An introvert’s guide to performing

I’m not the most outgoing person. I don’t go out much and I probably have around two or three friends. I’m not a big drinker and I hardly ever go to pubs. And yet in spite of all this, I’ve managed to make something of a career as a comedy poet who stands on stage and does outlandish things and makes people laugh. How on earth did this happen, and how did it come about?

For a start I’ve always been what you might call an introvert and it’s probably still the same now. Part of working in the arts is having the confidence to put yourself forward for opportunities, and this is still an area where I struggle. I’ve never applied for funding or any other kind of sponsorship because, well, that’s not the sort of thing you do, is it? I hardly ever apply for big gigs or showcases, either. If someone asks, that’s great, and it makes me really happy for the rest of the day. But the idea of asking them gives me the willies.

The version of me who appears on stage is nothing like the version of me who exists ninety nine percent of the time. The persona I’ve created is just that. I don’t even wear the same sort of clothes on a day to day basis. And this is interesting, because for the ninety nine percent of the time that I’m not performing, the very idea of it also gives me the willies. It’s not my natural environment. Again the thought comes to mind that this is not the sort of thing that should be happening to someone like me!

Social media creates avatars, versions of ourselves that we want the world to see. I see poets and comedians in the real world acting more or less the same as the version of themselves that appears on stage, and to this day it makes me wonder where they find the energy. My other little rule is that I never mention my comedic poetic adventures in ‘real life ‘. I’ve never shown any of my friends any of my books or videos, and frankly, if I did, I’d feel very embarrassed indeed, and as for my family, well, Ive never even mentioned it to them at all. For a start, nobody is interested. It’s like living a bizarre double life, like some kind of poetic super hero.

But that’s what makes it so amazing. Right at this moment, reading this, I wonder how on earth I can possibly stand in front of strangers and not completely clam up. I go through a comprehensive sequence of preparation methods before I perform, including putting on a costume, doing my hair, changing my glasses, lying on the floor, doing breathing exercises, and then listening to very loud music. I think it’s fair to say that I’m not a natural performer!

Often, though, I’ll be on a bus, or doing my laundry, or walking home from work, and I’ll think of what I’ve done and what I’ve achieved, and it really makes me smile. Sure, it feels like it’s been done by someone else, but it’s a person I know really very well. This last year I’ve worked very hard on my performance and next I need to start working on being a bit more forthcoming and what my dad would describe as ‘pushy’. I’m like the kid in the corner who wants to join in but is too scared of the big kids.

I was chatting about this to another friend, who’s a poet, and she reckons it might be a class thing. I don’t have that middle class sense of entitlement that some of the bigger names might have, nor do I have the confidence that I have a voice that should be heard. I take great comfort in those who are naturally quiet, who seem to have made a successful career, and have done so through a mix of intelligence and luck, and I think, oh, I think, wow, I, too, had been really lucky!

This Year’s Advent Calendar (2019)

Today’s advent calendar picture is of Dame Thora Hird going off on one because someone has linked all of her paper clips together in a long chain and she needs a paperclip.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a perplexed stoat.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of the smile on Norse god Thor’s face slowly fading as he realises that the argument had had in his improv group had been real.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a puddle on the floor from a leaky roof, next to a Wet Floor warning sign, in a factory that makes buckets.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of Martin Scorsese being chased through Poundstretcher by a bearded blue Pokemon.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of Top Cat and his wayward brother Bottom Cat arguing with a nun over the last fake moustache in the joke shop.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of the world’s largest My Little Pony being ridden by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in the fifth race of the day at Epsom. They are coming last.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a moment of jocularity at the margarine factory as Bill on production lime fifteen puts his false teeth on a margarine tub and everyone’s laughing.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a killer whale ironing Batman’s uniform while a semi naked Batman is nervously pointing out the window at the Bat signal but the killer whale is too busy watching an episode of Salvage Hunters on a small tv.

