Friday, 2 October 2009

Scrub my skin with women .. .

Adrian Mitchell's theatricality was famously captured on film, when he read To Whom it May Concern, his stirring anti-Vietnam poem, at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965. He is pictured striding away through a rapturous audience of 7,500 after his final rhetorical flourish: “So scrub my skin with women / Chain my tongue with whisky / Stuff my nose with garlic / Coat my eyes with butter / Fill my ears with silver / Stick my legs in plaster /Tell me lies about Vietnam.”

“He was so nervous before that show,” said Mitchell's wife, Celia Hewitt, an actress, who had been unable to attend the reading because she was on stage at Stratford East. “He had been to buy himself a blue suit from Carnaby Street, which he wore. But nobody expected so many people to turn up and the steps of the Royal Albert Hall were strewn with flowers. I arrived late and saw Alan Sillitoe coming out. I said: ‘Was he any good?’ Alan told me: ‘He was the star.’”

More of this story here. The bit at the top is a rather tenuous Scottish link; the rest is quite jolly. Mitchell.

And whether you've read Mitchell's stuff or not, you'll love this. He's reading at the Royal Albert Hall. The guy on acid is Allen Ginsberg. All I see is flames.

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