21 Oct 2013

The Travels of Mr Pepys

The confessions of a touring diarist… Three

21 Oct 2013

The confessions of a touring diarist…

Three weeks into our tour of this noble kingdom and all be well, thanks be to God, and all in good humour and merry. We, each of the actors, dressing people and very sundry stage hands, make good progress across the Principality of Wales; and a beautiful country it be and I mighty pleased to make my acquaintance with it again having visited some of the towns and villages only infrequently this past 10 year.

Female stage beauty 192And I find Wales in a good shape and the people happy and friendly. But chief of my pleasures was to speak again in the native tongue of the country without recourse to think perforce in the English tongue, for the Welsh tongue be both a beauty on the ear and a balm to the soul and thus the people who do speak it think it be the very language of Heaven; and I do think them right therein. By coach – whom we have named in sport “Blue Flash” – we actors set to visiting sundry towns and playing our shows therein. And although sometimes the audience be little, yet their enthusiasm be large. And we all much appreciative thereof.

First, then, we to the Capital city of Cardiff and played to good houses some three days and therein being much praise and us all meeting with friends and family. And I joined by my spouse and my parents-in-law who hie themselves from France to see the play. And I very glad of it and we all make merry. By and by we take coach to Brecon, within the Beacon mountains, and play to a goodly crowd and they full of voice with shouts of “Bravo!” etc etc and we the actors much flattered for we did not expect such exuberant praise and so we to thinking that the pre-theatre drinks did help with their enthusiasm, but we much humbled nonetheless and thankful. Came us to Swansea therafter upon the Gower coast, a place beset with good perspectives and we settle there two nights to play; and there we do find very good houses and a great welcome and goodly. I did meet with Mrs Hunt, adear friend who do live there. And I do think she do take monkey glands as medic, for she looks not a day older than she did 20 year past!

 

Female-stage-beauty-007And anon to the walled town of Carmarthen (from whence my granddame’s mother did hail) and we to playing to a small crowd, but very happy they be; and some be very moved to call out to us upon the stage. Needs I must tell of a strange thing which did happen in Carmarthen; for Ms Philips, a fine young actress with a good leg and bosom, was given a gift of flowers by a young Muscovite who had travelled thither, via London, from the Russias! And we all beset with wonder and much amazement! So great is Ms Philip’s charms that news of them reaches even to Tartary! Up to Caernarfon and there to play to a fine house. And we to dining in the Black Boy, I upon a fine steak and ale pie; Miss Philips and Mr Nichols and Mr Tobin of Liverpool set upon a rabbit; and Mrs Seymour do make feast upon scampi, being a shell fish. And I to seeing friends not seen for many years and mighty nostalgic so that I do find my voice choked and tears in the eyes thereafter. Yet it be a happy melancholia and soon be passed. At night in a Travelodge – it being a mighty convenient place with clean sheets and no straw mattress, but one of fresh linen. And I give thanks. In Blue Flash therein we make progress to Pwllheli, Newtown and Aberystwyth etc etc, all of us merry and much set to the making of games and riddles etc to pass the time; and it do pass easy and happily. And in each town moderate houses but goodly receptions all. And in Newtown I to receiving a lengthy letter from an admirer of our Company and he to telling us how much he admired of our acting, settings, costumes, musikians etc etc; and I happy to read it to the assembled company and we all mighty glad.

IMG_2850 And so I to thinking about my time this three weeks and do find upon reflection that, albeit the days can be long and the playing of the scenes repetitious, I nonetheless to enjoying my time in good company and among talented professional sorts. A journey home to my fair city of Edinb’rgh would be mighty welcome, ‘tis true, but until that do happen, I give thanks to God that He hath given me strength to persevere and the ability to laugh with goodly friends. Amen. And so to bed…

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