Firefly’s First Stand

In a theatre, the auditorium lights dim and a compère walks onto the stage and is picked out by the beam of a spotlight.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the show 'Semi-serious Fun'. Thank you for supporting what we hope will be the first of many of these shows. As I'm sure you know, we've put together a wide range of acts from a great variety a performers for this evening. And as the opener for tonight we have someone who has never performed on stage before, so let's give him the jump start he needs. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome… Firefly Phil!

Firefly walks on, to a round of applause. Compère leaves. Firefly takes a piece of paper from his pocket, unfolds it, and begins to speak, looking occasionally at the paper.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you again very much for coming tonight. I know the weather isn't very pleasant out there and many of you have braved heavy rain, lightning, act of God, riot or civil commotion, subsidence or landslip (first £1000 of any claim)… (frowns) Hold on! Something wrong here. (turns over the paper, frowns again, then looks up) Well, that's a bummer.

Firefly frantically rummages in his pockets. Paper hankies and supermarket receipts fly across the stage.

It's no good. Must have filed those notes for tonight under 'insurance'. It figures when you think about it, doesn't it? Anyway… (reads) Without prejudice to the foregoing… (looks up) I must just say that if the two pretty, smartly dressed (well, almost dressed) young ladies on the front row were to prejudice the foregoing, it would be a shame.

At least this isn't one of those terribly formal affairs where the men wear enough suiting to cover a decent football pitch. I was talking to a friend of mine about this and he said he thought the women were nearly as bad, although the sport was different. I asked him if he meant, let's say, netball instead of football. He said, No, he meant Subbuteo.

And that reminds me what I really meant to talk about. You know, I was watching a video the other day about the indoctrination of women by the fashion and cosmetics industry. You can get videos on just about anything now, can't you? Anything from 'The structure of the earth's crust' to 'How to lay laminate flooring'. Mind you, all I'd say about those two videos is that if you've watched either of them, you can say you've watched them both.

Anyhow, you're probably wondering how I came to be watching this video about women and fashion and what not. Why should it bother me, you might well ask. Well, that's a very interesting story. Would you like me to tell you? (enthusiastic nodding from audience) That's a shame, really, because I can't remember it properly. Only that it all started when I was browsing the web to find out about vacuum cleaners, and then I somehow found this video. And, you see, in this video, the presenter was talking about the cosmetics industry's idea of the perfect woman. I'll just quote: “She has no scars, she has no blemishes, she has no pores.” Now that set me thinking. You know, you get these magazine articles where some new young lady journalist interviews an even younger, even newer up-and-coming songbird who hasn't had the time, or the money, to get a drink or drugs problem yet, never mind go through rehab, and so she's really full of life and everything (I mean the songbird, not the journalist.) Anyway, the aforesaid songbird is always described as 'oozing vitality and zest for life through every pore'. Right then, back to Miss Perfect Woman. She, poor dear, has no pores. So what's she going to ooze vitality and zest for life through, eh? Answer me that. (raises eyebrows and forefinger) Gentleman at the back…sorry, sir…no, I really don't think the show can accept answers on a postcard this time. Nor e-mails, I'm afraid.

But that brings me nicely onto my other subject for this evening – and I'll try to keep this brief – by the way, have you ever noticed how people say “I'll try to keep this brief” and then ramble on for half an hour? I won't do that, I promise you – but I just wanted to talk for a few moments about how some people use computers. Now, obviously, a great many people use computers sometimes, either at work, or at home, or both. But what I just don't understand is this: there are people, supposedly of sound mind, who, of their own free will, will sit down by the hour at a computer to play at shooting and killing other people before getting killed themselves. Now, I ask you: just have a quick think about the international news and current affairs. If you need to, there are lots of news websites to look at. Now, is there not enough war in the world, (pause) enough fighting, (pause) enough brutality, (pause) enough mindless killing (pause) so we have to pretend to do some more? HOW SAD IS THAT? Well, I'd better stop before I get high blood pressure, but I can see the lady at the end of the fourth row, who's wearing the most delightful see-through… (turns and coughs) Excuse me. Now where was I? Oh, yes, the lady with the delightful see-through glasses, is agreeing with me. Well, not all specs are see-through, you know. Not from the outside, anyhow. Just think of all those gangsters.

Well, the little man in the box up there's waving now so that means time's nearly up, but the organisers asked me if I would introduce the next act. I said I would count it an honour. After all that semi-serious thinking, I'm sure you're ready for some music. So, coming on any second now, we've got a terrific young man with an amazing voice, backed by three lovely young lady songbird-instrumentalists who are – yes, you've guessed it – oozing vitality and zest for life through every pore. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome HANK BOLIDAY AND THE DAYS OFF!

The four walk on, to thunderous applause, and Firefly stands aside.

Well, before I leave you to enjoy some really great songs, thank you all very much indeed for listening to me tonight. I can honestly say that it's been a pleasure. And the pleasure's been all yours.

Firefly bows left and right to more thunderous applause, and walks off.

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Hello and Welcome…

If you're here for the first time, you've got my sympathy. So am I. Just how I came to do this at all is a long story that started with a product search… but enough of that for now. The thing is, I've always thought of myself as mostly an introvert, and those who know me would probably say the same of me. Cautious to a fault, that's me – a firm believer, too, in the adage “Better to let people think you're a fool than open your mouth and prove it.”

So, up to now, although I've always been ready for a chat on a one-to-one basis, I could never have imagined myself standing up in front of a large audience, and yet I do like to let off steam sometimes. (See that little engine? Not unlike me really – needs topping up now and then, works hard when asked, a bit noisy doing so… I could go on.) So perhaps I'm not all introvert.

Reflecting on this got me wondering – we often think of characteristics in terms of contrasting pairs, but, in real life, aren't we all mostly 'a bit of both' – a bit of the hermit, a bit of the showman, part settler, part nomad, part scientist studying our world, part artist expressing ourselves in it, and so on? So is it just a question of what comes to the surface, and when? What do you think?

Then all this, with a bit of extra help, started me imagining what I really would be like as a showman. Then I wrote it down as a sort of script. And that will be my next post. Thank you for coming with me this far.

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That Firefly Phil bloke, still knocking out photography and other stuff.