Flying Down the Yellow Brick Road

I saw End of The Rainbow at Trafalgar Studios the other day. It’s a play about the last few months of Judy Garland’s life. The theatre is like a small cinema and they sell Revels and beer. Tracie Bennett as Garland makes the play, and the sets, the songs. Also the band that materialise behind a glass stage and accompany her through classic Garland tunes.  Over the Rainbow, of course, is in there. Bennett can really deliver a line, and to see the grown up Dorothy drunk, always itching for tablets she’d hide in her shoes, under carpets, or down the back of the sofa, was tragic. It was also humane and quite often totally hilarious, because Judy Garland was a funny woman. She was a spiky, nervous, neurotic, several hundred miles an hour nut!  When she climbs up on a table in her hotel and threatens to jump (so the hotel manager will stop hassling her for money) she says, ‘This’ll work, nobody wants to see Dorothy splatted all over their red carpet!’ Her husbands are a waste of space, her managers, agents, all hanging off the fame and fortune of a golden goose. In the play she has only a few close friends, mainly her long term accompanist, Anthony, an old gay guy who wants her to come and live with him in Brighton so he can look after her. She seems to consider it as she knows she’ll die soon, but not really. At the end nobody could save her. That live fast, die young punk ethos was manifest in her swagger, it’s there when she tells her fifth husband to ‘suck my cock,’ and reminisces on the role that made her ‘Skip down the yellow brick road? I was so fucking high I flew down it!’ When she goes, at the end, it’s quick and sad. Other than that the script didn’t hold up too well, but it didn’t really need it, great one liners and the truth of an addiction that would not let go, provide enough on their own. Here is Eva Cassidy, singing Over the Rainbow.

Other than that, this year has changed from the last. I’ve a new novel and the old one is getting sent out to publishers. I return to the waiting game that is words and the world. Well, really I return to the words because the world is flighty and waiting bores me. My poetry collection is 3AM Poetry Book of the Year which is uber cool. I’ve not done any readings for a while, I probably will later on in the year. The Marquis de Ridgwell is immersed in his new novel The Jago, which I think (when I can steal a look) is a stunning novel. That whole era in London is an amazing time to document and I’m looking forward to reading the whole thing. Other than that, the new generation’s arrival is imminent, may they always upstage the last!  Onwards, onwards. Watch out for those flying monkeys, the wheelies are grabbing hold of the back of cars and racing each other down the M4. Like the sign says, the Universe is closed – but we can always take the rainbow. Salut, salut, salut Jxx

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