I am punished for not being Santa.

It is my own fault.

“I am so sorry, it is such a shame, I was really looking forwards to it as well,” I say, amongst other platitudes to that effect. “I will bring the Santa suit back next week, as I didn’t get to use it.”

“I am gutted,” I add, looking gutted.

The Playgroup Lady stands, hands-on-hips. It crosses my mind that I perhaps do not look gutted enough. I stretch my face, so that I imagine it looks ‘extremely gutted.’ I resolve to practise gutted faces in the mirror when I get home, so that if this situation should arise again, I will have a natural and plausible gutted face to adopt. It will be second nature, which is how all the best actors work.

“Well…” says the Playgroup Lady.

I am ordered to bring my banjo to the school the following week, to entertain the children.

My face immediately adopts the expression of one who is naturally and plausibly gutted.

“I do not know what to play to them,” I complain to the LTLP, when she has finished laughing, again. “Children now want to play video games and watch television, sniff glue etc. rather than listen to banjo playing.”

I work out ‘Ring a Ring o Roses’ and ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ before launching into a smoking version of ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ (my own version, which is less difficult than the original, and contains gaps where you can work out what notes to play next).

I do not know how I get into these situations. But I wish I would stop it.

24 Comments

  1. Wait – YOU were punished?? YOU WERE?? Poor, poor children…

  2. Real stars mime – I think you should put a George Formby CD on behind you and they won’t know the difference. Plus they could do window-cleaning actions. Winner.

  3. Perhaps you could pretend to be really really rubbish…..but then, how would they tell?

  4. Don’t underestimate the entertainment value of a banjo in Norfolk, Megan. As Anakreon said of the wilds of Thrace, “up there, even a dancing bear is an event”…

  5. Sam – we need to get this sorted.

    George Formby: Ukulele. Even though it looked a bit like a banjo. (Actually, although he referred to it as a ‘uke’, I think it was a banjolele he played. I have never seen a George Formby film. I’m sure somebody will correct me if needed.)

    A ukulele is a sort of small, annoying, any idiot can play it, not for serious musicians, jokey instrument. It is nothing like a banjo.

  6. Terribly sorry, Jonny. George was the only famous banjo player I could think of. Plus those two guys who fought with their banjos – I searched for duelling banjos on YouTube, but I couldn’t find them.

  7. Sam,
    “Those two guys who fought with their banjos” left me with the mental image of two samurai soldiers wielding banjos like swords.

    Followed closely bone of two men shouting and shaking their fists at their banjos.

    I need help.

  8. After the forthcoming musical event,
    the playgroupp lady will shout (loudly)

    Ban Jo! Ban Jo!

    ‘Jo’ being the abbreviation of Johnny 😉

  9. I think you should practise saying “NO, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that” in front of the mirror.

  10. You make me smile so, thank you.

    Could you please include a regular banjo playing feature on this web log?

  11. Why do I have a terrible feeling this is all going to end badly? I can see you “taking the edge off” your pre-show butterflies with far too much lager, then ending up vomiting spectacularly all over the Playgroup Lady’s shoes while the horrified toddlers try to work out how to simultaneously shield their eyes and cover their ears.

  12. What if you make the toddlers cry? Do you have a face for that?

  13. THere’s only one banjo in “duelling banjos”. I’m sorry, I’m a pedant.

  14. Hayseed dixie have done a brilliant cover of Jam ‘n’ Juice by Snoopy using banjos which i suspect should entertain children.

  15. Ivan – I see. I am seriously considering crossing Norfolk off of my upcoming world tour as I am, sorry Jonny, not overly fond of banjos nor do I particularly enjoy dancing bears. Mind you, I currently live in a place where men in enormous hats wielding trumpets and violins with intent to wound are not only legal they are encouraged.

  16. Let me guess, Megan – Winnipeg, right? They’re a hot-blooded bunch up there for sure, those crazy Canucks…

  17. Have you played for them as yet?

    If not, you can arrange for another snow storm.

  18. That reminds me of the time my friends and I hired a Hoseason’s cruiser on the Norfolk Broads. We’d just parked our cars in a small village and were messing about taking videos with our phones …

  19. Wouldn’t it be more expedient to tell them you don’t actually play the banjo, you only collect them?

  20. I really think you should play my current favourite – Jai Ho. It even rhymes with banjo.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpGPBpt4DPQ
    Be prepared to be captivated and you have to practice hard. Go to it!

  21. So close Ivan – so very, very close. Yes, those famous Winnepegian Mariachi bands are a hazard to innocent music lovers everywhere.

  22. Canadian Mariachi harmful to health? I can well believe it! However, I’m afraid that by law you must at all times refer to them as Ensembles de la Mariachi Winnipegoises in font of equal or superior size to the English version. But seeing as it’s a first offence I’ve persuaded Quebec to let you off with death by stoning.

    That’ll be $25000 in legal fees please (sorry – USD only)…

  23. Oh, dear Jonny, you are so gullible. You do realise that you’ve laid yourself wide open to being obliged to play Father Christmas this year?

    The only way I can suggest for you to get out of it is to say that you’re concerned that they will recognise you as the man who plays the banjo, which will shatter their childish illusions. Whatever they are.

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