When I wrote ‘Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood’ I underestimated the interest in Punch & Judy that still exists in the UK. Last week, the oldest Punch & Judy master in the UK, Leslie Press, 84, who has been performing the shows for 60 years, returned to his old Primrose Hill home for a special exhibition of photographs and prints in his honour. It’s running right now in Lisa Hauck’s hairdressing salon (very Primrose Hill) at 148 Gloucester Avenue until October 12th.
Leslie’s father Percy was one of the greatest Punchmen of all time, and his son adopted the tradition that had begun in 1662 in Covent Garden. Now his niece continues the trade. I hope Leslie doesn’t think me rude if I point out the resemblance (in a nice way) of puppeteer and puppet here.