February 16, 2011 — Heartbreak! Barbara Cartland! Thrills! Literary Death Match London's 12th episode at Shoreditch House was an instant all-around classic that saw literary upstart Guy Folligrey (and his merry ukelele) out-Cupid Julie Mayhew to win the LDM crown in a bow-and-arrow contest that will not soon be forgotten.
But before lipstick ever came near any arrow tips (not a euphemism!) the night opened with Folligrey leading off against the inimitable Esther Freud (author of Hideous Kinky). Folligrey read from the journal of Harton Bartshorn, then finished his performance with a ukelele-aided song (with the mic held by world-traveler/writer Kevin Dolgin). Freud followed brilliantly, delivering a crowd-hushing excerpt from her upcoming Lucky Break about the life of actors.
The mic was then handed over to the night's all-star arbiters that included scribe-presenter-humorist Rowland Rivron (author of What the F*** Did I Do Last Night?), Trevor & Simon's hilarious Simon Hickson, and all-knowing freelance critic Sam Leith. Rivron applauded Folligrey's use of "a human mic stand," while Hickson kept joking that Freud was married to Neil Morrisey (rather than David) and that he wanted to be friends with them. After a long deliberation — during which host Todd Zuniga and LDM London co-producer Nicki Le Masurier showed off the latest in literary nerd fashion — the judges admitted to making the difficult decision of announcing Folligrey's as the night's first finalist.
After a boozy intermission in the sold out room, next up was playwright/novelist/actress triple-threat Julie Mayhew (Red Ink & Stopgap) versus fiction newcomer G.S. Mattu (author of the very newly released Sons and Fascination). Mayhew read about the awkward teen days of two girls — Melon and Chick — fancying boys at school, and Mattu followed with a quick and staggering selection from his new novel about how falling in love changes your definition of reality.
Again, the judges took center stage with Rivron lauding Mayhew's Egyptian shoes and great performance style, while Leith admitted it made him feel like he was back at school. Leith later placed Mattu, because of his initials, in the same literary class as e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot and WD-40
Then came the night's wild finale, which started with Mayhew and Folligrey asked to catch a marshmallow in their mouths to decide who would go first. After 349 marshmallows were thrown, Folligrey had the edge, and chose to go first. The game — "Kissing Barbara Cartland" — offered each finalist a lipstick-tipped suction-cup arrow that they would fire at a huge poster of Cartland, with the one coming closest to her mouth winning (and hitting her dog right on the lips would be an insta-LDM-win). Folligrey struck first with a solid effort that kissed Cartland's shoulder, and Mayhew hit the top of the dog's head once. But with the the LDM medal on the line, Mayhew fired high with her final shot, and Folligrey was crowned winner before a delirious and confused crowd, granting Folligrey not only the LDM championship, but literary immortality!