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Thursday, November 28, 2002
A minor transcription error

In my last posting from the UK, I reported that I was required as an expert witness in a case of witchcraft. As we all know, witchcraft is something believed in by many, without evidence, while actually being total nonsense. Therefore, I travelled expectantly to the small Lancashire town of Warrington only to find that there had been some mistake. However, I was faced with something more far more interesting.

Perhaps it was the fault of one of my staff (you can’t get reliable and devoted servants these days, you know), but the message should have been completely different. I apologise for having misled you.

What I should have said, and therefore what I should have prepared for very carefully, was that I had been invited to review a particularly interesting combination of musicians in cabaret. It is not often musicians of their calibre perform together and, because they are all personal heroes of mine, I approached the task with some relish.

Camille Paglia, Uri Geller, ‘Dr’ Ian Paisley, Osama bin Laden, Russell Grant, and Jeffrey Archer were appearing briefly at the Warrington And Newark Kommittee Entertainment Rooms Social, as ‘Left Luggage’, their usual nom de guerre. Although I am sure you are familiar with their work as individuals, these are the specialisms that they brought to the group:
Camille Paglia – All mouth
Ian Paisley – Vocals and drums (think Phil Collins on acid)
Jeffrey Archer – (Sorry, I can’t remember any original contribution)
Osama bin Laden - Kalashnikov
Russell Grant – Whimsy
Uri Geller – Washboard
This last entry needs some explanation. Normally, one would expect Uri to be playing the spoons but, in deference to and recognition of the death of Lonnie Donegan, Uri played a tribute to the originator of skiffle.

(This reminds me of a musical story. While conducting The Last Night of the Proms many years ago, the populist conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent referred to ‘skiffle’ as ‘piffle’. When his ‘error’ was pointed out, far from apologising for this mistake, Sir Malcolm said ‘I’m delighted’. What a silly man. I wonder if he ever knew that Sir Thomas Beecham, a contemporary conductor of note, was actually known as ‘A kind of musical Malcolm Sargent’.) Ah well, back to the real musicians….

Osama was not up to scratch – perhaps it was a stand-in: his backing vocals were totally inaudible during the rendering of ‘God bless America’.

Ian Paisley’s singing wasn’t up to much, either. The message he was getting across was probably diametrically opposed to what he intended. He didn’t sing ‘Yes, John Paul loves you’ with his usual gusto.

Camille Paglia, an artist who requires constant flattery, to be treated with great respect and to be taken seriously, constantly reminded us of her Zodiac birth sign. Alas, I cannot remember what it is… Russell was not much help, either. His series Postcards from the edge had obviously driven him further to extremes. He'll fall off, soon.

The confusion between ‘witchcraft’ and these people is entirely explicable. There isn’t an awful lot of difference, is there? (See paragraph 1, sentence 2.)

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