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2012

newportFriday 22nd of January and we are working at a new venue for us.
We are over at HOPWOOD RUGBY CLUB which turns out to be a very nice surprise. I still have fond memories of the Boggery in Solihull which was Jasper’s old folk club and which we did as residents for about 3 years.
Although it was a great club the changing room or green room was awash with smelly socks, empty Ralgex tins and various items of smelly unwashed underwear. This is vastly different. Beautiful modern, clean building with good facilities. Only downside they put us in the room with the pork baps. Too much temptation for Allan. Varied age group but they all gave us good attention. Whether or not the younger members understood the rambling “Old git anecdotes…..or wanted to….is a different matter. Great turnout and all in a good cause for the Help the Heroes Fund.

newportTonight we are back at NEWPORT BOWLS CLUB for the third year. .Our good friend Graham has directed us and has also turned up to give Allan his Birthday present. He is so kind to us. This is one of our favourite gigs. The people are great fun and there are no P.C. police telling us what to do. They all have a robust sense of humour and enjoy a good laugh. Thanks to all for another great night. The event was a fundraiser for Alzheimers and Cancer charities.

Saturday 11th February and we are returning to the beautiful village of KEMBERTON. It has been about 4 years since we played here. We were introduced as “Back by popular demand” Allan remarked to the audience that it couldn’t have been that popular if it took 4 years. They are very warm and well mannered here. It is very English. They kindly invited us to have the meal with them. Perfect for a cold wintry night. Real comfort food. Shepherds Pie, peas and a pudding followed by Coffee. Great stuff…Allan had seconds. Excellent gig and lots of people came to talk to us at the end. Thanks for help carrying the gear out.

kembertonSunday 12th and we are not far from home. We are at WHITTINGTON CHURCH HALL for our annual “ Lunch and a Laugh”.
Alistair and Margo organise this event. Margo, with a band of hardworking helpers bravely tackles a 3 course Sunday lunch for about 70 people. It all looks effortless. I panic if I have to cook for more than 2. I become incoherent and have to lie down after I’ve dished up. The term “dished up” says it all. As usual Margo’s meal was excellent, as was the audience. Lots f familiar faces we have come tor regard as friends after all this time. Thanks again to you all.

14TH February…Valentine’s night. We are at BONEY HAY WOMEN’S INSTITUTE. It is a very special celebration as this W.I has been in existence for 25 years. So…Birthday night with loads of food and party frocks. Unfortunately I had to spend the first part of the night at an emergency appointment at Little Aston Healthcare. Miss Monique Hope Ross had kindly extended her clinic to see me. In the style of those wonderful country songs “My good eye’s gone bad”! So she had to examine the back of both of my eyes…many drops and much gritting of teeth. Then I had to carry straight on to the gig in dark glasses. I couldn’t see much but I didn’t want to let the ladies down on such a special night. It all worked out okay and at least we managed to get there and they all enjoyed the show. Congratulations. Great to see you Mary….well, almost see you.

halesowenFriday 17th and we are over in the Black Country tonight in Tommy Mundon country. We are performing at HALESOWEN CRICKET CLUB. We haven’t been here for many years. He last time was a big awards night and Basil D’Oliveira was there. It was a wonderful surprise when we arrived to see our friends from our Maspalomas holiday come walking in. Thank you so much for coming and supporting us. We really appreciate it. Big thanks for Trevor and Joyce for organising the evening and for Al’s supper. They were a good crowd.

Tonight we are back at MERE GREEN SOCIAL CLUB which is only a small place and is the base for the surrounding allotment owners. Like many places it is finding it hard to get the numbers in. Sad because it is a nice venue and the people all know each other and seem to get on so well. It is a very cold night which eventually turned snowy. As usual we had a lovely time with them. Good to see our friends the Seager clan back here again. Please go along and support your lovely club and the people who work so hard to make it a nice place to be.

This afternoon we are working at ALL SAINTS CHUCH at DARLASTON. This event is one of the many organised for their special year. The church was built in 1872 and then a stray bomb meant for the factories close by hit the church in 1942 and destroyed it. It was rebuilt in 1952. It is very much a community building and the big Asian community in the area are sharing the facilities while their Mosque is being worked on. Ray and a group of helpers provide members of the church congregation with a splendid meal and entertainment several times a year. We were very impressed with the quality, imagination and attention to detail that had gone into the preparation of the meal and the event generally. The catering was done on a very professional level.
Ray is also part of the band “What Next” that normally entertains the audience. One of the other members of the band is a very old friend of ours……..John Heaven. John is the husband of one of my oldest friends. Janet and myself worked together for many years at Darlaston Library and then later in the library at the College of Commerce in Wednesbury. It was great to be back in that area because I was born just a couple of streets away in Wood Street and Allan worked at GKN The afternoon was a huge success. The audience were brilliant. The food was wonderful and the atmosphere was warm and uplifting. We both really enjoyed it.

Broom24th of February and we are at a new venue for us over at a little village called BROOM near BIDEFORD ON AVON.
It is a beautiful hall……..perfect size and nice and warm. It’s strange how many people forget that being warm is a prerequisite of an enjoyable night. If people come in and have to sit in their coats shivering for the first hour it can be hard to get a good reaction from them.
No problem here. The audience are warm and very welcoming. They gave Allan a big dish of faggots, mash and peas. When we finished they gave us a standing ovation. Wow! Then somebody said they are starved of any entertainment out here so perhaps that was the reason! Anyway we thought it was a wonderful gesture and loads of people came up to chat at the end. We have been re-booked for next year which is great.

Kings NortonSaturday 25th of February and it is our 10th year back at KINGS NORTON GOLF CLUB for the Buddy Holly/Rock and Roll Night. The event is organised by David and Eve Slater. Dave is a very big Buddy Holly fan and does some singing himself. He has several C.D.s to his name and when the show gets under way he usually gets up and does a spot with the band. This year for a change we are working with Bev Pegg and his Rock and Roll Band. We know all the lads really well so it is great to get together again with them. They come from all parts of the country to do the gig and are seasoned musicians. We do our usual comedy spot at the beginning of the evening and then the rest of the night is taken over by the band and the dancers. Good to see so many familiar faces…especially our friends June and Andy all the way from Manchester. Great to catch up with you again.

LullingtonWednesday evening and the last day of the month as we make our way to a little village out near Elford and Harlaston. Tonight we are playing at the lovely village of LULLINGTON. It is our first time here and the first time for them to have a comedy show in the village hall so we are honoured but a bit nervous. The audience looked a bit unsure at first but soon got into the swing of things and were very receptive. The ladies had done home made lasagne with salad and garlic bread. Allan was soon out there on the table tucking in with them. Beautiful hall and although it was small it had loads of character. Thank you so much to all of you for making us feel so welcome. We really enjoyed the evening.

HOME NEWS

maspalomasA tardy start to the New Year Scribbling. Although we were way on holiday in January in Gran Canaria so we didn’t start gigging till the end of the month. I’d spent the previous few weeks avoiding every cough and sneeze that headed my way. I’d taken to wearing gloves all the time when I went out. Several strange glances were cast my way. This, coupled with my home made hats recycled from fleece cushion covers, ensures me a lot of space wherever I go.