Today’s Advent calendar picture is of Tony the Tiger being arrested for shoplifting in the kitchen utensils aisle of Poundland. ‘They’re grrrrrraters’, he’s saying, in a vain attempt to remind them of his fame.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a pack of three rubber door stops, £1.99.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of Professor Brian Cox’s legs poking out the top of a haystack, next to a deflated parachute, and a man with an exuberant moustache wheeling a market barrow on which you can only purchase a pack of three rubber door stops, £1.99.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of an advent calendar picture showing today’s advent calendar picture which is a picture of today’s advent calendar picture.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of The Incredible Hulk about to go off on one because he can’t see how much battery life his iPad has due to a crumb from the baguette he’s eating having fallen on the battery logo, and he’s swiped it three times and yet still the crumb is there.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of Pam Ayres sneezing on a duck.q

Today’s advent calendar picture is of an elk wearing a flat cap.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a hedgehog at an acupuncturist’s.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a confused zebra on bin day.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of 1980s pop group Bucks Fizz arguing in the curtains section of Debenhams with the sales assistant, who happens to be The Emperor from Star Wars.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a Fear of Abandonment group being told that their workshop facilitator is running late.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of Hilda Ogden just finishing cleaning the last step at the top of a lighthouse just as the door opens and Woking Football Club start running in and up the stairs with muddy boots.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein and Professor Brian Cox trying to figure out how to change the time on the clock on the cooker.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of the Easter Bunny in a hot air balloon with the Toilet Duck and they’re both taking selfies while Foghorn Leghorn operates the burner. Toilet Duck is doing the duck face. They’re about to collide with Lidls.

Today’s advent calendar picture is of a plate of six nuns fighting over the last custard cream biscuit which a squirrel has just nicked anyway.

Festive Greetings!

I’d just like to wish everyone I know a wonderful festive period and new year.

2019 has been mega for me and there are several things I’m proud of, such as my show about tea, (Spout), the little web series I made, (Unbearable Lightness), a little book I made of previous show scripts, (Gazebo), and other projects too, such as In the Glare of the Neon Yak performed with the jazz band Shadow Factory, and my one-off show The Moon Wrapped in String, which I performed with violinist Sharon Hubbocks. On top of this, I undertook my first tour of the UK, which was hard work but flipping amazing!

And there’s so much to look forward to for 2020. I’m putting another collection together with Burning Eye for 2021, and I’m working on a new show to accompany the book.

The other things I’ve been up to is that I’ve been doing a lot of writing. I got in to performance poetry more or less by accident and chance, and before this I’d always written comedy short stories and scripts. Lately I’ve been returning to these and finding my voice again as a writer. That’s the reason why I’ve been a bit quiet lately on the performance front, I’ve fallen in love with narrative and stories again and I’ve been busy working on short stories.

Naturally this is a time when you look back. The sad passing of Melanie Crump was a shock to the Torbay spoken word scene. We had a few lovely events including one at the Blue Walnut Cafe in honour of her and her work. I do believe that Torbay has the most diverse spoken word community in the country with the emphasis very much on comedy and humour, and long may this continue. It’s also incredibly supportive and friendly.

I’ve read a lot this year, as ever. I recommend books by the wonderful Melanie Branton and Becky Nuttall, Tom Sastry and the forthcoming collection from Tom Austin. Jason Disley’s CD is amazing, a mix of jazz and voice, and the DVD from Jamie Harry Scrutton showcasing his amazing animation. In fact, there’s so much good stuff out there that I’m sure I’ve missed something.

As a lowfi Christmas special, I’ve made a recording of my show, Spout, and you can find a link to it right here:

I hope everyone has a great year next year, and thanks for everything. See you out on the road very soon!

An Interview with Becky Nuttall

Becky Nuttall is a staunch supporter of the arts scene in Torbay. A painter whose work explores themes of religious iconography, relationships and memory, she’s also a poet whose work looks at similar themes. Her first collection, Nick’s Gift, has just been published. Becky lives in Brixham and organises the Stanza Extravaganza poetry nights at the Artizan Gallery in Torquay. She is also a member of various local cultural boards and committees and as such works tirelessly to promote local art.

It is a pleasure to know her and to listen to her poetry on a regular basis. Becky has often involved local poets in some of the events and exhibitions that she has curated at places such as Torquay Library, Torbay Hospital, and the Artizan Gallery.

I was glad that she met me ask her a few questions.

