Matthew Munson: January panto and a happy coincidence (oh yes it was)

Matthew and Bryan

Pantos, in my mind at least, are something for Christmas. I’ve never gone to a panto other than in the run-up to the tinsel-festooned festive period – but I had the offer of taking Bryan up to London’s West End to a January panto this Saturday, and how could I possibly say no?

It was at the Phoenix Theatre, one I’d never been before, and PWC (previously known as … oh, I don’t know, something else, but they offer professional services – nope, I don’t really understand that either) put on a yearly panto there. It’s done by staff from the company, and it’s very professional, I have to say. They offer some dates to different children’s charities, and Barnardo’s – a charity I’m connected to from my days getting ready to become a dad – had been given a section of the theatre to give out free tickets.

Whilst we waited for the auditorium to open, Bryan and I were busy chatting when we heard familiar voices – Bryan’s siblings. We had no idea they were coming, although I think there was a brief suspicion of collusion between the adults, but we all reassured them it was a genuine – and happy – coincidence. That was a genuine delight, and we spent a very happy couple of hours in their company whilst also enjoying a really very well-done panto.

Bryan and I then spent a few hours pottering around London; having a lovely lunch, watching some street theatre, and walking past Downing Street to see if we could spot any drama or famous faces (no and no … sadly). I had briefly thought about seeing if we could find a cheap hotel or Airbnb to stay the night in, but I decided against it; there’s nothing quite like going home to your own bed.

It was a really lovely opportunity to spend a day with Bryan doing something a little different (and seeing important people out of the blue), and I’m genuinely pleased we went. It was a lovely piece of theatre, and boy could those performers sing. There was also a lot of dancing in it, which Bryan loved – I got the full run-down on the way home of the moves Bryan had recognised, and I couldn’t follow it all … but it was lovely to hear him so passionate, so who am I to argue?

I often like to go out on Sunday, even if it’s for a walk across to the park to get some fresh air, but this week, we’re staying at home. After twelve intensive hours in London, we need to rest up – my knees aren’t what they once were, and Bryan deserves a day of rest before school starts again on Monday. I might have offered to bake a cake with him … thank heavens for Betty Crocker.

I’ve also been working hard over the last few weeks to finish the latest draft of a story I’ve been working on. My writing style has definitely evolved over the years, and university is already helping me see just how I can find new ways to get better. I originally had an idea for this story quite a few years ago, but struggled to work out the ending – but that problem is pretty much solved now, and I’ve gone through every word, semi-colon, and sentence structure to see how I can make it better. It’s not quite “good enough” yet (I won’t ever say perfect), but it’s getting there. I’m going to take another couple of runs at it, and then start exploring a route to publication.

Having had three books published already doesn’t automatically guarantee any success. I’ve separated from my publisher in as far as new titles, so I’ve gone back round full circle; I’m starting again. I’m looking forward to trying. If I don’t succeed, then I’ll try again with a different story – and keep trying, because I’m passionate with stories as much as my Bryan is passionate about dance. Having time to write is a privilege for me, and I adore it.