From Betelgeuse

There’s nothing like a long boat trip to allow you time to contemplate. It’s been a while since readers of this blog have heard from me and for that I am very sorry.  I shall attempt to catch up and fill you in about the summer as I sit in the lounge of the ferry back from Guernsey, (the furthest Mr Alexander’s Travelling Show has ever travelled.) 

Guernsey was special.  I wasn’t sure whether I would like it but I did.  Even though I didn’t see much of it – we had a motorbike escort from the Ferry Terminal as the lorry and trailer were longer than Guernsey traffic rules allow and I had to keep my eyes on him for the whole journey to the show ground as the roads are so narrow.  Cars and pedestrians scattered in every direction as we motored through with the motorbike outrider waving everyone aside for us.  What an entrance. I was then on the West Show showground all the time and then was escorted back to the ferry in the same exclusive way.  Odd but fun.

The response to the show was extremely warm and welcoming.  A little reticent to begin (people really don’t know quite how to take me, do they?  It’s as though I’ve just landed from Betelgeuse.  Well actually I have.)

As  time progressed the response warmed  and by the end it was unanimously appreciative. I found a different style of presentation, more physical, dance-orientated somehow. I found my mojo again on Guernsey. Having the wonderful artistry of Martin Orbidans on the keyboards made that happen naturally and I want to explore it more.

I am the luckiest person I know in doing what I do.  I live an extraordinary life and meet up with some great folk on my travels.  Alongside the show in Guernsey were two guys of a similar age to myself.  Each year at the West Show they set up a stall with a theme.  This year was Memorabilia and consisted mostly of  toys from the 1950s and 60s.  I spoke to one of them who was a retired teacher/magician (we’re a rare breed).  He told me he had a box on magic books in his attic and would I be interested in them?  The next day he arrived with Pandora’s box of delights.  About fifty classic vintage magic books.  How happy am I?

The wettest summer I have ever known.  There hasn’t been a single gig or weekend without rain at some point and this has been a challenge to someone who has historically met challenges head on without so much of a flinch. I have flinched a bit this Summer.

The fall from the three chairs at Shrewsbury last year had quite an effect on my confidence. I think this has been another reason for my reticence in writing these chapters.

One year on,  I can happily report that I feel fully recovered.  Physically certainly, although I kept my cuts and bruises secret from everyone, including those close to me. but more significantly mentally as well. 

 Yes I am back doing the three chair balance after saying I wouldn’t.  I have repaired and strengthened the chairs and have Martin standing behind just in case (though I am not sure what he would do if the chair did break again) but having him there makes me feel more confident.

And once again I feel in command of my destiny.  It’s been a challenging time, seeing the seconds tick towards my seventieth birthday and feeling much more challenged by the physical constraints of an older body.  I keep my yoga going and I stopped drinking alcohol (again) a few weeks ago. I was drinking almost every day without really feeling any benefit apart from mild anaesthesia. So I’ve stopped again and I’m going to give it at least until my birthday on which occasion I may have a cautious half and then stop again.  Hmm.

Selecting any event that especially stood out is difficult but Another Fine Fest at Ulverston in June is worthy of special mention.  I had been promised a new awning from a caravan supplier but it failed to show and Friday afternoon, with a dreadful forecast found Martin and I scouring Ulverston for the largest tarpaulin money could buy and several rolls of poly rope and string to hang it over the stage. 

We were all pleased we did.  On a weekend that became the hall mark of the Summer it hardly stopped raining and the awning saved our lives (and the Festival in fact)

The one time it stopped was for the poet Tony Walsh ( whose poem about the light on the Lake District was so moving it forced the sun to shine and the tears to form in everyone’s eyes.  The guy is a genius.  He has a simple and unembroidered Northern style but a way of conjuring images of places and occasions that make people stop and listen.  Just as he spoke of the special quality of the light in the Lake District the sun came out and shone directly on all of us.  It was a most moving magical moment.  There were other similar moments in Ulverston too.  I am hoping to go back next year.  Hopefully it won’t rain though I’m not holding my breath.

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander


David Alexander