foul pages

29 May

FOUL PAGES *** By Robin Hooper
At the Hope Theatre
Plays involving William Shakespeare are always fascinating. However his heart and his brain have been investigated by so many different writers with so many differing results that it is a joy to see him as a simple working writer collaborating with his friend The Countess of Pembroke (The impressive Clare Bloomer)who is playing host to the players escaping from plague ridden London.
Another advantage here is that the actors are all living in close contact so, like an old fashioned play there is just the one set.
However he has written it in short scenes, and it takes a while to get ones brain into the correct gear, especially as between each little scene there is a whole lot of excruciatingly loud music which I found not only annoying, but in my case actually painful.
The main occupation of Mr Shakespeare (played with dignity by Ian Hallard)is to finish his play in order to win the favour of the new Scottish King James the first. A familiar problem arises when one is writing under orders, the patron insists on undesirable alterations in the casting. The leading role is Rosalind and the leading juvenile of the company is being pushed aside to give room to the Innamorato of the King .
Of course much is made of the casting of plays most especially the use of young men to play the leading ladies and there are many slightly bawdy and very gay jokes during the whole of the performance.
The play begins as a crazy comedy, the main character being a talking dog who is the unnamed and unrecognised narrator of the action. It is a great and unusual part for an actor and it is played with lots of fun and dedication by James King. A terrific role where he doesn’t have to communicate with the actors except to get a lot of cuddles.
Clare Bloomer is an imperious countess and a lot is made of the fact that Will collaborates and takes advice from a woman, so that women had their place even though they were not allowed to perform. Peg, her maid is played by Olivia Onyehara and these are the only two women in the cast but they are strongly registered..
All the young men are absolutely gorgeous and play with great honesty, truth and wit. Lewis Chandler is the blonde beauty originally engaged to play Rosalind and Thomas Bird is his usurper. Greg Baxter plays Ed, the sweet young man who is playing Orlando and is distressed to lose his lovely Rosalind.
Probably the most comical character is that of Tom Vanson who is the highly vain and over-dressed, over-made up and over- jewelled Scottish King – and his over-butch Protector is played by Jack Harding.
All good, crazy – if sometimes confusing – fun. The edge taken off from me – and probably only me – by the horrendous noise, like being at the heart of a thunderstorm. Longed for my earplugs.

public domain

17 Jan

LIC DOMAIN
BY FRANCESCA FORRESTAL AND JORDAN PAUL CLARKE
At Southwark Playhouse
I watched this on the computer. I do not find this an easy way to see anything, because the levels of concentration are not as they are in a theatre where we have the benefit of the personality of the actors and the people all around us. Here we are at the mercy of telephone calls, delivery men, people just knocking a the door. No actual visitors, but people knock occasionally to make sure I’m still alive.
Anyway, About the play, I watched this afternoon
, I am afraid I do not have the same excitement over it as others have found.
What it does is give us a clue about what people are prepared nowadays to put down in writing. To make a public diary of their lives.

It was written entirely from posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, even those written by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chairman of Facebook the man who put Social Media on the map. We are assured that none of the dialogue was written by the two authors but just adapted by them, who also appeared in the two roles.
Yes, only two people on stage at any time, but there was a lot of technical stuff going on in between the main scenes. It was terrifying in that respect.
The posts wee alarming in several ways. It showed how devastated people are at the moment with covid and the lockdowns. Time is confused by them of course – who wouldn’t be? I remember saying to myself. “I get up at six o’clock with nothing to do and then suddenly it’s four o’clock in the afternoon.”
Time flashes by so quickly – suddenly it becomes Friday again.
Many of the posts are moans about the current situation. People applaud Facebook because it makes them feel less lonely. The actors y sing a song to that effect.”A little less alone”
The two writers/performers are excellent at their various roles as they work on, scene after scene, as the imaginary facebook writers. As teenagers, it is amusing when they give us their instructions on How to be Popular They try to outbid each other as they explain one by one how to get the best friends.
The girl says “Be an influence, stick to the popular crowd, don’t mess with anybody else, you need to make them feel bad.
He said “Be annoying so nobody likes you”
She says” find your niche, add value”,
He says “High school is poison, I should drop out “
She says “be vulnerable, share your weaknesses, show everything but be authentic.”
He says “I don’t want to be irrelevant”.
What they both think is “The future is gonna be better”. How could it be anything else? One hopes.
We go into Zuckerberg land, They take on the characters of Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla. , and talk about the Privacy scandal,
Can you get hold of private documents – “of course”
Can you share them? – “no I can’t”
Somebody says “I’ve been depressed. Now I am completely better when the sun is shining. I’
ts bad in the winter when it gets dark at four o’clock”
The last surge of interest is about TikTok
Welcome to TikTok wherever you are, we are there too. It’s brighter inside.
He says “I got banned from TikTok “
Most of Facebook etc is covered by the various posts. But I did not find this a completely amusing piece of work. I felt sorry for the people who were quoted. Either because they seemed so pathetic. Or because they were doing it purely for effect.
Some of the sketches were amusing but we cannot take the stories as giving any real journey into the heads of the people – as, even on Facebook, I don’t believe people are completely honest about what they feel. Many of the pathetic entries are cries for help and meant to arouse pity in their readers. People can lie with the keyboards just as well as with their vocal cords.
Maybe this is a new kind of theatre. Humanity and machines closely connected.
I am not ready, old enough or young enough to appreciate this.
I cannot blame the couple for the dialogue, as they didn’t write it, they just adapted what other people have said, and I appreciate the fun they must have had putting it together. I envy them this fun. The hit song is something called Rise and Conquer, sung by Francesca. I believe it could become a hit.

Finally, I feel this review might make the same amount of sense to you as this production did to me.

NUMBER THIRTEEN

17 Jan

by aline waites from the sitcom by aline waites and robin hunter

NUMBER THIRTEEN 

BY ALINE WAITES  

From the series MRS PAT  

BY aline waites and robin hunter 

Garth was celebrating his first day of freedom, looking for something to do to pass the time as usefully and as financially rewarding as possible.  He needed another £33 to pay his B and B tonight. It was only eight am and he was getting hungry. He wished he’d had the porridge thoughtfully provided by Her Majesty before he left. 

He had a twenty in his pocket, so he was not destitute. He felt convinced that something would turn up He came out of the tube station and found himself in a busy main street. There was a crossing near by which led across the road to where had espied a jolly looking market. That looked like the kind of  place where he might acquire some 

He stood there at the crossing, but just missed the green light which allowed him to cross, but to his amazement as he arrived on the kerb, the red light unexpectedly changed to green. So he was able to cross along with a small lady in a white raincoat who crossed at the same time. He watched her go into the market and smiled a little as what had happened. She must be a witch” he said to himself. 

. The market was crowded at this early time in the morning. He was happy to see that the crowds were diversified. White and black faces all happily living along together. That was a bonus. He’d had enough of whtie faces in his life. They had been the cause of all his problems.The people were trundling along with their wheelie bags, and he realised there would be no way of getting into those structures and that everything would be carefully hidden. Nobody seemed to have any actual cash, they just waved cards at the stall-holders. He wondered about nicking one of the cards but then realised that the people in this area were all well known and they talked to the stallholders as if they were all members of the same family and as he looked carefully at the shoppers, he was finding it difficult to pinpoint somebody who might be his benefactor. He needed some money to pay for his b and B tonight. Having a been a guest of her majesty for three months and been carefully tended, he was now on his own and he felt a little scared.  

Then all of a sudden he heard an unusual sound.  

It was a female voice suddenly bursting into song. Singing words he had never heard before sung in a completely uninhibited fashion.  

“Caro nome que’il mio core, feste primo palpita”  

He felt drawn to search for the origination of the sound and at last realised it came from that small rotund lady in a white mackintosh. People around her either looked down at the ground, embarrassed to witness this extraordinary happening or looked at her with happy faces, to be rewarded with the sweetest gap-toothed smile. He kept out of sight. He had no wish to be seen. He waited until she had filled her shopping bag.   

Eventually, she handed over the money and proceeded to chat with the stallholder, leaving her shopping bag on the floor beside her.  

As she was so occupied, Garth crept up as if he was going to buy something, then he picked up the handle of the bag intending to escape with the goods. As he did so, she turned to him and smiled delightedly.  

“Oh, how kind you are, to carry my bag for me. Gallantry is not dead” and she laughed and touched him on the shoulder.  

She blew a kiss at the stallholder  

“See, my knight errant,” she said. and she took the young man’s arm,  

“You will carry it back to my house and have a cupper with me, won’t you?”  

Garth nodded. Her charm was irresistible.   

She guided him gently out of the market and into the High Street.  

“It is so good to see you, how is your dear mother?”  

Garth gasped, “She died”  

“Yes of course she did. I am so sorry.”  

They walked on a little while and stopped at the Pelican crossing, ready to cross the road. Pat, took his arm and he felt important.  

As they approached, there was a lorry just approaching, but as soon as the lady stepped on the kerb, the little green man appeared and the lorry stopped. As they crossed, the lady waved to the Lorry driver and cried with a smile.  

“Thank you, you are so kind”  

The lorry driver who had been miffed smiled at the warmth of her smile and waved back.  

After they had safely crossed the road. She unlocked herself from his arm.  

“So what is your name, young gentleman?”  

“Garth” he stuttered. He had not recovered his equilibrium yet. He was feeling he was in some kind of a dream.  

“I am Mrs Pat,” she said. “You are a handsome young man. I look forward to our chat. I am already enjoying your aura.”  

He was suddenly apprehensive. He was not used to being the object of admiration. Was this some strange kind of pick up? Was she a cougar? Was she just loony?  

She read his thought.  

“Don’t worry about me” she laughed “I am enormously safe. You will see.”  

They walked on a little while and there was some painting going on with two men, and a large pot of paint up a ladder that was stretched across the pavement  

Garth took her arm and began to lead her around the outside of the ladder. She laughed.  

“I don’t believe in superstition,” she said and dragged him under the ladder.  

They had just got through without incident when the pot of paint fell from the top of the ladder on to the road. Exactly where they would have been had they paid court to the superstition.  

Garth shuddered slightly, A mixture of relief and apprehension seized him.  

They took a turning to the left and into the street ‘Hymers Court’ was announced on the sign.  

They walked a little way and Mrs Pat stopped outside number 13.  

“Well, here we are,” said Mrs Pat.   

“But who is that?” asked Garth “That cross looking person looking through the window”  

“Oh -dear”’, said Mrs Pat “That’s my next-door neighbour Mrs Prudhomme. She has such a  painful shoulder, poor creature”  

They were about to enter the long garden which led to the front door when there came a cry  

“The End is nigh”  

“Oh that’ll be Jake,” said Mrs Pat. “He usually comes around about this time. ” 

Jake was a thin man in a purple anorak, carrying a big square board.  

