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2005 – 2006

smashAt last we are becoming computer friendly. This is thanks to our good mate, Mike Plested, who has held our hands and walked us through (many times) the scary techno bits involved. Apparently the computer hardware is the only bit you can kick.
Thanks also to our friend Chris Brighton who recommended a fine artist and web wizard to us… Paul Shotan. what a star … !

In 2005 we did the usual type of gigs with lots of village halls which means great home made apple pies. We visited plenty of Rotary events, Masonic Halls, birthdays, anniversaries and church halls. We have included information and photographs from the Black Country theatre tours for 2004 and 2005 later in the piece. I shall leave these on the site until we do the new tour later in the year.

Any photos you may have taken at gigs we would be happy to include whenever possible. Also, if you’ve any (cleanish) jokes, or you’d just like to send us a message (cleanish!) by email, please take a look at our brand new contact page

photographerWe are very lucky to have met so many lovely people over the years and we do try to listen to most constructive criticisms with a few exceptions…. “you (Allan) were far too loud…. I could hardly hear myself talk!”.
There is always room for an element of surprise which means entertainment is never dull…it’s a bit like the little girl in the nursery rhyme ” when it’s good it’s very, very, good but when it’s bad it’s horrid. 

Hilaire Beloc

From quiet homes and small beginnings, out to the undiscovered end.
There ‘s nothing worth the wear of winning, except laughter and the love of friends
.

Hillaire Belloc.

Pepys
The aim at present is to update this diary every month to let you know what we have been up to, to thank people for their help and support along the way.
On a personal note, we continue to re-adjust after the death of Glyn’s mother at the end of 2004. We were very grateful for all the support and love we were shown. Also the concern many people showed concerning Glyn’s back and joint problems.  At the end of gigs Glyn was to be found with a queue of folk waiting to pass on remedies and advice.

We have started another computer course but Al is still having trouble with his 31/2 inch floppy and, with age, his hard drive!. He’s cutting when he should be pasting. Glyn has re joined weight watchers after tantrums getting ready for gigs concerning clothes … which must have shrunk.  She is saving her points ration for the red wine diet … she has lost a week already.


We started 2006 with a happy return to Willnecote Parish Rooms for the Scottish Appreciation Society. Despite the possible language barrier we all seem to get along fine. G-r-r-r-eat to see them all again!

Dave

A couple of gigs at Worcester at the beginning of January. One for the Masons and one for a Friendship Club. These were followed by a new venue for us at Snitterfield Bowling Club. It was good to s ee our old friends from Lapworth turn up.  Great night looking forward to doing it again next year.

Walton Community Centre was a full house for Stone and District Rotary.  £1,300 + was raised on the night for charity. We all had a wonderful time and hope to repeat it next year.

We did the New Year M.S. party at Goodyear again this year. Happy to see you all again.

It was the third year at Kings Norton Golf Club for the Buddy Holly tribute night with Mike Berry and The Outlaws.  Dave “sweet little rock n’ roller” Slater and his lovely wife, Eve,  organise it each year.  The crowd are wonderful. What fabulous dancers! Two twirls and I had to sit down
Mike Berry 2We will all be doing it again next year so get out your brothel creepers and let’s boogie. We did another evening at the Kings Heath Masonic Lodge for Bob.   We know most of the audience by now so it is a lovely relaxing evening. They are very kind to us.

Another new venue for us was Derrington Village HallStafford Lions hosted the event. it was nice to see you all again a bostin’ fish and chip supper, a raffle and a good time was had by all.  As Dave said  “it’s a great way to make money for charity!”.

Valentine weekend found us back at South Staffs Golf Club. Many friendly faces from previous times made us feel very welcome.

Three good gigs this week. Many thanks to all our friends at the Water Orton  Ladies. It was good to see that they let the men come out once in a while. We hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did.

Our first visit to Shirley British Legion on Friday evening. This was for the Solihull branch of the R.A.F.A. They were a very big and very appreciative crowd. See ”Reviews” Section for a lovely letter from them. Many thanks.

Saturday evening we were back to our roots at the Broadway Golf Club at Walsall.  Posh frocks and  D.J.s. Very smart!  There were quite a few in from Wednesbury – so we did a lot of talking.  Us Wednesbury folk love to get together to compare notes.  Great to see an old friend fromCollege of Commerce days. Roger Smith taught Law at Wood Green when I worked in the Library. It is good to see he has become a well respected member of the judiciary system but not lost his sense of humour. Thank you all for making us so welcome. Special thanks to Siobhan.

21st February and we are back at the Clarendon Suites which is the big Masonic Building in Birmingham. Difficult access so Allan has dug out his trusty sack truck. Strange building! No windows!  Al had to have a lie down with a wet flannel when he got there after his exertions. Lovely crowd of people.  We were asked if we would like to go back as special guests for a meal with them. Wow!  Boy from Wednesbury comes good.

We are having a run of great gigs at the moment but there is always one that catches you unawares and brings you down to earth with a bump.  We were out on Friday and Saturday and our luck is still holding at the moment.

Friday  evening we were at a place called Ercal College in Wellington. The gig was for the local Rotary Group who were raising funds for Air Ambulance.It was a very big crowd and I think they all enjoyed the evening. We were on with our old friends,  long running Black Country Group,  Finder’s Keepers. Great sound lads!  Top of the bill was Aynuk and Ayli who were both looking well and were really on their mettle. Many thanks to Graham and Pam and family who asked us back for a nightcap.

Coven

 

Saturday we were at a venue we haven’t visited for a while… Coven Memorial Hall.  Had a great re-vamp. The stage is much better. I used to get a nose bleed it was so high. Appearing there courtesy of the Bilston and Wolverhampton Soroptimists. Allan used to be under the misapprehension that they “did” peoples feet. They were, in fact, raising money for the Deansley Cancer Treatment Centre at New Cross Hospital. We were royally treated.   Many thanks for the lovely meal and for all you great comments. Special  thanks goes to Jackie and Sue (you are now officially Dandy groupies).  A big thank you to the President, Pat, who bullied Allan so well during the raffle.

At the beginning of March we found ourselves back in the Black Country. This was clear when we got to Wednesbury and I heard a man say  “Ah want mar tay..” and I heard his wife say “Yow cor ‘ave yowr tay ‘course it tay tay toime!”
We were pleased to be back in Tipton doing a fund raiser for Compton Hospice. Great turnout and a full and varied night’s entertainment. The evening was compered by our friend, Tipton poet, Dave Bartley, who looked great and did an excellent job.
Jonathan and his brother, Craig, both popular local vocalists entertained  us with their powerful singing and were then followed by Jon’s daughter, aged 10, who the audience loved. Obviously inherited her father’s singing talent.
Another Tipton poet was on the show.  His name was “Alfie”. He was such a lovely man and such a clever and funny poet. They certainly love their poetry in Tipton.
Top of the bill was Ollie Spencer. Ollie was the drummer with the group the Idle Race which was one of our favourite groups. We were very excited to meet him and he proved to be a really nice guy. Comedians aren’t always funny or happy offstage.. but he was. He  went down well  and was even forgiven for being a Brummie. This is usually a hanging offence in the Black Country.  We all had a great night and it was lovely to see Joan and the family on the front row. Thanks for your support.

It was good to be back at Belbroughton with Bev Pegg and Tommy Mundon. Belbroughton is a lovely little village where they hold a Scarecrow weekend in the summer. They get loads of people go to see it. It’s great fun. Tommy was on brilliant form I don’t know where he gets the energy from. He’s a real performer. Bev is well known and well liked in most of the villages round and about. He always gets the audience in a good mood which makes life easy for us. Allan and Bev succumbed to the scrummy fish and chip supper. I hated them both at that point.

