Inventor John Ward takes us for a little look inside WARD’S WORLD...
It’s about this time of the year that the pantomime season is in full swing, although it’s perhaps debatable in some circles as to how can you tell when word of assorted antics and events reach the ears?
Because certain things tread a thin line between traditional pantomime and the antics of others who don’t appear on stage but in real life, which can leave the untrained eyes and ears to utter but one word: ‘unbelievable’.
In keeping with this overall fun-filled theme, the following would have been the inaugural (and not only that) the first production of the newly- formed Spalding Pantomime Original Theatrical Society or S.P.O.T.S for short.
This helps in printing costs, as Miss Phipps, who hand writes/draws assorted organisations’ posters, ably assisted by Audrey Hedge-Chutter, finds her felt-tip pens last longer if an acronym is used instead of the full shebang - although in some cases, one has to be careful where one places the drawing pins when hanging them up . . . even more so in shop windows with see-through glass.
Since being formed a mere few months ago following on from an article in the local media, many people had attended the first meeting and assorted divisions had been formed.
A keen 53 per cent wishing to audition for leading roles in the as then unnamed production, 45 per cent wished to help out backstage, with 27 per cent wishing to help in any way possible that did not include anything of the latter two, with an overwhelming 89 per cent wanting to do not a lot, but be there at the end of it all to take the credit for the most wonderful and entertaining production.
If the production turned out to be of a clunker, Plan B would be put into place - nobody was responsible, seven were away that week, some on ‘on a course for work’ (?), with nine suggesting their medication had been changed and were unable to reach any high notes, more so for those who sung, with anybody else pleading that they felt others, unnamed and totally innocent of any crimes against entertainment, should take over as they wanted to leave to ‘spend more time with their money’ being a key factor.
The first production was tentatively entitled ‘Spalding on Ice’, but due to consultations with the ‘country council’ highways dept, gritting and (unintentional) outdoor sports section (non-affiliated), it was agreed by those who attended - plus a text or three from those who couldn’t be bothered as no catering arrangements for the meeting had been quoted - to give it the elbow, so it was revamped, rewritten to become ‘Whale Meet Again’.
So the story unfolded based on a recent event or happening.
Wally/Winifred the Whale, which was washed up near to Spalding, was not be able to get planning permission for a pool to live in due to the height of the diving board breaking regulations, thus he/she then went back to The Wash (the big bit of water in the east part of the local map and not a local launderette) in disgust after selecting reverse swimming mode.
The irony being that an online fund was set up by the usual self-styled well-wishers with nothing better to do, to re-home Wally/Winifred plus his/her own social media page online before it was pointed out that he/she didn’t like the idea of living in the area anyway plus even less so once he/she found out a pantomime was being written about his/her plight, although Channel 4 were going to give him/her his/her own late night chat show.
So this locally-written, topical pantomime was shelved - or run aground again.
As the star who had inspired this one-off and unique production had bade farewell - many suggested that he/she had him/herself to blame as he/she did not allow enough time for the planning application to be submitted - this left precious little time to get another written pantomime that would highlight the talents of local thespians, some that were suspected of having delusions of grandeur regarding their ‘talent’, although this opinion came from their own families in most cases, to present to an unsuspecting local public thus the following idea or concept was born out of, well, sheer desperation – (all together now): ‘oh yes it was!’
So it came to be that ‘Cinderella in Spalding’ was written with care, love and a thick ballpoint pen.
The opening scene was to be in a local castle, built on the site of a public horse trough that was removed to make way for the said castle, with seven garage spaces, swimming pool and heli-pad, as Cinderella in her rags (provided from 37 charity shops in the immediate area) stares though the broken window at the roadworks across the way, then on cue breaks into a song entitled : “Does anybody still move a shovel over there or are they all on their tea break yet again?”
Next into the castle was Buttons - who used to work for a mobile phone company until Swipe Screens took over - the cast’s owner’s butler/footman/horse wrangler and all-round good egg, who points out there is a disco going on later, subject to planning permission and a late-night eating licence, and Cinderella should go, as a local prince was looking for a bride/tax incentive and that she may well give him a hand looking, as she had only had a free eye test most recently - (all together now: ) ‘oh yes she did!’
She pointed out that the clothes from the charity shops would help - providing she didn’t pull the zip in the see-through trench coat up too much.
She would go, but hark! - her two non-beautiful (no longer allowed to use the word ‘ugly’) sisters were going, as they had booked a taxi while Cinderella had no transport to get to the disco.
Just then, a fairy godmother pops in to ask the way, as she is looking for the local Job Centre, as she has lost her job as a bouncer at the Peppermint Junction drive-thru porridge bar, so Buttons suggested they make a coach for her from discarded bits and pieces, like a workman’s (hardly-used) shovel and similar stage props and after a line of typewritten words you are reading presently (hopefully..), this they did.
Cinderella was told by the fairy godmother she had to be back before midnight, otherwise it would mean triple overtime rates and on hearing this, she breaks into the song; “Apart from the town hall clock (if it’s back from the mender’s, plus subject to budget restraints being applied under Civic Amenities Act, section 393-8537/9989/Bonus Ball 7), how will I know it’s midnight?”
Buttons has a solution: ‘Just ask someone with a watch’ he replies. (All together now): ‘oh yes, he did!’
So off Cinderella went to the disco in her carriage made from hardly-used workman’s shovels, as found near a coned-off hole in the road, with approved signs, and then . . .
Oh dash - you see this is where Health and Safety came on the screen, with the Wicked Clipboard Waver, shouting his catchphrase; “Rools is rools, a-ha!” (All together now): ‘oh yes it did!’
The Wicked Clipboard Waver pointed out that as none of those taking part had approved hi-vis jackets or similar apparel, safety goggles or ear plugs (so that would cover Marcia singing then..), the production was to be halted and so this is why the intended panto was not staged - (all together now): ‘oh yes, it wasn’t!’