“Hello, Mrs Pat” he cried. The woman at the window gave a vicious scowl and disappeared.  

“How’s it going, Jake,” said Mrs P. “Are people responding?”  

“They will learn,” he said and displayed the board he was holding which read in stark letters “The End is Nigh” and on the other side “Prepare to meet they doom” 

“Yes, I daresay we all should get ready for it.”, said Pat, “This is my friend Garth.”  

Jake nodded a greeting and turned to Garth.  

“Prepare to meet thy doom, young man.”  

“Yeah … er… OK.” said Garth.  

And Jake set off waving his board with fervour.  

Mrs Pat watched him go, laughing gently.  

They walked down the crazy-paving path until they arrived at the door. Mrs Pat pushed it open, and after giving a vocal fanfare, she cried to Garth as she ushered him inside.  

“WELCOME TO LIBERTY HALL”  

SCENE TW0, THE WAITING ROOM  

Pat took the young man down the entrance hall of number 13 along to the back of the house where there was a door on the left-hand side marked “WAITING ROOM” and underneath it:- 

“Blackguards and bullies beware”  

It was a large airy room with french doors looking out to the garden It was furnished in a mixture of the antiques and the functional.   

At one end was a trestle table groaning with food and above it a notice that read in large, severe letters  

NO ANIMAL FATS   

And underneath   

“except butter”.  

A handsome middle-aged man in an old and very worn jumper leapt to his feet and kissed the hand of Mrs Pat.  

“This is our resident poet” explained Mrs Pat, ”He is called Charles. This is Garth”  

“ Jolly good,” said Charles, “Nice to have young faces about the place”.  

He offered his seat to Mrs Pat, who refused graciously. He gave her a little bow and settled back on the sofa.  

As he did so a man in a suit sitting net to him suddenly shouted “Bastards”  

“Of course, Frederick dear,” said Mrs Pat. “I’ll get you a cup of tea in a minute or two.”  

Garth was puzzled, but Mrs Pat carried in her round of visitors  

“Mrs Grampian, How are you?  

Mrs Grampian was sitting in a Queen Anne armchair surrounded by plastic bags. She was drinking from a can of Special Brew. Pat said to her “This is my new friend Garth”  

Mrs Grampian turned to Garth and started on what she had decided was going to be a long chat.  

“Hello Garth, come and sit down. My back – you wouldn’t want my back, it feels as if it’s been through a mangle.  Here have a drink”  

And she took a can of Special Brew out of one of the cans and offered it to Garth. He was just about to remove the cap when Mrs P interrupted.  

“Darling Garth remember what the Doctor said. No drinking tween meals. Give Mrs Grampian her tin back please”.  

Garth nodded and returned the can.  

Frederick shouted “Bastard”   

Unnoticed until now, Garth suddenly saw a luridly decorated bottom. Somebody was on the floor grovelling under the sofa looking for something. Mrs Pat had her back to him busily discussing the science of the spines with Mrs Grampian.  

“On your head,” said Mrs Pat, and the man arose.  

“Thanks, Mrs P. My memory’s going. Can’t read the tarot without the jolly old Bins. I’ll forget the names of my hounds next. Hello young man. Don’t suppose you have a tip for the four-thirty at Cheltenham, do you?  

“Of course he doesn’t,” said Mrs Pat and then suddenly turned to Garth “You don’t, do you?  

“I know someone who would know,” said Garth.   

As the Colonel rises, Garth cops sight of the policeman in full PCF uniform sitting behind him. He was barefoot and was rolling a wine bottle under one of his feet.  

Garth turned away quickly to hide his face from the law, just as Drusilla enters followed by a plump middle-aged lady with a beaming smile.  

Drusilla, in her early thirties and dressed in a long green silken dress was so beautiful it made the boy gasp. She turned to look at him with a haughty air  

“And who is this person?” she said  

“His name is Garth and he is going to be a very useful member of our society.  

“He iS?” said Garth and Drusilla together, in surprise.  

Mrs Pat laughed.  

“Oh hello Mrs Monson,” she said to the stout lady person “Feeling better?  

“I’ve been attending to her aura,” said Drusilla.  

“That is good news. A1 now ?”  

“OH yes, much better thankyou”  

“Mrs Monson gave a beatific smile and started fishing her handbag.  

“You don’t have to do that,” said Pat and Drusilla together quickly  

“Oh but I do”. said Mrs Monson and placed two twenty pound notes in the basin on the fireplace.  

Garth’s heartbeat little faster when he saw that basin and he tried to count the amount at was in there. He guessed there could be a goodly sum,  and wondered what would happen to it.  

Charles seemed to clock his uneasiness  

”Poor chap, young Garth is bewildered meeting so many people”, said, Charles  

“Let us not bother him just now. The child is hungry.” she turned to Garth “We’ll get you something to eat in a few minutes,”  

Frederick arose from his corner.”Got to go.” he said.  

“Oh must you, we are having such a nice time.”  

He turned to Garth  

‘” Come round to the House one day and have a drink or two.”  

“You live near here?” asked Garth.  

“Amongst all those rogues and vagabonds living off our money. Purloining the wealth of the Nation.” said the Colonel. 

Frederick nodded.”Bastards” he said.  

“Present Company excepted of course” replied the Colonel.  

“Not even for a cup of Earl Grey?” said Mrs Pat in her most enticing way. 

“Got to go.   Three Line Whip,” said Frederick.  

“Always painful!” said Mrs Pat and everyone laughed even Garth who had no idea what they were talking about.  

Frederick left the building and Drusilla fell into the empty chair, leaving Mrs  Pat to escort Mrs Monson to her car outside. 

Drusilla gave a big sigh “I’m drained” she said. 

“You must be,” said Mrs Pat soothingly. 

Drusilla continued “Bit I must keep my psychic resources together. I’m due at Glastonbury for LAMMAS.” 

Mrs Pat sighed “Yes I envy you. I loved the Summer Solstice when I was young. That strange mystical feeling of oneness with the earth and the universe.  Bloody good Scrumpy too” 

“I have no need of artificial stimulants as you know Mrs P. But I’ll bring you some back” 

“This  is the charming young man who helped me with the shopping” 

Garth gave Drusilla his most charming smile and put out his hand which she somehow managed not to see. She leapt to her feet. 

“Oh! Mrs Walters is in the hipbath. She’ll be like a wrinkled  prune.” 

Mrs Grampian gave a moan. 

Drusilla cried”I’ll be with you soon Mrs Grampian. Just give me a minute.” 

Mrs Grampian gave a twisted smile and said 

“Take your time love, I’m not going nowhere” 

Mrs Pat turned to Garth 

“Its Drusilla’s day for treatments. It takes so much out of her. 

She noticed Garth was not paying attention, His eyes were straying on to the bowl of money. 

“Donations dear for the treatments. We take what we need and the rest goes to charity.” 

She turned to the assembled company. 

“Enjoy the day everybody. Toodle merry. don’t take any wooden nickles” 

Garth was a beginning to accept Pat’s strange choice of words. Hed met people who spoke rhyming slang and parlare whilst in the slammer.  But what Pat said, seemed a lot of nonsense and yet it wasn’t 

 “Come into head office dear and we can have a nice chat,” said Mrs Pat. 

The Den was a sizeable room outside the waiting room.   

“Sit you down”, she said, “We’ll have a nice cup of, dear. The kettle will be boiling.” 

As she spoke there was the sound of a whistling kettle 

“There  you see?” she said 

He looked around Head office, or the Den as it was usually called. He found there was a big desk with a computer on it and shelves packed with big red box files. He realised that this was not just eccentricity but business. a business that didn’t involve money, except for the handouts people gave for treatment. 

Around the room were more shelves bearing some heavy tomes about the Occult interspersed with paperbacks of Jackie Collins and Micky Spillane. Pat disappeared into the kitchenette singing “One fine day” 

Garth continued to peruse the various artefacts spread around the place. Something caught his eye. A silver salt cellar, he picked it up and turned it upside down to see the hallmark. As he was doing so, Pat entered with the tea things. 

“Oh yes, isn’t that pretty?” she said “It belonged to my Aunt Euphemia. Would you like to have it?” 

Garth immediately put it down. 

“YOu can have it if you want it,” she said “Sit sit” 

“I was just looking” They both sat and Mrs Pat poured from a brown teapot into old fashioned cups and saucers. 

“Well young man,” she said “Merry Meet” 

This greeting struck Garth as strange. It was an obvious password for Pat’s colleagues. But it had a very familiar ring to him 

“I think my mother used to say this,” he said 

“Yes dear, she would – to you and your six brothers” 

And she handed him a cup of tea. 

“Do you have milk and sugar?” she asked in a polite voice but she had already put milk and one sugar into the cup. 

“How did you know I had six brothers?” he asked. 

Mrs Pat shrugged 

“Lucky guess. Where are  your parents now?” 

“Oh don’t know. I came home from school one day and found they’d moved” 

It was the first time he had dared to make a joke, but he was glad he did as Mrs Pat enjoyed laughing so much. 

“Mum died,” he said, ” and Dad just – moved on.” 

“She called you Garth. The Knight of the Kitchen. I suppose she got it from Mallory’s  book of Arthurian Legends” 

“No, Cartoon in the Daily Mirror” 

They laughed together again. He realised that he and Pat were becoming real friends. 

“And you are called Mrs Pat – after the famous actress?  Mrs Partick Campbell” 

Pat nodded – impressed that he knew such things. 

“I am pleased to meet you” he added. 

“And I am pleased to meet you. What do you do for a living?” 

This was a difficult question. He paused awhile. 

“I’m temporarily unemployed”, he said and lifted the cup to hide his face. 

Mrs Pt proceeded gently “And what do you do all day?” 

“I dunno, bits of this, bits of that. Walk about, read a lot” 

“You like to read?” 

“Yes, I worked ina library once” 

“How fascinating – where?” 

“Erm… Institution I was connected with – temporarily you understand” 

She looked him in the eye and he was no longer afraid to return her gaze. 

“Where do you live?” she asked at last  

“Well at the moment – temporarily. Of no fixed abode” 

She smiled, the answer seemed to please her. 

“Garth, have you ever had …an Unexplainable experience?” 

This was something he had no wish to discuss. 

“What do you mean?” he asked warily 

“Give me your hand,” she said. 

He held out his hand reluctantly. She took it, studied it for a moment. closed it. 

“Autolycus,” she said. He snatched his hand away. 

“Snapper up of unconsidered trifles?” 

She laughed “YOu do know a lot” 

“Winters tale. I  played him once. We had an actor geezer came to the …Institution” 

“Where you were living…temporarily?” 

