Views & Reviews

From erudite to rude, reviews of The Thursday Girls and Sue's family of characters can be found on her blog Writing from the Loopier Side of Life. And here's the stuff they daren't print …

Lancaster Music Festival 2014 and Flapper Sue finally got the stage to herself. Not any old stage, but Chas Ambler's Melodrome Stage, no less, and very much the star of the Friday afternoon opening. Lovely young bands, some nice golden oldies, and all held together by Sue's cheerful innuendo, taking Alex Hulme a little by surprise but he soon rose to the occasion.

Opened by Blues from Max Haymes and closed by insanity from Pussy Riot, the afternoon kicked off what proved to be the biggest Lancaster Music Festival yet. All you lovely bands, sign up for next year quick!

Monday 15th August Well, what can I say? The venue Bar Eleven on August 15th was perfect: elegant yet informal. The event, Oxjam, a well-organised fund-raiser, was in full swing. And then in waddled Gran the Gusset Tester with her own brand of geriatric smut. Young men blanched (especially when she tried to take one home) and the ladies were astonished at Gran's tips on how to get your man back in action without jump leads: new restrainers, fish and chips and that sure-fire winner, wrinkled stockings.

Witness The Thursday Girls at The Maritime Music Festival, St George's Quay Lancaster 14th-16th October:

Hello, Sailor! It was Sunday afternoon on St George's Quay: just a normal Sunday at historic Lancaster pub The Three Mariners, apart from the folk singers, the musicians, seven sailors and three doughty doxies in various states of Victorian evening undress. Working their way round a delighted crowd, Lily Go Lightly, Tatty Oldbit and Tess the Tease did their level best to embarrass old friends and newcomers alike with a good dollop of euphemism, including remarks like: "I wouldn't mind getting hold of your rudder!" and "Fancy climbing up my riggin' then?".

The performing troupe then entertained a packed bar with a short piece entitled 'Dockside Doxies', delivered with gusto. The pithy script by Sue Seddon, full of maritime references and gleeful innuendo, had the crowd in stitches while Hermione Blackwell's witty ad-libbing brought uproarious response from her audience. Trooper Pat Modley added her own brand of class action to the play, Geoff Wilkie was happily torn between the women and Bill Wilding dived into Hermione's rigging with the lustiness of a man long at sea. The proceedings came to a tumultuous climax in a raucous rendition of 'What should we do with the drunken sailor?' Seamen and officers from HMS Lancaster fulfilled their brief, which was to generally look lovely in uniform and entertain The Thursday Girls (one each).The Girls tell me they'll be back next year, trusses and teeth permitting.

Absolutely Cabaret arrived at The Stonewell Tavern one quiet Sunday evening toward the end of October. We'd told the owners it would be a little song or two, a sketch and a bit of stand-up. But we lied! Not only did the usual regulars turn up, but the always supportive Thursday Girls not in the 3-women-and-one-man show arrived with raucous laughter to push performers to their comedy limits. Pat Modley and Geoff Wilkie staggered happily through a couple of numbers to the delight of those present. Gran the Gusset Tester demonstrated the wonders of suet in a cookery show like non other and Nigella Ladylumps shared her amazing tips (see photo).

The fraught-daughter-embarrassed-by-reprobate-mother routine worked particularly well, written and played close to the bone by mother/daughter team Sue and Emma. Star of the show, compere Pussy Byrne, achieved no mean feat by tying the whole thing together with intelligent repartee laced with seemingly accidental smut. More Sundays like this to come, we promise!

Meanwhile, Nigella Ladylumps has been persuing her media take-over from Gran with an appearance at Sparkle Lounge Burlesque. Here she unleashed her take on domestic goddess to a surprised audience. The advice on liberally scattering one's juices onto hubby's sausage will be long remembered. Undeterred, she returns to Sparkle Lounge for their Christmas Cabaret. Quite what the audience make of her Plum Duff remains to be seen.


Mayoress: "Go on, give us a go"

Bill Wilding: "When will I get the ruddy piano to myself?"

A new book extolling the delights of Lancaster's pubs, restaurants, coffee houses and other delights was launched at the Stonewell Tavern on Thursday 23rd April. Sue Seddon's Little Book of Lancaster includes pictures and descriptions of many of the unique places which make the city so special, offering tourists an insider's advice on where to go for anything from a well-drawn pint and perfect pie to a five course meal. The book also offers a run-down of specialist retailers and other top local tips for getting the most out of a stay here. Product placement at its best! Guests of honour at the launch were The Right Worshipful Mayor of the City of Lancaster Councillor Keith Budden and the Mayoress Mrs Heather Budden.

The Mayor raised an appreciative cheer from the assembled company when he remarked how pleased he was to be invited to an event which not only took place in a pub but celebrated the many hostelries and other unique qualities of the city.  

