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Love Stories on 18th Jun 24 - The Alma Tavern

A warm evening, matched by the warmth of everyone at The Alma Tavern & Theatre.

It felt like Summer, it was Summer and we had a collective 'woo-hoo' to that.

With an audience who didn't quite know what to expect, but were up for it anyway, we created this...

A manifesto of fuzzy felt hearts declared commitment to all the colours of love.

I thanked Mills & Boon for the part they played in my existence and told a a farm romance that everyone survived.

For the third show in a row, extra time was played in The World Cup of Love Songs. After some healthy 'debate' and some complaints about who was driving home, the results were:

Semi-Final 1: Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits v Could it be magic by Barry Manilow

Result: Romeo and Juliet 6 - 5 Could it be magic

Semi-Final 2: Wonderful tonight by Eric Clapton v When I need you by Leo Sayer

At Full time: Wonderful tonight 8 - 8 When I need you

Result after Extra Time: Wonderful tonight 17 - 15 When I need you

World Cup of Love Songs Final

Result: Romeo and Juliet 4 - 9 Wonderful tonight

As Dire Straits tired, Eric pushed on from his extra-time ordeal to romp to a one-sided victory.

Congratulations to Eric Clapton and the World Cup Winner in the room - a medal was presented.

The audience made poor choices for Humi that not even Interpol could fix. Luckily, Beyonce intervened with a better walk that I can muster and blew the protagonists all the way to Newport.

' it me you're looking for?' Back in the day, in one of Mark's worst romantic moments, it was a very certain and all too public, 'no'.

The audience shared some brilliant love stories too.

First up was an overshare. In a scene that Richard Curtis would have been proud of, imagine going to the wedding of an ex, to be told by the groom that 'It should've been you.' What do you say to that? Nothing...for fear of saying 'yes,' 'no,' or something about rubbish timing.

Another film's complicated. We heard about the early days of video calls and a call from holiday, to share pictures of the flat. Including...ahem...the bed on which our audience member lay naked. 'It was not my finest hour,' she said. Credit to her for not being the hour in which she throttled the errant video caller, I say.

Next there was the call of destiny for a romantic soul taking the first steps towards being a romantic soul. A branch of Threshers the off-licence is as good as Venice, if that's where you work with a colleague you have the hots for. Romance points awarded for the order and delivery of flowers - way to go. But the mood was somewhat crushed by the date of delivery - September 11th 2001. It took me a while to get this (9/11) and then no time at all to know that no-one, not even Mills and Boon does global terrorism romance.

I do love a confession, although this was more an admission. A junior school crush on Jodie and the impulsive need to show how much you admire someone with a gift. Too young for a career and a salary. Pocket money not quite the budget to match the feelings. A I think that was stolen...ring of significant value, taken from a mother's collection. Initially, that created a positive impression. Less so with the Mum of course and less so with the school visit and the subsequent return of the item. Ouch!

And finally, a gift that didn't need to be returned and one that is cherished to this day. A mouse - we've all been given a mouse in our time, right? This mouse was holding a little heart and given to a partner. Many years later, the mouse is still held close every night before falling asleep. Aaahh. One of those items of more value than Antiques Roadshow could ever put a number on.

Enormous thanks to everyone that opened their hearts to share their stories – they were great additions to the Love Stories anthology that I'll never get round to writing.

There was Ting, the sound of heartache - so much so that I needed a hug from the love cushion afterwards.

And a visiting alien doesn't get that on a planet of over 7 billion earthlings, you still believe there is 'the one.'

Huge thanks to Holly Newton and the whole team at The Alma. Thanks to Calin for tech support and the sequinned legend that is Mel, for being front of house.

But most of all, thank you to everyone in the theatre who took a chance on love and made a show with me.

Mark xx

p.s. It's a special day when you see Love Stories advertised in the gents - love it!


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