Archive for the ‘Tingeys go to the Fringe’ Category

Check out a pic of Inez (Billy) in the International Business Times .  Wooo!  This means that lugging that coffin around the streets was worth it in the end!

The funniest thing happened. Nine of my relatives came to the last performance.  They all have the same surname, (also Gwanny’s maiden name):  Stiven.  There is a line in the show when Jem is chucked into the Deadhouse with all the dead bodies and shouts, ‘YOU CAN’T LEAVE US IN ‘ERE WITH ALL THE STIFF’UNS!’  My cousins all heard ‘YOU CAN’T LEAVE US IN ‘ERE WITH ALL THE STIVENS!’  and thought we must have planned some  jape on them.   There are several other not-very-polite mentions of the ‘stiff’uns’ and each time there were big guffaws from the clan.  We really had no clue why people were laughing at such inappropriate places and just thought that weekend audiences must be a bit more bonkers than Monday-Friday ones, until my cousin Davy-lad told us they were a bit offended about all the Stiven jokes and how they were going to do a musical next year taking the piss out of the Tingeys!

We thanked our lovely team at SPACE venues with two crates of beer, as they were absolutely brilliant and very patient with us, considering the size of our cast and props list.

Here are some pics from the last couple of days.  Megan, as well as being on keyboards, had several parts one of which was a very scary sewer rat:

Our Fabulous Rat

Our Fabulous Rat

This is the musicians jamming on the street:



Here’s our picnic up Arthur’s Seat.  God knows where all the food is.  I think we had eaten it by then.

Picnic up Arthur's Seat

Picnic up Arthur’s Seat

Here are the final bows after Saturday’s sell-out performance:

Last Bows

Last Bows

And here is our goodbye final picture of the cast in their Edinburgh Jammy Dodgers Hoodies apart from Jem who doesn’t want it all to end and is still in his rags.  You couldn’t have wished for a more lovely cast.  They were all amazing and we are feeling the LOVE:

Goodbye Team!

Goodbye Team!

And here is Tabs crashed out in the van on the way home:

Asleep on way home

Asleep on way home

Ah Bleeeeeeesssss.  We are all absolutely knackered but very happy.  Splendiferous lols were had by all.



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At our first get-in Chloe tried the red wash on the lights and the bulb blew.  ‘We had a little panic-attack,’ says Fred.  Now, what you don’t understand is, Fred never admits to having panic-attacks. In fact, his favourite phrase is ‘Don’t Panic,’ but he is not allowed to say that any more, as it annoys me.  So this must have really given him some more grey hairs.  Besides which, he bought a jumper, as he was chilly, and the lady said ‘This blue does look good on greying, older gentlemen!’  So that gave him a real panic attack, LOL.

So, our first show SOLD OUT!!  In fact, people were even turned away!  This is just amazing and made us very happy (and sad for the people who couldn’t get in.)

The author of the original book of Jammy Dodgers Go Underground, Bowering Sivers, came all the way from Colchester to see the show yesterday.  She said she thought it was ‘fantastic’.  Phew!  We had tried to prepare her for the fact that due to time constraints of a Fringe performance, three of her lovely characters have had to be amalgamated into one new one, but had still been worried she might hate it!

She came out on the Mile with us, leafleting.  Here she is with Chloe:



We walked up Arthur’s Seat.  Here is Ned with his violin, being blown away:



Here is Baby V! and Chloe:

Here is Mrs Blood and Billy:


OMG we are famous!!!! For a minute, until we realised they were some sort of camera club!

Here is Zeke putting his oboe together with the help of Lukeybabes (Thin Tim).  Ooh sounds rude but isn’t! (see the unfortunately placed sand sculpture of dog in background.)


Mrs Blood is BORED!  BORED BORED BORED!!!  She needs some MUSICIANS in her PARLOUR, MR BLOOD.



We’ve been taking the coffin to the Mile.  You need a gimmick, you need something that grabs people, scares them, makes them take a leaflet.  ‘Little Dead Boys in Coffins,’  I’ve been calling out.  ‘Poor little boy!  Look!  ‘e died of ‘unger! We’re all gonna die!  ‘elp us!  Come to our show!’  Little boys and girls are transfixed but their parents sometimes horrified.  Here are Mr and Mrs Blood with the poor dead boy:


And here are five wee lads looking at the coffin with our poor dead boy intilt: (oh my god, aren’t they gorjuss though?)



We also have a review from Primary Times.

