Morose I sat, on the bus to the wastelands. Outside the window, a gentle shower of snow was forming a grimy sludge by the roadside.
It was Friday. In less than a fortnight the days will be getting longer again.
Suddenly my interest was piqued. Who were these three individuals boarding my bus? I didn’t recognise them – and I tend to know the regulars on this journey. They seemed fairly ordinary looking, but had a little extra panache that is unusual around these here parts.
I spotted the gay guy immediately. One ought not to deal in stereotypes I know. Stereotypes don’t exist in a vacuum however. They tend to have some basis – however tenuous – in reality. It was the way he had styled his hair, and the way he carried himself. He looked fairly subdued this morning, but I suspect that the tips of his fringe have enjoyed a frosted, platinum finish on a night out, to some speakeasy, in the past. I suspect that he may even have been inspired at some point – by Kylie Minogue – to wear a pair of hot-pants to the discotheque. The way he flounced down the bus to his position, like it was a Parisian catwalk, raised my spirits. A touch of fabulousness on a grim winter’s morning never goes amiss.
He was followed by a bearded gentleman – the straight guy; and a slender woman with a zany bobble hat. I only had a fleeting glance at them – it’s rude to stare after all. All three seemed quite personable.
The bus departed. I closed my eyes and feigned sleep. I find that this is the most efficient way to eavesdrop.
Listening to their talk it was clear that these three people are involved in a show of some kind.
How pleasing I thought to myself. I have a big respect for people who do a day’s work at the coalface of office administration, before heading to the theatre in the evening to work as crew on a show (for example on Firedoor Theatre’s play ‘The Lover’s Guide to Losing your Mind’ in the Teachers’ Club tonight and tomorrow at 8pm – get your tickets HERE).
For a moment I felt a sense of camaraderie with this new crew. We, amateur showbiz types are a special masochistic breed. However I soon realised that I was mistaken. They clearly were not involved in some no-budget, profit sharing event. They were involved in a touring production of some kind. The kind that has an actual budget, and where everyone working on it gets paid. The towns of Drogheda, Wexford and Killarney were mentioned as locations. The problem of getting from Wexford to Killarney was discussed.
Considering the time of year it is, meant it could only mean one thing. They were in the cast and crew of some nationwide touring panto.
I was thrilled. I have a tawdry love for tacky showbusiness. Reality TV is in my mind a form of high art. End of the pier, cheesy comedians warm my heart. I have dreams of one day being the male lead in a show called ‘Linda Martin On Ice’. Pantomime is the pinnacle of this segment of the entertainment industry – tacky, glitzy, schmaltzy, cheesy, sparkly, and shallow. I leaned in closer to get a better listening position. My eyes remained closed. My mouth lolled open slightly. I looked fast asleep.
Other issues raised by the trio were the possibility that a matinee might be cancelled if ticket sales were low. The woman voiced this concern, as it could affect her pay. She was obviously a performer. I think (based on my eavesdropping) that it depends on whether she is on a per show contract, or her contract is for the run. The latter would be better, but if her contract is for the former, and she turns up ready to perform by call-time (about one hour before the start on this production) then she should still get paid, regardless of whether the matinee goes ahead or not.
The bearded gentleman did most of the talking. He seemed to harbour feelings for the woman, such was the slightly boastful, bashful manner in which he spoke. His vast experience in the business of show was referenced with quiet pride every so often. The gay guy was fairly silent only occasionally throwing in an opinion. In my mind he was inwardly singing that Randy Crawford song: ‘One day I’ll fly away, leave all this to yesterday.’ I looked around the bus to the wastelands, and realised that I was projecting my own desires onto this innocent gentleman. He was probably thinking about his breakfast.
I discovered that they would all have a night off on New Year’s Eve. She was planning go to watch the fireworks at Christchurch with her family. I don’t know what the boys would be doing.
Beardy boy had been in the studio yesterday doing some work on the soundtrack. The song ‘Hello’ by Lionel Richie will be featured in this mysterious show. He had added an extra chord to their pre-recorded rendition to beef it up. He is also feeling slightly out of shape. The woman encouraged him to attend the cast warm-up, thirty minutes before each show. That will get him in shape she told him. Although perhaps she also has feelings for him. And this would be a convenient way of spending some time together? I hope the gay guy is involved in a torrid affair with the millionaire producer of the show. It only seems fair.
When I arrived at work, I put on my Jessica Fletcher hat (i.e. I opened the Google website).
This terrific trio, who kept me entertained on the way to work this morning seem to be involved in the touring national panto of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I imagine they were on their way to the rehearsal studio, which I discovered is located a few stops further along my bus route.
Their show opens in Drogheda on Friday 15th December and finishes in Killarney on Saturday 6th January.
I am vaguely tempted.