Last night I attended a smashing evening run by The Idler Academy up in the far-flung (to me) reaches of Westbourne Park. Richard Barnett gave a lively talk on the origins of gin, distilled from his excellent Dedalus Book of Gin (take off the dust jacket – an unfortunate slip – and enjoy the contents). As one would expect, gin and tonic was served.
To the crowd’s surprise and delight, Richard had invited the ‘Canadian Nightingale,’ singer Patricia Hammond, and the Ragtime Parlour Band to perform a handful of songs from the 1920s, recreating the feel of a speakeasy while we all absorbed Richard’s excellent talk – and our gin.
Having spent the morning losing the ability to focus my eyes from staring at the screen for too long working on poetry (a productive morning but I had to get away from the screen & the page!) I went early, and enjoyed the feeling of being ‘with the band’ as Patricia and her lads tuned up and rehearsed. Appropriately, I idled on the chaise lounge in the window, and a few curious folk popped their heads through the open door to see what this wonderful music was all about.
Many thanks to the lovely girls at the Idler for sharing their early G&Ts with me! What a charming place; I only wish I lived nearer. Congratulations to Richard, Patricia, and the band for a perfect cocktail of an evening: intellect, wit, talent, sartorial excellence and relaxed decadence.