Anyhoo…..after a 1/2day in Maspalomas I had stomach cramps….which I put down to two shared jugs of Sangria with our friends Al and Beth. Not so apparently. I struggled through the next day and then on day 3 gave mMaspalomasyself up to vomiting followed by the “D” word…and I don’t mean dancing or drinking. Suffice it to say I got to know the inside of our room pretty well …especially the bathroom. I emerged shaky on the last day to force down a “bit of toast” and “a dry biscuit” with water. We hardly saw anything of Rog and Barb who we had gone with. Allan said at least the Bar Bill was low. When I returned I was a star at Weight Watchers. When our leader said “You’ve lost 6lb. “ I said ”It’s just will power!” May God forgive me! But he didn’t….because I left one of my favourite sandals there…probably under the bed or trying to make its way to the toilet.

Sadly, we lost our lovely little Joey budgie just before our holiday. He had been my Mum’s budgie and when she died in 2004 I brought him back to live with us. We were both very upset but it was the kindest thing to do and he’s had many happy years and lots of holidays with us in Wales. He couldn’t have been loved more. The house seems really quiet without him.

February has been quite busy. We’ve had a good number bookings and lots of nights out. We went on our annual or sometimes bi annual pilgrimage to the Robin to see Colin Blunstone.
Next night we went to see the Pretty Things….the sixties R. AND B Band. God they were so loud…though not discordant. Lead singer Phil May is our age now but is still giving it some. He is a brilliant frontman and is totally charismatic. They all put in total 100% effort and did a few great slide guitar numbers. Great time but 2 nights standing took it’s toll. We worked the next two nights and the Sunday afternoon.

Then Sunday evening on the way to the Sils I had a problem with my good eye which followed the same pattern as my left eye. Black spots, circles floating across and coloured zigzags flashing and exploding. This resulted in another trip to Little Aston hospital. The aqueous jelly has now dropped in both eyes but still remains attached in a some places. If it tears quickly it could detach the retina and cause blindness. If that happens I must seek urgent medical attention and get it lasered. No warning. So it is like sitting with the sword of Damocles hanging over my head. I just hope he doesn’t get sweaty hands. I wake up every morning frightened to open my eyes. I get to keep the floaters for ever but hopefully the flashes will diminish. The gastric bug has kick started my I.B.S. and Allan reckons I have gone back to menopausal mood swings. No bloody wonder, I say!

BirthdayHad some nice nights out with Chris and Kev, Norma and Alan, Mick and Mike, Louise and Les. Jen took us out and treated us to our breakfast for Al’s Birthday 31st January. Do I still need him?…..Yes! I can’t work anything technical in the house and I have no idea about money! Will I still feed him now he’s 64? Yes….as long as he does the washing up.

We went to see Fascinating Aida again. Same show as November but we had great seats so we enjoyed it even more. They are a true revelation. One of their song contains enough material for the entire act of some of the people we laughingly call our top comedians. They are so clever, so insightful and have so little concern for “Will they understand or will they be offended?” My heroines! A true inspiration for any woman who has had to sit and suffer the supposedly funny jokes of smart arse men.

Had a great night round at Chez Louise. Allan has to stay sober and spend the night in a small room with two wine fuelled women. Allan’s comment about us screaming hysterically if our knickers were on fire was uncalled for. So good to have a proper laugh. We both decided it was better than sex. Allan said he couldn’t make the comparison as his memory wasn’t good enough!

Mike has come to our rescue several times this month . B.T convinced us to “go fibre optic” but as soon as it was installed the laptop crashed. Nothing to do with the fibre optic. It had suffered a Trojan invasion….some sad little psycho computer geek had sabotaged it. A pox on them! Luckily for us Mike came over and made it all better.

A FEW FUNNIES!

“Be careful what you wish for said the unhappy man listening to his very tall piano player!”

The Jeremy Cole Show……..proving that being thick and ugly doesn’t stop you getting laid….especially by family.

Apparently 2/3rds of the Piers Morgan Fanbase are female. I wonder if either of them have ever met!

I loved the Harry Redknapp defence “I write like a 2 year old and I can’t spell!” Makes you wonder what the other Suns’ columnists’ qualifications are.

Social Network for Graffiti Artists…The Deface Book

Talking to a friend who said “Yes, Jack has left school he’s doing his Gap year!” I said “Oh…… The year off travelling the world before Uni!” She said “No ….He’s working in the Gap store in the Precinct.”

A Northampton Furniture Store has been made to change it’s advertising”“Sofa King Low”

Two sexist jokes I recently heard: “I’m not saying my wife has got a big mouth, but in the event of a fire it’s the designated assembly point”.
“And God created the orgasm so women can moan even when they’re happy!”

Non P.C. is alive and well and still living in the Black Country. Have a good month!


This is the first date of our “Sutton Tour”. Tonight, 3rd March and we are at SUTTON COLDFIELD FOOTBALL CLUB at the request of Barry who, along with wife, Veronica, her brother, Alfie, and numerous friends and helpers are raising money for another good cause. SUTTON COLDFIELD ROTARY put on a lot of events to help charities. There are quite a few people here who know us and it is always a genuine pleasure to know that people have especially made the effort to come out to encourage us and give such good support.

Saturday 4th and we are back at MOOR HALL GOLF CLUB at the request of Ken. I’m sure we will have a better night tonight. Last time I had a trapped nerve in my shoulder and was doped on Tranxene and Allan managed to damage his arm carrying the gear in. The gig kind of stuck in our memory. Tonight all is well and we are given a lovely meal and are very well taken care of by the wonderful staff here. They kept us fed and watered all evening and it was very warm. They kept us supplied with jugs of iced water. Tricky room for the P.A. I remembered when we got there that we have to use the very long speaker leads and crawl under 4 tables with gaffer tape. Many thanks to you all for your hospitality.

yarnfieldTonight we are just over the back from Moor Hall Golf Club. We are at the very lovely MOOR HALL HOTEL which is now a Best Western. Jenny Johnson has invited us there and the purpose of the event is to raise money for Cancer Support at the Hospice in Sutton Coldfield. We have worked here a few times and the staff are very good. Maria liaises and oversees all the proceedings to make sure everyone is happy. She even organises us a big plateful of sandwiches. The ladies who have organised this evening are all lovely and all so glamorous. It is great to see so many friends here. The evening was a tremendous success and raised a whopping £1,448. Well done to all concerned.

MaggieSaturday 10th and Brian has asked us back to YARNFIELD VILLAGE HALL up by Stone. We have only been here once but we really enjoyed it. Tonight they have done their special mouth watering Lobby which is a wonderful meaty stew with chunks of crusty bread and butter. Perfect. We had very good company for our meal. A welcome surprise appearance of some old friends from Woodseaves way. Thanks so much for coming. Many thanks to you all for another great night .

Friday 16th and we are at ALDRIDGE SOCIAL CLUB with Maggie O’Hara and Doug Parker. Allan and I have both developed that irritating coughing thing that everyone seems to have had for the past few weeks. Then just to give me a bit more grief my foot went strange. At my age it seems to be a new and strange symptom every day. This was a swollen and very painful foot…for no apparent reason. The word gout has been bandied about. That will be all that I need….the loss of alcohol. I hobbled to the gig on my stick. Very rock and roll. At least I didn’t have to stand up for long.

