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Usually around this time of year I’m generally putting off thinking about writing a panto. For the last four years, I’ve been in the lucky position of writing the festive fayre for those young whippersnappers Middle Child, and those pantos are now firmly established as the city’s now annual affordable offer at the downright sexy warehouse venue Fruit, and it pisses all over what’s on offer beneath proscenium arches up and down the country. And summer usually involves me not writing anything for them, and telling them it’s on the way when it isn’t, and director Paul Smith reminding me what the story of the chosen panto is, and us agreeing on a deadline that I then let sail past, and then agreeing another deadline, and me ignoring that too. Then summer ends, the leaves start falling off trees, Paul reminds me what the story of the chosen panto is, gives me an update on cast size, I get round to writing a blurb for the back of the flyer, then the deadline passes, I negotiate another, and, with my summer tan fading and the cast and musicians standing on the doorstep of Middle Child’s home at Darleys, I eventually deliver something that they turn in to something magnificent. And I thank them for it, I really do.

By mutual consent, though, we’re breaking up the band. Which means that I can pretty much spend the summer months that are almost upon us doing what I normally do when I’m supposed to be writing a panto (actually, I can’t. I’d love to sit in beer gardens doing fuck all but I’m a bit busy with the Amy Johnson Festival).

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being involved, and Mr Smith sharing his panto insight, and his passion for this centuries-old tradition with me, and working with those annoyingly young, energetic and brilliant sods, and marveling at them in the rehearsal room.  Before they asked me to write the first one, I hated panto with a passion, mainly due to having to see around ten a year when I worked for The Stage and others. So it says something for MC’s powers of persuasion that they squeezed four out of me. I’d love to say thank fuck it’s over but, actually, I’m going to miss it enormously.  Aside from the trying to write it bit – thank fuck that’s over.

I’m really looking forward to rocking up as an audience member this year and, outside of their ongoing efforts to reinvent pantomime, what else Middle Child get up to in the coming months, years, and decades. I genuinely love ’em, the little rascals, and you should too. Cheers guys, thanks for putting up with me and my Douglas Adams’ attitude to deadlines – it’s been an absolute blast.

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