Out last night to one of the most extraordinary venues I have ever spoken at. A club in Soho which – not that I have ever knowingly been in a Paris brothel – felt like, well, a Paris brothel.
It was all dark and moody, with lots of stairways and rooms of different shapes and sizes going off in odd directions, paintings of nude women on walls and ceilings, some of whom looked like the women working there. Before the speeches we were treated to loud music and a near naked woman performing extraordinary gyrations on a hoop hanging from the ceiling. Sexily dressed, smiling waitresses made sure the drink was flowing under the watchful eye of a woman they called the ‘madame.’ I made my excuses and left around nine, just before the ‘next stage of the performance’ which, I was informed, was ‘much raunchier than the hoop.’ Had I been half my age, and in my drinking phase, I fear I would still be there now, chatting to a red-dressed advertising firm social media operative called Madison who writes a blog called ‘SexShoppingChocolate.’ It was that kind of night, and it is quite a blog- though I can rebut her tweet this morning that she ‘licked’ me (if by that she meant the traditional sense of lick).
The event was part of a series hosted by firm of the moment Twitter. I had prepared a rather serious and earnest analysis of the impact of social media on mainstream journalism, business and politics – which I will also address in my ‘visiting professor’ (no less) role at Cambridge University next week. But, with the drink flowing, the sexual atmospherics building, the lights so low that I could not read my notes, and the realisation that I was the only person there with a tie, the only one over fifty – or maybe even thirty – I decided to dump the notes and wing it when I was called to the stage, sandwiched between advertising man Trevor Beattie and comedian Richard Herring.
So out poured a twitter stream of consciousness – how I trended on twitter after the Mail (loud cheers for attacks on Obergruppenfuhrer Dacre as always) suggested I had broken The Wanted singer Tom Parker’s leg in a football match at Burnley – and used twitter to rebut; how I used twitter to get all those signatures calling on Coward Dacre to debate his evilness (still waiting); my twitter spat with – and belated apology to – Louise Mensch; how I used twitter to sort my visa for Australia; how I used it to get staff at Gatwick to open automatic doors which had got stuck as I came off a plane from Croatia; more seriously how I used twitter for politics, book-promoting, fundraising and mental health campaigns, and how my most retweeted tweet ever was the one about Stephen Fry, when I challenged those asking ‘what does he have to be depressed about?’ by asking if they would ask what he had to be cancerous, diabetic or asthmatic about?
But given yesterday’s news was all about Twitter being floated and its eye-watering value making it one of the big success stories of the Internet age, I also gave a warning (again something I will develop at Cambridge) that the new media giants must not become modern versions of the old media oligarchies. If people sense the Facebook Twitter revolution is all about the money, not about challenging the old corrupt media power structures and giving people a voice, the amazing goodwill on which they are part built could evaporate quite quickly.
My sense was the Twitter guys got that. But when brands start small and get big, as quickly as this one has, anything can happen. The Twitter story is going to be a fascinating one from now on in. I wish them well, but will have a wary eye on how they develop.
The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity, brevity and openness to anyone with an opinion. Democracy in action – if only someone would listen. But it is a start. And governments will learn to take notice, and use the feedback provided through twitter. The real problem is that so many people are locked into supporting a particular political party, or more importantly locked into being anti anything that the government does if their party is not in power. Which is nonsense because when in power most governments do similar things.
What was the club called Al?
Often went to the Glasshouse Stores Samuel Smith’s pub on Brewer Street, Soho, in between visiting the various, ahem!, book shops, for purely self-education purposes mind, Vicar… Met some damn interesting people there, various actors, writers, etc., and I am sure I chatted with Paul Raymond there once, about twenty years ago or so, but I could be wrong. Only realised later that it could have been him, maybe.
S’pose I should mention that I took my fifteen year old daughter, she was at the time, round Soho for a tour once – did her mother give me ear ache afterwards or what! But my daughter, and me, went well up the coolness levels when she told all her mates about it Monday morning at her school in Redhill, Surrey.
mmmm, yes, working ladies, where do I start with my experiences of such? Only had one encounter, and it was Singapore, and her name was not Fiona Bruce!
OK, right, I was sent to work for a month in Sing, put up in the Orchard Hotel at the top of Orchard Road, where it joins up with Tanglin Road for further inland Sing.
Anyway, next door to the posh hotel I was staying in was, surprise surprise, Orchard Towers, with their four floors of whores. Anyway, each evening when I walked down to downtown Sing, whenever I passed Orchard Towers, this chinky pimp constantly berated me with “Lady for the night Sir? Lady for the night?”. This went on for weeks. I even crossed the road to avoid him, but there he was, shouting across the road to me, “Lady for the night Sir, etc.”.
Anyway, couple of days before I was due to leave Sing, had a few gaspers, as you do, and headed back to my hotel, and there he fecking was again, with the usual, so I said “OK then, but no kiddies mind, over thirties only!”. Five minutes later, who should step out was this five foot nine total dark skinned blonde GODDESS from Brunei, quarter Dutch she later told me, and shit on a biscuit was she a stunner.
She even brought the wellington boot for my third leg….
Ali Gee the singer, who I knew back in ’89, Trent Park, Middlx Poly/Uni, before she became famous,
Like ladies with spirit. ; )
And the tribute vid I got my US mate to do, and I think she has just done an astounding job of it – just YT uploaded last night – clever lady she is, me just supplying the basic idea, as I do,
From my backstage vantage point looking after the video projections, I wonder if you’ve ever considered a switch of career to stand up comedian, you certainly gave Richard Herring a run for his money.
Sounds like you needed some showgirls to walk you out on stage. Every speech is better is better with showgirls. Fact.
Ali Gee’s brilliant recent track and vid, which I just cannot stop watching – gave her slight input, a couple of years ago, when I talked to her on YouTube and other places,