DougThis evening we are at ROWINGTON VILLAGE HALL out past Knowle and heading towards Stratford. Peter is there to meet us and open the hall for us to set up. It is a lovely hall. Many thanks to the thoughtful lady who brought along a big plate of filled baps for our supper. Good to see friends from Lowsonford and from Hatton. The audience were lovely and made us very welcome. It is sad to see so many of these beautiful villages struggling to get numbers for the events they organise. Many of the older people are no longer in a position to go out at night and many of the new, younger, people do not want the traditional village social life and activities. The local villages are having to liaise when they are organising an event so that will not clash with something at the next village. Unfortunately there was a dance on at the next village Lapworth which may have affected the attendance. There was a good crowd in on the night but I think, like lots of places these days, they are having more of a problem to rally people in the current economic climate..
Most villages are not desperate to make an incredible amount of money. There aim is to make sure that people still get together and are part of a community. That is what makes English village life so special…the caring and the sharing.

stoneTonight is the 23rd and we are back at STONE ROTARY at the request of Neil and the committee. We are at the Alleynes School which is a good venue with easy access. This is about our 8th year working for them and they are like old friends by now. They are constantly fundraising for various charities and have spent much time and effort trying to eradicate polio worldwide. They really make a difference. Another good night. Well done. Go along and support their summer party. Thanks again to John for sharing the stage with us again and trying to keep Al under control.

Back at the quintessential English village….the beautiful TANWORTH IN ARDEN. It is like stepping into a photograph of perfection. Lovey village hall which Mary has looked after for the last 60 years…and it shows. She comes in nice and early to open up for us to get the gear in. What a lovely night we had! Many thanks for our fish and chip supper…I couldn’t resist. Thanks again to Roger for inviting us and for making us so welcome.

WaltonFriday 30th of March and this is our first time here at WALTON ON TRENT. Luckily Allan finally checked the map. He was heading for the Walton near Stoke. This was out by Burton on Trent……hence the name. It was a lovely old village Hall and the ladies made us feel very welcome. We had a drink first in the local Pub then made our way back after their meeting. I have to say they were one of the best audiences we have had for a long time. They laughed at everything. Great fun. Thanks for inviting us back to do your Christmas party.

Last gig of the month and we are back at the HARBORNE CLUB which is a private members club. We have played here several times. It is very, very small and in a residential street. This means the parking is a nightmare and Allan has stressed about it for the last week.
We drove round the block a couple of times and then we manage to get in a space at the top of the street. This meant a long haul with the gear. When we got down by the club there was one there but when Al went to get the car some psycho from across the road moved his TWO cars up a bit to take up the space. I was furious. How pathetic to do something like that out of sheer spite. Al had asked if it was okay to park there and he’d said “Yes” and then as soon as Al went to fetch it he’d taken up the space. So I had to leave everything…. my bag and things on the pavement and run up the street to tell Al to stay where he was. Why are people so evil these days? I’ve made an effigy and stuck pins in it! When we finally dragged all the gear up the street it was nice to be greeted by Richie who we know from Broadway Golf Club. He is now working there as Steward. Sad to say there was a very small audience. Not sad for us because they were all nice and we had a great evening with them but sad to hear that the numbers at the club are in decline. Jane and Terry are no longer at the club but they came along to see us. They are a lovely couple and we have known them many years. I hope the numbers pick up again. It is a very relaxing and friendly place.

HOME NEWS

portmeirionThe main topics of conversation at the minute seem to be the weirdly changing weather, the drought (try saying that in Wales) and how many delusional women have been bedded by “ Ken Barlow”. Allan said “What’s the difference between me and Bill Roach aka Ken Barlow?”….”I said about 1000 women!”
We are very insular, however so the wider world doesn’t affect us much. We tend to focus more on why the sink still smells even though Al has had it in pieces. Why he snores like a warthog one night but not the next and who comes in and messes up the house when we have been in Lichfield all day. Riveting trivia.

We’ve been out to see a couple of shows this month. We went to the Symph. to see the Hollies. I was never a great Hollies fan but Allan was so we went along. Mixed reaction from the audience. The new frontman is very, very good but he is not Alan Clarke so the sound can never be totally recreated. Our generation find it hard to accept change.

We also went to the Robin to see the multi talented Gretchen Peters. We went with Steve and Gloria and met Graham there. Her new C.D. is a real emotional rollercoaster. Excellent show.

Usual number of health scares appropriate to our great age. I was sent for an ECG or GCE as Allan calls it. I also had blood tests which came back amazingly normal. The swelling hot foot remains a mystery. I was dreading the doctor’s suspicion that it may be gout. Sometimes red wine is the only thing to get me through a booking.

We both wasted more money on things to combat bags, wrinkles and drooping jowls. All to no avail. The knife, mini scaffolding or a carrier bag seem like the only options. A plastic surgeon apparently advises his patients to put their face in permanent smile mode. I did start doing that but people were backing off or patting me on the head.. So I’ve gone back to looking miserable.

LlandudnoWe were lucky enough to manage the really sunny week in Wales. We went to open up the caravan and managed 5 beautiful days. We went up again the following week and it howled, rained and snowed for 5 days. Needless to say we had taken the wrong clothes both times. Still ….the mountains looked very beautiful with snow on the top.

I read a Dave Gorman quote the other day “There’s a refreshing lack of ego in the West Midlands. The North can’t wait to tell you how much nicer and friendlier they are than down South. The South tell you they’ve got more lifestyle and fashion. Here…..we know it’s a bit s***!

DinasWe’re not bothered about the Euro and the bigger issues as long as the Pound shop doesn’t go bump.Pall of misery hanging over the Black Country, particularly Wednesbury with the devastating news of the price hike of Greggs sausage rolls and pasties.

Heard it all now…Katy Price nominated for Mum of the Year Award by Foxy Bingo who happen to be the sponsors of that other bastion of good taste…the Jeremy Kyle Show.

Things must be getting bad……I heard that Sex Shop Ann Summers is feeling the pinch…I thought that was the whole point of that risqué underwear.

A friend of ours asked if we wanted to buy a couple of tickets for the Olympic Games.
I said “What event?” He said:” The Shooting.” “Where?” “East London”.
I said “You can see that there anytime for nothing!”

Some silly ones:
I’ve just seen 3 gravediggers wandering round and round in the cemetery….they’ve lost the plot!
I’ve just seen the ghost of Gloria Gaynor…At first I was afraid….then I was petrified….

And lastly.. An email somebody sent me from the Australian Social Service and Benefits Office. Their call line: Press 1. If you speak English
If not – Press 2 to disconnect you until you can.

Love it. Take care.


 

stratfordEaster weekend and we are off to the Races. Well, we are off to the Racecourse at STRATFORD ON AVON for the CAVALIERS CARAVAN MEET. We’re their entertainment for the evening. The weather is pretty awful so there’s little chance they will be in a party mood. I know I wouldn’t be. The audience were quite mixed ages and came from all different parts of the country. A couple of very bouncy ladies at the front from Wigan jollied things up a bit and they had an Easter bonnet parade in the break.

