Tag Archives: Fascinating Aïda

If you can’t take the heat…

‘Too bloody hot below the Firth of Forth…’ Quite.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have offered their condolences on my move to Scotland. You know, it’s cold. It’s dark. Basically, it’s not England (which as we know is the best place on Earth).

Now, I don’t need it to be warm all the time. I remind them the choice was mine and that I originate from a darker and colder place.

Right now it is very hot. Today is hotter than yesterday, which was very hot. I sweat a bit, but my joints like the heat.

Anyway, I was reminded of this climate misunderstanding when listening to Fascinating Aïda, and their song Lerwick Town. That’s the quote on the first line. I am actually below the Forth, if only just. So if their idea of global warming catches on, I expect it will get even hotter. Just as well we’re planning nice spots to sit in the garden, and that it faces north…

Meanwhile, I’m a little tickled by my temporary address. I live in the West Wing. And we have just gained a patio with outdoor furniture, on which it is too ‘bloody hot’ to sit. But it was generous of the gentleman upstairs to arrange it, not to mention pay for it, and I will be down there when it cools down.

At the Richmond Tea Rooms

You know facebook? And those fb friends you have that you don’t really know, or whom you’ve never met? One of mine lives locally and she is a Fascinating Aïda fan, just like me. So – obviously – when she recommended a great place for tea, I needed to try it out. Especially as another fb friend happened to mention it soon after.


I decided to wait until I had company, because whether a new place is lovely, or awful, it’s best shared. Finally, Daughter was here, and we were going into Manchester anyway, so I said we’d go to the Richmond Tea Rooms as a treat.

We went. We saw. We liked. Very much. And that’s not just the amount of cake we consumed. It was our kind of place.

When we’d ordered, I let my eyes rove the room to check it all out. And – obviously – there she was. The fb friend I’d never spoken to. So I popped over and introduced myself and we chatted. She and her companions were having their regular ‘office meeting.’ On the red velvet corner sofa! I want job meetings like that.


Anyway, I had to pop back to my Earl Grey, which turned out to be Earl Grey with flavour. None of this wishy-washy stuff some places serve. Daughter tried Assam, which she liked. She had Alice’s Rarebit, which surprisingly – for her – did not contain rabbit. I had a very, very freshly made scone with clotted cream and Tiptree jam. And, a little something afterwards. That Pear Frangipane must have seen me coming. It was pear with almost nothing but marzipan..! It was wow!


Mismatched crockery and lace, table service and generally crazy decorating makes for the perfect place to sit and stare and relax. It’s all pretty Alice-y. They had signs ordering us to Eat and Drink, so we did. One does under such circumstances.

(I did wonder about the lack of hot water, seeing as the tea was leaf tea in pots. But I didn’t wonder for long. Instead of letting the hot water go cold, someone comes round every now and then with fresh hot water, and adds it to your pot.)

And I don’t know if I’d ‘met’ the other guest before. It felt like I had. Almost like old friends. Not facebook ones, but people like me. Only thinner.

Sequins in Salford – Fascinating Aïda, The Cheap Flights Tour

They knew Dogging from just the intro. And then – judging by the sounds of surprised delight – they didn’t know the Tesco song or the Little Chef one or even the German song. What kind of people do we have in Salford? I ask you?

The best kind, obviously, although I’m still somewhat concerned.

It was sold out, the Fascinating Aïda Cheap Flights Tour. So sold out that at the Lowry they did two shows on Tuesday, and as they said, it takes a certain kind of person to go to cabaret in the afternoon. The best kind, I suspect. The kind that doesn’t need to google dogging, and if they did, they would definitely clear their history after. Or ask the bar staff at the Lowry, seeing as they had been primed.

Fascinating Aïda, The Cheap Flights Tour

When I went to pick up my ticket, Fascinating Aïda’s latest recruit Sarah-Louise Young was in front of me in the queue. I’m guessing there was no ticket left for her, which will be why she ended up on the stage instead… Sarah-Louise halved the average age of FA when she joined, and that’s no bad thing, I say.

They have new songs as well as old ones. The new ones are new and some of the old ones have been dusted off and spruced up and given spanking (sorry) new details. So, their Bulgarian folk songs are new, but then they ‘always’ were.

The how to write a bestseller is now on Nordic crime, which to the uninitiated is Raymond Chandler with snow. Sort of an Ikea dunnit. We got songs on how to kill your mother, threesomes, one night stands and something for taxpayers. I wouldn’t know about that. Us foreigners are only good for making coffee. Baristas, is what they call us now.

