My seventieth year begins…
It’s not my seventieth as a performer although I think in my very early years I discovered the calling. My debut leading role in the Sunday School drama ‘Little Tuck’s Dream’ (I was little Tuck and five years old) propelled me into a life of loving the ring of laughter and applause. So I guess I can claim this is my sixty-fifth season in my seventieth year.
But that’s enough of that. The season has started and I am writing this in the lorry at the Hereford Steampunk Festival in the intriguing and historic Hereford Waterworks Museum. And a cold, blustery and wet start it was with a thus-far unnamed Storm disrupting set up day and a very difficult access problem, eventually solved by a friendly woman with a tow bar who was able to hook up the trailer and we manhandled it into the right space so the real business could start.
The Hereford Steampunk Festival is a noble affair supported by the great and good of the Steampunk world. I love all things Steampunk. The people are warm-hearted, eccentric, imaginative folk who have found a niche in this meeting of all things quirky Victorian with Jules Verne science fiction, and a touch of Philip Pullman for good measure. I hope I don’t sound patronising. I don’t mean to be. A fabulous melange and some superb costumes, concepts and contraptions. Last night I co-hosted an evening of such performance with my good friend and steampunk entertainer Greg Chapman and a superb, if sadly under-supported event it was. The forty or so steampunk souls were rather swallowed in the cavernous and impressive Hereford Shire Hall, but it made no difference to the power, creative energy and genius of those performing on the programme. The soiree was a rip-roaring success, topped by a solo performer whose extraordinary talent, musical virtuosity, raw energy and profound observation of humankind took us away from our daily struggles and strife. Captain of the Lost Waves. Google him, Youtube him but best of all go to a live event where he performs. When I first saw him, whatever I was expecting from this diminutive, top-hatted soloist rapidly vaporised as his energy, musicality and genius emerged. He worked the tiny crowd and by the end we all danced with him, accompanied him to this other world seduced by wry perception, superb tunes and rhythms and sheer exuberance for life.
It is by witnessing such talent that makes me understand, yet again, why I am in this business. And although the aging coil aches in places where it used to play, I find I can still amuse with all the strange antics in my repertoire so I shall carry on. I have told friends and family, and I tell you all here, that I shall give it all another five years before taking some time to contemplate the following five. At this time of life, contemplating eras in bunches of five years seems sensible and profoundly pragmatic. Not that I’m known for my sensible nature. Although I said I wouldn’t, I have resurrected the three chair balance and it is there, beckoning with a strange somewhat macabre look on its face…
I also have a new dance. Inspired by the fabulous and nostalgic film Stan and Ollie, I have found a choreographer prepared to stifle her sniggers and teach me a few moves. Set to Maff Potts’ short, sweet celebration of his son Herbie’s birth, it finishes off the third show of the day. I would welcome your critique of it. Anyway I love dancing it so I hope that comes over even if I will not be winning Strictly with it.
And some new close up magic and last, but by no means least, the addition of Martin Orbidans and live music to accompany the show. Persuaded back from early retirement in faraway exotic Eastern lands, Martin brings his amazing musical virtuosity to the show this summer. I look forward to my seventieth year and sixty-fifth season with enormous pleasure and anticipation and look forward to seeing you somewhere during it.
All the best from a road near you,