A young chap from Latvia was outside the Natural Theatre headquarters in Widcombe earlier this week. He was taking a picture of our Flowerpot Man statue. This is a larger than life-size Bath stone carving of a man in a suit with a pot of flowers instead of a head. It’s our trademark.
I asked him if he wanted to meet the real thing. He looked puzzled, scared even, but followed me into the building. As it happens, performers were packing for a gig and I knew the flowerpot masks were being prepared. I pulled one out of a box, placed it over the bemused fellow’s head, grabbed his camera and took a picture for the folks back home!
He said that he’d just come up from Glastonbury (the town, not the festival). I opined that at that juncture it was more than likely mobbed with hobbits, seekers of solace, ley-liners and tinkly-belled fantasists of an Arthurian bent, all mixed up with rock fans stocking upon toilet paper and ready meals. He said, yes, it was a bit like fairyland.
Welcome to the real world I said. And then realised we were standing in our props store, surrounded by boxes marked Fantasy Hats, CIA Props , Fatty Padding and Russian Navy Accessories. To my left a pile of pirate hats, on the shelf plastic containers labelled ‘Fried Eggs’, ‘Moustache Glue Remover’ and ‘Dog Muck, assorted’. To my right was a row of false nude suits complete with sewn-on rude bits, and sticking out of a tea chest an assortment of swords, a croquet mallet, a shooting stick, several Japanese parasols and a clutch of lollipop lady’s lollipops!
There were six Claire Balding masks left over from the Olympics and several pairs of Union flag underpants (likewise).
Even more intriguing was the suitcase marked ‘Gnome Padding’. And several large packs of Bonios, which as all Naturals aficionados know is the currency used by our Conehead Tourists.
Still, to us, that is reality. Much to the amusement (or not) of airport customs officials around the world. ‘What’s in the pink suitcase?’ asked one as we arrived in Cork. ‘Nothing’ I replied as six more wobbled into sight on the conveyor belt. ‘Do you want to look inside?’ ‘Not really’ he sighed.