Friday 12th. Great to be back her at HAMMERWICH CRICKET CLUB.
Ronnie Box has invited us over and it has been quite a few years since we have been here. Hope they remember us and turn up. In the meantime Ronnie has received a big award for her amazing fund raising for Macmillan Nurses. The club itself has had a big face lift and we have a really warm and spacious dressing room which Allan wants to move into. Soon the room has filled up with many familiar and friendly faces and it is so good to see them all again. It is such a pleasure to do a gig where you can totally relax and be yourself. They all know us. Big thanks to Ann for the Earl Grey. She knows our hammerwitchaddictions. Many thanks to everyone for coming along and making it such a great night.

Saturday 13th and we are back at another familiar venue. This is the Church Hall at BELBROUGHTON and it is a gig we have done several times .Bev Pegg has asked us and Dave Bartley along to share the night with him. As usual there is a fish and chip supper and this is one that I can’t resist. Many thanks for feeding us and for making us all so welcome again. Lovely warm audience. Good to see Pauline and Steve and all the gang again.

belbroughtonTonight we are at the Lodge in Stirling Road which is the big Masonic Hall for the area and lots of different lodges meet here. Miserable weather but it has not deterred the partygoers in Broad Street who start early. Lots of Hen nights and big ugly limos but no exposed breasts or mooning this early. We do a detour to avoid this spectacle on the way back in case it gives Al nightmares. I encountered a very rude lady in the waiting area of reception who didn’t seem to think we needed to open a door to get the equipment in. Long distance hauling the P.A. along corridors and up stairs. Already very grumpy. The staff at the Hall could not have been kinder or more helpful. They allowed us to use the service lift when we left and gave us a big package of sandwiches for supper.
The audience were very receptive and very supportive. Sometimes these formal events can be a bit intimidating and lacking in warmth but these were great .Thanks to all

peopletonTonight we are at a favourite venue of ours. We are at PEOPLETON out near Worcester. This has not been arranged by our friends John and June for the village. It is for the Hunt from the nearby village of CROWLE. I am a bit concerned that they will be very young, fit and sporty and hate us for being boring old farts. Allan is convinced they will come on horseback. Several of our Peopleton regulars turned up to support us, including our friends John and June. Great to see some friendly faces. After saying all that the people from the Hunt were wonderful. The Master of the Hunt was on the front table…he was 30…and was surrounded by a bevy of beautiful young girls. Everyone treated us so well They provided us with drinks and a fabulous platter of grapes, mixed cheeses, biscuits and crusty bread. Although it was a mix of ages they all gave us a great support and were very attentive. Many thanks. Nice to meet you all.

wootonApril 28th and we are back at WOOTTON WAWEN. What a beautiful place it is. The bungalows where our friends June and Derek live have wonderful views. It has a very English feel. Allan is excited as he has been promised the meal…….sausage, egg and chips. I must admit I wished I hadn’t refused it when I saw it. Sod the cholesterol! Great to see John and Judy, June and Derek and fellow performer Joy St. Clare. We hadn’t worked together for ages. Everyone is so kind here. Little important touches like putting the heating on in the room where we have to get changed. It makes such a difference. Many thanks for another wonderful night. See you again next year.

HOME NEWS

This has proved to be one of the wettest Aprils on record. We abandoned several attempts to get to the caravan. We did manage to spend a couple of good days in the Cotswolds. We revisited our lambhoneymoon destination for our anniversary. Forty one years ago we had stayed at the Lamb Inn in Burford. It sometimes feels hard to imagine you are the same people. We were totally in awe of our surroundings and the people who were staying there. We had only ever been to Rhyl and Blackpool before. It was a tremendous culture shock. Middle class people seems to have an inborn confidence. The Lamb is a beautiful old coaching house where they used to hold the hiring fairs. The price has gone up a bit since we stayed there in 1971. We pressed our noses up the window and imagined what it would be like to win the Lottery.

The next evening we spent our actual anniversary with our friends Carole and Mike in Knowle. After recounting stories we realised we had both had less than promising starts to our honeymoon.
We had 3 great nights with our chum, the lovely Louise. We spent a night at Tamworth Assembly Rooms to see a 60’s Night Out Show. Great show. It was an Ashley and Brian Yeates Promotion. Brian, himself a singer with 60’s bands as Mark Stuart and the Crestas and then later the John Bull Breed. He still has all the contacts and mates from those days. Along with M.D. Ashley, his son, they have put together a great line up. The New Amen Corner. Dave Berry, Chris Farlowe and Tony Crane (Merseys). The hit songs just kept coming. We all really enjoyed it. My only regret was that I didn’t have my picture taken with Dave Berry and Tony Crane. They were two of my all time favourite sixties stars.

louThe following Thursday we went with Lou to see the Counterfeit Stones at the Garrick in Lichfield. Another fab. night. They are a brilliant band. We have seen them about 3 times but this was the first time in a Theatre setting so we got to see the really funny films and stills they use. The somewhat reserved Lichfield crowd were eventually up and rocking. The singer works so hard and he is so cheeky….hard to resist. Lou and myself managed to cope with the 3rd row seats even when he reached his thrusting bits. Although we did draw the line at binoculars.

A friend of ours has a wife who is menopausal and giving him a hard time. Men have no idea of the hell we go through….although I did my best to share that hell with Allan. He reckons there are the 7 dwarves of the menopause who inhabit his wife’s body. They are Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful and Psycho. Yep! Sounds about right to me. I was on intimate terms with all of them.

A man goes into a small Pharmacy and looks around for a male assistant. The female pharmacist explains that herself and her sister own the pharmacy and not to worry as they are both qualified to deal with all types of problems. Blushing the man explains that he has an embarrassing personal problem…he has a permanent erection. Can she help?
The pharmacist tells him to wait a minute. When she returns she says: “I have discussed it with my sister at length and the absolute best we can do for you is 1/3 ownership of the shop, a company car and living expenses!”

Had another “Going to Hell in a Handcart” moment when I heard that Girl Guides are now earning a merit badge by studying Passion for Fashion or Glamourama. Where’s the woggles, Bob a Job, Dib Dib and Ging Gang Gooley gone. We all understood that! Didn’t we???

When a woman says “What!” it isn’t that she hasn’t heard…she is just giving you a chance to change your mind!

Hope you have a great month.!


staffIt’s the start of another month and we are visiting STAFFORD BOAT CLUB. It is our first visit here and I have to say the clubhouse is beautiful. It has lovely views of the canal, the boats and the surrounding countryside. Great to see our friend, Steve, at the gig.
Steve runs the very popular music shop in Lichfield…..www.sjmusic.co.uk/. Upstairs musical instruments, p.a. equipment and downstairs, music scores, books and general books. It is called S&J Music. Steve is an entertainer himself and is a fount of knowledge for entertainment and musical needs. Whatever goes wrong with guitars, P.A. etc. the first place we all head for is Steve’s shop. He always makes time to help and offer advice. We all got to know each other a bit in the first half of the night but things got a bit more relaxed in the second half. Bought a jar of the wonderful home made jam….wish I’d bought all of them. Thanks for a great night you boaters.

shirley5th May and we are back at SHIRLEY GOLF CLUB. This is a special night for Ian and Liz Carey as it is their 50th Wedding Anniversary. We know them from doing the Golf Club. Lovely couple who met at a dance hall and married very young. Obviously made the right decision. They still look very much in love and very young. Fabulous family and friends ….as I would have expected. All the grandchildren got up and did wonderfully emotional speeches. I got quite tearful and almost wished I had kids of my own……almost.
As usual we were very well looked after by the great staff here. Many thanks to the audience for welcoming us into their family gathering. Congratulations to you both and may you have many more happy years together.

