To some extent, we have to give Robin his due for thinking of an SM party that lasted all through a Summer afternoon and did not finish until midnight, and indeed for making his first few Pleasurezones so successful to have planted the date in the Scene calendar. We are equally grateful that, after three years of declining Pleasurezones, Robin has gracefully surrendered the mantle to us. Though we have changed the name of the event, and re-modelled it's format, it is essentially the same animal.
On Sunday 20th August, The Goldsmiths Tavern, Deptford (where Kit Marlowe got stabbed in the eye in 1593), the Lords and Ladies of The Firm presented ten hours of medieval mischief. At 7am that Sunday morning, the get-in crew got out of their respective beds. It can be argued that the job of rousing Chris the swordsman from his pit is more onerous a task than loading Driver Chris's van.
We drove down to Deptford via Hackney and Bethnal Green, collecting lights and technicians en-route, and eventually settled, like Messrs Blond, Orange, Pink, Brown, Blue and White drinking coffee in a cafe down the road from the venue. ‘Let's go to work.’
The licensee of the Goldsmiths Tavern is a Hibernian night owl named Richard, and he opened the door of the pub at 10.20 am, without (it seemed) having woken up. He disappeared upstairs, saying something about leaving us to it, and doubtless wondering at this new aspect of our lunacy.
I never cease to be delighted at the level of hard work and commitment that the Firm's technical crew is prepared to put in. We had just under four hours to transform the Goldsmiths from a busy music venue to a Medieval pain palace, and more significantly, to re-organise the whole of the yard to accommodate as many of our guests as possible, as well as the stall-holders, and the barbecue.
Freddie had taken over the food side of the operation from Peter, our regular chef (who was way out West at the time). But my very real worry was that the barbecue gear resident at the Goldsmiths might need bottle gas or some other exotic application we did not have – or simply be broken beyond recall. Fortunately, it worked.
The other big anxiety of the morning was the sight lines overlooking the yard. None of the surrounding houses were occupied as such, rather they were offices, and the huge office building to our rear proved to be part of Goldsmiths college and entirely empty. Only the lady across the road remained a problem.
We had already seen her curtains twitching as we went about our manic machinations, and as we tried to set up a big black curtain to block her view, she became almost frantic. At the same time, we were not blocking her view – merely we were making it more intriguing. Finally Wayne, who is good at practical problems involving bits of rope, hung the curtain higher and more firmly than any of us had managed, causing certain anxiety that we would never get it down again.
Around 1pm, Richard came out and looked at our handiwork. His comment was, "This our yard, is it?" And he went back inside. The remarkable thing was that we were practically ready, and there was almost an hour to spare, so we were able to get changed before anyone arrived.
Prince Albert Morris were the first group of artistes to arrive, and they rehearsed, along with saxophonist, Mark, in between bursts of flashing steel from the sword fighters practising their moves. These fetish morris dancers have long been something of a puzzle to me (this is true of all morris dancers), and I don't know why they do it, but they really are superb, and they fitted perfectly with the arch-silliness Medeavil Fate. Their two sets were the best I've seen them do.
For juggling and fooling, we had David, a very capable performer who had joined the company at the last minute, along with his slave, Julie, who did sterling work in safely stowing our visitor's effects.
Though we were short on space, we had room for a number of stalls including a famous retailer of leatherware, both Sarah and Trudi foretelling the mysteries of the future by their respective divers means, and Simon executing the most impressive art of body painting, in which he is an adept par-excellence.
Another kind of expert gave us a display of his art inside the venue. Networm presented a Play Piercing workshop along with his glamorous assistant, which drew a crowd of the most rapt interest.
The high spot of the afternoon out in the courtyard was the second sword-fight between Chris and Bob (and arranged by Stuart). Aside from the whirling steel blades, the most impressive thing was the dialogue extemporised between these two: "As my mother used to say to my father..." Bob began in reply to some particularly pungent insult. "Who are you?" put in Alex loudly.
Then it was time for the barbecue, over which Freddie, along with his assistants Tony No-Ladders, Vince, and maid Juliet had toiled for so long. And what a wonderful job they had done, suddenly the yard was full of busily munching people, and the most delicious smells of roasting chicken.
With everyone replenished, we proceeded to hold the Slave Auction, and the monks were dispatched to find all the numbered slaves for sale. Everyone wishing to be sold had filled in a bill of sale, describing their abilities, and all prospective buyers had been issues with sets of rules and Firm currency. While I had the comparatively easy job of conducting the sales, my good friend the lovely Boris had the task of selling them to the audience beforehand – a job that he performed with such wit and aplomb that we did not have a single slave unsold by the end of the sale. At this point, Master Wayne of the Inquisition made himself available to the company for the tying up of purchases, and soon very many were neatly parcelled-up.
Doctor Laurentio, the royal conjurer made his progress around the scene of depravity, showing his mystic art. Outside the torches were lit, and as Chris the Van served up bowls of ice cream to an eager queue, we sat under the stars at the end of a very long and busy day, safe in the knowledge that it was far from over, as we still had to get all the gear back out of the venue.
[Pictures by London Fetish Scene]