Cherries go mouldy plaguey quick.  I have to wash them in the sinks of the venue loos.  The watercress has gone limp and smelly.  Luckily now we have Bowering Sivers’ fake watercress as I have been spending a fortune on new cherries and watercress.

All the cast have been going to see all sorts of different things.  We alighted upon some great comedy in our local pub: The Debonair Assassin.  He was definitely not debonair!  Checked out Circa at Bristo Square with Bashi. A six-strong troupe with bendy bodies, clambering all over each other and falling from heights onto their heads. Went to see Paul Merton and his Impro chums.  The best bit for me is Paul acting as interpreter for a made-up foreign language.  Laughed so hard I nearly threw up.  We went into a bar straight afterwards, and all the Impro Chums came in too (because we were there obv).  Exciting to be hobnobbing with groovy famous peeps!  Saw the gripping This is Living at the Bedlam.  Luke’s exceptionally talented sister Tamsin Topolski is a dead girl in limbo.  She acts so naturally that I can see her on the telly, easy.  The shifts between the present deadness and the past livingness is so well done.  I highly recommend it.  Checked out Six a new musical.  It smacked of Jason Robert-Brown, we thought, right from the first chord.  Had a hard-working cast with slick moves and messages about the fractional nature of modern city life.  I also went to see Darkle, with David Hayman at Surgeons’ Hall.  It’s fabby. I posted an audience review for them:

‘From its brilliant, prompt opening with three young flat-mates sprawled over a massive beanbag this powerful modern piece had me completely hooked and blew me away. The entrance of the landlord (David Hayman) with his dog (real!) is so funny and intense. The tension rises with the landlord’s ranty monologues as the others’ intentions start shifting. I loved the ‘randomness’ of some of the lines from the youf: ‘we can…go and knock on people’s doors and…say nothing?’ and the way their energy contrasts with that of the oblivious and obsessed older man, illustrating the generational divide. The landlord becomes increasingly creepy: ‘I sit here thinking what you are doing during your day!’ The youf proceed to give him overlapping snapshots of their respective days: as a nurse, as a hairdresser, as a butcher. I loved Brian’s ‘it’s all like a cartoon!’ monologue while looking straight at the audience. The young people start hating the increasingly frequent visits of their landlord: ‘He probably sleeps with his dog’ and ‘let’s put slugs in his milkbottles’ escalates to ‘he just sponges rent off us!’ leading to the hilarious ‘ideas to kidnap Max’ scene, where it becomes girls versus boy: the increasing anarchy seems drug-fuelled (but you see no sign of drugs). Having to eat the dog, butchered by the initially reluctant but now rather keen Brian, proves too much for the girls and by the end, when the traumatised youf are all clustered around the landlord having a bad come-down, we witness their newly-awakened yearning for older values, family, boundaries. Thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud action with amazing acting. I give this play five stars.’

Gotta go chill with the coffin on the Mile!  See you later!




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There is a song in the musical called Magical Friends.  It always gives me goose-bumps, even when I am singing it to myself in the car.  The lyrics were written by my friend Janet’s niece, Emily.  She died from Leukaemia a year and a half ago.  She was fifteen.  She had a wonderful way with words and wrote lots of poetry.  Before she died, she said to her mother, ‘Do something to make me famous, Mom.’  So her mum organised a wonderful ‘Inspired by Emily’ art show a year after her death.  (Check out the Emily Lyman Foundation as well.)  Chloe read the poetry and created a song version of The Magical Friends, using words from lots of the poems, for the art show.  Later, Emily’s mum used it to make a video of snapshots of Emily’s life.

So, after the previews, many people came up to us saying, ‘That song, that song, it gave me goose-bumps and chills.  It was so beautiful.’  We know that effect is from Emily.  I am so glad that Emily’s work is here with us at the biggest arts festival in the world.

Gwanny came to the three-o’clock preview.  Normally whenever Gwanny sees a show, especially one of ours, she says:  ‘Och, I cannae hear a single wurrd! You should give out song-sheets with the wurrds on!’  This time, she didnae say it!

Besides which, even if she had said it, one should not take it personally, as Gwanny has never heard a single wurrd of any song.  Apart from, as I have told you before: ‘Why can’t I be-he a teen-ager in love?’ and that was only because my brother Pete forced her to sing it so many times.

