Off on a WSR Adventure!
It’s been an astonishing week where my feet haven’t touched the ground. I’ve performed 19 shows in 14 days, been to West Somerset and back and I’m completely fully booked through to next week too. This week I’ve been busy performing Battle of Britain shows and I’m pleased the weather has started to cool a little. It’s not much fun having to perform in uniforms made of barathea while everyone else is wearing cool cottons. Fortunately I have glamour alternatives which have proved to be invaluable this week but now I’m back performing in full RAF, WAAF uniform as I fly through to the end of the week with Battle of Britain shows.
I confess I’ve had a lot of late nights and early mornings but it’s good to be busy and today is Battle of Britain day. I’m getting ready for my first show of the day which will be taking place in Oxford and then I’m over to Luton for the evening.
On Stage at Bishops Lydeard!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of performing for the West Somerset Railways 1940s event. It was my first time there and I had been booked to perform at Bishops Lydeard which is at the start of the line. Apparently WSR is the longest standard gauge independent heritage railway in the United Kingdom. It operates just over 20.5 miles between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard and I was the first act of the day opening at 9.30am.
I offer a unique package to 1940s events where I perform 3 x 45 minute non repetitive costume
All Set for My Stars and Stripes Set!
shows daily plus there is also the option of a free Saturday night dance thrown in which all comes in as part of my weekend package. All my shows are different and 99% of the tracks I use are bespoke musical arrangements. I’ve been in showbusiness for over 30 years and it’s true what they say you don’t get older you just get better and you have to be ready for every eventuality. If you fail to prepare you prepare to fail and it’s important to have all the equipment you need and not rely on others.
I carry as standard a 50 meter extension cable
Meeting Up with Lee on the Station Platform!
plus a commando plug which proved to be essential items at Bishops Lydeard. Not every artist would think to equip themselves with a commando plug but I first needed one when I performed for the Isle of Wight Steam railway’s Victorian event many years ago and I’ve been carrying one ever since along with continental plug adapters which I use when I perform abroad.
The devil is always in the detail and I made a point of checking out the stations lay-out the night before. Experience has taught me to be thorough
Rob and I between Show Sets!
because you can’t afford to leave things to chance. There’s always a lot to do first thing in the morning and you haven’t got time to mess about and waste people’s time. My get in time was 8am which on the face of it seems really early but once you start lifting equipment and carrying in costumes it’s amazing where the time goes. An important part of any performance is social media and I always try and film a quick short for facebook which keeps things fresh and exciting.
On this occasion I was very lucky to have a friend with me Rob Bailey who had come along under his own steam
The Best of British!
to see the event. It was only by chance he was there but thanks to his help and youthful strength we were able to share the load which made the setting up considerably easier. Being taller and by working together Rob was even able to decorate my gazebo with bunting which made the stage look pretty for visitors.
West Somerset Railways 1940s weekend is a big event and they have artists working at various stations up and down the line. The baulk of the event is focused around Minehead and Watchet
Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree!
which is where most of the artist are billetted for the weekend. Minehead is over 20 miles away from Bishops Lydeard and the railway very kindly booked me into the Lethbrdge Arms which is ideally situated for the station.
The Lethbridge Arms has recently been taken over and sadly they no longer serve breakfast. When you are working hard and to a tight schedule this can be tricky especially as I’m a type one diabetic. I inject 6 times a day with insulin and I have to be extremely organised. I can’t take risks and go with-out food especially first thing in the morning. Fortunately Rob had found another B&B in the village called The Mount where I was able to book myself in for a 7.15 am breakfast. This was literally a life saver. I had brought extra food with me but because of the extreme heat and no fridges in the rooms all the food I bought ended up going off and rancid.
Meeting Up with Johnny Victory at the Saturday Night Dance!
In many ways I was very lucky because not all the rooms at the Lethbridge have en-suite. When I left the hotel in the morning there were people queuing in the corridor to use the loo and another queue for the bathroom so I was very lucky indeed to at least have a loo and shower. The lady very kindly allowed me to stay in my room for two consecutive nights but initially she would have expected me to move to a room with-out an en-suite. I think when she saw my luggage and understood that I’m a costume artist and I wouldn’t be around to move my things, she took pity on me and allowed me to keep my room. Phew!
I always try and do my very, very best for clients and cover every angle. Show business is a tough life and it’s not for the faint hearted. Last weekend the weather was extremely hot and I thought it wise to bring some glamour costume alternatives for my US WAC and WAAF shows. This proved to be a good call because by the afternoon temperatures sored.
Meeting Up with 1940s Visitors
Whatever the weather the show must go on and thank goodness for my little gazebo which event organiser Robin Wichard very kindly put up for me on the Friday evening.
I had come prepared to perform a show for the Saturday evening but as it happens I was given the night off so Rob and I decided to attend the Saturday Night dance at Minehead Station. They are very lucky there because the Station platform is completely covered which makes for a wonderful performance venue. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet up and have a chat
Meeting Up with Tank in the Signal Box!
with fellow artists May Blossom, The Liberty Sisters, Winston Churchill and Johnny Victory. I last worked with Johnny at Sherringham Station in 2012 for the North Norfolk Railway so it was good to catch up.
Come Sunday we had a sprinkling of rain first thing in the morning but it soon cleared and it was business as usual as I continued to perform 3 costume shows. I always like to open with a uniform show because I very rarely have time to change and it’s easier to set up in flat shoes than heels.
Cho Cho Ch Boogie!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Rob for his amazing help and all the staff and volunteers at the WSR and Bishops Lydeard for their hospitality and kindness. I’d also like to thank Robin and his family for recommending me, with a special tip of the hat to Lee for allowing me to use his office as a changing room. It was a pleasure to sing for you all.
Tomorrow I’m in Wheathampstead performing for Rob’s Birthday Party which is promising to be an amazing afternoon. Last night I was finishing off my show plans and Paul Marsden will be joining me on stage as we perform popular tunes from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I shall leave you with a few of my favourite photos from the weekend. You can find more on my facebook pages by clicking the facebook icon at the top of this page.
Thank-you for Following Toodle Pip and Bye for Now!
Fun at Bishops Lydeard Station!