Naval ClubAll aboard, Shipmates! Tamworth Naval Club is right in the centre of Tamworth. It was our first visit to the club and they made us very welcome. Bob had re-jigged the room so we had a great working area. It was an  interesting room with lots to look at.
The people all seem to get on well together .  Quite  a few promised to come and see us at the Assembly Rooms on A Black Country Night Out.

On the 17th we made our way to Coventry Golf Club. I have to admit we have had a couple of gigs out that way that haven’t gone as planned. Everybody had said Coventry Golf Club was very posh so we were a bit worried. We needn’t have been. The people we met there could’nt have been  more appreciative.  Everyone was very friendly and helpful.

St Mary'sNext evening we were at St. Mary’s Park , Wythall. We have played there before but in their clubhouse. Sadly it has been demolished and this was their last social gathering to be held in the nearby church. This too was about to be demolished.  Can you see a pattern forming? Book Dandy then pull down the venue. It seems a bit extreme just to avoid booking us again. It was a very cold night and a very old building…but what a wonderful night. The toilet was outside the building though the churchyard. As Allan joked if you didn’t want to go when you got outside… you did by the time you reached the toilet. A big, big thank you to you all for making it such a  great night. You treated us like family. We came home with many happy memories.

Ullenhall1The following weekend we were at Ullenhall. This is a beautiful little village near Tanworth in Arden. Tanworth is where Nick Drake, one of my favourite Singer/Songwriters lived and died, aged just 26.

The village hall  was lovely and obviously well used. These village halls are great places to play. They are the heart of village life and it’s wonderful to see all the age groups of the village coming together to share food and companionship and laughter. We really feel privileged to be part of this in some small way.

Ullenhall 2

Everyone , including ourselves, was offered a welcoming glass of champagne. Wow!
I could get used to this. We were invited to share a meal with them in the interval which was very kind.  Audience was really on the ball. Great fun to work for. Hope we get to go back sometime.

Struggling a bit with a cold and throat problem tonight. Posh frocks and D.J.s.
This was a gig for the International Lions. The Lord and Lady Mayor of Walsall were there and lots of people who looked as if they had proper jobs.
The Village itself was a nice surprise. So many of the Hotels  are overheated, overpriced and with unhelpful staff.  Happily for us the Village was none of these and we enjoyed the time we spent there.  Posh frock do’s can sometimes be hard work because people are togged up often in uncomfortable clothes and the atmosphere remains formal. Again a pleasant surprise. The audience were great. Top Lion, “Linda” set the mood with her jokey speech and relaxed everyone. They even had a bit of a dance. Lovely evening . Our thanks to all concerned.

Last gig of March and we were back at Blakedown Parish Rooms.  This time for Blakedown, Churchill and Broome Conservative Assoc. Always a nice venue to play and it was a well organised evening.  We had our own dining table set up in the dressing room and  David and his wife kindly kept us supplied with food and drink all evening. My favourite caterers “Smokey Jacks” had prepared the meal. Brilliant food
Lovely audience. Some of our friends from the W.I were there also. Good to see you all.

Glad to hear our old mate from folk club days, Malc Stent,  is on the mend after his op.  Malc is a great bloke, a real hard worker and a credit to Birmingham. I’m sure he will have received loads of get well messages from his fans of which there are many.

Great night out seeing the Fortunes and the Ivy League at Tamworth Assembly Rooms.  We have seen them the last 3 years. Get along to see them next time you won’t regret it.
Some good nights out with friends….eating, drinking and laughing. Friends are so important.
Had a little hospital thing to get through but they were great at Stafford Hospital and I didn’t have to cancel any gigs. Got a week’s pampering for being a “Brave Little Soldier”. Promised a pressie!
Downside of all the lovely food means I have fell off the Weight Watcher’s Wagon so the Marks and Sparks “Bums, Tums and Thighs “ tights have been a bulk purchase.

The first day of the month….. April Fool’s Day. For us this is a busy time. This is our Golden Wedding Tour. Well, not so much a tour as two gigs in one day. Our first gig was at Cubbington for a luncheon date with Margaret and Derek and their friends and family. They celebrated their wedding in this very hall and have returned today after 50 years. We stayed to watch a lovely black and white film of the day.  Quite a remarkable feat these days when the bride and groom have usually split up before the photographs have been developed. We argued about which side of the bed Allan would sleep.  I wanted him to sleep underneath.

Leek Wooton We grabbed a sandwich and moved on up the road to Leek Wootton Village Hall. This was a brand new Village Hall in a really pretty village. Mary and Ron whose big day it was had kindly arranged for us to share the meal with them for which we were very grateful . We had met them first at Guy’s Cliffe last year and were pleased to enjoy this happy time with them and their friends and family.
Arrived home shattered. Too old for touring. If Mick Jagger wants us to do support we will have to decline.

The next day we were a bit closer to home at Whittington Village Hall. Jenny had spent a lot of time and trouble rearranging this night so that we could do the entertainment at her husband’s birthday. Unfortunately Jenny had an accident during the evening  and had to go home early. She had worked so hard to make it a good night and she missed it. Great audience.  Our best wishes to Jenny for a speedy recovery.
Many thanks for taking the trouble to call and thank us.

Essington LadiesMonday morning we were feeling a little fragile. Working on a Sunday was a shock to the system. Busy weekend and then we were to be on stage Monday morning at 11 o’clock. We were over at Essington Community Centre expecting a fairly low key event.  None of it! It was a packed Hall of very jolly people, mostly ladies and a few cherished men. When Allan went in he was mistaken for the chip man. Then they asked him if he was wearing a wig. He explained he was a Rock Legend/Comedy Superstar and everything on his person was real. They were a great crowd and so lively. They had brought forward St. Georges Day and as you will see from the photograph and had made a wonderful effort.

Mavis North, the founder member of the group had lost her husband a few years back and decided to start the group for people in the same position. This friendly supportive group was started and, ably abetted by Beryl and June and many others,  provides them all with a good social life. Allan was led astray by the offer of fish and chips when he discovered it was the Mobile Fish Van.

Wednesday sees us back at Drayton Manor Park for Tamworth and District Rotary with our old friends Giggetty.  Glyn had been struck down that day with a strange flu virus and had a bad night. In retrospect we should have cancelled  but we didn’t want to let anyone down.  Songs were impossible. The audience were great and very understanding.  Booked us again next year. Many thanks for your sympathy and support under difficulties.Blakelands

Friday we were at Bobbington. It was a great venue, the Maltings Banquet Hall at Blakelands. Glyn was pleased because the 2 dogs were still there and although old they were still playful. Bit like Allan really. The gig was for Tipton Rotary and it was President’s Evening. The President was Pauline Gregory and as an ex-Headmistress gave us all a funny  “end of term” report on the gentlemen Rotarians she had presided over. They kindly invited us to join them for the meal. Wonderful food but I had to pass on the pudding. As Allan so eloquently phrased it..”We woz stuffed!”
AQldridge Cons. Club
Saturday 8th we were back at Aldridge Conservative Club. Saturday evenings they let the ladies in. Nice to see our friend Bob Jay as the resident singer/keyboard player and he has also been a key player in the running of the club for many years.  Friendly crowd who know us well by now. Some familiar faces and some new ones. Thanks as always to Frank for looking after us.

We were pleased to do the entertainment for Harold and Dot’s Diamond Wedding at the Midland Red Sports and Social Club.  I have never seen so much food. The tables were groaning under the weight.  Mixed age group but they all listened.  A good Black Country do.  We left them in the capable hands of the D.J. Congratulations to you both. It’s wonderful to think they have been together for 60 years. They were a lovely couple.

