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Love. Stories. on 22nd July 23

The second Shaftesbury Fringe Festival show at the Heritage Suite – at the end of balmy Summer’s day (mainly involving driving rain). In a new Fringe venue, with a brilliant audience, we created this…

There were enough Love Hearts per person to sink our battleships - restraint was shown by all.

I confirmed I was a fully subscribed cheerleader for all the colours and forms of love – my straight stories do not imply exclusivity, far from it. Love stories are for all!

The gold-top romantic story to start said, ‘There were poppies in the barley field…perhaps I’d ploughed a bit deeper than Dad?’

The World Cup of Love Songs had the strongest set of semi-finalists yet.

The results were:

Semi-Final 1: The First Time, Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack v Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? by Van Morrison.

Result: The First Time 6 – 5 Have I Told You Lately

Semi-Final 2: Night And Day by Cole Porter v I Honestly Love You by Olivia Newton John

Result: Night And Day 3 – 8 I Honestly Love You

World Cup of Love Songs Final

Result: The First Time, Ever I Saw Your Face 8 – 7 I Honestly Love You

Roberta Flack lifts the trophy.

Amongst Mark's silliest romantic moments, there was snow and tobogganing ‘on my arse’ down a flight of stairs.

The audience sent Humi off with a coke-snorting, umbrella-holding, IPR lawyer. Despite this appalling decision, for the second night running, the ‘local girl’* Madge saved the day.

*’local girl’ is a bit of a stretch. Madonna lived about 7 miles from Shaftesbury for 3 years at the start of the 21st century. I’ve lived in my village for over 20 years and am still an alien.

There were many, brilliant Audience Love. Stories.

There was a date at a zoo and an unluckily timed comment about a Tapir’s ‘enormous hooter’, interpreted as a reference to the now visible Tapir's enormous erection by the time the date turned around for a look. The date was unimpressed by such apparently crude comments and she left.

Let’s hear it for a Nan - whose love and caring meant that they sent anonymous Valentines to their grand-daughter for 4 or 5 years. Let’s hear it for a Grandfather – who wanted to see his grand-daughter get a wriggle on and married…only for a last minute plot twist to determine that his attendance at the wedding was to be in spirit. Who needed proof that remote love is as powerful as the in-person variety? Not me.

There was a turgid first date where, with great relief, the ending was marked with the rather subtle salutation, ‘have a nice life’ – ouch! The chap telephoned later to apologise for being a boring date – respect to that man. There was a p.s. to this story too. The following week, a new date turned out to be THE ONE – a future husband who was told the story of his predecessor and despite making an obviously better first impression, he also phoned to apologise for being a boring date. A shared sense of humour and a private joke is a romantic delight, don’t you think?

We were taken to the 90s and a night-time drive back to London via Stonehenge – a rather sophisticated and confident woman driving a rather sophisticated SAAB. Our cautious Capricorn audience member was encouraged to abandon her reservations and scale the wire to get to the stones. There was torchlight, a security guard and potential disaster, except the guard turned a blind eye so that a romantic first kiss could be had amongst the standing stones. I love that – a perfect moment (time, place and a bit of love in the air), enabled by a romantic accomplice.

Some of the best stories shared do far – big thanks to all those who opened their memory banks to share their stories.

There was a contradictory line in a story full of heartache – ‘And you wore that dress. I wish you hadn’t…I’m glad you did.’

And there was ‘happiness and commitment and preening that almost matches that of Puffins.’ As you know, this confuses me.

Many thanks to Alan and the team at the Heritage Suite – a new Fringe venue, do support it in future.

And as always, heart-felt thanks for everyone who took a chance on love and made a show with me.

Mark xx


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