After work I thought I’d venture into Manchester to check out the city’s annual Mardi Gras shenanigans. Caught up in the spirit of goodwill, I ditched the 4×4 and opted instead for public transport to help save the Himalayan Poop Bat which, I’ve been told by my 16 year old niece, is hunted to make Himalayan Poop Soup. This led to my boarding a bus only recently decommissioned by the Pyong Yang Transit Authority and shipped to Britain by sampan in the dead of night. Now glancing down the aisle at the human roadkill sprawled across each seat, I decided to remain standing and endeavoured to engage the driver in some lively banter. This, however, proved a non-starter because life had kicked him in the nuts not once, but several times that shift, reducing him to a series of unintelligible expletives and questionable hand gestures. Backing away slowly, I retreated upstairs where I was immediately overwhelmed by the kind of scented spice you won’t find in any Laura Ashley candle.
Unexpectedly offloaded at the corner of Kidnap and Tetanus, I happened upon an old timer in a doorway balancing a few coins in his outstretched hand. Well, everyone has a story and I had time to spare so I told him to start from the beginning. What unravelled was a sorry yarn indeed and at its end my raconteur summed up his lot, “I have a wooden crate for a seat, I have to beg to use the toilet, people brush past me as if I’m invisible, I can’t afford to buy myself a hot drink because a brew around here costs £5 and, worst of all, I have no idea where I’ll end up tomorrow. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”
“Yes, I do” I commiserated, “because I’ve flown EasyJet.”
I then cut through the Gay Village where I had a deep and meaningful conversation with a 7ft woman. Thelma Mahogany Jr (I very much doubt that’s on the birth certificate) initially stopped me to ask for a light and, yes, I will admit that for a brief moment I was outside my comfort zone. However, I would like to state for the record that it had nothing to do with her station in life and everything to do with the knife down each leg-warmer. Now I’ll talk to anyone and, as luck would have it, it turned out Thelma just happened to be going wherever I was.
As we strolled through The Village I marvelled at the outrageously extravagant decor adorning every building and asked her to pass on my compliments to the Mardi Gras Committee.
“Oh, those aren’t Mardi Gras decorations,” Thelma corrected me.
“They’re not?” I queried, taking closer look. “Then why are they up?”
“Isn’t your neighbourhood decorated all year round?”
“Then what’s your street like?” she looked at me, puzzled. “Is it just blank space everywhere?”
“Uh, I guess so,” I murmured, now giving it some thought.
“That’s a bit of a waste, don’t you think? Why not jazz it up? Honey, you gotta live a little!”
The lady had a point. And while I might not have gone in for the winged butt-plugs, I was starting to come around to the idea of a themed neighbourhood, in principle.
And Thelma has dreams. She informed me that she is, among other things, an artiste who will soon be appearing at The Manhole in her one-woman show, a tribute to women of colour, past and present, entitled From Motown To Ho-Town. The production sounds very edgy because in the opening number she appears onstage as a black Elizabeth I, head-butting Pilgrims while twirling fire batons pre-soaked in poppers the night before. Other members of the cast include three Shih Tzus on hoverboards, an ABBA tribute act from Korea who went missing last summer, a married father of four who should know better and Thelma’s own mother who’ll be throwing Bibles at the audience during the interval. As for the big finale, a final homage to those who went before her, Miss Mahogany Jr will lip-sync to her self-penned, glitch-hop track Ain’t No Hairdo High Enough.
You’re all invited but it will be matinees only until her tag comes off.