Mumbles lobbed into M/Claire land. It was a kind of Late ECO/ early Mother Earth kiddie…loads of hay bales, p.c. Tractor tyres, bunches of sweet smelling plants, peace be with you exhortations and the tea was as herbal as herbal could be. Mumbles had been here the first time around. Never mind.
She gave Mumbles the once over. Seemed impressed. It was rather like an Elysian nymphette gazing at Mount Rushmore. She moved quickly on. ‘Do you need this, that or the other? No?’
‘OK. You do your stuff after the interval. Be half as good as when I heard you and you will slay this lot …don’t screw it up.’ Mumbles gave her the old Clint Eastwood lantern jawed green -eyed gaze… She backed off.
The first few sets gave Mumbles one over-riding feeling… that of calm confidence.
They were OK, but listening to them was rather like wading through freshly laid concrete, which slowly begins to set. Tofu and nuts and raw veg. followed.
An almighty chord on the big guitar announced the new kid on the block. He roared straight into ‘The Fair Dinkum Drongo’ Unexpurgated. Boy, did he pin their ears back.
Mumbles, totally given to his work, did not spot Paul who had slipped in at the back.
The bit about Banjo mistaking a Tassie Devil for a domestic cat and tickling the same had the audience begging for more. Howls of delight. He finished off with some sublime cadenza – like improvisations of all that had gone before… twisting, turning, and, 20 minutes later, resolved on a D major chord that produced a wondrous stunned silence.
The applause was deafening. Encore? You bet.
Paul wanted to catch the last episode of ‘The Stirling Moss story’ so set off, but he WAS impressed.
Mumbles, knackered, left soon after. His progress was slowed by a collision with a mountain of marshmallows. ‘God,’ the marshmallows whispered in unison as their grip became vice-like, ‘you were sensational!!’ Holy ****! It was Mrs. Crusher!! She read Mumbles mind.
‘Stay loose’, she said, He is off on a tractor tyre throwing competition… me tent is bigger than yours, fancy a nightcap?’
Paul bought Mumbles up to speed on his visitor and her proposal. Mumbles hesitated. ‘I know you have a terrific DVD lined up tonight… I think it was the history of in the shock absorber, but the idea of a paying gig sounds good… not to mention little Marie whatsit… I’ll get togged up and pop down to see her. She sounds a hell of a lot prettier than you.’
Paul twitched a bit. Old Mumbles was ok but not mentally terribly agile. Tended to speak first and get whacked later. There were ominous sounds coming from his tent. No, not booze, more the rustling of a profound costume change. Later, Paul looked up from his ‘Michelin Moments’ mag to be greeted by an incredible metamorphosis. OK, it could have been an oven- ready Crocodile Dundee, but this sight was impressive nonetheless.
Paul had seen the hard bitten cow hands in West Texas and West Queensland. The sweat stained hat, flayed jeans, filigree decorated boots (plus Spurs) leather jacket and a belt that would hold up Santa’s pants ….AND the guitar AND …he smelled so sweet!
‘Right,’ said Mumbles, ‘ready to roll.’
Paul was enjoying a cold beer from his well- stocked fridge. ‘Fancy a beer before you go?, he suggested. The look on Mumbles face was one of utter incredulity. ‘A BEER?’!
‘That stuff or any kind of stuff is a big no-no! Kiss of death. I have to work. Give all that rubbish the flick. Got any filtered water?’ Paul’s mouth opened and shut like a goldfish on speed. You learn something every day, he mused.
‘I’ll see you down there’, said Paul, I think Drop Dead Darling wants you to strut your stuff on the second half …’I hope she won’t be disappointed.’
‘Not bloody likely’, came the confident reply.
Paul has a visitor
Qualifying session full on. No quarter given. Live speeds 10 times what you get on TV. Noise sublime. Paul foraged for a mocha for Mumbles. Nectar. Teensy tribulations forgotten. Paul’s tactical expertise was invaluable, sometimes Mumbles could easily cope with being treated as a chop short of the barbie.