Hi Becky. How did you get in to writing poetry? Has it been something you’ve always done?

My dad was a playwright. He had his first play broadcast on television not long after I was born in the late Fifties. It starred Dame Flora Robson as Edith Cavell and its success enabled him to get an agent and become a professional writer. He worked from home. His studio at that time was downstairs and we could hear him tapping on the typewriter. It was his job and we absorbed it and its rules . I had access to an endless supply of paper. In those days everything was in duplicate and I had the thin paper for the carbon copy. I was my father’s child, I instinctively understood the importance of his work. He was a pioneer of television screenwriting in the Sixties. He was also a film screen writer and novelist. I wrote poetry and drew pictures constantly. I didn’t know any other child that was writing like I did, none of my local friends did. It was all solitary. Dad and some of his friends would read it and encourage me.

You came from a very artistic family. What kind of environment, artistically, did you grow up in?

My parents friends were artists and writers. Dad went to what is now The Royal West Academy in Bristol and came to Brixham after he married my mum, Jenny. They founded Milton Head Pottery in 1950 and sold it in 1959. Their friends were an enormous influence on me. They compounded my belief, that the creative life was hard and a mystery. However it is a vocation. My parents didn’t have much money when we were young children but the house was full of art by dad and the people we knew. My dad had links with Dartington because he was a founder member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen with Marianne de Trey.

You are also a fantastic painter who uses lots of religious iconography, yet you’re not a religious person. How did this come about?

At nine years old I said I was going to go to art school. My parents took it seriously and that’s what I did when I left school. However I had a very traditional education from seven years old. We were taught the classics. Dickens was the author read out to us in class. We were taught the Greek myths and Roman culture, Shakespeare and Chaucer. It was very dry and closed. No discussion of modern social or world context. I loved it though. The problem was it was a convent. We stood out from other students because of our background, we were Church of England and I was seen as disrespectful for questioning the oddness of a religious life. I was scruffy because I wore my two older sisters’ hand down school uniform. I went on the bus to school from seven years old, I was bullied to and from school including by the bus conductors. I have no idea why my parents thought it was a good idea to send me there, I hated it. The alternative must have been worse. However religious art is the foundation for what follows in art history. I plunder it gleefully. It’s revenge for the emotional abuse I received from some particular nuns and Catholic teachers.

Your poetry is very autobiographical. What are your other influences?

All work is autobiographical and all art is a self-portrait – it’s just the different means we use to cover up or expose it.
As well as writing poetry from about seven years old, I starting reading it too, we were taught poetry in school and how to write it. My dad wrote poetry and my mum’s father wrote poetry in the Second World War. Rupert the Bear stories rhymed. There are obvious influences like Edward Lear, Hilaire Belloc, Christina Rossetti. Then I asked for Thom Gunn and Crow by Ted Hughes, for my 13th birthday. I made a leap, probably influenced by stuff lying around at home and some seriously good television programmes in the Sixties. I had The Poets Manual and Rhyming Dictionary for Christmas ( not a success). I wrote and drew equally, one influencing the other. I loved pop and rock music, for a while lyrics were my main influence. At art school , and for my degree, I studied Modernist art and writing and the work of Dada, the Surrealist artists and writers. I loved Gertrude Stein. I read Huysman’s Against Nature. I absorbed it all. What society saw as a counter culture seemed perfectly acceptable and natural to me. I’d given up children’s books at about eleven and raided my parent’s bookshelves. We weren’t censored.

You are a very stanch supporter of the local artistic scene. How would you describe the state of art and culture in Torbay at the moment?

I support the local art heritage because of my dad and his connection to Torbay. I wanted to honour our own heritage. Although growing up in such creative privilege was influential, it was a period of time that passed and became forgotten. It wasn’t idyllic growing up with an artist, it was messy and dysfunctional and I moved on and beyond. Gradually I came to understand the context of mid twentieth century culture and that my family had lived it. There is a move to recognise Torbay’s place in this and I wanted to help. It happened that the community, in Torbay and the South West, I first saw doing the most for the arts when I ventured out again was, and still is, poets. It was the kindness of poets that encouraged me to support the arts in any way I can. Contemporary art suffers because it is led by money and gate kept with value judgements. Torbay is slowly, I hope, starting to break this cycle by bringing back into the community.