“That one” 

Mrs Pat knew what he meant and Garth was aware that she knew. 

They stayed silent for a moment. 

“Biscuit?” she asked “They are digestives. Plain chocolate.” 

“Thankyou” 

“Garth,” she said 

He looked up from his biscuit. 

“you could stay here” 

They looked at each other for a moment. 

“What is this place,” he asked ” A kind o funny Farm?” 

She laughed 

“Well, it has its funny moments. Farm? Well, we sow and we reap. I think you could call it a… 

At this moment, Panic ensued as Drusilla rushed in. 

“What on earth is the matter Drusilla? Is it World War Three?” 

“No its Mrs Walters in the hip bath. she’s wedged. Jammed in” 

Mrs Pat started to laugh. 

“It’s not a joke,” said Drusilla 

“Sorry dear, just getting a mental picture” 

Mrs Pat turned to Garth 

“Mrs Walters is a very large lady” 

“What you need is a lubricating agent.” said Garth.”Bit of oil. pour the oil on the spot Mrs Ws body meets the bath. give her a bit of a wiggle and she’ll slip out. “and he makes a pop with his finger in his cheek “Just like that.” 

Pat laughs even more 

“So funny. Pouring oil on troubled Walters” 

Garth started to laugh with her but realised that Drusilla didn’t find it in the least amusing 

“Let me help,” he said. 

“To the Rescue” cried Mrs Pat and she pointed dramatically to the door They ran up the stairs and Mrs Pat stayed at the bottom, listening and laughing at the dialogue that followed. 

Mrs W screaming “Its a man. Shut your eyes, young man 

Garth. How can I bleedin’ see if I shut my bleedin’ eyes?” 

Pat joined in with the Soldier’s song from Faust. 

After Mrs Walter had been extricated from her embarrassing position. Garth quickly left her presence. 

“Go and finish  your tea,” said Mrs Pat “And help yourself to biscuits 

He did as he was told, and when Mrs Pat arrived back in the den, she noticed that the tray of chocolate biscuits had been demolished. 

“Oh you poor boy,” she said “You must be so hungry 

Let us get  you some protein” 

Go back to the waiting room and I’ll get you a plate of good things.!” 

Charles was sitting in an armchair with a plate of sandwiches on his lap and a bottle of beer on the near table. 

“Come along young fella,” he said.”get yourself a bunch of sarnies. You can have a lager if you like. I’ve got a crate of bottles” 

But Mrs Pat interfered. 

“Just sit down Garth,” she said “and I’ll fix it for you” 

Garth sat down in one of the other easy chairs and Mrs Pat presented him with a pile of sandwiches 

“There’s jelly for afters,” she said “Men loved jelly” 

“Yes we jolly well do,” said Charles “Nice and cool” 

They were just settling down to their lunch when Fererick staggered in. 

“How did it go?” asked Charles 

“Bastards,” said Frederick. 

“I thought as much” replied Charles. He turned to Mrs Grampian. 

“Would you care for something Madam?” 

She shook her head. 

“A cup of tea perhaps” 

“Never touch the stuff,” she said and showed him the can of Special brew 

“As you wish,” he said, resumed his seat and picked up a copy of Country Life from the table nearby. 

Garth was tucking into the sandwiches but looked up as Drusilla arrived. He started to stand, she shook her head at him. 

“Charles, I’m ready for  you now,” she said “Spiritual healing or Aromatherapy?” 

“This lady was before me” he indicated Mrs Grampian. 

“Oh Mrs G I’m so sorry. I forgot about you. What is it today?” 

Grampian rose “Back,” she said. Fells like somebody hammerin’ three-inch nails into it.” 

“Oh dear,” said Drusilla “I wish you could find somewhere nice to  live” 

Gramian shrugged. “All the same to me dear, warm, cold, wet, dry, tell your fortune for a dollar” 

“What about a nice cup of tea?” 

She was rebuffed with one word. 

“garbage” retorted Mrs G/ 

Drusilla turned to Charles “If only we could get her into hydrotherapy.”What’s that? asked Mrs G. “Sounds good” 

“Water mainly,” said Drusilla. 

Ms Grampian humphed. “Never hold with water,” she said, “Fishes shit in it” 

“All right,” said Drusilla. “I’ll give you some heat.” 

“Swollen headed verbose pigs, Loony leftists” shouted Fred 

“He’s had a change of subject,” said Mrs G. she got herself together  

but still clutched her can. 

“Come along,” said Drusilla “you don’t need that can” 

She took the beer away from her and put it on the table. 

“They’ll half-inch it,” said Mrs G looking at Garth. 

“Charles is a gentleman,” she said”He will take care of  your can for you” 

“Humph,” said Mrs G “Don’t you adaman’eve it. These days everyone’s out for what they can get.” 

Frederick agreed 

“Bastards,” he said. 

Mrs G recognised she’d found a twin soul.” 

“You know, don’t you. Things are taking downward Path” 

“Come along,” said  Drusilla” 

Mrs G had found an interest in Frederick 

“That bloke,” she said to Drusilla” What’s he do  for a living?” 

“He’s a Member of Parliament” 

“In that case,” said Mrs Gram; pian as she picked up her can. 

and clutched it to her breast as Drusilla took her into the treatment room. 

 Drusilla took off Mrs Grampion still clutching her can of lager. The was the sound of an aria from Aida and Mrs Pat joins the party in the waiting room 

“Was that the doorbell?” she asks, Charles assures her that it probably is. 

“I’d no idea it was still working, ” said Mrs Pat.and shouts, “Come in come in the door’s open” 

Another knock on the door 

“What’s the matter are you deaf?” cried Mrs P. 

There is another burst of Aida and more knocking. 

Pat went to the door and opened it. 

Charles and Garth listened to the dialogue. Federick mumbled to himself some words of hate. 

They heard Mrs Pat say 

“Hello, my dear. How nice to see you, There is no need to knock you know. This is Liberty Hall. Come along in. 

Mrs Pat joined the others accompanied by the unwilling Mrs Prudhomme. Pat pushed a cat off one of the chairs  

“cup of tea?.” 

Mrs Prudhomme seemed shocked. 

“Not at this time in the afternoon,” she said and she shook her head, not accepting the seat she was being offered.. 

So Charles stood up and indicated his own chair, giving her a polite little bow. 

Mrs Prudhomme was still not satisfied. She looked quickly at the chair  and gave the impression that it could be infected. She turned her attention to Charles and his raggedy jumper which she regarded with great disdain. 

“Thank you,” she said, “i prefer to stand” 

Fredrick shouted Bastards. 

Mrs Pat quickly put a different…. to her speech 

“Oh yes, of course, your poor shoulder. Why not sit on one of the kitchen chairs. So much better for the back” 

Mrs Prudhomme was not pleased about this either. 

“I did not come here to talk about my shoulder” as she mentioned, she got a bad twinge. Mrs Pat looked sympathetic. 

Mrs Prudhomme continued “Is there anywhere we can talk – in private?” 

Mrs Pat laughed “Why in private? We are all friends here. We have nothing to  hide” 

Mrs Prudhomme’s shoulder gave another twinge 

“I would prefer it,” she said 

Okay dokay.” said Mrs Pat, follow me and t=she led the way into the Den. 

As they went off, Feredick had covered his face with the New Statesman and shouted after Mrs Prudhomme. 

“Bloody Tories” 

“Wouldnt be at all surprised ” retorted Charles. 

“I did not come here to talk about my shoulder” as she mentioned, she got a bad twinge. Mrs Pat looked sympathetic. 

Mrs Prudhomme continued “Is there anywhere we can talk – in private?” 

Mrs Pat laughed “Why in private? We are all friends here. We have nothing to  hide” 

Mrs Prudhomme’s shoulder gave another twinge 

“I would prefer it,” she said 

Okay dokay.” said Mrs Pat, follow me and t=she led the way into the Den. 

As they went off, Feredick had covered his face with the New Statesman and shouted after Mrs Prudhomme. 

“Bloody Tories” 

“Wouldnt be at all surprised ” retorted Charles. 

Mrs Pat led Mrs Prudhomme into her treatment room. Mrs Prudhomme looked a little nervous at the couch. 

“Is this your office?” she asked 

“Y0u could call it that”, replied Pat, “but no it isn’t, we call it the Den.. I would just like to look at your shoulder. It must be giving  you such Gip” 

“I’m not here to talk about shoulders” she replied and winced as the shoulder gave her another nudge. 

“Its such a dark shadow,” said Mrs Pat, “I’ve never seen anything so angry. Have you ever thought of orthopaedic shoes?” 

Mrs Prudhommw was briefly nonplussed by this. 

“Pisces people – You often have trouble with the old marrow bones. You need to keep your spine straight. Will you sit down? just for a minute” 

Mrs Prudhomme reluctantly sat and  Pat touched the top of her spine, Mrs Prud winced. Pat closed her eyes and put her hands over Prud’s head. 

“Yes yes,”  she said, Up the knees to the spine and referred to the shoulder. 

Mrs Prudhomme banged on the table “We are not here to discuss my knees or my shoulder. They are just one of the many crosses one has to bear” 

“Oh, yes, how is dear Mr Prudhomme?” 

“He is well thankyou.” Prud was bewildered at the change of subject. 

“I’m pleased to hear it” and Mrs Pat chuckled, at her own joke, thinking “Well somebody has to laugh.” 

Mrs Prudhomme was incensed “What are you laughing at? Will  you kindly sit down where I can see   you.” 

Pat obediently sat down in the opposite chair. 

Prudhomme began her prepared speech. 

“The residents of Hymers Crescent have formed an association which we shall call The Residents of Hymers Crescent Association” 

Pat considered this well named. 

“They have appointed me as their spokesperson. 

Mrs Pat mumbled something 

“What did you say?’ 

“Nothing, just Aries rising.” 

“And we have drawn up a petition which we have all signed” 

Mrs Pat was confused. 

“I didn’t sign it. Hand it over and I’ll affix my moniker’ 

” Just reminded me. I once signed a petition which I thought was in aid of stray pussies, and found out just in time it was to bring back the Cat” and she laughed again. 

Mrs Prudhomme didn’t laugh but continued with her speech. 

“Mrs Bello, It is not for you to sign. The petition is directed against you, your house and your –er people.”  

Mrs Par was amused. “Well I can hardly sign that can I. I mean it would be too silly for words” and she laughed again. 

“Mrs Prudhoomme gave a sigh, “Quite,” she said, “I’m glad you understand.” 

As she spoke, her shoulder gave her another spasm of pain. 

Pat got to her feet. 

“oh dear, If only you’d let me.” 

“Mrs Bello, will you please pay attention. ” 

Pat st down. 