Thursday 10th and usually around this time I would be standing with the anoraks on the front row at the Robin in Bilston worshipping Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent and the fab. Tommy Toon.
BrewoodTonight instead of that we are on our way to Somerford House in BREWOOD to help with celebrations for Sheila’s 70th Birthday. What a gem of a place it is. It has lovely grounds and is a beautiful building. The room looked elegant. There was a crackling fire, candles and flowers. We knew quite a lot of the people. Nice, friendly intimate gathering of about 36. Sheila is obviously one of those people who never stops being interested and therefore never stops being interesting. She had done all sorts of things. Signing for the deaf, acting, producing, singing. Leading a full life has obviously kept her young. Great evening. Happy Birthday, Sheila. You look great. All the best to you and husband, Hilary.

11th May and we are working at OLD SCHOOL COURT, WHEATON ASTON. It is a sheltered housing scheme and is a very smart and pretty place. Not too big. Again a small crowd celebrating the opening of the place 21 years ago. Special party night for them. I tried out a couple of new/old songs so I was a bit nervous initially but all went well and they seemed to enjoy it. Many thanks to Rosemary for inviting us.

Saturday 12th and we are out near the Wrekin at the old Sugar Beet Factory at Walcote. It was closed in 2007 with the loss of many jobs. The land was cleared. The sports/social club was left intact on the understanding that ex- employees would fund its’ upkeep. Doreen approached us to do a fundraiser some time ago and has planned and organised the event and worked very hard. Good big crowd and lots of raffle prizes to boost the takings. They made £1,040 on the night which was great. We really enjoyed it and it was great to see old friends Dot and Trevor and some of the crowd from Lilleshall. A big thank you to all the kind people who helped us to carry the gear round the bowling green.

yeatesFriday 18th May and we are back at CANWELL at the QUINNEY HALL. It is a Black Country Night with our old friends Giggetty. The Hall is looking really pretty now. There are some nice people come here. Good to see Barbara recovered. Haven’t seen Ash and Sara since the Fabulous Burntwood Wakes they organised last summer. All a bit nervous. Stress is contagious for performers. Once one starts we all go. Thanks to everyone for looking after us so well. Hope you all enjoyed the night.

Last gig before our holiday so we hope it will be okay. It’s awful to finish on a naff gig. It plays on your mind. moathouseTonight we are at the beautiful MOAT HOUSE at ACTON TRUSSELL. We are entertaining ex Rotarian Presidents from all over the country…..so we are a bit nervous that there may be communication problems. People very often exaggerate this problem. It’s only if Allan get’s excited and speaks too fast. No hardship to sit in the lovely bar downstairs while they have their meal. The audience were great. No problems understanding us. They were all really friendly and we had a really good time with them. Thank you for your appreciation.

brownLast gig of the month and we have driven back from East Anglia today to John Brown’s 80th Birthday. We have met John several times and he is a real character. He is a big, kind, funny man who had a very interesting life. This is evident by the cross section of guests and the number of high profile people who are attending his Birthday Bash. We are at ASTON WOOD GOLF CLUB in Sutton Coldfield in a very swish marquee. John has kindly offered us the meal but we decided against it. We get too comfortable and forget we have to work. Lucky we did……there were 7 courses. We would never have moved again. We are working with a lovely couple from Wolverhampton way…..Carl and Carol McGregor. Carl plays keyboard while the guests are dining. Big party of 140 guests so although we arrived at 6.30 to get the gear set up we didn’t do anything until 11.15. People think you just go on stage for an hour and that’s it. They have no idea. Fortunately it was a lovely night so we sat outside drinking wine and taking in the beautiful sunset over the golf course. We finished at about 12.00p.m. and the audience were great. Many thanks to all.

HOME NEWS

We have spent most of this month looking forward to our holiday. The January holiday was a bit of a disaster from my point of view…….spending most of it in the toilet. The weather has been so awful most of this month it’s hard to imagine it will suddenly be okay when we go away.

Had a great night at the Sils with Rick and Celia. We actually managed to get on the front row. We had a good night over Bromsgrove way with Bob and Mac from Fairfield and old friend, Dave Cartwright to discuss our part in the Bromsgrove Folk Festival. It looks a great line up. We are doing a short spot on the Saturday afternoon and then compering on the Saturday evening which I think will be Fairfield, Johnny Coppin and Mike Silver and the Churchfitters. This is all a bit scary for us. We haven’t folked for many years now. Al has had his 12 string guitar re strung but claims it is hurting his fingers too much. Hope somebody turns up on the day who remembers us. Check out the website www.bromsgrovefolkclub.co.uk/festival2012html It starts on the Friday evening 13th July and runs right through the weekend

We had a couple of great nights round at Loulous’. Allan now calls us his “bitches”. He’s been watching too much television and eating too many orange Smarties

Had a fabulous week on holiday in Suffolk. Perfect weather and a perfect place. We were about 7 mile inland from Southwold at an incredible place called Belle Grove Farm. This was the most amazing place we have ever stayed. The style is East meets West. It is beautiful yet has amazing hidden hi tech. detail. The whole thing has been conceived and carried out by Jo Jordan and Nick Fisher whose daring and imagination are legend. Their website is www.belle-grove.com Good to catch up with Al Powell at Huntingdon en route. We stayed overnight at the Premier Travel Inn. Apart from Lenny Henry taking up too much of the bed it was a great place.

Got back Saturday to work and then went to Criccieth to spend a few days in the van. We’ve only been a couple of times since March.
I am having hip problems so today I tried to do a few gentle exercises to build core strength for my ailing back. As a result I have wrecked it altogether. I can hardly move and am very depressed. On return my week has been a visit to the Doctors, Hospital for x-ray and the opticians. At this stage it always feels like no way back. Not very rock and roll to have to take a chair to gigs.

Hope everyone has got involved in the Jubilee and enjoyed it. Not much bunting round here but I dare say there will be lots of chavvy Football/St. George flags strung everywhere when the lads are getting drunk in honour of “Hingerland”. Supposedly overheard in the Black Country….”Have you got any of the Union Jack flags in green to match my outfit….”Er…No they only come in red white and blue….”Okay…..Can I have a blue one then!” I almost believe that.
Allan said “I don’t know what it’s all about…Extravagant lifestyle, waited on hand and foot, excessive spending habits, out of touch with reality…and what do I get in return? “
I said “You can’t talk about the Monarchy like that!” He said…”No, I love the Queen…I was talking about you”!!

I hear that charmer Joey Barton has been assaulted outside a a nightclub. Police are said to be treating the incident as hilarious and say they are looking for 450,000 suspects.

