Tuesday 26th Aug:
The tag is taken off by a droll gentleman in half-moon glasses. Unlike his colleague who put it on, he doesn’t wear forensic PVC gloves.

Two abiding moments from the tag month. A few days after it went on, I weighed myself and was shocked that I’d put on about a third of a stone. Wandered around in a state of even greater confusion than usual. Then realised where the extra weight was coming from.

Another occasion: I call the tag firm with some questions. No, they’re not available in any other colour but grey. And no, they don’t advise that I decorate it with pink seahorse stickers. The man on the phone isn’t completely sure, but he says it MIGHT count as violation.

Weds 25th August.

First night out since the tag is taken off. I spend it at Madame JoJo’s in Brewer Street, seeing Simon A’s drag queen showtunes evening, ‘The Velma Celli Show’. Lots of twisted and funny takes on songs from Cabaret, Chicago and A Chorus Line. There’s also a spoof of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, the version from the TV series Glee. I’ve still not seen the programme, but I recognise the costumes – red sweaters and blue jeans – just by cultural osmosis.

Weds 25th-Mon 30th August:
Catsitting again in Crouch End, for Jenn C and Chris H while they’re on holiday. The cat, Vyvian, is unusually lethargic. He’s actually suffering from a handful of wounds acquired through fights with other cats (even though he’s neutered), but the marks are so hidden under his fur that no one detects them.

Then on my last evening, he wipes flecks of white gunk from his forehead onto my suit trousers. After much thinking and Googling, I realise it could be pus from an abscess. So I hunt carefully around on his head, and – ta dah! – locate the wound in question. Following more Internet instructions, I soak some cotton wool in warm water and clean both wound and trousers before texting the owners. They whisk him off to the vet the next day. [He’s much better, as of Sept 21st.]

Therapy today: the therapist hears about the tagging, and thinks that not only am I addicted to self-sabotage, but that I use it as way of seeking attention, passive-aggressive style. ‘Notice me, O dole office!’

The sessions now feel so much like hard work, that I realise I’m putting on personae in order to please the therapist. Good Patient. Bad Patient. Both. Which is a waste of time for both of us. So I cancel therapy for the time being. Am in a sort of neutral mindset, as it is: not productive and not doing much with my life, but not strictly depressed either. The therapy was adding to the anxiety, rather than treating it.

Tues Sept 7th
Against Nature at Proud Camden – the last one for now. Grateful thanks to the door volunteers: Alex P, Sam C, Suzanne C. I rather feel I’ve run out of Favour Credit. You can only ask friends to do things for free for so long. Ideally I’d pay the door staff in future, but it’s not possible if I’m already losing money paying the venue (£50 on top of the bar takings), the sound engineer (£100, though he did know the PA inside out, unpacked it, built it, packed it away, and worked all night) and the four live acts (£50 each, apart from the Soft Close-Ups who took pity on me and waived their full fee).

A modest but acceptable turn out (£177), given the tube strike AND a Tuesday evening. I end up losing money once more, but as it’s the last one I don’t mind so much. Am just glad to finish the night with me actually hosting it.

Have learned an awful lot doing Against Nature. About what I can do and what I can’t do. About what I can do, but would rather someone else did; what I can’t do, but could do if I worked at it; and what I can’t do, and will never be able to do. And most of all, what I don’t want to do. Which is promote a monthly club night again. Done that, now. Ticked. It. Off.

I know there is more to life than just ticking off things on a big list, that you’re meant to choose one or two things and stick at them till the grave. But in my case, I’m still finding things spring up which I quite fancy trying out, if only because I’ve not done them before.

I now have a increased respect for promoters, performers, and anyone trying to get anyone else to do anything at all. It’s proper Work. Not Fun. Or at least, promoting is the proper work behind Fun. I still have a terrible problem with these two concepts. In my head, Work is not meant to be Fun. Fun is not meant to be Work. I realise that this is part of My Whole Trouble. Not helped by phrases like ‘Work/Life Balance’. So… Work is not being alive?