Strange the change in generations. My friend Brenda is very cynica,l she says “There’s not much difference between  an anniversary and a toilet seat…Men usually miss them both!”

EccleshallBack again at Eccleshall Communiy Centre.
They are such lovely people and so friendly.  George, the Keeper of the Keys, was very helpful and looked after us all night.  The local Butcher does the food.  Enormous baps with beef or pork.
Allan was in there like a rat up a drainpipe and claimed his bap contained a complete cow minus his head and legs.  It put me in mind of one of Clebo’s (Finder’s Keepers) sayings…”I’m clemmed to ‘jeath.  I cud ate the milkmon’s hoss between two bread vans”!  Thanks to all especially Pam for organising it and for booking us again next year.  It was such a great night.  We really enjoyed it.

28th of April we were looking forward to a night with our friend Bev Pegg. It was a lovely little village hall out Bewdley way. A place called Heigthington.  There were plently of familiar faces from past booking. There was a big party of people from Trimpley who we will be visiting later in the year. The gig was for Bewdley and District Rotary Club.  A Fish and Chip Supper, a good laugh with friends and a great audience.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

Last gig of the month we returned to Hopwas and Coton Club with the same line up as last year.  Good to see the lads and their wives again.  Style Unlimited are John and Rob. They are great blokes and can play anything and I mean “anything”. They are later joined by Robert Follows, a Romantic Tenor who has a beautiful voice.  Lovely to see everyone again, especially our favourite check out girl, Pam and the other Asda ladies.  Thanks to Sammy and family for asking us back and making us so welcome and also for coming to see us on the tour.

End of April and a bit late doing the write up because we were away. Glyn still suffering throat problems as legacy of flu. Just finishing 2nd course of antibiotics.
Met 2 ladies who have had it 10 and 12 weeks and had to have steroids.
Allan has had to save the day with his Billy Fury, Elvis and Cliff……..so he says!!
Al has fed his face at every possible opportunity for the last month but looks no bigger. It’s so unfair! I have been buying “freeform” clothes .For that read bell tent .
.
Some ups and downs. Learned of the death of and old friend from Folk Club days.
Derek Grinnell who along with his wife Jackie ran the Bell and Pump, one of the 3 top folk clubs. He was our first agent. Also the death of Terry McCann who was well known in the folk clubs round here.  Glyn was reunited with an old childhood friend though sadly at a funeral. Makes you realise you’ve got to do it while you can.

Hope we get some good weather soon. Al has started looking for his fake tan which always goes a streaky orange and he ends up looking like a mixed grill.
It hasn’t been nice enough to do much walking yet. It’s strange… Allan loves nature despite what it did to him.  Looking forward to a bit of a rest in the summer. Lots of jobs to do.  I’m about 10 years behind with my ironing….none of it will fit anybody now.  Hope we see you out and about.

We started  May at a venue well known to us……the Talbot Hotel at Stourbridge. It was a hot night for Brierley Hill Rotary Club.  By hot, I mean that the temperature was high…. but the evening itself was very relaxing.  We were a small but select gathering and we enjoyed a very pleasant evening together.  Many thanks to the President, Mr. Stephenson, for the kind letter.  It is good to get some positive feedback.

The following evening we were back over that way at Halesowen. Although it was a return  booking for us I must confess we were a bit nervous because  this club normally only has vocalists in the lounge. There were some nice people there and the audience did their best to adapt and listen but we still found it a bit hard to relax as we are not what they are used to.

Thursday evening was a follow up booking from the Sandwell Magistrate’s dinner that we performed at last year. We were back at Sandwell Golf Club but this time to entertain the Warley Magistrates .
Wendy had kindly invited us to join them for the meal so we had a good time socially before we had to work. The evening went very well and I think everyone enjoyed it.

Lichfield SoroptimistsLichfield SoroptimistsSaturday evening we had been booked for another evening by the Lichfield Soroptomists at the wonderful Lichfield Guild Hall.Lots of friendly familiar faces including our friend, Avril, who had booked us when she had been President the previous year and who had also organised this year’s event.
An Alternative Miss World was staged before we went on to do our act. The ladies were great sports.  They had  provided their own costumes, had written a script and had dared to bare like good ‘uns. Even the Sheriff competed.
It was funny to see them arrive, as normal, looking beautiful and elegant in their evening dress and then a couple of hours later to see them let their hair down , flash their thighs and terrorise Allan.  He had been over there Saturday morning with them for the rehearsal and they had run circles round him. Pat the President took first place with her fur hat, high boots and shapely legs.
The audience were a great crowd and the evening went so quickly. Thanks for a wonderful time.

The nineteenth of May we were at Southam Community Hall.  We arrived in Southam after getting badly lost and ending up in Leamington Spa.  If we had followed my plan and turned the map upside down we would have been okay
. This was the first time a comedy act had been booked to appear there.  The crowd looked a little apprehensive at first.  Would they understand us?  Would we be blue?  Would  Allan put live ferrets down his trousers?  As it happened we all got on like a house on fire.  They were smashing people and we chatted with quite a few of them in the break and at the end.  We are very much looking forward to our return gig there next year. Thanks to Carole and John for all their help in making it such a good evening.
“How many roads must a man go down before he’ll admit that he’s lost!”
If a man stops and asks directions listen carefully because he won’t….. and it will be your fault when you do get lost.

Last gig of May found us back at Solihull British Legion. Nice to see Chris and family and Ken from RAFA. Thanks  to the lady we met at St. Marys’ who turned up with the photos of that lovely evening.
Solihull people are” well brung up” and are always a little shy at first but once they get going they have great fun. Lots of people came up to talk to us and we had a good night. Thanks to the gentleman who sent us the e.mail. I’m glad your friends understood and enjoyed it. We look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Few gigs short this month as we’ve been on our jolly holidays. It was our first holiday abroad for a few years so we were a bit nervous. If flying is so safe why do they call the airport the Terminal and why is there frosted glass in the windows of the toilet?  Who is going to look in?…. God?
Great break, though!  A week in Riva Del Garda. Lovely weather and no washing up!  Allan has learned the same amount of Italian as German when he went to Germany……. Bier!

Italy1
Italy3
Italy2
The Count of Monte Briscoe
buskin to pay the way back ome?
Cor gerraway from cuts!

Back to work after the holidays and always a panic when we realise that this is what we do to pay the bills.
Newberry 2
Our first gig was for the Russell Newbery Rally. These are narrow boat enthusiasts who use vintage engines in their boats.  They assured us that they weren’t anoraks with elbow patches.
Newberry 1

We did the show in a marquee at the Navigation Inn at Bugsworth in the High Peak area.

We set out early and had a great ride up there and had a picnic.  The “marquee” was a tent but we all squashed in and we had the best time. Wonderful audience as you can see from the photographs. It was a casual relaxing night and we met some lovely people.Later in the week we were performing for the Walsall Arboreteum Rotary Club at Fairlawns Hotel in Aldridge.  Jenny and the girls who staffed the function  were brilliant. The Rotary members kindly asked to dine with them so we had a great meal and got to know one or two of them before we had to do the show.
We shared the spotlight with Baldy the Clown. Trouble is doing a gig for our age group and shouting “Baldy” did tend to cause some confusion.  A clown was the last thing I would have expected for a Rotary gig but it worked really well.  He did card tricks and Balloon animals and everybody loved him.
Even I coped quite well and I have had “clownphobia” since reading the Stephen King novel “It”. We a ll had a lovely evening.