Can’t say I’m looking forward to the Olympics. I’ve never been very sporty and the hype and hoo ha is pitiful and really smacks of Tony Blair and the cool Brittania thing. We will never be cool. We should play to our strengths. Queuing, Moaning…..the British are good at rituals. We could have done really well at hand shaking. Now they can’t even do that for fear of catching something.
As for the torch bearing…..What a joke! Unsung heroes! The people’s Olympics etc.! Why was Will.i.am carrying it? His name is the proof that 3 syllables are far too many for Americans. The whole thing, as usual smacks of blatant commercialism. Don’t get me started!
I loved the story of the torch passing through Plymouth. The crowd waiting eagerly. They suddenly heard running feet and started to cheer only to discover it was a shoplifter clutching a bottle of Merlot followed by a hefty Security Guard from Tesco.

After all the agonising, the tears and the shouting I feel it’s very reassuring to know that the best talent that Britain can offer is a dancing dog.
I think it says it all. It’s on par with that talented Mime artist Cheryl Cole judging other people’s singing ability. The Jubilee Concert was a revelation. Now we know why she mimes….pity some of the others hadn’t done the same. Bring back the Dog.

Just a little silly one to finish on:
My friend said “I’ve just joined a new group…..A.A.” I said “Oh, Alcoholics Anonymous”…….She said…” No!…….Illiterates Anonymous!!”

Ciao! Or as my borrowed cat, Milo, says….Miaow


BroadmeadowJune 4th. Fine weather today for the second part of the Jubilee Celebrations.
We are over in the Black Country at the DUDLEY BROAD MEADOW…Housing with care…… to help the party along a bit. What a wonderful place! It is built in a big circle with a beautiful garden inside and balconies overlooking it. We sat out in the sun until they were ready for us. The crowd were very young and full of bounce. It was good to see how well they all get on together. Great people …we had a wonderful time with them. Many thanks for great night.

June 6th. Today we are at a lunchtime birthday celebration for the Alzheimers Café at STAFFORD. It has been operational for about 5 years. Nice to work for Jane again she is a very kind person and good at what she does.
We had a good laugh with Malcolm who is the comedian of the group and he certainly gave Allan a run for his money. I told him if I ever needed a stand in I’d give him a call. Thanks to everyone for making us so welcome.

June 9th. Tonight we are back here at PERTON Baptist Church for Margaret. We should have done this gig a while back but it was the night of the big snow downpour so we all decided to re schedule it. It is a good sized crowd and we had some great laughs with them. Lovely to see our old friend, Freda after so long. Big thanks to all.

June 21st and this is the second of 2 gigs for the Alzheimers Café. Today we are visiting the BONEY HAY Branch for their celebration. We had a really good time with them. It’s easy to go with pre conceived ideas but both of these gigs turned out really well. Alzheimers is a frightening illness…but like any other the people involved….the cared for and the carers all need support and understanding. Allan’s Mum and Dad both had the illness so we can fully understand the difficulties for all concerned. It was great to see people arrive who initially looked nervous and unsure later joining in and laughing and singing. Keep supporting these groups …they are very important .

ShipstonJuly 6th and we have had a lovely drive out to the Cotswolds for this gig. We are at SHIPSTON ON STOUR. Erica has just retired and it has been decided to combine this with a Wedding Anniversary celebration for her and husband, David. They are lovely people and have really been looking forward to this event. Everyone had a great relaxing evening. Wonderful food and a gathering of friends, relations and workmates. No hurry or stress. It all went very well. Thank you for asking us to join in the meal. Allan filled his face with the fresh salmon. He’s only every allowed salmon spread. Hope you have a great retirement , Erica. Spoil yourself a bit…you deserve it. Lovely to meet you both.

July 7th. Tonight we are at the Carpenter’s Arms in SUTTON COLDFIELD. This is a not a Pub. but a Centre with Church affiliations. This is our first visit here and it is a big surprise. It is hidden away behind the shops in the High Street at BOLDMERE. What a wonderful venue and with excellent facilities. We are treated so well by Karen who has booked us and by Clive, the Centre Manager. The crowd were very appreciative and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Hope to go back next year.

Bromsgrove FolkToday we are appearing at the BROMSGROVE FOLK FESTIVAL.
Bob, Mac and John are the organisers and are known as Fairfield. They caught us with our guard down and we agreed to do a spot at the festival and for Allan to play his guitar. They obviously remember his 3 chords with much fondness. We did a spot at the original Festival which was something like 20 years ago…..which was back when we were young and foolish and knew no fear. It has been many a year since we have appeared at a folk club and many a year since Allan has played the guitar. We had practiced one song each day the week before and then 2 days before the event I got laryngitis. Very disappointing. Luckily it didn’t spoil the day. We got there about 4.00 p.m. and the weather was awful but it hadn’t deterred the crowds and it hadn’t dampened their spirit. We had a fab. time.. Everyone was wonderful to us. Our spot went really well. Hard to do the compering as the groups were trying to set up around us but all went well and we worked with some very talented people. Big thanks to all.

Tamworth3rd August and we are on the way to TAMWORTH CRUISING CLUB who are celebrating their 50th Birthday Party. We have been here a while back and know quite a number of the audience from different boating events here and there. This is their big weekend. Nice to see our friends Alan and Pat and Karen’s Mum and Dad. Boat people are usually a friendly lot and these were no exception. They loved singing which was a lovely change for us to be able to sing a few more songs. The only downside of the evening was that I got very badly bitten or stung…whatever. I only went out in the break for a breath of fresh air and was attacked. When I got home the backs of my hands were badly swollen and itching and throbbing. They had got my arm, my back and my neck as well. It took 5 days and a lot of anti histamine and calamine lotion before they improved. I was walking round with wine cooler covers on my arm and hand. Had some funny looks.

Whitney25th August and we are on our way to a very beautiful part of the country out through Leominster and near Hereford. We are invited to entertain at the beautiful WHITNEY COURT. Merle and Keith are celebrating their 50 happy years of marriage. The place is even more beautiful than it looks in the pictures. Allan is very excited and wants to explore everywhere. They have kindly provided us with the meal which is great after a long journey. We had to start out quite early. We are always a bit nervous at family gatherings but they were lovely people. Keith and Merle were so kind and thoughtful and really looked after us well. The catering staff settled us in the big kitchen next to the Aga for our meal which was Beef Wellington. Allan was very impressed and decided it was a big improvement on faggots and he’d like it every time! The gig itself was excellent. We performed in front of the big fireplace in the drawing room and the audience sat in all the comfy chairs. They were a great crowd. Many thanks for the kind words.

HOME NEWS

JUNE

Like most of us we have spent the last few weeks bewailing the dire lack of summer weather. In the bible it said it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and they called it a disaster. In Great Britain we call it a summer.

At the start of June after the core strength building exercises which went very wrong and damaged the back I had to hobble about on a stick. Stand up comedy became sit down comedy. I was very grumpy. The x-rays told me that the discs at the base of the spine had deteriorated some more and that the hips had started to go. The scan man said forget the exercise…somebody else said…lose some weight, Fat Face. Well, they didn’t say Fat Face but they might just as well have.
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Allan had to help me into my clothes for my bottom half. How times have changed! On the plus side I had recovered enough to enjoy our week holiday in Italy. I took the walking stick but didn’t have to use it and also managed a fair amount of walking. The dryness and heat really helped. I adore Riva Del Garda. It is such a relaxing place. We got caught up in a celebration after the Italians beat the Germans but even that was fun rather than scary. Lots of scooters being driven round in circles, horn honking and flag waving and fireworks and shouting. I almost felt young again. I wished I had been born Italian .They are so cool. A lady had mistaken me for Italian on the plane until we were waiting for the cases and I knelt in some chewing gum in my black trousers. ******ks! She said that was a bit of a giveaway.