How did it feel to read or perform for the first time?

I first read and performed poetry when I was at junior school, it was mandatory to stand on a stage and sight read. I think the school thought it was character building to make me perform as I had a lisp, a problem with Rs, a gap in my front teeth, naturally scruffy and a mild stammer. They under estimated how much I was a show off, entitled and a contrary pain in the neck so I loved it. I performed my own poetry at art school at student events. I was mentored by the creative writing tutor so the showing off was moderated. The next time I performed was in 2016 after sneaking in the back of poetry performances for a while. It was exhilarating and addictive, bouncing off the talent in the room.

Who are your favourite poets or artists?

I thinks is easier to come to my house and look at my bookshelves…

What is your process for writing a new poem?

Research and more research. I’m driven by the academic and art in equal measure. I treat every poem and every picture as a small thesis.
For instance, the poem ‘Spaceflight’ is essentially about the moon
I find the idea, most of mine are rooted in my past, a memorable occasion, a memorable person.
The influence of recent visits, The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Spellbound at the Ashmolean, Certaine Wytches at The Devon Guild of Craftsmen; another poem I’d written, Nick’s Gift.
Remembering fleeting friendships in gloomy bus stations. The isolation if you were different
Text my daughter about her thoughts on the themes as she visited Boscastle with me. Connect it subliminally to Robert, who asked me to perform with him.
Research symbols attached to the objects in the poem, cultural and religious influence on people, objects and places drafted in the poem.
Research the language and roots of words.
Print off all the research and collate it.
Type the beginning, print it and hand write on it mind maps, lists of a chronology of events, the message, the character in the poem who carries the message, the sadness, the universal at the core of the poem over it. Compose and type it.
Listen to rock music, David Bowie, research childhood stories on the theme of the moon and witches. Turn it on its head, change the title to change the perspective, music. Compose and type it. Edit and edit, read it out loud, change the punctuation, change the page format for reading.
Proof read it

How would you describe your book, Nick’s Gift?

I grew up as a teenager in the Seventies. Between 14 and 16 years old I absorbed everything I could out of the sight of my family. I was against the patriarchal authority and society that said what was acceptable for teenagers. Mostly it was wonderful, sometimes it was horrible. The stars aligned though and here I am. Nick’s Gift is mostly about those influences, now moderated by the love of good people.

What does the future hold for the poet and artist Becky Nuttall?

After my twenties I still thought my achievements had be validated by a third party, that acceptance by a ‘better’ person was a high achievement, that I had to be shown, repeat, copy. The negative experiences far outweighed anything positive, I didn’t respect the ones I chose to teach me. I had grown up with better artists and tutors whose influence could sustain me and I was more than capable of finding out the rest by osmosis. I had to get on with it, stop procrastinating and thinking there was some formula for success held by a snake-oil salesman, some power/status merry go round; find my own voice.
Now I’m much older I still don’t need validation. If you like it, great. If you don’t, I don’t care and I move on. I develop my craft on my own, like I did when I wrote poetry as a child. I’ll carry on because it’s in my genes. It’s my journey and my heritage I see reflected back and there’s some way to go yet.

You can find out more about a Becky and her work, and order her book Nick’s Gift, here

A Song for Love and the Tundra (A poem for Christmas)

A song for love and the tundra

It’s a cold night.
Each chilled breath vapour cloud
Looks like a cartoon think bubble.
Frost gnaws like a zombie rabbit.
Certain things shrivel up.
But I don’t mind.
I’m on the station platform,
The steel sided sleeper service carriage to my right,
Windows lit, inviting.

My cabin awaits to protect me
Against the endless harsh tundra.

I clamber back on board, the cold
Swirls around me, the ghosts of
Fussy butlers. I traverse the empty
Corridors, narrow, labyrinthine,
I’m a ferret in a metal warren,
The buffet car decorated in fairy lights and tinsel
As fellow passengers raise a toast to the holiday season,
To the northern lights, cheers!
To polar bears, cheers!
To the warmth of new friends, cheers!
And off we go again.