Back at the Paddock Club in Handsworth. This was another soiree orchestrated by ”Monsieur and Madame Pritchard” in the style of Hyacinth Bouquet…their description!  They all work very hard preparing and serving the meal.  Never a big crowd but the people are always friendly and we feel at home there by now.  We get to catch up on all the good and bad news.  It was nice to see them all again and we look forward to it again next year.

Nearing the end of the month and we were entertaining the Rotary Club of Ironbridge at Horsehay Village Hall,  or as we call it Hosshay. Horsehay 1

This was President Steve’s last do of his term and as he was a big man and an ex-policeman we hoped it would be okay.  A familiar venue for us and there were some familiar faces in the audience.

HOrswehay 2Our organiser, Martin Brookes and his sister Jackie, like Allan and myself, originate from Wednesbury.  They come from down by the Leathern Bottle, which is the oldest hostelry in Wednesbury. It was lovely to see both Jackie and Sue who have become regulars at our do’s and either like us a lot or are working for the Tax man.  If we forget the  “script” they can help us out by now.
Allan had a minor panic when he realised he’d mislaid his car keys at the same time as the fish and chips arrived.  Search or Eat? No contest.  Great audience.

Last minute gig for the Masons at the Handsworth Lodge. Had a long chat with the new caretaker at the lodge who is a Black Country man and who, like myself had once worked at the Patent Shaft Steelworks. Nice guy and very helpful.  Hot but relaxing evening as most of the people knew us.

The final gig of the month was a double birthday celebration at Bilston Conservative Club for friends Janice and Pam.  This was a lovely surprise arranged by their husbands, Dennis and Bev.
We shared the entertainment with popular vocalist Joy St. Clare who had them up and rocking. Great night all round.  Look forward to seeing some of you when we are back there in December.

This month has whizzed by.  Whenever I start to think the world is moving too fast I stand in a Post Office queue. That gets it in perspective.
Had an “I am getting, old, fat and lonely with no friends” moment. Probably need to “up” the medication!  Allan just shakes his head and reaches for another lager.

Gilley DerbyWe did manage to catch up with a few friends though. Gilly Darbey who is one of my bestest friends was over from New Zealand. Gilly has the sort of voice that gives you goosebumps. If ever you get chance to see her live then go..at a run. Check her out on www.gillydarbey.co.uk or just type in gilly darbey vocalist and see how many pages there are. We had a fun day catching up and I remembered that a friend is someone you don’t have to talk to when the food arrives.

Many thanks to some more friends we made through Rotary gigs….Graham and Pam Leddington.We had a wonderful Sunday afternoon surprise Birthday for Graham which Pam had organised at the Fox at Stourton.  More wonderful food and we didn’t have to work which was great. Lovely family. We sat with our old Black Country chums Alan (aka. Aynuk) and his wife, Molly.

Just leave you with this which I love……
The man who invented the Hokey Cokey died today.  His funeral was a strange affair.  First they put his left leg in……

We are winding down now for the summer so just a few gigs to report on in July.
On the 8th of July we were at Hounsdale School in Wombourne for the Wombourne and Sedgley Rotary Club who had arranged a  Fundraising evening for local charities.  Many thanks to John who did the lighting for us and a big thank you to the audience who were very responsive and warm. Good to see old friend Jim from South Staffs Golf Club who has supported us well over the years.

The following week we made a happy return to Woodbourne Sports and Social Club in Earlswood.  First time we have actually found it without a problem.  Memories of being stuck on Earlswood Lakes after getting badly lost. Wonderful crowd there.  They never tire and give as good after a couple of hours.  Great seeing you all again.  Many thanks to Margaret and Tilly, the Dynamic Duo.  Nightmare for Allan as they are twins and he’s never sure which one he is talking to at any given time.

Midweek gig at a Primary School in Erdington which was a retirement party for Karen who was leaving her job as a teacher after about 30 years.  Incredibly hot night and a very young staff who probably hadn’t banked on two elderly people talking about senior moments etc. They were very keen to play the children’s musical instruments so we capitulated, ditched the comedy and went with the music.  Best laid plans…but we got there eventually.

Another night for Ashtree Boat Club at Brereton Football Club.  Loads of familiar friendly faces. Great to see Ann and Mark who we will be doing Gnosall village for very soon.  Also thanks to Mary and Keith Cope (Halco Products) for turning up again with so many of their friends and family.  Glyn has known Keith since they were about 14 years old back in Wednesbury.  Also thanks to our friends from Lichfield.  Wonderful audience and we really enjoy working for you.

LilleshallFirst time for Lilleshall Golf Club although we had been there before to do a private party. Beautiful place and a very well organised evening thanks to Elaine. Met some lovely people who we had a chat with at the end.  Great feedback . Hope we get a return gig.

Wonderful month for summer weather.  We managed to get together and see quite a few friends this month.  This means lots of eating and drinking and sitting round putting the world to rights.  Friends are so important and it’s sometimes hard to be in the right place at the right time.
Allan has been on the Special K diet and lost about 5 lb. So he keeps showing people his belly or lack of it.  I haven’t lost any so I keep positioning my handbag over mine and going blue holding my breath.

Speaking of handbags..Allan has purchased his first Man bag which he wears with pride. The Italian trip has a lot to answer for………

Aynuk and Ayli

On  a sad note we heard of the death of old friend, John Guest who, before John Plant played Ayli in the famous Aynuk and Ayli duo.
John Plant took over from a him a number of years back but John Guest was Aynuk’s original stage partner and friend.

He was a lovely gentle man and it was a pleasure to work with him.
WeddingI will sign off with something happy which was the wedding of Ann and Jack Webb’s only daughter Cathy.  Ann and Jack  (Giggetty / Diamond) have , like ourselves, been involved with the Black Country Nights for about the past 25 years  and we are all good friends.  Cathy and Mark were married on the 30th of July and we all had a wonderful time sharing in their obvious happiness on the day.  We danced all night to the Soul Survivors. Great Stuff!

I love the Rita Rudner line  “Men who have pierced ears are better prepared for marriage – they have suffered pain and bought jewellery!”
The Wolf
August

This was our first visit to Maxstoke Golf Club. On arrival I had a slight panic on finding a room full of gentlemen.  After the speeches the ladies arrived and we introduced ourselves.  It all went well and Captain Brian and his wife, Violet made us feel very welcome.  We look forward to spending another happy evening with them all next year.

Hatton

August the 26th
was the “Commodore’s Weekend” at Hatton Yatcht Club.  Doug, who was Commodore had kindly invited us to go and entertain them on his special weekend.  Lovely drive to Hatton and when we arrived the people were tucking into a barbeque.  One or two had  seen us before at Narrow boat Rallies so there were some friendly and familiar faces.  We all had a great informal night there and found it very relaxing.  Thanks for a good time.

September looks to be a busy month.  It is the start of the tour “A Black Country Night Out.”  The first two gigs of the month are at  familiar venues which means Glyn will be spending days trying to come up with some new material and even longer nights trying to learn it.  At our age most of the time we refer to something as  the “thingy” or the “whatsit” so extra bottles of Ginko were consumed.

1st September we were back at Elford.  The village Hall is being re-built so fund raising goes on and on.  We have become good friends with many of the community there, particularly Janeand DaveAvril and Brendan and Sue and Gregg.  One couple had even come from  Cornwall to see us.  They can’t get out much!  Fish and chips and home made puds left us all wrecked for the second half.  Another great night.  Thanks again to everyone for your support.

Next night we were back at Gnosall for Ann, Mark and family for the local hospice.  They work very hard raising incredible amounts each year and we all enjoy the experience.  They had asked us to take another act along with us this year so we were more than happy to take our great friend Nicky Moran.  Nicky dazzled the audience with her incredible voice.  Great audience.  Thanks to all of you for your support over the years and to Ann and family for looking after us so well.

