Now’t As Funny As A Fart

We woke in our bunk beds courtesy of the Kendal youth hostel looking forward to the day. We were first to meet with the man from the BBC and film a segment for the evening news, before pushing Dolly to the centre of town for an afternoon performance at the Kendal Birdcage, and then our evening show outside the Brewery Arts Centre.

The man from the BBC arrived promptly at 10.30 to film much to my relief. I have had many such interviews in the past with other acts and projects and quite often media types can forget that they are capturing events that are unfolding and will often assume that performers regard a slot on the TV or a feature in their publication as some golden chalice and and swift ladder to bigger and better things.

For me this adventure is already a pinnacle and I regard our success in both achieving the commission from Lakes Alive and our subsequent delivery as importantly as another performer might regard an Oscar our contract to work on some soap opera. The Albert Hall is a fine venue, but no better than our patch of grass to the side of Bardsea Malt Kiln.

Thankfully our BBC man was prompt and fully understanding that aside form our excitement to be filmed and presented on telly, our first commitment was to our project and performance advertised for noon.

I was surprised to find him working alone and in charge of both the interview, camera, direction and sound. More coalition cuts I suspect.

We filmed our travels into the town centre and stopped by the river for interviews and our thoughts on how our adventures with Dolly were unfolding.

Arriving at the Bird cage we were greeted by another camera and interviewer this time for our local Evening Mail press and we set up to perform for both live audience and amassed cameras from the media.

This project was always designed to be delivered in rural locations for communities living nearby in their local and suddenly Dolly and our show felt like any other act you might find working the streets on any given shopping day. Down the years I have been involved with many acts that are big enough to hold hundreds at a time in similar surroundings and plenty of acts fill this kind of space well. For the past 20 odd years I have performed with a troupe of White faced clowns The Pierrotters singing songs and performing sketches to sometimes massive audience and I very much enjoy the sight of a crowd six rows deep stretching their necks to try and catch a glimpse of our show and the buzz from the crowd as we hold them tight from their busses and shopping.

Our humble act and gentle story telling style for me was out of place.

Had this been a weekend our the Mintfest that we are booked to perform at later this season things will have been fine, but a lack of children and the swiftness of the passing punters made it difficult to gather an audience and I felt uncomfortable that our show might be captured out of context and not at it’s best for the viewing cameras. It was after all a normal working and busy day.

That said the rain turned on the streets and for a while we captured a few smiling folk and in the end all was well. We played out our show and trundled back the the Brewery Arts Centre to house our Dolly and blog.

Later we gathered on the lawns outside the theatre and set up for our evening show. The surroundings were much more in keeping and I was relieved to be performing on grass once more. I was very pleased to see so many fresh and familiar faces.

Again we collected people to the show from our afternoon rovings but also new friends from our adventure. Our ballerina was once more present alongside her husband. David and Lisa our hosts from Natland sat in our stalls. A fine bearded gentlemen I remembered from our visit to the college had brought his family. A team of local historians and archaeologist had come along, and our benefactors and partners from the Lakes Alive team including Julie were enjoying a home game.

I was once again concerned for the weather and despite being guests of a multifunctional arts centre due to full houses in all of the is venues we had no wet weather contingency. Hats of to all at the Brewery for filling such large venues on a Wednesday night. The main house was full with people watching a touring opera. The Malt room was sold out with a visiting comedian and the lawns were active with our show.

Us Vagabonds gave a better account of ourselves and the show flowed well. The dark clouds held back the rain and our hat collected £29.18 from the gathered audience of around 35. The afternoon show had yielded and audience of probably 25 on and off and so adding the take of£8.50 we closed our shows in Kendal to the tune of £36.68

We spent a pleasant evening in the bar with with our Headzup colleagues, visiting friends and the LA team and were later joined by the Poet and good friend Ann Wilson who I haven’t seen for a long while and miss very much.

I chatted at length to the historical experts and we talked further about the inland journey of Lambert Simnal after his landings in Piel, and the historical, political and military importance of Piel Island in the past.

I was overjoyed to be told by these experts that my research and writing told the story of Lambert pretty well despite my artistic licence in claiming his army were poisoned by the old Landlord of the island and that they farted the entire way to their defeat at the battle of Stoke.

Later I took a walk along the river and watched the bats flick around the water. They were soon to be joined by a heron and I looked over the dark defective water reflecting myself.

We are now already half way and much as I miss my wife and son, my friends and family in my beloved home town I know that all good things must come to an end and as we prepare to push into the Lakes we are already heading home.

Still in the morning we were to start our day off, our show had gone well and the historians had not piffled at my suggestion of Simnals army guffing off to war. Good news as their is nothing as funny as a fart.


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