Flicker flakes of snow skitter the window
As I lie back on my cosy bunk,
Warmth radiating from mechanical vents
The breath of a tame robot,
Yet no comfort do I feel as thoughts
Sting more than the frost, the sudden idea,
That I
Am the only gay in a thousand mile radius.

No glitter on the tundra, no mirror disco balls,
No Hungry love puppies feeling mushy in the slush,
No buxom gay seeking company in the Hudson Bay Company,
No life no joy no dancing nothing, nothing nothing,
And then,
As if seeking comfort through the pursed queenly lips
Of those generations who quivered
In shacks and igloos and on sleds and kayak,
I picked up my phone
And logged in to Grindr
Hoping to find in this endless nothing
Love sublime.

The screen is blank.
Yet another silent night.

Through the cold deep night comes the mournful whistle
Of the lead locomotive, the railroad line a straight parallel beam
Across endless tundra, incredibly straight,
Unwavering, resolute in its adherence to what should be.

I whisper.

But then, oh, then!
A Christmas miracle!

A flicker of wifi some signal of the soul
As I stare out at the show,
My mobile phone is aglow!
And a lone face of beauty manifests on the screen,
It feels like a dream
He’s the cutest I’ve ever seen,
And his name is a cry for the centuries,
A beautiful poetry which lights up my day,
DildoSlut4000, and he’s only
One hundred and fifty metres away!

Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to this sexy thing!
Like three kinds following the yonder star
I get up and stand in the carriage of my car,
My Grindr app raised on high
Like a diamond in the sky,
App with royal beauty bright,
Come back to my cabin and spend the night!
Like lovers of old we’ll dance and pray,
He’s only one hundred and fifty metres away!

The night breaths a chill yet the warmth within
Propels me from my cabin,
Along the carpeted corridor as the train rocks,
Eager, phone raised,
Past windows still and each a cold black canvas
With flickers of frost on the frames,
Guided by this handsome avatar and I run
As the metres tick down, one hundred and fifty,
One hundred and forty, one thirty five,
Good evening Mrs Higgins, yet, it is chilly tonight,
One hundred and thirty, one twenty five . .

As I hurry in through my heart beats insane
In time with the onerous chuffing of the train
And a sleigh bell jingle from the depths of my brain.
One hundred metres remain!

Through the buffet I go and the train begins to slow,
As o envisage his kiss in this land filled with snow,
My own Santa and his sack and his jovial ho ho,
This long cruel slog to be with him and his Yule log,
That we might dance divine, our hearts entwined,
That I might enjoy
My very own feast of Steven,
Fifty metres, thirty, and ten,
I check my phone again.
The night is dark by my heart is aflame.

But what’s this?
I’ve run out of train . .

A locomotive cul de sac,
Yet I can’t go back.
No sexy stranger, no gay in a manger
Do I see in this empty carriage,
Just my own reflected in the dark, dark glass,
Looking out on a world of endless snows,
The train, it slows, it slows, it stops.

Ladies and gentlemen.
We’ll be stopping here at Elbow Junction
For around half an hour or so.
It may be called Elbow Junction
But the joint is hardly rocking.
Stretch your legs if you like.
Watch out for ice.

A desolate scene, this
Mid journey pit stop.
A frost sparkled platform
In a landscape bereft of hope.
The train, a ticking tensing metal beast,
An eerie interloper,
Metal sides shining in a faint lunar glow.
I clamber down, my phone throwing out
It’s own corona of electric light.

A wooden hut, a shack, a cabin, mismatched timbers,
Makeshift windows and a slanting front door
Shrinks back from the platform as if afraid, yet
No station building is this, a light within
Hints at some kind of life, domesticity
In the frozen north.
The door opens and any hope
That this might be the home of
DildoSlut4000 evaporates as
An old man shuffles forwards,
Long flowing beard and the kind of face
That looks like it needs ironing.

Sayeth he,

I’m a track side shack dweller,
Yessiree I am,
A track side shack dweller,
Big beardy man.
I’m a track side shack dweller,
Never going back, fella.
City’s full of crack sellers
A track side shack dweller,
Is what I am now.

