So sad. RIP #UB40 talent and decent, lovely Brummy bloke, Brian Travers. We would occasionally meet up at the Hare and Hounds pub in Kings Heath and spoke about a musical idea a while ago. Not to be now. But Brian and the band were true to the Bohemian spirit with their record label, DEP.
Then Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts. Then a DJ I used to work with at BRMB Radio in Birmingham. And since I recorded this little ramble, I heard that an actor I knew when she was 18, who went on to become a successful agent, has also passed away! All under 60! What a week!
Full disclosure – I now consider Guy Masterson a friend and indeed I adapted the book and directed him in Charles Dickens’A Christmas Carol.(Yes, it IS touring this Christmas, thank you for asking! Schedule to follow soon!) But I first met Guy when he performed this piece at R.A.D.A. in London as part of the Dylan Thomas Centenary festival. Arranged by another Welsh-rooted performer and producer, Griff Rhys Jones, I was involved due to the London Literary Pub Crawl, so although this version is not new to me, it was once!
Dylan Thomas’ play for voices is about a day in the life of the fictional Welsh town of Llareggub (spell or say it backwards!) and its fractious, fantastic, fatalistic, funny and sometimes freaky inhabitants. Many think it’s based on New Quay, others Larne, both places Dylan lived in Wales, but the characters are universal. They moan and mourn and love and lust, and occasionally and hilariouly plan murder – and Guy Masterson performs them all perfectly. Using clever sound, shadows and physicality, we’re transported back to the crazy, lovely town. It’s a big ask to present UMW as a one-person show, but Masterson is the master of the genre. Occasionally Thomas’ text and language is so rich and heavy it can fall out of the ear and concentration is required, but as with all great performances, it is obvious that Guy Masterson really knows, and really likes these characters – and we feel his warmth for them. This was the ‘semi-skimed’ version – cut down in duration for the Edinburgh Fringe, but even when a young man squealed with delight and ran on to the stage to hug the performer, not once, but twice, Masterson simply smiled, returned the hug, pointed him back to his seat and took us straight back to Llareggub, without missing a beat.
There’s a reason Guy Materson has been performing Under Milk Wood for so long. He does it briliantly. Well done to Assembly Festival for bringing it back this strange festival year. Go and experience the original Coronation Street. See the Master Masterson and, as Dylan Thomas puts it, begin at the beginning…
The Waverley would definitely count as a Pretty Bohemian Pub Of The Day and will probably feature as such on the London Literary Pubs Instagram later. (When did I become such a media whore? I actually used to have over 10k followers on Twitter – I started even earlier than Donald Trump, I think. But then my account was hacked. I now have…ooo… at least 20 followers!)
But it’s a great pub, with friendly staff and, important for us media whores… sorry… bohemian creators… it has good, free Wi-fi. If you’re in Edinburgh for long, you’ll know that’s a definite asset. It might be the hills!
The Waverley usually has a few fringe events too. And I wonder what happened to these three?
After my brush with the Paparazzi yesterday, or rather my Fringe Umbrella’s brush (see my last post), I thought I should come clean to you. Because, you see, I HAVE been in a film. Yep, I was in a film, a full on mooovie. A Feature film. With Anthony Daniels – 3CPO from Star Wars. And, in fact, another few TV shows. Although none as big as the moooovie! With other stars, Neil Morrissey and Michael Elphick. It was filmed in Birmingham and in fact ‘Elph’ ( as we affectionally called Michael Elphick), used his pub in Henry-in-Arden, Warks, as a production base. We had some wild wrap nights! And now I’ve mentioned it here, you’ll obviously know I’m talking about the classic film by Dirk Productions – the people working on the ITV series Boom – The classic ‘I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle.’
Yep. That was me. Even though most of my role as Pete ended up on the cutting room floor, I gave some great dying as I was killed in the gym scene in the final film. as you’ll obviously know.
And thanks for appreciating my talent.
Neil also had his girlfriend and dog in the film. But they weren’t as good as me. Well, at least the dog wasn’t. I think.
In the death scene, the Vampire Motorcycle was actually a cameraman sitting in a wheelchair, being pushed around by the second AD. We were supposed to show fear! And as you’ll know. of course, my performance was sublime. Even though, as we were filming in the autumn, I really felt like asking the cameraman in the wheelchair if he wanted a blanket.
I wondered it the people on the Edinburgh Royal Mile had seen it too. Who knows..!
