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Dad was a fan of The Archers

Who knew that when Archers actor Sunny Ormonde performs her one-woman show, she likes to include work from poets living near the venue? I didn’t know, until she contacted me by email, asking if she could read one of my poems in Bewdley on October 13th. We chatted on the phone so I could find out what kind of piece she was looking for and it was clear that she wanted humour. It was also clear that she’s a really nice person. During the course of the conversation I told her about my Dad’s ‘addiction’ to The Archers, and it wasn’t long afterwards that I began working on a new poem on that very subject. Sunny was delighted with it and, though I sent her alternatives to choose from, she decided to include Dad was a fan of The Archers in her show, and arranged for me to have 2 complimentary tickets.

As we arrived at Bewdley Baptist Church, my mother and I passed ‘Sold Out’ signs and were guided to central front row seats. Although I haven’t listened to The Archers since the days when I lived at home, I enjoyed every minute of the show, which was entertaining, inspiring, hilarious and, at times, moving. It was packed with poetry, including limericks, extracts from Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and of course, my Archers poem. Sunny had asked me how to pronounce my name so I sent her this poem which she also read out:

Heather Wastie rhymes with Tasty not with Nasty,
Heather Wastie rhymes with Pasty not with Pastie,
not with Frosty, not with Asti,
rhymes with Hasty, Heather Wastie!

I love the way she ended her show with a gentle and moving extract from Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine. Throughout the performance she had dipped in and out of her Archers character, Lilian Bellamy, with ease. I was mentally taking notes about ways of moving in and out of character in my own shows.

Afterwards Sunny obviously enjoyed meeting and chatting to people and it was a pleasure to work with such a warm, friendly woman. There were discussions about the possibility of us collaborating again in the future. It did seem to work rather well.

img_0585The show was part of Bewdley Festival 2016. The Director, Dave Collins, contacted me after the event saying “…. the audience loved your poem. Several have asked if it will be available on-line or in a forthcoming book”. I had already decided to blog about the event, sharing the poem, so here it is. Thanks, Sunny, for inspiring me to write it:

Dad was a fan of the Archers

Every weekday evening,
His radio at his side,
He’d monopolise the toilet
From just before 7.05.

His friends knew not to phone him
Till after twenty past seven
And those who called at quarter past
Were usually given

A reason not quite truthful
For why he wasn’t free.
Dad was a fan of The Archers,
A treat after his tea.

And if we drove to see a show,
A concert or a play
We had to leave by five past seven
And whisper all the way

And when I heard the theme tune
I’d sing it way off key
On purpose just to tease him.
He took it manfully.

Sometimes he had to miss it
And catch the omnibus.
This everyday story of country folk
Didn’t appeal to us.

In the days of Walter Gabriel,
He loved his evening treat.
Dad was a fan of The Archers;
It made his week complete.

© Heather Wastie
October 2016

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