12th Jul 2010
Get Hitched! Get Committed! by the Book Club Boutique
Last weekend, I found myself somewhere I hadn’t been for at least ten years: inside a church. It may have been in the dark heart of sin-crazed Soho, but stepping into the cool, candle-lit stainglassed stone chapel at The House of St Barnabas still made me fret I was about to be struck down by a vengeful deity or come out in blisters all over my body. Turns out there was no need to worry. My date and I were there, after all, to witness “the marriage of books, booze and boogie-woogie” at a shindig appropriately named “Get Hitched! Get Committed!” organised by the brilliantly bold and original Book Club Boutique.
Fronted by the wickedly charismatic and hilarious Salena Godden (“the Mae West madam of the literary salon,” according to The Sunday Times) in disguise as an army general, the format of the evening went like this: Literary London’s leading lights got dolled up in their best wedding outfits, from sharp suits and some surreal and sinister moustaches for the gents and an assortment of fancy frocks, big hats and tulle veils for the ladies. In the ramshackle secret garden, we slurped cocktails in the sunshine, then bagsied a place on the stone benches in the chapel to wait for the ceremony to begin, complete with wedding programme and fake paper money we would eventually pin to the happy trio.
Once we were settled (and had been welcomed by ‘the General’), we were treated to a series of readings, one highlight of which was Malcolm Bennett (pictured above), a stern Tom Selleck look-alike with an intimidating moustache and a comforting Scouse accent. Then, the marriage itself, in which three members of the audience were selected to represent an unholy trinity of books, booze and boogie-woogie, and wedded by the General, complete with an objection from MC Curious and music from the gorgeous Lisa Lore.
After a break whilst we blotted our dewy eyes with tissues and discussed what a beautiful service it had been, we reconvened in the church to be introduced to Michael Curran of Tangerine Press. You see, we hadn’t gathered only to celebrate a blissful marital union, but also the second edition of Dwang, an annual independent journal featuring prose, poetry, photography and illustration. Once Michael had told us all about it, some of the contributors read their work from the latest issue. My favourite of these was Scottish poet and novelist Jenni Fagan (author of Urchin Belle). Then, some jaunty tunes by Claire Nicolson (wearing the hat she got hitched in as a nod to the evening’s marital theme), and a brilliantly bitter and vitriolic best man’s speech from Stuart Evers.
The Book Club Boutique are on a summer honeymoon from Soho for the next few months, but they will be rocking their own stage at Standon Calling in August and at the Electric Picnic in September. After last weekend, I’m now a devout convert, so I’ll see you there. In the meantime, you can keep an eye on their shenanigans by following them on Twitter or checking out the website.
Post by Jane Bradley
Photo used with kind permission of Gaynor Perry