8th Dec – Well I’ve got a hammer and I’ve got a bell, And I’ve got a song to sing all over this land, It’s a hammer of justice, it’s a bell of freedom.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight.

Cleaned myself: no cargo
Monkey see, monkey do: no desire
Tics: please God forgive me
Believe in God? other than through mental illness, no.
YTLH: 1 important, 1 cosmetic.

With the official opening but a few hours away, and my debut TV appearance to follow the next day, I took an early cup of the elixir to keep the lid on things. Recipe: camomile tea with a stick of cinnamon, tablespoon of cider vinegar, juice of half a lemon, and honey to balance acrid acidity.

It’s supposed to be a bedtime drink, but the welfare consultants on YouTube make a very convincing case for weight loss too. Add that to the empirically observed quieting of my enemy – the mind, and you can see why it has become something of a constant over the last few days. In fact, it is the only thing I have consumed, and if I say it myself … … I have been able to re-set the snake belt, put it like that.

Into this calm, Roger tips his ordure. He rang to, get this, instruct me. Yes instruct … that when I see the boys from the brewery at the show, to tell them to give him a ring, so that ‘they can sort this mess out.’

‘Roger,’ I tell him, ‘I created the adverts, and paid for them, and I’ve sold them.’ To which he replies, ‘it doesn’t work like that son.’

See how your mind works? It tells you that Roger, a man of business, probably does know how this works, and that you don’t. The truth is of course that he’s an ignorant, uneducated bully, just like my mind. That’s why it prefers him to me.

Have you noticed, that there’s a delicious irony at play here? That his is a weak mind, over which he holds dominion, whereas mine is strong, and is the master of the body in which it resides.

Look at it, acting like it’s on my side, searching for the bon mot to communicate to Roger that we neither believe nor trust him, yet it can’t come up with the right words; there it is, one minute taking control of everything, the next, mute and incapable. That is why, a moment later, I hear myself saying, ‘if you think my mind is as easily bullied as your mind, you must be out of your mind.’ Hardly the devastating put down we were searching for, even though it does contain a rather brilliant pun.

Now my only weapon against him is to fail to pass on his message, when what he should be doing is picking his metaphorical dentures up off the metaphorical floor. I’m walking to the village hall as I think this, and given that my mind is in league with him, and it wants to dwell on the failure of the negotiation a little longer, I force myself to think of my fist reaching down the telephone, like in a cartoon, and coming out at Roger’s end and knocking his teeth out. To increase the alienation of my mind within my body I laugh out loud for ages to make it feel stupid.

Anyway, I get to the pageo full of determination, and not a little spite, and the first thing I do is to stand down Big Eggo from the job of linking between the penultimate and the final scene. I offer him no explanation for my decision.

I’m his replacement, and going on to the stage, wearing the floor length fur coat, with the cropped-haired, doll’s head sticking out of the top, one of the boys from Dog’s Bowl seeks me out and pleads with me to tell a joke. And suddenly I know. I am here to be humiliated, to enhance Dog’s Bowl’s miniscule investment in the event. That’s what it’s all been about. I reply through the gap in the buttons, in a Scottish accent, ‘wee Dickie’s out of his mind at the back there, and I’m nae telling no joke.’

The costume itself is joke enough, and I merely plod slowly from one side of the stage to the other. There was the odd titter, it being the funnier for being unexplained. Then we bled into the scene where the urchin boy finds a pan for his impoverished mother’s Christmas present; and when the Prime Minister, played by Eggo, turns up at the local hospital looking for a photo-opp by joining in on the pan-banging celebration as it slowly morphs into a recognisable Christmas tune, she puts the pan on his head, at which point the chorus join her in banging it until the PM is sent reeling off the stage.

Where there is discord, may we bring harmony
And where there is despair, may we bring hope.

Well, all that happened, but instead of the roomy, foam rubber-lined pan that we had been using in rehearsals, tonight’s performance saw a slightly smaller, non-lined, pan used instead. And whereas the original comfortably settled onto Eggo’s shoulders, this one stuck on his ears; and where, previously it was tapped lightly by wooden spoons and theatrical rubber props, this time it was hammered down into place by the short-handled mallet concealed in the doll’s heed.

Everyone got a go at banging the PM’s head, but no one banged and hammered it like me. I took to it like I was trying to hammer Eggo through the stage, and only stopped when I saw blood pouring freely from the pan and his body collapse onto the stage. As he did, I realised that he’d been squealing out for us to stop for a while, and that it’d all been lost in the jingling ringing cacophony of the timpani crescendo.

I sneaked off stage right, hid the coat inside the bag containing the other pan, then went out of the side door and came back in through the main entrance to observe from the back of the hall, as if I’d been there all along.

Many thanks to Susan Holt Simpson for the image.