A strange month and usually a difficult one for me.  But not quite so bad this year.  I’ve been so busy with all the diverse and challenging aspects of my life that I haven’t had the time to get low. Ted Hughes’ black dog of depression has been wandering around the lorry in the middle of the night but I haven’t paid it much attention.  It’s certainly been cold enough.  The frost has been shivering through the thin roof so by 3.00 am I’ve had to brave it most nights and light a fire before snuggling back into bed with the dogs and enjoy the slow process of the heat allowing me to go back to sleep. If you’ve been half expecting the next chapter of my childhood story I’ve not felt quite up to that one yet. Maybe next time. Life is a lot easier than this time last year and I’ve always believed that if I can survive until the start of the Six Nations then there’s a chance I’ll make it through the following two or three months.  And what a great start that was. There’s even light in the evening sky at five o’clock and I don’t need the torch any more on the seven-thirty am walk with the dogs. And of course now I’m a pensioner I receive the wonderful monthly payments as a reward for all those years of contributions.  Fingers crossed I will manage through till May.

The DVD has been progressing well, the design for the insert is almost finished and next week I’m shooting the last few sequences and voiceovers.  The music is all recorded, including a new piece which will be the background for the section about the dogs.  I’ve almost finished the planning for the launch event/world premiere of the documentary at Wallingford Corn Exchange Theatre (www.cornexchange.co.uk) on April 25th and I’ve been planning and practising some new magic elements for it.  It should be a good night with the world premiere of Rhys Edwards’ documentary and Maff Potts playing live with Mr Alexander’s Ragtime Band.

Weekdays are really full with work for Cat’s Paw Theatre.  Last week we hit the Wrexham leg of the tour, with one or two very difficult schools.  One on special measures which was a tough challenge in both two-hour presentations.  I’m right at the centre of the piece and had to use all my experience to keep the little darlings on the topic.  The hall was very cold and noisy fan heaters made the creation of a theatre atmosphere all but impossible.  Interruptions by school staff coming and going made it difficult for the young people to focus on the subject. The result is that at the end of the day I felt totally wiped out. What with all the same challenges that everyone has; coming back to a cold place, tidying up, chopping logs, lighting a fire, changing out of costume (shirt and tie and smart trousers) and thinking about something to eat, I was beginning to go down.

Then yesterday was one of the Rhyl High Schools.  It turned out it was the same school that had been attended by a celebrity who had been accused and found guilty of rape a few years ago and has been recently released from prison, still publicly claiming his innocence.  The school had several of his relatives still there and therefore the topic was very current.  The discussions were animated and much of the information we gave was entirely relevant to their views on the case.  Afterwards the teachers gave us very positive feedback and said they would be writing to the Welsh Government agency that funds us to say how useful, valuable and important the presentation is.  It’s those moments that make me realise how lucky I am to be part of such vital work.  Despite the cold halls, the noisy fan heaters and the interruptions by all sorts of things, this feedback makes me feel positive and valuable again.

Sod off, black dog.

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

Mr Alexander