The costume and dressing does a lot of the work for us. We just get to have little cute interactions. It’s better in the daytime, as we can actually see who is on the other side of the glass, through the gauze hole in the nostrils or in the neck.
Perhaps it’s the strip lights and the fact that you have to contort your body to make the head sit right. Perhaps it’s the constant movement and back and forth with strangers and moving around in s confined space. I feel tall and ungainly next to my partner in this who is smaller and younger and fitter than me. And now I’m home I’m knackered.
I’ve got three heads. First is Brown Bear. If he’s on straight I’m blind unless I stuff two pencil cases in the top and then I can see with peripheral vision, but I’ll overheat quickly. Brown bear appears to make an annoying enthusiastic squeaking noise and dances. He’s exhausting. Second is Sad Panda. He’s a bit scary. He’s slower than the bear and seems to growl rather like some idiot actor trying to imitate a Panda. He gets things wrong, holds signs upside down, and is addicted to caramel milk. He’ll likely wave or be fascinated by you. You can cheer him up for a moment but then he’s sad again. Then there’s Sexy Cat. You’re lucky to have sexy cat. Worship sexy cat. Maybe you’ll get a wave. Most likely a scratch. Often you’ll have to wait, particularly if there’s ice cream. “He’s practiced that cat noise,” someone says. I guess I have too… This is my JOB. Or part of it anyway.
I have no idea what the Business Secretary meant when he said that people like me need to get qualifications and get a better job. What a grey world they want to carve. The thing you might be surprised about is that I’m loving this work AND it is cheering lots of people up.
Not only do I have the qualifications, but this ridiculous random piece of work is a sheer delight and is bringing much needed smileage into a world in dark times. I am grinning underneath my unwieldy headpiece for most of the time I’m there, and it’s very rare that someone notices us and doesn’t grin back or wave.
Our window is very small though. Throughout the day we would see people rushing past, full of the thinkings of the moment – perhaps scowling into a phone or maybe lost in distant thoughtplaces. They pass by inches from us without ever knowing we are in the window with the sole mission of doling out unexpected momentary joy. My partner in crime observed it this morning: “It’s a reminder that we need to look for the joy or we don’t find the joy.” She’s so right.
My pride could get involved and scupper my joy here. It isn’t and it won’t. I’m happy to blog about it. It’s actually hard work in those masks despite the fun, and there’s a skill in maintaining things and interacting which I know well over years of street happenings and audience responsive work. I’m glad I can make a fleeting moment of simple stupid joy right now.
But right now I’m getting in the bath to wash the fluff off.