Scummy Mummies, at the Amersham Arms – review

Parenting is one massive guilt trip.

From second one of turning into a mum or dad, you have your shoulder angel, along with the rest of the world, telling you how to behave and what to do and not to do with your little darlings, whilst all the time you are much more tempted by what the naughty devil is whispering into the other ear.

When those little darlings get big enough to give you reproachful eyes, they give them to you, in spades.

And even when nobody else makes you feel bad – for going to work, for staying at home, for going out, for not going out, for feeding them too early/late/much/little/healthy/not healthy (oh yes, there’s guilt for every scenario) – you still feel hugely guilty about every choice you make.

Then along came the Scummy Mummies and changed all that.

We went to see the Scummy Mummies live show at the Amerham Arms pub in New Cross the other Saturday night.  We were immediately enveloped in a womb-like baby’s blanket of scumminess. No feeling bad about bad parenting decisions, drinking wine to survive the bedtime routine or cooking fishfingers for the kids’ tea, just good old laughing at just how scummy we could be.  Free of guilt for the whole evening, how refreshing it was to feel proud of one’s achievements, in fact to feel like you are not even the scummiest person in the room.

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The show opens on a high. Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn jump out on stage in skin-tight zip-fronted gold lame jumpsuits in which even Uma Thurman might show a bit of bulge.  They are a truly awe-inspiring sight, being not much like Uma Thurman in appearance, but just like you or indeed me with our ‘normal’, post-pregnancy, post-breastfeeding, post-massive bag of Wotsits bodies. How wonderful that they not only fail to hide any baggy bits, but also manage to accentuate them. Along with an intake of breath, every woman in that room was saying Good on them! to themselves – what a celebration of scumminess! And how can you even argue with people singing I Need a Vino to the tune of Holding out for a Hero.

Not to give you too many spoilers, but their stories and jokes revolve around hot parenting subjects such as The Failure Diary (aka the Red Book that measures your child’s development by unforgiving health visitors the country over), annual sex, and C Beebies. There was also a highly topical Great British Nappy Off hosted by a kind of Mel and Sue and some funny skits when they dressed up as local dads’ group Greenwich Men Time to discuss the ‘Bugger Me’ stroller with added cafetiere holder and room for a mezze platter with chorizo.

The song parodies and sketches are funny, but the best and simplest joy comes from the celebration of scumminess by two women who don’t care how they look, and who don’t pretend that their singing voices are about to get a record deal.  They come across as people you could have a right good old chat with, not great actors, not brilliant at accents, but very funny with their outfits and their wigs, and above all endearingly familiar.

The Scummy Mummies climax has Ellie and Helen reading out scummy confessions offered by members of the audience themselves, with ‘scumpagne’ on offer as a prize. Exactly the same as the last time I saw them live, when I determined to think of something worthy to write down and offer up to them, I felt chastised that I had nothing. It was such a strong field too: some confessions were so bad that they could not be owned up to in public. Vowing to do better next time, to get a vote on the scumometer, I left the pub feeling happy that I didn’t have too much stuff to feel really guilty about as a parent, happy that as parents we can laugh at ourselves, but most of all happy that in these women’s company it is just great to be comfortable about being ourselves, looking silly, and having fun. The main thoughts which came out of the evening were no we are not perfect, no we do not have to be, and where can I buy a shimmering lame outfit like theirs.

If you too wish to be enveloped in a faux fur throw of scumminess, I seriously advise you to check out the Scummy Mummies. They produce a podcast every fortnight (here is their latest one, which came out on 6th October) and if you’re lucky you too can get to see them live.  Keep tuned at their website where they promise to be back with more live shows soon, hopefully wearing those golden suits.

Disclaimer:  I was given free tickets to see Scummy Mummies Greatest Hits Show.  All opinions my own.

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