Writing about his brief foray into the unaccustomed role of artistic consultant started the Gnome reminiscing about his early years on the stage. The word ‘years’ may be pushing the boundaries a little, but to deftly conceal the reality of a few amateur dramatic performances as a teenager it seemed an appropriate tool.
Be that as it may, he still fondly remembers the triumph of his ‘Dame Fanny Faceache’ – a role in a local pantomime at the age of 17 for which he received a newspaper review that remains with him to this day…“The Gnome portrayed the vital comedy part of the Dame with a maturity beyond his years.”
To receive such a glowing notice from the Spalding Guardian – as prestigious an organ of the fourth estate as one could imagine – led to a somewhat inflated self image for several weeks afterwards. Demands for private jets, a coterie of bodyguards and the delivery of hard drink and soft drugs to his teenage bedroom produced some disquiet in the wider Gnome household.
Alas, despite further triumph as ‘Wally Dott’, retarded brother of Jack in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ the following year (“The Gnome got the audience laughing heartily with his slapstick routines and appalling puns” – The Holbeach Herald) the roar of the crowd’s approval soon faded and the Gnome travelled a more orthodox career path.
There was however one later incident that appeared to confirm the Gnome’s destiny lay as an international celebrity. In the unlikely setting of a doctor’s waiting room a fellow patient – a lady who must have been well into her eighties – saw him walk past and delivered a stage whisper to her husband to the effect of, “There’s that actor chap from the panto.”
Oh how the Gnome preened – his illness forgotten in the warm glow of adulation from his adoring public…