Strange Reflections V


What popular mythology paints as ‘the good old days’ counts for nothing in Tooting Bec. Vince took them all to the local flea-pit for an evening out.

“It’s just another bloody awful old B-Movie, isn’t it?” snarled Brad. But they went all the same.

It was The Curse of Mommo, made on a shoe-string by ex-Hungarian Dog-Boy Laszlo ‘Fireball’ Zednick. Dr Thomas Bewlay was in attendance throughout. Fearsome charge nurses ran the place like a barracks.

After the first feature there was a jovial concoction of comic turns, ballads, singers and acrobats. The streets echoed with the cries of traders and the clatter of hooves. However six out of ten are the wrong size. Sister Sofia-Marie, clad in her astrologer’s nightdress of blue silk, velvet, lace and mesh (this is a new, tough-edged femininity) thought it had something going for it but she didn’t know quite what. She’s waiting for you.

“Well, that’s modern art for you, luvvie,” Brad sneered. Everyone else was bored rigid. Vince, however was strangely quiet the whole night and into the next day.

In the film, evil Baron Rudolf (cursed by the mysterious Mommo in a previous depraved incarnation of bizarre and brilliant visual theatre) gets assassinated by a troupe of strolling mummers. It was a dark, lavish and disturbing vision of mayhem and romance, and, like some campy villain in one of those ghastly old B-Movies, ‘dreadful’ Baron Rudolf dies in horrible circumstances.

Her heart flipped. It was all like a fantastic dream. Time and space twisted into weird origami shapes.

Next morning a policeman rang. He knew who started the fire in the wainscoting.

Inspector Flapper showed his chipped teeth and laughed in her face. “It’s the curse of Mommo! Har! Har! Har!”

Where do they come from? Have they simply been cast out to make money?

Back at the office the phones were going berserk. Very sleek and sporty in regal corsetry, his little piggy eyes narrowed as Sister Marie polished her crystal ball. This could be a feeling that lasts all day. God I hope not.

Laszlo’s underground movie-type mise-en-scene called for high camp and all sorts of tricksy far-out anachronisms.

So… ‘frightful’ Baron Rudolf, played by New York City gay porn diva Johnny Detroit, wafts about the set with a silver cigarette holder, now a ‘pretty boy’, now a post-phallocratic ‘homme fatal’ with an attitude problem, now a low-backed ‘couture man’, trailing pink scarves and quoting from The Magnetic Fields. The scheming court chamberlain (played with great panache by Nancy Bosch in a floppy white fright-wig),  looks just like Andy Warhol filming everyone on Super-8, creating dramatic self-contained episodes from footage shot over three years of disreputable urban adventuring.

He believed it summed up the contemporary world, he said at the press conference.

Learning to speak correctly was an uphill battle for Karen, although, through her new interest in music, she finally made some friends. My Aunt Ada gave her a recorder served hot with chips, salad and lashings of mango chutney. Other kids laughed at the noise she made. Was that the gearstick?

“They are scapegoats, everyone is against them,” Otis looked depressed.

Sister Marie gazed into her crystal ball and saw an unusual welcome sign: a naked body crucified to the gates of Knobheresberg Castle. And, sure enough, there’s evil Baron Rudolf preening himself to ‘La Paloma’ on the soundtrack..

“So, well, you know, whatever it is, you know, I feel like…well, you know…er…ummm…this film gives a voice to people who wouldn’t have one…so, well…okay…I’m an ex-stripper, but I’ve made ten films…so, anyway…”

Some bizarre press conference in LA.

“The triangle represents advanced technology, winners and losers, and this and…er…that…”

It was Johnny Detroit in a black and white pin-striped pyjama suit. The press pack fired a barrage of questions.

Pushing wet hair out of his eyes, Johnny said, “There are neither nights nor days…”

Eventually I got up off the bathroom floor and wiped my tears away. They walked out together chatting nineteen to the dozen like they were bosom buddies. The world was simply an immense ship. I shut the door behind them chuckling. Given half a chance these neurotic moral crusaders will rant on about anything from the evils of white rice to the ordination of women. Vince told us about his psycho mum.

Despite all the soft-soap and free booze bystanders predict the result is foregone conclusion. Things hotted up in Lorna’s kitchen.

“No sign of John Thomas,” thought Sister Marie, scanning the horizon with her opera glasses.     She was a lost soul without him, she knew that now. Her peachy, spacious apartment was waiting for the return of the spicy spook, his Ninja Turtle slippers warming in front of an overheated whirlpool bath.

The rolling hills of her perfumed hair stretched in a crescent from Hessle on the Humber to the cliffs of Flamborough Head. She was a tribute to the skills of early photographers, affording him glimpses of familiar places and snatches of London low-life, including cab drivers’ shelters, Annie’s Bar, the Deptford Blades and Crash Course Counseling in Catford.

The self-destructive sickness of national cynicism, a “poison” spread by the chattering classes was all grist to his mill, a peculiar malaise stretching from Guildford and Winchester to Titchfield and Godalming. In a series of well-choreographed broadcasts and speeches the schedule was changed. The canary panicked. Her jaw almost hit the floor.

This is where twentieth century history begins.

But The Curse of Mommo was a stunning antic and a dark, noisome shadow outside every bedroom.



AC Evans







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