Londoners, listen up! I have the answer. Get ye down to The George Tavern on the last Sunday (probably wet!) of every month and have a free - yes FREE - singalong with an amazing bunch of people who will have you tapping your feet, belting out a song and sticking up two fingers at the weather. It's Variety Bunker time.
Regular readers will know that I’m an ex (Read: frustrated) actress and when I wrote ‘Stilettos & Stubble’ I took great pleasure in creating ‘The Gossamer Glove’ where it’s set. If the truth be known, my dream is to own that club in real life - but instead of pure drag I’d host everything from drag to burlesque, torch songs to the more bizarre.
The George Tavern is not The Gossamer Glove, I can’t lie to you. Imagine a run down, typical East End pub. Well inside, anyway - the outside has recently had a facelift. It’s basic - with a worryingly distressed ceiling and graffiti in the loos (very funny it is too), but first appearances can be deceptive. Delve deeper and you discover its rich heritage - from its ornate bar to the VIPs who have graced its doors over the years. The patron's area isn't glamorous at all, but … it’s filled with love, happy stuff and I’ve come home feeling like I’ve just experienced a smashing slice of whacky Britishness!
I walked in with hubbie and the teen, not quite knowing what to expect. A few tables surrounded the stage and piano where the audience were waiting for the show to begin. A large farmhouse table offered food, provided by the artists, and punters were invited to help themselves. Waiting for a show at four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon felt a little odd but once the acts began nobody gave a hoot what time it was.
We started with 'For the Boys' with Mister Meredith on piano (I do so love a man in uniform) and the Divine Miss Em (fab legs and lungs). We laughed, we sang, we clapped and we had a sing-off. It felt like it was four in the morning - weird but true. Songs ranged from traditional feelgood war songs to more updated numbers. We even sang ‘Fairytale of New York’ because it was requested -‘ in effing May!’ as the Divine Miss Em pointed out.
We moved on to a double act, the Fabulous Ray & Johnny - again in uniform (Home Guard) - who took us on a journey singing George Formby songs on banjos. Once again, everybody joined in.
After a brief interval we were wowed by the drag act RubyVenezuela and, I have to say, I fell a little bit in love. We’re talking ‘old school’ drag - think Danny LaRue on steroids and you’re just about there. She belted out songs as she wheezed, stuffed up jokes and flirted with the audience like a trooper. When her act was over and my husband accidentally knocked my wine all over the floor, she thought nothing of giving me half her vodka and coke in my glass with a sequinned wink and a bitchy, ‘Get him to buy you another one immediately!’
The afternoon ended with more from ‘Songs For the Boys’ and then the barman joined them for THE MOST AMAZING version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. OMG! WHAT a talent. I've since found out that he was on ‘The Voice’ last year. Go Jamie! You can check him out on YouTube.
I can’t begin to tell you how upbeat I felt after experiencing this little piece of Sunday afternoon magic. Everyone at The George Tavern was happy. There were groups of people, gay and straight couples, a disabled lady on her own, even a mum breast-feeding alone - it’s a feelgood place that touches your heart.
So when I heard that it’s under threat of closure, I got a bit cross - and we all know what Mummy Misfit’s like when she’s cross! Save The George Tavern! (See NME article). We need places like this - places where people can go and know that they’ll leave feeling uplifted.
So that was my Sunday. Boring? Hell no! Made me even more determined to open ‘The Gossamer Glove’? Hmmm …
I have not been paid to write this review - this is my opinion only.
The acts at ‘The George Tavern’ ask that you make a contribution in the hat as it comes around.
If you want to book any of the acts above please go the links on their names - you won’t be disappointed.