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The Tears of a Clown.

Posted by
Curly (South Shields, United Kingdom) on 23 August 2013 in People & Portrait and Portfolio.

It finally happened, after Tommy's last stand at the Town Hall, he held his final children's party at the Amphitheatre on Sea Road, South Shields yesterday. Thousands attended, young and old, including yours truly and little "Missy". Three hours of rip roaring fun and games with lots of prizes for the kids on a glorious hot tropical South Shields afternoon.
After twenty five years acting in the role of Tommy the Trumpeter, singing all of the kids' favourite songs "Tommy" aka Ray Spencer, the Director of the Customs House Theatre and Art Gallery, finally hung up the uniform and called it a day.
He has had a few fittings of the uniform over the years, each one larger than the last, and he started out with a head of hair - now gone - as the local council asked him to fill in for two weeks as a children's entertainer 25 years ago. However after selling thousands of videos around Tyneside, two and a half decades of performing twice a week every week during the school summer holidays, Ray (who is the same age as me) has decided that he'd like a summer holiday with his own children (like me he is lucky enough to have young children later in life.)

Having pre-announced his retirement as "Tommy", Ray (the voice of South Tyneside) acknowledged there would be tears, he also probably accepted that he'd become a victim of his own "gunge tank" and willingly was pushed into it by his own daughters, and following a good splattering of multi-coloured gunge he was then attacked with a water hose, yet took it all in good fun.

Then the tears flowed as we all bade "Tommy" good-bye. He'll be a hard act to follow, but I'm pretty sure that South Tyneside Council has someone waiting in the wings to introduce a new character next summer, I feel sure that Ray will have had some part in the planning of it.

Good-bye Tommy, you will be sorely missed, your comic genius and amiable smile will live forever in our memories, but Ray Spencer? I think he'll still be around as the pantomime dame at Christmas time :-), and Curly thinks he'll still bump into him from time to time in the local park!

I took a huge amount of pictures at Tommy's final party and there are some VERY entertaining ones amongst them, so perhaps we'll see a few more shortly, in fact if you'll give me a few days I'll put together a slide show!

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PATRICK from miramas, France

excellent capture

23 Aug 2013 5:45am

Christine from Ellemford, United Kingdom

Super shot and great title for a lovely story

23 Aug 2013 5:56am

ursulakatariina from Ed, Sweden

Great portrait.

23 Aug 2013 5:56am

CElliottUK from Reading, United Kingdom

A great write-up of a real character. I'm sure he will love his slide show when it sees the light of day

23 Aug 2013 6:13am

Nigel from Avening, United Kingdom

The end of an era. Lovely tribute.

23 Aug 2013 7:01am

Devi from Chennai, India

Fantastic scene here and a poignant narration....
Excellent Curly..
Hope Mrs Curly is fine :-))))

23 Aug 2013 7:14am

Ainsley from Derbyshire, United Kingdom

A glowing review and a nice flow of emotion coming from your shot to boot.

23 Aug 2013 7:18am

Calusarus from Drome des collines, France

A moving capture. Even without the explanation, we can see his feeling.

23 Aug 2013 7:26am

Catherine from France

Lovely shot, honouring him a lot ! (very interesting text)
Have a nice day,

23 Aug 2013 8:24am

Martine Libouton from bousval, Belgium

Un très bel instantané!! Merci pour les explications!!

23 Aug 2013 8:45am

grouser from Ludlow, United Kingdom

a lovely documentary tribute Curly

23 Aug 2013 9:26am

gerard1948 from Somewhere on earth, Spain

A very beautiful photo tribute to Tommy, this is a great story. Even clowns stop one day. Thank you for sharing.
Have a good weekend.

23 Aug 2013 9:35am

J.R. from Urasoe City, Japan

Nice, great story of a great guy. A fitting shot for this man:)

23 Aug 2013 10:30am

Mariana Maoduš from Waterloo, Canada

Wonderful portrait !

23 Aug 2013 10:53am

Jypyä Pop from Turku, Finland

Sometimes, the last one is the hardest.

