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Dame Dibble’s Dairy

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary,  Sunday,  3rd January 2010

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“I WENT FOR PINK for the dairy,” I tell the Dame, as he arrives for the afternoon rehearsal, “but Wendy (our producer) tells me that you have so many costume changes it’s impossible to colour co-ordinate you.”


“Yes, I’ve got lots of costumes,” says the Dame gleefully, “but the one I’m wearing for the dairy is pink.”

Dickensian version
stable doors
almost there - but the roof is too skimpy
narrow gable

So, I hear you asking, how do you set about designing a dairy for a pantomime Dame?


It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to slip back into panto mode. I thought I’d just have fun and incorporate as many features and building materials as I could but the result was too Dickensian; this isn’t Oliver! and pantomime Dames live in a world of bigger, jollier gestures and colour, so luxuriant yellow thatch is going to look better than weathered slates.


Pantomime Dames always have to introduce themselves by walking on and saying ‘Hello, children I’ve just been milking the cow’ . . . or whatever, so there needs to be a door in sight, even if it doesn’t work but incorporating a full-size door into one flat makes the gable end too tall and narrow, not at all the proportions I have in mind for the home of the Dame.


I transfer the door to the left, although I have to give up on making it one of those stable doors in two sections. I put a heart-shaped hole in the door to try and keep the farmyard connection and hope it doesn’t look too much like the privy.


Finally, on the flip side of the village scene, I’ve got Cloudland Castle to paint. As there’s a long-handled narrow roller handy I draw out the whole scene with that. It saves running up and down a step-ladder with small brush.


thatched gable