Thursday, September 22, 2011

Duncan Fallowell: The night he took off with Muriel Belcher's crutches

Duncan Fallowell
Alas, I was unable to attend 'libertine' Duncan Fallowell's dazzling London launch party for his new travel book How To Disappear: A Memoir For Misfits the other day. And my appointed gossip-spy, model-turned-novelist Gavin James Bower, substituted retail therapy for promised mission - tsk. It's just as well I am forgiving. However, I learn from the London Evening Standard's Diary that 'an eclectic bunch of misfits, hedonists, socialites and the odd Zoroastrian' turned out and a fab time was had by all. (Click here to read the item]

The Diary, which seems to have lost nothing in the paper's transition from paid-for to freebie, relates an amusing tale told by one of the guests, art dealer James Birch. He 'recalled his first encounter with Fallowell, which left an indelible impression. “He went up to my father and asked if he was heterosexual. When he said he was, Duncan kissed him full on the lips. My father nearly fell off his chair.”'

Ah, yes, the event is recalled and I can tell more.

The encounter was at a large sit-down dinner at the Royal College of Art for the late artist and writer Dicky Chopping's retirement. Birch was indeed there with his father. Fallowell went with sometime lover and Britain's first transsexual, April Ashley; and unfortunately he got incredibly drunk. James Birch was wearing a fetching all-white suit and Fallowell pursued him all round the hall with a trembling glass of claret. Birch proved to be too quick for his pursuer - so Fallowell ran off with Muriel Belcher's crutches which she'd parked neatly beside her seat. This had never happened to her before. The filthy-mouthed Colony crone looked panic stricken - 'For God's sake stop that young man!' she wailed as he ran off out of the hall with them.

I am happy to report that when he gallantly returned them to her 10 minutes later she made him an honorary member of the Colony for bravery. And thereafter Fallowell was always called 'Young man' at the Colony, even after her death. Once or twice I heard Ian Board call him 'Young man' when he was 40 - er, some years past now.

Incidentally, in other matters, my friends in the book trade tell me How To Disappear: A Memoir For Misfits sold out before the launch - the warehouse cleaned out - but fortunately his canny publishers Ditto kept a couple of boxes in reserve for the party. They are now rushing to reprint.

To read my review of the book, click here. Worth reading (also!) is Byron Rogers' marvellously batty Spectator review. And to think, Byron used to write Prince Charles' speeches - 'Such big hands,' he is wont to say of his once royal master.

(PS: One minute [interview] with Duncan Fallowell in the Independent.)

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is that the James Birch who took Gilbert & George to China?

Anonymous said...

Someone is writing a History of the Colony Room

Madame Arcati said...

Yes, Sophie Parkin. I have arranged an interview with the late Muriel.

The Duchess said...

I don't know why you're writing about a bunch of alcoholics. They just end up constipating our NHS hospitals.

Anonymous said...

Ditto Press have done a sensational design job on Fallowell's book. I wish some of the press commentators would notice this - they can't all be visually illiterate? or can they?

The Reverend said...

James Birch is the discoverer of Grayson Perry. Should we be thankful?

Cremm Broolay said...

Monocle (October issue) loves Duncan/Ditto too

Madame Arcati said...

I agree. I used to review just book covers, they tell you almost everything you need to know about the content - eg Tina Brown's Diana and its hideous shocking pink cover. I could devote 2000 words to DF's book cover. But you know, why should I give everything away for nothing?

Madame Arcati said...

And as to Perry, I realised what a con he is when I saw him licking up to Valentino in the doc film made a few years back. He was being all matey and inappropriate in his Goldie Locks dress. I thought he was goint to whip out his cock at one point.

Madame Arcati said...

I'm sorry but I deplore Monocle and Creme Brulee, the editor.

Anonymous said...

Grayson Perry had a bit of a ding-dong with April Ashley

Madame Arcati said...

You must tell more, whoever you are.

Aggrieved author said...

Mr Fallowell can count himself lucky that he had a launch party. A very rare thing, book parties!

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, they had a fling but were never an item

Anonymous said...

