A considerable gap in the programme
Well the season has started at last. It’s been too long and too wet a woeful winter and it was great to be out there travelling again, even if it wasn’t particularly sunny. At least it didn’t rain! Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza. It was really lovely to see many of those faces and friends who come out to the ritual of my first shows of the season. Many now treat me as an old friend and that’s exactly how it feels; seeing old friends and catching up with their annual news, their tragedies, their failures and successes. There are always those who come across me for the first time and I have some wonderful praise from new members of the audience as well as those who watch as cognoscenti, re-tasting the same old routines I have been rehearsing, performing and developing over the years. They are revisiting, with me, the old friend that is my show. I can almost tell by the look on people’s faces as I am performing whether they have seen the show before. I always try to look into people’s eyes as I work, but of course I can’t be too intrusive and there are always so many watching and so many to contact and reach.
I was really looking forward to meeting up again with David and Alison who I meet annually at Llandudno and who front and organise the North Wales Ukelele Orchestra, the North Wales George Formby Appreciation Society. I think I wrote about them last year and maybe since. They are a group of ukulele players who specialise in keeping the music of George Formby (1904 – 1961) alive. Now there are those who find Mr Formby’s lyrics a trifle on the risqué side. There’s a lot about him on the internet. Make up your own mind. It is true that almost his entire repertoire was banned by the BBC in its day. Probably feminists would baulk at it, but the orchestra are, or perhaps, rather, were, great reliable professional entertainers.
I say ‘were’ because this year they didn’t show up. Every year previously David and I have chewed the showbusiness cud for half an hour or so as they set up their marquee opposite my stage. We were wont to plan the days, decide show times and talk about this strange profession. By the following morning I was worried. Still no sign of them. No-one had told me they weren’t coming and when the audience started to pitch up, almost every other question to me was “Where are the George Formbys?’
I found out considerably later that they have, apparently, been blighted by illness and recruitment issues (many of them are in their sixties to eighties at least) and they wouldn’t be coming this year. This was a body blow, not just to the Extravaganza who benefitted greatly from their performances but also to me as I now was the only entertainer on Bog Island and this meant I had to work twice as hard, the programme was not as diverse, and therefore people did not spend as much time in the area.
It was a much poorer event as a result of their absence and I really hope they will be back next year. In fact I shall make sure they will be going or may decide not to go myself next year. There have been a number of events courting me for the first May Bank Holiday weekend and maybe it’s time for a change. I could do with a change too in some ways. I love going back to an event time and time again, but there sometimes comes a time when any show is taken for granted, (along with the fee!) so it may be that time. It has happened before at Llandudno; I took a break for a few years and was all the better for it on my return. Financially and Artistically.
But the good news is I’m in Summer Season mode, I have a little loose change in my pocket and everything to play for! I didn't have an alcoholic drink, even though I did meet up with a good pal in Wetherspoons for a chat and a catch up, and a lovely meal with Colin and Alice which they paid for which was VERY nice. I discovered a new routine which had been gestating in my subconscious and now has been born - a tribute to Tommy Cooper, not an imitation or parody of him though, that would be wrong. I will need to acquire a fez.
All the best from a road near you,