Deborah Richards

Putting it on

Back in the day

Back view of carnival performers
Notting Hill Carnival, London

A couple of years ago I had a gig as a samba drummer. There were rehearsals in derelict warehouses and a music studio in south-east London. My own choice was the second surdo drum at the audition, but they said to play another for the purposes of the exercise. Later they suggested the repinique drum. Despite my hard work and attending private drumming lessons, I was dropped from the bateria. I fought successfully to be part of the production team instead. And like all good fairy tales, I was asked to fill in for someone who hadn’t turned up on the day of the performance. The golden costume was adjusted and there I was like Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street ready to go.

Pulling punches

Ferris wheel outside Taj Mahal casino
Big Wheel, Atlantic City

Susan Sarandon playing the role of trainee croupier, Sally, is confronted by her back story when her estranged husband lands like a bad penny. He's not sorry for anything he’s done, but why mess around with her kid sister? Sally would tell Dave to take a hike 'cos she doesn’t need his shit, but her pregnant sister begs: please…please! Dave was bad news but when she’s given her heart don’t go breaking it, asshole!

Get me happy.

Smiling purple dinosaurs
AC playground

Spoiler: I’m a coward because I wanted to be sure to leave happy.

The other night I went to see a comedian who appears on a TV game show. As I’d been let down before I was a little cautious. A few years ago, another very funny guy who was a regular guest on a satirical news show was unable to transfer his little asides and dry one lines to an evening of live entertainment. We had been looking forward to seeing what he had to say.  The funniest thing that evening was the queue for the men’s toilets. All the women commented on how they had never seen men waiting in line before. How we chuckled. I think some of us took photos.

Stepping out

Woman on beach with cats
Atlantic City, NJ

Let's start somewhere. I'm not too careful of chronology or proximity, so why not start with Atlantic City? In the film, Susan Sarandon rubs fresh lemon into her elbows at the kitchen sink. Burt Lancaster admires her from across the way. I can't remember much more than that.

Out  on the shoreline, in real life, whales beach and draw crowds despite the stench. In the 80's there were tales of dead whales stranded on the New Jersey shore--around the same time as the Atlantic City film release. The newspapers named one Bertie, like the others, he didn't survive. Later scavengers looked for whale teeth and bones to sell to down-on-their-luck gamblers.