Today I performed as Marie Lloyd for Easton Good Companions Club. A matinee, and a full house. And cheering at the end. Marvellous.
But equally as marvellous, was the tale one of the ladies told me:
Her grandfather 'worked the 'alls' in London just before the turn of the century, and his wife ran a boarding house for the theatricals thereabouts.
One of the theatricals who stayed with them was Dan Leno, of whom Marie Lloyd once said, 'he has the saddest eyes in show business'. He was of course, a comedian, and by many accounts a thoroughly nice man.
My lady at Easton told me about her mother's childhood memories. Dan Leno liked his shoes clean, and would offer the grand prize of sixpence to the person who cleaned them. Shoe-cleaning was not usually a favourite activity, but apparently when Dan Leno was in the building, the children all fought ferociously for the job!
I love these little snippets of oral history. The lovely thing about performing as Marie is that it evokes the tiny bits of detail about that era that are just about still in living memory. I feel happy to have been able to preserve the information for another few generations!