We did have fun making the Big Room into a theatre, with blacked-out windows and black sheets.  Here are some pics from the dress rehearsal.  (Now, you know I like my shots blurry, and they were taken on my phone, so bear with!)  This is Zeke and Billy:

Billy and Zeke

This is Mr and Mrs Blood:

Mr and Mrs Blood

Mr and Mrs Blood


This is Clara and the Sewer Ghost:

What's that?  It's a rat!

What’s that? It’s a rat!

And here is Mrs Blood and Pa:

'They're not here!'

‘They’re not here!’

I had to sew Tabby into her dress.  Ooh!  I must be a real theatre mummy!  Still need to sew in a serious hook to keep it tight at the top.  Here is Mr Blood:


'I will kill them, I will drown them!'

‘I will kill them, I will drown them!’

The Thursday evening preview was absolutely packed.  All went well even the lights which had been hastily installed by Fred, a DMX box having been borrowed from our friends at the Half Moon.  Our theatre guru Cath kindly came and took notes and gave us really useful feedback.  Someone who saw the show phoned on Friday saying their kids had been singing the songs constantly and their piano teacher is setting up a music school and could they buy the rights to Jammy Dodgers the Musical (possibly with backing tracks!)

We are now in Edinburgh.  The cast are in a flat on the Meadows.  Fred, Alfie and Luke arrived at two, having left at five am in the props-stuffed van, and had a two-hour hacky-sac sesh.

This is a view from the window of the lovely Secret Garden flat Fred and I are in:

view out the window

view out the window

It is the tech rehearsal today.  Fred has gone off in the van to Glasgow to Tabby’s flat to pick up the keyboard.  We are meeting at the venue at 1.15pm, in costume, with instruments and props.  Excited!  Better get out there to source cherries and watercress  !sing it! ‘as fast as we can.’

BTW the people at Healthline.com have kindly given my blog a 2014 review:  http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/best-breast-cancer-blogs#11


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Oh bloody Hell.  We only have two clear days until preview day. Then one day.  Then we go on up.  How did that happen?

It didn’t help that we held a birthday celebration for Fred yesterday, which involved a lot of Guinness, some Special Brew, (Fred’s brother Ray brought it, don’t blame me!) cider, wine, and a fire and barbeque.  Mad Lucy and Claire and Jill came and giggled on Mad Lucy’s sofa, (which you’ll be glad to know has gone healthily mildewed since its pristine life at her house), while the blokes played pool.

However, progress has been made publicity-wise:  we is on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jdthemusical  .  See if you can fathom it.  I find it all a bit hashtag fucked up.

So, post Special-Brew-gathering, we were knackered and seeing double today.  Rehearsals still happened:  here is Chloe conducting: (OK, haven’t got the focusing knack, I’m the first to admit it but this is a good simulation of what I was seeing anyway.)


It turns out Alfie can kind of act.  He just feigned disinterest all these years to the point where he would ask to be taken home at the interval of every musical.



Poor Dead Billy

And here’s poor dead Billy.  Although, you’re alright, he’s only pretending to be dead cos he’s so ‘ungry and his brothers ain’t got the ready to buy ‘im grub so….so….’e’ll just ‘ave to….DIE!  (then he jumps up and wants a pork pie, don’t worry, kids, it’s a happy tale.)

My to-do-list is growing apace.  For starters we need to find:  suit trousers for Mr Blood, hat for Mr Blood (a bowler maybe?) boots for Ned, boots for Jem who does have some but… they got zips on ’em.

Zips did not exist in Victorian times.  Cath, who has trained our girls in Musical Theatre since they were six, always says this is VERY IMPORTANT. Also with a Fringe audience, the people are VERY CLOSE.  They will spot the zips.

Claire, who is a sick seamstress, (sick in the modern meaning of the word, of course, ie: great,wonderful – have to define that, as Gwanny reads the blog and might think poor Claire has gone down with something and, because of the italics, is most likely on the way out) has to come round soon to alter Mrs Blood’s dress with black elastic.  We need to take the Cor Anglais to WoodWind and Reed to get mended.  I need to find gory bloody feet and hands (FAKE!) to stick out of the coffin.  We need to stain the coffin dark.  A friend (internet-phobe therefore anonymous) suggested using tea for this.  Cheap and easy. We  also want to source one of those drums that is a box  you can sit on.  We also need to watch series five and six of Breaking Bad.  Addicted, you see.

