Cyril Vicious

‘Armando? Are you joining us today?’ Lil was shouting at the wall, the other side of which was the café kitchen.

There was no answer.

Lil waved one hand at me in a decisive manner which seemed to indicate that I should sit.

‘Armando? Are you there?’ Lil was louder and almost trilling her request.

Armando’s head popped out through the kitchen hatch. His hair was messier than usual and a black grease shone from his face. ‘Dishwasher not a-working now, bloody expensive, and I’m a-trying to fix.’

His head disappeared again into the recesses of the scullery.

Lil raised her eyebrows and gave an omnipotent purse of her lips.

‘Armando’s been avoiding me since I asked about his boyfriend. I don’t know why. It’s not as if he needs to be embarrassed to talk to me about it,’ said Lil.

‘How’s your boyfriend Lil?’ I asked.

‘Who?’ Lil knew exactly what I was asking.

‘Bill.’ I answered.

‘He’s not my boyfriend.’ Lil’s response was sharp and fast.

‘Where is he anyway?’ I asked.

‘Now listen here Boulevardier. I know exactly what you’re trying to do and it’s not going to get past me. Bill doesn’t need to come every week. This is my Breakfast Club and as he recently left me for weeks to go and visit his family, I’m not having him here. And don’t try and change the subject.’

Lil lifted the antique china pot and poured the golden liquid into the mismatched vintage cup and saucer in front of her.

‘Armando hasn’t yet told me he’s gay,’ she continued.

‘Is he?’ I asked innocently. I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable having this conversation with Lil. Armando had been open with me but it wasn’t for me to gossip about him, even if it was only with the third axis of our intimate group.

‘Look here. I know these things. Take Cyril for instance,’ said Lil.

‘Who’s Cyril?’ I asked.

‘Don’t you listen to a word I say Wayne?  Cyril, the guy who lives in my block.’

‘Lil I promise you haven’t mentioned him before.’ Lil told so many stories it was difficult to retain the detail. They were invariably colourful, contained drama or tragedy or both. I’m not sure I’d have forgotten hearing about her other gay friends though.

‘Well anyway, he’s in his late sixties and a confirmed bachelor, or so he says.’ Lil released a mammoth cackle, ‘I wasn’t fooled. I managed to wheedle it out of him.’

I was glad I’d ordered a vegetarian breakfast, with a sausage on the side; listening to Lil on a roll was hungry work. I sliced a juicy grilled tomato and pressed it against a sliver of Halloumi. I raised the loaded fork to my mouth and looked expectantly at Lil to continue.

‘He moved in three years ago and wears yellow Marks’ trousers with floral shirts and silk scarves and I knew straight away. He’d lived in Brighton and done a flat swap.

I asked him if he watched Downton Abbey. He said he did, and then I asked who his favourite character was, and do you know who he said?’

‘No idea Lil.’ I didn’t know where our conversation was going or how many clichés we would be embracing.

‘Thomas the Underbutler.’ Lil’s response was perspicacious from her tone but I wasn’t so sure.

‘Thomas is a conniving, sly manipulator. Perhaps Cyril likes those qualities. I don’t think identifying with a character in a TV show gives certainty Lil, although the clothing you describe could tell a different story,’ I said. I started to laugh and thought I’d been funny. Lil wasn’t laughing.

‘No, Cyril is a nice chap. He’s drawn to Thomas as he hides his sexuality too.’ Lil was orating as if a University Professor. ‘And I’m certain that Thomas would be your favourite character too Mr Boulevardier.’ Lil crowed again.

‘I like the Dowager Countess. Maggie Smith has all the best lines,’ I said. In fact I liked Maggie Smith in most of her roles, ‘Tea with Mussolini’ being my favourite.

‘Exactly. That’s precisely the same,’ Lil wasn’t for turning today.

