Friday, April 19, 2013
Temping and other things, including tv walk-on and puppets
During the late '70's and into the early '80's I ran my own puppet company called Carousel Puppet Theatre. Intitially it was a schools touring company that visited primary schools run by the Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire education authorities. The shows were performed with rod and glove puppets and had a pre-recorded soundtrack. Generally these shows were greeted with real excitement by both the children who saw them and by the school staff. But, unfortunately, it never became financially viable, so it only lasted a few years. It is extremely difficult to get this sort of venture off the ground, as you need to get the education authority in each area on-side and I could never convince them that my shows had any 'value' as regards being 'educational.' I think this would be even harder now, what with such things as child protection, C.R.B. checks, health and safety and more than anything else the current economic situation. Unfortunately, puppetry and anything that smacks of 'theatre' or 'culture' is going to suffer from lack of funds or any kind of support when headteachers have other things such as Ofstead inspections to consider as far higher priorities. Later on I developed a marionette cabaret which I performed at private parties, garden centres, department stores and playgroups. There again, it didn't catch on quite as I would have hoped and I eventually abandoned it as it became too costly. When Carousel was running I had also kept myself going financially by doing temp work, working for such agencies as Manpower and Blue Arrow. I did a lot of jobs working in kitchens in and around the Bedford area, mostly working as a kitchen porter for such companies as Granada, 3M, National Freight, DoB, and many more. I even worked for a company called Unipath, packing pregnancy testing kits on a production line. Later on I worked for a company called Geest making quick-chill meals such as lasagnes, in their factories in Biggleswade and Milton Keynes. This was something of an eye-opener as I never realised that making these ready meals involved such a labour-intensive manufacturing process.