Terrace
Lunchtime gig on the 7th Sept for Aldridge Townswomen’s Guild
at the Terrace Restaurant Brownhills.

What a great bunch of ladies they were as I am sure you will see from the photographs. They came from lots of different areas and I hope they enjoyed the afternoon as much as we did.  As we say in the Black Country  “they woz all gud loffers”.

Lilleshall

Friday 8th Sept.  Dot had invited us to Lilleshall Village Hall
and a great deal of time and trouble had gone into decorating the hall  and preparing the buffet for the event.  Another nice touch was the cup of coffee fromTrevor while we got the gear set up and the tea trolley and biscuits and chat at   the end of the evening.

scarecrowsThe following day was Scarecrow Day in the next village of Sherrifhales.  We took plenty of great photos on the way in.  They looked fantastic…. but they looked a bit scary on the way home.  The evening was a great success.  Our friends, Graham and Pam Leddington turned up and surprised us so we had a lovely time.  Great social night and hopefully we will be doing it again next year.

9th Sept.  First night of the tour.  Our favourite place…Lichfield.  We spend most
of our time in Lichfield.  It is so pretty and relaxing and the people are great.  Full house.  Great start for the tour and good to be back together again.  Haven’t seen Lizzie Wiggins since 2004 although we keep in touch by text and phone. Marlene and husband, Mark , found Lichfield eventually via the Walsall Leather Museum and the Toll Road. So we all had a good laugh before we started.

Next stop was Redditch.  The theatre has been re furbished and looks absolutely beautiful. It is one of the best theatres for atmosphere because of its traditional shape.  Most of the theatres now have coded doors to get back stage.  I’d popped out to meet friends, Les andDee in the bar and couldn’t  get back after the interval. I couldn’t see the numbersinI the dark and had visions of having to be hoisted onto the very high stage from the front row for the finale. Scary.

Friday 15th Sept and we were following in the footsteps of the Quo.  Appearing at Burntwod Rugby Club but with not quite so many in the audience.  We shared the bill with our mates, Giggetty.  They were a lively crowd but we had a great time there and were back home in 10 mins.

The Royal Spa Centre was our next gig on the tour.  We all met for a meal first at the local gastro pub so it made a good start to the evening.  The audience were lovely  but the place can be a bit daunting because it is so vast.  Met  some of the people from Southam which we will be doing again next year.

22nd Sept. we were at the Tally Ho Club just off the Pershore Road, Birmingham.  This was a fundraiser for the Hearts of England.  This is an organisation who raise money to provide local hospitals with cardiac equipment.  We shared the bill with an old friend, Ken Woods the ventriloquist, his horse, Galloping Claude, and monkey, Jim Pan Zee.  We once shared a dressing room with them and the lady organiser had left us refreshments and bananas and a carrot for the furry friends.  It was an excellent turnout and an amazing amount of money was raised from the evening.  Many thanks to Steve for his kindness.

bubbenhall25th Sept.  Back at Bubbenhall Vilage Hall which is a beautiful village.  Many thanks to Rosemary and Bob for asking us back and for all the time and trouble they had put into making the night a success.  Allan  particularly liked  the stars on the dressing room doors.  Thank you for our drinks and our supper and a big thank you to the people of Bubbenhall for their welcome.

29th Sept.  This must be our 4th or 5th visit to Hatton Village Hall.   It is a truly beautiful building and is well used by the local community.  The event had been organised as a thank you for al of the local groups that use the hall during the course of the year so some had seen us and some hadn’t.   There was Bowls, Ladies Darts, Pilates, Keep Fit, Heart of England Artists etc. We had a lovely evening and are back there again in the New Year.

By Friday evening the viral infection we were both fighting off had started to make life difficult.  Allan’s immune system fuelled apparently by food, lager and sleep managed to overcome it.  Mine, which had been treated to every vitamin  known to man, green tea, green foods, grapefruit seed gargling etc. threw in the towel right away so I croaked my way through the 3 bookings. ..Friday we were at the Walsall Football Club Stadium Suite for the Birmingham  F.A.  Probably our 6th year with them .   It was good to see so many old friends.

Richards CastleSaturday we drove to Richards Castle out near Ludlow to their Village Hall.  Glyn and Margaret met us and made us very welcome with hot drinks , alcoholic drinks and a lovely Ploughman’s Lunch. Lovely village hall with loads of character.  Many friends from neighbouring villages like Aymestry and Yarpole turned up to support us  A big thank you to Don and Janet from Yarpole for helping to sell the tickets.  The people  around that area have always been very kind and are a wonderful warm audience to work for.  Hopefully we shall see some of them at the theatre gig at Ludlow.  Drove back through a terrible storm so we didn’t get home and to bed until about 3.00a.m. It’s tough on the road, man!

Status wetAugust was a quiet month
gig wise as we had booked it for a bit of a rest but the weather was awful. A gang of us went to the Status Quo gig who were “Rockin’ All Over The World” at Burntwood Rugby Club.  Great day although it persisted down.  We’d all took chairs but  pretended we were okay standing all afternoon and all night.  None of us could move on Monday.  We saw Tallon who do a very classy Eagles tribute.  Our mate, Steve Ashcroft is supporting them on one of their  “own songs” tours.  Counterfeit Stones were also on the Bill and were very funny but could also really deliver musically.  Top of the Bill were the Quo and I think my ears have just about recovered.  Loud…but a great sound…no distortion. They all looked really good and played with amazing enthusiasm.  Great rapport with the crowd.  I can understand why they have lasted so long.  Lots of grey heads jumping up and down and lots of men playing air guitar.  Men will be boys.

Staus Quo

We had been to see Spencer Davis Group on the previous Friday at the Robin 2.  It was a bit different from when we had seen the band back in the 60’s at the Plaza in Handsworth. Nobody can sing quite like Stevie Winwood but they were a great, tight, blues band.  First rate musicians and “Dimples” was worth the entrance fee alone

Madagh17th September I realised one of my lifetime ambitions.  This was unfortunately not the one concerning Bryan Ferry but the other one.

We set off on the Sunday morning to meet my adopted wolf, Madadh.  I was in a state of great excitement and had to be spoken to sharply  several times on the journey.  We eventually found the sanctuary which was a beautiful place.  We visited one of the enclosures where the wolves were not socialised and there we met Nourska , who arrived from a zoo where she had been the target of pack aggression.  The other wolf, Luna, was the alpha wolf and very wary of us.  It was quite difficult to look nonchalant while they chomped on a chicken near our legs. One of those times when my fat legs were actually a blessing.  No way could it be mistaken for the chickens leg.  I noticed Allan , ever gallant, sat the far side from the wolves. Later, after a walk taking in the
wonderful scenery, we got to meet Maddie.  Madadh, along with her, very big, brother Kgosi, are Canadian Timberwolves and due to a zoo closure have been adopted and hand reared. We got to hand feed Maddie and she licked my face (almost back to the Bryan Ferry fantasy then).  It was a tremendous experience which I shall never forget.  For anyone interested in sponsoring and visiting these beautiful creatures  there is more about the rescue centre and the work of the man who runs it on our links page .

Another high for me this month was to meet Dave Berry of “Crying Game” fame. I had seen him years ago at Wednesbury Youth Centre. Great performer and a really lovely guy.  Stuck my signed photo on the wall.  How girly is that!

Need to get down to some writing etc for the coming season.  Before we know it we shall be saying the festive season is upon us.  Or in Allan’s case…..”No, you do not need any more sparkly lights.  I am not going near another supermarket. I don’t care if we starve and if I hear Slade sing that one more time I am going to smash the speaker!”

