Alien currency

You may not know this, but the currency of choice of the Natural Theatre’s Conehead Aliens as they invade Earthly streets and shopping centres, armed with somewhat skewed information about local culture and traditions, is the Bonio. How puzzled our alien chums are when , on proffering one of these rock hard, bone-shaped bickies in exchange for a prize marrow or a packet of Daz, they are met with guffaws of laughter.

Something in the back of their pointy brain reminds them that it is money that calls the shots on this strange planet. Ah, yes, they think, this will do the trick, as from deep within the pockets of their dull beige OAP Dannimacs (at least their Office of Information got that right), crumpled ten shilling notes are produced. More guffaws. At least, from the older members of the audience. Ten bob notes are as alien as the aliens to anyone under 34!

In fact, proof that the Bonio is robust currency came this week when, on opening a trunk of costumes that hadn’t been used for about five years, the Naturals wardrobe operatives discovered in the pocket of a Conehead coat a fully preserved and eminently eatable (for a hungry dog) Bonio, along with a faded, Cellotaped ten shilling note that was only fit for the bin.

These days, ten bob notes in mint condition are hard to find (and worth a lot more than ten bob) so the company has acquired a large wad of Nigerian banknotes (I won’t say from where, but yes, it did involve unsolicited emails and dodgy long lost relatives). They get just as good a laugh as Her Majesty’s defunct pre-decimal notes.

Rather like Captain Scott’s cans of luncheon tongue preserved in the Antarctic, there are other foods that seem to last forever. Witness my friend’s schoolboy collage illustrating the poem ‘O! my aged Uncle Arly, sitting on a heap of barley’. This, his mother informs us, has finally met its end. After 39 years on top of the wardrobe, one cold morning last week it made ideal kindling for the living room fire.

A crackling blaze it was too, apart from the heap of barley bit which refused to burn. What the heck is All Bran really made of?

Then there’s the Fishermen’s Friends.  Terrified of getting a sore throat on an extensive winter tour of a Naturals musical show, one of the cast secreted lozenges in every available pocket in his gorgeous Georgian costume. At the end of the tour, the outfit came back from the dry cleaners, the sweets slightly sticky, but still perfectly efficacious!

This show also featured a fake birthday cake in the shape of a miniature harpsichord. When pink satin-clad flunky pulled the ribbon, its decorated box would fall open, revealing the cake with real candles already lit. The show was meant to be a one-off, so we fashioned the keys from slices of black and white Liquorice Allsorts. Five European tours and over a thousand performances later, the keyboard looked as good as new!

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