What a night. It was about the time that it became what a morning that P, legs stretched out long across the thick carpet as he lay nearly horizontal in the embrace of the pale oxblood leather sofa, imparted this choice piece of information.
“Elvis ate squirrel.”
M, the internationally renowned artist, writer and something to do with a seminal British band, still huddled in a large black coat and wooly scarf with his couture sub-bondage-trousered legs curled beneath his hunched form, nodded in agreement.
The waiter, for whom the word “sashay” had been invented, shimmied across the room, tray balanced on the flattened hand of one elegantly up-curved arm, his tall, handsome dancer’s grace slightly marred by excessive diameter of the circles described by his hips. Another round of drinks was placed carefully on napkins on the low table.
Those familiar with the calibre of my mind will realise that I immediately assumed this remark referred to a sexual practice popular among popstars of the 60s with which I was not yet acquainted. Either personally or by repute.
“He, uh, ate squirrel? Elvis? The Elvis?”
P nodded silently, his electric blue eyes conveying not a hint of the salacious.
I was at a loss. J, for whom these surroundings were equally unexpected and unfamiliar, studiously avoided my gaze and seemed preoccupied with her dry white wine. I took refuge in my capybara*, sucked vigourously on the straw and managed to produce the revolting rattling noise so beloved by small children with fizzy drinks.
We were in London’s legendary haunt of artists, glitterati, media daaahlings and other variants of the uncommon or hothouse luvvie, the Groucho Club, but the evening had started much earlier at an equally unlikely venue – The Fly, for the album launch party of Akira the Don.
J and I hadn’t been entirely optimistic about the quality of the entertainment, but it’s not every day that one can say “I’m on the guest list” so we went along. And although the support acts were less than brilliant Akira the Don was really very good and the evening was described by the Don himself on his blog as “so, yeah, dope“.
That’s him in the middle there. The long blonde hair is clearly visible but you can’t see the Dali moustache and generic beard. The presence in the audience of a white-haired vicar in a suit wearing a poppy in his buttonhole and a woman older than I was accounted for by the woman on the right being their daughter. They pulled up the average age of the crowd closer to our own, but it still hovered around 19 years.
How did two staid middle-aged matrons without offspring in the band end up at such an event? If you visit Akira the Don’s music page you’ll see a small boy dressed as a pirate with big blue eyes. He is my son A’s best friend as well as being the son of my friend F and P, manager of the Don.
It was they who wafted us off to the Groucho after the gig for “a quick drink”. I in my dog-walking jeans and bull-dyke-arse-kicking-boots, J in the clothes appropriate for a work-related course on the oncology of the head and neck. I was worried we wouldn’t be let in, but entirely groundlessly so.
Even when F and P left us there because they had to rescue the baby-sitter nobody stared or pointed us out as obvious interlopers. The drinks are possibly the most expensive in London but fortunately I’d found a £10 note on the pavement so that about covered one capybara, which helped. Even habitué M left to drive back to the home counties and listen to the new Dylan album. We eventually staggered out at nearly 2am feeling thoroughly decadent and more than somewhat smug.
And what about “eating squirrel” I hear you ask. Well, it was no more than the literal truth. His family was poor so to supplement their diet they shot and ate the local arboreal residents. Yes, I know. Slightly disappointing. But it might have been some really gross rodent abuse which you’d much rather forget about but be unable to put out of your mind having once heard the details, so be grateful.