Hiya, friend!


The brilliant British satirist Peter Cook opened his Greek Street comedy venue The Establishment in 1961. The ironically-named club, which offered searing political lampoonery with dinner and drinks, was packed most nights with its notably anti-establishment members. The tables were invariably occupied by mid-century literati and luminaries like James Baldwin, Jack Lemmon, and Paul McCartney (before he became famous), and Cook's comedy sidekick Dudley Moore often took the stage with his jazz Trio. The club closed in 1964, but it lives on in London lore. It also inspired the name of the club in the opening scenes of The Kowloon Jukebox though the atmosphere is entirely different. 

Few artifacts from The Establishment remain, but you can get a feel for its founder in this clip from the BBC series Clive James' Postcards from London.


Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were one of the most notorious comedy duos of the Swinging Sixties. While their more innocuous routines like Pete and Dud delighted young and old alike, they also produced a series of tapes containing more scandalous satire that nearly got them arrested for obscenity.
Their 1967 film Bedazzled fell somewhere in between. In the film, a shy, neurotic burger flipper named Stanley Moon is approached by the devil calling himself George Spiggot. Spiggot makes poor Stanley an offer he can't refuse (and is sure to regret), and hilarity ensues. 

I happen to have a bit of a crush on young Peter Cook, and this is one of my favorite movies ever. I paid tribute to both by naming a minor character in The Kowloon Jukebox after him. While I didn't intend him to become part of the Perilous and Sparks pantheon, he's vowed to make his triumphal return in the third book Two to Tangier. That's what I get for letting the devil in the back door.

As an aside, I didn't leave Stanley Moon out. I just got his name conflated with another fictional weirdo from the era - Simon Moon of Robert Anton Wilson's The Illuminatus! Trilogy. I decided to leave it, though, as that's another favorite of mine.
Here's a trailer for the 1967 Bedazzled. You've really got to watch it. It's hysterical.



Perilous doubted whether George Spiggot could maintain The Status Quo through the end of the year. It was an interesting concept and meticulously carried out, but still, she thought, it was a bit on the nose. She suspected the faddishness of the establishment would be its undoing.

Instead of the usual tiny tables and chairs that littered most nightclub floors, Spiggot had outfitted his trendy Greek Street hotspot with living room suites in fruity reds and greens and yellows. The love seats were sleek and covered in clear plastic, and at the front of each arrangement of furniture, a television was ensconced in a faux cherry cabinet. 

At the moment, live feed of a blustering comedian in a bad toupee was being transmitted from the main stage at the front of the club to semicircles of socializing patrons nestled in their cozy suites. The camera magnified each bead of sweat on the entertainer’s forehead. It captured the hypnotic flapping of his precariously attached hairpiece and projected his large, bobbling head onto the small screens like a distorting funhouse mirror. His rambling routine was amplified and multiplied across the idiot boxes, creating an echo chamber of poorly timed jokes coming from everywhere and nowhere in particular. 

“It’s the best of both worlds if you think about it,” Spiggot said, his elocution the epitome of private school snobbery. 

He’d been trying to make time with Perilous from the moment they were introduced by Sir Silas Husher, Perilous’ and Sparks’ host for the evening. Perilous found Spiggot striking in a lanky, ghoulish sort of way, but he was altogether intolerable as a personality. His arrogance knew no bounds, and he didn’t seem capable of holding a conversation about anything that wasn’t strictly Spiggot-related. 

He leaned his long body forward so that a lock of sandy hair fell in front of his solemn gray eyes. “It’s like being at home, but out.” His breath reeked of a sickeningly sweet cinnamon liquor.

“It’s diabolical,” Perilous said with aggressive indifference. “It’s like being home, but expensive. It’s like being out, but sitting in front of the tv. It’s the worst of both worlds.”

“Yes,” Spiggot said. A sardonic grin tugged at his thin lips. “Yes. You’re right. It’s brilliant. Do make yourself at home, Miss Faretheewell. We’ll talk more later, shall we? Perhaps you can entice me to join you for a nightcap.” 

Still congratulating himself on his achievement and utterly oblivious to Perilous’ rebuff, he sauntered off to tell other patrons how remarkable The Status Quo was.

If I've got your attention, and you'd like to read more, let me know in a reply to this newsletter. I'll be looking for beta readers next month!


If you've got a moment to spare and need a little encouragement this Tuesday, visit Perilous & Sparks HQ to peruse a few Innocent Postcards penned with you in mind.


"All problems can be solved. But they can’t be solved with the same tools and thinking that created them."

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Be sure to read this Special Delivery from Agent of Eris Natalie Stoner.

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