Panto Postcard 2, 2022.


The 489 turns into the 488 at 07:40

Monday morning I was on the 488 bus which dropped me off at the end of Over Norton Road, a short distance away from my Chippy home for the next few weeks. There was time to say hello to Suzanne and pick up a front door key before heading in to the theatre where Ade and Lou (the set builders) were already stood waiting for the building to open to load the set in.

John Terry welcoming everyone to the 50th Chippy panto

I collected my model pieces together and laid the model out ready to be shown at the read through, then set to work. This year the set has a lot of what are called profiled flats. Ade and Lou had built the flats to the correct overall size, but the profiled edges needed drawing out before someone could jigsaw them in to shape. I managed a few simple shapes before having to dash off to join in with the meet and greet for the company. A very good breakfast spread had been laid on for everyone, parish notices and a quick once round the room of introductions.

Paul, Imogen and Chris busy on stage

Normally I would stay for the readthrough, but this year my time would be better spent drawing things out. So I got to do the model showing to the company before heading of to put my dungarees on.

Jo the prop maker arrived with a van full of goodies.

In the past I’ve used an overhead projector to speed up drawing complicated pieces of set. I’d been offered a digital projector to help, with all the set pieces scanned this should have been easy. But no matter what myself and Louisa (the Assistant Technician) did things just didn’t want to line up and propping the projector up at the right angle proved so frustrating! In the end I gridded everything up and drew up in the old fashioned way.

Back in Banbury, Mick and Tilly headed out of town and moored between the lift bridges so that some shore leave could be taken and enjoyed again. Bumbury really is rather boring!

A tired and out of focus photo. Ade, Lou, Gemma, Chris and fish and chips

By the end of the day, sliders were in position, over half of the profiled flats were cut out, quite a lot of set pieces were primed. Time for a drink at the Blue Bore and some food. Sadly the pub were reluctant to serve us food as they were short staffed, Chris went for a walk to find food and we all ended up sitting in The Fox. Five portions of fish and chips went down very well!


Tuesday, Ade and Lou headed home leaving Gemma and Chris to carry on with the fit up. Make up was tried out for Whittington the cat and photos taken so that I can recreate their face in part of the design.

Louisa and Andy adding fittings to sliders

More drawing out of flats and the constant noise from jigsaws filled the theatre, when they were quiet we got to hear the cast learning the songs up in the gallery. Tracks were put up by Paul, Louisa and Andy. By the end of the day we’d achieved a lot, having the main set go up on Sunday had helped a great deal.

Healthy option tonight

Tonight the Blue Bore was considerably quieter and food could be ordered. A squash and beetroot stew with broccoli was very tasty accompanied by a glass of wine, only one mind as my head is still recovering from covid.

Something’s missing from that cill

Wednesday. Mick needed to turn Oleanna. The next winding hole was at Twyford Wharf down Grants Lock. He winded and returned to the lock where he could see several protruding bolts on the top cill. Keeping Oleanna away from the bolts was important so as not to snag the bow fender. He made it safely back up and returned to the mooring he’d left an hour and a quarter earlier, Tilly got to spend the rest of the day out and about.

Such an autumnal front door

In Chippy things needed checking over, magnetic catches adding to cupboards and wheels adding to set pieces to aid their movement both on and off stage. We worked our way through the scene changes marking positions and deciding on positions for things in the wings.

Eros based in with the model for reference

I spent much of the day priming bits of scenery. Imogen who’s on work placement with me started to base in Eros, it was very nice to see some colour going onto some scenery.

Front cloth in position

Late afternoon the actors and Pippins (local children who make up the chorus) joined us in the theatre for a health and safety briefing. For the first time we were able to show the company all the different settings, each piece of scenery being put in position, the swirling front cloth whisked off stage to reveal them. We were in a good place with everything, it just all needs painting now!

Just what’s needed after a busy day

Once the stage was clear of actors I started to mark up the Piccadilly Circus sliders. If ever a projector would have been useful it was now with sooo much lettering to draw up. To celebrate getting started with the sliders I treated myself to chicken and chips from the burger van. This is most definitely a treat best eaten on the bench under the tree by the book shop. Only thing is a small portion could just about feed a family of four!

Thursday. Mick made his way back in towards the Tramway to moor. Then in the afternoon he walked over to Enterprise to pick up a hire car. He’d hired the cheapest vehicle available a people carrier, but thankfully he was given the option of a small car instead. Loading up two buckets of compost he set of and drove up to our house in Scarborough to reset the insurance clock and check things over, leaving Tilly in charge on Oleanna with two pouches of food to keep her going overnight.

