It was on Christmas Eve at The Argyll when I first saw her perform and it was something I will never forget. It was the old folk’s Christmas ‘Do’ a yearly tradition and this year they were all promised something special.
Shifty was pouring the drinks, Archie was on the accordion and Hector was playing the fiddle. Every year on the promise of free drink and turkey they played,and every year after said free drink and turkey they were asked to stop.
‘Hold on to your hats, and grab your glasses for this will be a bumpy ride Shouted Shifty ‘Tonight is a night of Eastern Promise And a night you will remember with pride.’
‘Not Jock on spoons again’ says old Ethel whose hearing aid was whistling louder than a microphone.
‘No’ shouted Shifty, ‘Jocks’ spoons are in the dishwasher. It’s an extra special surprise and you’ll never guess what... not in a million years. ‘Do you like surprises?’ he yelled. And waited for a response; when none came he poured another round and motioned for Archie to continue.
‘I said do you like to be surprised’ he yelled again.
‘Not before the Pudding’ muttered Ethel.
And then the music started as Rodger entered the bar. He was pulling a large plum pudding balanced preciously on a hospital trolley. It wheels squeaked and wobbled almost putting up a fight. Ethel silently stared. The music was nothing like anything I had heard before and hopefully I will never hear again. If you thought bag pipes where sore on the ears then think again, this music makes a cat’s howl sound like a harp, the howl of a baby like a lullaby and nail on a blackboard like the delight twinkle of a wind chimes.
Rodger positioned the plum pudding in the middle of the floor and then we watched, not quite sure what to say as he poured a bottle of brandy over it. A few coughed, the fumes where strong, some muttered at the wastage. But when Rodger lit the pudding there were gasps from us all and a few ‘oh for god sakes’ at the rear. There was a bit of scream and some feeble punching from inside, smoke filled the room and some yelled for a fire extinguisher but Ethel a woman who had fought in the war (Vietnam) knew what to do. And with a pot of brandy cream and jug of cider Ethyl surprised us all.
And then, there she was bursting, punching her way out of soggy paper pud while trying to hang onto her seven veils of gold and red. Nefertiti rose from the ashes spat out a few raisins and said...
‘I am Nefertiti’s get ready to watch me roar. I am a Goddess, and a woman, that you cannot ignore.’
She stood readjusted her headdress and waited for a response.
When none came she motioned for Rodger to light the candle on her headdress which sparked and spluttered before fizzling out, like the slow deflating of a tyre on a nail. Nefertiti the true professional that she was clung on to her veils and jumped into the splits, causing a few in the audience to winch. But before they could blink she was up stripping off her seven veils while handing out Turkish delights...from a variety of crevices.
Shifty’s dog who had never utter a noise for years had started howling from the music and then made a dive for one of the veils. Nefertiti armed with her sequinned padded bra and Boot’s spray on suntan had, in the past performed front of workmen, hen nights and even a punk band; whether they liked it or not. She had arrived at venues where they took one look at her and forgot the booking.
She was a dancer who meant business and a dog was not going to put her off.