Hey there young man,
Why do you look so glum?
You’re not the one who’s cold all day
Everything’s gone numb.
Living in a track side shack
Certainly ain’t fun
Hey there young man,
Why do you look so glum?

I’m a track side shack dweller,
And you’re a tourist guy.
Off to see the polar bears?
And really, god knows why.
What’s that that you got there,
The things you city folk buy!
An app, you say? Let’s have a look,
I don’t want to pry . . .

Oh . . .

A toothless grin from my ancient companion,
A scratch of his unkempt hair, a rustle as he
Nustles the stubble of his beard,
He shuffles In a half circle, comes back and looks again.

Who is it?, I ask, suddenly perplexed.
Now there’s a face, says he, I haven’t seen
For quite a while.

Have you ever felt magic on the breeze in the night?
When the only sound is the majestic barking of polar bears,
Or geese in flight,
The lonesome whistle of distant trains?
When the jiggling wiggling brilliance of the aurora boealis
Seem scant compensation for an existence which drains
Every last hope of love?
Have you ever slept fitful as the frost creeps in,
Shrunk back from the world beneath a pile of bear skin,
Felt the abject loneliness of no one else around,
Startled, alert, at the slightest sound?
Have you ever felt the man sized gap where love should be?

Past midnight now, it’s Christmas Eve.
And that, my young friend, is the train driver,

He told me he’d been taken off his route,
He told me this
Just before he gave me the boot.
His face may be, but his behaviour ain’t cute.

At this, like a phantom, a man obsessed,
My elderly companion runs down the track to the engine car,
And I follow, careful not to slip on the ice
Catching up just as he bangs on the locomotive door,
His fist a blur, shouting obscenities into the night.
The door opens, and there he stands,

You bastard! You fiend!, the shack dweller yells.
I don’t understand why you had to lie!
The nights I’ve spent, wondering why
You’d just disappear,
And twice a week these ghost trains would halt
And I’d stay in bed, my heart would jolt
On hearing your horn in the middle of the night.

(And also, I give a little wave.

He steps down from the cab, this saintly man,
His face a benevolent mask, the symmetry of his features,
The classical beauty of his earlobes, he
Stands forlorn before the bearded individual,
And then, like lovers lost, all rancour forgotten,
They throw their arms around one another,
A smothering of sobs and limbs and apologies.

(And also, I give a little wave.

Through the still of the night
comes the cry.
Allllll aboard!
And I clamber up to the carriage
Feeling within a renewed understanding
Of the world.

In the warmth of my cabin, I let out a sigh,
It is not for me to ponder on why
But revel in a world in which love
Is always worth the try.

We pull out from Elbow Junction, and pick up speed,
And soon into a flurry of snow we proceed this Christmas Eve,
And sleep begins to overtake me,
And the miles seem somehow less empty
Than they had been.
For Christmas is a time of togetherness,
Nevertheless, I feel hardly blessed ,
And as I undress I feel bereft.

But simultaneously lifted.
For who knows what led to
This romance,
The track side shack dweller
And DildoSlut4000,
Spinning their love into the winter gloom,
Two hearts empty that both found room,
A soul afire in this great northern sublimity,
Then it could also happen to me?

And as Christmas Eve asserts through the night,
My senses take flight, and I dance an inner dance
Happy on love that it should find a chance,
Even in this ceaseless gloom,
A lonely cabin,
A tiny room,
A cold steel train
And the northern lights a flicker.

Two souls reconnected after years apart.
How glad I was I’d played my part.


Santa Fell down Sizewell B

Santa fell down Sizewell B

There’s nothing under the tree
Nothing for you and nothing for me
At least not a thing that I can see
Since Santa fell down sizewell b

Rudolf has got the night off
And donner and blitzen have a nasty cough
The sleigh is now wrapped around a tree
And Santa fell down sizewell b

A large concrete chimney silhouetted against the sky
Santas dodgy tummy from a bad mince pie
He’s run out of tea and he needs a wee
And now he’s fallen down sizewell b

To the boy in the window who waved
To the elves in the factory who are all enslaved.
A Christmas elf dreams of liberty
And santas fallen down sizewell b.

