There is a huge warehouse in the middle of nowhere. It’s out in the vicinity of Stansted Airport. I have a pin saved to my Google Maps. It takes me to a gate where I then have to say specific words into the entryphone. I feel like I’m one of a very small number of illuminated people every time the gate opens for me. I am there today to assess things.

I drive slowly down the long driveway, flanked on both sides by lawns often busy with rabbits. I have learnt to drive slowly after the mistress of the estate remembered my van two weeks after I had driven it too close to the front of her house one winter night at 20mph. You are *watched*. At the end of the driveway, a warehouse. Huge steel sliding doors. I know how to get them open.

Inside? Narnia.

It is a repository for old shows that might come back. Lots and lots of sleepy magic.

There’s a touring set for Wicked in there. Spamalot hides at the back. Piles and piles of wood. Huge lumps of metal. Unusual things made out of foam. Flight cases full of things that would be rubbish to anybody who didn’t need them to tell a story but golden in the right context. The ceiling drips, even when it isn’t raining. You won’t keep anything dry in here. All the flats are a little bit warped and they need repainting. But get them in a dry van, inside for a few days for a touch up and onto a stage under lights and they’ll crisp up in no time and the bedded in damp will help make them fire retardant even if your leading actor keeps telling you they smell a bit.

My job today was to work out which shows no longer needed to be in there, and then establish what to do with them. It’s for Brian, by proxy. I’m probably the best person from his end to know what stuff is from his company. But I’ll likely need to speak to somebody from the other end to make sure I don’t take out too much / too little.

Two sets of flats from Rotterdam. It was a good show at the right time. I think it has run its course now. It helped open a necessary dialogue.

I can likely find a new home for the flats unless I’m asked to keep them. Largely I’ll do what I’m told, but it’s helpful that I know the people and the shows involved. Even some damp bits of Carol are in there. If we want to run it in London next Christmas they’ll be very helpful, although I couldn’t for the life of me find the coffin table. Then it’s a history lesson in the work of Brian. Years and years ago he produced a show about Woody Guthrie called “Woody Sez”. Much of it is in there and I know it’s close to his heart. But it all has to be out by the 22nd. All of it.

I can get it out by then – all of it but the impossibly heavy water tank thing but I’ve already told them that. I could work out how to operate the forklift. But it’s likely better to leave it to the experts.

My expertise is in doing a reasonably human salvage job and rehoming things like the flats and maybe savong some of the sentimental things to return them to the appropriate people. It’ll be a hard graft and I’ll have to rent a van and have a plus one. But it’s a project, and I needed a project, and Jack is on board to be the plus one. Now I’m just waiting for the go-ahead.

It’s helpful to think about this down the line for me. Out of town storage… If I’m planning to make touring theatre – and I am – then I’ll need to think about where to put the set while it’s sleeping. I need a friend with a derelict barn…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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