A celebration of magic in Rotherham
WITCHES, wizards, warlocks and wordsmiths were all catered for when Rotherham held its first ever celebration of magic.
The event, led by literacy charity Grimm & Co, and Rotherham Borough Council, saw hundreds of shoppers watch shows and take part in activities.
Dave Doyle joined in the fun as the fictional grifter Dr Jebediah Horatio Grimm, who set out his stall in All Saints’ Square and pushed the charity’s quasi-medical products.
Here he outlines his experiences at the magic day — and how magical stories are set to come to life next month.
“Come one, come all — creatures big and small,” the stranger bellowed. “Whatever ails you, I have the cure!”
He was tall and imposing, dressed in old-fashioned clothes adorned with curious jewellery, topped off with a broad-brimmed hat.
Shoppers were spilling into Effingham Street as the man rolled his barrow into All Saints’ Square, hollering through a brass gramophone horn.
Curious shoppers looked on from afar, keeping their distance from this brash character and his loud American drawl.
He was Dr Jebediah Horatio Grimm, he slurred, cousin of Mr Graham Grimm — owner and proprietor of the apothecary “over yonder, on Doncaster Gate”.
Parking his cart of smelly soaps and bath salts, he started spinning a yarn about their “magical and mystical” properties.
His wares could make sad girl happy, a poor woman rich or a clever man gullible and he “proved” as much with help from convenient volunteers.
It was, of course, a load of codswallop — or a work of fantastical fiction, as I’d rather have it.
Dr Jeb was in fact me, his patter a bit of improvised street theatre in support of creativity charity Grimm & Co.
And the helpers — “none of whom I have seen before in my life,” Jeb swore — were fellow Grimm supporters who had been carefully briefed beforehand.
Even Paul Clayton, the veteran soap star and charity patron, got in on the act as a stooge.
He and the other audience plants hopped, skipped and jigged away, reinvigorated by miracle cures which were in fact ordinary toiletries.
Some good sports clapped and cheered as Jeb doled out these apparently magical remedies.
Others sat and stared, confused or unconvinced — but many came for a closer look or to ask questions, which made the silly spectacle worthwhile.
Drawn in by the commotion and colourful costumes, kids flocked to the Grimm & Co. tent.
There they enjoyed portrait paintings, story-writings and even a fairytale-themed treasure hunt.
They quizzed Jeb about his suspicious wares and — many ended up at the shop, where they discovered chances to flex their mind muscles with professional writers.
One such session has produced Graham Grimm’s Glorious Grand Gala — a night of stories written by Rotherham kids, which will grace Barnsley Civic Theatre on September 10.
Coached by people like Paul and League of Gentlemen writer Jeremy Dyson, the young playwrights will see their names up in lights.
Their writing will come alive for a real theatre audience and it will, hopefully, spur them on to keep trying new and exciting things.
It’s the kind of result which makes events like Magical Rotherham Day worthwhile.
And it’s the sort of thing that Jeb Grimm and his committed colleagues go to work for.
For more information on the gala and to buy tickets, visit www.tinyurl.com/grimmgala2.