Tag Archives: Rawlinson End


Well well, I hope you all had a Merry Crimble? A fine old gorging season was had here at Livesley Towers with copious amounts of festive tuck and grog attacked with alacrity by yours truly and all served with a liberal side order of Bisodol with the stomach pump on standby. So as the final flickering flame of 2015 sputtters its last, and I manfully hoover up as much of the remaining Crimbo goodies as I physically can before midnight strikes and the usual ‘new year new me’ routine begins, thus giving me another stone to lose in the process – ‘gotta get up to get down’ as James Brown once sang – I decided I’d better put the brandy eclairs down for a moment and write up some form of review of this brilliantly chaotic year. Despite employing brevity the following is still quite long – OOER – but how *do* you squeeze an entire year into such a tiny box madam? For the answer to all of this and less you’ll have to read on’t…..

Singing in praise of the late, great Vivian Stanshall at the Bristol Old Vic. January 25th 2015

Me with Stephen Fry singing ‘Sport (The Odd Boy)’ in praise of the late, great Vivian Stanshall at the Bristol Old Vic. January 25th 2015

JANUARY – The year started in spectacular fashion performing ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinson End’ in honour of its late and illustrious author Vivian Stanshall at Bristol’s historic Old Vic Theatre. Joining us were Neil Innes and Bristolian performance artists ‘Desperate Men‘ plus Stephen Fry and Ronnie Golden. You can read a review here. Even as a jaded old sod standing on that historic and ancient stage belting out Viv’s incredible words with Stephen Fry was one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments that I shall never forget.

Our show was part of Bristol’s 2015 Slapstick Festival, at which next year I shall be giving a talk about Mancunian Studios in January 2016. Is that the time? Best crack on…

Neil Innes, Barry Cryer, me and Graeme Garden after the Bristol Old Vic show

Neil Innes, Barry Cryer, me and Graeme Garden after the Bristol Old Vic show

…twas brillig and also amazing to meet Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden at the aftershow party who had both been in the audience for our show. Pint in hand I was summoned to be presented to ‘Baz’ who held his hands in front of his face and said ‘Gah! Go away! I can’t even look at you! How *do* you remember all those bloody words?!? Frightening’ High praise indeed from one of my biggest comedy heroes. Anyway, enough trumpet blowing but, y’know, sometimes, you do have to blow your own…

FEBRUARY -a lovely clear month which enabled Bill and I to prepare the ground for the CD release of our stage version of Viv’s classic Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, which I am pleased to say that it will be released next year on Rick Wakeman’s new label  – RRAW – but more news on that later….


MARCH – After such a luxurious and enjoyable month working from home it was time to hit the road again, this time down to Innes Acres in Suffolk, to begin rehearsing with the eclectically fabulous band of chaps Neil had assembled to perform at Camden’s KOKO in April to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Bonzos. Neil had invited me to come and sing in The Bonzos bit – it was a double headline bill of The Bonzos and Neil’s other act the Rutles – and we rehearsed in ‘Cradle of Filth‘s studio space in Ipswich. I can honestly say that singing ‘My Pink Half of the Drainpipe’ whilst staring at a wall littered with ‘Jesus is a C*nt’ stickers is one of the most surreally juxtaposed moments of my life. Now I’m no fan of the Catholic Church, unless you count those 5 years I worked under Pope Benedict in Rome, but even I was shocked by such a statement! Kids eh?

The Bontles

The motley crew assembled by Neil for the Bonzos/Rutles show at Camden’s KOKO. L-R Phil Jackson, Rodney Slater, Mark Griffiths, John ‘The Admiral’ Halsey, Neil Innes, Elliott Randall and me. ‘Rutling’ Ken Thornton was in the toilet. Photo by David Christie

APRIL – saw me and my ‘Austerity Orchestra’ – aka Jonny Hase – back on the road to bring Rawlinson End back to the Laugharne Weekend for another wonderful few days of hedonistic and performance bliss that brought the very thaw to the throte of winter. Magical. That is the only word I can use to describe the place. Despite Jonny and I almost being killed on the road back when this accident, involving the lorry directly in front of us, happened we had a fine old time. It is really very scary to think back to how we only very narrowly avoided being killed that day. Especially when I recall the sight of those big gas cannisters raining down on us. Someone was smiling down on us that day! I told you Jesus wasn’t a…well….y’know…..

