Jeremy Avis - keyboard and singing
The house-lights in the Savoy theatre dimmed and into the darkening hush appear puppet bears not only Sooty , Sweep Su and their minder….oh and Mathew Corbett son of Harry but no relation to Ronnie.
Little did my parents know what was about to become of their tender offspring in whom they had so invested their hopes. Take the boy to town to see the lights, little knowing the effect this would have on the innocent’s attempts to remain financially solvent in adulthood.
The 5 year-old knew already that performing was exciting after the school reciting the rousing poem “Jack of the Ink pot” to cross-legged rows of the bemused at nursery school.
However the top of the second half that evening was in many ways the true start of it all. A "get the act going" participatory song segment, selected children invited down to stand and perform together with puppet bears and compere.
My hand flew up and Matthew Corbett says yes you the bright spark at the back there (we had booked the cheaper seats). It was a very long way down the stairs to wards the stage.
No usher there to guide me to the stage and amid the leaping and pumping of adrenalin I, not for the last time, struggled to find my way to the Stage and up the looming steps at the side.
Suddenly there , absolutely bathed in light, with the slweating, bearded and avuncular compere positioning my shoulders and being placed in line.
My assigned role: to make actions demanded of one of various obvious male professions in fact to be a decorator as the audience sang the appropriate song.
I was asked my name as a large microphone, the first I had ever seen close to, was thrust towards me. I grabbed the end of it with both hands and pulled it towards my face.
The metal of the microphone grill tasted metallic and ground against my teeth as the noise of my hands grasping the end of it and my teeth bumping against the grill filled the auditorium with a defining and strange noise.
“Pull it away from your face” urgently admonished Matthew, but no way was I letting go of this. the microphone had somehow suddenly taken on the role of protector as the rush of stage fright flooded through me for the first time.
Where were my parents for God's sake…why was I there and who were all these people?
“What is your name then?” said Matthew.
"Jeremy" : I shouted far too close to the mike, the amplified sound deafening, the feedback impressive and sustained: children in the front row holding their hands over tender ears.
“We need a painter, Jeremy, said Matthew , sweating slightly more you’d like to be a painter wouldn’t you”: paint brush was placed in my hand.
The band played, Matthew warbled: “ Slap it up and down with the painter , painter”.
I waved my paint brush enthusiastically (where were my parents) and the music played on.
In a daze finally ushered back to my seat trembling,.......hungry but certain of one thing, resolved.......
I needed this feeling again.