Moonlight Flits

Sunday January 23rd

At 7.00a.m.I stood in the bathroom – ‘should I stay or should I go?’ After the briefest of washings I decided that the dawn chorus needed me. So I fed the cat and ventured out.

It was still dark.
The birds were just revving up.
By 7.57 the sun was rising, although it wasn’t visible from behind the clouds.
The walk was just what the doctor ordered. As dawn faded and the sun rose my legs moved even though my boots were muddy and heavy.

Home to a pot of Earl grey tea, a baby cucumber, two baby tomatoes, an avocado and a slither of smokey cheese. Resetting my circadian rhythm is harder than I thought. By 2.30 I was slumped on the sofa like an exploded eiderdown, my head nodding like a toy dog on the back shelf of a car. And then, before you could say pass me the ‘Observer’ it was getting dark. So I read the papers, perused the telly box listings and nearly sorted the ironing.

Will he stay or will he go? – the flaccid Johnson.
Will he stay or will he go? – the becumming boy
Will she stay or will she go? – She of the eponymous horror film ‘Carrie’.
Will she stay or will she go? – Nadine Sorry
Should he stay or should he go? – well you know what I think.

But what of the alternatives. Truss is as ineffectual as a weedy prefect and Rishi Sunak reveals what he must have been like at school. A little swat who everybody wanted to bundle although they probably didn’t have bundles at his school – they did at mine. And he’s bagged a multi billionaire as his wife. He certainly is so relatable.

I would prefer that the whole sorry lot of them were to disappear, like last years fashions, all balled up and dumped in the doorway of a charity shop. The disassociation between me and them is so huge that even if we were to sit in our local coffee shop we wouldn’t gel, and I would think nothing of doing a runner and leaving them with the bill; I am no stranger to doing runners, I was a tender footed actress after all.

In 1971 I toured around Germany with the itinerant ‘Ken Campbell’s Roadshow.’ We had tea chests full of props, costumes and a ventriloquists dummy. Ken wanted me to be a ventriloquist, I refused. Years later Nina Conti joined the company and became Nina Conti- we’re going to see her brilliant vent act in March. Ken worked his company hard. He thought nothing of rehearsing me ALL day, as he released a balloon across the stage. I had to say ‘BIZARRE’ as it disappeared into the wings. Over and over and over and over again until I got it right. I don’t think I ever did. But I digress.

There we were staying in a fancy Munich hotel. On a cold Bavarian night Ken gathered us together, a band of unruly artistes, and announced that we didn’t have enough money to pay for the check-out so could we please be ready to do a moonlight flit. He advised me to stand on stage, wearing an old Danny la Rue frock with a deeply revealing décolletage, to flirt with an audience member and blag a bed for the night.
I did as I was told – as The Bells of Marienplatz peeled and the German public descended into the subways of the München Bahn, I locked eyes with an Australian Ukrainian who went by the name of Boris Arcady. I suspect he still does. Boris gave me a bed for the duration of the tour and I gave him, well that’s none of your business. We worked the München clubs and performed on the canals in Frankfurt, it was there I learnt how to ‘bottle’ money from a street audience, put live ferrets down the trousers of Sylvester McCoy and hammer nails up my nose, which put me in good stead, fifty years later, for those pesky lateral flow tests.

Some months later, back to England, I carried on building a career. Then one day, whilst living in Fulham, Sarf London, the front door knocker knocked, it was Boris Arcady who had come-a-knocking. I opened the door and immediately slammed both my mouth and it shut.
What happens on tour stays on tour. I never saw him again.

I was trained in the school of hard knocks. Little money, relying on the generosity of our audiences and a sense of camaraderie where we had each others backs. All for one, one for all, a philosophy which is a far cry from our individualistic leaders.
As Sue Grey prepares her report I can’t imagine what the boy wonder is going to come up with next. Maybe he’ll do a runner- I’d happily pick up the tab.

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