Inevitably now in Hampstead, some people who live in the houses near where we play out to short scenes have cottoned on to the fact that the walk is happening. This evening’s Hamilton Mohun duel was done to the accompaniment of an extremely drunk sounding teenager shouting half remembered bits of Shakespeare from his bedroom window. He might become a regular obstruction, in which case I’ll have to build him in before the audience get to him. “The whole time they fought, the ghost of the actor previously killed by Mohun was attempting to distract him by shouting random lines of Shakespeare. You may find he appears again tonight. Ignore him. He’s a prat.”
If that’s the worst thing we have to worry about we will be fine.
I hate to jinx it, but damn we’ve been lucky with the weather. This would be a very different fish if it was pouring with rain. As it is, so far we have just had lovely clement walks across the heath and through the streets. We have been happy, and we’ve been reasonably warm. Everybody has got nicely tanked up. The mood has been positive and warm.
At some point I’m going to have to do it with the rain hammering down, with thunder and lightning, angry wet audience, very little shelter. I’ve worked outdoors so much I know how much energy you need to beat weather like that. If I had a direct line to the gods of Halloween, I would beg them to be merciful, as it’s exhausting. We only have five more evenings to do. We are exactly halfway through the run. At least the beginning has been kind. We all know what it is now, so our focus can go on the detail instead of the big picture, so long as the weather holds.
The first few walks, in the dark on the Heath, it was a very real possibility that I was going to lead the audience in the wrong direction and end up profoundly lost with a bunch of people following me. Siwan placed lights on important turning points, but then sometimes the lights got moved or taken. I had a couple of moments of panicked uncertainty, but thankfully never led the audience off a cliff and even knew enough that when a light got moved to the wrong staircase I could ignore it.
Now I’m secure enough that even if it was sturm and drang, we would get to the right place. The only thing I haven’t thought about is shelter en route. Making sure when possible that I stop in places that have cover. Perhaps that can be my side focus tomorrow. It’s supposed to be dry, according to BBC weather. Whilst I’m conducting the dry tour tomorrow I can have one eye on contingency stops for when it’s pelting it down. Pretty much all the places I am stopping in have no shelter for the audience should it be a rainstorm. I don’t matter. I can stand where I get wet. I’m a ghost. But I’ll lose my audience if I stop them in the rain, especially if they can see potential shelter.
I’m at the Hampstead flat again. Hopefully I’ll get some good work done tomorrow. For now, it’s early to be in bed by my standards, and considering how many people offered to buy me a drink, I’m remarkably sober. I was worried about this job clashing with something else, and was imagining having to apprentice Tristan into my role with half a day’s notice. But I’m glad it’s working well. These are lovely people. I’m glad to be tangled up with them for this Halloween silliness.
I frequently get asked where I got my costume from. It’s incredible how much you can do with so little. Just two good items from the costume haul. They are both so commanding. A coachman’s cloak that could’ve been made for me. Eloquent and swishy. And a tall silk stovepipe hat that fits me perfectly and adds about 3 foot to my height.
I have very little space in my living room right now, and my wardrobe is full of half sorted costumes. So there’s positive and negative. But they’ve started to go out. There’s another London ghost walk partly costumed from the haul, and tomorrow I’ll be dropping off some bits… At some point I’ll properly engage with moving it off. Mostly right now I’m distracted with other things. Twas ever thus. X