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?’
Letter from a Wimbledon Wildcard
Letter from a Wimbledon Wildcard
The snide remarks about my sad tennis footwear got to me. Even a whip-round was suggested to deal with this. I would fix.
Whilst playing this wonderful game, I often ruminated on the very close and frequent Schoenberg/ Gershwin tennis matches. I imagined their tennis styles would mirror that of their wonderfully disparate musical genres. Schoenberg would be full of cool, perfectly calculated and cerebral ground strokes, not much spin, Gershwin loads of flourishes, rich slicing and topspin and theatrical volleying. How delightful.
Anyway …thinks, I must support the local High Street, none of this online stuff, as a way of getting my footwear. Putting on my old shoes (in the porch), an hour or so passed before I got to the shoe shop, this involved driving, visits to the Supermarket, and about a kilometre uphill stroll.
Shoes were produced, tried one on, and the sales assistant said I should do both feet. Really? I took of my left shoe. The salesman recoiled in a state of utter incredulity.
Verrucas? Smelly socks? NO! He had seen a bloody great toad right in the middle of that shoe.
Toad was very alive and very well and, one wonders, looking at him, do toads ever become the exact embodiment of being pissed off?
Was he ever!
The assistant became unglued. If I had said ‘look, if you can spare a box of tennis balls and a shirt or two, as a freebie, I will sort this problem and get the hell out of here,’ I bet he would have gone for that deal.
Cooler heads prevailed. ‘Leave him where he is’, I suggested. I will wear my new shoes home, and he can go in the bag in his shoe.
The following morning, our neighbour wondered why on earth there was an old empty tennis shoe planted in the middle of our garden.
They still remember it in the town.
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!
When he awoke from a troubled nights sleep, our man did not feel like breakfasting on another dollop of ‘beyond aesthetics’. Instead, he noticed that several shorter pieces had been appended to this magnum opus ….in effect, slighter ruminations of Artspeak.
These pieces were dignified by their brevity, if not their gravitas or syntax.
He started on this little gem. ‘The significance of an ordinary item…. an inventive and unusual exploration of the cultural history of the button with all it’s metaphorical and lexical suggestiveness’….(true!) or… ‘In a process of palimpsest, the work evolved or was reused or altered but potentially still bore visible traces of its earlier form…. the result is a body of work that reflects themes of female identity, diversity and transition. (Gosh!). or ‘What follows is: impossibility to believe in discussion for imagery…..#towards aphasia, towards immobility, for a progressive identification of consciousness and praxis….
Was our man developing a morbid fascination with this tosh? Rather like watching kitsch soap operas when nobody was around? He was armed with acres of this twaddle that would make the winter nights fly by.
Nights! Nights! His dream hurtled back.
He had invented an ABM machine! (An Art Bollocks Machine) and it had made him a fortune. The punter simply keyed in the show he or she was doing. As a demo he chose a show called ‘An anthology of socks full of cold porridge’ (international of course.) This opened more bollocks doors than a French farce. He asked for 3x A4 pages, double spaced, paid his money, and Bingo! The machine chuntered out the result. Terrific stuff!
This market was huge. Think of anything, as is now academic, call it art, and good old
ABM would do the business. It did a fabulous job on ‘German battle cruisers and the suspender belt’. An international touring show, people now speak of little else.
He had a rude awakening. A one- legged seagull had befriended him and was demanding some breakfast. The bird seemed quite keen on snacking on the recently arrived paperwork. He pecked at it. Wanted more. Was it edible?
Let’s find out in the final episode…
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.
Life in the theatre took a new turn. I was approached by the stage manager who sounded me out about working the follow spotlights during the next series of evening productions.
Why not? the dosh would come in handy.
These lights were based on a simple principle. They consisted of two carbon rods (about 2cm diameter) which were aligned at an angle of about 45 degrees. The high voltage electrical current flowing between them produced a crater in the lower carbon,
which in turn was the source of a brilliant light. This light could go from a ‘pin spot’ to a full flood, depending on the lens control. The carbons had to be ‘fed’ as the burning continued , one praying all the while that the top carbon did not come loose and land in the bottom of the lamp holder. All of this was conducted under ferocious temperatures, you could fry an egg on the lamp case, or roast a finger or two.
The whole caboodle was mounted on gimbals, so the beam could be directed wherever one wished, at whatever size. So far, so good . Two ‘operators’ were needed to cover the whole stage. This background info. makes sense of the following proceedings.
The opening evening of Swan Lake was upon us. I already had
several shows under my belt, so to speak, so I was ready for this. My colleague for the evening was Roland. This dear fellow was a ‘chocoholic’ an addiction to this confection going back for years. At any point during the day his Mae West boiler suit contained up to 10kg of assorted chocolates. This soporific substance, I discovered, has no equal.
He was an electrician and his colleagues feared for his life when he seemed to be drifting off atop a 10 metre ladder re-wiring the spot bars.
Finally, we we both had headphones to get our orders.
Swan lake proceedings got underway with a total blackout. The orchestra concluded the overture and I got my first instruction from the director.
‘With the smallest of pin-spots, pick up the male dancer emerging from the wings on the prompt side of the stage’ Fine. Done. Ditto to Roland to pick up the female lead on the other side. NOT SO FINE. At this precise point Roland fell asleep. In so doing, he relaxed his grip on the lamp. The pin-spot, getting bigger, then drifted up to the proscenium arch, up and up until it came to rest on the theatre ceiling.
By now the stage director was apoplectic. His screams could be heard in the back rows of the gods. Roland came to. Desperately, he tried to put things right. The band played on…..Until the conductors desk and those of the first violins were illuminated by a thousand watt spotlight as Roland valiantly tried to find the stage.
As is (or was) the case in music based theatre, the actors or dancers will sometimes follow the music to gauge their arrival. In this case the entrance of the corps de ballet took place in total darkness, as they spilled, literally, on to the stage. One wonders what the collective noun is for a tangled heap of swans. I still had the male lead in a pin-spot, his facial incredulity was the only thing to be seen in the whole theatre.
The stage managers voice rose equally in volume and pitch. Then, a top C and a deafening silence.
I got home early that night.
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!!!!