A.F. Harrold’s Lovely Cabaret

Returning for its third outing, for his Lovely Cabaret this year, A.F. Harrold is serving up some delicious oddments, including ukulele-powered nerdplay from Helen Arney, archly English Steampunk-hip-hoppery from Professor Elemental, unexpectedly poetic risqué rambles from national treasure Dudley Sutton and comedy peculiarities from MTV’s Karen Hayley. What could be more lovely than this? Only a Swiss roll full of love, and we may even have one of those (probably not).

So spake the Reading Arts website.

Sue was quite impressed that I went to something as arty as a “cabaret”.  I think she has the wrong idea of what cabaret can be so I looked it up:

floorshow consisting of singing, dancing, and comic acts, performed in a restaurant, club, or bar

Although the performances were on a low stage, there was definitely some singing and comedy with a bar at the back of the room. I’m assuming dancing is optional.

As mentioned, this was the 3rd incarnation and the previous events were, on analysis, ones I shouldn’t have missed but did.

2010 Toby, Karl Johannes Schultz, Byron Vincent, Earl Okin
2012 Robin Ince, John Hegley, The Antipoet, Karen Hayley

No idea what I was doing in 2010 – probably being ignorant of AF Harrold’s work – but last year there was a clash with a family trip to see Alan Davies’ “Life Is Pain” show at the Hexagon.

Tonight, AF was effectively the MC and warmed us up with a random-order poem created by shuffling a set of cards with all the verses on. This was supposedly to prevent boredom creeping in for him and we’d be none the wiser anyway.

First up was Dudley Sutton who looked vaguely familiar. It was only when I later had access to Wikipedia that I found he played Tinker Dill in the early 90s TV series Lovejoy. That’s him on the right in the picture below:

Chris-Jury-Ian-McShane-an-008An impressive 80 years of age and still making movies (Cockneys vs Zombies, anyone?) and performing poetry.

Highlight for me was Helen Arney, geek ukelele player and comedy song writer. Click over to Bandcamp if you want to listen to free stuff. ((Always have to think of American Pie whenever someone mentions bandcamp)).


Karen Hayley ((whose website is being revamped so currently contains nothing…)) read us Jackie Collins sex scenes which had been modified for comedic effect before making way for Professor Elemental.


Definitely someone you need to see on YouTube to get an idea of the act. There’s steampunk – basically colonial period pith helmet and safari outfit – although without all the whizzy accoutrements you would expect from the more dedicated followers of this fashion. And hip-hop although not as you know it. And tea, which he was selling after the event.

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