Sonnet 37

I’ve been updating and upgrading my website.  I am hoping it will be ready to launch this month and there will be a blog about it in due course.  The old one has done stalwart service over the last five years, if not more, but it now is really beginning to show its age.  No comments please, I know what you’re thinking.

I decided not to attempt doing it myself again this time.  I know there are all sorts of template DIY website services out there but I really wanted someone who knew what they were doing and so far the chosen firm seems to be coming up with the required goods. 

Part of the process has meant my going through photos and testimonials which could be used for the new site and I re-discovered some things people have written to me which have cheered me up considerably. 

It was similarly with great pleasure that I clicked on a link sent me by my good friend and brother in exile, Greg Chapman. ( Greg is a solo performer, writer and podcaster, creator of ‘Condensed Histories’, a multi-media approach to the analysis of history and the examination of lessons and exempla offered by such an analysis. I meet Greg occasionally as we sojourn across Britain’s showgrounds in search of sustenance. He has been writing and filming a sonnet a day for 52 days in response to the up and coming 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (one for each year of his life) and I was honoured and flattered to read in his link that his latest sonnet 37 was inspired by me and my show.  You can see Greg performing it here:

Here is it in text form:

Like magic the show turned up overnight,
Where there was empty field a theatre stood.
The families gathered round to catch a sight,
To see that man upon the stage of wood.

The music drifted out across the field,
Just like a siren's call it drew us near.
Some people stood, some sat and some more kneeled,
We waited for the showman to appear...

He walked out, and the show he did begin.
And all of his routines performed with grace.
He seemed to feed off of a hundred grins,
For there was one on each and every face.

Who knew from whence it came or where t'would go,
We were just glad to see The Travelling Show.

I also have had a number of letters which gave me that warm fuzzy feeling we all crave so I will copy one of them here. It is from Chris who caught the show at Shrewsbury Flower Show. Like Robert Frost,

“I have a mind myself and recognise
Mind when I meet with it in any guise
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.”

‘Having attended the Flower Show for nearly 30 years, I approached this year's with diminishing zest. Whilst predictability and familiarity bring a certain comfort, they also (to expand the old saying) tend towards the breeding of contempt. It was therefore with the most agreeable surprise that last Friday morning, amidst a cluster of small tents whose temporary residents offered the prospect of miracle shoe-cleaners, miraculous mops and the delights of indefatigable drill-bits, I stumbled across a miniature theatre offering unanticipated entertainment, fronted by inviting mats and cushions:  "Mr Alexander's Travelling Show", no less.

There had been no mention at all of this impending treat in the advance publicity, not even in the "Children's Entertainment" section of the official programme. As an avid (and envious) spectator of countless displays of street theatre, busking and travelling circus performances over the years, I had unfortunately arrived at the point of realising that, as talented they may be in their own special ways, one cannot necessarily be expected as a regular patron to withstand innumerable, identical performances by Messrs Malan & Boon (other regular performers at the Flower Show), even with a year's recovery in between.

And so it was that I joined the audience for the 12.30 & 4.30 shows. Both of Friday's shows were perfect: riveting, at times spell-binding and, above all, entertaining for young and old.  I wondered to myself how many of the audience (probably the younger rather than the older, excluding myself) secretly hoped (whilst knowing that this could not be allowed to happen) that the cocky boy's finger would really be severed and fall into the hat? To see the expression on the face of the little girl contemplating the prospect of picking it up (albeit protected by outsize rubber gloves) was worth the (reduced to £21 for over 60s!) admission price alone!

Thank you for providing such wonderful entertainment.  You may remember me as the man who held the big unicycle steady for you to mount for the finale.  As a sometime wanabee actor, who lacked the ability or nerve to aspire to anything more in the public eye than teaching, but who has always admired the skills of the entertainer, I can proudly add to my "showbiz" CV of bit-parts, which so far reads:

Station Porter - Galsworthy's "Little Man" ( 3rd & 4th form One Act Play, directed by (the) Robert Powell (then a 6th former) 1962

Man balancing on a plank across the back of a "muscle-man" lying on a bed of nails - Pompidou Centre square, Paris 1985

Timekeeper - "World record" attempt to consume apple (whilst juggling with same) - Pete White's "Suitcase Circus", Shrewsbury 2009

...and last, but by no means least....

Man steadying large unicycle - Mr Alexander's Travelling Show, Shrewsbury 2015

Thank you for all the joy you bring and, even if it does not bring you riches, may unending applause be your just reward.’

It is great to read such affidavits, especially when written with creativity and, in the case of Greg’s sonnet, real artistry.

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander
Mr Alexander