Sand in the Sandwiches at Bath Theatre Royal

In the bar of the Spotted Cow . . .

Ah, there you are, I thought I’d catch you in here at lunchtime.  Without your good lady I see. Would you like another Doombar to wash down the ploughman’s? Bit of a house speciality, it’s the local cheese I think.

That’s kind, don’t mind if I do.

I saw you in the bar of the Royal last night. How wonderful was Mr Fox, what a fine actor he is.

Indeed, one of the best, though rather too thin and hirsute to be a doppelganger, don’t you think?

But he embodied the spirit of the man, I thought.

Ah, yes, in that respect our National Treasure to a ‘T’: the surprise gesticulation, the hands aloft as if in praise. The gently wicked, playful glint, the wit was there for all to see.  The love of a certain kind of woman too – sun bronzed and fit.

And fit to woo. Not alone there I think.

Indeed.

And Archibald, a tender passion, requited love inanimate.

I had a bear, I sympathised there. I think he’s in the loft somewhere.

His guv’nor was – what would you say, I think I know the type? He warned him in his clumsy way against a certain kind of chap, the Wildean sort, Lord Alfred D. and co.  (Ahem.) The buggery was a bit of an eye-opener.

So I believe.

I mean as being the sport of aesthetes at Oxford, as a loosener for cocktails.  We didn’t go in for that sort of thing at Bristol, it, sounds a different world.

You didn’t breed spies.

Or at least they weren’t exposed. How clever Mr Whitemore has drawn the threads together and blended verse and prose as one; a reminiscence full of fun. He’s fifty isn’t he, I think I’m right, as he looks back? A half-term report on a life well lived with more to come and more to give – I can’t believe he’s gone. A time before the mobile phone; burnt orange is the light that seems to bathe the home counties and westward down to Cornwall under his gaze. And Mr Fox was there, a reluctant sport in the clubhouse, how cleverly he caught the mood. Or on his childhood cliffs at Trebetherick, I know them well.  The perfect way to tell the story of a life – by peers not taken seriously, but loved by common man.

So he was. There will never be another, not in our lifetime at least. More beer? My round.

Why not? And then I think I’ll go into the park and watch the bowls or close my eyes and listen to the ‘chock’.

How perfect, I might join you.

The spirit of Sir John will gaze benignly down I have no doubt.  Drink up.   ★★★★☆    Graham Wyles    13th July 2017

 

 

Photo by Geraint Lewis