It is early in my relationship with your mother and I have taken her on a date to watch a well known American singer Jack Somebodyorother perform at Leeds Town Hall. The auditorium is freezing and everyone’s dressed in winter attire. It looks like a Dr Zivago convention. This was the 1970’s the decade of power cuts, miner’s strikes and three day weeks. Jack Somebodyorother heroically performs in a suit with several shirt buttons undone. We speculate that he must from Alaska. An equally heroic orchestra provides the music accompanied by the castanet chatter of teeth. The audience clap manically at the end of each number, the only way to generate bodily heat.
Periodically during the performance the man next to your mother climbs over several partially empty seats in front of us, scuttles along a row and leaves the hall only to return again a few minutes later. When he is not seat hurdling he quietly hums and softly whistles along with Jack. He either has a severe continence problem and/or he is one or maybe two notes short of an octave. At first he is an amusing diversion.
As the second half of the show starts there is a strange rustling noise from our bizarre neighbour. “What’s he doing now?” asks your mother out of the side of her mouth. I lean forward and peer through the gloom, lean back and whisper out the side of my mouth “He’s got his piece out”. The seats creak and squeak as the audience within earshot of my stage whisper shift uneasily, the way sheep react when they notice a dog peering with intent through a five bar gate.
“CHANGE SEATS WITH ME, NOW!” demands your mother now rigid with fear. We change seats and I sit next to the oddball as he noisily munches a ham sandwich … or if you are a recent immigrant from Scotland a ham piece.