My worst job ever! Many, many moons ago I was desperate for work. The old story, mortgage to pay, 2 kids and a mountain of bills to pay. Most of us have been there at some point in our lives. They are very stressful times as anyone who’s been through it will know. I used to go to the local job centre every day, seeking anything that no one else wanted. I became quite good at it, a day here, cleaning out industrial sized ovens that had been used for smoking kippers, or a couple of days emptying the rotten milk vat at the bottling plant. That was a bad one, 24/7 of non stop wretching, the smell took weeks to get it out of my system. I became well known to the staff at the job centre, so much so that the manager would call me first when any job came in that he thought no one else would do.
I remember well, true to his word on one cold November morning my phone ringing and him saying he had a job for me that could last for about 3 months. This was certainly a change from the one or two day jobs I had been taking. So, I popped over to see him and collect the details for an interview. Turns out that they needed someone reliable to be the back end of a pantomime horse over the Christmas period at the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre!! Twice a day 6 days a week and Sunday off! The money was quite good too. So, an interview was arranged and I had to meet a Mr Donald Dungworth who was the stage manager. Strange name, but a very nice man. He told me what was expected and it sounded quite a gas. He said I’d be meeting a lot of showbiz people too, big stars from the world of comedy and you never know where it may lead!
He’s Behind You…
As with all these jobs, there’s always the first reactions of ‘wow’ or ‘yipeeeeeeee’ before you actually know what’s involved. What could be hard about playing the back end of a pantomime horse? I didn’t even have to rehearse, just hold on to the guys waist who was the front end and follow! Simples!! I was introduced to ‘Bill’ only my friends call me Bill, my name is William, on the first morning of the performance. First impressions, the guy needed a bloody good bath and a shave. Those horse costumes together with stage lights blazing down get very hot inside. It doesn’t take long for the BO to start wafting through and when it’s already got a helping hand, I tell you, it’s on par with the vat of rotting milk. Then you realize you’ve got about 90 minutes ahead of you, bent in half, breathing as little as possible and imagining what it must be like to be strolling through the English countryside on a summers day with a cool breeze in your face.
Oh yes it is…oh no it isn’t
It was a long 3 months, a painful 3 months and an incredibly smelly 3 months. I never got to call William, Bill, in fact, I don’t think I saw his face again after that first meeting. I certainly never met any celebs, and there were 3 in this pantomime. Everyone thought I was having such a great time, on stage with some of Britain’s greatest performers, beautiful looking dancers and a member of a famous boy band. Nah, I was in darkness for 95% of the time, with my nose buried deep in Williams arse. There were one or two moments when I thought I would have to walk off stage and head for the fresh air, but I hung on in there. It was an experience and it paid the bills over Christmas. Would I do it again? Yes, providing I was at the ‘gob end’, the front!