Flying to Ireland for 50p is hard to do, or so they’ve found. But at least after 28 years they finally have a hit. As Adèle said, the YouTube version of Cheap Flights went fungal. It’ll be all the ‘fecking’ I expect. The first act finished with some ‘young’ dancing of the kind I’m forbidden to engage in at home, but P-Dillie is right in that grey is the new black.

Fascinating Aïda, The Cheap Flights Tour

Adèle and Dillie and Sarah-Louise were beautifully dressed to begin with, but in act two they surpassed themselves and their sequinned dresses almost required sunglasses.

I mentioned Little Chef earlier, and have to say I was most gratified that this beautiful Scottish travelling song has been resurrected. It’s one of the best. They really suffer for their art when out on the road so much of the time. Speaking of art, they don’t like what we have in Salford Quays. (Or was that a joke?) Anyway, it brought on a song about art.

We had the German song, and I could tell Dillie has kept up her practising on the piano stool. (Obviously, had she known 27 years ago that she would need to, she would never have come up with it in the first place.) More Bulgarian songs, a song about being bored, and they generally know how to look sad. But Sarah-Louise is far too young and far too new to be allowed near the piano for a Bulgarian ‘plink.’

Yes, they do have a bleak view of the future. Who doesn’t? I suppose it’s only fair that they should end a performance based on that man who sells flights to Ireland for 50p (except he doesn’t) by mentioning that unlike many, he pays his taxes. I suppose FA know about this?

I can’t be the only one not watching that?

Being a CultureWitch doesn’t mean I watch everything on television. Most people seem to find time for rather a lot of it. I neither have the time, nor the inclination. There are programmes I wish I could fit in, but the X Factor isn’t one of them. I have to admit I don’t fully know what they do on that programme. It’s some sort of talent competition. With Simon Cowell, I think.

As I said earlier, I have great difficulty telling him apart from Simon Callow. It’s a name thing. Watching them in something might make a difference. But it’s not tempting.

The lovely Candy Gourlay – who is a marvellous children’s book author – thought I was not being serious when I pointed out I know nothing about the X Factor. I know very slightly more about Strictly Come Dancing, although I never watch it.

I suspect the X Factor is a different programme from the one Susan Boyle was discovered on. Am I right? And as for all these Big Brother and Celebrity Whatsits, I can’t keep up.

While having lunch out with the Esperanto Student earlier this year, she kept referring to Nancy, and after a while I simply had to bite the bullet and ask who Nancy was. Another blooming talent competition. And the ES was shocked I didn’t know.

CultureWitch the blog was not started up to write about these things. It was born so I can nerd at great length about my few big passions, and a bit less on my medium interests, filling in with bits and pieces of anything else that just happens to come my way.

So here’s to more NCIS and more Roger Whittaker, with a dash of Doctor Who, Fascinating Aïda, films, music, art, food. But no X Factor.

Lara A King – Soundcheck

I keep listening to Soundcheck, Lara A King’s CD which she ‘just happened to have in her hand’ as we left her Edinburgh Fringe event in August. It was a bargain at £10, considering we got an hour of Lara, for the three of us and the CD to take home. It’s just Lara’s beautiful voice, and a guitar.

For a stick-in-the-mud like me who tends to go for – well not necessarily the biggest names – but established musical artists, it’s been a long time since I listened to struggling or unknown musicians. That makes the discovery of someone like Lara so much more special.

I still love It Ain’t Mississippi best. I don’t think it’s because it’s the song Lara sings with Fascinating Aïda on their show. It’s simply a stunning song.

Then I probably like Ugly But Beautiful second best, and I can understand why Daughter asked Lara for her permission to use it as the soundtrack to her Edinburgh Book Festival photo medley.

I’m going to have to see if I can lay my hands on Lara’s other CD some time. I think it’s with a band, so will be different. But for now I love Soundcheck.

Lara’s fringe

It was the second dead hamster event of the day. And when we (only Son, actually) thought we might be lost (inside a pub? Honestly…) we found ourselves facing Lara A King herself, who sent us to get drinks and said she’d call us.

Lara A King

To be perfectly honest, I’d rather Lara had sung more and talked less. When you’ve got a voice like an angel’s, singing is better than telling jokes, even when the jokes are good. But that’s just me. She did ask if there were any reviewers in the audience. As if they’d say.