We started the month of October back at one our favourite venues.  Trimpley Village Hall out near Shatterford is a place we have returned to many times.  As usual we were looked after by Paul and Bob and were pleased to see so many familiar faces.  They are all very proud of the new toilet suite which they have worked hard to raise money for.  We thought about moving in there. It is far posher than Chez Dandy.  We had a lovely surprise when Beryl and Steve from Russell Newberry Register arrived all the way from Solihull and with Steve’s father from Enfield.  Great night. Thanks to all  for your continued support.

On Wednesday of that week we were a Birthday Surprise at Grimley, Worcs.  The venue was a lovely Italian restaurant  called The Wagon Wheel.  Perhaps they should call it La Bella Wagon Wheel then we would know it was Italian. The owners were a lovely family and very helpful sneaking us in behind the bar.  Nobody had seen us before so we were a bit concerned but fortunately it all went well.  We hope to go back to try one of their lovely meals.

The next evening we were appearing at our own Church Hall of Holy Cross at Stone Cross as a fundraiser. Nerve wracking when you know you will be facing them again on Sunday morning.  It was well supported and we had a lovely evening.  They are really good people and have been very kind to us.  Thank you for the beautiful flowers and for the bottle of the hard stuff.  God bless.

Cannock 1Saturday evening we were on the Black Country Night Out tour and appearing at the Prince of Wales, Cannock.  We had a good number in and were well cared for by the backstage team of Charlotte and Adam on Sound and Lighting and Charlotte’s Dad, our old friend,Mick, as Stage Manager.  Very relaxing backstage.  Our friends Pam and Graham and the family and Al and Beth , and our new neighbours, Tony and Sue all came to give us some support.  Sincere thanks to all of you for coming to see us we really appreciate it.  Hope you enjoyed the night.

Shrewley is a village we had never visited before. It is out near Snitterfield and Hatton in Warwickshire.  Quite a number of familiar faces from other gigs.  Lovely evening. Many thanks to the people who kept Allan supplied with liquid refreshment after I kicked his lager can over. Oops!  I think he’s going to use that story in other places when he realised how many free drinks he could  scrounge.

Saturday 21st Oct. we were back at Sutton Coldfield Conservative Club. We hadn’t been there for several years. Unfortunately it was a secret gig. On the same evening our friends Steve Ashcroft and Martin Lewis were supporting Raymond Froggatt at the N.I.A. in front of huge crowds we had a small but select gathering of 12. Committee changes had meant there had been no advertising at the club.  Nevertheless we all decided to give it a go and one or two more came later.  They all sat at the back so we moved off the stage and went to them. You don’t evade us that easily.  I showed them my flu jab arm which had swelled up like a balloon so that sort of broke the ice.  We ended up all having a good laugh. Thanks to those who came and who more importantly stayed.

Tuesday afternoon we did our first ever matinee on the B.C. Tour at Solihull Library Theatre. John Plant, a.k.a. Ayli had been taken ill so Al Smith (Aynuk) had to do that and the evening performance on his own.  We were all a bit nervous on his behalf because it’s hard to do a sudden solo stand up when you work as a duo.  We needn’t have worried, though.  The audience was sad about John but more than happy with Aynuk’s solo spot.  They were fabulous crowds. They gave everyone a wonderful time.  None of us wanted to come off stage

Aynuk and AyliThursday we were at the Tewkesbury Roses Theatre with the show. John had bravely struggled out to do his spot with Aynuk but he really looked very ill.  We were all concerned for him and were sad to see him like that because he always keeps everyone entertained backstage.

Friday we were on our own at Trysull Village Hall out of the back of Wolverhampton.  It is wonderful out there. There are so many great villages and inviting looking pubs.  It’s hard to drive past them. Fantastic crowd. So many familiar faces. Friends from the old Red Lion O’Morph Folk Club days.  Friends from South Staffs Golf Club and private do’s. No Bar. Bozo had forgotten. Our special thanks to the man who went back home and arrived back in the hall with a bag of lager, red wine and glasses.  We had a great night and hope they all enjoyed it as much as we did.  Thanks to Daphne for the gig.

B.C Tour at the Saddler’s Club, Walsall.  Amazing numbers and they were a great audience to work for. Thanks to Chris and Kev and all their friends, Norma and Alan and friend and Iris and family and the ladies from St. Josephs for coming and supporting us.  Our only regret on the night was seeing how ill Ayli was.  None of us know how he managed to perform. He was very brave and we were extremely worried. His performance did not suffer and the audience did not realise the extent of his distress. Next morning he was admitted to hospital and as  I write this he is on the mend and we hope he will be back with us soon.

Hinckley LizzieAlan and JackThe last gig of the month was at the Concordia Theatre at Hinckley. This was a B.C. Night Out show. The theatre is lovely and the people who run it are very helpful and look after us with coffee and biscuits in a very relaxing Green room.
Anybody living near please go along and check it out. It is run by a trust and staffed by very smart volunteers. Great night.

A mixed month with lots of highs and some lows.
Allan had his first flu jab and was a bit concerned when the BUPA nurse asked him if he was pregnant.  There are 2 types of flu…..normal flu and Man flu.
At our age we all have the hospital appointments and the results to wait for and so do most of our friends. I think this month has made us realise how important it is to have friends and to be there for them when they need it…. as they are for us.It helps to know that people care and are there to share in the good and the bad. We are all children when fear takes hold and we all need reassurance and love.  Allan has just read this and is reaching for the bucket. He prefers the Black Country Buddhist Philosophy:

Do not walk behind me … I may not lead.
Do not walk ahead of me … I may not follow.
Do not walk beside me .. the path is too narrow.
In fact get out of my face and just BOG OFF!

Our first gig of November was back at Blakedown Parish Rooms for the exotically named Lolita.  I sometimes wish I had been given a different name.  I was either going to be Glyn, Jack or Les.  I think my mother must have wanted a little boy.  I suppose it could have been worse. Al’s mum, bless her, was always mixing him up with the dog and calling him Rex.  Anyway Lolita was a charming, elegant lady who looked after us extremely well all evening.  We had a good night and raised plenty of money for Cancer Research.

KnowleThe following evening we were back at a longstanding gig at Knowle Village Hall for the Leukaemia Ward at Heartlands Hospital.  The event was, as usual, organised by our good friends, Carol and Mike and ably abetted by many friends and family.  It was our 6th year and we know most of the audience by now.  Good to see Lyn and Tony from Boggery days. On a Boggery note….. Congratulations to Jasper and Hazel on the Wedding of daughter, Lucy to Owain.  Thanks to Iris and family for coming. They had actually seen us twice in one week.  Wonderful effort for all concerned and £1,500 was raised on the night.  This money is going to buy another electrical bed for the ward. Well done to all the people who come along each year and work so hard to make this a success.

Monday evening was another date on what we call our ‘Magistrates Tour’.
Another gig at the Clarendon Suite in Birmingham which is the central Masonic venue.  We are starting to get the hang of the scary lifts and lack of windows.  Nice people. Many thanks for your kind gesture, Alistair. We used the extra money to buy John (Ayli) a C.D. player to pass the time while he’s in hospital.

We went to visit John Plant (Ayli) in hospital tonight.  He was admitted into Russell’s Hall Hospital last Sunday morning after collapsing after the gig at the Saddler’s Club. He is still waiting for a diagnosis. Tommy Mundon had been to see him this afternoon and he’d had lots of cards and visits.  Graham Leddington met us there and we had a good couple of hours with him.  John seemed in bright spirits and was cracking some jokes. We are all wishing him well.

