We walked onto the stage at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, and as the applause died down I could hear what sounded like a jet engine from behind us. I was momentarily thrown into panic. Had the last three weeks been a dream? Was I about to wake up and find myself back on that bloody plane heading back from Australia, and realise that I’d dreamt the last three weeks and still have another twenty hours of flying to go? Would I wake up and realise that I’m still only at Dollop … But surely not? The dream had gone on far too long for it to really be a dream. If it was a dream, there was no way that it could have lasted for this long without something weird happening like Michael turning into a chicken.
As we reached the front of the stage, the next thing I noticed was that there were plumes of smoke heading towards me. I could also see a big white light spreading out ahead of me. Had something gone wrong with the plane, and I was now being ushered from this earthly realm to the afterlife? But I couldn’t die yet, I still had so much to achieve. I hadn’t yet completed my 366 consecutive daily blogging challenge, nor had I succeeded in putting Hartlepool back on top of the teenage pregnancy league, nor had I yet taken the comedy world by storm with my award winning sell-out run of standup shows all about my kettle, which would then be turned into an OSCAR winning film. There were so many things still left to achieve. I couldn’t die yet.
But fortunately, the only thing that was dying was the applause from the Shrewsbury crowd. The blinding light and shrouding smoke remained, and the roar of the jet engine continued from behind me, and Sean began to speak. The gig was under way, and I hadn’t woken up on a gruellingly long plane journey, or found myself dead and heading for the afterlife. The first comment that Sean made was to observe our strange environment, and the fact that there was a jet engine like roar coming from behind us, a blinding light in our faces and a smoke machine pelting out smoke.
It was a bit weird having a smoke machine as part of the gig. We were trying to sing, but we kept swallowing the smoke, and our throats were getting drier than normal. At the interval we asked the tech people about the blinding lights, the smoke and the jet engine noise. Apparently the jet engine noise was being caused by the generators used to power the blinding lights. They informed us that they could turn it off, but that this would mean having to lose the big lights. They didn’t seem too keen on this idea, but it seemed like a no-brainer for us, after all, we’d lose the blinding lights and the jet engine to boot. They would still have plenty of lighting options, just not the one that resulted in blinding the performers. We also mentioned the smoke machine, butt the technicians seemed even more reluctant to turn this off than they had been about the jet engine inducing blinding lights, Apparently it added atmosphere, which might be jeopardised if there was no smoke. They didn’t seem convinced by our argument that we’d been gigging for ten years, and we’d seemed to have managed pretty fine without smoke in all that time, but perhaps they had a point. Maybe we’d have won the folk award a lot earlier if we’d have only had the foresight and the vision to have incorporated smoke into our gigs. But I got the feeling that the technicians had just been bought some new techy toys to play with by the venue, and we were spoiling there fun by asking them for a more minimal approach, and so we let them have their smoke machine.
Upon walking out onto the stage for the second half, the jet engine had gone, as had the blinding lights, and I think the three of us and the audience all felt much more relaxed and it was a really enjoyable second half. Although, in fairness, maybe none of it had much to do with us; maybe the amazing atmosphere was down to the techies and their smoke-based antics. Thanks lads. I think the techies really enjoyed our performance though. They didn’t tell us that themselves in words, but as we turned to leave the stage, they were blowing smoke up our arses.
At the gig I spoke to lots of people who listen or read these Dollops. No one shouted out “pissing dog-lady” or any other dollop-related heckles though. Either my Dollop listeners are just too refined and polite to shout out, or they want to keep me for themselves as their little secret, perhaps worrying that if I get too popular, I might sell out and start doing more mainstream jokes, ditching the groundbreaking stuff about kettles in favour of more proffetable subject matter. This would also explain why none of you are bothering to write my Wikipedia article. Although, actually, I got a comment from Chastity Payne, who hasn’t published the Wikipedia article yet, but has made a start. This is what she has written thus-far.
“David Eagle, Popular Flogger (that’s Folk Blogger) and self-styled Prince of Hartlepool charms folk audiences and podcast readers alike with gravelly-voiced bass vibrations.”
Even though she may end up publishing this on Wikipedia, I think she knows that it will be only a matter of seconds until it’s deleted by the editors. She has deliberately left out any factual detail and instead gone for jokes, knowing that it’ll never get passed the editors. Her hope is clearly that I will still view her as my favourite Dollop reader/listener for putting the effort in, yet she will still have managed to keep me a secret from the general public by deliberately writing an article that will immediately be removed. You are not fooling me, Chastity Payne, in fact I’d even go so far as to suggest that that’s not even your real name. You can’t fool me.