In the middle of the tour we had what was almost an easy date when we played a London theatre for a two-week “season” either side of Christmas. In fact we did get two days off together, which was more than we had ever had.
We were actually in the West End at the May Fair Theatre, which had been built using a former ballroom area and taking in rooms on the next floor to create a tower for flying drapes etc.
The theatre (pictured) was only built in 1963 and The Sooty Show was one of the early shows booked in after a long run of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.
This year was the tenth season Harry had played The May Fair and it was also the last but that’s another story;
It was owned at the time by the Grand Metropolitan Hotel Group and as it happened I had actually dined at the May Fair Hotel. It was one of the places we visited when I was on a press trip hosted by the the Grand Met group and British Rail. We may have dined there but they didn’t put us up there for the weekend.
Once we were in we knew we would not have to strip the sets out and load the Sooty van for another two weeks and that would be in a New Year.
It was a lovely little theatre, in fact it was not much bigger than the Little Theatre in Rhyl. It had 310 seats (I think the Rhyl Little Theatre has 250 seats), the seats could be moved as could parts of the stage to create different styles such as apron, in the round etc.
As it was Christmas time we did two shows a day and three on Saturdays and played to full houses for the whole fortnight. The Christmas Eve second show ended about six and we had just enough time to clear the set ready for Boxing Day afternoon before I dashed off to catch a train to Basildon.
That’s right, Basildon.
My Muse had invited me to have Christmas Day with her and their girls.
I could never have got to North Wales and back before noon on Boxing Day so would probably have spent that time in the caravan behind the May Fair Hotel.
We had been having what really amounted to an old fashioned courtship by letter and it had been going well, but it still had a way to go.
It was a calming interlude.
We were now in the New Year and headed back West for a few dates and I managed to get a lift back to Harry’s place so that I could pick up my car. I needed to get it then because the last few dates would be up North and once I finished with Harry I would need to have my own transport.
As it happened things did not work out that easily.
That is another story, however.