Performance Cancelled by Pat Byrne


I was dead excited. My first proper gig as a singer songwriter. A big affair with full backing band. A sell out.  I even had a dressing room. It was exactly like the wee room where I’d met Ruth Marsh when I went to interview her at Glasgow Film Theatre.  There was no mirror but I’d done my makeup at home.

     You’re up, said Carla.  She looked me up and down. I thought you’d have worn something red or glittery.

     She was acting wardrobe mistress or something.  We worked together in the cafe in the theatre during the day. She looked just like my old school friend Maureen.  She took off the garish Christmas tree earrings she was wearing.  Put these on. 

     I need to change my shoes

I’ll get them.

     I followed her out, round a corner and up some stairs onto the stage. I sat on a stool in the corner and Carla pulled off my socks and trainers and eased  on my patent high heels.  As if I couldn’t manage myself. 

     I smiled at the band – guitarist, double bass, guy with a fiddle and a torn-faced drummer. Never saw so many drums in my life.  None of them so much as acknowledged me.

The curtains opened. I walked to the edge of the stage and looked out into the darkness. My heart was pounding. I tapped my foot humming the first number, waiting for the intro.

     Jeezo! What were they playing,

     Bloody sing, said the drummer.  They carried on with ‘All I Want for Christmas’.  

What the hell.

     They started the intro again then stopped. The drummer seemed to be in charge so I walked round the double bass player and right up to him.

   That’s not on my play list.  

   What playlist.

   I’m doing my own songs.

   Like hell. You’re doing a Christmas Medley– Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani…

   Ariana Grande, piped up the fiddle player.

   People were shouting out from the audience.  Get on with it. 

   I shouted back. They aren’t playing my songs.

   Somebody started to boo. I ran off the stage.  

   Carla followed me down the stairs back into the wee room.

   You could at least have sung Last Christmas, she said

   My trainers are still up there.

   There was a knock at the door. It was Mr Campalucci. 

   What was that about. You’re fired, he said.

   I think he meant from my day job.  I’d known him for ages. He was my old boss back in the 70s from when I worked in the Albany Hotel.

  Well, you better stump up with my taxi fare because I’ve got my baby with me.  

She wakened up and started crying. I’d brought a roast joint wrapped in foil. I cut some of it into slices and gave it to the baby to eat. I changed her nappy and wrapped her in a shawl. Carla phoned a taxi for me. She stood and waved as it drove away.

Don’t forget about my shoes, mind.

 So that was my latest lockdown dream.  I’m going to phone Maureen now.

Pat Byrne, May, 2020

(Jim and Pat’s West End Chat – Podcast Pat chats to Ruth Marsh Head of Marketing Scottish Press, Glasgow Film Festival )

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This section: Coronavirus stories and poems, Pat's Home Page Blog, Writing for the Festive Season

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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