Monday, 16 July 2012

Odour Toilette?

A quick insight into how I spend my time. Lurking in the toilets of village halls, church halls and social clubs wearing Victorian (in this case) or Tudor underwear, listening to the WI singing 'Jerusalem' as I wait for my cue to go in and speak. 

The decor captured in this photo is fairly standard of most village hall toilets- what I can't encapsulate here, though, is the pine-fresh but cloying smell of lavatory cleaner, mixed with the certain damp foistiness that only a 1950's public building can conjure. 

On Facebook, I run a page called 'Duffield's Good Tearoom Guide'. People are welcome to add reviews of any tearooms or cafes they visit, with one proviso: be nice. I'm thinking that maybe a 'Duffield's Good Toilet Guide' may be in the pipeline...?*

*all puns very much intended

Friday, 13 July 2012

What goes around...

The research and development for my new Marie Lloyd character goes on apace. I haven't actually put needle to fabric yet because its proving difficult to decide which stage costume of Marie's to make- they are all so outrageous! What's proving less arduous is getting bookings; even with an advance 'available from' date of September 2013, I've already got two definite bookings and a couple of potential interests. Which is BRILLIANT.

I've also discovered that many East London people living in Norfolk seem to be related to Marie Lloyd, or at least know someone who is or was! Do contact me, dear readers, if you happen to have any connections to Marie of your own! I'd be delighted to work them into my sessions.

My own connection with Marie is of course even more tenuous. My great-great-great-grandfather, Louis Glennie was a performer in 'The Halls' just like Marie Lloyd herself. Of course he didn't achieve such success -or notoriety-, but he did alright, working as a puppeteer, singer and actor in the provincial theatres throughout the 1870s, gaining decent (but very short) reviews in theatrical papers like The Era. He shared* the bill with big names like Gus Elen, and with intriguing names like 'Pongo the one-armed knockabout comedian'. Later, in the 1780s, he became a theatrical agent, working from offices throughout Europe including Belgium, France and even Latvia, which was where his grandaughter (my great grandmother) was born. Somehow or other he ended up running a hotel in Castleford, Yorkshire for touring Luvvies, and my great grannie married a Liverpudlian cobbler. There, the family theatrical streak died out and didn't rear its head in anyone's DNA until me. I always wondered where I got it from!!!

The connection with Marie Lloyd? My great great great grandfather's puppets wore tiny wigs, which were professionally made by a London craftsman by the name of Willy Clarkson. Marie Lloyd's theatrical wigs were made by the same man!

Incidentally, Willy Clarkson also sold a wig to a man named Crippen. Yes, THAT Crippen. The murderous doctor. The wig was worn by his secretary when they tried to make their escape to America in disguise.

* I say 'shared'. What I mean is, Gus Elen's name was in massive letters at the top of the bill, Louis' was at the bottom, you'd need a microscope to see it. But nevertheless, it was there.