The girls are quietly attentive throughout and some at least seem to have learnt things they had no idea of 75 minutes earlier. Scott, the 19 year-old IT wizard at the school, who had however never run a theatre show before ( will he be up to it? I ask Louise) , operates the sound with just one hour’s practice as if he’s being doing it for thirty years. A cool head or what? He vanishes afterwards, seemingly into thin air, and Louise helps me clear up – the rest of the school now eerily empty. She lets me and my van through the school gates, then waves me off into the sunset.
And WHAT a sunset as I head north-west to Lancaster. A vast sky full of pink and gold and cerise stretched out before me like a canvas by Monet.
As I leave ‘God’s own country’, I ponder on my next venue.
I have been very worried about bookings at Lancaster’s Gregson Arts and Community Centre. Bookings? What bookings? Not a single one when I checked a few days ago.
My hosts Andy and Niki ( who last put me up 30 years ago, and who I’ve seen maybe twice since) try to reassure me… ‘They’ll turn up on the door on the night. You will have an audience.’ Hmm. We shall see. I decide not to tell Andy, whose idea it was that I came all this way to perform here, that I was a hair’s breadth away from cancelling when I saw that there had been no bookings. I won’t spin out this tale any longer. Two words will suffice.
Graeme Bond, venue director for 25 years, and now bowing out, this being his last show, is pleased as punch.I have never before been hugged by a venue director in front of an audience while the applause is still going. A huge warm bear hug.
Andy and Niki were right of course. I should have trusted them. But when you have no Arts Council grant to cushion you, the sight of a zero on the bookings website one week before a performance is enough to quail the strongest of hearts.
At breakfast the next morning I do tell Andy about my nearly cancelling. He says nothing, just smiles as he flips a second perfectly fried egg on to my plate.