I have been on the road too long: I have one of those moments when I wake and have no idea where I am, or what the geography of the room is (actually this could be rather embarrassing here as the door to the bathroom is right next to the door to the hallway – one wrong fumble in the dark and I would be locked out).
Slowly I come to my senses and remember that I am in the Shankly Hotel Liverpool, and that I had an amazing show last night. I prepare my little coffee cup and discover the first flaw in the Shankly’s room – the kettle does not have a long enough lead to reach any of the electrical plugs, so has to be placed on the floor: it is those details that make so much difference in a hotel.
Breakfast is a buffet affair, but a very impressive one, and I eat surrounded by yet more football memorabilia. I have some granola with lots of different fruit piled up, before moving on to the eggs, bacon and sausage.
I do not have to be at the hall until 1pm, so the morning is mine. I spend some time in my room catching up with emails and admin, as well as using the giant jacuzzi bath again, and then I walk over to the shops once more, where I do a little more shopping, and just mingle with the Christmas crowds.
At 12 I pop into a restaurant where I have a ridiculously healthy salad for lunch (avocado and quinoa, since you ask). Once again there is proof that I have been away from home too much, when I ask the waiter for the check, instead of the bill!
Back at St George’s Hall all is ready for the matinee performance and I chat with Malcolm and his colleague Dawn about our three days, which have proved very successful. The show is due to start at 2, and another choir will be performing today. Unfortunately they thought that the show was at 2.30 and it is a rather rushed and flustered set of singers who take the stage at around 2.10. However hurried their preparations may have been they sound wonderful, and the audience applauds them loudly, which is a good sign.
After last night’s show I have carefully marked the stage so that Malcolm can place my furniture precisely today, and everything is as it should be as I begin the show. It would be impossible to re-create the magic of last night, but the afternoon’s audience are excellent and once again I give a good performance. Unfortunately at one point in the first act my microphone cable works a little loose and there are sharp crackles of electrical static. Stu, the sound guy, shuts down the microphone and I do the last few minutes of the act unamplified. If CD’s spirit is in the room it is as if he is saying: ‘I had to do it without these modern devices, so you should: come on open your mouth wide and speak to the last person in the room!’
During the interval Stu tracks down the problem and in the second half I am back online. The audience join in with all the playful stuff and get very involved. Once again there is a fabulous atmosphere in the room and the applause echoes around at the close of the show. I know that I am working hard here and putting a lot of energy into the shows, but I love performing here.
The signing line is slightly shorter today, in that we have sold our complete stock of souvenir programmes – we made a guess back in October as to how many we should have shipped to the UK, and we were 1 ½ days out in our estimate! They have sold really well here, which is very gratifying.
I have just over an hour back at the hotel (time for yet another bath!), before preparing for my final show in Liverpool this year. Supper is a large Bratwurst purchased from the Christmas market outside St George’s, which rather curiously is overlooked by a giant Shrek figure, which promotes a light show in the main hall.
In the dressing room various volunteers come by and to say thank you and offer congratulations on the show, which is nice. The choir are in good time this evening and a few of them take turns to play the concert grand Steinway piano on the stage. As one lady points out ‘it is not every day you get to play a £30,000 piano!’
The audience arrives early, and flood into the hall. There is talk that local celebrity, and national hero Ken Dodd may attend tonight’s performance, and seats have been reserved for him, but he never arrives, which is a shame.
The evening is a well-oiled routine by now. The choir sing, and as they leave the stage the team start to move furniture and light candles, leaving the stage to me as the house lights dim.
Once more I feel the energy from the room, and give the show everything, remembering to make the narrative light and easy – don’t force it. It is another amazing crowd, and the atmosphere builds as Scrooge is shown the vision of his own grave. The only issue I have tonight is that one of my braces clips pops off and I can feel my trousers falling, meaning that I am treading on the bottoms of them, skating around on the polished wooden floor: I don’t think they are going to actually fall down (that would be a mean trick to play, Charles), but it makes moving around the stage rather difficult.
I get to the end and once more the Liverpool crowd give me an amazing reception, standing, cheering and shouting out. I have had an incredible three days in the North West and I look forward to returning in the future.
No programmes = a very short signing session: a few people have brought their own books along to be signed, and others just want to shake hands and offer congratulations, but it is all over within 15 minutes. I pack up all of my costumes and load them onto a cart that Malcolm has appropriated and already filled with my props. We take the lift to the ground floor and I fetch my car which is soon filled with my basic set. I say good bye and thank you to Malcolm and Dawn, and then drive back to the Shankly, where exhausted I get straight to bed.
Tomorrow I have a three hour drive to Leicester for my very final performances of the 2016 tour, so it is important to sleep well tonight, and as I drift in and out of sleep one thought comes to mind:
Thank you Liverpool.