How To Make Money, You Hobo – A Cautionary Tale

Last night I had a particularly vivid and unusual dream:

JTA and I were homeless and living on the streets of some foreign city (it was somewhat reminiscent of London, but most folks spoke French, so I guess it wasn’t); jobless, hungry, and generally sleeping in the central railway station, except when the police or station staff moved us on.

In order to make some money – and as much to give us something to do with our time and to keep our spirits up – we decided to put together a piece of musical street theatre. For some reason I was carrying a concertina (Claire‘s?) and was quite able to play it, and JTA had a reasonable singing voice, so we began to put together a cautionary tale that we would perform, telling the story of JTA’s life and how he got into the unfortunate position that we were now in.

In our story, JTA was bullied into going out and getting a job by his mother and sister in order to bring money into the family house, but he is lazy and he cannot hold down a job. Looking for a quick (and easy) solution, he turns to crime, and, after he accidentally murders a man he intended to rob, he flees the country to escape arrest.

Later, we went back and made some artistic adjustments to the story, in order to hammer some extra morals home – our adaptations included JTA’s introduction to a life of crime being through a shady character who accosted him on his way back from his first stable job (a cleaner at a zoo), and tempting him with “easier work,” and a change to the story of his family to make them seem less demanding and more tolerant (making his inability to support them comeacross as more shocking).

Through a variety of makeshift costume changes, I would play a number of secondary parts  – JTA’s mother (who didn’t look anything like his mother actually does, and even less so when played by me), an employer, the shady character – and narrate his downfall, while JTA would play himself: initially a cheery but lazy “country bumpkin” character who feels wronged by his bad luck and eventually comes to resent the world around him.

At the point I woke up, we were still tweaking songs and hadn’t actually performed it. But it had cheered us up no end.

There was a particular song I’ve been trying to remember a line from all morning. Early on, after JTA has “lost yet another job” and is walking home, we had a line that made a clever pun on English pronounciation of the French word emploi (employment) -much of the play was done bilingually – but all I can remember is the time signature of the song and the general theme. I remember that when I woke up, I knew what it was and thought “Wow; that’s brilliant – when I blog about this dream, I must include that!” But by the time I got to a computer I’d forgotten it. Ah well.

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