The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

It’s BEHIND You!

Oh yes it is…

Oh no it isn’t…

Etc.

I’ve only been to one Pantomime in my life ever and that was in the Nottinghamshire town of Mansfield some three years ago. Staged at the delightful old Palace Theatre, It was a performance of Dick Whittington. I’m not 100% sure about that as my concentration was held for long stretches by Diane Youdale, ‘Jet’ of Gladiators fame for some reason…
It’s perhaps easy to be cynical about panto but I think it’s a venerable old institution that will hopefully go on forever. My one and only visit to the traditional winter entertainment was certainly not without incident either.

I was a willing volunteer, helping take a group of special needs kids for a Christmas outing. Taking our front row (warning…warning) seats we awaited the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint. The cast included Ray Meagher (Home and Away) as King Rat, Diane Youdale, Michael Knowles (It Ain’t Half Hot Mum) and Rik Gaynor as Idle Jack. Michael Knowles looked like he’d been embalmed whilst I’d never heard of Rik Gaynor. I really can’t tell you the high regard I have for Diane Youdale though…

The dance troupe consisted of a group of attractive young girls and two of the nelliest-looking, young boys you ever did see. With bleached blond hair and permagrins, We considered how long those lads would have lasted doing the rounds of Mansfield’s fleshpots on an evening, Mansfield being a pretty down-to-earth former mining town with a straightforward attitude to match. I shudder to imagine that scene.

In the second half of the show, following a slightly bizarre underwater puppet show(!) It seemed that I was not about to leave the Palace Theatre without incident – it was my time to collect the first custard pie of my life…from Idle Jack. As the cast invaded the audience with buckets of water and pies, Jack confronted me. To be fair, he did ask if it was ‘alright’ to pie me? I of course confirmed that this would indeed be alright as I do feel one should collect at least one custard pie during this mortal coil. I was duly splattered with a large pie. No, it didn’t taste good by the way. Have you ever heard children actually roar with laughter? I have. What’s more I didn’t catch any sweeties, just to rub it in. Finally my hearing was beginningto come back after ninety minutes of one particular youngster shrieking in my ear hole throughout the performance, bless the little chap. It was time to dry off, usher the kids to the minibus and away back to reality. Then…I spotted my nemesis… Idle Jack was just heading over the road in a large scruffy raincoat looking like he’d slept rough in Mansfield bus depot all night, his destination the local chippy. I had a small fantasy about following him in there and asking him if it was ‘alright’ to push his chips in his face but it was time to go, thankfully.

I don’t expect to ever better this, my first and only experience of pantomime A most worthwhile outing considering Diane Youdale’s solid thighs in that outfit. Oh yes they were. That Idle Jack had better watch his back though…

December 27, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , | 1 Comment