“Okay, I’m sorry. You were saying?” and she put on her listening face. 

Mrs Prud launched off again. “A small example. You may have notices that all the houses in Hymers Crescent are painted olive. 

“Yes. Olive drab.” 

“EXcept yours.” 

“Yes, I prefer violet. It makes people smile and feel happy. Which is what we are all in this world to do.” 

Mrs Prudhomme was not listening 

She carried on with her prepared speech 

“The committee would be most happy if  you were to paint your door olive.” 

“Olive drab” Mrs Pat considered this for a moment. Mrs prudhomme registered pleasure at this. thinking that she had, at last, got through to her. 

Mrs Pat bounced up in her seat 

“I’ve just had a brilliant idea” she cried. 

“Why don’t we paint every door a different colour. Then you could walk down the Crescent and see a wonderful rainbow effect. Rainbows are so good for the soul~”~ 

She started to sing “Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and… 

Mrs Prud interrupted the song. 

“Mrs Bello, we don’t want you to change all the doors. We want you to change yours. Take that idiotic lump of stone in your front garden and the vile twisted tree. 

Mrs Pat thought for a while 

“No that’s impossible,” she said. Drusilla has conversations with them.  

  Why don’t you have a nice concrete birdbath like everyone else 

Pat shook her head. “I don’t think Drusilla would like to talk to them.” 

She shouted “Drusilla” 

“No said, Mrs Prud. Don’t call that foreign girl in here. There’s no point. It would be better if she found somewhere else to go. Among her own people” 

Drusilla poker her head around the door, and wished Mrs Prudhomme Good afternoon. Pat went straight to the point. 

“Could you talk to a birdbath? 

Drusilla shook her head. “Are you quite sure?” Asked Mrs Pat. 

“Quite sure said, Drusilla. Excuse me if I don’t stay, Mrs Prudhomme I’m in the middle of a session”  

Suddenly Drusilla’s face changed as she looked at Mrs Prud. 

” Oh dear, Mrs Prudhomme,”  she said  

“What the matter?” said Mrs Prud. 

“Yes. Drusilla dear. It is bad isn’t it” put in Mrs Pat 

Drusilla addressed Prud 

“You must lead a very stressful life,” she turned to Pat ” We must do something to help her” 

” Mrs Prudhomme, think Tall, think freshness and open-air, think forests. ” 

She turned back to Mrs  P. 

“Is  that all?” she said 

Mrs Pat nodded and stepping out of her chair gave the girl a hug.  

Mrs Prudhomme shuddered and turned her face away. Drusilla nodded politely at Mrs prudhomme and left the room. 

“Well,” said Mrs Prudhomme, “That brings me to point number two.  

I am very worried about  your …er…visitors” 

“Oh yes,” said Pat “so am I. Some of them are very poorly, We do the best we can for them” 

Prud took a sharp intake of breath. 

“I am not discussing their state of health, it is their behaviour. I opened the gate jus now and a weird man jumped out and said “He is Coming” 

“Lucky old him,” said Pat and began to laugh. Seeing Mrs Prudhommes confused expression she added. 

“Sorry, I get a little Rabelaisian around this time in the afternoon. That would be Jake, he is fairly sure about a second coming, though if you want my opinion, I don’t think we are up to it.  What do you think Mrs Prudhomme? 

“Then there is that silly man in the ragged jumper” 

“Charles?” said Mrs Pat in some surprise. 

“And then there is – the rest of them. They are just too much Mrs Bello. The only person in your entire entourage who is Crescent material is the Colonel. 

And right on cue, the Colonel appeared. He was dressed immaculately except for his trousers, which were over his arm. He is in his boxer shorts heavily decorated with red hearts. 

He was not phased by the appearance of Mrs Prudhomme. 

“How do you do Mrs Prudhomme,” he said. “Mrs Pat, have  you see my strides?” 

“Over  your arm” 

“So they are. forget the name of my hounds next. Old Brainbox not what it was. Mrs Prudhomme, Nasty shoulder you’ve got there. Good job there’s Mrs Pat to fix it.” 

The Colonel took his leave. 

“I’m so thrilled,” said Mrs Pat. I put those shorts in his stocking last Christmas. Its the first time I’ve seen them in action. 

“Well, Mrs  Bello,” said the Prudhomme, “I see no reason to prolong this interview. I have a list of the committee’s requirements. If  you would be so good as to peruse them, I shall call again later this afternoon.” 

“Oh  yes, drop in for a cupper and I’ll attend to your shoulder” 

“I have to warn you that if you do not bow to our requirements we shall have no alternative but to take the matter to the courts. 

|Mrs Prudhomme rose from her chair ready to make her distinguished exit, Poor Mra Prudhomme, somehow she couldn’t manage to stand straight. It seemed as if her heel had got stuck between the floorboards. 

Mrs Pat didn’t laugh although the picture was particularly amusing. she just called for Garth “Emergency Garth” 

“Mrs Prudhomme is stuck between the floorboards.” 

Garth took a look at the scene 

“Oh I see, I’ll get my jemmy….no I’ll get something…hang on. 

When Garth went off to find a tool of some kind, Mrs Pat sat Prud back in her chair and stood behind her.#Garth came back with his jemmy. He prized the floorboards apar. Mrs Prudhomme released her foot and rubbed her ankle. Suddenly she felt her shoulder was better. No pain. She looked at Mrs Pat, who smiled, sweetly at her. 

“Ally rightie?” she said.  

Mrs Prudhomme shook her ankle, stretched her back and shoulder. and shrugged her shoulders back and forward. She turned to Garth. She had a feeling she’d met him before. 

Garth hid the jemmy behind his back and turned his face away, so she couldn’t see him. 

“Thank you, Garth,” said Mrs Pat. and he rushed out with the jemmy up his jumper. 

“Well, Mrs Bello,” said Mrs Prudhomme. She picked up her handbag with no pain.., 

She said ” I shall return at about 4.30 to find out what you have decided. Don’t forget to read carefully the …. papers I have given you. If you have any difficulty reading it, I suppose the Colonel could give you some help. Good day Mrs Bellow” 

“Have a nice one,” said Mrs  P. 

“What?” 

“Day,” said Mrs Pat. 

Mrs Prudhomme left the room. Pat sat down in the chair and pondered. 

Mrs Prudhomme left the Den. She tested her shoulder once more and did a small jig when she found her body was working again. Charles watched her and smiled – another Mrs Pat success, he thought. Mrs Prudhomm smiled and shrugged her shoulders. 

Frederick spoke up “Bastards” he shouted. 

Mrs Prudhomme twitched a little at the voice but recovered until Mrs Grampion arrived back on the scene “I feel like a new woman” she said. She took a look at Mrs Prudhomme who was regarding her with horror. Mrs G produces another can from her bag and offered it to Mrs Prud. 

“Hello dearie – want a swig?” she said. 

Mrs Prudhomm shuddered and she de did so, her pain came flooding back. She limped out of the room as angry as she had been when she came in. 

13 waiting room Colonel trusts Garth. 

Garth came into the waiting room, he looked around the room which was empty apart from Frederick who had fallen asleep in his corner and was snoring gently. 

Gart went over to the fireplace and looked into the bowl of money. He put in his hand to grab a note when he was  startled by Frederick who yelled “Bastards” 

Garth turned to face him, putting the note into his pocket as he did so and moving away from the money bowl  He felt he had to say something. 

“Who are these bastards?” 

“They’re all of ’em bastards. 

“all of who?” 

“‘forget it,” said Frederick and sat back in his chair and shut his eyes again. 

Garth turned away from him and put his hand into his breast pocket, looked at the tenner he had taken out of the bowl and put it back into his pocket as the Colonel came in. 

Garth me boy” said the Colonel, “Do me a favour” 

“If I can,” said Garth, “what is it?” 

The Colonel whispered out of the side of his mouth as he showed Garth Twenty pounds he had in his hand. 

“No word to Pat, understand?” 

“Understand” 

“Here’s twenty quid.” and he put the note into the boy’s hand 

Garth was not used to people handing him cash. 

The Colonel proceeded 

“Nip to William Hill, main road, right-hand side. Put twenty quid on Magic Aura, 3.30 Newmarket. Ten to one. Hurry up, man.” 

Garth took the money looking at it in  amazement 

“Supposing I glue it?” he asked 

Colonel lifted his eyebrows, not understanding. 

“Do a runner?” said Garth 

The Colonel gave a short laugh 

“Impossible dear fella. Know an honest face I see one. Never been wrong yet. 

Garth shrugged “Well, it’s your money” 

“Quite.  Can’t get there meself.  Tarot reading in five minutes.  OK?  Savvy?” 

“I savvy,” said Garth. 

The Colonel winked again and touched his nose with his forefinger.”. 

“No need to tell Mrs P” he whispered. “Feel like a flutter? Worth a bob or two, straight from the horse’s mouth.” 

Garth felt a bit awkward. 

“Go on boy, no time to waste.” 

The Colonel hurried upstairs. Garth watched him go. Looked at the twenty quid and put it in his back pocket. He looked around and saw the pack he had left in the corner. He picked it up and started to go.  

Frederick yelled after him 

“Bastards” 

Garth gave him the v sign and left the house. 

 Gath as feeling highly satisfied He now had in his hands the fifty pounds from the Colonel and the other twenty quid he had nicked from the Basin.  

Now he had no worries about where he was going to sleep that night. He could go out and have a good meal and log in to a posh hotel for the night.  

He walked along the high street whistling happily. He had just arrived at the booking shop when he stopped and had a look at the lists of the three-thirty at Cheltenham. He remembered the Colonel and his fifty quid which was going to make his life a little happier. However, he couldn’t help popping inside to see how things were going in the betting shop[. He was feeling a bit dizzy, and he could play the Colonel’s words in his ear. Frankie Detoia stable boy had given him this special horses name. A genius pf a horse but kept a careful secret until this particular race. So he had had fifty a ten to one he could have five hundred which would really set him up for a while. Garth was feeling highly satisfied He now had in his hands the fifty pounds from the Colonel and the other twenty quid he had nicked from the Basin.  

Now he had no worries about where he was going to sleep that night. He could go out and have a good meal and log in to a posh hotel for the night.  

He walked along the high street whistling happily. He had just arrived at the booking shop when he stopped and had a look at the lists of the three-thirty at Cheltenham. He remembered the Colonel and his fifty quid which was going to make his life a little happier. However, he couldn’t help popping inside to see how things were going in the betting shop[. He was feeling a bit dizzy, and he could play the Colonel’s words in his ear. Frankie Detoia stable boy had given him this special horses name. A genius pf a horse but kept a careful secret until this particular race. So he had had fifty a ten to one he could have five hundred which would really set him up for a while. He sat down at one of the seats and picked up on of the tiny pencils. He wrote out the bet and pocketed the pencil- it might come in useful. Actually, it did come in useful straight away ad he remembered the money he had taken out of the basin and he decided to risk that as well. He couldn’t think why he should do this. He was not a betting person as a rule but he had a strange feeling about this particular wager. The orse he saw on the screen seemed very attractive and he felt drawn to it. Also, he liked the colour of the jockey’s clothes. 

