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The Scottish and I have this thing…

Today another guest blogger comes to visit – This time a piece by Martin Ewen. I’m hoping that these guest blog spots catch on and interesting people contribute interesting stories in my ongoing effort to provide not just a resource of information about performing and performance, but also some great stories from some of the brilliant characters that populate this great world that I get to be a part of… Enjoy!

2010-01-242Call me deluded, call me a muckety-muck but the Scottish and I have this thing.

I was working at the Edinburgh fest in Scotland, working off the main pitch down a small lane. I had a corner.

Just down from me was a jug band whose music I used from time to time to wiggle about to, as I temporarily overcame my character ‘Lurk’s utter boredom.

After a couple of hours the jug band stopped and passed me on their way to a pub across the road and invited me in for a drink when i finished.

I finished immediately and hurried inside.

The 4 piece jug band and I got on famously, I liked beer and they liked beer, I have a mouth like an untethered fire-hose and they were probably sick of listening to each other anyway.

They hadn’t finished for the day however, they had a gig later on in the evening at a club and they invited me along to dance for them. I was into it so we then got ready to leave by buying about another 6 rounds then left.

The club was large, holding about 300 people, we got there early and met the management who were cool and casual and who bought us all a drink.

I checked out the dance-floor in front of where the band would play and the surface was OK, not too slippery when wet and the ceiling was high enough (I’m on stilts) there were two rows of ceiling fans that were not yet turned on and so I marked out their positions with gaffer tape on the ground, it still left me lots of room to move.

The night wore on and the place started filling up a bit, the band only had to do one set so we waited till about 10 before going on by which time the place was pretty much packed, the Edinburgh festival was in full swing

It had been a long day so I arranged to come out for the last 10 minutes of their 30 minute set.

I dutifully pranced out and wiggled and waggled and kicked my legs about and generally simulated being groovy wearing my white face and tank helmet until about half way through and for reasons still a mystery to me to this day–

— I must have strayed into the territory of the now rapidly whirring metallic blades of the fans. The first blade merely dug superficially into my tank helmet and flung it from my head without thankfully damaging the blade or slowing the fan down at all.

My reactions (which is why I could have been a fighter pilot or game show host ) were lightening quick and I tilted my head back as I moved forward so that the next impact only broke my nose at the bridge sending a minor torrent from both nostrils and the gash at the top of my nose itself.

All this paled into insignificance with the third strike which carved a 6 to 8 inch slash right across my forehead.

Now as some of you know head-wounds tend to bleed profusely, but even with my prior head bleeding experiences this one immediately impressed me.

I was staggering blind round a nightclub with blood pouring down my white face and cascading in a constant stream from my chin.

I think people found it hard to ignore me which was a shame really,just at that moment, there were loud screams and panicked footfalls as people tried to avoid being bled on. (I did hear later that at least 3 people fainted)

Being a true professional I stayed upright and eventually found a wall and sat on a ledge where I peered curiously through my scarlet veil at the enormous pool of blood forming in the lap of my stilt trousers.

A barman holding a huge handful of soggy tissues appeared and pressed it to my face as I wrestled with my stilt-trousers and then my stilts, towards the end I could hear the wail of an approaching ambulance.

I was then led through the crowd pressing a red soggy mass of toilet paper to my head. ( I can remember seeing a few sympathetic looks passed my way by pretty girls and had it not been for the medical professionals I might have stayed.)

At the hospital I spent 3 hours getting stitches across my forehead and having my nose plugged. I also seemed to be a source of entertainment to a constant stream of nurses who would peek into my cubicle while trying to keep a straight face then depart down the hall giggling.

Once released at about 3am I faced a choice, I could wander back to my hotel and wake the next morning all streaked and swollen and potentially embarrassed, or I could return to the bar.

I walked back in and ordered a beer, the barman said ‘You were really good, if we’d known we would have turned the fans off.’ I had a couple then left.

I found the next day that my helmet covered the stitches on my forehead nicely and my white-face covered the mess of my nose but would just bleed a bit when I removed it so luckily I wasn’t without an income.

It was years later I was told by other performers that everyone was calling me ‘Frankenstein’ behind my back and laughing. I didn’t care then and I don’t care now.

The best memory I’ve kept from the affair was walking into some bistro days later and having a table see me, stand and clap. I must have given them a dirty look from underneath my stitches, one approached me quite gently and explained that they weren’t taking the piss, that their ovation was sincere, that they were all staff at the bar I got my head chopped up at and that they were applauding me for having returned to the bar from the hospital.

As I’ve said, the Scottish and I have this thing. Call be deluded, call me a muckety-muck but alcoholism can sometimes possess a certain brittle dignity.

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4 Responses to “The Scottish and I have this thing…”

  1. Russ McKeel says:

    Nice story and good writing. I especially enjoy the double meaning inherent in “when fans attack”! David and I have worked a couple of times together on Princess Cruise ships, so we’re facebook buddies. My ‘thing,’ on the cruise ships anyway, is teaching passengers to throw (turn) clay on the pottery wheels.

    Cheers,

    Russ

  2. ZimmyPage says:

    Fan-tastic. God, Martin. That’s so funny. But, why weren’t you all over those pretty girls or nurses? Missed opportunity at a great sexual resource: pity.

  3. Martin Ewen says:

    Off to stab myself in the face with a can opener, I like the way you think!

  4. Shoehorn says:

    Gruesome yet hilarious! Easily tops the hurling orange soda story from Japan.


 
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