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The Show March 2004

Well where do I start? Usually with this phrase, yet again great bands, great music and great fun had by all. But what do you expect?
The Proles put in a fantastic set, and out of the 3 times I've had the pleasure of seeing them recently this was the best. I'm still humming 'England' now, so there's the proof, fantastic old skool indie and then turning it up a notch with a bit more rockier sound.
Monkey Nuts followed and kept up the tempo keeping everybody dancing with some of there now trademark infectious ska.
Unfortunately letting themselves down a bit off stage with some rather poor behaviour, your not diva's yet and that sort of thing won't win friends or influence people. Take note, too good a band for that.
The Crowd: March

A Prole

Some More Proles

The Harbinger part 1

Speed Dating

Roger Harbinger investigates the new coupling phenomenon that is
speed-dating. He sends back his report:

I have to say I was nervous. Getting back out there had been a strange
obsession for me ever since my wife blew-up, and I was feeling
under-prepared and jumpy. The idea of a date, always daunting, was
complicated by the knowledge that I would be meeting ten women tonight.
This would be more than just a clammy, edgy first date ……. This was

Speed-dating is an increasingly popular way of meeting new people.
According to the party-organiser's blurb "the new way to meet compatible
singles, make new friends, and connect".

My secretary and first wife Marjorie had her usual carte blanche in
dressing me. I had on a pastel cerise pink jumper tied in a loose knot
around my neck, dress-down corduroys and, of course, the lucky white
winkle-pickers. My attitude to fashion has always been …. stay loyal to
the 'dandy look' - on average it will be somewhere in the region of
'fashionable' every fourteen years.

I made my way to the venue. It was at the Eastern end of town, a place
full of asymmetric hair-cuts. The bar was busy downstairs, but
fortunately the upstairs room had been hired for this special event.
Offered 'grass' on entering the establishment, I was quick to hush this
man. "We've had crazy-paving since 1987," I said, almost in
commiseration, and pressed on into the bar room.

The thudding bass was an insult to the senses. Considering the amazing
ease of composition allowed (and encouraged) by modern recording
technology, consumers must be wary of the right equipment falling into
the wrong hands, I thought to myself as I mounted the stairs. It would
be a relief to get into a more conducive environment. Something
altogether softer.

When I arrived upstairs, I was given a scorecard, a pen and a badge by
Herod, the party-organizer. An entrepreneur of the first-order, he began
holding these 'connexions' parties in 2002, and now demand is so high,
he holds 4 gatherings a week. After each date the idea is to mark on the
scorecard whether or not one would like to see the lady again. It seemed
a clinical way of playing with fate, and I noticed that the pens were
not unlike the cheap stubby biros one finds in a bookmakers.

My first speed-date was with Renee, a stocky French-Canadian, with the
build of a tight-head lock and the most marvellous eyes. A wonderful
blue, like lapis lazuli. She explained that she is new to London, and
that the conveyor belt of men this venture provides is eerily similar to
a dream she used to have back home in Vancouver.

"Hendrix, I believe, spent time in Vancouver." A good opening gambit I
felt. Discover origin, find common ground. I continued, "Despite our
obvious polarity; him - purple velour flairs, unkempt afro, LSD; me -
narrow cut bespoke, side parting, Laudanum. We were firm friends in late
60's Seattle". I was rambling here and I knew it, but there was so much
I had to say to her in those three minutes. She lurched away from the
table at only one minute and forty seconds. I had to show her how much I
wanted 'us' to work "I'm intending to frequent Vancouver's nudist
beaches in search of voluptuous bisexual women this summer!! Rennee!!
Darling …." But, she was gone.

I slumped back in my chair. People were staring at me, and I was
flushed. I felt immediately that I should sit up or even stand ….. tall
like a tree. But still the staring eyes. Blank looks from the blank

But in this scenario redemption is always just round the corner, for,
here in front of me, thrusting her hand in my direction, was date number
2. "Antonia" said the name badge. "Hello Antonia" said I as I grasped
her hand and shook. "Lovely to meet you, Roger" she purred. She was
extremely tall, at least a head taller than me, with a thick mane of
treacle hair down to her waist. It was happening again. I was falling
for her. Can a man stumble from one infatuation to another so quickly?
Is speed-dating healthy!?

We were still clasping each other's hands, and I was sure I felt a small
twitch of her right ring-finger against the palm of my own hand. This
set my mind racing. And as we both sat down I began to puzzle why she
should have given me that signal.

For the uninitiated, a single twitch of the right ring-finger when
shaking hands is a classic Masonic 'check'. "Are you one of us?" she
appeared to be saying to me.

"Why mix business with pleasure?" I asked.

"I'm sorry?" replied Antonia. Her brow furrowed, but she lost none of
that breathy composure. She clearly didn't want to talk about the lodge
right now; three minutes isn't long enough, I knew. And anyway, it would
keep. We small-talked for thirty five seconds, a slalom of trivia. In
this telescoped three-minute romance though, anything is possible, I

"You are fighting a liar in my heart", nerves had sprung this
unfortunate spoonerism upon me ….."lighting a fire in my heart" I
quickly countered, but our three minutes had elapsed.

A succession of nubile things came and went. I shimmied and winked my
way through them, beginning to rather enjoy myself. There was Ania,
daughter of the Polish ambassador's naval attaché, Rita from
Sawbridgeworth, Andrea with the Mohican, elfin Janette, Roy (joined the
wrong queue - but a real sweetie, we're going to see each other again)
….. I was dizzy with it all.

Chrissie was 'girl number 10', and she passed me a note telling me all
about herself, explaining that she wouldn't be talking. Her jaw was
wired - a result of an accident she'd had while water-skiing. The note
explained that without speech she was having difficulties meeting
people. I cried when I read it, but they were tears of happiness such as
you read of in books. Speed-dating was providing a real service for this
woman, and others like her.

Antonia had been my favourite. Something about her length and sheer
masculinity had appealed to me; and I was acutely aware of the whiff of
constabulary all about her. That handshake, the Doctor Marten shoes.
Police officers, and even their daughters, are great catches. They
benefit from startlingly low insurance premiums. Something screamed at
me "Never fall for them!! Remember your first fiancée, Cecelia. You
started to like her, and it all went wrong. Since you left her in
Melbourne everything's fine. Ok, Pickles doesn't get fed so often and
the Wisteria is drooping in the hanging-baskets .... but, I mean, come

I chose not to recall any of the ladies. As an undercover journalist, my
remit wouldn't allow further interviews with anyone present, and I stole
away from the event, innocence intact, enriched by the experience. Home
to Marjorie, a glass of Advocaat, and 'Weatherview'.

Roger J Harbinger QC Bar (retd.)

Tea Face