He sat there, obsessed with what he saw and felt sure that he had done the right thing. 

13 magic aura 

The Colonel was excited about the outcome of the race. He was convinced that Magic Aura would be the winner. Drusilla, although she was reputed to despise any form of gambling, joined the Colonel in the den at his insistence that they should both watch Magic Aura win the race. 

The commentator was following the race and they were both disappointed to see that it was Distaff heading the race with Abu Kabul, second and Triple Bar third. 

“Where is your horse Colonel” ask Drusilla 

“I can’t see him” 

“Maybe he’s lost” 

The Colonel was beginning to lose faith. 

They are very fast, those three” said Drusilla.”. 

They were approaching the final furlong and Distaff was definitely in charge of the field following closely by Abu Kabul and the third, Triple Bar was approaching on the Stand side. 

The Colonel was about to give up altogether when he suddenly saw his horse coming up on the inside. The Commentator seemed as surprised as everybody else.  “Distaff and Magic Aura now, there is little between them and as they pass the post. Magic Aura is first, Distaff second and Triple Bar finishes third.” 

The Colonel was beside himself with joy. He laughed and danced around the floor, singing The Blue Danube and forcing Drusilla to join with him in  a Viennese waltz  

Drusillas was amazed at the outcome. She knew the Colonel was fond of racing, and often had a tiny bet, but had never known him to win before. 

He should aloud “Five Hundred smackers”. 

“Fifty pounds? Good Gracious Colonel, you must have been feeling lucky to spend that much. You must go and collect your winnings.” 

The Colonel said, “well no I can’t go and collect. I’m in the middle of a reading. Left old Tewsbury shuffling the cards” 

“OOh that’s a shame” 

” Never mind I got the boy to place the best for me. 

Drusilla was immediately suspicious 

“Boy?”, she said, “What boy”  

The colonel replied. “Why Garth”  

Drusillas face showed her horror “Garth” she gasped 

“That’s the guy,” said the Colonel 

“You gave that boy fifty quid?” 

The colonel laughed at such an idea 

“No of course not. I gave it to him to put on the horse. 

“Now just a minute,” said Drusilla “You trusted that boy with fifty pounds?’ 

The Colonel paused in his merriment 

“Well, yes, Nothing wrong with that. He’s a friend of Mrs Pat. 

Drusilla was incensed. “Are you stark raving mad. YOu’ll never see that money again.” 

The Colonels face dopped. 

“What what do you mean?” 

“I know a criminal face when I see one. You’d better forget your fifty quid and your five hundred smackers!” 

“But he has such an honest face” 

“Have you seen a con man with a dishonest face?” 

Mrs Pat came in to see the Colonel in misery and Drusilla in fury 

“What on earth’s the matter with you two. Mr Tewkesbury is just sitting there. shuffling the cards.” 

“Yes. yes, I’ll attend to him”  

And the Colonel left the room. still distressed. Mrs Pat addressed Drusilla. 

“And where’s the dear boy gone? Have you frightened him away? Why was he looking so worried?.” 

“If you mean the Colonel,  he’s an imbecile.” 

“Drusilla what a thing to say. I mean Garth. He seems to have left”  

She noticed the absence of Garth’s luggage in the corner. “Look, he’s taken his pack with him.” 

“Good riddance,” said Drusilla. 

“Poor young chap, he’s had a rough time of it, you know” 

“Oh really?” said Drusilla 

“I can tell by his eyes. But what charm, what a bright spirit” 

“What rubbish,” said Drusilla. 

Pat tried to explain to Drusilla who didn’t want to hear it.  

“Garth has the power, He’s the seventh son.” 

“Did he tell you that?” 

“No, he seems completely unaware of it. I just want to bring out that Power. Oh. I do hope he comes back. I should never have let him getaway.” 

Drusilla took Mrs Pat by the arm and led her to a chair, making her sit down. She was loath to tell her but felt she had to. 

“Mrs Pat dear, you’ve so often been right in the past, but this time. He’s just a common thief” 

Mrs Pat shook her head. “Yes, I realise that. Well, part of it. He’s certainly not common. That intelligence. He could be a real power for good. Oh I hope he comes back” 

“He won’t be back now” 

Mrs Pat was alarmed at the conviction of Du 

Drusillas’ voice. 

“You are so sure?” she said. 

“Do you want to bet?”  

Mrs Pat laughed “YOu know I never bet on anything” 

“I still have faith,” said Mrs Pat. 

The Colonel arrived back from dealing with Mr Tewkesbury. He was still worrying, kept looking at his watch. 

Frederick popped in 

“I’ll be off now. Give my regards to Mrs P. 

“Off to the house?” 

Frederick sighed, “Yes, I think it’ll be an all-nighter. What’s wrong George? You look frazzled” 

“Got a lot on my mind” 

“That young bloke was in the waiting room earlier” 

“Which young bloke?” 

“Chum of Pat’s. Never seen anything like that happening before”. People are honest” 

The Colonel hardly dared to ask. 

“What happened?” 

“Ther little blighter, Nicked some money from the bowl” 

The Colonel groaned and put his head in his hands. 

“Don’t worry old man. There’s plenty more where it came from” 

And Frederick took twenty pounds from his wallet and goes to the waiting room to put it in the bowl TheColonel groans again.  Drusilla returned 

“What time is it Drusilla?” asked the Colonel 

“About five-thirty. I don’t think you’ll ever see those five hundred smackers. Kiss them goodbye.” 

The Colonel whimpered “Such an honest face” 

Mrs Pat arrived back with Charles. 

“Anyone seen Garth?” she asked 

The Colonel Gave yet another groan of agony. 

“We’ll have some tea, Charles, the kettle will be boiling” 

Whistle of kettle 

“There you are!” said Mrs Pat. 

“How do you do that?” asked Charles. 

Mrs Pat looked at him with a quizzical expression on her face. 

Charles explained 

“How do you make the kettle boil?” 

“Don’t be silly. It’s the gas that makes the kettle boil” 

This made Charles more confused than before. 

“The Colonel  is a little worried about a bet he’s made.” 

“Oh dear George, he does do betting. I don’t approve, nor of his drinking. Do you know, he  keeps a bottle or Redeye under his bed.”  

” I was saving it to celebrate” 

Again they heard the aria from Aida. 

“Is that the doorbell?” asked Charles 

“Yes pretty isn’t it. I expect its Mrs Prudhomme. Coming to talk about her proposals Very odd. She wants me to paint the front door olive, get rid of Druseillas stone and put a birdbath in the garden.” 

“Whose idea was that?” 

“The neighbourhood association. They also want me to get rid of the visitors. something to do with making the Crescent a fashionable place to live.” 

“How incredibly foolish” 

The doorbell rang again.  

Charles remarked, “Shouldn’t someone answer the door?” 

Mrs Pat continued with her Prudhomme story. “I’m sure they’ll realise how foolish they are”. 

The doorbell rang again 

“So I said Don’t get up Duchess, I’ve just come in to wash my hands.” 

The doorbell rang again. 

“Drusilla, see who it is my dear.”  

“Oh Mrs Pat,  How did you know about the Redeye?  Was it Second sight old gel?” 

“No hoovering old boy” 

She, Drusilla and Charles laughed. 

The doorbell rang again. This time accompanied by a loud banging. 

Charles went off to answer it and returned accompanied by Mrs Prudhomme. 

Charles present her to Mrs Pat 

“Mrs Pat, this lady says she’d like a word with you. 

“Ah Mrs Prudhomme,” said Pat, “Come along and sit down. Maybe we could indulge in a little cake” 

“Like a shot of ..some kind of beverage perhaps?,” said The Colonel and said to Drusilla “No point in keeping it now” 

Mrs Prudhomme surveyed them all with disapproval. 

“I prefer to stand,” she said. “No thankyou Colonel. Now Mrs Bello, have you read my list of requirements.?” 

“OH yes, ” said Mrs P. “I’ve looked at it very carefully and I’ve drawn up a little list of my own.  First, Jake, the Colonel has spoken to him about his jumping out with his end of the word routine. And he has promised never to jump out again. Just to rely on his signs. Isn’t t that so, Colonel?’ 

“Oh yes, and by the way, he’s pretty sure that tomorrow is the day. Just in case you’d like a little wager on it.” 

Mrs Prudhomme’s face expressed her disgust at the idea. 

Mrs Pat suggested that it might be difficult to collect on the bet if it turned out to be true. 

She returned to the matter in hand 

“Although I think its a shame about the jump. It does enhance the dramatic effect and he enjoys it so much.  Now, you aid something about the ivy being overgrown, I am in agreement.  I have now got a new visitor who I am sure will be delighted to help out with this. A delightful young man called Garth” 

Depression overwhelms the Colonel once again. 

“He can whip it into shape in no time. Now, the visitors we have been cleaning them up. Drusilla brought in Mrs G. 

Drusilla went out of the room, leaving Prudhomme bursting with ire and the Colonel sitting in a chair, face in his hands. Mrs Pat smiled sweetly” 

Drusilla returned shortly with a regenerated Mrs Grampion. Drusilla had dressed her in Sari. combed her hair into two plaits., and tried to contain all her worldly goods in more respectable looking carrier bags (names Harrods etc) 

Mrs Grampaian tried to smile but was obviously pretty embarrassed by the reformation 

“I don’t half feel a narner” she said. 

“May I help you to a glass of Sherry?” asked Mrs P to Mrs Prudhomme, barely containing her mirth at the aspect. 

“Never touch it,” said Mrs G 

“Now,” said Mrs Pat “About the door” 

“That tasteless violet door” 

“That shall remain Violet”, said Mrs Pat firmly 

Mrs Prudhomme shuddered. 

The Colonel recovered enough to help her to a chair. She sat. 

Mrs Pat went into her speech. (mood) 

“When my visitors -as you call them, turn into Hymers Cresent and see my violet door, their spirits rise, a beacon of joy and warmth is extended to them. My violet door, set in a turgid sea of olive drab, puts a spring in their step, hope in their heart, lead in their pencils” 

Mrs Prudham half rose from the chair and made an effort to speak 

“We live in a democracy,” said Mrs P. Let us refer us to the vox populi. The questions before the house. Olive drab or violet. Drusilla?” 

“Violet for the sake of our souls” replied Drusilla 

“Colonel?” 

