April Fool\’s Day

A strange thing happened this morning. My wife and I woke up to find, for the first time in, well, forever, that there is nothing on our calendar.
Today is the second day of British Summertime, which, even if the weather was crap (which it isn’t) is kinda nice. The sun is shining, the sky is a cloudless blue, we are both without the need to go to work (this is my wife’s first official day of Professional Retirement, having passed her exam and turned in her ‘L’ plate last Friday) and there are no appointments to keep, no crisis to deal with or even any pressing tasks we have been letting go that demanded attention NOW.
We are still in shock.
I know it’s April Fool’s Day but, trust me, this is not a joke, which made me wonder what jokes could actually be played on this day. The newspapers traditionally publish ludicrous, but almost believable, headlines on this day, but with the world being as it is, what could they possibly print that would be stranger than actual fact? Trump Resolves to Become a Rational Human Being? Britain Finally Comes to Its Senses? They’re not exactly laugh-inducing headlines, and they would be spotted straight away as untrue.

Typical Joke Headline

So, I decided to not think about it, or any of the other nonsense going on in the clusterfuck they call Britain or the Banana Republic across the pond, and instead walked into town with my newly retired wife to get tea at the Park Cafe.

Part of the reason for this unexpected leisure had to do with The Show being over. There were no songs to learn, no lines to rehearse and no practices to prepare for and, although that leaves a big hole in my life, for the time being, it’s a good feeling.
The Show—Keep Smiling Through—opened on Friday the 22nd, and closed on Saturday the 23rd, but that wasn’t because critics from The Guardian, The Independent or The Daily Telegraph panned us in their reviews; it was always scheduled as a two-day only event. Also, as far as I know, no one from The Guardian, The Independent or The Daily Telegraph showed up anyway.
The Show, in case you missed my previous post about it, was a WWII revue, put on by The Unitarian Players. It went well, and was everything an AmDram production should be, including awkward silences, flubbed lines and creative ad libbing.
We had a final meeting after the run, where they showed us a video of the entire production from beginning to end. It was the first time I had seen the show. All I knew of it were the parts I was in, so to see it fully and in its proper sequence was as new to me as it was to the audience.
The singing was really good. There are several members of the group with outstanding voices, and the ladies did their routines with practiced ease and no visible panic.
Us men, on the other hand…not that there weren’t some outstanding performances, but one guy (that would be me) managed to lead the group into the wrong verse of a song, which precipitated one of those awkward silences. In another skit, four of us were singing, and doing movements to, Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line, and we looked like four guys who had just met and decided to do a song and dance together.

Me, Rob and John ready for our Nightingale Sang in Berekly Square number

But it all added to the humor, and I like to think the audience took this unintended comedy to be part of the production.

The atmosphere, however, was what I recall most. It was thrillingly frenetic “backstage” (read: the church hall adjacent to the chapel): changing costumes, lining up for the next scene, trying to keep your voice to a whisper and checking the script outline to see if you might have time to gulp down a coffee before you had to go on again. It was—in a little church AmDram group sort of way—thrilling.

In the Green Room, waiting to go on.

Due to the subject matter, several members of the cast told me stories of their wartime experiences, both while we were waiting to go on and at the gathering after the event. They weren’t (thankfully) horrific tales, but they were personal, so I won’t recount them here. All I will say is, they put my consternation at Waitrose’s failure—for two weeks running—to stock my favorite Soft-Baked Belvita Breakfast Bars into perspective.

I\’m the white blob on the right

It also puts into perspective that, no matter how fraught and angst-ridden the modern world is, at least no one is dropping bombs on us. (Aside from the obvious disadvantages, it would really put a crimp in the supply-line for those Soft-Baked Belvita Breakfast Bars.)

And so, we finished our tea, took a wander through the shops and returned home to do whatever we pleased with our time, which was a good way to remind ourselves that, despite all, life can be good at times.