Antony Elvin interview
Renaissance renegade Antony Elvin has just had a song released on the film ‘The Journey of The Childmen’, a documentary about the last The Mighty Boosh tour. And he is a berluddy good fencer, too.
What do you like about London?
She’s a big old bird. The tattiness is disappearing a little but there are still some really interesting shabby spots to mooch about in. Some of the higgledy-piggledyness is being sanitised out but heck, she can take it ! It’s a tidier bird than it used to be. That mess they’ve made at the corner of Charing Cross Road is shameful. Ripping down ‘The Astoria’ and ‘Sin’ willy nilly! But dash it all to Hendon, we’ll be alright! I like London very much. There are lots of interesting things occurring and a constant turnover of fancy diversions.
What do you like to eat?
Cheese. Vacherin. (Mont D’or is a wintertime favourite …pop it under the grill until it bubbles and treat it much like you would a fondue. i.e. no quarter given!) Comte, and Black Bomber cheddar from The Snowdonia Cheese company.The Oxford cheese Company’s ‘Oxford Blue’ is very good too and what visit to Oxford would be complete without a visit to The Vaults cafe? Baron Pugét will be pleased that I have plugged his outlets! Hopefully, he’ll dispatch a Zeppelin laden with dairy goods and deliver it to me just in time for Christmas!
What did you eat tonight?
Tonight it’s Merguez sausages! The sheep’s head on display next to them, within its pretty rosette of giblets was proudly pointed by the butcher at The Middle Eastern Food Centre. Stuck in my mind and throat a little during the meal – its blue eyes staring, staring, staring.
What do you drink?
I’m tea-total. So gallons of tea and lashings of ginger beer. Fresh, home-made lemonade and i adore full cream milk and good Virgin Marys.
Where do you go?
A cheeky little question! A cheeky little place called Time For Tea on that High Street that so erroneously honours that beautiful yet ill-fated concubine of Edward IV, Jane Shore. ‘Time For Tea’ tea rooms is stage-managed with love and gentle guidance by Jonny Vercoutre, the ‘man who relaunched Burlesque’ several years back. Very Thirties! Another haunt is a dinky place by Kew Gardens called Newens Tea Rooms – (very olde worlde with cake stands and Maids Of Honour cakes – a traditional eggy cake dating back to at least Henry the Tude’s day!) I like to visit a saucy little place on the Kingsland Road called The Bridge Café. The racy 1930’s dance band music drives me wild. At all other times, you’ll find me on an oriental island on the Thames.
Do you like the English weather?
I had great fun as master of ceremonies at ‘The Chap Olympiad’ in the summer. D’you remember that? The summer. Madly gay ! The Chap is a Whimsical magazine that I fully endorse. They hold a non-sport sportin’ event each summer. Very amusing!
What music have you been listening to?
Malicorne. French 70’s fuzz-crumhorn folk. Though i quite like their Eighties nonsense too! Quite a bit of Purcell and some rather strident Monteverdi. I have also been listening to some recordings of my ‘Tudor Unit’ project. It’s a thingummy that i started years ago and have been slow-cooking. Very sporty rennaissance/baroque-electro ditties. Believe me, the melodies drive my big toe up into my boot!
What are your favourite pastimes?
Swimming, walking, lovecraft and eating. Swimming in the sea. Diving in off rocks or lowish cliffs. The kelp forest at St. Abbs head, Scotland is wonderful to swim through. Saw an otter there! The seals near Morthoe, North Devon are a breakaway group from the Lundy Island mob and are very inquisitive if you swim near ’em. Big lads ‘n’ lasses too! Dancing Ledge, Dorset too. I adore that underwater cliff and the water there is so very clear! Always take a Thermos full of scalding tea!
You’re photographed in breeches holding a fencing mask. Do you fence?
Oh the fencing ‘knickers’, yes! I did for a time, up at Lauderdale House. D’you know it? Foil stuff. Very clean! Good lunging and fairly good parrying. French grips and such.
Do you go to nightclubs?
Ooh, isn’t that what people like Brian Ferry do? Pencil moustaches and promises. Hair smoothed back with Cinzano Bianco! A frantic tumble and a rushed ‘goodbye’. I love dancing at Tapestry, the sterling once-a-month club at St Aloysius Social Club, Somerstown. Barry Stilwell always plays the beatiest tracks and has sterling acts performing, such my ex-band Circulus. His Tapestry festival is a real treat too!
What sort of people have you worked with?