“Violet, be damned to olive drab” 

Charles? 

“And from his ashes may be made The violet of his native land” 

Mrs Grampian 

“What was the question? 

Mrs Pt laughed “You silly old bat. The door – violet or olive drab?” 

Mrs you can take  your olive fuckin’ drab and stick it…” 

Mrs Pat broke in “I think you can take it Mrs Prudomme that the violets have it.” 

Mrs Prudhomme stood, and her shoulder was twitching badly. 

“I see you intend to be intractable, But the matter will not rest here. This particular part of the borough is owned by the Duke of Hamden. I  have spoken to his agent Mr Burrows on the telephone. He has assured me that if I get no satisfaction from this encounter he will take  up the matter personally with the Duke himself. Then we shall see about  your tasteless violet door” 

Mrs Prudhomme was making her exit when Charles interrupted. 

“Mrs Prodnose,” he said 

She looked at him in her usual dismissive fashion. 

“Prudhomme!!!” she almost shouted and stared again at his ragged jumper. 

“What” she added 

“Perhaps,” said Charles, I can s-s-save you that t-telephone call. I know Mr Burrows quite well. In a matter of w-work, you understand” 

“You are his handyman?” she asked 

Mrs Pat broke into this conversation 

“Mrs Prudhomme, I’d rather you didn’t continue with this inquisition. The outcome could be most embarrassing.” 

Mrs Prudhomme gave one of her snorts 

“Don’t be stupid. Out with it, man.” 

Charles replied in a shy hesitant manner 

“Well,.. the.t.t .ttruth of the matter is.  sort of….   that B-B-Burrows,,, is sort of well,  my handyman…You see…I’m I’m the fella… you know…I’m Hamden.,. Duke. Sorry and all that” 

Mrs Pat was angry “Now see what you’ve done. It’s taken me five years to get rid of that stutter. 

Mrs Prudhomme said “You.. the Durk of Hamden?” and she gave a kind of curtsey. 

“I’m s- s- sorry” stuttered Charles. 

The Colonel gave a laugh, momentarily shaken out of his despair. 

“That’s a turn for the old Rookery Nook” 

Drusilla giggled. 

Mrs Pat sighed “Oh dear” 

Mrs Prudhomme spoke “Well, Your Grace, If indeed you are your Grace. 

Charles ” Y- yes I am.  w-w-orse l-l-luck” 

Mrs Prudhomme gathered herself together. 

“I cannot for the life of me understand why a person of your rank should choose to hobnob with this bunch of lunatics. Haven’t you got another house to go to?” 

“Yes…I go go go to the Lords for a s-s- s- sleep. I c-c-c.come heer for s.s.stimulation” 

Mrs Prudhomme got to her feet. “Stimulation indeed. Very well Mrs Bello.I shall leave things for the moment. But there will be other avenues to explore. As my husband always tells me I am not the sort to take it lying down’. 

And she swung through the door which the Colonel had opened for her. 

“Unfortunate turn of phrase,” remarked Mrs Pat. 

“Didn’t realise he was your landlord Mrs P. So  you never really worried about old Prodose at all?” 

Mrs Pa;t thought about it, she was really worried about Mrs Prudhomme. She worried about her shoulder, but also about the fact that she was indulging in hatred. It made Pat sad to think she could instil hatred in anybody. 

Charles remarked that at least she didn’l have the violet door to worry about. At lease until the sale went through.  

He explained “It’s some big consortium wanted to buy us up. Not sure whats happening at the moment. 

“Well said Mrs Pat, it hasn’t happened yet. When he does we can all have a jolly good worry about it. oh, is that the doorbell again?” 

“I hope it isn’t Mrs Prodnose again” said Charles. 

“I’ll go” 

Charles went to the door and returned with Garth. 

Everyone looks surprised – apart from Mrs Pat. 

“There you are my boy,” she said. 

“Where did you get to? asked Drusilla 

“They were worried about you” said Charles. 

“I dunno” said Garth “I sort bumped my head or something. I feel a bit dizzy. But anyway.” 

Garth took from his pocket a packet of notes  

“Heres your winnings, Colonel,” he said 

“Aha,” The Colonel was happily flabbergasted. “You see Mrs, Pat. I told that horse would win. Look at this five hundred pounds. I won it on Magic Aura” 

Mrs Pat replied “Well that’s lovely my dear. But I can’t take it all, you must keep half of it for yourself. Get the Bowl Drusilla.” 

Drusilla went to the waiting room and brought in the bowl. 

The colonel  peels off some notes and puts them in the bowl 

Garth felt in his pocket again.  

“I had a little flutter too, he said, “Not like the Colonel, I enjoyed being in the betting shop. I had a bit of an accident outside, banged m head on a tree. stupid of me., but I wouldn’t make a habit of it”. 

He takes out another hundred pounds and counts them into the bowl. 

Mrs Pat pats him on the back 

Wat a good boy you are Garth. This calls for a celebration” 

A little libation on the altar of friendship.” 

Shall we drink to MagicAura?” 

Charles was looking suspicious. 

“What was the magic involved Mrs P?” 

Did you make  it happen? 

“Dont be silly Charles, you know very well my talent may not be used for anything like that. Anyway, I was too busy looking after Garth. Poor young man, had no idea what was happening.” 

“How’s your head dear?” 

DAVID BEDELL AND STEVE CLARKE AT THE CRZY COQS, PICCADILLY

11 Jan

DAVID BEDELLA AT THE CRAZY COQS WITH STEVE CLARKE ***** 

It was a great pleasure and a privilege to watch David Bedella Livestream from the Crazy Coqs.  

The Coqs is the most elegant and atmospheric venue – a favourite place to spend an evening. It is a sadness that it is not currently in use, but to see Bedella is a joy at any time. David is a handsome man from Indiana with a smile that breaks your heart, his dark complexion is an inheritance from his Mexican heritage. He has a sure way with a lyric and oddly enough, the fact that there is no audience involvement allowed me to concentrate totally on his expert performance. He and his friend and accompanist, Steve Clarke, have put together an unusual array of songs which they perform with love and expertise.  

I had a slight problem getting into the stream because of my password which changed during the lockdown, so I did miss his first few numbers. 

However, I was there to catch Bedella’s tribute to his idol, the late great David Bowie, on his birthday. He told us that Bowie had taught him how to live, how to behave. He loved Bowie’s gender fluidity, his talent for reinventing himself. Bedella did a performance of “Life on Mars” with such clarity and understanding, I am tempted to say better than Bowie himself if that could be possible. I found out things about it the lyrics I had never noticed before. he made it all so clear for me. Certain lilnes resonated. “The girl with the mousy hair – she’d seen the film and loved it ten times or more” and  “Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy”  

Michael Jackson’s “One Day in Your life” was treated in a – silly word – gentlemanly way. A simple torch song sung with emotion and sincerity was moving.  

A remark by Rishi Sunak, our Chancellor of the Exchequer, was happily exposed and sent up by the number from “Sweet Charity” “There’s gotta be something Better than This”. Rishi’s the remark inferred that being a performer was a job requiring no skill and suggested that actors train for something else. In the song, the dancer heroine tries out being a hat check girl and a receptionist. David sings it as it is.  

The songs were perfectly placed on the menu. The song from Mack and Mable had me in tears. “I won’t send roses”  a beautiful song performed by Mack, the anti-hero, is sung by a man who tells the truth and doesn’t make promises. “Forgetting birthdays is guaranteed” The lyric is so sincere and Steve is particularly sympathetic on the piano. There are times when it is good to have a bit of a weep, very unusual for me, but this guy just hits the notes bang in the middle and does the same with the emotion. Every so often, during this really horrible time we are living in, we need to have a good cry. And Bedella is the absolute epitome of heart. The sincerity shines through him and one cannot help but feel his empathy and to cry along with him. How he manages not to cry himself is a miracle. Well, he is a professional  

The conversation between songs was obviously ad-lib in the modern style. After all,  jokes are a waste of time when there is no audience, to appreciate them. It was better to just go on singing. We get scraps of information. Steve met David when he was third trombonist in an orchestra. Davids first show was “Hello Dolly” and he fell in love with Jerry Herman’s music, its scope and his arrangements. He stood in the wings on Broadway for Cage aux Folles and watched Gene Barry sing “Song on the Sand every night. At the age of seventy singing the most beautiful song about being young and in love”  

David had handed Steve a piece of paper with some notes written on and asked Steve to do an arrangement. It turned out to be an inspirational song called “Choose a Star.” Something like ‘the stars have eyes, they see you with all the souls that have gone before, Believe you can fly, the young wings will come to you To carry you to the Winters Sky’  

David’s last song addressed his unseen audience. He sang words like “Don’t worry about me, I’ll remember the lovely time we had, I will never forget you  so don’t worry about me.”  

Then he gave a farewell speech thanking Steve for his magic and Tom and Stella for sound and lighting  

He said “Times are hard, we should stand up and talk about things,This led to his finale – a hymn.  

“Let there be Peace on Earth. ” 

I just want to say how brave he was to do this. To perform without an audience. Five stars.  

carolina red

4 Jan

CAROLINA RED
BY RAY SHELL
This is an important book. It is almost impossible to review because of the startling amount of content. It is a labour of love by a man who is infatuated by his Country. He takes on the persona of The Almighty to see the stories through His eyes. I quote his intro.

“I AM here. For a brief nanosecond. Nations of the world looked upon you, America, with envy and admiration…now 5 years later they quickly look away fearfully, sighing at the dissolution of your Obaman Hope and thinking ‘…maybe Enoch, was right: NO! WE CAN’T live together, love, help and respect each other…’ which reduces you, My USA, back to being Ugly Americans, resurrecting old, bullet-riddled, ‘Nigga’ bones and ancient, bloody, ‘Ofay’ rituals.”

This novel is a tremendous success in every way with Shell’s immense research into the historical background of Carolina State from the Abolition of Slavery until the modern-day of Donald Trump.
“Why Red? Red for the blood, Red for the Carolina mud, Red for the Native American skin, Red for the Republican state we live in. The American Dream that seems to have changed into the American Nightmare”.

It is probably the only book ever written by God. He looks down at the Sugar Hill, The largest plantation in Nashville, in rich, fertile North Carolina. The place that the Native Americans called The Green Place, saying “You can’t own what doesn’t belong to you”
It is two years since Slavery was abolished but Elijah Beauregard, master of Sugar Hill. Is not ready to free his slaves and pay them for building his plantation.
“I’LL NEVER GIVE THEM UP. I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR THEM BLACKS, THEY BELONG TO ME”
Anybody who argued with him about this was immediately shot and over fifty of his slaves had already been slaughtered for complaining including his most treasured blacksmith who he shot in the face. This was the beginning of the uprising of the slaves and the beginning of Shell’s Ancestry.
The second story in the first part of the book takes us to the world of brown people the native Americans sometimes called the Redskins. The Cherokees had discovered gold in Georgia and when the pale men found out they claimed the gold and drove the Cherokees away sending them on a trek to Oklahoma. it took 21 days, many died on the road, most were affected by the long walk.

