If it's Tuesday, it must be Glasgow. The Petula Clark UK tour arrived for an evening with her Glaswegian fans. And what an evening it turned out to be. Now in her seventies, Pet still cuts a fine figure, with a powerful voice and a sparkling wit. She ran through the repertoire that’s charted an eventful career, taking her from child stardom to the mainstay of Saturday night British television in the 1960s and on to Broadway and Hollywood. All the old favourites were there – "You’re the One", "Don’t Sleep In The Subway", "Colour My World", and "This is My Song". The audience (average age: 68.4) gave each rendition a crouching ovation. But Pet met special adoration from her front row fan club, probably self-styled as the Clarkettes, or, given the waistlines involved, the Heavy Petters. Between songs, she offered vignettes from her showbiz life, shamelessly name-dropping as she went. Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, Francis Ford Coppola, Glenn Close were all mentioned. But the biggest name was yet to come.
After the interval, she announced that a very special person was in the audience. A frisson of expectation swept over the Heavy Petters, anticipating one of their number being singled out for special treatment. But it was none other than David (hit him harder, Liza) Gest who was among us. He rose from the front of the stalls, wearing a diamond-studded cross straight out of Harrods and a great-coat straight out of Colditz, essaying a limp wave. He too seemed to have his own claque in the theatre – the Davidians – one of whom attempted to touch the hem of his garment.
Back on stage, after an ill-advised recitation of a sugar-coated poem about the theatre, Pet moved on to songs from her triumphant appearances in Blood Brothers and Sunset Boulevard. Then, the lively band struck up a familiar theme. No sooner had the first bars of "Downtown" hit the air than the Heavy Petters were on their feet blowing kisses and pledging their eternal love. Towards the end of the song, she invited her special Gest to join her; he didn’t need asking twice. Mounting the stage like a gazelle, he affected a peculiar dance, like mounting a gazelle in stages. He sang for a mercifully short interlude, before Pet put us all out of our misery, pushing him to his death.
Back on stage, our engaging hostess concluded the evening with a goodbye song she’d written herself (because she doesn’t like saying goodbye). The Heavy Petters, by this point, had reached orgasm. Pet retired from the stage for a well-earned plate of fish and chips and a pint of lager, while the Heavy Petters and the Davidians retired to the pub, no doubt to continue the debate over which of their heroes should be first to receive a damehood.
Petula Clark is one of the few singers who’s sustained a career across six decades and one who’s enjoyed success not only in the UK, but North America and continental Europe. It was great to see her looking and sounding better than ever. And, in spite of what the Heavy Petters may say, I know who she was really singing to last night.