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From: Tripe in the Marsh
by Graham Burchell

“How often do you think we should rehearse?” asked Martin, a little nervous on hearing his own voice ring through the hall for the first time that evening.

“Once a week, Wednesdays!” stated Tommy. “I has karate on Thursdays and I always plays dominoes down the Dutch Elm on Tuesdays.”

“Wednesdays will be good for my Trace as well,” said Angie Tibbins.

 Alf Glover leaned back in his chair and laughed. “You don’t do no Karachi,” he mocked.

“Yes I blooming well do,” Tommy snapped back, “and it’s karate, not Karachi you daft old bugger. Karachi’s the capital of Egypt or Bangla-whats- its-name or somewhere.”

 Danny Rae, a young teacher at the Marshminster Primary School, stood up. “As some of you know, I am a member of the Centre Players in town, and we are always expected to rehearse at least three times a week if we are to give a really polished performance.”

“I’m not so sure we’re really looking for that much of a polished performance,” responded Henry Newcombe of Tangled Vine Cottage. “Aren’t we in it just for a bit of fun?”

 “Well a bit more than that I hope,” said Jenny.

 “How about two nights, say Mondays and Wednesdays?” offered Ricky Tripe. He made a point of standing again as he spoke.

“I’m afraid I can’t make Mondays,” complained the short chubby lady that nobody else knew.

“That’s because she be rehearsing with that Frogleigh lot on Mondays,” giggled Alf .

“No she doesn’t, Alf Glover. She goes to ‘Weight Watchers’ same as me on Mondays snapped a slightly overweight Paula Partridge of Redwing Crescent.

“Well why don’t we start off with just Wednesdays then, if that seems such a good day,” suggested Linda before the poor plump little lady was made to suffer any more. The noises around the room seemed to indicate approval.  

“Quick! Move onto the next topic!” Jenny hissed at Gordon behind a cupped hand.

 “Very well, the next topic on the list is.” He studied his list at arm’s length. Gordon was in denial, but he needed glasses. “What are we going to call ourselves?”

 “Actors,” yawned Tommy.

“No, I mean we need a name for our Pantomime group. For example, the Frogleigh group is called ‘Frog Act’.”

“Well we could call ourselves Marsh Act or Minster Act, although it doesn’t really sound that good,” announced Barry Leat as he shook something from his mop of frizzy brown hair. Barry was seventeen and the eldest son of Roy and Lesley Leat who ran the Dutch Elm pub.

 “Sounds good enough to me,” grunted Tommy.

 “How about something a bit off the wall?” suggested Gregory Tapp of 1 Barnwell Cottages. He was thirty-seven with the mind of a ten year old and more than a bit off the wall himself.

 “Give us some suggestions,” said Linda.

“Well I don’t know, maybe something like ‘The Red Tractor Panto People’, ‘The Canal Bank Players’ or we could go in for a bit of alliteration, ‘The Prickly Potato Panto Crew’, yeah.” He clicked his fingers.

“I like that one with the tractor,” said Tommy. “What’s next?”