Saturday, 2 October 2010

Beat me Daddy, eight to the bar.

I’d been so busy going from one place to another that any nerves I was going to have about the night hadn’t surfaced, even whilst I travelled on the train to Wales. That was until my friend called me and said, “You have to curtsey to the lady in charge. She’s received an MBE for services to entertainment in Wales”. I had thought it was going to be a fun, low key event full of deaf old ladies. I hadn’t quite imagined the mayor of the town, the station master and officers all coming along to the event. I took part in the meet and greet and felt like apologising for my performance before the show had begun. I was spellbound to meet this battler of a director, producer, costume designer and performer in her 70’s. Her motto for her audience is to give them songs by the pound, very H.T. Ford. I guessed she’d ticked a few people off in her time, the Alexis Colby of the Welsh theatre circuit.

Concern soon disappeared when she started to show me off to her friends. It helped I had put some effort, as well finding some ‘things’ just lying around, to complete the look for the day. I‘ve now heard more coos from old women than I’ve ever known any man offer over my seamed stockings. “Ohh, how authentic, just like back in my day.” “Look. It’s natural seamed stockings with black seams. Look at the hat, have you seen the hat”. If only I could have just stood around and modelled all night.

Looking at the play list in the changing room I realised I was almost last in the first half of the show. I’d have much rather have performed earlier on and sat out for the rest of the evening. I wouldn’t have had the detriment of knowing how fantastic every performer was to make comparisons with. I’ve parted with huge sums of money to go to musicals in the Piccadilly and was left disappointed. There wasn’t a chance of that for this audience, songs by the pound performed by excellent vocalists and dancers. I had a lot to live up to after turning up looking the part. I realised then I had to perform it too and I didn’t even know the order of my songs. All the globetrotting meant I hadn’t been able to rehearse with everyone, but with my nerves, this was probably for the best.

The best part of the event was seeing such range of ages all dressed up in period clothes. I’d spent so much time in the changing rooms looking at Japanese women, that I had forgotten what female fat looks like. It’s not an ethereal or entirely elegant mix; much sexier and practical down-to-earth raunchiness, which seem to go hand in hand with laughing and talking dirty. I think this was summed up in one of the song the old ladies sang, about getting frisky in the stalls after drinking some whisky. All the women in the changing room discussed the era; how women were women, comparing the glamour of the time with the American white trash look which presently remains popular. This took me up to my turn....

Stepping out in the spotlight, I still had no idea of which song was due first. Aside from that, my only concern was to remember the lyrics; I couldn’t see a thing out of the stage. It was blinding, I couldn’t even see myself. I needn’t have worried about the audience. My nerves were focused on remembering the lyrics, which I still forgot, I continued on with a remix version and smiled. The shift of nervous focus meant that my singing voice wasn’t a problem at all. I recalled my singing teacher’s voice instructing me to breath. I wouldn’t claim it as the most enjoyable moment of my life, I happen to feel that singing is not good for my waist line. I’d worked up so much nervous energy, by the time the interval came, I munched four bourbon chocolate biscuits, five cheese straws and a fairy cake. But I was satisfied, I was even more satified when I danced with the dashing members of the armed services whilst making money for retired and injured members of the armed forces.

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