Post war diary

This is an extract from Volume 2 of the log of the 24th Hastings Scout Troop, written by an unnamed Scout after the resumption of meetings at the Grammar School in Nelson Road towards the end of 1944.

Michaelmas term

Meetings were resumed at the School in November, beginning with a Troop meeting. Very few had been left behind, but soon new recruits were coming including several scouts, previously from other Troops, who had newly joined the School.

The Court of Honour sitting about a fortnight after the reopening of Troop meetings decided that if rehearsals began immediately the Troop could put on a pantomime at Christmas. Ali Baba was chosen again - being familiar to the Troop, in view of the shortness of time; but new to a Hastings audience. Most of the principals took the parts given to them in the previous performance. M Tomlin as Zaida and A. Ward as Wak-Wak were the principal changes.

Troop meetings were rather irregular after the first month, as is usually the case with the coming of pantomimes, but they were kept up as long as possible. A hike was held which went in the Fairlight direction. It was enjoyed, although most people got pretty wet. The Seniors held somewaht erratic and irregular meetings during the term.

ALI BABA

It was to be Ali Baba again; rehearsals went reasonably smoothly, (Com only threatened to chuck the whole thing up about twice), although a little more tediously than usual as it was familiar to us. However, the time was short, and soon the programmes were ready. Programmes ran short, they were called in, dished out again, and before anyone had time to sell one, they were called in again. At last, the dressed rehearsal. 'Make-up - 4.20 pm.'

You leave school early, dash down to the Trinity Hall. "Where's the dressing room?" Oh! Ye Gods for the open spaces of Spicer Street, built to hold twenty people but which took our cast of fifty. Oh! that we were back there; at least you could sit down. But here in Trinity Hall dressing room; in a room built to hold five people, we have to cram our thousands. If we were flies we could cling to the ceiling, but as we aren't we have to stand on one another's toes. At last you are changed and are called to be made-up; there the room is comparatively empty and again you can breath once more.

At last all is ready, the curtain goes up, but no audience tonight, only the critical eye of the producer who has slipped from behind the wings, and the light of the piano can be seen. However, everything goes all right, it always does in dress rehearsals; there's no point in having them really; still it probably pleases somebody. All's over till tomorrow night.

It is Friday. There was still the crush in the dressing room, "but only for one more night", you say, thankfully. The Show goes off well, the finale is over, the curtain closed and Com comes on, - face as long and mournful as a coffee-pot with the 'thumbs-up'. Saturday noon comes and the afternoon performance comes and goes; miracle of miracles nothing has gone wrong - yet. Property manager Paine rushes from side to side in a state of constant nervous tension, but everything seems OK. The lights are working all right and even the curtain doesn't get hitched up. During Saturday's break for tea everyone loses most of their make-up, but at last tea is over, the chairs are replaced in the hall and the cast retires. The success of previous performances is continued in the evening and the Show is at last over - a great success.