Albert Parsons, the stage door keeper at the theatre had been tasked along with one of the stagehands, Sid Grundy, to pack away all of Billy Nutmeg’s personal possessions. This included his costumes, make-up, sheet music etc, until such time that Billy might make a reappearance. However, at this moment in time, no-one in Hallifield had any idea that Billy was laid up recuperating in a Southampton infirmary. A new headline comedian, Jerry Jenkins, had been booked to fill the top spot vacated by Billy, and he was to have Billy’s dressing room. Sid took the opportunity to read a few of the poison pen letters written on blue note paper, that Billy had received. “Crikey, have you read any of these?” he said to Albert. “No”, replied Albert, “I haven’t, He never lets me see them. Read a couple out and we can both have a laugh”. Trying hard to stifle his laughter, Sid read aloud. “Your act stinks and you stink. Call yourself a comedian, I’ve seen funnier corpses performing. You are about as funny as a boil on the arse cheek, you should think about packing in. Them two dancers are lovely and that chap with the cats seems like a nice bloke, but you stink rotten”. Albert and Sid were laughing uproariously at this penned tirade of abuse. “Do you think that this is why he’s disappeared”, asked Sid. “No idea”, said Albert, “I never really liked the chap, he’s a right tight wad. I always get a nice little present from the main stars at the end of each week, but not him, and he’s been here a few times now and never put his hand in his pocket once”.
It was always good to stay friends with the stage door keepers at any theatre as they would often carry out errands for the acts and fend off the unwanted attentions of fans and ‘Stage Door Johnnies’. A small show of gratitude might secure a slightly bigger dressing room or one a little nearer to the stage. Albert knew all of these things to be true, as he himself had enjoyed some success as a young man performing in the music halls. As a child, he was part of a family trio. Their act comprised several variations of ‘a mother with an unruly child at the doctors’ or ‘a mother with an unruly child in a Headmaster’s office’, or ‘a mother with an unruly child on a trolley bus’. These routines usually centred around the young Albert being thrown around the stage, or from one parent to another. Of course, as he started to grow, the act needed to change, but his father suffered a bout of pneumonia which left him too weak for all of the on- stage gymnastics. Albert had a fine singing voice and started to gain popularity with his humorous patter songs, so much so, that the family act broke up. Albert’s mother and father tried to carry on as a double act, but it just wasn’t the same and the bookings started to fall away. Albert supported his parents as best he could, but both had turned to drink and were known to be unreliable. After the pair were caught stealing from the other performers dressing rooms, well, that signalled the end of their stage careers. This sorry business also affected Albert’s standing amongst the show business fraternity. If anything were to go missing or astray, then all eyes would be on Albert. “Like father, like son”, people would say. “No smoke without fire”. These unwarranted suspicions affected Albert so much that he just quietly retired from the business, moved up north to the Hallifield area and got himself a job in one of the many new factories that were springing up. Up here, he was just an anonymous worker, and it would be many years later when this theatre was looking for someone to manage the stage door that his connection with show business would be re-ignited. “Right, that’s everything packed up”, said Albert. “Let’s get this stored under the stage and we’d best stick on a tag with Nutmeg’s name on it. We don’t want him accusing anyone of stealing his stuff now, do we?”
Albert had re-positioned himself behind the desk in his little backstage office when the new comedian arrived with his cases. “I’m Jerry Jenkins”, he said, as he plonked his cases down next to Albert. He asked for his key and then turned to walk away. Stopping to look back at Albert, he said, in a very off-hand manner, “Make sure those cases get to my dressing room as soon as possible, I’ve got an audience to impress in a couple of hours”. Jerry Jenkins strode off down the corridor to his dressing room, key in hand. Albert watched him disappear. “Hmm, no tip”, Albert thought to himself. “Another tight wad”. Albert reached down, opened the drawer to his desk and took out a sheet of note paper and an envelope. He addressed the envelope, tucked it away in the drawer and then turned his attention to the blank sheet of paper. Ten minutes later he had nearly finished writing. Albert took a moment to peruse his composition. “Oh yes, very good ”, he said to himself, and then put pen to paper again, in order to give a final flourish to his latest poison pen letter.
6 thoughts on “Thompson’s Lost Plimsole”
Lunkhead Lunkin. There are some people you just shouldn’t take for granted.
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I called the new comedian, Jerry Junkin, however, having thought about it, Junkin is the name of a late comic writer and performer who I admire, so I’ve changed the name… Just so you don’t get confused….
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Well, Jerry’s still a jerk. I liked saying Lunkhead, though. Oh, well. I do appreciate your keeping us informed. Might be an important point later.
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Pleased you changed the name. Mr Junkin was one of the nicest, most generous men it has been my pleasure to meet, and I’m not at all liking the cut of Mr Jenkin’s jib. Definitely a lunkhead!