I’m back from the Ilminster Literary Festival in lovely Somerset, where I was the follow-on act after Dot Allbones. An unenviable task. But the audience at the Warehouse Theatre were awake and friendly, two conditions no author ever takes for granted. In my time I have spoken to single figure audiences and I have spoken to audiences that had only come to get out of the rain or because the Jilly Cooper gig was sold out. Ilminster was no such nightmare.
I’m relieved to say that despite my misgivings Dot behaved herself. She only went off-script once, though I could see that glint in her eye on a few occasions, and when her 40 minutes were up she slipped back between the covers of The Night in Question without a murmur. I only wish I could show you a picture of her in full flood but there was a strict rule about cameras in the theatre. Fortunately someone who shall remain nameless managed to get this shot of Dot’s ardent admirer, Tom Bullen, before the notice prohibiting photography was pointed out to her. Or him.
Tom Bullen, aka Peter Page, and Dot’s Master of Ceremonies, Mike Lanigan, were last seen, at a late hour, sampling Somerset Cider Brandy. Thanks to the advanced ages of all concerned there were no reports of hooliganism or rowdiness in Ilminster’s genteel streets that night.
Dot and her entourage are available, given similar liquid inducements, for future engagements.
But for now, back to work.