The New Palace of Varieties

Last Saturday saw the first performance of the new Palace of Varieties to a capacity audience at St Giles Hall. Here are some fantastic photos of the evening, captured by our very own MonkeyCat; you can see many more on Flickr.

I have to be honest and say that the quality was very variable; highlights were Don Tempi’s jazz-funk-lite renditions of 1980s adverts, Anil Desai’s impersonation-based comedy, and the ukulele and brass band Jarmean. In between those we had an animal impersonator, a homage to Riverdance, a bloody awful rendition of the 1812 Overture and the 1970s ‘classic’ The Greatest Show on Legs.

In fact the variety on show was more 1970s TV than 1890s Music Hall, and was heavily layered with irony. But the spirit of the enterprise was embraced wholeheartedly by both performers and crowd, and as far as I could tell everyone went home happy. Certainly it seems that there will be more, which is a good thing.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

31 thoughts on “The New Palace of Varieties”

  1. Looks a bit rum. You expect Julie Burchill to be pushed onstage in a wheelbarrow, pretending to be a cabbage, singing “The Cabbage Song”.

  2. Off topic: the new Tesco Express on Coldharbour Lane up by Loughborough Junction has been open for a while now, and I have noticed that their big lorries are stopping right outside (causing a quite dangerous blockage on that big bend on Coldharbour Lane), even though there is a perfectly good side road (Belinda Road) right next door.

    I would have thought it was some kind of condition of the planning application that they don’t park a whopping great delivery truck on a main road and cause regular, dangerous hold-ups when there’s a perfectly decent side road they could use instead. Does anyone know who would be best to complain about this to?

    Also anyone got any comments on how other local shops are faring now the Tesco juggernaut is here?

  3. I suggest you write to the following:

    Norma Fender, Acting Road Safety Manager, Transport Planning and Strategy, London Borough of Lambeth, 1st floor, Blue Star House, 234–244 Stockwell Road, London. SW9 9SP
    Tel: 020 7926 0332 Fax: 020 7926 9001
    Email: nfender@​lambeth.​gov.​uk

  4. Norma Fender is a great name for an acting road safety manager. There is surely a musical here, starring her — or him.

  5. Belinda Road, the side road next to the Tesco Express, is a no through road and reversing is not permiied from it into Coldharbour Lane. The Tesco delivery lorries may find it difficult to use as they may not be able to turn around very easily.

  6. Fair enough. I think Tesco need another solution then (like smaller delivery trucks that can reverse into Belinda Road) as it’s just rather dangerous the way they’re doing it at the moment. Seems odd our wonderful panning department would have allowed Tescos in the first place

  7. Golly, you moved fast to set that up, M’cat. If only the rest of the nation’s workforce were a dutious as you.

    Surely we have our own panning department in Mark Dodds?

  8. I was sitting on one of the benches in Highshore Road Open Space tonight, drinking supermarket white cider with a large dash of Ribena in it — try it, it’s nice — and laughing about the FTSE outperforming hedge funds and private equity, when a figure in a dark coat stumbled past at a quick if erratic pace and thrust a crumpled piece of paper into my hand. Scribbled onto it in betting-shop biro was the following, slight, haunting verse:


    In Holly Grove Shrubbery
    The snow drops are out.
    In that long, thin park,
    These white drops hang

    Their heads and say,
    Goodbye winter,
    You are for the chop,
    Thanks, it’s been a lark.

    The trains sail past
    Parallel to the Shrubbery,
    Taking people to Kent
    Where life is lovely.

    Raw life fights for space
    On nearby Rye Lane,
    But the spring bulbs light
    up again & again & again.

    Under London soil,
    the dead people, limbs
    entwined, dance to the
    fiddle tune of endless time.

    Having read this, I leaped up and, grabbing my scrawny dog on her string, set off after the shambling character who had given me this, but his shadowy, hooded figure was already disappearing towards London with an unsteady but determined gait.

    Under the brash orange streetlights that are common in poor areas, I noticed a flash, a flame, of bright steel — the figure was carrying a scythe.

    Why? The fields between Peckham and Camberwell are long gone!

  9. You mustn’t drink polish, my good man. It may make your nose shiny, but it will also dissolve your organs. I always found the Buzbag in the Bolu very pleasing.

  10. Great new natural health and beauty products shop called Nature and Nature has opened up on 49 Denmark Hill Road. Lots of great stuff in there at discounted prices. Really nice owner and it seems not many people know about it, been open since November. Get down there!

