Reviews Norwich Published 22 September 2014

A Conversation

Norwich Arts Centre ⋄ 3rd September 2014

A poetic response to Nigel & Louise.

John Boursnell

Someone has said “the man who constantly chatters cannot be a gentleman at heart”

In ventriloquism, the voice is never wholly itself, it comes from outside.

[whether the outside is the past]

[whether the outside is another continent]

[whether the outside is a playwright]

[whether the outside is a colony]

[whether the outside is an empire]

[whether the outside is a former empire]

I felt I was becoming scientifically interesting.

First lesson; reel them in.


There are not that many of us tonight, and I am trying to remember things I have done, in case I am asked something. We are immediately at our ease though; listen to the funny stories from long ago! Don’t be dull! Don’t be frightened of parties!

Lines that could appear on tea towels, postcards, witty posters. These lines put us at our ease, and friendly Nigel does too. Look at his cheerful face.

If you do exchange ideas you derive a keener enjoyment as well as an increased knowledge of human nature which may lead to a better understanding of life.

Second lesson; skydiving.

What is the minimum number of people you have to assemble for two people to have the same birthday? What is the minimum number of people you have to assemble for at least one of them to be divorced? [DO NOT REFER TO DIVORCE IN MIXED COMPANY IF YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE MARITAL CONDITIONS OF EVERY MEMBER PRESENT] What is the minimum number of people that would constitute a crowd? A party? [see also the heap paradox.] What are the chances of assembling a live art audience where one person has skydived, from a red and white plane, and also forgotten the name of their driving instructor?

There is no one quality that so much attaches man to his fellow man as cheerfulness.

Third lesson; gin.

In jam jars! I am dropping a lemon into my jar,

I am dropping a lemon into my jar,

I am passing the ice around,

I am sipping my gin,

I am reaching for another jar (there is a lot to go around),

I am feeling cheerful,

I am feeling convivial;

we are at least in this together.

I am now a little tipsy.

I am disarmed.

We want for the guidance of the cause instructed to us by Europe, so to speak, higher intelligence, wide sympathies, a singleness of purpose.

Forth lesson; sucker-punch.

From cosy tea towels

to travelling upriver looking for Mr Kurtz.



on this line.


everyone is just

about fuzzy enough

to take it

on the chin.

This is why it is so amusing to see a silk hat on a naked savage.

The rest of the show

Is a trapdoor into

and nightmare

(by now I have had three)

a rush towards

a three coloured

blaze of glory.




gin sweats





What else is there to say?

[all italics from The Ethel Cotton Course In Conversation and Heart of Darkness]

[five jars of gin]


John Boursnell is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

A Conversation Show Info




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