Oh bollox, I haven’t even got the berries berries, sweet cherries yet, nor the juicy juicy a-a-a-apples, nor the watercress all fresh and green.  Bowering Sivers tells me she found some fake watercress.  Where, I wonder?  We need fake, otherwise it’s going to cost us a fortune.  Tomoz, after WoodWind and Reed,  I’m going on the prowl around town.  Maybe Wilko’s?  And what’s that shop wot popped up where Woolies used to be.  BQ?  QD?  or is it called Store 21 or something?  I bet that has fake fruit and veg.  Even the Pound Shop might yield something.

We need to create space for the blinkin audience.  Not easy as the Big Room’s chocka full of junk.  And heavy shit like mummy grand pianos.  Am thinking, keep the table and seat kiddies on it.  Ditto backs of sofas.  Sit em on the floor.  Get the kitchen benches in.  Make a backstage area with a rope and curtains.  Oh my god, that will block out all the light.  So what are we going to do for lighting chaps?  I don’t think we have even tiddlywinked over that thought.

This is like an awful lot to have to do in forty-eight hours isn’t it?  Pull your fingers out team!  Fred has played twenty five rounds of President and Arsehole with the cast and has come to bed pissed out his mind so I fear he won’t be shunting baby-grands at seven am.  However, he did sort out the ‘can’t fit everyone in the cars with all the stuff’ problem.  ‘We’ll hire a van,’ he said.  Brilliant!  Alfie and Luke have shotgunned riding in the front with him.  Good.  They can talk about stupid sums and stuff all the way up while we will be able to listen to songs from the musicals on Radio 2.

We need refreshments for the previews.  Tea and coffee for the three o’clock showing.  Can I be bothered to do scones and jam and cream?  I would really like to but….let’s be honest, won’t get it together.  Too busy raiding the supermarchés on behalf of rampant raw diabetic vegan.  Then, safe choice, beer, cider, wine,  juice for the seven o’clock.  Get em pissed.  They’re less likely to complain and more likely to enjoy!  Maybe this is a good argument to serve vino at the three o’clock too….but we don’t want smashed adults losing control of their kiddiwinkies.

Oh God, Inez (Billy) apparently has to leap out of the coffin at one point. Ha, now they tell me.   I had blithely assured poor José that a nailed-shut coffin would do the job just fine, but now he has to do the whole hinges thing.

To counteract all this we did our Goddess Shakti workshop.  It was wonderful.  My !Mowocco Fwends! Sue, Penny and Caroline were there!  Lots of breathing and flowing up and down.  We invoked the Goddess with chanting.

I think I got so busy I never got to tell you much about the Morocco yoga retreat in April.  I went along just to humour my friend Janet.  But it was the best thing ever.  Came back on a high to beat all other highs.  And all natural. For weeks after I bounced about with the dogs in the woods feeling like a rangy giant.  My limbs felt long, strong, lean.  The hinges of my body were all oiled.

The energy was zinging about in Morocco.  We would meditate in the yoga room at five in the morning facing the rising sun.  Air tumbled through vast arched windows.   The light changed very slowly.  Grey to gold.  I could see the teeny bits of light zipping about, strands of it pouring into my eyes.  My senses were picking up things in a new way.  I felt light and strong and clear and clean and beautiful and I was LOVE pure and simple.  Nothing was an effort.  I could move with balance, symmetry.  One morning  Jac did a guided meditation with us, opening up our chakras using colours, and I started thinking about my brother Ferg, and visualising him, as he was all those years ago, and as he was when I saw him during Dennis’ incredible healing session.  I could feel his presence.  I could see him like he was really there. The meditation went on.  It seemed like seconds were stretching in a wierd way.  It was like I had cracked holding onto time.  Didn’t have to squeeze, it was there in the palm of my hand.  I had as much time with Ferg as I wanted.  The peace was a slow-motion ocean. My fingers and toes disappeared into the air til I could no longer feel my body.

The next day, at five in the morning, we walked in a silent line up the grey mountain to meditate, and tears dripped to the dusty ground all the way up.  I cried all day. Even though he died twenty-seven years ago, I felt his loss as fresh as if it were yesterday.

On the plane home, we sat next to this wonderful guru woman, who runs orphanages in India.  She was a yoga teacher too and told us about meditation  she does with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in classes where hundreds of people simply go into two-hour trances and zonk out.  This woman seemed to have deep layers of knowledge and I wondered if she might know how and why my brother had seemed to visit me after all these years during the yoga. I mean, was I maybe managing to meet him on the astral plane, out of the constraints of time?

I asked her about it.

