Drawing: Diane Chorley: The Duchess of Canvey

diane chorley

This is the first time one of my drawings has been kissed! Diane Chorley, the legendary Duchess of Canvey, former owner of the celeb-magnet 80s Essex nightclub The Flick and ex-con had just finished her final performance of a two week run at London’s Soho Theatre on Saturday night.

The place was humming – inside and out – as the streets and establishments throughout Soho were fuelled with revellers after the Pride March earlier in the day.

I stood by the ticket office door for strategic and safety reasons. When Diane, sipping on a lager, came out to take in the sights (one of which was my sketch) she gasped.

“Oh babe… wow! Did you do that? Wonderful,” she signed it and inscribed it and then baptised it with a kiss and beer. Now that’s lip service. A truly unique experience and addition for the collection. Dubbed the Duchess of Canvey by David Bowie, Diane describes her life on her website as:

“I was born in Canvey on the coldest day of the year. Mum said I was steaming when I came out. She was a good woman, hands like iron files, teeth like crackling. My father was a Hodd Carrier. Silent as bread, … never said a word. Turns out he was having an affair with a chiropodist from Billericay. Mum found out and killed him. Literally… Mum got life.”

Left to look after her younger brother, Diane resorted to some drug dealing for survival. She was eventually locked up and the nightclub shut down. Her show is a mixture of music accompanied by her equally famous  band The Buffet, and comic tales recounting her troubled days of infamy and fall from grace.

I read in Time Out that in order to handle being mobbed by insatiable fans, the Soho Theatre did look at the cost of a water cannon for crowd control. It was a toss up between that and a cold spread for The Buffet and they all agreed there was less chance of the venue getting sued over a crudité platter. I was pleased about that.


Drawing: Hugo Weaving in Waiting For Godot at the Barbican

Hugo Weaving

This is a sketch of Hugo Weaving as Vladimir in WAITING FOR GODOT. It’s one of two drawings I did last week based on the Sydney Theatre Company’s production that had a short season at the Barbican in London. The other sketch was a montage of all four cast members, including Richard Roxburgh, Philip Quast and Luke Mullins, which they all signed for me earlier in the run. Hugo had graphed ‘hugo w’, which was more personal, but I thought on this one I would like a full ‘hugo weaving’ (he likes his lower case letters). Collectors like to have exemplars of all autograph variations.

After the final performance last Saturday evening, it was way past 11 before the cast emerged intent on climbing into cars, to whisk them to the after-party. A large group of hunters and collectors… and the obligotary dealers (which I place in the former category) were waiting. Hugo was the last to appear and he signed a few LOTR books and stills, as his PA announced that he was in a hurry and couldn’t sign. This caused a panic amongst the hunters who swarmed on the target with the likelihood of me getting anything, let alone a full ‘hugo weaving’ diminishing by the milisecond. however he saw the sketch, took my pen-not my trusty sharpie, but a new Pentel fine point- which I’ve discovered is excellent for signing the drawings on the sketch paper-and signed ‘hugo w’. Since he still had my pen, signing a few items as the official  hurridly escorted him to the waiting vehicle, I tried to get the ‘eaving’ after the ‘w’, but to no avail. So I have two ‘personal’ graphed GODOT sketches…no ‘eaving’ and no Pentel fine point pen. It must be an Australian thing, I thought, walking to the tube station holding the cap.they like to collect collectors pens minus their caps. Previously I had the same experience, on more than one occasion with Aussie tennis ace Lleyton Hewitt, the subject of another blog you may care to read for reference.

Drawing: Sarah Greene in The Cripple of Inishmaan at The Noël Coward Theatre

Sarah Greene

Martin McDonagh’s cruel and disgracefully funny The Cripple of Inishmaan premiered in 1997 and received its first major revival as part of Michael Grandage’s star-studded first season of plays at the Noël Coward Theatre during the summer of 2013.

Irish actress Sarah Greene plays Helen, the love (albeit secret) interest of the disabled hero Billy – a feisty village wild girl who can’t be restrained from “pegging” eggs at people, especially despised priests, “… getting clergymen groping your arse doesn’t take much skill.”