To the Arts Centre! …on Saturday evening for some songs, stanzas and shaggy-dog stories from John Hegley: Peace, Love and Potatoes Colchester – which also just happens to be the name of John’s new book, minus the Sunny Colch end tag.
Setting up shop to the side of the stage were the lovely folk from Red Lion Books. Business was brisk with the book signing. Whoever said that enterprise was dead in Britain’s Oldest Recorded?
John Hegley is a seasoned performer at the Arts Centre. Each appearance attracts a sizable crowd, not to mention a bit of a run on the red wine behind the bar. It was a slightly more sedate (but not sober) experience compared to the Dingus Boys two weeks back. Poetry ‘n’ plonk is a mighty fine combination.
The show started with a request for a pair of specs. Four eyes are better than two, etc. With his reading glasses lost somewhere at Paddington Station, yer man put out the call for a pair of bifocals.
It was the Sunny Colch equivalent of X-Factor on a Saturday night for specs. A couple of hopefuls were auditioned, until the correction combination meant that the show could go on.
Peace, Love and Potatoes is part biography, part pack of lies. The truth is probably somewhere in-between.
Like most of John’s poetry, it is semi-autobiographical. The book covers the period from his French grandmother and grandfather first meeting, through until his own life growing up in Luton. References to the French connection are littered throughout.
The Arts Centre was treated to some random readings, as well as songs on the ukulele that isn’t a ukulele (sorry, didn’t catch the exact name.) Audience participation was frowned upon – audience interaction made it all OK.
This wasn’t any old touring show that had simply been shipped into the Arts Centre. Conversation in-between the words, song and dance suggested that John is actually rather keen on his visits to Sunny Colch.
He mentioned The Mercury and a plan to stage a family matinee and workshop across the road, and then back to the Arts Centre and back to the booze for the big boys and girls later in the evening.
The promise of an early ’70s Luton Town Reserves Vs Colchester United Reserves programme was also teased out.
Steady the buffers.
A brief interval break for further book signings, and then part two of Peace, Love and Potatoes took us on a strange journey of Paris to New York, via Luton – all played out with a high kicking French grandmother, who sounded like quite a girl.
The signature sign off for any John Hegley show was the audience participation / interaction with the glass wearers tapping salute.
And then quicker than you can recite one of the shaggy-dog stories, Mr Hegely was heading down to North Station and the 10:45 out of Sunny Colch.
Do come back – don’t forget the Col U Reserves programme.