Well, some absolute heroes. I play live engagements with the wonderful William Summers. He is an ‘Early Woodwyndyst’, so crumhorns, rauschpfeifes etc. I have been writing songs with Alice Lowe for our Hot Brew live act and we shall release some shortly. It is nonny folk comedy with songs I am also working on the music for Jackal Films‘ 12th film of the year. They’ve heroically made a film per month over this year and there are some right Bobby-dazzlers! Jackal films are Jacqueline Wright (The award-winning The Shakes video ‘Liberty Jones’, Stiffy and Lifespam) and Alice Lowe (Garth Merenghi, Hot Fuzz, and the Harry and Paul Show), and their team of composers, photographic directors and actors. There are some mighty women in their gang and it’s a mighty good treat to work with them!
What have you been working on today?
I have been writing a sit-com and recording a new song. Also I have just got the storyboard back for my music video. Very exciting. Thanks to the wonderful would-be matinee idol and storyboard artist Josh Knowles, for that.
Today,I shall rehearse with Princes In the Tower, the Renaissance power trio. the other two shall arrive here shortly . Michael Tyack and William Summers are the finest musicians I have worked with.
Are you releasing any recordings?
Well, I have just had a song released on the film The Mighty Boosh on Tour: Journey of the Childmen [DVD] which is a documentary about the last The Mighty Boosh tour. The song is ‘Among The Dandies’ and recalls an ugly incident at the ICA, after one of my engagements, in which a rather jealous and pugilistic chap punched Noel Fielding and sent him hurtling over a table. The film was directed by Oliver Ralfe, who made the hilarious and award-winning ‘The Ballad of A. J. Weberman’.
I shall release an album of songs soonly. Perhaps two. Perhaps three!
What do you think about the student riots & attack on Prince Charles?
I really believe we should create our own ‘green corridors’ and if we don’t like something, be REFUSENIKS! Smashing shop windows and rioting achieves very little in stable democratic countries. The powers that be laugh to themselves as another generation exhausts itself in a game with the police. Look at 1968! What did it all achieve? Assuage western guilt for a generation? It’s all very sexy rioting in an era when food and clothing have never been so cheap but I fear that the young are being hoodwinked and will tire themselves out when they should be making love in the fields. However. We do have the interweb these days, and organising revolt might be a little easier than in 1968. If there had been interweb in 1968 there most likely would have been a Revolution in France! We must refuse the things we do not like and stop voting with our heads. Who voted the Toffee party into power? We did! If we do not like the taste of poo, we must refrain from swallowing it! Imagine the administrative nightmare of 10,000,000 people refusing to pay their taxes or voting with their hearts!
As for Charles and Camilla being attacked, I imagine it was an invigorating experience for both and not without reward. For as Charles held Camilla in his manly polo-sculpted arms, a warm tingle tracked along Camilla’s nerveways ’til a little bulb buried deep beneath her frock began to glow and pulsate. Charles, sensing he might be needed in an artisan capacity, ordered the driver to speed to the Travelodge at Grays Inn Road where he expertly tended the flickering bulb, screwing it in tightly and bringing it to a goodly glow. As Diana’s tiara sent tiny spectrums into the white, rolling eyes of Windsor, little crystals of glass glinting on Camilla’s neck recalled a Parisian tunnel and flashbulbs popping! Ooh I feel like Jilly Cooper! Violets and Vinegar! Wonder if he ever wanks about Diana. Well, he gets Camilla to wear his Granny’s and his dead ex-wife’s jewelry, so he must be a bit of a pervert! But compared to what? Hilarious to see the Royals getting rattled! Ah, but I see from video footage that Charles did not shelter Camilla in his arms. Well, he IS a feminist after all!
Is there anything we should have asked you but were to selfish to do so?
Yes! If you could have control of London for one year, what would you do with it?
I’d encourage people to walk across town in ALL weathers rather than piss about with the current transport system. I’d offer incentives gauged against health improvement. Most of us are self-propelled and can manage a couple of miles in any direction. Van Gogh used to walk from Isleworth to Holborn each morning to work. Why he even walked from the South Coast to London and on to Hertfordshire to visit his sister. Don’t tell me it was easier 130 years ago! Then I’d pedestrianise London. Delivery lads and lasses could use bicycles with trailers. A fitter, tougher municipal lot we should then be! A cheese incentive would be introduced, sup[ply of which would increase or dwindle depending on effort! Cyclists would have their own roads, quite distinct from the pedestrian areas. Also designated tourist areas would be introduced! Praps Bluewater and Hemel Hempstead could blot up a few thousand of them!
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Antony Elvin for carousing with life and encouraging it to lift its petticoats and kick its heels a little. Well done, sir! Bravo!