Saturday, 13 March 2010

Punch & Judy

I have spent a considerable time over this last week trying to book a Punch & Judy show for the 'Lilac Lark' that Brighton Lions are organising in conjunction with the Friends of Withdean Park.  My first choice was a professor (which is what P & J operators are called) whom Brighton Lions have used in the past.  He is flying out to South Africa that evening but he promised to check his flight time to see if he could fit in one show early in the afternoon.  But it was not to be: he has to be at Heathrow Airport at 4.00pm, which means leaving Brighton at 2.30 at the latest.  A search on the interthingy showed just one other Brighton-based professor - but he turned out to be dead (so that was a dead end).  When I finally managed to track down three others just along the coast at Worthing, I learned that 9 May - the date of the Lilac Lark - is Mr Punch's birthday.  It seems this was the day in 1600 and something that Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that he saw the show for the first time, and this is the earliest record of the show.  So on 9 May each year, professors gather in Covent Garden, London, to celebrate the anniversary and, it goes without saying, all those I have managed to contact will be there.  So no P&J at the Lilac Lark.

One of the professors I spoke to had, by coincidence, performed for councillors and council officials in Brighton that very day as he was hoping to obtain a license to perform on Brighton sea front.  He said that the reception he received was 'hostile' and the show was frowned upon because Mr Punch hits Judy and mistreats the baby so the officials thought it unsuitable for children.  What nonsense!  Every child who sees the show realises that what Punch does is unacceptable - and this show is an English tradition dating back almost 350 years to our knowledge.  It just goes to confirm what I said yesterday: the lunatics are running the asylum.

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