The Austentatious Guide to Udderbelly Festival
14th Jun 2016
A pamphlet recently discovered by improvised comedy troupe, Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel, has revealed that the Udderbelly has in fact been resident on London’s South Bank since 1814! The pamphlet was a guide to the forthcoming Udderbelly Festival, immensely popular at the time after staring out windows was banned for women under twenty-five, for being ‘too stimulating’.
If you enjoy the sound of life in 1814, you can see Austentatious at the Udderbelly Festival this Summer (June 22nd & 30th, July 7th & 14th).
The Grand Duke of Underbelly has once again kindly inflated his entire herd of rare mauve Angus cows, sewn together by little else than sturdy ribbon and cat string - Donated by Lady Hamilton herself (and her fine array of cats). It is indeed a sight worth seeing, much like the brand new Pavilion our dear (and most renowned by the ladies) Prince Regent has just ‘erected’ in Brighton. Its outside vista as thrilling as the contents within. In fact, so enlivening that Ms. M. Gibson-Hume did in fact swoon to the floor when first encountering the Violet Beast, and was only recovered once Captain G. Dickson of the 5th Brigade smiled at her and gave her several admiring glances.
We would advise you approach the Lilac Mammal with some caution and with a retinue of at least five servants (one trained in country ways). However, we can guarantee that once you are near the Heliotrope Bovine and adjusted to its awe – much fun will commence! And, it is a welcome break from Farmer Muggin’s Turnip & Sprout Fair which used to reside on the same spot.
The Udderbelly was unveiled by Lords Bartlam and Wood in 1814 and, to this day, their Cow offers a meaty programme of theatrical divertissements that is simultaneously rare and awfully well done. Patrons are urged to milk this year’s Festival for all its worth by booking tickets in advance at the ‘Box Office’, thereby securing their place amongst the crème de la crème of London society.
Of course, those wishing merely to enjoy a stroll in the Cow’s environs have no need of a ticket. Lords Bartlam and Wood invite one and all to admire their magnificent erection, free of charge.
The Udderbelly is full of diversions for all Londoners of all stripes. Even those who live far in the countryside, like Ealing or Wimbledon, may come for amusements and delight. First among the summer's treats is the magnificent TOBY THE LEARNED PIG, who can count to five-and-twenty, perform conjuring tricks, converse on the Napoleon Question and tell fortunes. Next, there is CAPTAIN ASTLEY'S HORSE EXTRAVAGANZA, in which the gallant Captain Astley will ride a horse while simultaneously playing the pianoforte, loading and firing a pistol, and tying his son's cravat. As a finale he will ride six horses at the same time, with the aid of nothing more than his dog Pip and a pair of specially-strengthened breeches. Also on display are the COLCHESTER CARD CADS, a troupe of light-fingered Essex magicians who still owe this writer three guineas they 'magicked away' from his pocket last time.
Other top tips include:
THERESA THE MERMAID, who insists she is half-woman, half-fish, even though we have all seen her donning her tail round the back of Jimmy's Sausage Shack;
OLD JEREMIAH, who maintains he has seen 700 summers and gives a spirited account of his part in the Battle of Crecy;
THE ESCAPING MARTIN, who has never turned up for a single show;
And finally, the mountebanks of NO SUCH THING AS A FISH, who discuss the so-called 'facts' they have brought back from their travels and make much fun with them.
Bons vivants, whose voracious appetites are not sated by the multifarious entertainments on offer, may gorge themselves liberally upon mouth-watering victuals and thirst-quenching libations, peddled throughout the pasture. Please note: whilst the Udderbelly strongly encourages philosophical ruminations, anyone caught ruminating in a bovine fashion (i.e. regurgitating their food and masticating wildly) is liable to be lassoed and fed immediately to the Great Purple Cow.
We can all agree that childhood is a condition best grown out of as soon as possible, but should your governess wish to avail your progeny with a suitably morally rigorous entertainment there can surely be no finer destination than the Underbelly Festival, which boasts an array of stern theatricals to set them on the righteous path.
Wayward offspring may benefit from witnessing the divine babblings of Shlomo, a gentleman of some standing, whose speaking-in-tongues will be familiar to those frequenters of Quaker meetings. He emits all manner of celestial warbling and transcendent pronouncement in a miraculous display of Glossolalia for the betterment of your wicked juvenile. Or they may enjoy Card Ninja, a dashing and eligible officer, providing a timely reminder of the evils of gambling, as he kicks, throws and disappears playing cards in a multiplicity of conditions, and quite disrupts any ruinous attempts to establish a bawdy game of whist or quadrille.
All in all any child will most certainly emerge from the cow with a much-improved constitution, a sentence which cannot alas be said of poor young Miss T of Cheltenham, who brought the annual cattle fair to a rather distasteful and premature close with her now notorious silage and alfalfa gown.
By Cariad Lloyd, Andrew Hunter Murray, Charlotte Gittins & Daniel Roberts
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