The sleigh is all covered in tinsel.
The cars and the houses are covered in tinsel
I can’t think of anything to rhyme with tinsel
And now santas fallen down sizewell b.

Marjorie wants world peace
Dave wants an end to starvation
Gemma wants less underrepresentation in the media
Francis wants a more transparent banking system
Lisa wants a respite from the crushing oblivion which awaits us all
Jim wants a cheap pair of socks
But none of them will get what they need
Cos santas fallen down sizewell b

Plans for my Funeral

Plans for my funeral

I, Theodore Auberon Fricker-Fricker-Smith, being of sound mind and body, and willing to engage in matters pertaining to my future demise, and fearful not at all of the implications of such speculation, hereby, gladly and with enormous pride, give details of my funeral plans.

No-one shall wear black.

Black is the colour of mourning and it should not be worn at my funeral. I would prefer to keep in with the recent decoration of the family chapel, that those present should respect my wishes in wearing pastels, preferably lilac or lavender. Or Paisley. One has to make an effort in such circumstances not to fall into pathetic stereotypes and the stereotype of the grieving relative bedecked in black is perhaps one of the more tiresome for everyone else attending. Not everyone will be sad. Make an effort for the happy people. Pastels it shall be!

My coffin shall be carried to the church by six circus clowns, followed by two more, playing the flugel. At the same time they must be dancing, so that the coffin swirls and rotates around the church floor in a crazy rhythm as if almost celebrating the fact that I have snuffed it.
Preferably, the clowns must also be tap-dancing, though I am not too fussed about this. Oh, and they should be wearing pastels.

Sixteen massed zither players, flown in direct from the mountains round Salzburg, should serenade the guests as they file into the church. It possible, find a theremin and allow it to jam with the zither players for a while. The fusion of the two sounds, I am told, can be haunting and thought-provoking at the best of times and should fill the guests with a sense of peace, harmony and the innate goodness of man.

The vicar shall wear a Man United shirt. I have never been a fan of football, but, after having read the papers and scoured the news, I have noted that the average man worships football above all other, and Man United above all teams. Always one to go with the majority, I shall have my vicar wearing a Man U shirt. Surely, all those people can’t be wrong?

By the time the guest have arrived and the dwarfs have finished swirling and tap-dancing to the front of the chapel with my coffin, there shall be a sudden roar of music from speakers hidden in various locations around the room. Memflak’s Fifth Oompah in C Major (Rhapsody on a Theme of Tortoises) shall be fused with the latest release from the Faded Satans, ‘Granny’s Got Me In A Headlock’) – and shall be played as loud as the speakers permit. It would help if the vicar started break-dancing, in order to add to the solemnity of the occasion.

As the ceremony begins, I want a thousand coloured balloons to fall from the ceiling, each one inscribed with a word. The congregation should ignore the ceremony and, from these balloons, create a poem of deep meaningfulness and significance, which should then be proclaimed as my last final work. The balloons that are left over should be popped for no other reason than the fact that it will make such a satisfying noise.

At the commencement of the first hymn, the pipes of the organ shall be filled with jelly. Green, preferably.

There shall be no crying. Laughter shall emanate from all corners of the chapel. If there is not sufficient laughter to earn a rebuke from the nearby old folk’s home, then the zither players and the circus clowns should challenge each other to an impromptu game of It and the theremin player should be the judge. If this doesn’t work, then the vicar must be prepared to do host a spur of the moment tombola.
While this is happening, a small boy should be employed to crawi under the pews and tie together everyone’s shoelaces. And then, on the count of three, the vicar must announce that the person sitting on seat number 15c shall win a prize in the meat raffle, to which everyone will stand up and then fall over, therefore leading to the general sense of hilarity. If possibly under the circumstances, a fight should then break out.

I Theodore Auberon Fricker-Fricker-Smith, being of sound mind and body, cannot wait for this funeral and I shall therefore be attending myself, in person, before the event of my death. In fact, so tempting does this proposition sound, that the funeral shall be held next Wednesday, and I have already ordered the coffin. Bring your own beer.

Theodore Auberon Fricker-Fricker-Smith

Oh, and PS. I leave my stamp collection to the alligator.