She looked me in the eye and said, ‘You have a pain in your heart… and you have to let him go.’

I felt like my heart was going to break.  There was a battle going on in my head.  I cried for the rest of the journey.  With a person that you love, you don’t want to let them go.  You never want to let them go.  You want them to stay.  I have kept him alive in me all these years because I am stubborn and determined.  But that, I suppose she was trying to tell me, is an illusion and misdirected energy.

But after that, something cleared in me, and I thought maybe I had been holding on to the pain, like….unnecessarily?  It’s like with Hale Dwoskin and his Learning Strategies:  ‘Can you let it go? ‘ (you have to do the voice!)

Should I let him go? 





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Oh, Lordy, Lordy.  Strange shenanigans going on.  Crises of motivation,  shifting family dynamics, dysfunctional shizz, mood swings.  However, we seem to be working through all this and be moving towards a show, of sorts!

Kieran (Fantastic Mr Blood) and Vinny (Hot Brazilian Guitarist) have moved in for the moment.  Tabby’s friend from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Megan, is here too.  She is a tremendous asset, playing five instruments.  She also has Diabetes Type 1, like Tabby, so they can be !diabetes fwends! together.  She got so excited when she first arrived that she injected masses of insulin by mistake and had to eat a hundred biccies not to have a hypo in the night.

To recap:  our show, The Jammy Dodgers Go Underground goes to Edinburgh from the 11th to the 16th August 2014: 1.40pm at SPACE@Surgeon’sHall, Theatre 1.  If you are going to be in Edinburgh and want to book tickets, this is the ticket page.

We are  in the midst of rehearsals which will now be solid until our previews : three pm and seven pm, Thursday the 7th August 2014, our house.  If you are local and would like to come, please do!  Parking can be tricky in town, so leave a bit of extra time for that.

Then we have one day, Friday, for tweaking and considering (OK, let’s be honest: probably weeping and wailing and gnashing our teeth at) feedback.  Then on Saturday 9th we pile all the instruments, the boots, Mrs Blood’s ladle, Zeke’s whip, the cast and the coffin (! which is being hammered together, as we speak, by my friend Quetta’s boyf José from Spain)  into two cars and go on up.  Just had a thought:  can we fit two flutes, one sax, one french horn, several drums, three guitars, one bass, an oboe, a cor anglais, a coffin and ten people with costumes in one Peugeot 206 and one Peugeot 106?  Hmm, Fred will have to set his mind to this puzzle. If you are mathematical, please consider this problem and send a postcard, with helpful diagrams.

The young lads, plus rogue girl, are going with their respective families. We pick up the keyboard from Tab’s flat in Glasgow, move into our two flats, and surely play some hackysac on the Meadows.  Sunday we meet the technical team and have a two-hour tech rehearsal from one thirty.  Then we will hand out leaflets for a few hours and surely play more hackysac on the Meadows, and Monday morning we’ll gather on the Royal Mile at 9.30 to persuade poor hapless tourists to come to the show, and start our show at 1.40pm.

On Wednesday morning the author of the original books, Bowering Sivers,  will meet us on the Mile in her Old Ma Sivers outfit.  We will sell watercress for a while, then we will go on to the venue and show her this latest bastardisation of her material!  Still, she will be delighted (we hope!) that her work has inspired such creative outpouring from the youf.  I would be pretty thrilled if some nutter made a musical out of my tits book, or my sperm book or my baby factory book.  Although I’m pretty keen to make musicals out of them myself, as soon as I get time and a cast.  If any of you wish to sign up, singers, writers, musicians, flashers, actors, donors (!of milk, sperm or babies), just send me a message.

We had an encouraging experience yesterday as one of my little flute guys called James, nine years old, came for a lesson.  He is a beginner, so we played ten four-second Bs, then ten As, then ten Gs, ticking them off on a chart to keep him on the job, as he is a chatty lad.  Then we heard wondrous noises emanating from the Big Room and ran in to have a look.  Twenty minutes later, after seeing ‘Those Dirty Rats’ twice through, he came out,  dazed with shock and joy.  ‘That was the best thing I have ever seen,’ he said.  ‘I just loved it more than anything.’

Ah Bleeeess. And the cast are not even in costume yet!  How thrilled will he be when Zeke is prowling round in his top hat and tails and Mrs Blood is wearing her lacy red dress?

‘You’ll have to come to the preview,’ I said.  ‘Three o’clock and seven o’clock on Thursday.’

