Hello again. I’m writing to you from my comfortable little outdoor seat outside The Old Bull and Bush. There’s a stone column just opposite me, which might be the last remnant of the original farm building from which an enterprising fellow started selling home-brew to travelers in 1721. It’s colder than I’m used to. This unseasonably warm October has worked to our advantage for certain, and now with just two nights to go I can safely say that even if it pelts it down tomorrow and next Saturday, we’ve still been lucky with the weather.
For a theatre job at this time I’d likely be rolling around on the floor or warming up my voice. For this job I find it more helpful to sit quietly and breathe and focus. Saturday night is usually the weirdest audience as they’ve been boozing all day so the chances of a noisy bloke who wants to show off rise considerably. Last Saturday there was a gobshite who was on a first date. You wonder in what world he believed that she’d be impressed by him drunkenly shouting random stuff. Maybe she was though. It takes all sorts to make a world, and I can deal with hecklers all night long. But yeah – Saturday and it’s time to gird my loins and see what gets thrown at me.
This evening I’ve been spotted in my hiding place. Three children are discussing me loudly through a window above me. They’ve seen my hat and staff. “A wizard” one of them theorises. And to some extent, I am. Right now though, I need water. Gonna put this down and sort myself out.
The parents brought the kids round to talk to me right before I had to start. It was cute. The older one was a bit more worldly, and was looking forward to watching strictly. The younger one still fully believed in magic. Even though I explained to them how I was an actor and how I was about to lead a Halloween tour and tell people creepy stories, he lingered a few steps behind his departing family and fired a hasty parting question: “Are you actually a real magician?” Faced with the two options, I chose the magical one. “Of course. But I have to pretend not to be. Shh.” After all, magic is belief. Perhaps a little of what I do is magic. Wouldn’t that be nice. Time to begin.
Halfway through now. I’m sitting in the lovely beer garden of The Duke of Hamilton with the worst of it behind me. Now they all have a few drinks and I can relax for a moment before the last push to the King William IV. A friendly lot and not as leery as I feared by any stretch. I’ve been experimenting with making my guy insane today which has kept me occupied and having fun in a Peter Sellars in Doctor StrangeLove type manner. It’s quite pleasant to document these little jobs I end up doing. This one feels like a goodbye to Hampstead, coming as it does at the same time as my friend losing her flat. I’ll be staying there tonight and hopefully I’ll manage to put a lot of things in boxes again tomorrow.
I’m going to go and circulate with the audience and be sociable.
Done. So the StrangeLove experiment had mixed results. I think it read reasonably well to the audience as they had the consistency. But because I was cracking my voice and essentially joyfully behaving weirdly, my colleagues found themselves worrying about me. I finished the tour to a “medicinal whisky”. I accepted it, of course. But then had to explain to them how it had been a deliberate experiment and yes I’m perfectly fine and no my voice only cracks when I crack it. I get bored of myself easily. It’s a blessing and a curse. I probably won’t make him batshit crazy again but it filled the time. It took away from my authority. There’s a delight in being an unreliable guide through the darkness of the heath. But I’m already a murderous ghost guide. No need to be insane too.
Halloween tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will hold…