Union bonds do not last forever, but I still had all the world as my stage

I must admit, the end of the Basildon lockout was a bit of an anti-climax.

I had discovered more about the camaraderie of socialism and the true meaning of the brotherhood of the union (be fair, there were not many women in the trade union at that time) in those couple of weeks with the printers than I had in the previous five or six years.

Don’t get me wrong, I was itching to get back to work as a journalist but at the same time this would separate me from my new comrades, because I had no need to go to the head office which was on an industrial site away from the town centre.

Finding stories and subbing a page still gave me a thrill but that was only eight hours a day five days a week.

Never mind, I still had the Thalians.

Although there were only two productions a year the space in between was filled with preparing for the next production, auditioning for parts, making scenery and all the rest of the work that goes with being involved in amateur drama.

There were also social occasions, of course.

Parties at someone’s home would happen at least once a month and then there were visits to see professional theatre groups, not just locally at Basildon Arts Centre but also at other places in Essex, including open air auditoriums.

In my first 12 months with the group I appeared in two productions.

I have already referred to my role as Canon Chasuble in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Not exactly a taxing role but fun all the same.

I was also cast as Terry in Bill MacIlwraith’s The Anniversary.

This was a much meatier role. It was made into a film in the late 60s with Bette Davis playing Mrs Taggart, the widowed matriarch who now runs the family construction business in which all three sons work.

Terry was the middle son, married to a shrewish wife and with five children. He wants to take his family to Canada but daren’t let his mother know.

The older son is a secret transvestite and the younger son is a philanderer whose philandering days are coming to an end because his latest girlfriend is pregnant and plans to take the main female role in young Tom’s life.

It was an enjoyable play and there was a coincidence.

I had many friends in Rhyl, though none as close as my mate Roger, but one in particular had been my partner in a brief entertainment management partnership and his name was Terry Taggart – his dad ran a construction company and he worked for him.

Oh, wait a minute, I don’t think I had mentioned the entertainment management business had I?

It was a short-lived affair but we managed to get bookings for a few acts, including a trumpeter called Kenny, who could have given Kenny Ball a run for his money; a guitar duo (folk); and a comedian who was no threat to Max Boyce.

Mind you, ten per cent of a £2 fee was never going to make us a fortune and I had no intention of giving up the day job, nor did Terry.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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