I’m a Lollypop Man. I don’t really like the term because I don’t work at a crossing near a school, I work for The Castle. It’s a big draw for tourists you see. In the summer its bedlam! I’m there to help everyone cross to The Castle safely – and to slow them down a bit for the ladies in the ticket office. I’m a Pedestrian Champion officially but you tell people that and they look at you strange. Easier to just say I’m a Lollypop Man….at The Castle.
Anyway I love my job: meeting people, being outside. And it’s a performance too really. Brings out the showman in me. People look to me you see. For those crucial seconds when I’ve got the traffic stationary, everybody in the immediate vicinity: eyes on me. Car drivers, white van men, bus drivers, dads, mums, grannies, kids – all of them look to me to make my move and take to my stage. And they wait. Until I give my command. And then the curtains drop and they flood past me.
I’ve got lines too. I’ve worked on the delivery. I do a loud, cheery and confident “Good morning!” with just the right amount of bass to provide gravitas but not scare the kiddies. I practice it every day, first thing.
Anyway one day I had a costume malfunction. I’m telling you about this because it lets you know how important it is that everything is right you see, that everything works as it should. One little mishap like I had last Wednesday struck a lesser man? Could’ve been fatal!
So anyway, last Wednesday I stepped out, found my mark, halted the traffic (all eyes on me) and was just about to call them over when I lost my hat! Big gust of wind whipped it right off! They said it sailed right up into the sky: twisting, turning, dancing to the heavens like a pirouetting fairy ballerina! And of course they all watched it didn’t they? Eyes off me and onto the wretched hat! But I couldn’t look. I didn’t even glance to see where it had gone. Never took my focus off that traffic. I have to maintain eye contact with the front row, keep ‘em in check. I have to keep the people safe. And I did. I did it. The show went on. No wardrobe malfunction is ever going to stop a true performer like me!
Now that’s what you call a Pedestrian Champion.
Annie would’ve been so proud.
In November I went to a “Play in a Day” writing workshop at The Rep (Birmingham Repertory Theatre). My favourite writing exercise was the one that generated the monologue above: Each of the eight members of the group was given a piece of paper, which we folded into three. We were then told to draw an object on one of the three panels before passing our paper to another group member. On the “new” piece of paper we received we drew a person and then passed the sheet on again. Finally, we drew a place and passed the paper on. The set of three pictures we ended up with became the inspiration for a piece of writing…..