A couple of venues have approached me to do something similar with them, so I suppose I must have been at least vaguely good at it. What I may do is try putting on Against Nature as a one-off festival-style event. Festivals do rather seem to be the in-thing right now. Friends are going miles out of their way to get to a festival – Guildford, for example – while eschewing regular club nights and gigs on their own doorstep. The digital era has given non-digital experiences more value. In a world saturated with news coverage and commentary, festivals can be news items AND events.

Thursday Sept 9th:
My joint birthday soiree with Seaneen M at The Hideaway in Tufnell Park. Fourteen friends turn up. Which is perfect for a soiree: not too few, not too many. I love seeing people from the different social worlds I paddle in make connections: David Ryder-P turns out to be from the same small Welsh town as Miss Red. Jenn & Chris provide champagne truffles, and I drink myself into a happy stupor rather than a maudlin one. Given the way most of my birthdays have gone in the past, this is what I believe young people call a ‘result’.


From Alan Bennett’s ‘Father! Father! Burning Bright’:

Midgley took her by the shoulders.

‘Things will change, you’ll see. I’ll change. I’ll be a different person. I can… go. Live! Start!’ He kissed her quickly and warmly and ran from the door down the little drive towards the van. His wife rushed to the door to catch him.

‘Start?’ his wife shouted. ‘Start what? You’re 39.’

I’m 39 now. Still living in the same rented furnished bedsit as I was sixteen years ago (but it IS in a very leafy and sought-after part of North London), and still on the dole, with no savings. Less than the dole, in fact, as I’m paying back a massive overpayment. Lots of time, but no money. But then again, lots of time.

Have applied for a few jobs in the spirit of hilarious optimism, with no joy. Initial enthusiasm has rather been kicked out of me after I gave what I thought was a perfect job interview for a job helping organise exhibitions in libraries. A dozen other people after it, though. But perhaps something will come along soon. I’m available.

Till then, I’m extremely grateful that I’m not doing something I don’t want to do. It’s not quite a definition of a fulfilled and happy life, but it is a luxury.

(And now, St Ives).

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I’m about to scoot off to St Ives for three days. Some catching up is rather in order. First, a commercial break.

My small yet surprisingly powerful Session guitar amp is now up on Ebay, as sold by my brother. Used throughout my time in Orlando & Fosca. It’s just been fully serviced, ready for a new owner:

Now then.

Weds 4th Aug:
Against Nature: August Edition, at Proud Camden.
I have to run the night by remote control: setting everything up, the sweets, the soundcheck, the silent movie,  then I dash off home by 9pm because of my curfew. Kevin Reinhardt does the stand-in promoter duties. Kind door volunteers: Sam C, Farzana F, Sarah H, Alex P, Kitty F. Del Des Anges (sound engineer) and Sophia Wyeth (DJ) also work their socks off for hours on end. I’m utterly grateful to them all.

It ends up being the best attended night of Against Nature to date (including the September one). And I’m not there to attend it myself.

Joe Atari sends me some photos he took.

Ophelia Bitz:

Patti Plinko:

Anne Pigalle:

Thurs 5th August:

Paid work! I do a one-off talk at the National Portrait Gallery on the subject of Queer Perspectives. I’m the guest speaker for Sadie Lee, who puts on the event regularly. Am wearing the tag, and wonder if this is some kind of first for the NPG. Or for wearers of curfew tags. The talk lasts 7pm-8pm, and I easily make it home in time for my curfew. The Northern Line is so much better than it used to be. Still need to write up the notes as an article.

Fri 6th August

To Wynd’s Shop Of Horrors on Mare Street. He’s asked me to DJ at a few of his events, in return for some framed original drawings by Stephen Tennant. I get to pick out the ones I want, settling on an illustrated poem written on Wilsford Manor headed notepaper, a Cocteau-esque portrait of a sailor, and one of Alexander the Great.