‘I’ll come to both of them,’ he said.  ‘And I’ll get here early so I can sit right at the front!’

Oh,  my God, the sweetness.  I nearly cried with happiness as he literally is our target audience.  I had to apologise to his Mum when she picked him up, as I fear he may have caught the theatre bug (as you do) and will end up at drama school.

Now I know you are all gagging for some rehearsal pics.  So……

Here is Chloe teaching Jem (Kris) the Playground Song:

Learning the Playground Song

Learning the Playground Song

And now you can see the Big Room has been turned into a rehearsal space:




And dancing is happening:



Now you probably would like to see Afie’s friend Luke trying out things from the dressing-up chest.  It was after six hours of rehearsal so I think he  was suffering from rehearsal fever and kind of thought he was in Hair rather than Jammy Dodgers:


You also need to see Mrs Blood practising her lift with Mr Blood:

Fanny-Grab Lift

The ‘Fanny-Grab’ Lift

I trawled the second-hand shops yesterday for Victorian garb.  Claire from gin came too with her niece from Indonesia and her daughter Mattie.  We got a whole pile of stuff!  Brown skirts, gaudy high-necked shirts for Mrs Blood, a naff brooch for Mrs Blood, a suit jacket for Mr Blood, a dark blue long skirt for Clara….. all we needed was heeled black boots for Mrs Blood.  Claire and I were giggling so hard about things that we sailed right past a heap of boots but Mattie called excitedly for us to come back – she had found the perfect pair!  Thanks Mattie.  She should hire herself out as a personal shopping consultant:


Personal Shopping Consultant

On another trip up Mill Road in Cambridge we found a top hat for Zeke and a splendiferous boater for Bowering Sivers which will top off her costume plaguey well:


So, as you can imagine, it’s all quite intense round here.  This is compounded by the fact that Alfie is learning to drive, and adding him to the insurance meant I had to take myself off the insurance, so anytime I need to go anywhere he takes me, swerving about, jerking to halts, stalling at traffic lights, missing some poor van by a whisker.  Stressed me out so I had to go for Pimms at Host.  Mmm, mint, cucumber, ice….(never as good as our own Turbo Pimms though, eh, which will go down in history as the best drinking sesh ever…)

Luckily my yoga teacher Jac is running a two hour workshop on Monday the 4th August.  Can’t wait.  I booked everyone on it.  Tabby said ‘Can Kieran come too?’ and Chloe said ‘Can Vinny come too?’  ‘They can!  Why not?! I cried merrily and booked them on it too.  Jac then reminded me it is in fact a ‘Release your Inner Goddess’ workshop.  LOLSVILLE!!!  Never mind.  She said they can still come.  Whilst giggling to herself uncontrollably.  Oh well.  Their inner goddesses will be pleased to see the light of day.  We are slightly worried that if Mr Blood comes out of the workshop a Mrs Blood then Tabby will have to play Mr Blood and all will be turned upon its head.

We have talked about understudies.  Clara (Bash) is understudying Mrs Blood and Jem, so Chloe is understudying Clara, and Luke is understudying Mr Blood.  Vinny is understudying Ned.  It all gets rather complicated after that.  Basically Chloe can understudy everyone, but only one of them at a time.  And she would look a bit big for Billy.

Over the next week we are going to try to document things daily and take lots more pics which I will put on here.  The musical is changing during the rehearsal process.  Vinny says that’s his favourite bit, the evolution of the work.  It’s because you can see what works, and how things might work better.  Things work themselves out.  Different people inject new ideas. We are all feeling our way.  There is no such things as mistakes.  ‘Mistakes’ lead to new paths, which is a good thing.

When we lived in France the girls learnt the loveliest song called ‘Petit Bonhomme de Chemin.’  I can’t remember how it went but the title means little chap of a path, and whenever I am walking the dogs I think about how dear the little windy woodland paths are.  We grow so fond of them.  There is magic in the way they curve around trees and how they were made by the tiny feet of rabbits, then foxes, then humans.  Trudge trudge, I follow the doggies, that’s what we do, pad along on pretty, shady trails.  When there are nettles coming up, Whisky stops for me to pick him up and carry him, ahhh bleeeeeeessss!

I have sent our press release to all journalists professing to be interested in children’s shows, musical theatre, listings, or theatre.  I’ve prepared pics for apps, struggled again with pixels, talked to journalists, paid for ads in ThreeWeeks and FringeReview.  I have also bought huge amounts of spinach and green apples and berries as Tabby is on some freaky vegan juicing thing again.