Lara A King

And how could she know that Daughter is one who waves to drivers on pedestrian crossings? Or that Son has a Homebase background? Scary.

Lara sang three songs, and talked at length about the self service checkouts at Sainsbury’s. Again, how did she know I can’t manage them? And was she really standing behind me when I had problems paying for my meal?

I’m pleased I finally got to see Lara on her own, and I hope it wasn’t the last time. Her song It Ain’t Mississippi from Fascinating Aïda’s silver jubilee tour is a favourite of mine. I couldn’t say ‘the badger sent me’, which is something I aspire to, but was able to tell Lara we were there because Dillie (Keane) sent us.

I don’t mind too much now that my hair was almost blown off by the fan behind me. That’s fan as in the round thing that whirls the air round and round. And Offspring seem to have been able to tolerate my choice of fringe. As in event. Not hair.

(Photos by Helen Giles)

Fascinating Aïda on the fringe

Baah… We walked like sheep into the Assembly Rooms in George Street, for Fascinating Aïda on Saturday night. It wasn’t the very very long queue on the right, as they said at the information desk. Just the very long queue a little farther to the right.

Dillie Keane and Liza Pulman

Humbugs. I’d been offered one by someone in the Book Festival press yurt earlier in the day, but not being familiar with humbugs felt it safest to decline.
This fringe event was shorter than Fascinating Aïda’s normal shows, but still well worth seeing. It was one of the reasons I hared off to Edinburgh a little sooner than I’d originally planned.

They thanked me by singing about their tights, which gladdened my heart and all that, as I really like Tights. Seeing as I’m almost as old as they are, I have always liked it.

And a little later they sewed on their sequins again, because times are hard. Very hard. (I should never have let Offspring no.1 have lunch with that George Osborne.)

Dillie Keane actually played a (new) song with the help of sheet music, ably turned for her by Adèle Anderson. Though it looked like she turned it back and forth, but what do I know about music turning?

Adele Anderson

No acrobatics on the piano stool, due to an earlier injury, but Dillie looked as chirpy as always. With no interval we just got the one set of clothes, but all three looked stunning as usual. (How does Liza Pulman skip and hop on those heels?)
They finished with their new song about Rya… Oops. Doesn’t do to mention the 50p airline. Just in case. They’ve had loads of YouTube hits for that one.

We all wished they could have sung for longer, but keane as they were, they dashed downstairs to flog DVDs. That means they virtually forced everyone to buy. No, they didn’t. I’d say the DVDs flew off the information counter by themselves. But not with Rya…., obviously.

I didn’t buy. I was there for the glamour photos we missed out on in April. Dillie had promised me they’d pose for me. And they did, once most of the audience had been got rid of. Liza very kindly admired my tan. (She’s a kind person, and I expect there wasn’t a whole lot else she could come up with to mention.)

Fascinating Aida

And I hereby promise that if I can, I will go and see Lara King in her fringe event.
You too?

More Fascinating stuff

With the return of the prodigal son, the happy witch has received even more birthday presents. A total of 46 ‘new’ tracks of Fascinating Aïda for me to listen to. Am doing so this very minute.

Well, they are not all new new. One CD is replacing an unfortunate, partly deceased cassette – Sweet F.A. – which prevented me from listening to Moscow, Moscow. And that’s not acceptable in the long run.

The other two CDs are It, Wit, Don’t Give a Shit Girls and Silver Jubilee, which is what I’m singing along to right now.

More disc news for Fascinating Aïda with the DVD of their recent tour almost ready to hit the shops. They have a trailer to tease fans with until release day:

And then there is their Edinburgh show in August for people to look forward to.

Fascinating Aïda – the interview

Well, here it is! The long awaited interview with two thirds of Fascinating Aïda.

Dillie Keane and Liza Pulman spill some of the beans that could be spilled, and very nice and friendly they were while they did it, too. However, due to the fact that they only put on their faces something like five minutes before a show, I wasn’t able to have my own photos of them. That’s the only reason I resorted to stealing the ones I used. (And we’ll just have to hunt you ladies down for photos somewhere else, at a later stage.)

Kicked myself afterwards for not asking Dillie’s puppy Piper if she would agree to be photographed. At one point I had to look down on the floor to check it wasn’t my bag she was rummaging in, but this well behaved, adorable little dog knew full well which bag contained her toys. There isn’t a single bark in my recording of our chat, so that is one good Piper.