23 Aug 2013 11:26am

Dimitrios from ATHENS, Greece

A very special moment*

23 Aug 2013 11:28am

Hiro from Kyoto, Japan

Nice portrait

23 Aug 2013 12:07pm

Helen from Melbourne, Australia

Nice. ...photojournalism at its best Curly.

23 Aug 2013 12:16pm

Steven from Chicagoland, United States

A great gesture captured here as Tommy's takes his one last stand!!

23 Aug 2013 12:17pm

Jacques Brassard from Quebec, Canada

Great portrait

23 Aug 2013 12:43pm

franz from Baden, Austria

superb capture of an emotional and memorable moment! what a career indeed, be be looked at with pride and satisfaction. whoever has "worked" with children surely knows there are easier jobs than that ... good luck then, tommy !!!

23 Aug 2013 1:34pm

Mhelene from Villiers-sur-Marne, France

Very moving ! A superb portrait in your photo and in your text !

23 Aug 2013 2:08pm

Kyu from Kyoto, Japan

Great shot of the wonderful moment. And a nice tile for this shot.

23 Aug 2013 2:26pm

digitalCG from Manchester, United Kingdom

Nicely done Curly, very eloquent tribute to what sounds like a local legend.

23 Aug 2013 2:39pm

Lena from San Francisco, United States

Nice smiling...:-)

23 Aug 2013 2:50pm

Judy aka L@dybug from Brooksville, FL, United States

What a great tribute to a man who gave his heart and soul for all those years!

23 Aug 2013 3:59pm

Adela Fonts from Barcelona, Spain

Excellent words and exciting memories ... A beautiful tribute to a loved one ... Best regards, Adela

23 Aug 2013 4:35pm

Phil Morris from Saskatoon, Toronto, NYC, Canada

Thank you for the story, as I never heard of him in my country, love todays presentation
and look forward to seeing more, great colour and photo !~

23 Aug 2013 4:37pm

Ruthiebear from Titusville, NJ, United States

A touching image, having learned the backstory. Fabulous image.

23 Aug 2013 4:49pm

Tede from Aubenas 07, France

Superbe portrait, excellent cadrage. Lumière et couleurs sont magnifiques. Bonne soirée.

23 Aug 2013 5:06pm

Bruce from Tacoma, United States

The only think nicer than your photo is them moving farewell. Great job.

23 Aug 2013 5:30pm

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

A wonderfully poignant moment Curly! Eventually we all have to hang up our hat! ;-)

23 Aug 2013 6:22pm

Doug from Burnham-on-Sea, United Kingdom

Superb portrait, he must have so many wonderful memories and I sure the kids and adults he's entertained over the years have plenty too

23 Aug 2013 7:53pm

Ted from South Wales, United Kingdom

Beautiful harmony between story and image...what a wonderful tribute and a tribute that demands and deserves a bigger stage...

23 Aug 2013 9:34pm

Elaine Hancock from Rockville, United States

Wonderful portrait! It sounds like he was much loved by the whole town. A lot of children grew up with him. I can only imagine how much he will be missed. I look forward to seeing more photos!

23 Aug 2013 9:35pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

i'm sure that he will be greatly missed

23 Aug 2013 9:38pm

Jeff from Honolulu, United States

Nice tribute to "Tommy" with this photo. I look forward to the slide show.

23 Aug 2013 9:49pm

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

A fine shot of Tommy the Trumpeter as he winds up his career.

24 Aug 2013 1:01am

Abena from Illinois, United States

I'm ready for the slideshow :-)) Great shot of him, I actually love the red and seeing this!

24 Aug 2013 2:37am

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Great shot, I like the colors and expression

24 Aug 2013 4:44am

The Mouse from Glasgow, United Kingdom

What a lovely tribute from you, well done Tommy and Ray!
Lovely shot very touching.

24 Aug 2013 6:23am

John Jungklaus from Chase Mills, NY, United States

A wonderful tribute to this wonderful man ! Your superb photo of Tommy so lovely !

25 Aug 2013 1:26pm

Regina G. Santaella from Cancún, Mexico

Fantastic portrait, I love his expression, the colours are so beautiful!

25 Aug 2013 5:26pm

1/3000 second
ISO 200
105 mm (35mm equiv.)