Music for the afternoon was provided by the French Connection, a resident band of the city's jazz stalwarts led by pianist Ronnie French, with Ray Briggs on bass and Alan Kenmure on saxophone and clarinet.

To celebrate the book launch they included the classic number 'My Kind of Town' in their set. Pianist Bill Wilding also took to the keys for a few numbers, and Stonewell Tavern landlord Jerry contributed the odd vocal.  The event was attended by a packed audience of Lancaster folk, including many musicians, writers, artists, music fans and other pub regulars, making for a lively and memorable afternoon. The book itself is a quirky guide to - and permanent record of - a city that has much to be proud of. Sue Seddon's exhaustive research, conducted, as she herself is happy to point out, from bar stools across the area, has paid off.

It is obtainable from Waterstone's, Atkinson's Coffee and the City Museum as well as direct from the author (Sue Seddon) and Amazon And, from the Mayor, who declares himself a proud Lancastrian, through to Italian-born Jerry, who has happily adopted Lancaster, (as it has adopted him), it seems we all feel privileged to live here. 

 Review by Sue Parish. Photos by Pete Hyde

And Now for Something Completely Different.

Readers of The Big Bulgarian Adventure and Bulgaria Bites Back give an account of their own adventures.

Look what happens, says Sue, when I write a couple of books on a forgotten corner of Eastern Europe. Four Brits who read them wanted to see for themselves. Nothing could stop their determined exploration. Very early, in a strange country with its own strange language and alphabet, they followed a scatological trail right to the heart of the remote village where I hide under another name. I was in England at the time, but you can't have everything. They even sent me a photo. Sunning themselves, so they were, perched above the stunning Yantra gorge, opposite the beautiful Gurko Hotel where the party stayed on my recommendation. How very dare they.

Meanwhile I was in a tent in North Yorkshire in a hurricane. It was freezing. But I forgive them. Just. Here is John Peberdy's account of their trip.

"Good Morning Victoria, (writes John) On April 4th our two families set off on the 'Big Bulgarian Adventure'. At 4am on a very quiet and dark Spring morning we left Sofia airport in our Mini-bus en-route to Veliko Turnovo. The first wrong turn was about 300 yards outside the airport which lead us through the Gypsy quarter (frightening to say the least). After that it was a trouble-free trip to within a few miles of V.T. when we started to search for the Malinovo turning.

We could not believe our luck:- as we took the turn and drove into the village, the sun was rising above the mountains and the scene was wonderful. Certainly an experience none of us will ever forget. There wasn't another soul moving in the whole village. We did a brief tour under the cover of semi-darkness and then returned to the main square for photographs in front of the 'Donkey Dick Sausage Shop'. Within a few minutes we had daylight on our side and decided to search the village for the famous blue window framed house with a goat turd covered lane running alongside. In all my years as a Police Officer whose job has revolved around searching for clues etc, these were without doubt some of the most bizzare ones I have ever had to go on!!!

Would you believe that the first sign of another human being was Anna trying to discreetly observe us from behind a twitching curtain. Within seconds she had opened the window of the single storey building next to your home and was leaning on the ledge giving us a barrage of Bulgarian as the sun glistened on her gold teeth. Bless her! After exhausting our total Bulgarian vocabulary, which made her smile, we tried to explain who we were and why we were skulking around her village in the early hours. She understood the word 'Victoria' when we were talking about you, but it got very confusing when we introduced ourselves, as Vicky was one of our names. We spent a few minutes with her, taking a few photos and then went for a stroll down the lane (avoiding goat droppings).

We then toured the rest of the village before setting off for Veliko Turnovo and the Gurko Hotel. This is probably a good time to thank you for continually mentioning the Gurko Hotel. What a fantastic place in every respect. The location, staff, food, service, and cleanliness were second to none. We had reserved the two large suites for our two families of three, and they were probably amongst the top places I have ever stayed in anywhere. None of us could fault anything at all at the Gurko. Well Done Victoria!!! We spent 3 wonderful days with friends that emigrated to V.T. 18 months earlier, and property viewing, before driving through the Shipka pass to our apartments on the coast in Ravda.

Five days later we caught the train to Plovdiv for 3 nights, then another train to Sofia for the final 2 nights. The last full day was spent climbing to the top of the snow covered 'Black Rock' in the Vitosha mountains. What a fantastic holiday was had by all, but absolutely exhausting! Please hurry along with the third book, we need your wit, humour, and enthusiasm to spur us on to doing it all again. Thank you Victoria/Sue for allowing us all the delight and pleasure of sharing your experiences. We totally agree with you, and consider Bulgaria to be a wonderful part of the world that thankfully has not yet been spoilt by the typical 'Brit abroad'. Kindest Regards, John, Linda, + Edward and Geoff, Vicky, + Jenna."-->