The book continues with the lives of the people involved in two families Black white and red. So many names Isaiah Barnes, Pam, Clarke, Estella, Mookie, Lois, Laura, Toot, Malcom, Lana, Suga Lee
There are many long political discussions between the characters featuring Obama, Saunders, Trump and even The Pope. There is a mention of Bambi (Tony Blair) apologising for the war in Iraq. Much of the discussion is centred on Isis. Fox News seems to think that Obama has filled America with Muslims. But the Christians are still expecting Jesus to come and sort things out.
The first hero is a Cherokee born Isaiah Barnes. Kee-mop-hann or ”I bring Greatness”. He survived the white man’s pox and polio and was cured by White man’s medicine. He found that the Pale people were not all wicked, he made friends with them, was adopted by them and learned to speak the language. He is the father figure of the book and we follow his multiracial multi-cultural family through the ages.
Suga Lee runs the whorehouse in Nashville. It is much more than a Brothel. It is a place for relaxation, a pub, a restaurant and a place of entertainment. Some people are shocked by it, but most people go there. The whorehouse is set on fire by a White arsonist and 75 people die in the flames. The villain regrets it. “It was a cool place,” he says, “Wouldn’t be so bad if it was just nigras burnt up, dey was a heap of white folks too.” He resents the fact that he now must go to Starbucks for coffee.
The population of Nashville get around. They go abroad – they marry Englishmen. Clarke, for instance, who is unimpressed by New York. “Compared with the big Apple. London is a city of Modernity with a clean underground complex”, he says. The new Broadway sensation HAMILTON WITH Black folks playing White folks. $10,000 a ticket. “Could only happen in New York.”
There is drama as well as comedy. A shooting in Oregon. The killer is from Isis. He asked if they were Christian before he fired the gun. But The biggest drama concerns Estella and Mookie. Estella has decided to be a Muslim and she and her husband Mookie have gone over to Syria to join up with the Isis. The story, the thoughts and feelings of the Estella and Mookie are closely and completely written and are immensely effective.
They disappear and there is a search party run by a young senator. He is assisted in this by another young lawyer, Jake who is black. They are close friends from Harvard. As they are working on plans to find Estella and Mookie, they return to their old times and there is a beautifully written lyrical sex scene.
God records a bit of conversation but without comment, just a quotation.
Asked if she would again vote Republican Pam replied “There is some white boy gathering round robins from the pubs. I’m glad to be rid of it.”
“Donald Trump? The man is an idiot.”
“He leads the ballot polls”.
“Hitler led polls too. “
The book manages to deal with every aspect of life in the USA and the world. With red blood from Cherokee, the Black and the white man. All blood of the same colour.
This is a tour de force from a man who has attempted to see what the world looks like with the eyes of The Creator.

carolina red

4 Jan

CAROLINA RED
BY RAY SHELL
This is an important book. It is almost impossible to review because of the startling amount of content. It is a labour of love by a man who is infatuated by his Country. He takes on the persona of The Almighty to see the stories through His eyes. I quote his intro.

“I AM here. For a brief nanosecond. Nations of the world looked upon you, America, with envy and admiration…now 5 years later they quickly look away fearfully, sighing at the dissolution of your Obaman Hope and thinking ‘…maybe Enoch, was right: NO! WE CAN’T live together, love, help and respect each other…’ which reduces you, My USA, back to being Ugly Americans, resurrecting old, bullet-riddled, ‘Nigga’ bones and ancient, bloody, ‘Ofay’ rituals.”

This novel is a tremendous success in every way with Shell’s immense research into the historical background of Carolina State from the Abolition of Slavery until the modern-day of Donald Trump.
“Why Red? Red for the blood, Red for the Carolina mud, Red for the Native American skin, Red for the Republican state we live in. The American Dream that seems to have changed into the American Nightmare”.

It is probably the only book ever written by God. He looks down at the Sugar Hill, The largest plantation in Nashville, in rich, fertile North Carolina. The place that the Native Americans called The Green Place, saying “You can’t own what doesn’t belong to you”
It is two years since Slavery was abolished but Elijah Beauregard, master of Sugar Hill. Is not ready to free his slaves and pay them for building his plantation.
“I’LL NEVER GIVE THEM UP. I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR THEM BLACKS, THEY BELONG TO ME”
Anybody who argued with him about this was immediately shot and over fifty of his slaves had already been slaughtered for complaining including his most treasured blacksmith who he shot in the face. This was the beginning of the uprising of the slaves and the beginning of Shell’s Ancestry.
The second story in the first part of the book takes us to the world of brown people the native Americans sometimes called the Redskins. The Cherokees had discovered gold in Georgia and when the pale men found out they claimed the gold and drove the Cherokees away sending them on a trek to Oklahoma. it took 21 days, many died on the road, most were affected by the long walk.

The book continues with the lives of the people involved in two families Black white and red. So many names Isaiah Barnes, Pam, Clarke, Estella, Mookie, Lois, Laura, Toot, Malcom, Lana, Suga Lee
There are many long political discussions between the characters featuring Obama, Saunders, Trump and even The Pope. There is a mention of Bambi (Tony Blair) apologising for the war in Iraq. Much of the discussion is centred on Isis. Fox News seems to think that Obama has filled America with Muslims. But the Christians are still expecting Jesus to come and sort things out.
The first hero is a Cherokee born Isaiah Barnes. Kee-mop-hann or ”I bring Greatness”. He survived the white man’s pox and polio and was cured by White man’s medicine. He found that the Pale people were not all wicked, he made friends with them, was adopted by them and learned to speak the language. He is the father figure of the book and we follow his multiracial multi-cultural family through the ages.
Suga Lee runs the whorehouse in Nashville. It is much more than a Brothel. It is a place for relaxation, a pub, a restaurant and a place of entertainment. Some people are shocked by it, but most people go there. The whorehouse is set on fire by a White arsonist and 75 people die in the flames. The villain regrets it. “It was a cool place,” he says, “Wouldn’t be so bad if it was just nigras burnt up, dey was a heap of white folks too.” He resents the fact that he now must go to Starbucks for coffee.
The population of Nashville get around. They go abroad – they marry Englishmen. Clarke, for instance, who is unimpressed by New York. “Compared with the big Apple. London is a city of Modernity with a clean underground complex”, he says. The new Broadway sensation HAMILTON WITH Black folks playing White folks. $10,000 a ticket. “Could only happen in New York.”
There is drama as well as comedy. A shooting in Oregon. The killer is from Isis. He asked if they were Christian before he fired the gun. But The biggest drama concerns Estella and Mookie. Estella has decided to be a Muslim and she and her husband Mookie have gone over to Syria to join up with the Isis. The story, the thoughts and feelings of the Estella and Mookie are closely and completely written and are immensely effective.
They disappear and there is a search party run by a young senator. He is assisted in this by another young lawyer, Jake who is black. They are close friends from Harvard. As they are working on plans to find Estella and Mookie, they return to their old times and there is a beautifully written lyrical sex scene.
God records a bit of conversation but without comment, just a quotation.
Asked if she would again vote Republican Pam replied “There is some white boy gathering round robins from the pubs. I’m glad to be rid of it.”
“Donald Trump? The man is an idiot.”
“He leads the ballot polls”.
“Hitler led polls too. “
The book manages to deal with every aspect of life in the USA and the world. With red blood from Cherokee, the Black and the White man. All blood of the same colour.
This is a tour de force from a man who has attempted to see what the world looks like with the eyes of The Creator.

THE POTTED PANTO

22 Dec

THE POTTED PANTO
At the Garrick Theatre.

There’s no pantomime this year? Oh yes, there is. And not just one.
At the Garrick, there are six pantos for the price of one.
In the past, Pantos have gone for a couple of hours at least, I remember my children sit stolidly on their seats, chewing whatever confectionary you have provided, eschewing the interval toilets and all in their excitement to finish the story.
Here we have six or seven stories all in the space of seventy minutes with all the necessary noisy elements plus a few extra.
How can this be done? Are Jeff and Dan in league with the devil?
Well perhaps, providing it is a pantomimic one. This witty couple has been doing this job for several years now and they have got it pretty well tied up.
Oh yes, they have.
Dan is the tall one who has a yen to be a principal boy – preferably in The Christmas Carol – a daft idea as it isn’t a pantomime. Jeff tries desperately to make sense of it all – with very little success.
The whole is a rip-roaring hilarious seventy-minutes of fun.
We start with Jack and the Beanstalk. This is a story about a heroic Principal Boy with other typical Panto persons including the Dame – Jack’s mother, Jill – the Principal Girl, The Giant and his creepy Servant, and a Beanstalk. But the essential character of all is Daisy, the cow who is sold for a bag of beans, needing two actors in a cowskin This is a cast of at least seven characters, not counting extra singers, dancers etc.
But we only have two actors and one of them has to play Jack otherwise the story of Jack and the Beanstalk would make little sense, instead we have Jack and half a cow. Daniel wears the bottom half of a cowskin with a removable belt of udders.
Whittington comes next and much is made of the fact that Dick becomes Lord Major of London. To this end, Jeff dons a blond wig and gives us his accurate but very funny version of Boris Johnson, the mayor, dealing with a plague of rats using an outdated track and trace system.
Whittington is rapidly followed by Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, SnowWhite and Aladdin, with a little bit of Christmas Carol thrown in.
The dialogue and performances are witty enough to please the adults – Cinderella is full of references to the Prince’s balls.
Snow White’s seven dwarfs are represented by a lifesize cardboard cutout. They are quickly sent offstage for breaking the ‘six only rule’. Cinders’ Ugly sisters are played by Dan in a two-headed ballgown with added ventriloquism.
This is the perfect and short entertainment using the Covid rules, The theatre has been set out apportioning rows with enough empty seats to solve the distancing problems. It is cleverly done, so the theatre doesn’t seem to be empty
I would recommend this show to grown-ups and children everywhere. There are so many chances to shout out “He’s behind you” and “Oh no there isn’t”
But the most exciting bit is the chase in Cinderellas coach, here we all have to stand up and gallop through the story. It manages to use up a lot of energy and gives you a good workout.
This is the thing boys and girls of all ages. The Potted Panto is the six and a half pantos you need to see.
Duration of the show — seventy minutes
Age recommended 6+
Tickets from £20
Family ticket £70 for four
Box Office 0330 333 4811
Streamprice £15 plus £3 fee

