Sunday, 27 May 2007


Shiver opens at Theatre 503 tomorrow and the get-in is due to start in an hour and forty minutes. I'm writing this from my father-in-law's house in Leicester, having just finished re-watching the entire first series of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin on DVD. Somewhat lackadaisical, you might think. But no. I'm waiting for the breakdown recovery guy to come back to finish mending the van in which the set is being transported.

The story really begins yesterday morning at 11am, when I receive the expected phone call from my van hire company, telling me not where I should pick up the van, as expected, but instead that they're sorry but they don't have a van after all. The just thought it would be fun to pretend, or something. So at 11am on the Saturday of a bank holiday weekend I start calling round van hire firms to find a 3.5tonne Luton for immediate departure. Having finally found one at a considerably inflated price, I'm on my way.

But this has knocked my schedule slightly, so I'm pushing it to make it to Theatre 503 for the final performance of Salt Meets Wound in the evening. It's do-able though, and Sarah and I manage the load-in in creditable enough time to have time to stop just south of Wakefield to pick up a sandwich with the prognosis looking good. But no.

We return to the van with a bagful of M&S snacks, and the key won't turn in the lock. On the passenger side, the key won't even go into the lock. A fair bit of grunting and swearing later, I call the van hire firm, who promise to send someone out. Cue Stint of Standing around in the Cold and Rain #1. And of course, when the geezer turns up, he proceeds to spend ten minutes trying the key in the lock. "Of course! If only I'd thought of that!"

His ultimate conclusion is that we've got the wrong key for the driver's door and eventually he succeeds in dislodging the bit of key that's stuck in the passenger door. So we can be on our way, although the driver's door is not to be used. But by now Salt Meets Wound is a distant dream and I feel fatigued beyond the limits of human endurance having only done the get-out on The Apple Harvest thirty hours ago and driven seemingly constantly since then without actually getting out of Yorkshire. So I decide the stay the night in Leicester, where I was going to drop Sarah anyway. In another version of my life, I stopped for a cup of tea in Leicester at about two before carrying on for London to have dinner before the show. We got here at about six.

This morning I wanted to leave at ten, to allow time to get to Battersea for lunch before the two o' clock get-in. But the van won't start. I try again. It still won't start. I call the Breakdown Recovery Service, and they promise someone will be with me in ninety minutes. Then the van hire company call and tell me someone will be with me in ninety minutes. Then the Breakdown Recovery Service call to tell me someone will be with me in ninety minutes, and also to check that I'm using the right key.

The one thing that went right this weekend was that the Breakdown Recovery guy was indeed here within ninety minutes; he was here not long after eleven. He diagnosed the problem immediately, then went about fixing it. And in fixing it he broke something else. It's now twenty to one and he's still got his head under the bonnet. Stint of Standing Around in the Cold and Rain #2 was abandoned in favour of this outpouring, some considerable time ago.

More superstitious minds than mine would conclude, on the basis of the last twenty-four hours alone, that this show is cursed. When considered alongside the get-in at the beginning of the tour, when the set that was meant to arrive at 11am for an 8pm show, in fact arrived at 5pm, resulting in our first performance also being the first run on the set and indeed the first tech run, some might consider that proof positive.

But he's just got the van started outside (it's quarter to one) so who knows, maybe things are looking up?


Van Hire said...

It is really interesting story.I heard that a lot of my friends have similar adventures when they hire a van.

Van Sales said...

Sometimes it happens, you want to do something so much, but you have problems everywhere, one after another. But after such period there should be period when everything is just fine.