Temperance Meeting, Gin Lane

I was booked by the inventive Kate Cox, Clik Clik Collective Producer, to be part of an installation and walkabout in Worcester city centre at the end of November. A striking feature in Worcester Victorian Fair, the installation celebrated the darker side of Victorian Britain in an alleyway with debauched inhabitants, cast out of society due to their unsavoury behaviour! My response to the brief was to hold a mock temperance meeting with this motto:Temperance handout

I researched temperance songs and speeches and put together an interactive programme lasting about an hour and enjoyed seeing how people reacted. Several people entered the spirit of it (haha) and joined in with the singing and play acting. One bloke pretended (well I think he was pretending!) to have a go at nicking my gin bottle which I assured everyone had been filled with water: “I have poured away the vile liquid this bottle once contained and replaced it with cool, clear water!” For, as the song goes:

There’s nothing so good for the youthful blood,
Or sweet as the sparkling water.

I invited people to sign the pledge and lots of people did, though ironically the pledge got soaked on the second day when there was a heavy rain shower. I had mixed feelings about the fact that an 8 year old signed after I showed her family the authentic signature of a 7 year old:

The Pledge comments list

It was very rewarding putting this show together and I’d love to do it again, so I’m looking out for opportunities. Do contact me if you’re interested or have any suggestions for venues or organisations that may be up for it. I’m working on a version which doesn’t need piano, though it would be great to have one.

Working for Clik Clik Collective gives me the opportunity to come up with new ideas and try them out. Producer Kate Cox is pictured below. I love what she does; there’s a feeling of authenticity and humour in this work, which is always high quality, and you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer group of people.

Kate by Dave Grubb

Kate Cox in Gin Lane by Dave Grubb

Street entertainment, I do not love you very much …

This year I’ve watched or been involved in several theatrical encounters on the streets of Worcestershire. Having seen some brilliant performances in August at Kidderminster Arts Festival (see link below) I got the performers-eye view in a KAF commission, How do wars start? with Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal.

10476061_795627550459438_2208224939617844541_o

Photo: Geoff Cox

To find out how it went see our Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/how.do.wars.start

Also in August, I was booked by Clik Clik Collective (see link below) to wander the streets of Worcester as Black Country Pat, engaging people as I saw fit, for the Worcester Music Festival. I chatted to lots of people and sang songs.

WMF 11

Photo: Geoff Cox

Last Friday I was with Clik Clik again at Worcester’s Victorian Fayre delivering poetry near the site of Hill Evans & Co Vinegar Works which closed in the sixties. My repertoire consisted of humorous and informative poems about vinegar I’d written specially for the occasion in a Victorian style plus pieces by little known Victorian women poets and Edward Lear.

Clik Clik Victorian Worcs Fayre Dave Grubb

Photo: Dave Grubb

Engaging the public at such events can be exceedingly difficult. (As you can see, I resorted to post-Victorian equipment.) People with their minds fixed on getting from A to B keep their heads down, determined not to be lured into any form of enjoyment. Is the chugger partly to blame for this? Discuss.

Here are some of the responses I got to the question, Can I read you a poem?

  • “I don’t like poetry. I’m not romantic.”

  • A man struggling to walk with a walking stick (hehe, he couldn’t escape) said he didn’t want a poem because he found it difficult to stand still, yet he stood there for ages telling me about the time he worked for Lee and Perrins.

  • A woman rushing by wouldn’t stop to listen because she was in pain but proceeded to tell me in great detail the different household uses for vinegar, especially cleaning the toilet.

Clik Clik Victorian Worcs Fayre 2 Dave Grubb

Photo: Dave Grubb

When 3 teenage lads approached I offered, in a very posh voice, to read them a poem and they said yes please, listening with mock interest. I read a short piece by Amy Levy and one of the lads said, earnestly, that she was one of his favourite poets and agreed that it was tragic that she committed suicide at the age of 27. He asked for more poetry, so I turned to another lad and directed this to him:

I DO not love you very much,
Only your tuneful voice,
Which, in a happy moment, takes
The music of my choice.
I do not love you, dear, at all,
Only your merry ways,
Which linger in my mind, and set
Me dreaming through the days.
In truth, I think it is dislike
You kindle in my heart,
Because you come so joyously
To steal so large a part.

Dollie Radford

He listened intently. “So you love me then”, he said when I’d finished. I walked away, “blushing”. Then the Anti Barber lured him into his chair and drew a moustache which made him look like Lionel Richie and broke into anachronistic song to uproarious laughter. Later I gave a spoken rendition of The Lost Chord by Adelaide Anne Procter to improvised piano accompaniment by a fellow Clik Clik entertainer called Dan. Is it mad? Is it art? Does it matter? Who had the most fun?

http://www.kidderminsterartsfestival.org.uk/gallery/

http://www.clikclikcollective.com/about-us/

Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre on Friday

I have assembled a range of characters over the years as outlets for my work …. tragic opera singer Montserrat Carbonara, Black Country Pat, Barbara the Bostin Darter, a drunken mayor, Edie, Gwendoline, an Idle Woman ….  On Friday afternoon I’m trying out a new one. She’s Victorian, she’s posh, she’s been prescribed poetry and vinegar, and she’ll be performing at the Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre between 2.00 and 3.00pm. Look out for her in St Martin’s Quarter trying to pretend that there’s no such place as Costa Coffee.

I’m just part of a larger group run by the quirky Clik Clik Collective who I worked with as Black Country Pat for the Worcester Music Festival earlier this year. See below for further information about them and the event which sounds positively vibrant!

http://www.clikclikcollective.com/about-us/

http://www.visitworcestershire.org/about-worcestershire/worcester-christmas-fayre.aspx