.
Sadly, the live performances of the West End season of the Olivier nominated Potted Panto have been suspended until 9th January 2021 and will then run until 24th January
Good news for them and all of you who have missed Panto this Christmas. Due to the enormous response to the Christmas season. They are to return to the East End for Easter.
It is an old tradition for Pantos to run from Christmas to Easter. Like old times Except for the pandemic closing them in the middle.
The Potted Panto will be at the Garrick Theatre from the 1 – 18 April 2021 to cover the 26 shows cancelled because of Covid 19
Current bookings for the cancellations may be refunded, or transferred to the Easter dates

SNOW WHITE IN THE SEVEN MONTHS OF LOCKDOWN

21 Dec

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN MONTHS OF LOCKDOWN

BY JOHN SAVOURNIN

JOHN SAVOURNIN in one of the tallest actors in the business and sometimes he plays pantomime Dame. But why on earth did he decide to portray Snow White. His costume, designed by Holly Piggott from Walt Disney is like the one that Snow White wears in the popular film. This is a different story with the occasional odd hint of the original. So, is Savournin totally insane? No, he is totally humorous and is extraordinarily funny towering over the rest of the company in his pretty little Snow White frock. This story has give work to a couple of singing young women to play the two principal boys. Emily Cairns as the handsome Prince Larry and the Dandini character (quietly nicked from Cinderella story but is now named Harry so that they can do rhyming jokes throughout) is played by Meriel Cunningham. It isn’t all that much of a surprise that he turns into a frog halfway through. Oops spoiler warning! Jenny Jacobs is very beautiful and evil as the wicked Queen who relies on her mirror to supply the flattery she needs.. The mirror is played voice only by Mark Gattiss, Ian Hallard and Marcus Fraser. I don’t know whether it is all at once, or one at a time, but tis not mine to wonder why and they didn’t hand out any information on that point. In order to keep the production correctly socially distanced that is the cast in its entirety.


The Charles Court pantomime usually takes place at the King’s Head, but of course like all theatres the King’s Head has been closed, so here is a Charles Court boutique pantomime which has to be watched online. I suggest that you invite a friend or two – however you are allowed to have- because there is a lot of possible audience participation which doesn’t work all that well if you are watching it alone. There are written orders to shout throughout things like “He’s Behind you” and “oh no he isn’t” without which there can be no panto at all. So join up with your bubble – have a glass of something fizzy and laugh and shout your hearts away. It is difficult to plan ahead as we cannot tell from one day to the next what will be allowed to do.

But we mustn’t start on that. it sounds like politics.

It is an extraordinary take on the old story. John Savournin and David Eastern have devised, written and musicalised the production in their usual brilliant fashion and of course the cast sing like angels whenever singing is required – they don’t just spend their whole time acting daft. The play is full of Panto gags and has some of the beautiful songs for which the company is famous.

The set designer is George Johnson-Leigh. One of the useful things about work online is that the set designer can go to town on the sets as they don’t have to be all in the same place at the same time.. Ben Peckergill is the lighting man, and choreography is by David Hulston. John Savournin directs.

The Charles Court Opera is one of the leading companies providing Chamber operas and music theatre. It is their 14th annual pantomime and the 6th with the Kings Head Theatre. The Company are also famed for their productions of Gilbert and Sullivan in small spaces. Their HMS Pinafore had won them an offie for their production. and they recently produced a new and rather startling production of the Mikado which I think is one of the most successful versions of that favourite operetta. Nevertheless, they also concentrate on new work and perform it at various venues, pub theatres to concert halls.

The producers are aware of all the members of the profession who are not able to work this year and a share of the profits will be donated to the Theatre Artist Fund. A fund that has proved a lifwe saver for money during this terrible period.

It is available to stream from MOnday 14th December until Thursday 31st December.

Duration is 60 minutes


musing (not amusing)

7 Dec

Answering Kate Berwick’s post. I love this. I would love to be a painter and it’s true. Items and expressive details come and go. I have watched a friend paint a perfect nude and then day after day change it slowly into a vile monster. It has created sadness in me, but then I realise how much I edit everything I write. Recently, during the lockdown, I have been doing online conversations with my friend Andrew Eborn and it’s the same thing. We start off talking on. Specific subject and cover so many other details in the hour or so we spend doing it. Life is not just one subject, thank the Lord, but many. I am happy to see that nowadays, people are packing in so many different experiences in life. People who don’t have football matches etc to go to and talk about are forced to find other interests…aren’t they?I want to say It is sometimes difficult to enjoy everything but even if is not wonderful at the time it is still an experience …to be talked about? Life is a gift, we are learning. We should appreciate every minute

Andrew Eborn Show

5 Dec

ANDREW EBORN SHOW ON STELLATV This show has only been on for a week but I think it has great potential.

Of course, the show is only as good as its host and Andrew is one of the best interviewers in the business. He has huge warmth, a ridiculous amount of energy, lively intelligence and a great love of people.

He manages to keep calm and smile whatever happens and laughs a lot at his funniest guest the slightly mad woman Mary Martin. I thought at first, we were going to see Larry Hagman’s mum., but this Mary Martin is voluptuous, dark-haired and Spanish looking and she calls herself a Creative. That’s good, I don’t know how else to describe her. She created right there in the Studio a kind of shawl out of velvet which she carefully measured by stretching it across her majestic boobs. She then produced a length of lacy stuff with fringes and she tacked it onto the velvet, whilst imagining questions coming from an anonymous audience, “You pin it on” (what?) “Oh, you’ll need pins” (why?) “To pin it on.” She went behind a screen and vanished completely, leaving Andrew to fill in with a merry quip, difficult because he was practically on the floor laughing. Anyway, she arrived after a while saying – predictably “Here’s one I made earlier”

Andrew had gathered a selection of varied guests. A man called Jules came on to inform us that somebody called Adolph Hitler had won an election. No surprise to the Mail Readers who had the news on its front page. They discussed TV shows. Dancing on Ice, they mentioned the weather Andrew remarked that it was so cold that Strippers had started describing themselves.

The interesting thing about Andrew’s technique is that he works as if there was an audience there. I really felt he was talking to me. A special technique that is obviously not something shared by all of his guests. I found it very flattering, he’s doing this for me!!!

I missed a lot of the next item which was from Alec Sykes. He was talking about his podcast Stars, Cars and Guitars – he describes it as a sort of Rock and Roll version of “The Last of the Summer Wine”. Sounds like fun. Would like to know how to see it.

Jody Western added a little blondness to the business. I think she must be a Reality TV person. She has her own show called “The Dolls House” She talked about the fame that had brought her trolling people. The ones who follow her about on Facebook and Instagram in order to be unkind. If any of you have it in mind to troll, you will no longer get a result. She will just block you and then relax and listen to beautiful music.

Jane Balbec is a skin specialist from Chichester, who advocates going to bed at ten after cleansing with olive oil, washing your face and adding moisturiser. Thus saving yourself money on products, but then thinks it advisable to get in touch with a professional. She has beautiful skin.

After her came Mary Martin who I mentioned earlier and with whom I have fallen in love And finally, the lovely Andy Kyriakos arrived in the studio with his guitar and got us all singing. Andrew joined in with his own special brand of waving his hands about in time to the music.

This is a delightful hour show which has great possibilities for a happy future. It is so good to see a magazine programme with some new people. People I have not seen over and over again in lesser productions. Andrew Eborn has an eye for unusual talent and he has the charm and expertise to make it work.

Stella TV is backed by Media Powerhouse. Andrew Eborn is on every weekday morning from nine until ten following the Mike Read show.

Switch on to – Stella TV THE ANDREW EBORN SHOW Weekdays 09:00am to 10:00am GMT

jack and the beanstalk

3 Dec

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK BY PETER DUNCAN HERE IS A PANTOMIME- WELL MORE LIKE A MIRACLE.

it seemed that there were to be no pantomimes at all this year. And sadly, most of them have been cancelled because of the Pandemic. Peter Duncan, tv actor, and Blue Peter hero, had a great idea. He gathered some friends together during the lovely hot summer and invented a panto, using his garden, his neighbours garden, his shed, lots of trees, St Michaels Church Southfields, an assortment of balloons etc just for him and his friends and families to appear in or to watch over the Christmas holidays. To his amazement, it was taken up by a film company and the whole thing was made into a pantofilm, and will appear at various Everyman cinemas over the festive season. It begins with a little girl at the fireside longing for a pantomime but unable to see one cos of virus restrictions. Her father is sad for her, but tells her to shut her eyes and use her imagination.And, by Golly, there it is. The garden is turned into Fairyland by a single wave of the magic wand by the wonderful Nicole Blackman in a luscious floating magical gown as the Garden Fairy,On comes Jill, a sweet and pretty heroine played by the sweet and pretty Sarah Moss. A delicious morsel for the rude and angry giant up in his castle in the sky. We have the evil but cowardly Flesh creepy character played by the great versatile actor Jos Vantyler whose job it is to collect tasty human beings for the Giants dinner. He has to persuade the humans by various means and very different disguises and a variety of different accents.There is the handsome boy Jack, played by the very handsome Sam Ebenezer who has a very fine voice. Veteran actor and past time governer at the Regents Park Theatre Mr Ian Talbot plays the Squire Shortshanks, father of Jill and, from being a wicked man wanting to evict jacks mother from her garden shed turns into a pretty nice creature at the end undergoing a lot of comical suffering. often at the hand of Dame Trott, Jacks mother. Played of course by the star of them all, Peter Duncan himself giving his perennial North Country Dame. Of course, being a pantomime, anything can happen and a few things did and were ‘kept in’ Seeing what they had at their disposal, it is incredible what has been achieved. The scene changes are believable, different settings all around that same area. Not only has Duncan managed to engage six starry people to play the main roles, he also has a chorus, a mixture of people of all ages who sing and dance and fill in the gaps. There are occasionally twenty-two people on stage and they are all dressed alike in witty costumes by David ‘Daisy’Morgan.The most appealing character in Jack and the Beanstalk is, of course, the cow – named in this panto Buttercup. The perpetrators of this character were not to be seen except under the cowskin but they were played by Julia Gale (She does double duty as Choreographer) and Chris RedburnIn addition, there are a whole lot of highly well-remembered jokes from pantomimes seen in the past hundred or so years. And other jokes reminding us of the current situation without moaning about it. What a joy. We should thank Gustav Holst for providing us with an anthem for the show. A hymn that I always remember as ‘I Vow to thee my Country’. Here it is parodied and sung beautifully by our hero as he climbs the tree, and repeated by the full chorus at the end, giving us a rousing and somewhat tearful finale to the show.Duncans Panto is a great joy. Join in, shout and sing.