The usual highs and lows. Very much saddened by a friend’s loss. Dogs are very special to me and I can fully understand the hurt when they go. I find it hard to like people who have no feelings or compassion for animals. I went right off Alan Bennett when he said he didn’t like dogs. He might be a good writer but the man’s got no soul.

Our usual round of meals out with friends, great nights at the Sils etc. We are very lucky and really do appreciate it. After working with the Alzheimers Groups we remembered what it had been like a few years ago and living with the problems that arise. Allan’s Mum and Dad both had Alzheimers. At one time we were coping with Al’s Dad and care home bureaucracy and my Mum with Motor Neurone and the dog back an forth to the vets every week. We still had to go out and make people laugh to earn money.
We’ve all been through the bad times. Each time the phone rang we feared the worst. You just have to hang on to the hope that the bad things will pass and good things will eventually take their place.

JULY

Backwards and forwards to the van a fair bit. It’s good to have somewhere else to go. The recession seems to be hitting everyone really badly. So many pubs and shops closing and people losing their homes. The knock on effect is affecting a lot of people. It’s making everywhere look so ugly and depressing. We’ve bought a year ticket to Portmeiron so if the sun comes out we can just pop down there. We are only a ten minute drive away at the van. Great escapist place to be.

The second visit of the month to Portmeiron proved to be a bit hair raising. We’d gone to have a quiet walk round, lunch and then read our books while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Allan got us lost up in the woods and then got us scrambling down a cliff onto the beach as our only means of getting back to the village.. This adventure, unlike the last one where he got me trapped in quicksand up to my knees, involved a lot of water.
The tide comes in very quickly there, not just sea water but river water from the mountains. Within minutes we were trapped and the water was chest level. People were shouting instructions from the beach and they had gone for help to the hotel. Allan was more worried about his money getting wet than me drowning.
I had sand and water in all my extremities. All,….. and I do mean all, of my clothing was soaking. All I can say is Thank God for Dyson and his dryers. I am going home to check our insurance policy. This is starting to look like more than coincidence.

I must confess to becoming a total Costa addict which I find very shaming. Latte is so fattening but so comforting. I think I’m regressing. I shall be throwing chunks of bread in it next and calling them ducks and drakes.
I love the coffee but hate the clientele you find in these places. Full of sad little twerps with kindles and laptops having “business meetings” with some other saddo in a shiny suit. Either that or Yummy Mummys’ who are deaf to the glass shattering squeals of their hyper offspring. Normal people and dogs all over the neighbourhood having to insert napkins to protect eardrums.

As I write this the Olympics are well under way. It has been a big year for Britain and it has been good to see people getting together and sharing things other than the riots, looting, moaning and queuing. I really admire people who can motivate themselves. It is very humbling watching the Paralympics to see people overcome such incredible odds. Here’s me moaning about a trapped nerve. It really does bloody hurt though!
I’ve never been a McCartney fan. I was a Ringo girl and Allan was a Lennon fan but I think all the criticism was very unfair. At least McCartney has earned his place and has a back catalogue of extraordinary merit. Perhaps he should have done what a lot of the new stars do and either mime or use a voice enhancer. People want plastic perfection at any cost these days. Stuff honesty and reality. Sad but true.

Trolling and name calling seems to be getting out of control. There’s a simple answer. Don’t go on Facebook and all the other nonsensical ‘social interaction’ with their friends, followers and silly words. Self promotion is very easy these days but you have to sell your soul to do it.

Speaking of which…I loved the Jubilee concert…crap singing withstanding….. when Cheryl was accused of toadying to the Queen. Cheryl said …“it wasn’t down to me,pet, ..the Queen came to stand by me!” What planet is she on?

Just got back from another week in Wales. Not good weather but made special by a new friend…well, 2 new friends, actually. Janet and her beautiful, Border Collie, Bronte. Felt we had got close really quickly which was good. Hard at our age to make new friends. Pity we don’t live nearer. Thanks to both for a happy time.

AUGUST

We did some nice things in August. We had a little party round at our friend Lou’s house for her Birthday and then she came with us to the Sils. We had a lovely day out on the train to Brum with Louise and her daughter Georgina and then I went round to them for my Birthday. Alan and Paula treated us for a meal for my birthday, Jen treated us to our breakfast so we did really well. Only downside was I developed the trapped nerve again in my shoulder 2 days before. As I write this (September) I am still in agony. The pain is radiating down my left arm to my hand and is unbearable. I have had a week of Tramadol but I’m trying to come off it.

A few funnies:

An elderly man was pulled up by the police driving too fast. He said “I’m sorry officer, I’m on my way to an important lecture on Alcohol Abuse, the effect on the human body…… smoking and staying out late.”
The officer said “It’s 2.00 a.m…….. who is giving a lecture at this time of night.?”
The old guy said “That would be my wife”!

Teenage boy had passed his driving test and wanted to borrow the car. His father said “Okay…if you get some decent grades, study your bible and get your hair cut”
He did the rest but failed to get the hair cut. He said..”Dad, I’ve studied my bible and long hair was popular…John the Baptist, Samson..even Jesus had long hair”
His Dad said…”Did you notice something else…they all walked everywhere!”

Listening to 2 blokes talking in a pub:
Just booked a table for the wife’s birthday……Bound to end in tears. Her Snooker is rubbish.

I missed the Gym again today…that’s 10 years in a row!

Speak soon. Be happy!


oaksSeptember 1st and we are here to perform for FOUR OAKS W.I. here at SUTTON COLDFIELD. We are met by a group of very friendly and very competent ladies who quickly transform the room and make it arm and inviting. It always amazes Allan how organised women can be. Men need direction. Well, Allan certainly does. It is a very big crowd but they are all happily seated and raring to go. Quite a few know us from different venues. Fish and chips and a very funny raffle with the Jubilee Teaspoon etc. We really enjoyed the evening. Thanks so much to everyone for coming.

Saturday 8th and we are back again at GNOSALL VILLAGE HALL. Lynne has had some help this year. Dave Lewis has brought 42 of their friends. Wow! Imagine having 42 friends. We number amongst ours – Milo –
next doors cat – just to boost numbers. It makes such a difference to the night having more people in. Great evening. I think the best we’ve had there. Big thanks to all. See you next year.

gnossal12TH September and it is a big event on the calendar for SHREWSBURY AND MID WALES FEDERATION OF TOWNSWOMEN’S GUILDS. This is to celebrate 60 years. It is being held at the new SHREWSBURY THEATRE 7. We drive there through pouring rain mid afternoon. It is a very difficult place to drive round but Al kept his cool. We love the Theatre 7. It is a great place to work and the staff are all very helpful and friendly. We did the sound check and got allocated a lovely big dressing room. We are part of a celebratory concert. There are 17 Townswomens Guilds and all are very active. We are working with Eric Smith who is a D.J on Radio Shropshire. We are also on the bill with the Lord Silkin School Brass Band, Maggie O’Hara, and the Shrewsbury Male Voice Choir.
Fabulous evening. Our friends Graham and Pam came and it was good to see Viv up and about and looking very glam. The ladies were wonderful and gave everyone a brilliant night.
We loved the girls in the Lord Silkin School Brass Band and their teacher, Rich. We shared the dressing room for a while. They were loud, lively and lovely. Great fun to have them with us. We wish them all happiness and success in the future.