  11. Review Bookshop has an event on tomorrow night:

    Football Stole My Life: An Evening of Therapy

    Not my onion bag, so to say, but I appreciate there may be a need for it. Is talking about football cathartic, or does it fuel the obsession. Hmm

    Jane — the shop is therapies and expensive vitamins from America? That type of thing?

  12. I received an interesting update about Jazz at St Giles’ Crypt from Jazz Umbrella today. They’ve sent an email to subscribers stating:

    “Renovation and refurbishment work is currently going on at the Crypt. The work consists of the repair and renovation of clapped-out electrics, installation of new equipment, new kitchen and bar units and furniture, decorating, plumbing repairs and a massive clean-up.

    The work should be completed in 2–3 months and will result in a more comfortable, funky, and contemporary environment for our customers, fans and musicians.”

    The website has had a bit of an overhaul too

    Here’s hoping that by April or May-ish we’ll have Jazz at the Crypt back in Camberwell. I’ve missed it!

  13. @lambda You beat me to it. Funnily enough I saw Fr. Nick yesterday and he had mentioned this, but asked me to keep it under my hat until they made the announcement. So glad I got the email, I hate keeping things under my hat. It’s not very comfortable.

  14. Here is a nice performance via the crypt website by Georgia Mancio who appeared there. Flute is excused in Portuguese/Brazilian pieces.

    Let us support Millwall’s final push into the play-offs. This would result in a massive influx of money into the area if they get into the Premier. They are also doing well in the FA Cup. They could be going to Wembley.

    Strangely they lost 1–5 to humble Peterborough on Tuesday night, but all mainline trains to Peterborough from King’s Cross were disabled the next day, something to do with copper piping, well, cabling. Some passengers were ferried in coaches which broke down — in places like Biggleswade.

    Nevertheless, Class 66 “Peterborough Power Signalbox” ploughed through Camberwell today as though to say no hard feelings, good luck in the Cup.

  15. What’s happened to the farmer’s market? Went this morning. No one there. I thought they were doing every week.

  16. Mrs Monkeycat lost a pearl bracelet last night. The last time it was seen was in Stormbird, but could have fallen off in Falafel too or somewhere on Camberwell Church St. Long shot, but if anyone sees it, can you please get in touch. Thank you.

    Pints of Kernal IPA (or similar) reward!

  17. All is illusion.

    If the bracelet was washed ashore in Stormbird or the Hermits, it will be kept safe. That’s all we can be sure of in this uncertain urban whirl.

    The old orchard by the Magistrates Court — to be scrubbed up for the new library — is bigger than you thought or remember. The first thing you see in that mini-wood is the litter, but the people who use the Court area don’t care for it much.

    The Court is huge. Can’t South Wing be used for the new library, with maybe a conservatory, roof garden and cafe built on it? Court jobs could be relocated up Borough to vacate that big bit of Court building.

    Those who know vandalism management will probably say the orchard is vulnerable, but it is a nice piece of land and real land at that.

  18. Commiserations to Mrs Monkeycat, hope a miracle happens and it finds its way back.

    Finding their way back to their rightful homes in Camberwell was a familiar feature of school childrens’ lives in World War 2. Many years later my son went to Wilson’s school in Sutton; he sent me this fascinating (and the official) story of how the school was evacuated from Denmark Hill station in 1939.

    (Not a lot of people know this but Michael Caine hadn’t started Wilson’s in 1939.)

  19. Epic story, John, trains in the darkness, English chaos in the Kent countryside, a holiday camp in wartime, hundred of boys turning up to be billeted instead of a few dozen girls.

    Interesting that some teachers called back a month before the school year began were on their summer holidays in Germany, probably walking in the mountains or looking at art and architecture.

    We should never have been at war with Germany. Those Nazis… fascists!

  20. Good link Dagmar.

    The Crocuses are up in the Horniman Gardens. I guess Grove Lane won’t be far behind.

  21. Anyone come across either of these two veg-box schemes?

    Fresh vegetables are hard to come by in this part of London. I like the idea of a buyers-cooperative able to import fresh greens and potatoes from the surrounding counties. No need for a tax-deductible diversion via a Luxembourgeois distribution center.

    …I guess this is what Riverford already does, on a bigger scale. We’re happily reliant on Riverford in our house.

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