The Young Farmer's pantomime rolls on and on and on. Thought we'd got it all sorted last Saturday in the grim surroundings of Whitchurch Civic Centre.
No such luck. The show must go on.
The people of Marton demand their pound of flesh. They not only want flesh they want, erm, entertainment; stuff on stages, laughs and pantomime horses. The show is coming home to the village hall. Saturday and Sunday. All Welcome. Groan.
Thus it was today that I found myself clinging to Maureen's loft ladder while she rooted around in the more intimate recesses of her roof. We have a much reduced space in which to perform on the stage at the village hall which means that all the scenery so lovingly painted a fortnight ago is redundant; we must make other arrangements. Maureen unearthed three painted backdrops - which I carried down the ladder and subsequently unrolled.
We draped them over the furniture in M's front room. These are historic artefacts no less - period pieces, ever so slightly fragile, remnants of the Good 'ole Days when Marton produced an annual show. The village has a tradition of pantomime going back perhaps 80+ years and these backdrops if not quite that old have certainly clocked up several decades. Back in the day sheets had been stitched together and carefully painted with bucolic period landscapes and picturesque cottages, all-purpose vistas which would 'come in' for most of the productions. I wonder what fun and frolics they have seen.
(Actually I have quite a good idea - having seen the dozens of photographs that M also unearthed this morning. The village hit on a winning formula which filled the hall for four consecutive evenings ; good clean fun, a cast of familiar faces and lots of small children who no doubt brought in doting mums, dads, aunts and grannies....)
Our back drops have fallen victim to moth and mouse, there are holes here and there which the judicious application of duct tape fixes. (Hardly traditional I know, but a pragmatic solution.) We take them down to the village hall, which is bitterly cold and completely uninviting. In situ our cloths look rather faded and pathetic too. Oh woe. There is also much 'stuff' to be moved before a performance can be put on.
Which is why I find my self lying on my belly underneath the stage pushing and shoving odds and sods to one side in order to make way for some of the rubbish from above. I eye the mouse poison box and push an antediluvian computer to one side - further out of sight and out of mind. I think a skip would be a very good idea. It's pretty gloomy down here - but then it's pretty gloomy outside as well. It does occur to me that probably no one has been under here for a very long time and that my visit is fairly unique. Strangely, this thought rather bucks me up - there's nothing like pioneering is there? There are no treasures to discover and make my crawl worthwhile though - just much grime and a piercing draught. I emerge, bottom first, dusty and undignified.
Out in the open again, but before I can haul myself to my feet, I spy a neat pair of ankles at very close quarters. The ankles' owner launches into a long and detailed description of her recent 'behind the scenes' tour of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. I put on my most interested face and listen intently from the floor. Possibly a ridiculous sight.
Roll on Sunday night and the final performance is what I say. By about 10.30 we should have shooed the last of the stragglers out into the night - hopefully haunted by 'Riley's Cowshed'. Why should I suffer alone?