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A Big Smile Never Hurt Anybody

I do ushering - we’re fire marshals, which is really good because we always get a nice seat at the back, I help clear up afterwards, dry up all the dishes, one or twice I’ve helped serve drinks and stuff behind the counter.


It was a sheer fluke when I saw the advert, I came in with a friend to use the toilets actually, I saw a little advert on the wall, that said about volunteering, and I said to my friend that would suit me and immediately asked. I’ve been here nearly two years now!


I’d never done anything like it so I just expected to be taking the tickets, and that would be it. But I didn’t expect to be doing quite as many little things, like clearing up, helping with the drinks and helping with all the different things, so - but I was quite happy, you know. I do prefer matinees, but I do do the evenings as well, yes. Coming into town on the bus then sort of wading through all the people, especially when its dark, I’m not too happy. But the matinees are great. I like the fact that there’s no pressure, I can do it when I want to - you know if you wanted to do every Saturday night you could, but if you didn’t want to you don’t have to.


I’m very much a people’s person. I like welcoming people in - a big smile never hurt anybody; and when they leave I’m always saying did you enjoy that? And it’s nice to hear the feedback from people you know? When people ask me, any questions and that, and I feel I can help them so I’m quite happy doing that - on the whole I think it’s made life more enjoyable for me because I’m meeting new people.


All the different patrons that come here, they seem so friendly. It’s great to have a conversation with them, during my time sitting at the back. And every single usher I’ve met has been so random and diverse and I love talking to people and I can quickly find out their life’s history within a - you know? So that’s been really good. I’ve just got a way with words and I’m not frightened to go direct for the mark. I don’t shilly shally, just, that’s it – go for the directness.


It’s got me out at night. Because I live by myself, I thought it’s a really good opportunity of making sure that I have to go out, and see plays, music, whatever productions are coming, something that I wouldn’t normally do so. It’s got me out of slumping in the sofa and watching crap on the telly basically. My life is enhanced by the fact that I can get out, and it’s pushed me to do that.


When the new programme comes out, I look down there and think ooh that looks good yeah, I’m around for that, I’ll do that. And that’s what’s good because - well let’s face it, I’m retired and your days need filling up. I like variety in my life, so it’s something that I hadn’t done before, I like theatre and stuff, and I do like the fact that it’s a little alternative and intimate theatre. I’ve been to the other big ones and it’s not quite the same as here


And I like the fact that it might not be a hundred percent professional, but on the whole it is. And it’s so darn clever and these are up and coming stars that all need - you know they need - they all got to start somewhere, and this is what really attracted me.


Some of the music’s been good. I mean it’s actually opened my ears to a lot of different types of music as well, and I now know what I like and what I don’t like, which is good. I’m very much into Spanish classical, country and western for my sins. And some of these alternative people, that have written their own stuff, especially – folk type based. I like the - what do you call it? - the banter, of the artists with the audience, I think that’s really good. And some of the singers they’ve got some really good one liners and stuff, you know.


Once I actually helped one of the artists with his gramophone – I had to keep changing records, just for a few minutes at the beginning, which was quite hairy, because it was one of those old wind up things, you know? It was a bit hairy at once because it did stick, but I managed to get up and pick up the needle and put it back in the right point!


Being an usher here, it’s brought my confidence out I must admit. Dealing with the public more, I find that I can be quite confident. Because obviously I know the answers so that brings out confidence. It’s a really friendly place and you feel part of the Old Fire Station – you feel happy to do it. I wouldn’t have been volunteering for two years if I wasn’t happy to keep coming here, and it’s very enjoyable.

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