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.
him as a tart with a heart in Nights of Cabiria. ‘Who’s Miss ’ush?’ he asked. ‘Sandra Hush, the one I work with?’ ‘Why’s she called that then?’ ‘Well, it started out as Sandra Hutchinson and was then shortened to Hush by a friend,’ I started to explain. Sid stared at me blankly. ‘Well, originally he was called Sandra Hutchinson after the posh, glamorous one in The Liver Birds, y’know? Not that Hush is posh, he’s from Wolverhampton, used to be known as Miss Saltley Gas Works in her day.’ ‘I
around midnight she’d stood with Dot-Next-Door at the top of Sidney Road and watched Liverpool burn. ‘It was like the war all over again, watching the Luftwaffe bomb Liverpool docks, a sight I thought I’d never see again,’ she sighed. I started to tell her what it was like where we were but she cut me short. ‘Don’t tell me you’re looting and rioting,’ she roared. ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph, don’t be bringing any gear that you’ve looted into this house.’ I assured her that I had no intention of
her nose up at the burnt offerings I’d been serving up. This woman was a culinary artisan and here was I turning out lukewarm fish fingers and lumpy mashed spuds. Come the day of the booking at the Cap, Miss Lacey spent a lot of time in her room, emerging around 6.45 looking smart in a well-cut coat and a blue felt hat. I wanted to get to the Cap extra early so I could find a space down the front for her to park her wheelchair, and I’d ordered a cab for 7 p.m. ‘Shall we have a gin and tonic
was a bit of a buzz of anticipation about it going around the gay pubs which did nothing to boost my confidence. Instead it had the opposite effect, making me question my ability to carry it off. I’d lie in bed anticipating the heckles that might come my way and thinking up suitable put-downs for them just in case. ‘When embarking on a new venture,’ I remember Aunty Chris saying when she was promoted to manageress of Ashe and Nephew’s off-licence, ‘be prepared for all eventualities.’ Just as
change in. ‘I’ll kill that bloody Phyllis,’ Hush muttered, referring to Phil, our driver, landlord and temporary manager, picking up the huge sack that held the costumes and marching towards the dressing room. ‘Fancy booking us into this shithole. Why the hell we ever agreed to leave London and live in the middle of nowhere to work venues like this I’ll never know.’ I’d been living in a squat off Camden Square with my two friends, Chrissie and Vera, in the home of a former client, an old lady