade that made the X-Factor auditions look casually ambitious. Knowing our Brian as I do, and not wishing to court humiliation, we did not enter him into anything requiring order or discipline. We thought, however, that we might be in with a chance when it came to dressing up. Accordingly I crafted a lace collar, paw ruffs, and a velvet cap trimmed with a cockerel feather. It went swimmingly in rehearsal at home, he actually seemed to enjoy the theatre of it, but of course in practise, in a field full of other new dogs that had him hysterically overwrought, it was bloody pandemonium. It was tasking in the extreme to get a photo of him wearing all the elements of his costume at once but our pal Paul got the closest to it. And so, in various stages of falling off, we presented Brian in the Fancy Dress section as...
The Earl of Bedlam as painted by Van Dyke.

When they read out the results, backwards as tradition dictates, I swooned to almost drop The Talent as they reached the Top Three (there were four entrants in the category). Let the pictures tell the story:

Outstripping all showy-offy activity in this edition, Brian scampered home with the Tony, Oscar and Grammy of the Performing Arts rolled into one with his #1 Red Rosette -

Amongst his huge haul of prizes was a hedgehog. It took him fifteen minutes to eviscerate the squeak but not the glory.

Aside from that photo, the one we shall cherish as the shot of the summer is below. It was taken out of England, in Spain, and is drenched in the warmth of the place and the love of the people in it. It was taken at the wedding of Gio to Adele, and we made the young groom's suit and his father's, too. You may recognise Piero's suit as "The Brian", created in honour of our talented puppy. Mr Wesley was wearing his prototype when Piero came for his first consultation. Famously uninterested in clothes and a nightmare to shop for, Piero took one look and declared it was love. He wanted the same in every respect. It made us very happy indeed to receive the photos from Gio with this message:
“You guys ere incredible and we enjoyed the experience so much. Everyone loved my suit, especially Adele [his bride] which was important! and Dad looked great."

So while our name may not yet be in lights, it has been most splendidly immortalised in... carpet. This piece of rubber-backed fabulous was presented to us by Mark Deveney, MD of the company that makes for all the grandest establishments  
He was a stranger to us when he came along to collect a Leigh tee to wear on his summer hols. The shirt is the latest in our gallery of Bedlamatic characters, this one honouring that most theatrical of dresser-uppers, Leigh Bowery 
A few weeks later the mat below arrived and for such extraordinary kindness we commend him. 

All we need is a roaring fire in front of our dreamy mat and we are set to hibernate until Spring. Frost is forecast for tonight folks so we recommend staying indoors to plan your winter wardrobe.