Lazing On a Drizzly Afternoon

Thursday 12th May

Once more rising from the comfort of my bottom bunk I awoke late and ready to enjoy a well deserved day off.

Having showered I dressed in jeans and a t shirt I had bought in a local shop and got ready to leave. Walking down the high street of Kendal towards the cafe I felt rather ordinary separated from my showman costume our Dolly and Lord Gregg and so slipped into a cafe for a breakfast and coffee to idle some time.

The cafe soon filled up as the rain fell and I left to explore the town.

Our takes have been down of late and as such my cash-flow is dwindling. I’m keen to fulfil this ambition to survive solely on the generosity of our audience but I do have a credit card for emergencies and I can unload cash from the wall if need be.

Thankfully the real world of mortgages, bills and bank balance are covered by the projects budgets for fees, but a day off will not bring any busking money to continue living the Wilkinson way and as such I must be careful.

It won’t be long before we are showing again and hopefully heavy with coins once more.

I strolled along the riverside then back into town. Interestingly I came across a small wooden fronted shop offering fortune telling and I ventured inside to Investigate. Fortune tellers like showmen have always had a place at fairgrounds, festivals and roadsides so I was keen for us two to meet. The small shop was quite full and I slipped my head past the curtain to ask how much it might be for a reading. It was more than i was worth. Had us Vagabonds been together we might have exchanged a performance in return for a peep into our future adventures or indeed hazards but the hat not brimming i slipped out to face the future unenlightened.

I made back to the busy Brewery Arts Centre to drink tea and hitch the WiFi via Lord Gregg’s iPad. Inside were two street artists I know from various dressing rooms and we spent an hour catching up and sharing news of our past and future seasons. AJ a renowned and skilled circus performer was visiting Cumbria performing his one man show and Betty Brawn The Worlds Strongest woman was just back from touring her homeland of Australia. Good company indeed.

An actress of some obvious note but unfamiliar to me was being interviewed by a journalist for a Sunday supplement and the comfortable leather sofas were teaming with local artists meeting and planning projects, mixed with young mothers and babies relaxing in the warm surroundings.

Kendal is very lucky to have such a thriving arts scene. The Brewery itself has been a joy to be centred in for the last few days. Yesterday the artistic director of the venue apologised for having to miss our performance due to a prior engagement but promised to catch our show later in the run, and even though the centre was full to capacity in both venues last night we were still offered a place to perform in the lobby should the rain have fallen on our performance.

The entire team have looked after us showman and our Dolly very well during our stay and the Brewery alongside the Lakes Alive team being resident in town means that culture is very much alive and well.

Many people contacted to say how well we had come across on the television last night and elevated my concerns that our show might have looked out of place to the viewing millions as we were captured on the streets rather than a sunlit village greens that our show is designed for. Obviously the one man BBC crew who both filmed directed and subsequently edited our slot had a keen eye and skill in capturing the essence of our performance for viewing on the box. All the more incredible as he managed to capture most of the sequence whilst walking backwards at a good rate of step interviewing us as he went.

The media have been incredibly supportive of our journey along the way, as have our audiences, investors and despite the odd downpour even the weather.

As I rest back on a day off I realise that I would much rather be shunting Dolly and performing alongside Lord Gregg than sitting waiting to do so.

The life of a showman regularly keeps me away and always has. I’m very happy in my own company but sitting with no show to perform waiting makes me miss my wife and son and  leaves me home sick, even more so today as it’s my Alfie’s 5th birthday tomorrow and for the first time I’ll miss him as he excitedly opens his presents. However I see no point in dwelling on it as it only makes you more upset. In another life I am stage manager and as such i have a practical outlook to most things even the personal. So with that hat on I hope the day off ends quickly and I can get back to business.

Tomorrow brings a shunt and another performance this time at Stavely in the beer garden of the Eagle and Child at 6.30 and hopefully an evening with George and our Alfie for his birthday celebrations.

Now. What can a bloke do in Kendal with his remaining fiver?

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