'It'll take ages for that carpet to dry out,' says Mrs Bennet as we watch the audience for 'Puss In Boots' return to the inside of the theatre to see the end of the show, leaving a snowy trail in their wake.
'Never mind,' I say. 'It's nice to have a bit of snow at Christmas, isn't it? Not like the gusty winds and rain that we could be suffering instead.' (Irony alert.)
On stage the cast are sorting themselves out and two have decided to swap roles - Ptolemy Pheasant has relinquished his role of Dick Whittington to Tango Pete mostly because now that Mrs Pumphrey has got her man she won't let go, and, as Mrs Poo has pointed out, 'Ptolemy, you are a bit of a love rat so p'raps King Rat is more your bag.'
('More your bag?' I say. 'I would NEVER write 'more your bag.' It's an abomination of the English language.'
'Hush,' says Mrs Poo. 'It's nearly over. Then you can go back to writing serious stuff about forklift trucks.')
Claude and Claudette are performing magic tricks for the children in the audience whilst scenery is set for the finale; you know - turning a slipper into a kipper, making mobile phones disappear to that people have to actually talk to each other, that sort of thing.
And I have dashed off to the props cupboard to release Mrs Miggins because now that the Phantomime has been whisked away by Santa Tybalt to start his training as Nice Elf at the North Pole, there is no reason for her to miss the end of the show.
I fling open the cupboard and there is Mrs Miggins perched on a laundry basket, glass of Bailey's and ice in one wing and a hand of cards in the other, engaged in a game of Twenty One Up with...Camilla!
'Camilla!' I shout. 'You're safe!'
'Of course I am,' she says.
'I told you you should have opened the door and saved yourself a lot of aggravation,' says Mrs Miggins, glaring at me over the top of her Dame Edna Christmas glasses.
'But why didn't you just tell me Camilla was in there with you?' I say.
'Well, she was on a losing hand,' says Miggins. 'I only needed one more twist to win. I was just playing for time.'
'And my collection of Bailey's miniatures, as it turns out,' says Camilla.
Mrs Miggins jumps from the laundry basket, staggering only a little on landing.
'So, how's it going out there?' she says, nodding towards the stage. 'Everything tickety-boo, is it?'
'Ooh, it's all been crazy!' I say. 'The Phantomime has gone, Tango Pete has proposed to Mrs Pumphrey and we've run out of popcorn.'
'The usual then?' says Mrs Miggins. 'Well, I suppose we'd better go and watch the finale. There IS going to be a finale, isn't there?'
'Yes, there is,' I say. 'You know I can't bear for there to be loose ends lying around making the place look untidy.'
Back to the stage we go, just in time to see the curtains open, and the primary school rodents performing now as happy villagers supporting Fairy Bowbells, Sultana Bun and the Genie of the Pants in a rendition of 'I Am What I Am.' And then there is a series of freeze frames to show how Dick Whittington uses his new found wealth (gained from renting out his Cat as a highly efficient rat exterminating machine) to bring good to the town, and how the bells of the town ring out and declare him Lord Mayor. Three times, if you please!
('My great-uncle George Pope was Mayor of Canterbury three times,' I whisper to Mrs Miggins. And this is a TRUE fact, dear audience. It's almost as good as my great-great-great grandfather, James Pimm, being the inventor of Pimms as a claim to fame. But not quite. And I bet George Pope would have a pink fit if he could see what the present Canterbury Council has done to the road and parking systems since his day. Shocking.)
And then Dick Whittington himself steps forward with Alice Fitzwarren on his arm.
'And so our little Christmas show
Comes to a happy end.
And the bells ring out for Christmas time
To remind us to be friends.
And I shall marry my Alice
And all shall end up well
With happiness, joy and laughter
And...eurghh, what's that terrible smell?'
I glance at my script. There is nothing about smells in the script but Tango Pete is correct - there is a funny whiff coming from somewhere.
The audience rise from their seats - never before has a pantomime performance been so aerobic - and follow the cast from the Trompe L'Oeil theatre, into the ballroom, and out into the main hall of Much Malarkey Manor. We follow the smell across the hall to the kitchen and there, in all her theatrical glory, is Dame Hamlet, pinny-clad and with a sprig of mistletoe in her hat.
'Ahaha!' she says. 'Is it all done? I thought I'd rustle up some after-show hot chocolate and mince pies for the performers. As a thank you for the best panto I've seen in a long time. All that Phantomime stuff and the tussling in the snow on the roof malarkey - marvellous!'
'But,' I begin, 'the Phantomime is your son. It wasn't part of the play, all that stuff about him. That was real.'
Dame Hamlet looks at me and laughs. 'Deary me, young lady,' she says. 'I don't have a son. Confirmed spinster, I am. To much to see and do without adding the bother of sprogs to the mix. Sorry about the mince pies - they got a bit singed. And I ran out of hot chocolate powder so I supplemented it with vegetarian gravy granules. Smells....unusual. But perfectly drinkable.' And she takes a sip. 'Cheers!'
'What do you mean you don't have a son?' I say. 'Of course you do. His name is Kenneth and he's gone off to the North Pole with Santa Tybalt to be an Elf.'
Dame Hamlet looks at Mrs Miggins. 'Is she always like this?' she says. 'You know - delusional?'
'Pretty much,' says Miggins. 'I did try to tell her there was no such thing as a Phantomime, but she wouldn't listen.'
'Poor thing,' says Dame Hamlet.
'No hope, really,' says Mrs Miggins. And the two girls tip each other a wink.
And so, dear audience, my tale here is done.
It's been a tad stressful, but mostly fun.
Thanks for joining in with so much glee -
A Merry Christmas to You All
And a Happy New Year!!