If there’s one accusation you can level at London it’s that meeting people is not easy.
Sure, once introduced you can gently probe Mr X on various mind-numbing subjects, but approach a stranger with your barriers down? That’s just asking for ridicule.
At David Carter’s second ever Bedtime Stories, held on Wednesday 17 June, London’s cliquey social laws were shot into space returning in the altered form of 34 chilled-out pyjama wearers.
For those who have not read my compelling interview, the basic premise is that you rock up, change into your jim-jams, mingle whilst grazing on wine and nibbles and then settle down in a comfy lounge to listen to two bedtime stories.
The stories this time round were a mixed pair. The first was Anton Chekhov’s At Home in which most of the action centres on some over thoughtful member of the bourgeoisie over thinking and, finally, doing something small. Standard Chekhov fayre with the only twist being that no one dies. I hate Chekhov, but the reading by a tall, elegant actor drew many laughs from the audience.
The second story made up for the lags of the previous half . Delivered in a pitch perfect American accent by a sultry Louise Ford, Peter Carey’s A Million Dollars Worth of Amphetamines is about a gangster’s moll who flees the big city after her lover is sent to jail. She ends up in a backwater town in the bed of the slow-paced but comforting Claude. Their love is imperfect but sustained until, provoked, he attempts to bring back the drama and glitz of her old life. This brings their relationship to instant destruction. The subtle moral haunts me still.
In charge of the stories were Spoken Ink, a nine-month old project manned by actors, set designers and assorted creative folk who aspire to put out short audio books that, like music in the i-Tunes world, can be downloaded for 79p.
Rounding off the evening was Tallulah Rendall, a sweet, raw-voiced songstress who strummed out a few bedtime orientated songs on her gee-tar. By the time she had finished, my friends – old and newfound – had hatched a plan to stage an impromptu sleepover so that we could prolong our time together. Although, inevitably, too grateful to carry out an invasion of our benevolent host’s home, email addresses were swapped and pyjamas lingered in until, reluctantly, we changed into our civvies and dripped out into the night.
Waiting for our Tube inside Stepney Green station, my friend and I ran into a lady who we had not spoken to at the event but still recognised. I feared that the magical fairy glue had rubbed off and it was too late to play nice, but even outside of 40 winks the Masonic intimacy of being at Bedtime Stories remained. Which leads to the moral of this story: if you like people, join the club.
The next Bedtime Stories will take place on Wednesday July 22 and 29 at:
109 Mile End Road
Tel: 020 7790 0259