‘Thomas, Maggie Smith, it doesn’t mean anything and I think you’re rather jumping to conclusions Lil.’ I hadn’t seen Lil using stereotyping in such a blatant and shallow way before. She wasn’t being negative or offensive but equally was drawing conclusions from pathways which didn’t link.

‘Let me finish. I also asked Cyril last winter if he’d watched Vicious, you know the show starring Derek Jacobi and Ian Mc’what’s his name, about the two senior gay men who have been together for years. And he said that he was watching it.’


‘Perhaps he fancies Frances de la Tour,’ I offered.

‘Ha, don’t be so bloody stupid. Anyway I know these things. Remember I worked in the theatre for years.’ Lil speared a piece of sausage and thrust it into her mouth in an authoritative manner.

Armando appeared from the kitchens looking flustered but clean, and collected a cup and saucer from the counter and sat down.

‘Is it fixed?’ I asked.

‘For now, but I think I have to call engineer to check. Staff don’t like too much a-washing up.’ Armando was trying to straighten his hair. His hair generally had a mind of its own but being stuck in a dishwasher had heightened its coiffeur. Armando’s ‘just got out of bed’ cool mess was bordering on just being a mess.

One of the waitresses arrived with a fresh pot of Assam tea.

‘We were just talking about television shows Armando. Do you watch Vicious?’ asked Lil with as much subtlety as a baboon’s backside.

‘Yes, I’ve a seen it. I’m not sure it is good.’

‘I knew it,’ said Lil as she sat back in her chair and folded her arms.

A ringing from Armando’s pocket interrupted Lil’s gloating. The dishwasher repair people were en route and Armando was off and to the kitchen again.

‘How’s Mavis?’ I asked Lil.

That wiped the smile from her smug face.

‘Another tea?’ I added innocently as I held the pot above Lil’s empty cup.

Hum Buggery and Dyking the Halls

Aren’t Sunday mornings just the best? I always set my alarm for 8.30am to wake and publish my weekly blog, and then try and spend a couple of hours still wrapped in the warmth and protection of my duvet sipping Assam tea and eating hot buttered toast. A boulevardier should relish these moments of extravagance.

As I languished in my decadence my thoughts turned to the evening ahead. I was looking forward to travelling to Brighton to catch up with a longstanding school friend, Sarah, and watch a Christmassy anti Christmas show hosted by the phenomenons that are VG Lee and Rose Collis.

I was ready to Bah Humbuggers or Dyke the Halls and join these two talented lesbians in their show. The title itself had caused some controversy in a more sensitive area of society, but I shall not discuss that here.

After fiddling around with my social media for some time and see Friends of Ally Pally retweet my blog and have it included in an online publication, The Daily Snapper, I could rise happy.

It was 11am and time for daily ablutions.

After a long soak in the bath, and another cup of Assam, I needed to decide what to wear. The temperatures were plummeting as they do in December and I didn’t want to be cold but wanted to be cool. After considering several options I settled upon a pair of grey jeans, grey desert boots with swirling circular patterns, black Jimi Hendrix t-shirt and a multi coloured H&M sweater.

With the trusty quiff revitalised it was time to go. As I closed the front door at 2.30pm it wasn’t as cold as I had imagined, and even better, the sun was low but out. I had earlier thought it was a grey day from my bed. The combination of clouds, blue skies and low sun made some beautiful shapes in the sky. This year we have been most fortunate in England with bright skies. Usually autumn is a grey sunless season. I have quite taken to capturing photos of the cloud formations and posting them through Instagram to Twitter and Facebook.


A good friend Sammy Jo noticed my passion and text a couple of weeks ago asking ‘Have you given up work and are now a photographer specialising in skies?’ She followed this a few days later with ‘Your sky photos are getting a bit like selfies!!!lol!’

To which I responded ‘Shall we call them cloudies?’ And thus the cloudie was born. Not sure it’s trending yet, but I will persevere.