A few weeks later (Sept 21st), I hang two of them, using the picture rail in my room. Hanging framed art at home is the closest I feel to being properly grown up.

Back at the shop, I’m interviewed about dandyism by a Polish journalist, Kamilla Staszak. She takes a photo of me wearing the tag:

Fri 20th Aug:

I spend an hour or so collecting for DEC’s Pakistan appeal at Holborn tube, holding a bucket near the foot of the main escalator. It’s an official collection by TFL staff. Although I’m not a TFL employee, they’ve asked friends of friends to boost the numbers. Farzana F is a friend of the organiser, and she’s a friend of mine, so here I am. Quite touching when an old lady stuffs a £20 note into my bucket, while a 6-year-old girl runs over and puts in a penny, encouraged by her parents.

One very weird moment. A well-dressed man stands next to me and asks quietly, ‘Would you be prepared to sacrifice yourself for Pakistan?’

I say, pardon? And he repeats it. What on earth can I say back? Does he want a debate on the subject, right now? Or am I actually being….? No, surely not. And yet, I do have this history of strangers coming up and saying very unexpected things to me. Whatever it is, I want him to go away. I blurt out some words.

‘Um. I’m just collecting coins and notes… That’s as far as I go, I’m afraid.’

And he walks off.

Later, in the laundrette on Archway Road.  As I traipse out the door with my pressed shirts, a woman stops me.

‘Excuse me!’

I turn around. ‘Yes?’

‘You look like Superman.’

‘Right. Thank you.’

She doesn’t seem particularly insane, either.

Somewhere in all this is what, I suppose, my friend Shanthi calls my Unique Selling Point.

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Against Nature – Last One For Now

Wisdom learned from club night promotion: the host can never quite enjoy the party.

I’m doing Against Nature one more time on Tuesday Sept 7th, then taking a break in order to find out what I want to do next.

Here’s the details.


A night for dressed-up dandies and vintage vamps. DJs provide a rococo mix of easy listening, showtunes and exotic pop, punctuated by silent movies, eccentric bands and unconventional cabaret.

Live On Stage:

Vocal harmony comedy group who cram the back catalogues of Madonna, Abba and others into inspired and hilarious medleys.

Inventive and irreverent burlesque performer. Winner of Best Newcomer 2009 at the London Burlesque Festival.

Obsessive compulsive wit armed with ukelele and cupcakes.

Wry pastoral songsmithery courtesy David Shah and Aug Stone

Plus DJ & host Dickon Edwards.

Doors 8pm.
Live acts 9.30pm-11.30pm.
Dancing to 1am.

Door charge: £5 before 10pm. £6 after.

DRESS CODE (optional but preferred): Vintage & dandy-esque.

Proud Camden (South Gallery)
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market,
Chalk Farm Rd, LONDON NW1 8AH.
Tel: 020 7482 3867.


Against Nature – August Edition

Last call for Against Nature – the August edition. Time Out Magazine have included it in their Critics’ Choice list:

Here’s the details.

A speakeasy for dressed-up dandies and vintage vamps. DJs provide a rococo mix of easy listening, showtunes, and exotic pop, punctuated by silent movies, eccentric bands and unconventional cabaret.

…A unique triptych of boho chanteuses. Oh yes!

Legendary, globe-trotting Parisian singer and survivor of the ZTT Records scene, performing songs and erotic poetry from her new show, Amerotica. ‘As if Edith Piaf were booked in the bar in Star Wars’ (US Music Connection)

Eccentric, brooding songstress, channelling whiskey-soaked songs in the carnivalesque spirit of Nick Cave and Tom Waits. ‘A vivid dream of maddening, freakish talent.’ (The Argus)

The sharpest razor-tongued wit in London: vocalist, ringmistress, compere and performance artist with a reputation for stealing hearts, drinks, and anything else not nailed to the table. ‘Bitz may have the voice of an angel but she also has the mouth of a filthy gutter slut.’ (Time Out)

Plus DJ SOPHIA WYETH, spinning easy listening, showtunes, pastiche pop, and all that deviant jazz.