About mid afternoon they returned to tent land. Mumbles felt a zzzzz coming on, Paul suddenly got domesticated…..
Later. Paul was running the Dyson over his shag pile carpet, closely following the printed track of the Monaco street circuit. This was cleverly woven into the fabric.
Was that somebody calling to him? Turned off the Dyson, chucked his Fangio apron behind the Aspidistra and looked outside. This wasn’t any old somebody, this was a Drop Dead Darling and no mistake. ‘Hi’, she trilled, coming from a countenance that would launch a thousand battle cruisers. ‘Sorry to trouble you, my name is Marie Claire.
I came by this morning and heard some fab singing. I mean FAB. Who was this guy who did that old Tassie Classic, you know the one, ‘Banjo Barry, the bastard from the bush.’ … This was a revelation. He must be Tasmanian. Her doe- like eyes widened. ‘Was it you?’ Paul a bit thrown by this. ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘He’s a friend of mine’.
As he said that, he spotted an empty Islay single malt bottle poking out of the bottom of Mumbles tent. What happens if our boy emerged from his boudoir and tripped over the guy ropes yet AGAIN? Little Darling pressed on. ‘Look, I run the Frisco Folk Club down by the Eateries. We are doing our last gig tonight and my top of the bill have got a better offer. Can you friend help us out? What’s his name, by the way. Paul hesitated. He dumped the Mumbles. ‘Mojo Makepiece, Mojo for short. He is doing a bit of choir practice at the moment for tomorrow’s church service. Shall I send him down to you?’
‘PLEASE DO,’ she pleaded, ‘I would so love to meet him.’
The sweet smell of Givenchy wafted through the air as she headed off. ‘We will pay him’, she called back.
Paul finished the dusting, re- arranged the flowers, and settled down to read ‘The Complete Technical Guide to the maintenance of the F 1 gearbox’. Great stuff!
Next: Mumbles meets MC!
Mumbles’ mojo seemed to be working. Weary after a day’s racing he contemplated a good nights sleep in his ‘got you figured out’ cocoon.
And thus it proved. Almost. About seven in the morning, still pretty dark in the tent, he decided to investigate some small object that had been digging into his back. What the hell was it?
Now a tentophile of considerable organisational skills, he reached for his specs that he had hung on a ceiling hook. He grabbed handfuls of air. Strange. So he looked again at the object. A LENS. Terrific. Where was the rest of his eye-wear? Under the air bed! They now looked like mangled costume jewellery or those evil wire sculptures one sees in open studio exhibitions. Couldn’t see a bloody thing without them. A job for Paul.
Paul had three great skills. He was deeply intuitive, did not stand on ceremony and was not patronising …usually.
‘Alright, what have you done now?’ (He could also be long suffering and non- judgmental at the same time.) He studied the evidence.
‘Did you leave these in the pit lane?’ Convulsed at his own wit, his shoulders shook.
He then glided to the boot of his car, snapped it open and produced on of those Mega telescopic tool boxes, about 2 metres high at full stretch. Socket spinners, ring spanners, adjustable….and on and on and on. With this kit he could do anything from changing a gearbox to a hysterectomy. Mumbles hovered. Paul decisive.
‘Look sweetie,’ said Paul, ‘why don’t you go and sit over there, put on your ‘howdy folks, I’m aimin to sing’ hat, get out your guitar and the rest of your microwave stash and stay really loose?’ That came to pass. Mumbles drifted Into his world, Paul stayed four square in his. Later…..
Mumbles hit the final chord on his Tassie Troubadour set and felt good. He then glanced down and saw his re-built specs. ‘No problem’, said Paul ‘thank God I had some 5 amp fuse wire.’ While I was about it, he went on, I changed the brake pads and a wheel bearing on our limo. A CVJ looked dodgy but will get us home. My welding kit is giving me grief’ Mumbles had no grasp of this language whatsoever.
‘Qualifying starts soon, let’s go.’ Said Paul. ‘Don’t forget your specs.’
