Hysterical News Agency Correspondent.
The news out of Madison Avenue is that The Dan Leno Hologram recently launched back in time towards 1st Century AD Britain has sent a report on its meeting with Boudicca, Britain’s Ancient Warrior Queen, back to the Historical Maintenance Commission in NYC.
What follows are the words of Dan Leno in hologram form direct from Iceni Territory (modern day Norfolk) in early Roman Britain:
I ought to give the public a short account of my thrilling experiences. This was all had without a rag to my back and without a penny in my pocket but thanks to the success of my endeavours I now feel I’m a farthing millionaire.
Upon materialising in this land of my birth, on 32nd of Danuary, some yokels did observe my entrance.
‘Whence did he whence?’ they uttered in unison, ‘And wither is he withering?’
‘Who am I?’ I said in a sad voice; ‘ah! Who is any of us? I soliloquised. I shuffled away from the gawking yokels after putting the soliloquery shutters up. I shall never forget the look on those men’s faces if I live to be ninety-nine, nor the mirth I extracted from them which sounded like thirty cats with their tails in a mangle.
Britain in the first century is a far, far more rural place. I’ve always preferred the most fashionable part of the suburbs although I am equally at home in the country amongst my wasps. I was expecting the natives to be painted blue. Instead, they favoured a shade of red applied by busy brushstrokes from the Sun. But I digress. On to my successful meeting with Boudicca, or Boadicea to us Victorians.
I spied a young woman and persued this gentle animal to her lair and watched all her curious little antics. She possessed a fine little palace, like a scaled down version of my second home at Drury Lane, gothic in design. The Queen was met at the thick oak door by a man old enough to be her father, who berated her and pointed to his garden. This was, I assumed, King Prasutagus her husband. Possibly close to his death. My timing couldn’t have been better, although even my harshest critics have always conceded that point.
Boadicea started pruning the roses. A beautiful woman of youth, and had I a canvas, palette, brush and paints I would’ve captured her image for posterity as I’ve tackled all the arts and sciences in a sixpenny sort of way. A snip here, a cautious few snips there, a precision snip just there. She’d all but completed her snippering when I decided to tackle her with three of my most famous character portrayals, one at a time, I was sure to leave a Dantastic impression upon her.
I first adopted my waiter character with exaggerated high, stiff collar and subservient gait.
‘Boadicea,’ said I, ‘your steak and….’ I broke off as she looked at me in bewilderment. I recalled the titbits I’d procured that her name had been erroneously scribbled by an unscrubbed scribe so I sought to unscrubble the scribered scribblings. ‘Boudicca,’ said the newly educated I.
‘Ah!’ she responded, tapping at her heart. ‘You scared me!’
‘I hope I haven’t exhausted your frightenings,’ I mused, ‘as you’ll need some left for when I present you with the bill.’
To my critical eye this girl seemed far from the finished article who’d strike terror into the hearts of Romans. I was glad that my translator device was translatoring as I continued with my routine.
‘Your meal of steak and tomatoes will be ready shortly, Madame,’ said I.
‘Steak…a meal…for me?’ she replied, dropping her tools to the soft earth as she inspected me. The fact she could see through hologram me seemed to hit home. It’s wonderful how things strike you sometimes, especially when they are well aimed. She soon took the route of her garden implements and dropped to her knees in awe. ‘How long will this, this you say steak be?’
‘Oh, about four inches!’ This jolly jape was lost on her. In fact, she seemed lost for breath too as her words became gasped as if the gasperometer was running dry. ‘What are tomaters?’ asked the fuel deprived voice.
‘Tomatoes, don’t mention tomatoes to me! I had a grandfather and he suffered agonies with gout, and we called him a toe-martyr.’ The wheeze met with no response. Usually, when providing impromptu comedy skits for the public I make sure to add the line ‘Hoping to see you at the “Lane” but for this comedy killer I made an exception.
Prompted by my lack of success with humour I decided to go for the jugular and tell her that she had to take up arms against the invaders in her country, and that in doing so she would die in the process but become a martyr for her nation and be revered thereafter for as many years as it takes to grow a mountain and for as many puffs as it then takes to climb it.
‘I promise my God to fulfil his wishes,’ Young Boudicca announced. Although a waif she had steel in her veins, I felt a feelering that had I a Roman been a chill would’ve Dan down my spine. Strong Romans, I was convinced would soon be weeping like baby elephants.
She so wanted to start her invader bashing that she was intent on the get go there and then. But I wanted to reinforce the message in the guise of two other characters, my celebrated Widow Twankey and the woman gossiping about Mrs Kelly, to really drum the message into her like a searing hot branding iron.
It couldn’t have gone any better if it had been rehearsed for a fortnight.
ACT 1 Ends
LATE NEWS *******LATE NEWS
The History Maintenance Commission immediately aborted the Dan Leno Hologram as it became apparent he was not conversing with the mature woman Boudicca in First Century Britain. But Joan of Arc in 15th Century Doremy in France. Joan has been acknowledged as having been encouraged to take up arms against the English invaders by the appearance of three saints in her garden. We can now place these three visions as the three characters that Dan Leno’s hologram appeared as The waiter with the high ‘winged’ collar, Widow Twankey and the Gossip Woman.
This means Boudicca still hasn’t been visited to persuade her to take up arms against the Roman conquerors, while Joan of Arc has been created to become a thorn in English backsides during their travails in France.