9th of November we were at Sutton Town Hall on the tour and the audience were excellent.  Met some people in the bar from folk days. Many thanks to the people who came to see us from the Sutton Conservative Club.

Huntingdon HallFriday and we are back at one of our favourite tour venues…Huntingdon Hall in Worcester.
It  must be a wonderful venue to watch acoustic music.  Met Lizzie and Richard for a coffee or in my case, a bucket of coffee in  M & S.  Also in urgent need of their  “Squash your big fat stomach” tights.  Too many buckets of milky coffee are leaving their mark.  Staff as helpful as ever at Huntingdon Hall plus from a girly point of view..the really good looking guy is still serving upstairs.

LizzieToday is Lizzies birthday so there is a bit of a party backstage at Ludlow Assembly Rooms.  Horrible weather.  Cold, wet and miserable.  Great food there. Food is the big thing in Ludlow. Thanks again to Janet and Don for their support and for the crowd from Richard’s Castle. One of the most bizarre things we have seen yet.  A  lady in the front row doing a puzzle book.
Could have been worse…she could have been knitting.  At least she didn’t shout “Off with their heads!”

Dandy at tamworth15th November and the news has broke about John being in hospital. Aynuk is going to make a statement for the local radio tonight.  A lady in the audience apparently rung the B.B.C. to tell them he was missing from the show.

B.B.C. T.V.
 came to the Assembly Rooms at Tamworth tonight and did an interview with Aynuk while we were trying to do the show.  Not exactly the best of times to be “Shushed!” Tempers were getting a bit frayed’
.We got a wonderful sound from our favourite “Sound Men” Ron and Jem.  Great to see old friends, Keith and Mary Cope and a couple of lads we worked with some time ago…John Daniels….go and see him!  It was the last night of the tour.  Audiences have been great but there have been a few problems.  We all miss John so much and have been so worried about him.  (photographs)?

17th November and I am in daily contact with John’s wife, Linda. Now that news of his illness has been on Midland Today and on the radio and in the papers there is much speculation and pestering.  Glad we’re not famous.  This is just a very, tiny taste of what it must be like.
HartleburyPlayed at Hartlebury Village Hall this evening. It helped to take our minds off things. Lovely crowd and they made us very welcome again.

Saturday evening we are at Shirley Community Centre with Giggetty and Ken ‘the Hoss’ Woods.  It was nice to see Jim again.  Our No. 1 Fan, Sue Cooper and her husband Allan turned up to see us.  Lovely audience.  Allan upset a Tony Blair fan with one of his jokes so at least one good thing came out of the evening.  When we got outside to load Jack’s car we discovered he’d left the spare amp outside all evening next to the car. Lucky we weren’t in Friar Park.

21st November.  In constant touch with Linda all day as John’s (Ayli) condition becomes critical.

At  9.30 that evening John loses his fight for life.
He is just 54 years old.  At 8.00 the following morning the media have found out and bombard all of us for more information, even knocking on Linda’s door.  There is an amazing lack of sensitivity and respect shown by the media.  People we meet in the street while out shopping are generally much more concerned and sympathetic and genuinely sad at the loss.

EarlswoodFriday we are back at Earlswood Village Hall.  Jenny and the audience are so kind and thoughtful and do their best to help us through what could have been a very difficult booking.  It was much appreciated. Many thanks.  (photograph) ?

Cleobury Mortimer Club with our friend Maggie O’ Hara and Peter, her husband.
We love working with them because they let us use their P.A.  We enjoy watching Maggie who has a great voice and does such a wide variety of songs and they are good fun to be with in the interval. Special thanks to Maggie for getting me through the night when I almost lost it.

Sunday afternoon is not usually a favourite gig time of ours but this was an exception.
It was a joint Birthday celebration for a couple of people we had met at Karen’s leaving do in the summer.  They were a lovely couple who had a great family and friends. We had a really good time there with them and met some very genuine people.

On to the next leg of the Magistrate Tour and this time we were performing for Wolverhampton Magistrates at South Staffs Golf Club.  They were a very responsive audience and we had a brilliant time with them.

No gig this evening but we went to see Bill Wyman and his Rhythm Kings at the Robin 2, Brierley Hill.
We went with Jack and Ann from Giggetty and had a great night. Bill had just had his 70th birthday but he’s still rocking.  Bev. Skeet on vocals, Andy Fairweather Lowe, Albert Lee on lead guitar and guest vocalist Eddie  ‘Knock on Wood’ Floyd.  9 piece band with fantastic brass section.  Well bad, innit.

1st December and today was John Plant’s funeral.
The diary for the last 2 months has, I know, been less than light hearted but I’m sure you can understand why.
John Plant who was Ayli was a good friend and an instinctive performer.
His death is not only a great loss for his family and friends but we can only hope that it is not the end of an era.
Aynuk and Ayli brought the Black Country stories, traditions and humour to life in their own special way.
It is a gift to be able to bring laughter to so many people and in today’s climate of aggression and depression and it is something that should not be undervalued
.
These are hard times for all of us particularly his family, his wife, Linda, and his son and daughter, James and Katy.  We love you all, gang.

Also spare a thought and give your support to his partner of so many years, Al Smith…Aynuk.
If he decides to continue in whatever way he thinks fit…..then go out and see him.  He has got too many years of experience in performing to let us down.  We don’t want to see him hanging up his cap and muffler yet.

The funeral itself was testament to the love and respect that so many people felt for John.
Netherton was brought to a standstill with the number of mourners, the many cars and the media.  The service was perfect and the final journey back down from the altar was typically John.  He had specially asked for this piece of music to be played as he left the church.  Imagine the faces of the congregation when they heard “Kung Fu Fighting” start up.  I know it was a comfort to the family to see the strength of feeling and I know Linda would like to me thank everyone who sent cards, donations to the N.S.P.C.C. (John’s chosen charity) or who attended the funeral.

God Bless You, John.  We shall miss you so much.

The same evening, Giggetty, Tommy Mundon and ourselves were due to appear at Summerhill School at Wallheath.  We didn’t have time to come back to Norton Canes so thankfully our friends Alan and Norma took us in and gave us a wonderful meal to get us through the rest of the day.
It was hard to do a show but none of us wanted to let the people down who have come to support us so well over the years at Summerhill. They all seemed to enjoy the night so perhaps the old adage works. ‘The show must go on’.  We had been out of the house for 17 hours when we got home. I slept all the way back and I think Al did as well which was unfortunate as he was driving.

Next night we were back at Bilston Connie Club with Janny Lee Stone.  We had worked with Janny  a couple of years ago at New Year.  Lovely to see her and husband, Nobby, again.  She did a great set.  Perfect choice of songs and we really enjoyed sitting and listening to her. Friendly people there. Relaxing night after the events of the previous few days.

Hospital appointment today.  Can life get more exciting?   Performing again this evening at the church hall in Essington  at the request of Brian Cooper.  They are a great crowd. We love going to see them.  I hope they got as much from the evening as we did.  Have a great Christmas all of you.n You really epitomise the Christian ethic.  You really seem to care about each other. Special thanks to Brian for his very kind gesture.

Wednesday 6th December and I still haven’t written a Christmas Card.  Our friend, Lizzie Wiggins is in the panto at the Garrick in Lichfield this year.  We’ve managed to get together for a coffee but they are deep in the throes of rehearsals at the minute.  They really do work very hard and very long hours. The show opens tomorrow and runs until 7th January.

We drove to Holt Fleet just outside Droitwich for a lunchtime gig for the Probus Club. Big crash on the motorway so the journey was very tense.  Relief to finally arrive with time to spare. The people were very friendly.  We finally got back home about 6.00 p.m.

