Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Week of Living Voicelessly (I got a cold)

For the first time in their (approximately) ten year career, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre had to cancel a gig because I'd lost my voice. It's amazing this has never happened before. We've made our way through all those months at Edinburgh unscathed (I got a cold in 2008 but scraped through, and in 2013 wore my voice out by doing daytime classes, giving me a couple of croaky shows, but never so bad they'd be called off). But Wednesday 19th broke the voice box.

I'd most likely caught the cold when I was doing art classes last week in the Isle of Wight, or maybe Thame. Colds go through me quite quickly and methodically, and I can pretty well see the stages coming. On Monday I started to feel the cold coming on, a few aches and pains, a little dizziness, and the odd feeling in the roof of your mouth that germs were tunnelling in and making themselves at home.

On Tuesday, my birthday by the way, I continued busying myself at my desk finishing the colour art for the Feeding Of The 5000 while the cold worked through the nose-drippy and sneezy stage, the head feeling stuffed up, but the cold starting to feel like the worst was over. I knew, however, that Wednesday would be the day that the cold went for the throat.

So when I woke on Wednesday, at 4.30am, ready to set off at 5.30 to drive to Three Bridges School in Crawley, I was feeling fit and healthy, but  I knew the voice was vulnerable. I took the gamble that the voice would hold out, but as the day progressed it was clear it wasn't going to. By the end of the day I was reduced to a whisper. But it was the choice I had to make, doing the school and wrecking the voice, and sacrificing the show in the evening, knowing the school was guaranteed good money and the show might not pay so much. I was right. 

The show was in a new venue, Angel Comedy, which is a spin off from another venue, called Angel Comedy. So what punters we had, had gone at first to the wring venue. Then when they did turn up, and there weren't many, I was able to apologise, have a chat, refund the money if necessary, and appease everyone. In a mixture of grunts and whispers.

I then had Thursday in the studio to try and rest the voice. Made a little harder by this being the day my email chose to disappear. Due to some technical thing they're doing, they're made a whole load of peoples emails inaccessible. And I, foolishly, have been relying on this web-based email for over 15 years, keeping all the email addresses in it, storing all conversations in it, and not backing a damn thing up on my computer. So anyone who was waiting for a reply, from Tuesday onwards, or anyone I was in conversation with, would have been emailing me in vain. Anyone who's got my email address from the website, or my business card, or any email I've ever sent -  be they new schools, theatres, clients old or new - will be emailing me in vain, and I've no way of knowing about it. As I type, I've been without email for six days. On Thursday I spent half an hour on the phone to their technical department and they say they'll phone me back with news in 7 to 10 days. SEVEN TO TEN DAYS? I am facing the prospect of possibly never getting those emails back again and having to start from scratch. I've emailed as many people as I can with my new email address. But quite how I contact a school who's getting back in touch with me after a couple of years, trying to second guess which out of 2 or 3 hundred schools that might be, I don't know.

Still to come was Friday's Socks gig at the Ropewalk in Barton On Humber. One of our regular haunts, I knew they'd deliver a big audience, and it was indeed a sellout, so they were going to get the full 90 minute show. Of course not until we'd driven up there. On a Friday. Via our hotel in Wakefield where we needed to break the journey because I had an art class in Manchester the following day. 

Have I ever mentioned Friday nights are the worst for driving? Especially up north where the M5 and M6 have not been fully open for months, and I can't remember the last time I didn't get diverted off via Evesham, or Droitwich, or both. To cut a long story short, seven hours. Leave Clevedon just after midday, get to Barton just after 7pm. And the Socks voices held out. It was touch and go, and croaky, and coughy, and sneezy, and all manners of Seven Dwarves inbetween, but we made it.

The following day in Manchester I even made it through two Comic Art Masterclasses. Thanks to John, one of the helpers, providing me with a honey and lemon drink, and gallons of water, I saw the day through, and the 4 hour drive home too. But quite a week to test the old voice. Now I am blowing my nose for Scotland and will do for a few more days.

Of course next week I am at my desk all week and won't be needing the voice at all. Ain't that just the way.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do Shakespeare on Tour through Spring 2017.

November 3rd - Canterbury Festival
Nov 5 - Watford Library
Nov 11 - Notts Comedy Festival 

Feb 15 - Buxton Opera House 
Feb 17 & 18 6.50pm - Kayal, Leicester Comedy Fest
March 9 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
March 15 & 16 - Dram! Glasgow Com Fest
Apr 6 - Victoria Theatre Halifax
Apr 8 - Rondo Bath 
Apr 13 - Hexham Queen Hall 
Apr 22 - Swindon Arts 
Apr 27 - Stroud Subscription Rooms 
Apr 28 - Merlin Theatre Frome 
May 5 - Artrix Bromsgrove
May 6 - Stafford Gatehouse
May 13 (4.30pm) & May 14 (5.30pm) Komedia Brighton
May 19 - Carriageworks Leeds
June 2 - Eden Ct Inverness
May Brighton Fringe dates tbc
Walker Theatre Shrewsbury tbc
Barrow In Furness Forum tbc

Many more dates to be added and confirmed. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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