When I arrived on Friday I was very nervous about the show, the first time for ages. I didn’t know why. Maybe it was that Gill at the Lace Theatre had told me that only a few tickets had been sold. but I don’t think so.
In 1957 I was also nervous, it was my first job in this city. My Christmas Day here was the worst I’ve ever had, I only had enough money to buy half a tin of baked beans, 10 Park Drive and two shillings for the gas fire. Remembering that on the Friday as I drank beer I tried to be positive about the show.
So in a haze of beer (£2-50 q pint! ) I had a meal in a place called Filthy. The board outside said ‘Hot Dogs like you’ve never tasted before.’
The place was a dark as night. I felt my way to the bar and ordered a beer and their special ‘Hot Dog.’. When it turned up it certainly was ‘ a hot dog like I’d never tasted before.‘ It was enormous and covered with a glutinous white concoction. I finished it and burped all the way to the hotel and slept like a log.
The day of the show arrived. I had a full English breakfast (freshly cooked). Then went out for coffee. Time soon came to the journey to the theatre with my memory stick for the projector man. He told me that it would take about an hour for him to transfer it and get the lighting sorted.
So, of course, I went for a pint. When I eventually went to the Lace Theatre for the show everything was ready. Gill told me that well over twenty people were coming.
They’d laid a platform in front of the audience, my books were out on a table by the side, the screen was was directly behind the platform and the place behind this screen was where I was going to wait. I looked over my words that I was going to deliver, pacing up and down, the cartoon of Mr Benn was playing and I was getting increasingly nervous.
Mr Benn was coming to the end. I stood by the door to the auditorium. The time was getting closer and closer.
I remembered taking Sadie backstage when I was doing a West End play with Maggie Smith. I wanted to show her how tense it was waiting to go on. ‘Now‘ I whispered and went on stage. Later she said. ‘I don’t know what you were worried about. You’ve done it plenty of times before.’
My Nottingham cue came and I was on.
It went well. I made a cock up but pulled myself back on track. After they bought books and drinks for me. I was happy.
Maybe Sadie was right. ‘You’ve done it plenty times before.‘ Women are always right.
NEXT WEEK. My trip to the NEC in Birmingham for signing photos and my attempts to fix a venue in Clacton for the show.