I’ve just spent a delightful day with two of my many nieces. We were in “makey-do” mode. Rose is the art director and driving force behind the annual show she traditionally produces. It opens late in the afternoon of the large Christmas Day family lunch which her parents stage. Last year her offering was a Mummer’s Play. This year she’s into puppeteering, so the work table was filled with modelling clay, Plaster of Paris, latex solution, sewing boxes and fabrics among other things. In this snapshot, Rose is making a flying owl (or some such similar bird) while her cousin Olivia is practicing making Little Red Riding Hood’s tiny hands move, operated by some cocktail sticks.
Meanwhile I got literally stuck into mixing up a pot of smelly rubbery gloop, but after a struggle digging out the stubborn clay from some of the crannier nooks of its plaster shell, I invoked one of my golden rules. I learned this one the hard way, from my years working in live television. It is a simple rule: always have a Plan “B”.
Plan “A”s are for art, adventure, being avant-garde, anarchy and adrenaline. Plan “B”s are for basics, backstops, belts & braces and breathing. Plan "B"s break no rules. But having a Plan “B” will always get you out of trouble during those panic-inducing, heart-stopping, stomach-churning moments when your Plan “A” decides to make you look like an arse. Therefore this evening I made an understudy for my setting-worryingly-too-slowly rubber wolf’s head. So, if he’s called in at the last minute, his simple cardboard silhouette will strike fear into the audience when granny's bonnet slips from his face. Good old reliable Plan “B” will, albeit in a much less dramatically detailed fashion, still set the scene for when the woodsman enters later, stage left, carrying an axe. An axe which, may I document here Rose, is yet to be constructed.