Episode 8: Paul has a visitor.
Meanwhile, still back at the theatre, painting scenery continued. By now I was familiar with the whole set-up . In a long narrow-ish studio, the huge back- cloths were attached to stout wooden stretchers. A gap between the floor and the wall, (together with the aid of an electric motor), meant they could be raised and lowered as and when. Painting the flats and other props was very straightforward.
If one imagines about 200 ice-cream cartons filled with every tint, tone and high colour imaginable, the whole approximating the range of a High street DIY paint retailer, then they were occupying a central table. They were maintained, in exemplary fashion by Steve, the splodger… hardly a flash job description. All water-based, of course. …the colours, not Steve.
Work proceeded well on the Viennese hell. Endless drop shadows, highlights, reflected lights, marbling, wood graining, cast shadows, all the usual old tricks of trompe l’oeil orthodoxy cascaded down. Rather similar to sucking boiled sweets.
BUT WAIT. I was admiring the job I had done on some alcove encased temptress and then became aware of a fellow admirer. A delicious exchange followed.
‘Look’, said our leader, ‘um…hmmmm…this is rather good….ummm ..’
He glanced at his watch…’could you do a few more?’ I glanced at his efforts. Rather me do them than him, I thought.
‘No problem , I said, you go and have a rinse or 3 with your mates and leave the alcoves and little darlings to me.’
Not a lot was said, but it was hugely significant.
Theatre mythology is also huge; Quasimodo, phantoms, ghosts, creaking woodwork, strange meanings, wobbly stairs, all of that.
I usually arrived first in the morning to get the studio opened up.
Up the creaking stairs. I grabbed the handle of the ancient door. Resistance. Push then came to shove.
The door opened a bit to reveal a pair of shoes stuck underneath.
Why the hell would somebody?….. A closer look. There were legs in those shoes.
According to the coroner, the death must have been agonising. Huddled in the foetal position, Steve had tried several exit stratagems, but lethal photographic chemicals had been most effective, at God knows what agony.
To complete the theatrical… because of rigor mortis and the narrowness of the stairwell, his body had to be put in a sling and lowered down on a rope.
One reflected upon previous conversations with Steve, but there was no indication of what he was thinking. More entry into the world.
The campground was bedecked with recognition flags, a sort of pre-dawn Agincourt.
Mumbles took careful note of the nearest markers as this trip was now attended by some urgency. After an eternity he spotted 2×200 metre queues in the distance.
‘Early birds for the racetrack’, he thought. Quick re-think. Why are they all carrying wash bags and towels? He pressed the distraction therapy button as he joined the queue.
The woman in front made Rubens’ females look anorexic. Boy, was she a bonny baby.
He gazed down at her equally huge washing-up bowl. Hmmm… muesli, porridge, full English, toast, muffins, marmalade, tea, coffee, milkshakes and loads more. Lucky them. They chatted.
During the course of this, Mumbles remembered that his dwelling was described as a two person tent. He fancy – flew again. What would happen if he and mega- cuddles got a bit pally and decided to have a coming together? His little tent would become a geodesic dome or a kind of vast jelly mould which bounced around quite a lot. Such was his amusement at this image he laughed out loud. ‘Sorry, hay fever’, he explained to his concerned new best friend.
What also hastened the departure of his amusement was the awareness of a look- alike Sumo wrestler beside him. Said wrestler’s tattoo display would rival that of any Maori chief.
His bling bracelets and bangles was topped off with a little diamond skull which held his pony tail in place. ‘Meet Crusher’, said cuddles, ‘a gentle giant’.
The amenities block turned out to be a model of efficiency. Staffed entirely by non- Brexit people , it was in a constant cleansing mode. Marshals directed traffic and wash- bag wounding non existent. Refreshed and relieved, Mumbles began the long journey home.
And then he heard it, them,….a load of 600 Hp engines splitting the morning air…
Mumbles head filled with keen anticipation… up to his point, a truly endangered species.
Episode 6. Breakfast at Paul’s,..racing!!!!