So How Many Times Have You Rehearsed This?
The following morning was the first of our official
engagements. We were going to be playing (and I mean that in a suitably
childish sense) at the local school for 'problem' kids. We were
to start at 10am. Xantern is not a big place, so nothing is that
far away and it wouldn’t take too long to get there. Jonathan wanted
to get up at 8:30, myself at 9. Not a problem you’d have thought.
Except for the fact that we'd both forgotten to put our clocks forward
and Germany is an hour ahead.
Fortunately our hosts were more on the ball, and
although we had a bit of a rush job we still managed to get there
with a little time to spare. I was mildly surprised to find that
the school was named after Engelbert Humperdinck, although apparently,
the "King of Romance" had actually named himself after
a German opera composer. That made slightly more sense. The things
Now this is probably a good time to point out that
although Jonathan and myself had worked together previously, it
had been in a teaching capacity, and not putting on any kind of
show. We had ten minutes to spare. This seemed like a really good
time to work out what we were going to do.
It wasn't as bad as that may sound. Obviously we
both had things we could perform, although I was a little concerned
as I tend to spend as much time talking and joking about what I'm
doing as doing it. Our first audience was a group of German children
who didn't really speak English, and my German is restricted to
asking names, and giving directions to the hotel, none of which
I figured was going to be overly useful.
It turns out Jonathan is a bit of a wizz at the
one liner. With Horsh translating where necessary, within a matter
of minutes he had them all in stitches. I was introduced as ‘Jonathans
Assistant’, which amused me, but Jonathan quickly corrected it.
To be honest, I was taking all my queues from him. It was after
all originally his tour. The forty minute show passed as if it was
five. We had kids climbing free standing ladders, and doing acrobatics.
At least half a dozen of them could already ride unicycles which
was pretty impressive. The school owned unicycles which may have
had something to do with that. That doesn't tend to happen in Britain.
In amongst it all we juggled, I performed more contact juggling
which is something I'm starting to really enjoy (‘juggling without
letting go’ if that makes any sense) and we played with the six
foot unicycle, and walking globe and generally had a really good
And at the end we got to learn a new German word.
They all shouted "Zugabe" at us. We looked at Horsh, and
he explained. "It means ... " and he thought for a second
for the translation, looking as if he was struggling with it. It
could be that he wasn’t sure if it was the French or English word.
".... encore". Our first European engagement was a storming
success. Of course, he could have been lying through his teeth,
it could have meant anything, but that was good enough for us, and
with big smiles we went out to do it again.
Then it was time for breakfast. I stuffed in a
bit of chocolate earlier to make sure I had some calories to burn,
but I needed some real food, not to mention, a little more caffeine.
I probably didn't need that at all as there's always a bit of adrenalin
kicking around in the system when doing these things, but heh, we
all have our addictions. One of the local press reporters came in
to talk to us while we had breakfast so we fielded questions on
what we were up to and why.
"Well, we’re going to be working with disadvantaged
children, here and in Latvia" Jonathan answered.
It always troubled me when he used the W word.
I thought I was just there to throw things at people
and occasionally teach them to juggle. It was a bit of a shock.
Then we did another show for the older children
in the school. That was a little easier as they spoke more English,
and a lot of the time they were laughing before the jokes and silly
comments got translated. More to the point, now we could claim to
have rehearsed the show at least once.
They were also a bunch of one wheeled wonders.
Anyone would think that they'd been practicing. Jonathan explained
that practicing was cheating, and that was the only reason the Germans
won penalty shoot outs. That didn’t so much go down like a lead
balloon, as sail like a Waddle shot high over the bar into the stands.
Once again at the end of the show, they shouted "Zugabe",
and this time, they were bigger, and could make more noise.
After that show we were
talking to the local press again. We were big news in Xantern it
turns out, although I'm guessing the second reporter was just walking
past the school and popped in to find out what all the noise was.
I suppose it's not everyday that a pair of idiots decide to drive
all from the England to Latvia and stop off in your local schools
for the fun of it.