Mistake! Last week I wrote that this week I’d be revealing what it’s like to get a new breast made out of your stomach. Now I realise, unless I speed-write a column as soon as they wheel me out of theatre, it won’t make the deadline. So, next week… I hope, because getting the operation done depends on that old chestnut: ‘bed availability’. What’ll I say if there isn’t one? Ask if there’s a stable out back where they can put me up instead? The delay won’t kill me, but it’s the other two Nualas I’m thinking of. We’ve had to cancel work for seven weeks. I never bothered telling them about the possibility of further delays. I’m mentally dealing with it the best way I know how: like a five-yearold going, ‘La la la, can’t happen, won’t happen.’
We did our last gig before ‘new boob’ break at the Forbidden Fruit festival in Dublin last weekend. Festivals are strange gigs: you’ve to compete with the ‘music’ coming from other stages nearby, which, given what constitutes festival ‘music’ these days, can sound like you’re being drowned out by the cacophony of full-blown war. Plus the audience — a proportion of whom are always ‘out of it’ — can drift in and out of the ‘tent’ while you’re on, and most likely they’re a lot younger than you are, if you’re us. Sue-Nuala was talking about having no feeling from the waist down, as her support pants were so tight. ‘It’s like having the epidural,’ she said. I cut across her and noted that most of the audience wouldn’t have a clue what an epidural was; the nearest most of them had last been to one was the day they were born.
Our slot went really well. We were on a high getting back to the Portakabin dressing room and Kevin McAleer was inside, psyching himself up to go on. ‘That sounded great!’ he said. ‘Yeah,’ Sue mused, ‘it was interesting. In the first three minutes we weren’t so sure, then it just seemed like we...’ ‘Erm, excuse me, I’ve to go on stage now,’ Kevin politely excused himself; the MC was settling the crowd and about to introduce him.
I laughed so much about that exchange: Sue, coming off stage, so buzzed up that she starts going into a detailed analysis of our performance, oblivious to the fact the person she’s talking to is about to go on themselves. Maybe you had to be there: with the way she looks in character, her hair in a skew-whiff bouffant and her pointy 1950s glasses, it must have looked to Kevin as if he were suddenly being accosted by a Gary Larson
We ate Thai food at Forbidden Fruit. Back in my day, festival cuisine was purely of the bun burger/chip variety
cartoon. Away from the comedy stage, I hardly recognised any of the music acts. Kasabian were headlining. Yes, I had heard the name before, but it sounds as if it could as much be a type of ethnic fabric as some top band. ‘Oh, Maureen, you went for the Kasabian curtains after all — they look great with your Bondax pelmets.’ Bondax? Another band, apparently.
We ate Thai noodles with Vietnamese starter thingies, marvelling at the top cuisine you now get at Irish festivals. Back in the day I remember it being more bun burger, burger/chip, chip in a bun, just chip or just a burger, and maybe a sausage, the compensation being that at least the main attraction — the music — was appealing to the ear. Ah, I suppose I’m showing my age, but there was this band, or whatever, on the main stage as we ate, and the racket they were making I could only describe as ‘trauma to the earhole’. Crystal Castles they were called. Never heard of them before myself; could have been a brand of Arnotts ornament for all I knew. ‘Oh, Maureen, I see you got the Crystal Castles — they look lovely against your Neon Neon’ (you guessed it: another band).
I gave my performer’s guest pass to a youngster, first-year Trinity student Chloe, the daughter of the playwright Jimmy Murphy. I bumped into him at the artists’ retreat I mentioned last week. He was up to finish off an interesting commission for the Abbey Theatre: adapting Rebels by Fearghal McGarry for the stage. It’s based on the witness statements of the 1,773 men and women who fought in the 1916 Rising. The Bureau of Military History collected the accounts between 1947 and 1959, and they were locked away in steel boxes in Government Buildings until the last witness died in 2003. Hopefully we’ll see Jimmy’s interpretation on the main stage soon.
He noted that getting the pass for his daughter turned him into a ‘cool dad’. I know the feeling. Earlier in the week I was a ‘cool auntie’ when I brought my nine-year-old niece, Rosa, to see The Lion King in the Bord Gáis Theatre. It’s such a magical show: clever staging, stunning animal costumes that meld with the actors’ own limbs, the music, the singing — we both loved it. But one day too soon, Rosa will be pulling on the festival wellies, running away into a mucky field and shouting, ‘I can’t wait to see Kabushian’ or whatever the headliners will be called then. And I’ll be waving, ‘Bye, enjoy the noise’, while lamenting that magical little girls have to grow up.