KOKO Finale

The view from the stage at the Bonzos 50th Anniversary show at KOKO, Camden, 17th April 2015

Having made it back safe and sound from Laugharne the next morning it was time to head south again for a quick warm up for the KOKO show then on with the motley. It was incredible to perform with so many amazing geezers. After this Elliott still felt the need for more insanity and so signed up to appear with us at our annual Stanshallian celebration at the Bloomsbury in London, this year entitled ‘Radio Stanshall’. The crazy fool!

MAY – Where was I? Oh yes, Radio Stanshall. This was the last of a trilogy of shows we put on to remind people of the genius of Vivian Stanshall. For the first one in 2013 – Viv’s 70th Birthday Party – we had a 60s theme for the show, so it was Bonzos heavy with a blistering encore of Ginger Geezer thrown in for good measure. Year 2 – entitled ‘One Night Stanshall’ – focused on Viv’s solo years and this year’s final one covered the work the great man recorded for BBC Radio 1’s John Peel show from the 70s to the 90s. Hence the name ‘Radio Stanshall’.

Radio Stanshall Poster Dun
Gracing the Bloomsbury stage with us once again were Rick, Neil, Rod and The Admiral plus new boys Elliott Randall and peerless comedy actor and Viv fan Kevin Eldon. Also joining us was the ever wonderful Susie Honeyman who I am delighted to say has become quite the permanent fixture of our band line up and has played with us at every show since ‘One Night Stanshall’ in 2014. These shows would have been impossible without the incredible people in the show and the ceaseless support of Viv’s son Rupert. Job done!
Radio Stanshall Finale

The Radio Stanshall line up – L-R Ged Fox, Kevin Eldon, Bill Leach (MD), Chris ‘ukulele’ Uff, John ‘no jokes please’ Lewis. Susie Honeyman, me, my concussionist Jonny Hase, Rick Wakeman, Elliott Randall, Rod Slater, John ‘the admiral’ Halsey and Neil Innes

JUNE & JULY – were spent doing lots of DIY, editing, writing, recording, lots of DIY, chilling out, farting, lots of DIY and generally getting pissed, enjoying myself and doing LOTS of DIY. Ace. It’s what summers were made for!

AUGUST – back on the road for a wonderful show at Buxton Opera House. An incredible venue to bring Rawlinson End to and a most beautiful part of the world in general. A delight from start to finish

Me Bill Buxton

‘Well. I’ve played some fuckin’ toilets in ma time…’ Me and my MD and indefatiguable ‘leader of the band’ Bill Leach soaking up the opulence of our beautiful home for the night. Buxton Opera House. Photo by Warren Millar

SEPTEMBER – saw us taking Rawlinson End to the Rye Arts Festival – another delightful place reeking of smugglers coves and the static generated by Jonny Hase’s balloons(!) Very Daftie du Maurier

Pre Rye

Preparing for the show at the Rye Arts Festival. L-R Bill Leach (MD), trumpeteer Ged Fox, the back of Chris ‘ukulele’ Uff, concussionist extraordinaire Jonny Hase – and his balloons – and me

OCTOBER – we assembled from all points of the compass to record the CD version of ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinson End‘ which will be the first release on the aforementioned Mr Wakeman and Mr Ayling’s new RRAW label. The CD features guest turns from Rick, Mr Innes and Susie Honeyman and is being produced by Wizard of Twiddly and all round good chap Andy Frizell. It will be released next March

NOVEMBER – I met up with renowned comedy blogger John Fleming for another interview at the Soho theatre, recording continued on the Sir Henry CD and rehearsals began for a further 2 nights of Bonzos and Rutles madness in a Christmas Spiegeltent in Bristol and at the Minnellium Dome, yes the Minnellium Dome, in London. It were really grand to perform with such heroes. I do hope we shall all do it again SOON!!

Bonzo Dec 2015 060

The Bonzos crew pre the Minnellium Dome show. L-R David Glasson, ‘Legs’ Larry Smith, Bob Kerr, Neil Innes, Rod Slater, Sam Spoons, Vernon Dudley, Malcolm Sked and me. Photo by Nigel van Beek

DECEMBER – due to a ‘brainstorm’ I had in October plans were made for one final performance of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End of the year at the wonderful Rose & Crown Theatre pub in Viv’s home town of Walthamstow. I can’t recommend this venue highly enough and it proved to be a very special evening indeed.

Vivmas Final Soc

We were joined by Viv’s son Rupert who compered the evening and charmed the audience with his memories of his incredible Pa. It was a fitting way to end this the 20th year since the world parted company with Viv’s genius and one interesting footnote to the evening was that the top drawer guv’nor to the place – a certain Mr Bun Constantinou – turned out to be Rupert’s old Maths teacher. As you can imagine their reunion stirred some incredibly ‘interesting’ memories….