We have two apartments booked.  One for most of the cast, on the Meadows, so they can go out and play hacky-sac.  One on the Royal Mile, but quite far down, near a secret garden, for me and Fred.  There is room for one more in that flat in case we have emergency visitors.  See!  We are not Fringe virgins!  We know about the Emergency Visitors!!  If you are an Emergency Visitor, please come and find us on the Mile.  Nothing I love more than blogloons, especially those fanatics who beg me to tell them stories of Fattipuss and the Frog, or Fred, the mouse and the bollocks,  or Kiki saying ‘Get a jooooob, Fred,’ :  but I just stare at them blankly as I have all but forgotten the stories!  Luckily though….wrote em all down!  That is one sure way to defeat the loss of beautiful things.

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Finally got the leaflets done.  It’s always an extraordinary amount of hassle, and I’m sure I would never ever produce  a show again if I had anything approximating to a good memory.  But every time I forget!

I had this book when I was about four, called ‘Oh Essie!’ about a girl in Africa, who always forgot things.  She forgot everything so everybody would say ‘Oh Essie!’ At school she forgot to bring her stuff and everyone said ‘Oh Essie!’ But one day she was selling oranges for her mum in the market, and she finished selling them, put the baby on her back in its sling, and went home.  ‘Oh Essie!’ said her mum.  ‘That is not our baby!  We have our baby here.  You have taken someone else’s baby.’  So poor Essie had to trawl about with the stolen baby looking for its mum.  Eventually, she put the baby down and he toddled off.  Essie followed him to his home. His mum was so pleased that she brought a beautiful new cloth to Essie’s school for her and told everyone at school how wonderful Essie was.

This book gave me rather a positive message about being forgetful.  However, it might be better not to forget next time, but to remember that putting on a show is stressful so we remember not to do one next time.  Is it good stress?  Probably.  Gives us something to do.  But we are already spending many hours cleaning out the parrots, being on committees, chopping down the burgeoning brambles in the outdoor cage, taking cats to the vet, slug-leaping through rain-sodden wheat fields with the dogs.  Not to mention Hampers and Champers dahling, a screen-writing weekend at Regent’s College, friends coming to stay on their way to Glastonbury, the Hockerill Garden Party which went with a bang and teaching, teaching, teaching.  Also am writing another book about a girl called Sally-Anne who becomes a surrogate to…ooh, I’d not better give away my plot.  I’ll try and get some chapters out here for you soon.  I think it’s my best yet but you never know.  Might be crap.  It’s another black comedy, surprise surprise.  There is a very funny murder in it.  At least I’ve found my genre.  Makes me laugh a lot.  Fred helps me with the funny bits in the middle of the night.  That sounds rude but so isn’t.

So, apart from all that shizz, what have I been up to?  Leaflets.  First things first for leaflets, you need photos!  I asked Tabby if she could send through some photos of her and Kieran being Mr and Mrs Blood.  ‘Mum,’ she said.  ‘Mr and Mrs Blood are not the main characters.  Jem, Ned and Billy are the main characters.’

‘Ooh, yes, you’re right,’ I said.  Mr and Mrs Blood are seductive but they are of course the antagonists, not the heroes.

So, photos.  Fred does have a good camera but he always loses it around the house.  Our house is terrible for that.  Once he lost a whole cupboard full of sound equipment, adaptors, microphones and guitar leads.  He lost it for nearly nine months.  When he found it he said ‘Aha!  There it is.’  I thought that was insanely mild.  I would have done a little dance and sung Edelweiss at the top of my lungs for the rest of the day.

When Fred does occasionally come across his camera, he remembers that it has a temperamental auto-focus and thus is not worth finding.  Luckily, our friend Alexandra Cameron has always said ‘Please ask if you ever need photos’ as she has been known to drape scantily-clad models around our house for the afternoon.  So I did ask.  She said ‘yes!’ so I texted the ‘boys.’  I say ‘boys’ as one of them is a girl!  They came round, dressed up in grungy gear and smeared themselves with ash from the fireplace.  They had a look at this old pic from 2007:

Old image

Old image

New Jem, Ned and Billy put themselves in front of a black sheet and got into their roles.

The next day, Alexandra sent me this:


Yes, Jem is wearing the same jacket seven years later and is holding the same lantern.  Being terrible hoarders, we don’t often throw anything away, and particularly hate throwing dressing-up stuff away.

