As morning dawns I open my curtains to allow the view of Long Island Sound to great me, and I am greeted by heavy low cloud and pelting rain. A few people, mostly hotel bellmen, are scurrying across the parking lot with heads bowed against the elements. I may be modifying my remarks of yesterday when I said that I would rather be here at this time of year rather than in the summer.
There is no breakfast service in the restaurant this morning, for The Water’s Edge Resort provide a huge, and very popular, Sunday Brunch. Julia has booked me a table at 9, when the event opens, so that I have time to enjoy it before getting ready for my morning performance.
I bow my head and scurry across to the main building and am soon being led to a table next to the window which would usually have a magnificent view of the sea – today it is just cloud. Attentive waiters surround me like bees around a hive, and soon I have water, orange juice and coffee laid before me. The brunch buffet is magnificent and features a remarkable array of dishes, from humble toast to oysters in their shells. There are joints of meat waiting to be carved, there are frittatas and pasta dishes, there are sweet cakes and jellies. A magnificent Hanukkah inspired ice carving towers over the whole thing.
I very much concentrate on the BR, it being too early for UNCH, and have some fresh fruit, some eggs (prepared by a chef to my liking) and bacon, some pastries and a croissant (the correct shape) and jam. It is delicious. As I sit I can hear the waiters talking to other guests: ‘are you going to the show this morning?’ ‘Yes, that’s right, we are looking forward to it!’ One couple wave hello and I chat to them as I leave. They have seen me perform at Byers’ Choice in Chalfont before but this year have decided to treat themselves to an overnight stay at the resort.
I go back to my room (huddled and scurrying) and fetch a fresh shirt and pair of socks for the performance, everything else is still in my dressing room. I stay in my room until 10.30 and then go back to the main building to prepare. As I scurry I notice a party of four running toward the door, and gallantly wait for them to go first. The young lady at the front smiles a thank you to me, but there is more, there is a recognition in the look too. I do recognise her but for the life of me cant think where from. I smile back and the moment passes.
The ballroom is locked when I arrive but in a moment Jeremy, one of the banquet captains from last night’s event, arrives and soon after Julia. I am much more assertive about the lighting today and we come up with a solution that has the centre part of the large room (including the stage) lit, whilst each side of the room is in darkness preserving a feel of an auditorium. It will be much better than the gloom of last night. Jeremy puts new batteries in the microphone and I check that, just turning it down a hair, so that there is no risk of distortion.
At 11 o’clock the audience begins to gather and I go to change. As 11.30 gets nearer I stand in the lobby and chat with Jeremy and Julia as the final guests arrive, among them the party of four I met in the wet car park. Another nod and smile of recognition.
It is a smaller audience than last night’s dinner, maybe about 50 people, but they are certainly keen, many have been in their seats for half an hour. Jeremy gives a very short introduction then starts my music on his laptop and I begin. It is a much better performance, and a very energetic one! I have noticed through this trip that I haven’t been getting nearly as hot as in previous years but today the sweat is certainly flying again. Once again the audience is slightly ‘English’, that is to say a little reserved and quiet, but very attentive, and they certainly are enjoying the show, which is a relief for I can see them clearly (thanks to the lighting set up), so any disgruntlement would be clearly evident to me.
At the end of the show they all stand up and clap loudly as I bow. I make my exit from the room and then wait as the audience leave. Some have books to be signed, some just want to shake hands. And then there is my party of four. The girl who had smiled in the car park comes up ‘Hello! I’m Amy. Dave and Sue’s daughter!’ OF COURSE! Dave is the brother of Martin, who is Liz’s sister (Sheila)’s husband. Amy now lives in Connecticut and earlier this year married Tara. They came to see me perform at Vaillancourts last year and have made the trip here to see me again, which is so kind of them. We all chat for quite a while and have a great time catching up with our respective momentous years.
Soon however it is time to get changed and my work at The Water’s Edge is done. Sadly Jeremy and Julia are long gone and there is nobody to say goodbye to or to thank and my departure from the ballroom feels rather anti-climatic.
I go back to my room and hang today’s costume up to air and check the time, it is almost 2 and I have decided that I am going to the cinema this afternoon. My original plan for the free afternoon was to drive along the coast, but as the rain is as heavy as ever and the fog has descended even lower, that does not seem a wholly appealing prospect. A quick online search this morning revealed the existence of a cinema just a mile or so away. I could watch the second Magical Beasts film, but I’d much rather see that with Liz when I get home, so I plump for the Freddy Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
Having purchased my ticket I order a hot dog for my lunch (somewhat limp it must be said) and take my seat. Unsurprisingly the audience are all of a similar age and we all await the film eagerly. The sound of popcorn and slurping accompanies the anticipation.
And then the trailers for other movies start and they go on and on and on and on….so long that some people have to go and get a popcorn refill before the main feature even begins (if the evidence left by previous attendees is anything to go by much of their popcorn may be on the floor).
The film is a wonderful tribute to the music of Queen and a fascinating history of the band. The actors are amazing and it is difficult to watch Brian May and not believe that he is playing himself. Gwilym Lee, who actually portrays May, has got his demeanour, gait, attitude and gentle character to perfection.
As each successive anthem blares out so the floor of the cinema trembles with lots of feet being stamped in time, most particularly as the seeds that would grow into We Will Rock You are sown.
It is definitely a feel good movie and the hugely emotional Live Aid concert that finishes the film is a fantastic celebration of an entire era. The view from the stage looking out across the massive expanse of humanity that packed Wembley stadium that day, makes my efforts in the Water’s Edge Ballroom this morning look rather insipid: ‘HEY! YEAH HELLO WESTBROOK!’
Outside the fog is even heavier and it is quite difficult to navigate back to the hotel. As I get out of the car I look toward where the sea should be and I feel slightly short changed, for there should be a mournful fog horn (fog horns are always mournful) , or a bell clanging on a buoy, but no such sound comes from the ocean.
In my room I check YouTube and watch the actual footage of Queen’s Live Aid set and I am amazed at how accurately the film makers recreated it – every strut, every gesture, every note was perfect.
It is late afternoon and the hotel is completely deserted now, which gives it a rather eerie feel, but it means that the washers and driers are available for me to use. I do one load of my daily clothes and then go to have dinner in the bar.
I am sat alone, and order a salmon and fennel dish which is good. I also treat myself to a pistachio gelato concoction which is equally delicious, and a coffee to finish things off. I am rather relieved when another couple comes in to dine (I was getting rather worried that the entire hotel was staffed just to look after me tonight), and they had been at my show this morning, so we chat for a while until they order and I leave.
I feel like watching another nice feel good film tonight, so I download one of Liz and my favourites, The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart, and lay on the bed and wallow in the gentle sounds of a bygone age.