Still Standing: The Savage Years
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Lilian Maeve Veronica Savage, international sex kitten, was born on the steps of The Legs of Man public house, Lime Street, Liverpool on a policeman’s overcoat. Her mother, the lady wrestler Hell Cat Savage, had no such luxuries as gas and air. She just bit down on the policeman’s torch and recovered afterwards at the bar with a large pale ale. Paul O'Grady shot to fame via his brilliant comic creation, the blonde bombsite Lily Savage. In the first two parts of his bestselling and critically acclaimed autobiography, Paul took us through his childhood in Birkenhead to his first, teetering steps on stage. Now, in Still Standing, for the first time, he brings us the no-holds-barred true story of Lily and the rocky road to stardom. Paul pulls no punches in this tale of bar room brawls, drunken escapades, and liaisons dangereuses. And that’s just backstage at the Panto. Along the way, we stop off at some extremely dodgy pubs and clubs, and meet a collection of exotic characters who made the world a louder, brighter, and more hilarious place. From the chaos of the Toxteth riots and the Vauxhall Tavern police raid, to the mystery of who shot Skippy and the great chip pan fire of Victoria Mansions, Paul emerges shaken but not stirred. Still Standing will make you laugh and make you cry. Some of the stories might even make your hair curl. But it stands as a glorious tribute to absent friends and to a world which has now all but vanished.
Colin (John’s partner), 178 Collings, Sheila, 162, 164 Connie (John), 25, 26, 143 Copa club, Key West, 284 Copacabana Club, Fort Lauderdale, 279, 282 Copenhagen: carnival, 168–9; Madame Arthur’s club, 61, 62, 64–5, 67, 165; rooms in, 65–7; social life, 67–70, 270; Tivoli Gardens, 169–71; travelling to, 62–3 Coronation Street, 54, 351–2 Coronation Street Musical, Street of Dreams: opening, 362; planned tour, 355; postponement, 334, 336, 352; read-through, 351; rehearsals, 324, 359, 362;
he’d gone to work. When I got home I found him standing in the hall still in his overcoat, afraid to move in case the poltergeist threw something at him, and when I eventually confessed that I was the poltergeist he never spoke to me for a week, which was nothing new as we were always falling out. ‘Anyway, forget the chair, what are you going to do about the Elly?’ he asked, closing the subject of haunted furniture. ‘You’ll have to go on, you’ve said you would.’ I had to agree there was no
snow-white candyfloss. The addition of the black roots didn’t come until much later on when I was at a photo shoot for Gay Times one afternoon. Finding myself hanging around between shots I came across a can of black spray paint, and for want of something better to do I squirted a bit on the hairline of the wig and combed it in, creating black roots in the process. The look suited the type of character that Lily was developing into, and from that day on I never wore a wig without the roots. The
jolly married couples and their progeny swapping suburbia for Greece for a fortnight. One of the men, fat and over forty and wearing a pair of swimming trunks that could only have belonged to a six-year-old they were so pornographically tight, greeted Jo like a long-lost daughter and she in return giggled gratefully. Here was a satisfied customer she could present to the Grinch, now sitting on his suitcase unsuitably attired for the sunny Greek weather in jumper and jeans, and sulking like a brat
Ben. Our room was empty apart from two very narrow single beds with a little pine bedside cabinet between them and a child’s pine wardrobe. On the wall hung a cheap print of a Swiss mountain scene, a peculiar choice, I thought, for a Greek villa. ‘Is this where Heidi and her grandad normally sleep?’ I asked Freya. ‘I’d hate to turf them out of their room.’ ‘It’s got a lovely balcony,’ Freya said, ignoring me. ‘You share it with next door, a lovely girl called Shelley. She’s a lot of fun and