Mr Edwards regrets he is unavailable to attend in person, due to a slight disagreement with the Department For Work And Pensions. Please welcome instead guest host & promoter KEVIN REINHARDT.

Doors: 8pm. Live acts 9.30pm-11.45pm. Dancing to 1am.

Door charge: £5 before 10pm. £7 after.

NB: Latecomers may have to wait until an intermission between live acts.

DRESS CODE (optional but preferred): Vintage & dandy-esque.

South Gallery, PROUD CAMDEN,
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Rd,
Tel: 020 7482 3867.


Against Nature – July Edition

Can’t believe how much time has elapsed since the last entry. If nothing else, putting on a club night forces me to connect with the real world and stops me spiralling into Olympic lethargy.

When organising things via email, I have found that a sound engineer often signs off with ‘cheers mate’, while a promotions officer tends to add little ‘x’s, even though I am not the former’s mate or the latter’s lover. PRs offering kisses sight unseen makes sense, but I wonder why more sound engineers can’t put kisses in their signature too. Heavy lifting shouldn’t necessarily preclude lightness of touch.

I once knew a camp young man who did the sound at a gig venue. He was sacked for apparently not doing a good enough job. Only thing was, his replacement, a more butch, blokier gentleman who favoured tour t-shirts and was no stranger to the phrase ‘you can really taste the hops’, didn’t make the PA sound any better, at least not to my ears. It was neither engineer’s fault: like so many small venue PAs, the sound system was a cheap mess of battered speakers, broken cables and dented microphones stinking of a hundred amateur singers’ gingivitis. There was only so much one could do. The venue manager just wanted to employ someone who looked more like a sound engineer, that was all. All jobs are acting jobs.

All of which leads me to an extremely late plug for tonight’s Against Nature. Here’s the details. I’ve worked out that I need 36 people turning up and paying full price in order to break even. Watch this space tomorrow to find out if I succeed. Better still, come along.

A speakeasy for dressed-up dandies and vintage vamps. DJs provide a rococo mix of easy listening, showtunes, and exotic pop, punctuated by silent movies, eccentric bands and unconventional cabaret.

Performing live this month:

The laconic comedian and star of ‘Bleak Expectations’ airs material from his new Edinburgh show, ‘Toughens Up’.

Gender-blurring star of the boy-lesque scene, performing two separate acts.

Performing as her alter ego, Mavarotti. Winner of the UK’s annual drag king contest, King Of The Castle.


Doors 8pm.
Live acts 9.30pm-11.45pm.
Dancing to 1am.
Door charge: £5 before 10pm. £7 after.

DRESS CODE (optional but preferred): Vintage & dandy-esque.

Proud Camden (South Gallery)
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AH.
Tel: 020 7482 3867.


Against Nature – The June Edition

The first Against Nature took place without any deaths. The acts were all splendid, and it was lovely to see so many friends, many of whom I’d not seen for a while.

My main obstacle was simply getting a decent crowd to turn up. There were 35 paying people, which looked a bit sparse in a room with a capacity of 200, but then that was 35 more than I’d expected. It had, after all, only been booked with ten days to go.

The deal with the venue was that, on top of them taking the money from the bar, I had to also give them a flat fee of £50 from the door takings. In return, I got the room (a 200-year-old former horse hospital), with its own staffed bar and toilets and a fairly good-sounding PA with mics (though one or two of the cables were faulty and had to be replaced on the night), CD decks and a DJ mixer, a DVD player & screen, a dressing room, extra tables and chairs specially laid out, a security guard, a cashbox and float, and their PR services. They could also provide a sound engineer and door person, but I’d have to pay them extra. So I found ones who would do it for next to nothing. Or, as it turned out, for nothing.

The rest of the door takings I divided up among the acts and guest DJ. It was awkward to have to pay The Rude Mechanicals (who had to bring in all their amps and drums), Moonfish Rhumba, DJ Ally Moss and Barry & Stuart rather less than they usually get – B&S present their own TV shows on Channel 4, after all. But I hope they understood.

