Thursday, 12 May 2016
Whatever the Opposite of 'Cherry' is, Adam Lord took Mine...
Legendary variety producer Dougie Squires had always hoped to produce a Cinderella with the fairy cross-dressed but played straight. In 2013 he asked me to take on the role, saying,
'I know you'll stick to the panto fairy code and not go beyond because I hear you're going legit on us!'
There were plans for me to play Norman in The Dresser; which eventually came to nothing as the rights to live performances of the play were frozen at the time the recent TV production was made, starring Sirs Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins.
When I play Dame, I decide which of my aunts or grandmothers the character most resembles and graft on her facial tics, speech patterns and gestures. For Sarah the Cook I imitated my aunt Sophia smoothing her girdle with the heel of her right hand from ribcage to belly button. As Mother Goose I used my Nancy Ak's holding back tears voice and her habit of suddenly breaking off mid-sentence to check the stitching on her coat buttons. And for the Cinderella Fairy I more or less played my Nan Silcox, my mother's mother.
I was talking about all this last night to Adam Lord, owner of ARL Coachworks. Link to the ARL Coachworks website I've just retired from the rounds of performing as Madame Galina on the circuit, and Adam was my last audience 'volunteer' at the Cafe de Paris.
He was directly in my eyeline because he had (foolishly) swapped seats with another member of his party. 'He was there with his girlfriend, so didn't want to react too favourably to that fabulous blonde who got him up to dance.' The fabulous blonde being Folly Mixture Ooh La Lou, Sarah Lou-Twist. 'So I was thinking I'd have some of that and swapped places with him. Never dreaming that what I'd actually end up dancing with was a bloke in a tutu. I was massively uncomfortable being pulled up there. But I thought how I've been billy big bollocks moving seats and I had to go on with it.'
And the rest is history. He was classic. 'Like the cars I work on. Boom-tish.'
He's been Aston Martin approved in his time, and the cars he gets through his workshop these days are worth anything up to two and a half million. 'What I'm really about is feeding off a customer's passion for a car.'
On the ARL Coachworks site is this photograph of a client hugging Adam in gratitude.
Says it all, really
'What make of car is that behind you both, apart from "blue"?' I asked.
'Maserati Grand Sport. But look how he's going in for the hug. Gratitude. Not like you onstage, can I just flag that up?' No, you can't, Adam. 'I was working all hours on that Maserati. Six a.m. till two a.m some days. The client was ringing me to check up on his baby - apologising for it being too late - at ten at night. I'd still have those four more hours to work on it. Because obviously we get the run of the mill cars to keep going - and that's all part of it - the runarounds. Insurance jobs. But when you get a car like that Maserati or a Lamborghini or Ferrari - I'd do those jobs for free. it's not always about money. You have to do one thing every day for just yourself. That's why I do the gym training and the skydiving. The skydiving, in part, to challenge myself physically while I still can. That's what my nan really made me appreciate: that you have to do things at times just because you love doing them. Though she didn't mean for me to get silly about it, obviously. I've been there - getting myself seriously in debt. That's where having to do those six a.m. to two a.m. working days started off. And I carry the habit on when the car is special enough. I suppose along with my nan's viewpoint there's also a bit of a generation thing to my thinking - I played for Arsenal under sixteens at a time where we wouldn't have dared swear at the ref. And when a celebrity had some kind of talent. Nowadays social media has a lot to answer for. We've had two millions plus worth of car in and there's been a photo on Instagram and we've had attention from it, and the car's only with us for a wing-mirror job.'
He asked me not to quote something that he had said. 'Where I was telling you about the stamps on Lamborghinis so someone detailing one will always know what's what when they roll them back - that's fine. But not the bit just after it, please...'
I agreed not to quote him. Look at me following my own Nan Silcox's advice:
'Sometimes, Iestyn, you should save your tongue for licking the carbon off nan's coal straight out of the scuttle to cure your colic.'
I only didn't use that as the fairy in Cinderella because I couldn't make it into the required rhyming couplet.