I boarded the train at Victoria and managed to secure a facing seat with table. I switched on my Kindle and decided to start rereading A Christmas Carol. I thought it rather apt when heading to an event containing BAH HUMBUGGERS in its title.

Starting A Christmas Carol on the 1st Sunday of Advent seemed fitting when en route to a Christmassy anti Christmas show. I smiled to myself and popped another Minstrel in my mouth. I tried to remember the original advertising and I think it was ‘They melt in your mouth and not in your hand.’

It was a little after 5pm and Sarah and I met and went straight to the Emporium Theatre. We were so early that the afternoon tea dance had barely finished. We found a comfortable corner booth and caught up on the last six months’ news since we’d last seen each other.

The Emporium Theatre started life as a Methodist Chapel at the end of the 19th Century but looks more like a gothic church. The main café area is where the main church aisle and alter once lived and is a wonderful large open space with high ceilings. Rather than pews there are less uniform booths, long worn leather sofas and dining sets. The serving area is abundant with lots of home cooked cakes and goodies. We ordered in abundance.

Our creamy, hot, yellow and plentiful scrambled eggs soon arrived which tasted delicious and was washed down with several large glasses of hearty red wine.

The team looked distinctly aloof and anti Christmassy before the show.


It wasn’t long before we were called forward to enter the theatre at the back of the building. The stage was simple with two chairs, a small table with a half full bottle of Sherry (I knew VG was in the house as she is, like me, rather partial to Sherry), another table with a jar of pickled onions on a potty on it, a couple of music stands and Bud the Banjolele (Rose’s instrument).

It was rather chilly in the theatre and all patrons pulled their scarves and coats back on. Was this to add to the Christmassy anti Christmas atmosphere? No, it appeared that the heating had failed. The lovely Emporium served up free hot drinks at the interval to help warm everyone up.

Rose entered the stage looking very smart in a formal tuxedo with tails. Rose treated us to anecdotes about her famous pickled onions and a number of facts dispelling the myths of Christmas. Did you know the concept of sending cards at Christmas was a shrewd business move from the originator of the Penny Post?

Rose then picked up her Banjolele and beautifully sang a couple of feet tapping numbers.

Val (VG) Lee entered stage right with a richly tapestried dressing gown, rollers and her fluffy pussy. Val had previously, and rather salaciously, advertised her fluffy pussy. I might call it a stuffed cat.

Val mesmerised us with an epic tale of friendship amid her friend Deidre’s worship of department store bed linen. Val’s delivery as ever was animated and full of comic timing. The audience roared with laughter. Val even mentioned that she could hear my laugh above all others. I think this was a compliment.


Val then sat down with Rose and interviewed her in a Parky kind of way. Rose gave us some more facts including some wonderful gift suggestions. My favourite was the Christmas pudding shaped juggling balls on offer from Marks and Spencer.

In the interval Sarah had more mint tea and I had more refreshing wine. Micra Mary, a good friend of Val’s, who drives a Micra was attired as an Elf and handed around delicious mince pies.

As the second half started Val treated us to information regarding her worst ever present which was a hot water bottle. She tried to trump the gift giver the following year with a tea cosy.

There were more tales and songs from Rose and VG read her solo erotica story, which had the audience blushing and roaring with laughter in equal measure.

We were on a high and when Rose picked up Bud the Banjolele and started playing Merry Christmas Everyone (accompanied by VG’s backing harmonies while wearing Elf ears) we all joined in the merriment and raised the rafters with our rousing chorus’.

After a brief encore and a couple of extra choruses we all left with a fine Christmas spirit. Had they failed in their mission to Bah our Humbug? Not at all. These great raw performers had put on a great show and we understood them both a little better and left sated with wine, food and song.

The show is on at The Hideaway, Jazz Club, Streatham on 15th December. There are tickets still available and your Boulevardier highly recommends you see it. If you’re lucky you might even see some of Val’s on stage dance moves!