19. It’s Behind You!

Dorking Derelicts 27    Old Suttonians 15

Pantomime. It’s the tail end of the season, but if you’re really unlucky you can still grab a show with all the main ingredients. It will make you wonder why on earth you bother year after year to turn up at some God-forsaken venue to see older men behaving like goats, and young women pretending to be young boys, while some inane plot unfolds where things happen in a fashion that makes only grannies and young kids laugh. It’s not right.

Oh yes it is! Oh bloody no it’s not.

It’s not proper entertainment. It’s real actors long past their best doing a turn (sounds familiar doesn’t it!?) and young actors who need to eat having to follow some ancient ritual and formula that dictates we all still want to be entertained after all these years by Bonnie Langford, Darren Day, Julian Clary, Sue Pollard and Christopher Biggins. In tights and ruffles and sequins? No!

It’s behind you! What is? Your credibility! It’s behind me? Certainly bloody is!

I hadn’t given panto a second thought until Saturday afternoon in the changing room when Kinger opened his kitbag and realised he’d mistakenly packed his golf shoes instead of his boots! Oh no he hadn’t! Oooohhhh yes he had!

Silly, I know, but I still managed to shoot the last of my pre-match pint straight through my nostrils at the news of his misfortune. All we heard as he marched out of the changing room in desperate search of the long-suffering Jane and hopefully a swift resolution was: “Jane! Boots! Jane! Jaaane!”

And somehow, despite our loathing of the genre and best intentions, we found ourselves in the midst of a full-blown wigs and false bosoms, raised eye-brows and coarse humour afternoon plot of tortuous pleasure in the company of what might just as well have been Louie Spence, Linda Robson and Bobby Davro.

We marched onto the pitch, prepared for battle and concentrated our minds whereupon Kinger, having filched Skip’s boots, reached into his shorts and prepared to protect his expensively re-enamelled and polished teeth with … his 11-year-old lad Jasper’s small junior gumshield. Only the introduction of a flatulent dwarf could have created more mirth. “Jane! Gumshield! Jane! Jaaane!!”

Within minutes, the pack were delivering their best double entendres and cancan-ing down the pitch in a Cinderella chorus line formation before peeling off to allow a smooth drive to the line from which The Count delivered a cheeky bit of innuendo and Reigate Mike, wearing the tiara and false boobs, set off the duck whistle, cymbal and trombone with a touchdown for the first try.

And more laughs followed. At the first scrum, it became evident that young Aladdin in the pointy shoes, the Sutts scrum half Aidan White (part of the DRFC Youth dynasty) was conceding something in the region of twice his bodyweight or more to Mikey. Ooh what’ve you stuffed in there mister? And in the best panto tradition, all our timing seemed surreal and every now and again someone in a frock would run centre stage to shout  “still no sign of Dick” as a pass whistled past his ear or a fat bloke dressed as the mayor would shout “just give it a good rub and see what happens” before a promising move would end in The Juggler’s electronic fancy hands doing an unfamiliar routine with hilarious consequences, mostly involving the dropping of the ball or getting a proper clattering as he called for the mark.

At any time it seemed The Giant (Botty) would thrust his way through the young oppo’s despairing tackles, but while he huffed and puffed, and the audience hissed, and Punchy Mr Oddjob menaced the three little pigs, and the audience booed, the pack of baddies took up a promising position and marched over for a pushover try. Oh no they didn’t! Well, er, not first time. But then Botty stuck to the script and we marched over for a second time and rescued the princess from the tower for a 10-nil lead. There was a third try when Baron Hard-up (The Challice) touched down.

Sutts had a penalty to show for their persistence, but an unimpressive 15-3 Derelicts lead at the interval set off more more duck whistles, fart noises and bellowing from The Challice. “You useless, duplicitous, lazy bunch of… ooh look here’s the Port, thanks Ginge, nice touch…”

In Act Two we saw the introduction of several new characters including Terry Thomas (obviously Jonah) to encourage us to greater things: “Come along you absolute shower!” The Ugly Sisters (Scud and Farmer Dave) transformed the front row from a gargoyle convention to a mutant fest, while the arrival of Buttons (Buzz) and Prince Charming (Thorners) heralded a change in costume, but no let up for the oppo as they repelled wave after wave of hackneyed old one-liners before The Challice eventually found the plot again and plunged over wide out for Peter Pan (Gazza) to land a fine conversion. But the final act went to Cinders (Raymondo “you’ll never see me on a rugby pitch again” Slater) whose fairy godmother abracadabra-ed a bit of the old fairy dust onto those tired old tooties so he could once again go to the ball whereupon he waltzed over the line backwards for a try. Huzzah!

There was still time for one final plot twist as the oppo’s best boys ran us ragged and picked up a couple of late laughs before the curtain came down – including a length of the field effort by their nippy full back who sidestepped every single Derelict (duck whistles, gunshots, maracas, whizzing noises) – and some of them twice (parp parp) – en route to London. “Dick, Dick… you’re here at last”.

“If I were Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner,” said Gerbil, “I’d pay good money to see that sort of thing again!”

Oh no you wouldn’t!

Cast: Moz, Farmer Dave, Bouncy, Scud, Oddjob, Kinger, Jane, Ginge, Thorners, Buzz, The Challice, Botty, The Count, Reigate Mike, Gazza, Gerbil, Cliffy, Fast Graham, Jonah, Raymondo, The Juggler.

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