Arrived at Redditch Golf Club for the Catenian’s Christmas Party.  Our fourth year so I had dug out some new material.  We had a good time and left them in the midst of their usual rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas. Lovely to see you all again.  Hope Nan feels better.

Saturday we were appearing at the Horns in Slitting Mills as an after dinner Cabaret.
Victoria and Mike, who used to be at the Bridge in Brewood have taken it over and are working hard at promoting the place .  It is in a beautiful spot right on the edge of Cannock Chase and already it is gaining a reputation for it’s excellence.  We have worked for them for the last few years so count them amongst our friends.  They gave us a wonderful meal before we performed.  Food and service was great and it was lovely to see them both again.
We were on the bill with our old friends, Steve Ashcroft and Martin Lewis who have been touring with Raymond Froggatt.  Great to see all the gang there and old mates, Toni Ann and Ilmar and friends.
Thanks for all your support.  Hope you come to the one next year.  (photograph)?

This diary has been longer than normal but there will be no more updates until the New Year because of work pressures this month.

Our wonderful Website Man, Paul Shotan, is also busy after his successful gig at the Robin in Bilston with band “Johnny Too Bad”.  They do a tribute to UB40 and are very popular.  As a result of the Robin gig I understand they have had some very impressive offers…including a tour to Holland and then six weeks in the USA !!!.  So watch this space….

May we just thank everyone who has booked us this year and everyone who has supported us this year at venues.
Thanks for the food.  Thanks for the laughter and thanks for the friendship.
We wish you all a Wonderful Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.
-oO0Oo-

________________________________________________________________________________________________

GrottoLooking back to our pre Christmas gigs to give mention and thanks to the people concerned.  They seem a long time ago now but left us with some happy memories.

A couple of things I overheard at Christmas:
“My wife has a blackbelt in shopping!”
“One thing I learned about Christmas: an unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys!”

December the 11th we were nice and local at Aldridge Masonic Hall for the Aldridge Lodge.  Allan was caught on Security camera and initially taken for a car thief.  Understandable I think.  He did look rather shifty. In truth he was just being girly and trying to park as near as possible to avoid muddy puddles.
Robin booked us and they were a lively and responsive crowd and the evening was a big success. Allan tried to ingratiate himself with the man who owns the big shoe shop in Lichfield.

Back at the Heart of England Club in Meriden to raise money for Macmillan nurses.
An event organised by Mary and her committee. This was our first time working with namesake Beryl Briscoe.
She has worked on Black Country Shows for many years but it was the first time our paths had crossed.  We had a lovely evening with her and her husband Horace.  Beryl has a great voice and is very versatile.  Hope we get to work with her again.

December 13th was a new venue for us.  We were over at St. Oswald’s Church Hall in Kidderminster for some charming ladies… the Broadwater ladies. It was their Christmas party and they had prepared a wonderful spread which they kindly shared with us.  We look forward to returning to them next year.

A return to Roseville Day Centre in Bradley, Coseley.  Caroline had asked to us to go and have a Christmas dinner with them.  We met John the Centre Mangager and another John who kept us entertained for most of the afternoon along with Pam who kept Allan on his toes.  It was hard but rewarding and we enjoyed the afternoon.  Many thanks to the lovely staff for all their kindness and congratulations to them on the hard work they do there.  They are caring, patient people.

This was another return gig to Great Wyrley Community  Centre to entertain the Senior Citizens for their Christmas meal.  We do an afternoon and an evening show.  Both audiences were lively and responsive this year.  We shared the stage in the evening with some high kicking tap dancing ladies.

The 16th and we were back at Chase Club, Chasetown.  This is a private members club which has been going for years and we have been there several times.  Mike had booked us in for their Christmas party. There were  loads of familiar faces.  Our travel agents, Penny and Ian  (Yes to Travel) were sitting on the front row.  Nice to get to know them better. They usually have to deal with stupid travel questions from Al like “Will this jumper be warm enough for Italy and do I need a bigger suitcase?”  Most places have a club loony (sorry you P.C people)….but at the Chase Club  they take it in turns. I assisted George with the auction.  They are all so funny.  I don’t know whey they bother to book us. Great people and we had a great time.  We were stuck there gassing to folks well into the early hours.

18th December and we are starting to flag a bit.  Tonight we are at Rockland’s School in Lichfield for the Lichfield Ladies.  These are ladies that we meet out and about in Lichfield many times during the course of the year so nothing needs much explaining to them.  It’s like a night out with old friends.  Lovely night.   It was  so nice and relaxing and great food as usual.  Thanks to Diane, Margaret and all the others who looked after us so well.

19th December and this one is a shock to the system.  We have to be on stage at 11.30 a.m. in Solihull.  Early start because of Christmas traffic.  This was for the retired Marks and Sparks employees.  Lovely crowd.  They kept the coffee flowing to keep us awake.  Allan stuffed his face with mince pies.

Another lunchtime gig for Hagley Ladies at Hagley Country Club.  We were well looked after by Roy who seems to welcome, co-ordinate and generally keep things running smoothly.  Lovely man we felt as if we had known him for years.  We had my favourite food for all of Christmas.  Right thing at the right time..Santas Turkeyburger.   An enormous bap filled with big chunks of turkey, stuffing and cranberry. We saved half of it for eating in the car when we got stuck in the traffic on the way back. Dorothy was a force to be reckoned with and kept us on our mettle.  Great afternoon which ended with a visit from Santa. Nice meeting you Dorothy. You do a grand job.

21st of December and our last gig before Christmas.  We are at Ombersley Golf Club for a resident’s association.  Very difficult setting.  The P.A. was in one room and us and the speakers were in another.  It could have been a disaster but fortunately they were a great crowd and we all had a wonderful time.

High Arcle30th December we were at Ercal Village Hall, Telford for the Caravan Club which was organised by Jim and Margaret Dittings and the rest of the excellent committee.  They had worked so hard to make it a good night.  All of the audience were in Black Country Costume and Margaret had painted a narrow boat on the wall behind us and put names of places round the walls.
They were a great crowd and we all enjoyed the night.

New Years Eve and we were back with our old friends at Stourbridge Institute.  They are lovely, civilised, well mannered people there  and they make us so welcome.  Amazing buffet as usual.  Allan had to be forcibly removed from the fresh salmon and threatened with a slap.  We were back home for 11.45 so we managed to avoid all the drunks and get back for the Jules Holland Hootenanny.

Blue ChinaWe hope you al had a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year.  We spent a couple of days in Criccieth with our friends Roz and Graham , Kate and Gareth and Ruth. Special thanks to Ruth for giving up her bed.  It was lovely for us to feel part of a family and they made us so very welcome. Roz and Graham own the “Blue China” which is our favourite place to eat in Criccieth so we knew the food would be good.  We were on the beach with them Christmas morning and we went for a walk in the woods along the river on Boxing Day.  It was so relaxing and just what we needed.

Back home after Boxing Day to very sad and shocking family news.  Allan’s younger brother, Brian had suffered a heart attack on Christmas Eve, suffered severe brain damage and had been left on a life support machine down in Torquay.  He never regained consciousness and they switched the machine off on the 3rd of January.  He was just 47. It was a hard way to start a New Year but even harder for his family Gina and Daniel.
The funeral was in Exeter on the 15th.  It has felt like a bad dream especially coming so close after John’s death.  We have found it hard to pick ourselves up and go out and be funny.  He was the only family we had left so it has come as a big blow.  Many thanks to everyone for their kindness and sympathy.

                        I think we have both decided to go out and do as much as we can…….

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