Lord Rupert of Stanshall shining light on the life of his top pop at Merry Vivmas! Photo by Lee Wilkinson

…so that’s shallot! 2015, what a wonderful year! I do hope 2016 is even half as good! If you’ve read this far then gawd bless you a gentleman and may I wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy 2016!!! Thankyou all for your support throughout the year – let’s make 2016 even better!!

Until the next time…..cheers!




ImageWell, here I sit typing, a stone lighter and ready to tread the boards of the Bloomsbury Theatre in London. Well, I say ready, bloody petrified is more appropriate tbh! Getting on stage is a scary prospect, believe me, I know! I recall my London theatre debut, at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Camden, in pin-sharp, vivid detail precisely because I was so frightened. So much so that toward the end of the first act, the panic attack that had been bubbling away nicely all day suddenly turned HUGE! Of course, in this technological age we live in, the moment was captured for posterity, and you too can see my panic attack here – ULP! – note the huge intake of breath at the start, then the ROAR of terror, closely followed by me catching myself and, thank gawd, finally remembering my lines and moving on. Properly scary! As regular readers of this blog, well my one reader, will know, I’ve always suffered from panic attacks. I hope I don’t have one during next Tuesday’s ‘One Night Stanshall’ show, but if you do happen to see a fat bloke in one green and one red sock, wearing a checked jacket, tearing down Gordon Street and heading for Euston Station next Tuesday night, then you know who it is!



me wearing Neil’s hat, (and ecstatic that that panicky London Premiere was over), flanked by Ade Edmondson and Neil Innes. Bill is on the far right, not politically of course!

That was almost 3 years ago, (SHIT!), and since that dark October night at the 40 seater Lion and Unicorn, things have changed a little, as we prepare to once again inhabit the 535 seat Bloomsbury Theatre. One vital factor in this transformation is that one of the audience members that first night was the legend that is Neil Innes. I can’t really put into words the help, advice and time that Neil has given since that night, not only to the show, but also myself. Since then I have had the opportunity to perform with him and also perform as support act to the first Rutles reunion show, last year at the Borderline Club, Soho. Bucket-list stuff! BTW in case there are any Rutles fans reading this unaware of the fact that the prefab four are touring the UK from May, here is the link to visit to learn more and get your tickets Rutles Tour


Me supporting The Rutles at their first reunion show at the Borderline Club, Soho, with the ever-present ‘Jonny Hase’ on drums!

So, where was I? Soho! No, that’s wrong – for many reasons! Oh aye, that’s reet! One Night Stanshall, next Tuesday, April 8th, at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London folks! TICKETS HERE! As I mentioned last time, prep is going brilliantly, and both myself and my co-producer, Vivian’s son Rupert, are both very pleased with the way things have developed. Our MD, Bill Leach, has gone above and beyond even his own high work-rate and commitment for this show, and the results will speak for themselves. His job is not only to score all the music, but also to marshal me and my band of loonies on Tuesday AND integrate it with the aforementioned Neil Innes and other greats such as Rod Slater, Rick Wakeman, Danny Thompson, John Halsey, Susie Honeyman, Jim Cuomo and Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer. That is no mean feat! Without Bill there would be no show. Pure and simple. He is the metronomic heartbeat of the whole enterprise.


Bill at his work

We’ve had some nice bits n bobs in the press leading up to the show, (and we need more if there are any press reading!), one of which is this lovely preview piece, written by well-known Times and Guardian comedy reviewer Bruce Dessau, which you can read at his brilliant website here. So, 5 days to go to another incredible life experience and I am, as usual, not feeling ready. But whether I like it or not, on Tuesday I will be up on that stage with my pals, recreating Vivian’s meisterwerk ‘Sir Henry at Rawlinson End’. There is much, MUCH more yet to do, so I spose I’d best stop boring you and get on and do it! However, afore I go, one last pearl of wisdom imparted to me by Neil Innes. ‘don’t rehearse! Then NOTHING can possibly go wrong!’ A very wise man! And with that, I shall bid you adieu and I shall see you at the Bloomsbury next Tuesday! Mine’s a large Southampton Red Rum!! Oh, and don’t forget, you can follow the show on Twitter @SirHenryShow and I am on there too @MichaelLivesley – but on my feed you will only find more shite like the stuff I write on here although, due to the 140 character limit, it is mercifully MUCH briefer!


The seminal LP played to me by Jonny Hase that started this whole thing off!!

Tata for now!! xxxx