Even more exciting, in spite, or maybe because, of my failed efforts to get a ticket to see Pip in Francis Bacon, the Pleasance press office have said they may be able to help me. Watch this space! The bacon could be sizzling!
I seem to have spent an awful amount of time today trying to spend money. More specifically, trying to buy tickets for Pip Upton’s show, Francis Bacon. at the Pleasance Courtyard. More difficult than telling the real Francis Bacon to stay off the champagne! So after three hours of trying, on my phone and laptop, on the Pleasance site AND the Fringe Box Office site, I still can’t buy a ticket. It’s not that I’m doing anything wrong, but the technologies seem not to be talking to each other. Although, cursing the hotel wi-fi and lack of decent 4G signal in Old Town (I think that’s where I am) I’m suddenly reminded of my first ever Fringe. I’d written and directed an adaptation of Shakesperear’s Henry V. It was called Henry V – Lion of England and I’d decided I could take Shaky’s story and make it more interesting! It’s not a comedy – although there is humour, folks! – but it is a one-man show and ends up with one man fighting the Battle of Agincourt for real. I was going to perform it myself until I realised the one actor I knew from AmDram was much better than me so Rob Stanson became the man! It used lots of special effects and has an original music score by Robbie Williams. We put it on for one night at the tiny Hexagon theatre at the Mac in Birmingham. At the end, everyone was running for the door, I thought, but it was in fact my first standing ovation! In the bar afterwards I was approached by John Starkey, who told us he and his partner Les Ward were Starward – they managed people like Jasper Carrott, Phil Cool and the Hank Wangford Band and would we like to go to the Edinburgh Festival?
“Yes, great. What’s the Edinburgh Festival,” I think was my response.
It was 1992 and it changed my life for reasons I won’t bore you with here. But I smile today as I remembered the headache of communications I had back then. Had I got enough 10 pence pieces for the phone? My press office back then was the red telephone box at the top of the Meadows. I used to cycle up there every day.
But today I thought, in search of Bacon, I’d try one last thing. I walked to the Fringe Shop on the High Street, because I remembered there used to be a ticket office there. Alas, no more… or at least not this year. There are no physical tickets in this covid age, even though, this very day, Monday 9th August, 2021, Scotland lifted most of its covid restrictions.
So I got the number and email address of the Fringe Media office from the very helpful girl in the Fringe Shop at the counter they’d erected to prohibit entry. And being a bit of an anorak and to salve myself, I bought a Fringe mug and Fringe umbrella! Yep, anorak is what I am! I have dozens of theatre branded pens, socks, t-shirts… Having said that, the weather is so bad the umbrella becomes an inspired purchase.
And then a weird thing happens. I put up the branded Fringe umbrella and start walking up the Royal Mile, just to have a look at things. There are crowds about and a couple of street performers although not many at this reduced Fringe and the crowds are huddled under umbrellas. About 20 yards ahead of me, I see three paparazzi types with expensive cameras and huge telephoto lenses. Suddenly, almost as one, they point their cameras toward me and start taking pictures. I can hear the ‘snick, snick, snick’ of their motor drives. One breaks left, the other right and one, a woman, moves in my direction.
Wow, I think. There must be someone REALLY famous! I turn round to look behind me.
“No,” shouts the woman, “It’s you.”
I look back at her.
“The weather… the rain.. I work for the Scotsman newspaper. These are freelancers. But you; the long hair, the hat and the Fringe umbrella – it’s a great image.”
Long hair? It’s not that long is it? Maybe I do need a haircut. Where’s Luli – Guys Masterson’s young daughter – see yesterdays entry – when you need her!
Blimey. My umbrella is going to be famous! I smile at them and Pap Number Three says, “Would you mind walking up there by the statue then turning round and walking back towards us?”
Always a performer, loves! So I laugh and agree and do my walk past them to the constant accompaniment of their snapping cameras, then turn and walk back.
“This way, look this way,” says Pap Number one and I do so.
Finally they are done and I smile and wave and walk off. As I do I hear a group of people to the left of me whispering, “Who is he then? I don’t recognise him…”
I, as any star would, dwalink, ignore them and resume my normal, non-pap life. But I can’t help but smile when I hear another bunch of people behind me.
“It is! It’s him! I saw him in the film..!
I’m tempted to turn back and ask what film and who was I? But then I notice a couple of kids in the group and they sound so excited, I don’t want to spoil things for them by telling them it’s just my Fringe umbrella the paps are impressed with. And I am just a nobody who can’t even buy a ticket to see Francis Bacon.