I was there and the champagne flowed freely courtesy of Moet - free fizz and anyone can party

The Reverend said...

While you're on this subject - has Duncan Fallowell ever done drag? I know he was also a friend of Divine

Baz said...

I remember when James Birch used to go around in a bubble car ... don't know why I'm off his guest list though.

Anonymous said...

Dicky Chopping! The names of these people! Why don't I ever know someone called Dicky Chopping?

Madame Arcati said...

Csn't see DF in a frock myself.

Lampshade said...

I'm confused. April Ashley had a fling with Duncan or Grayson, or perhaps both? Is Miss Ashley still alive? I'm very surprised she hasn't popped up yet on Celebrity Big Brother or I'm A Celebrity. I'm sure a new generation of TV morons would love her airs and graces.

Anonymous said...

Mr Fallowell once introduced me to someone called Major Donald Neville-Willing

Anonymous said...

April Ashley lives in Fulham these days

Frances Lynn said...

Yes, I remember James Birch going around in a bubble car. As for the Colony - Muriel Belcher once invited me to join her for a drink at the Colony and even though I ordered an orange juice nobody shouted obscenities at me.

Harry Potter said...

Just started reading Fallowell's book. Bloody good

Anonymous said...

MURIEL BELCHER'S CRUTCHES - follow up to EVIL DEAD

Anonymous said...

And there was someone called Christopher Boggis-Rolfe in those days

Anonymous said...

Monocle's fun. You're being silly.

Flaming Pussy said...

This is all very unpredictable. Me like that.

Wannaknow said...

Look, you gotta help me. I can't quite get to grips with this. Who is this guy and why is he important? He seems to be everywhere - and nowhere. Is he a cyber droid or what?

The Third Man said...

The Independent has a very funny thing today about Duncan. Tell him to have another party and invite the Third Man

The late Peter Yorkie-Bar said...

This man DF is in an abyss, between being up there and not being up there. OW-oooooo.

Pasolini's Ghost said...

Is this book likely to be translated into Friulano?

Anonymous said...

Dear Madame, why are you bothering with Paper Blog? It's very populist whereas you are anti-populist. Just stay as you are in your little ghetto here.

Tyler Brûlé said...

Get my name right, cunt.

Madame Arcati said...

I've added a link at the bottom of the post to the Indy's one minute interview with DF.

Harry Potter said...

Yeah, the Standard's still bloody good

Anonymous said...

Half way through How to Disappear and loving it. What I don't understand is why there is no author's note or introduction. Nothing about the author in fact. I assume this void will be filled in later editions.

Mission Control said...

It is a work of literary art published as a work of visual art. It is an art object. No notes, acknowledgments, index, or other paraphernalia. Pure brilliant streamlined experience

Anonymous said...

A muse is not always amusing

Anonymous said...

If the book is an art object then it should be sold with a stand.

the late Doris Fish said...

James Birch has an amazing collection of those beautiful little bubble cars, Messerschmitts and so on.
A handsome man but always decidedly heterosexual. Duncan should have his gaydar checked.

Pastille said...

One should avoid intimations of preciousness.

DRF said...

Dear M.A.

According to your Lady horoscope page, I have a spectacular new moon in my sign on Sept 27th. Can you advise me how best to exploit this? I'd hate to miss a cosmic opportunity.

Best wishes, Duncan Fallowell

Madame Arcati said...

My dear Duncan,

The likelihood of you missing out on a cosmic opportunity seems very remote to me, and I say this without reference to your natal chart (for which there is no substitute).

Still, any opportunity that takes you into new work territory and/or that causes you to reinvent image and/or that connects you to new joyful persons - all these opportunities (or at least one) should be grabbed greedily and in full expectation. This New Moon's influence may endure for several months.

Thank God I persuaded your publisher to delay publication to September. For now the book may surf upon the lunar tsunami to come!

DRF said...

Right. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The Colony went national - you can see it in gutters and shop doorways up and down the country every weekend

Anonymous said...

Mr Birch sounds like a nerd.

Anonymous said...

happy birthday, duncan, from your stalker

Anonymous said...

It's time that Fallowell did a five minute interview