Friday, 26 May 2017

Storytelling: The Balance of Things, or How to Settle a Debt with a Chicken

I'd only seen Michael Harvey once, but he made quite an impression. So I was delighted when another performance from him was scheduled - in Crouch End, unfortunately, but what the hey; it's one of Crick Crack's regular venues. Mind you, when I came to look for the confirmation email yesterday, I got a shock - no email could I find! Unusual, as I normally book these as soon as possible. I'd confirmed my attendance on the Meetup page weeks ago. Well, I said I'd better book again, just in case.. when no confirmation email arrived for that either, I realised there must be a problem, and emailed - and filled out the online form - to check with them for my next booking, next month; as I said to them, I don't want to book it twice! No response, mind. And I printed out the online confirmation of what must have been my second booking for last night - there is no way to check your bookings on the website.

That evening, it had cooled down considerably - I swear, you can't tell what to do with the weather! "Cast not a clout till May is out", as they say. Having determined to take the bus, I strolled up to Kingsway again - other side of the road, this time. Jeez, I'm heading out of town a lot these days! Anyway, when the people in front of me started to run, I looked, and saw what they had - my bus, at the stop. Oh boy. And I needed to get this one, to be in time. I ran after them - and we'd all have missed it, but for the fact that the driver was having some kind of argument with a passenger.

Well, I was travelling on that bus for nearly its entire route. And I gotta say, I have never met such a noisy bus driver. Oh my, he hardly stopped - he was yelling down the mic at his boss, who was telling him about a diversion (not arguing, he was just loud - not nearly as loud when he was telling us about it, after). He beeped every time he started off. He yelled at bus drivers and taxi drivers who were blocking hie way. He yelled at cheeky pedestrians, walking in front of him. He shared his thoughts with us when he discovered the cause of the diversion - apparently, a bus was blocking the road. The diversion itself didn't affect me, but I did worry whether it'd slow us down - my timings were tight.

As we drew closer, there were as many stops left as I had minutes to go to showtime. I consoled myself with the facts that (a) the final stop was right across the road from the Arthouse (I have taken this bus before, just not all the way from town), and (b) they're ok with latecomers. We arrived with one minute to go - I crossed the road in the company of someone else, and entered a crowded lobby; as usual, they were late starting, eventually dimming the lights five minutes late. Nobody checked my ticket, and I went straight in and took my seat - at least I'd managed to get Row B, but one of those unoccupied aisle seats was probably also mine.

It was mostly, but not completely full, as usual, and Ben Haggerty - providing mc duties as usual - was sat with us, in the stalls. And in due course, he came on and introduced our raconteur for the evening. The story was another Breton one - Michael Harvey tends to favour them - and this one might have seemed a bit daft. In short, a chicken has saved some money, gives it to the king's herald, who's raising money for the treasury and promises a good rate of interest - and of course, no sign is seen of the money thereafter. So, having left it as long as she can bear - to earn as much interest as possible - she sets off for the palace. En route, she attracts the attention of, in turn, a fox and a wolf, who decide to accompany her and wait until she gets her money before they eat her. As the road gets longer and longer, they get tired, and each climbs on her back (that's one big chicken). Each in turn tells a story, to "shorten the road". And when she comes to a river she can't cross, why, she invites the river onto her back as well, and the river tells a story. Finally, a dramatic conclusion sees her saved three times, once by each of her passengers, as the corrupt king tries to get out of paying his dues.

It takes a good storyteller to make all of that worth listening to - and Michael Harvey played a blinder, with an absolutely hilarious performance. He played up the more ridiculous parts of the stories, got us all participating with the bits that repeated, and my goodness, he does a good chicken! and a good sheep, BTW. A welcome companion to anyone's evening - he invited us all for drinks afterwards, but I wanted a word with the people at the bar. And after Ben Haggerty pointed out that this year is the 30th anniversary of the foundation of the club, and there's a donation button on the website (I just checked, and it could be more visible) - I headed out and had a word with the friendly Spanish chap at the till, asking him to check my booking for next month. After much searching, he found it, and when I explained that I'd never got an email, he printed me out a receipt, which I must now keep safely. "Ah, I made you smile!" he grinned. Lovely chap. But caveat emptor - they don't seem to send confirmation emails any more, so if you're booking here, do print the online confirmation!

Still no sign of Michael Harvey, so I just left - into a pretty cold breeze. My bus stop was just to the right - I got a shock when the display at the stop said I'd be waiting the bones of half an hour for my bus, though! Google Maps said there was one just about due, and Google Maps was right, thankfully - further down the road, I needed to change to a bus with the same destination as the first, but taking a route closer to home. And so I got home, not terribly late - the storytelling hadn't had an interval, so finished a good bit earlier.

This evening, I'm back to Ireland for the Bank Holiday weekend again - and taking the bank holiday, this time! Jeez, I'll be glad to leave the heat behind for a while.

On Tuesday, London Dramatic Arts are at the Olivier to see Common. So am I.. on a cheap Travelex ticket, which I booked direct with the venue. So I'll be avoiding them, since they don't appreciate that.

On Wednesday, free comedy in Hammersmith was up again (temporarily), with Random LondonFree Comedy Nights in Hammersmith Wimbledon and GreenwichLondon Live Comedy, and London Art Comedy & Culture Lovers (an offshoot of Ken's Events). But yay, it's now been replaced by a Funzing event, with London for a Tenner or Less - a Luxury Chocolate eveningHelen's popping along, too. The code Fun_Day10 got us a 10% discount.

On Thursday, I eschewed the free comedy in Hammersmith for the Ghosts & Executions Tour, with London for a Tenner or Less - even though that guide wasn't great the last time, so I cancelled this previously, he's better than that free comedy! Funzing again, of course. Oh, and the code WELLBEING30 got me 30% off this. How it qualifies as "well-being" I don't know, but I'm not complaining! ..but on Sunday, one of the Man with the Hat's old group got in touch, and now a half-dozen of us have organised to get together in the Swan that day - we'd hate to lose touch. Not including said Man with the Hat, mind you - sadly, he's now shunning all contact with us. Hey, I know he has other commitments - but I don't think it's wise to cut himself off completely - and so abruptly. And we'll miss him.

Then I'm off down to Helen for the weekend - she told me about this Living History Festival, and I said yes please!

The 5th, I'm back to Soho Theatre with the Crick Crack Club, for something called The Frog Princess - Punked. Ben Haggerty, the mc and co-founder of the club, told us the other night that there's going to be a full punk band - goodness, who would've thought that Sally Pomme Clayton had a hidden punk side!

And the 6th June, I'm with the London European Club, to see the Images Ballet Company at the Arts Depot.

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