I sat in the south wing library of Holbrook Towers, smiling happily to myself.
I had spent a useful afternoon rearranging the many shelves of books; returning the many works of the Marquis de Sade to the children's section, scribbling humorous pictures in my first edition Dickens novels, and opening the large box of Dan Brown books delivered that morning. The rest of the afternoon was spent in pure delight hurling Brown's beige words into the fireplace book by book.
I rang the bell for the butler as the last book disappeared into flame, the warmth adding to the general cosy atmosphere of my favourite room. (the most useful that works of Brown had ever been, I thought).
Such joy; I was in most excellent mood.
My smile was disturbed however when the butler arrived. For I could see that he held a small silver platter in his hand; this meant visitors.
"Sir, there you have a gentleman caller. He is wearing a...tutu."
"A tutu? Good lord! It’s not a Wednesday! I shall have to complain to the agency again." I barked. "Send him up at once. Someone shall pay for this and for once it won't be me!"
Minutes later the man, calling himself Iestyn Edwards, pirouetted into room with a grace and balance that I had not seen since Markova. I offered him a seat, ordered drinks, and decided to find out more.
So who are you and what brings you to my humble castle?
Mainly performing as Madame Galina Ballet Star Galactica, I am a variety turn. The Liverpool Post said, ‘Has to be the result of a drunken one-night stand between Captain Mainwaring and Anna Pavlova.’ I’m part of the reburgeoned – is that a word? – London scene, and of the never went anywhere Blackpool scene.
Three sell-out gigs in the Tower Ballroom, don’t you know! And one on the North Pier when the electric fused, the producer absconded with the Festival takings and my guest sword swallower lay down in the road to stop him reversing his Ford Anglia out of the N.C.P. car park.
Truth! Am here because your posts make me chuckle.
Written a book have you? What’s the devil is it all about, and can you reduce it down to a summary of 5 words?
My Tutu Went AWOL, which has its London launch on April 3rd, 7pm, at the Hippodrome Casino Leicester Square, is about being the only cross-dressing variety turn ever booked by Combined Services Entertainment to tour outlying bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I got to Combined Services through singing uber-formally on board H.M.S Victory at the naval supper marking the two hundredth anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar, in the presence of Her Majesty. That gig was hosted by Stacks, Royal Marines Commando. Six two, baby of face, blue of eye, rock of outcrop. And shouty. He was then out in Iraq liaising with Combined Services. He gets the ‘arty’ gigs, you see, because his granny was a church organist. Out in theatre he and I had, as he later called them, a number of honourable enemy exchanges.
Five word summary: Marines’ mascot – eventually - MoD’s bane.
You have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity. You are able to send a message to the entire world, but you only have 30 seconds. What would you say?
It’s all a Jolly Caucus race, so keep running until the Dodo says to stop. And if it turns out that you must, award yourself the prize.
I hate the blank page. It laughs at me and visits my nightmares. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Word order for gags. Ken Levison, the great, took my book roughly apart and said that I needed to read the whole thing – for another rewrite - in my Madame Galina voice and above all check for word order. ‘You as her onstage never put a foot wrong in this respect. You writing as you can unforgivably misplace in a sentence “tutu”, “semtex” and “knocked up”.’
What is your earliest musical memory?
My dad, country and western singer Terry Edwards, rehearsing “She Taught me to Yodel”.
Welcome to the Holbrook Towers cinema club! Today’s matinee showing is ‘Iestyn Edwards – A life’. What kind of movie am I in store for this afternoon? Do I need to bring tissues?
Ken, again, thinks that I’m a made-up person. What with my dad being a country and western singer and my mother being a failed opera singer/stage psychic, nowadays member of a healing lodge whose membership continually flouts the rule: No Past Lives and Spirit Guides to be Discussed on the Premises. You’re in for Nathanael West meets all three Trollopes.
When you are 90 years old what will matter to you most in the world? (other than control of your bowels)
Still being able to take an interest.
Describe to me your method of writing in bullet points.
* Sick it up.
* Ignore it for a time.
* Wonder who the hell wrote this shit.
* Edit it for them.
In your opinion what is life’s greatest adventure?
Putting yourself in the way of the most opportunities for serendipity.
Where am I able to find you on the world wide webby thing? Do you tweet? Blog? Can I get hold of some of your writings in online bookshops?
@iestyedwards and @madamegalina twitter
My Tutu Went AWOL is on sale in book shops, from Amazon and the e-book is available from Amazon Kindle.
Bit of YouTube footage: formal singing, then cross-dressed Tytania opposite Gemma Jones’s Bottom! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yki5hxgQau0
Thank you so much for asking!
...and that was it.
With a spring in his step, a twinkle in his eye and my heartfelt thanks for his time, he was gone. Dancing over the drawbridge and off into the golden sunset of a most enjoyable day.
If you enjoy my blog, please consider supporting my novel on Unbound, Domini Mortum. You can find it here: www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum
You won't be disappointed.
(and I may invite you to the castle)