Friday, 27 November 2015

The Victorian Festival of Christmas

serves you rught bottle smasher sillyI totally skived school today! OK, so I had a sign-off or a pass-out or a licence to roam or whatever, I wasn't AWOL. The Victorian Festival of Christmas is an annual event held at Her Britannic Majesty's Royal Naval Dockyards just down the road.
Just in front of the Shipwright's Church on St George's Square is an informative signpost telling you where the harbour was in the 12th century, and surrounding the dockyard itself is a wall telling you about its 18th century origins and the whole place is full of history and absolutely ideal to pretend it's still in the Victorian era, it's almost as if it was built then.
mary poppins chimney sweeps brushes groundlings theatre portsmouth
So my theatre provides peripatetic actors who add to the atmosphere for the oodles of visitors and this time, I'm playing an ambitious orphaned street boy paying my own way by cleaning chimneys freelance, I do a bit of silver polishing on the side, I have a convincing Cockney accent, 3 teeth, ripped clothing wot I nicked off that dead geezer out the back of the knocking shop, and a host of colourful vitamin deficiencies.
Bud took Jof a cup of tea at 0555 and the day started. I was raring to go and we had been warned the traffic would be awful so we left early and I was signed in at 0740, a mere hour and a half before I was due in make-up.
The day did get better. Due to some islamic party-poopers over the Channel, there were a few more heavily-armed paratroopers than usual. Friday could easily be viewed as the practise day for the main event tomorrow and Sunday, it was fairly quiet. We set up shop in Snowy Alley and Child A was already being a pain in the butt, with the mischievous attitude of the untethered Year 3.
school project floating boat ship
We performed our set piece and dances and games and chats and in a rare half-hour break, we wandered up to HMS Victory (as you do) and I suggested we all sing 'My Bonnie lies over the Ocean' while two of our dancing girls did their turn. We got a big round of applause from our grateful public. Later, Child A was being such a wotsit in the thingy that I stormed offstage crying.
 That's exactly when the BBC camera crew filmed the Chimney Sweep Federation doing the 'Step in Time' dance, in traditional formation with a glaring gap where I should have been standing. Thus I failed to get on TV this week, bummer.
Anyway, I ate lots of toast and swept out a lot of chimneys and didn't get my pockets picked and I liked the Fagins and the Pearly Queens and Queen Victoria and the Judge and the prostitutes in the bawdy-house and the beggars and street vendors and piccolo players and you should all go tomorrow, it's ace.
At home I had very tired feet and deserved a bath. OK, so we had to remove the Good Ship Mungo from the bath before I could get in, it's my entry for the class naval architecture topic competition. Yes, it has a flag of convenience with little toilet logo.

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