Saturday 12 December 2015

Day 12: Oh yes it's flaky by Dianne Stadhams

Casting the annual pantomime in Wyeway is a major spectator event in itself. I’m not sure whether it’s a penance or a prize but I’d been asked to write a 750 word feature about the opening performance for the local newspaper. I made headlines in the County Chronicle last month as the prodigal professor.  Five years in Australia and now I’m back on sabbatical. I’ve a book to complete with a six month deadline.
Devotion’s a funny word. It implies exclusivity, focus and passion, mostly directed towards a person or a cause. My sense of devotion is more mundane, an enthusiasm or a mild addiction. What else can I do but read and write? I’m unemployable in any other world. Shy, gawky and hopeless at sport I struck lucky with research.
‘Go hide at home,’ said my publisher, ‘You’ll get the manuscript finished with no distractions.’
Done and dusted, easy peasy, so they think. But home is a problematic word. Is home where you are born or where you are accepted? Wyeway or Toowoomba, Gloucestershire or Queensland, Britain or Australia? I am devoted to the idea of a home, always yearning for that faraway place but never quite settled. I return from one home to another with nowhere to hide.
My brief from the County Chronicle is to give a fair critique and be honest. If only I dared! Living in the village and being the brother of the script writer ‘the truth’ poses a conundrum. As I wish to remain attached to my bollocks I will write only what needs to be read. And this year’s pantomime has been something else.
A call to read Snow White and the Seven Dwarves rallied most able-bodied and feeble-minded residents.  ‘Break a leg’ assumes a whole new meaning when amateur thespians struggle through snow to the village hall by five o’clock. Wet coats, dripping hats and a parade of Wellington boots littered the Wyeway hall vestibule. Inside the motley masses were assembled, gently thawing, scripts in hand. The group was eager to bond and begin.
An evening of literary delight was promised with frozen sausage rolls and as much home brew as you could down in three hours. Frank, the volunteer in charge of lighting and all things technical, prides himself on skolling more pints per hour than Bill in sound effects. It got ugly by the end of the night. The drunks started to argue about the feuds from shows in yester years. Others vomited in the toilets and missed the pedestals despite the large poster above the washbasins.

About the author

Dianne Stadhams is an Australian, resident in the UK, with a PhD in communications for development. Described as a charismatic speaker she has a successful track record in global marketing. She has spent many years in some of the world’s poorest nations working on poverty alleviation projects. Her website gives details about these and her other interests.


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