We were delighted with the pic and and sent it off to ‘Fringeprint‘ who were recommended by our venue. (When it’s not the Fringe they are known as Zed Print.)  They were extremely kind to me, techno/pixel-phobe as I am.  However kind they are though, there are certain things they need to create the leaflet, that I just don’t understand, pixels being one of them.

Fortunately however, I teach French to a journalist called Brian, who kindly offered to sort out the jolly old pixels and millimetres etc of my image before sending it off.  The creation of the leaflet then involved long, convoluted emails on our part and patient, fast replies from Fringe Print. Then several middle-of-the-night emails pinged back and forth from Chloe in Boston.  We  moved through several drafts, changing most of the text, the atmosphere, the colours.  Originally the image had a red glow in addition to the green, which made it too colourful:  we wanted more to suggest the mouldiness and gloom of  the Victorian sewers.

What we ended up with was this:


This image is going to be on small post-card-size A6 card.  These are not as flimsy as the A5 paper leaflets, so won’t disintegrate so quickly in the rain.  (See we are not Fringe virgins.  We know about the rain.)  They are also double-sided.  If you are interested to see both sides, click on this:  flyermaster.

We went for the  Colour Printing Fringepack 1  (recommended for a show lasting one week) which means, for just £95 (special deal for SPACE people) you get 5,000 A6 full colour double-sided flyers printed on 250gsm gloss card and 50 A3 posters printed on 135gsm glossy poster paper.  I copied and pasted that last bit.  Could you tell?  God, I know… even that amount of info makes my eyes glaze over.


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After I’d finally just about killed myself registering the show, Chloe phoned up in a bit of a tizz.  ‘I can’t believe you wrote the descriptions of the show without my input!’ she exclaimed.  ‘We’re meant to be a team!’

‘I was in a hurry…and at four pm our time, you’re not even awake,’ I countered.  She gets up at midday in Boston by which hour we’ve practically gone to bed.

‘Hunh!  You could have asked me a few days before,’ she answered.

This is puzzling.  Like, has she been away so long she’s forgotten who her family is?  Are any of us likely to get something together a few days before a deadline? 

Then she said, ‘What title did you put?’

‘Er….The Jammy Dodgers Go Underground, of course, since that is the title,’ I said.

‘It’s too long,’ she said.  ‘It should just be The Jammy Dodgers.’

‘But…it’s the title of the book!  You can’t change it.  What would Brenda say?’

‘But they might not even go underground,’ she said.

‘What?’ I shrieked, aghast.  ‘Not….Go….Underground?’

‘Maybe not,’ she said.  ‘Why should they?’

She’s very weird, you know.  It’s like trying to do business with a slippery eel.  ‘Er….because it’s in the title?’ I hazarded.

‘Not if the title becomes ‘The Jammy Dodgers.’

‘Chloe,’ I said patiently, ‘if Jem, Ned and Billy don’t Go Underground, how will they escape from the dead-house with all the nasty coffins and dead bodies in it?’

Bash and I have concluded that Chloe’s gone a bit loopy-loo.  We know the plot of The Jammy Dodgers Go Underground definitely involves going underground.  However, interpretation, that’s the thing with musical adaptations.  Artistic licence…though we had rather too much of that the first time round in 2007. But, you know, everyone does it.  Look at the Disney version of 101 Dalmations:  they cut out sweet Perdita, the lost dog who helped feed the puppies!  And what did Disney do to Pocahontas?  And look at Spring Awakening:  all those kids pulling mics out of their jacket pockets and launching into rampant anachronistic rock.  Do you think Wedekind who wrote the original German play is turning in his grave? (Probably not, as he was so chillingly before his time he’s likely well chuffed.)

‘Actually, I’d better reread the book…’ Chloe conceded, ‘…as I can’t remember what bits we made up last time and what bits were really in it.’

Hmm, yes, she could read it, if our manky thumbed copy weren’t currently in Glasgow being read (out loud probably and in a sinister voice), by Mr Blood.  Ooh, if I didn’t just coin a new double-barrelled epithet!  ‘Manky-thumbed.’  This could well spawn a whole wave of useful others…hmm yes:  ‘skanky-thumbed’ could refer to something what fell off the back of a lorry,  ‘hanky-thumbed’ would refer to noses, ‘swanky-thumbed’ would be posh cars, and ‘yanky-thumbed’ would describe an obstinate nostril hair.  So what would ‘wanky-thumbed’ refer to?  Answers on a post-card please….


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