Thankfully Tricity Vogue did her set for free, as a belated (or early) birthday present for me. Ms Del Des Anges did sound tech duties gratis as a favour (and we both had to butch up and set up the PA from scratch, which was a shock), and Sarah Heenan took money on the door – in the cold outside – purely out of the goodness of her divine heart. I’m utterly grateful to them all.

I took no cash for myself. In fact, I lost money; through buying drinks for acts (the venue only provides free non-alcoholic drinks), buying a few props (silk petals, scented candles), and investing in my own DI box for the PA. Unless it becomes a sell-out night, Against Nature is going to be a pay-to-promote affair.

So, why am I bothering?

Because I get the chance to put on my favourite acts, sharing them with the world. Because coming up in July is a bill featuring a drag king singer and a ‘boy-lesque’ performance artist, alongside an eccentric indie band and a camp Eddie Izzard-esque comedian. I am confident there is nowhere else in the known universe with such a bill. If creativity is about Adding Unique Content, club promotion too can be a creative act.

And I’m doing it because I like the idea of carving out a little corner of Camden Town that is Dickon-shaped, for one night a month till September, if not forever.

And because, all the fiddly bits aside, it is Fun. I like Fun. I don’t know about you (I must stop saying this).

I shall definitely do it until September 1st. After that, either the venue will kick me out for not being fabulous enough, or I’ll find it too expensive or stressful or time-consuming to keep doing. Only one way to find out.

The experience has left me with a newfound respect for promoters and PR people at every level. It’s hard enough to persuade friends to come along to your event, let alone strangers.

In many ways, I am just the sort of person ill-suited to club promotion: I’m aloof, passive, stand-offish, lazy, and do not regard myself as a normal member of the human race. I believe the best way to persuade people to do things is to leave them alone and just… live in hope.

Perversely, I believe this is exactly why I should have a go at club promotion.

But Kevin Costner lied to me. If you book it, they will not necessarily come. You have to tell people. And tell them, and tell them, and tell them. It’s such a leap of faith.

I have also learned that the Facebook Events utility can be misleading. The FB event page for the May 5th night said 139 people had ‘Confirmed’ they were attending. Foolishly, I believed this would actually would be the case on the night. But then, more than a few of those who’d ‘Confirmed’ appeared to be near-naked young men and women, with model looks, perfect bodies and addresses in the Philippines. Looking further, their own list of FB friends seemed to be suspiciously meagre. I have learned that it you book it, there will be spam.

This time I’ve managed to inform about 20 different listings organisations, and have had posters and flyers printed. They look like this:

(Designed by Jo Bevan, image found by Maud Young: more favours from friends)

If you know of somewhere in London which would display a poster or provide a space for a small pile of flyers, please do get in touch.

Finally, here’s the listing for the next Against Nature, on June 2nd. Please pass it on. The live acts are superb and unique, and they really, really deserve an audience.

Weds June 2nd, 8pm to 1am.
Proud Camden (South Gallery),
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market,
Chalk Farm Rd, London NW1 8AH.
Tel: 020 7482 3867.

Dickon Edwards (Beautiful & Damned, Latitude) curates a twisted speakeasy for dressed-up dandies and vintage vamps. Dance to a decadent mix of easy listening, showtunes, pastiche pop, and all that deviant jazz. Plus a suitably eclectic yet aesthetic gaggle of live acts. Every first Weds of the month in Proud Camden’s South Gallery.


Singer-songwriter Martin White’s 20-piece ensemble, as featured on BBC4’s ‘Nerdstock’. “Wonderfully eccentric” – Time Out London.

Polemic spoken-word synthpop, purveyors of such albums as ‘Carrion Camping’.