Eros just about finished

At the theatre I now have to work on things around the actors rehearsing on stage. The Piccadilly sliders are fixed on stage, so I am one of the first people in the building each day and one of the last out, taking advantage of a hour before rehearsals, lunchtime and after they have finished for the day. Today I got the sliders drawn up and started to paint them.

Being around the theatre is handy when props are needed, questions asked can be answered pretty swiftly. Possible alterations to things can be noted, today we found out that a door needs to be rehung, opening onto a scene has more comedic value than the way I’d had it built, but hopefully the alteration won’t be too difficult to do.

A very refreshing shandy

In the evening the theatre staff had a club night in the bar, Bingo. As much as it would have been nice to join in there is too much work to get done. Paul set up the sound system whilst I started to add colour to the sliders. A drink was brought through for us towards the end of the evening, a nice refreshing shandy which I enjoyed once I was off the top of a ladder.

Cakes cakes and sweeties

Friday. Every morning the treats stash seems to get replenished in the green room. With lots of dancing sugar levels need to be kept up, well that’s the excuse everyone is sticking to!

Mick returned to Banbury, returning the hire car after popping to the Gateway Shopping Centre for a flu jab. He’s compiled a list of jobs that need doing at the house, some small, others quite big and costly!

I started work on the backing flat for Piccadilly Circus. Drawn out and windows shaded in quite quickly, followed by a bit of colour. Traditional panto sets have what is known as black lining, over the last three pantos I’ve designed for Chippy I’ve avoided black lines, using shading instead. But this year having based much of my designs on Victorian etchings I could not avoid them. In fact there are far more black lines than I’ve come across before!

Saturday, Mick did a shop for the weekend at Morrisons then was just about to push off when a boat came into view, too close to push out in front of. As it came closer he noticed that it was pulling in behind Oleanna and had skeletons hung by the front doors, it was Frankie Fango an Instagram friend of mine. The two of them had quite a chat and Mick gleamed a bit of information that may come in handy next week.

He then moved on up to top up with water and timed his arrival at the lock perfectly as a lady from the trip boat happened to be there and was willing to work both the lock and lift bridge for him, that’s one lock he’d not have to single hand. He pootled onwards past the bakery and found a space alongside Spiceball Park where Tilly would be able to go out. It’s the weekend, too many woofers about to have a really good time! Pah Bumbury!!

Black line crazy

The actors were on stage this morning along with the Pippins, learning the opening song. I continued with black lines, still some more to do on the backing flat, but it will be fine for a photo shoot next week and the final lines can wait for other things to get painted first. The final rats for the portals were painted in, the last of the pillars primed and by the end of the afternoon the Piccadilly sliders were all painted in, just in need of black lining now!

That black border needs to go up a touch

There was time to have a tidy up before heading to catch the last bus back to Banbury. A quick service with only two passengers on board, it didn’t need to stop for anyone so we were in Banbury very swiftly. As I climbed onboard Oleanna I could smell jacket potatoes, we’d be having pie tonight and a lot of cuddles from Tilly!

Curled up happy Tilly

Sunday. The day started with tea in bed, followed by a cooked breakfast. Very yummy.

Being near Morrisons means gf black pudding too

The Geraghty zoom, subjects included exploding boats, hedgehog fascists, and the Queen Elizabeth Line. We seem to have coincided with a canoe race day on the canal. We’ve been around for one before, it gets very choppy, we may have to go out for a while.

A quiet moment in the canoe racing

Today I will spend mostly sitting down and not doing much, we’ll round the day off with a joint of pork. Hopefully we’ll both be rested up in time for numerous hours painting scenery and Mick single handing his way up and over the summit of the Oxford Canal before the winter stoppages start.

4 locks, 2 twice, 5.74 miles, 2 buses, 1 lovely landlady, 1 forgotten bag, 5 lots of fish and chips, 1 chicken and chips, 4 trees, 1 snake, 1 gorilla,1 stand down, 6 days of busyness, 2 sit down tea breaks, 1 Eros, 1 backing flat, 2 sliders painted, 1 cosy cat, 1 cooked breakfast, 32567 canoes!

2 thoughts on “Panto Postcard 2, 2022.

  1. Ade

    Had a breakfast preview yesterday!
    Very nice Mick.
    Have a productive week both.

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