Oh yes. Last night saw Speakeasy take over Drink, Shop & Do again, with our twelfth episode, and a very important one at that: our Fantasy special. The night started, as it always does, with delicious cocktails at the bar. It ended, as it always does, with Big Macs on the bus. Here’s all the stuff that happened in the middle.
First up, lovely E. J. Swift hopped onto the bar to give us a reading from CATAVEIRO (buy it, buy it here), the second instalment of The Osiris Project trilogy. She was followed by Rosie Best, who gave us a foxy turn from her YA novel, SKULK (Here, get it here). And taking us into the interval in style was Den Patrick, reading from his acclaimed debut, THE BOY WITH THE PORCELAIN BLADE (Get it immediately, do it here).
During the interval, there was the small matter of a CHALLENGE. But more on that later.
Alex Bell kicked off the second half with a brilliant taster of her LEX TRENT series, (click here, click right here). And closing the show, Charlie Fletcher treated us to a reading from his much anticipated adult debut, THE OVERSIGHT (which you can get by clicking exactly here).
Which was all exciting enough in its own right. But let’s talk about that challenge now.
Speakeasy veterans will know that we love seeing authors read, but what we love even more is seeing them write. And so we make them do it. Collaboratively. In a very short timeframe. And we don’t even let them choose what about. We let you, the audience, do it.
So, accordingly, before the interval we asked our audience what they would like our teams of authors to write about. There were some excellent suggestions. There was ‘disco balls’ from a wonderful person in the back room, which would have been a most cheery thing to write about. There was ‘A shoplifter on the Old Kent Road’ (in keeping with some of our recent themes). In the front room, there was the lovely ‘A lesbian wedding in a Scottish castle’, from a lady who was planning that exact same thing. There was also the entirely adorable ‘Panda babies’ from a sweet soul near the front.
Somehow – and I’m still not sure exactly how, or who can be blamed – these two lovely and innocent themes were Frankenstein-ed into the infinitely more unwieldy ‘Lesbian Panda Wedding’. Ian ignored my pointed looks. People started to head to the bar for drinks. Somehow, we had our topic. Lesbian Panda Wedding.
Which actually proved a pretty fruitful subject. Just check out these magnificent efforts:
Team Ellard (Bell, Fletcher, Ellard)
‘I hate you,’ screamed Declan, the angry panda.
‘You ruined the honeymoon,’ said Jodie, the passive aggressive panda.
‘You wanted to come to Chesil Beach!’ said Declan, chewing a tablemat made of bamboo.
‘And you thought it was appropriate to shave all your fur off?’ said Jodie, fingering an After Eight.
‘Not all of it,’ said Declan, defiantly. ‘Sexy and mysterious!’
‘That tuft isn’t hiding anything,’ said Jodie. ‘Is your name even Diana?’
‘Yep,’ said Declan, the male panda.
‘Bollocks,’ said Jodie.
‘Sorry,’ said Declan. ‘It’s this dress. Sex as a construct is somewhat vexed for pandas.’
‘Listen,’ said Jodie, the female panda. ‘Tell me straight: are you even a proper lesbian panda?’
‘Why oh why oh why,’ said Declan, ‘does everything have to be so black and white with you?’
Team Cloke (Swift, Best, Patrick, Cloke)
After the guests had left, Lucy and Ling Ling the pandas surveyed the wreckage of their wedding.
Except not all of the guests had left.
The polar bears had consumed all five courses and at least two of the waiters. Sharon the koala was circling the room, still intent on shagging grizzly Uncle Bruce, thus far without success. The red pandas, after draining Lucy’s prized single malt, had absconded with the wedding cake as a hangover breakfast for the following morning.
‘It’s okay,’ Ling Ling consoled her. ‘I stole it from the shop on the Old Kent Road.’
At least the feud between the honey badgers had been avoided by a careful selection of Kylie. ‘When I said hire an underground DJ,’ said Lucy, ‘I didn’t mean a mole.’
They looked up at the ceiling, where a lone marsupial cavorted with the balloons.
‘At least we’ll always have disco balls.’
We asked the audience to vote. They did so. It was a close call. There were possibly some double-voters. But we called it. A victory for Team Cloke, Lucy and Ling Ling, taking the series score to five all. It’s still all to play for.
And continue to play for it we will, at our June Speakeasy. Which is happening on Tuesday, 10th June, at Drink, Shop & Do, from 7pm. Authors to be announced very, very soon (and they are just GREAT).
Until then, Challenge Fans. Until then.