Neither Liza nor Dillie were barking, either. I didn’t know that being a Gemini makes a person bonkers, but as Liza said, it explains a lot. I got so confused by sitting facing all those mirrors in the dressing room that I inadvertently switched my recording off, and had to restart. But then I don’t have quite the same experience of theatrical mirrors as some.

With the silver jubilee tour ending on Sunday, we will have to begin the countdown to next time. I wonder what Fascinating Aïda can come up with in the way of lyrics about volcanoes?

Fascinating Aïda’s Silver Jubilee, fifteen months on

As Fascinating Aïda finish their show with a song* about Salford it’s – well – fascinating to think that a few hours earlier this song didn’t exist. Writing to order is a thing they do well, and coming up with a new local variation for each show, preferably at the last minute, is an activity they find stimulating.

Dillie Keane

They look so glamorous on stage that it can be hard to imagine what they’ve spent the previous couple of hours doing. Other than writing the day’s local flavour song, they need to adapt their chat to take in recent news, and maybe a few lines from those news for their ‘Bulgarian’ song cycle. There are letters to deal with. Takeaway meals to be eaten in as civilised a way as possible. And before putting on their faces and those gorgeous frocks, there is now a most adorable puppy to walk. (Yes Dillie, that was my gaze you could feel while you and puppy were out on your walk along Salford Quays. She did both a number two and a number one by the looks of it. Good puppy!)

Our British celebs are the same as the American ones, except uglier and more stupid. Someone has to be brave enough to point this pertinent fact out, so thank goodness for the sharp wit of Fascinating Aïda. And it has to be said that this obviously does not apply to FA themselves.

The first half of their show in a packed Quays Theatre covered most of the essential topics an audience need, such as the financial situation (thank you ladies; now we get it), Michael Jackson and Susan Boyle, a plea to our parents not to spend our inheritance, risk assessments and the price of petrol per gallon in 1983. And, please, what is a gallon?

I wouldn’t sit in the front row if you paid me. Just consider what happened to poor Hilary, being told off for her handbag straps. A real hazard. And by now I’ve forgotten how Terence came into it, but he figured regularly in their chat throughout the second part of the evening. And what is this fascination with courgettes and gherkins? And truncheons.

It’s pleasing to find an audience where some people have not heard the songs before, so are coming to them fresh. I was lucky enough to sit in front of a couple who enjoyed every amusing line of every song. The one about the Pope, for instance. And Dillie very sensibly does what I would do, leaning on the piano while talking. She’s into gardening in ‘her old age’. Happens to us all, I suppose. Very grateful for the warning about the laptop repair man for people who have googled certain words.

Lara King

Having their tour manager Lara stand in for them after the interval, singing a song of her own while Adèle supposedly went across to the pub to drag Liza and Dillie out of there, is a great idea. Drink a little longer, ladies, and we’ll just have a Lara show instead. She’s wonderful!

Alcohol taken off her, Dillie was forced to drink something else. Asking what it was, and being told it was water, she understood why she didn’t recognise the flavour. As Dillie said, it’s ‘quite refreshing, in an unpleasant sort of way’. It is that, Dillie.

A globally warmed Shetland, calypso style, with a Hawaiian shirted Lara on guitar was just great. You’ll have to pay that girl more, you know.

It’s amazing how well the sad and thoughtful song ‘I watched two people’ sung by Liza fits in with all the rude and funny lyrics of the main menu. They do go through their sopranos at a worrying pace, so maybe that’s why. Liza wore two stunning dresses. Not at the same time, you understand. One of them is being coveted on Facebook, and that’s easy to sympathise with. Maybe with Liza still in it?

Adèle Anderson

Adèle’s dress in the second half was much more flattering than the one she wore last year (sorry!), and Dillie sensibly wore trousers for her piano gymnastics while playing the German song. Though I’m grateful to know that they shop with Primark in order to support the Mancunian sweatshop workers. ‘Tesco saves’ showed that our favourite ladies also know where to shop for food, as well as just about everything else in life. It’s a blessing, really.

And then there was the Salford song to finish. Polite offering, and enjoyable. But some of us live in Stockport, you know. As the gentleman on my train recently pointed out; someone has to. Consider it done.

* And what’s really, really annoying, girls, is that when that DVD (to be recorded in Windsor on Sunday) hits the shops, the Salford song will no doubt have been turned into a Windsor song. I’m sorry, but that’s just not right. It just isn’t.

Fascinating Aïda at the Lowry