Burlesque performer of questionable sanity, fresh from her appearance as a guest star judge in this year’s Tournament of Tease.
MySpace: Crimson Skye

Victorian-themed improvised comedy, courtesy Fat Kitten Improv’s James Ross and Daniel Barker. Ripping yarns and tales of derring-do from the four corners of the globe.
Facebook: Fat Kitten Improv


Plus resident DJ & host DICKON EDWARDS

Doors 8pm.
Live acts 9.30pm-11.45pm.
Dancing to 1am.

I’ve put up a batch of even cheaper tickets at
Door charge: £5 before 10pm. £7 after.

NB: Latecomers may have to wait until an intermission between live acts.

DRESS CODE (optional but preferred): Vintage & dandy-esque.

Facebook Event page


‘Against Nature’: My New Club Night

Last Thursday. A gentleman from the venue Proud Camden emails me out of the blue. Would I like to put on my own club night there? A bit like Beautiful & Damned, but a bit more dark and twisted and arty? With live acts and dancing?

I say: yes.

To try me out (and for me to try them out), they offer me the smaller room – the South Gallery – for the first Wednesday night of every month. Fine. Except that the first one would be May 5th. A mere 12 days away. We’ll understand if you can’t quite get the numbers in, they say. Just see how you get on.

Three days and much emailing later, I have a bill of four for the 5th: boyish TV magicians Barry & Stuart, dapper musical comedians Moonfish Rhumba, surreal jazz-rockers the Rude Mechanicals, and sassy cabaret songstress Tricity Vogue. As these are some of my favourite acts around, it feels like my own miniature Meltdown Festival. For the next few dates, I hope to include performance poets, alternative burlesque dancers, spoken word. Whatever fits. Or rather, whatever doesn’t fit.

I’ve also hired my very own door person, and even my own sound engineer, thanks to kind friends with connections. And I’ll be the main DJ and host.

Good, I think. Done. Well done. Except that now I have to book an audience too.

It’s far too late to get the May 5th details into the listings of weekly magazines, let alone monthly ones. But I have a kind friend designing a logo, flyer and poster right now, which I hope to get quickly printed and distributed around Camden, even if there’s just days to spare.

Plus there’s still the Internet. And I do forget just how many people read this diary. Twice in the last week I’ve had people at London cafe tables shout ‘Love your blog!’ as I pass. And today a man from the BBC World Service emailed to say they wanted to use one of my entries on their programme. It was too last minute and didn’t happen, but at least it reminded me that my main publicity outlet may be right here.


The new club night is called AGAINST NATURE, after the Huysmans book. Proud Camden, first Weds of the month. Please pass it on.

There’s a Facebook group for the club here. Please join if you want to receive details of the various dates.

Here’s what I’m sending out to listings:

Dickon Edwards invades Camden with his very own twisted speakeasy for dressed-up dandies and vintage vamps. Dance to a decadent mix of easy listening, showtunes, pastiche pop, and all that deviant jazz. Plus a suitably eclectic yet aesthetic gaggle of live acts. Every first Weds of the month.


Boyish BAFTA-nominated comedy magicians, who regularly perform wonder invoking, laughter inducing, and awe-inspiring trickery. Presenters of such TV series as ‘Magick’, ‘Dirty Tricks’ and ‘Tricks from the Bible’.

Immaculately-groomed musical comedy troubadours. Finalists in the Hackney Empire New Act and Amused Moose competitions.

Offbeat & sassy songstress with a colourful history of romantic misadventure.

Miss Roberts and her exotic cohorts unleash their brand of surreal art-jazz-rock, with the distinct possibility of lessons in toe sucking.

Plus elegant DJ and host Dickon Edwards (Beautiful & Damned, Latitude, White Mischief, Last Tuesday Society).

Doors 8pm.
Live acts 9.30pm-11.30pm.
Dancing to 1am.

Advance tickets: £5
Door charge: £5 before 10pm. £7 after.

DRESS CODE (preferred): Vintage & dandy-esque.

South Gallery at PROUD CAMDEN,
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market,
Chalk Farm Rd, LONDON NW1 8AH.
Tel: 020 7482 3867.

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