15th we are heading for CLAVERDON. This evening is to be share by the local Gardeners, The Fishermen and the Woodcarvers. It sounds like the start of a Bible story. So we should have a very mixed audience. We haven’t been here for years but I could remember it was always a bit cold in the back room but they gave us a lovely Ploughman….well, at least his lunch and Al had a big plate of apple pie. People were generally very nice and hopefully had a good evening. Thanks for your hospitality and for your letter.

17TH September and we are at the BELFRY HOTEL to do a gig for farmers from all over the U.K. These are Holstein Herd Owners. These are black and white cows which give a lot of milk. As far as cows go…I understand they are quite handsome specimens and are known worldwide. I start getting a bit worried when cows are described as handsome. .We hadn’t been to the Belfry for years and, like Topsy….. it had growed and growed…..Had some trouble finding the suite. Very big room and all age groups so I spent the next 2 hours expecting the worst. Good to see friends Alistair and Margo there. Many different accents and dialects but surprisingly it all went much better than I expected. Hope you enjoyed your short stay in the Midlands.

19th and it is the first of this years tour dates for A Black Country Night Out. We are appearing at the ARTRIX THEATRE IN BROMSGROVE. We met Lizzie and Richard for a pre show meal and a catch up which was nice. Really good to see them again. Lizzie has had a bad fall but she is on the mend. She is a real trouper. Strange to do this show without Tommy and Aynuk this year. Tom has now officially retired because of his ill health. So the show consisted of Ian Sludge Lees, Lizzie Wiggins, Giggetty, Peter Lee and ourselves. Good to see Ann’s sister, Sue again. Sue is now living in France. Great night and quite a number of people I the audience that we know. Many thanks for coming to support us.

bctLICHFIELD GARRICK tonight for the show. We love Lichfield and there are quite a few friends who have come to see us. Good to see the promoter of the show, Brian Yeates. He is comedy’s loss and promotions gain. Very quick witted. Congratulations to Brian and son, Ashley, they have a great show lined up ready to tour the theatres called Made in Brum. This is a follow on from the Brum Rocks Tour. This will include Jasper Carrott…..Success guaranteed. Check out the dates on their website. www.brianyeates.co.uk Great gig.

Tonight we are with the show at SOLIHULL ARTS COMPLEX.
The Touchwood Centre is a nightmare. People queuing for some new flash phone, a clothes shop with a bouncer where the shop front looks like a nightclub, over priced everything. 15 minutes and I am bored. I’d rather sit in the dressing room than wander round the overheated centre. The theatre area is nice. It has a comfortable feel and we have played it many times. Great to see our friends from our Maspalomas holidays. Thanks so much for coming. Good to see Lawrence and Jane from the old Bell and Pump Folk Club. We all go back a long, long way. Thanks to all for a great night.

Last gig before we break up for our holiday. We are over at the Goldthorn Hotel in WOLVERHAMPTON for the BILSTON AND WILLENHALL ROTARY. Good to be back with them all again. Nice to see Stuart and family again and the new babies. As usual they were a smashing, friendly crowd to work for. Looking forward to seeing you all again next year.

HOME NEWS

September was a very busy month. We spent a week in Wales with our friends Norma and Alan. Norma and I have been friends since we were about 10. They stayed in a very posh hotel in the village called Bron Eifon. We stayed in our van…but hey…we’ve got 2 toilets! Had a lovely day out together at Portmeiron and Criccieth fish and chips on the bench by the sea.

Had some good times with friends……lunch with Rog and Barb. Nice night round at Les Wards. Good night at the Sils but some very noisy people in there who spoil it for people who want to listen. Why do they pay to hear themselves talk…and shout. They are missing some top class musicians and spoiling it for the rest of us. Sadly one of the worst offenders was a musician himself. Great to get together with Nick and Cliff for a catch up. Had some happy and relaxing nights round at Chez Louise for the “Book Club”.

Took Louise with us to see our fave band…. the Ivy League…. over at Arden Hall. Great night and the people there made us very welcome even though it is a Brummie stronghold and we are Yam Yams.

The trapped nerve is still a big part of my life though I am managing without the hallucinatory drugs and the uber expensive freezing gel. I had a couple of sessions at the Pain Relief Clinic run by Nicky Snazell. She is great fun and very dedicated to helping people. I loved her. Even though I had to have the short acupuncture needles in the muscle. I would recommend the clinic to anyone. She got me through my Spanish holiday with no pain.www.painreliefclinic.co.uk

We had a week back at the Hotel Daina in Puerto Pollensa. Excellent hotel …food ..staff…wonderful. Met a lovely couple from Scotland who we had met there before. They were excellent company. Sad to say the weather let us down again. We hadn’t been for 3 years and the same thing happened then. Perhaps we were meant to just experience Welsh rain. 3 days sun and then the rain persisted down. They hadn’t had any since March and next rain was due Oct. 15th.It makes you wonder if it is worth going abroad.

 

A few funnies to cheer you up as winter approaches:

A Minister, a Priest and a Rabbi decided to go out together for a Summer Hike. It was a very hot day and when they reached the lake they decided to strip off and do some skinny dipping. As they climbed out a group of female hikers came round the corner. The Minister and Priest immediately covered their private parts and the Rabbi covered his face. When the ladies had gone the Minister and Priest asked the Rabbi why his face? He said “ I don’t know about you two but in my congregation it’s my face they’d recognise!”

You know you are working class if your television is bigger than your bookshelves.

Great Minds discuss ideas.
Average minds discuss events
Small minds discuss people.
Mindless…….you discuss X Factor or Big B. etc. the list is endless…

I was raised as an only child…It really annoyed my sister.

Couple argued after making love and the man said “ I should have known you would make a lousy lover!” Next day he rings home from work and his wife says “Sorry I was a while picking up the phone but I was in bed” “In bed…..it’s 2.00p.m….. What are you doing in bed at this time of day!” “Getting a second opinion!”

I have finally come to the conclusion that Allan’s sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others

. Speak soon,
In the meantime say a prayer for April, the small child whose life was taken and for the family who have to learn to live without her.
And the next time people mistakenly say the Welsh are cold or unfeeling …remember their united grief, their pain and their unending spirit of love and compassion throughout this terrible time. We are all different.


Now in October which is probably my favourite month. We could do with some nice dry days to get the best of the colours from the turning leaves.
Today is Friday 5th and we are heading over to LEAMINGTON SPA to the Rugby Club. This is a special friends and family celebration for Trevor and Fran who have shared 50 Golden Years together. They saw us many years ago and it was nice that they remembered us for such an important date. They are a lovely couple and make us very welcome. Beautiful food from the lady who does the Leek Wootton catering. I coldn’t resist the Lasagne. What a fab. night we all had. Congratulations to you both.

Saturday 6th and we are back again at DODFORD VILLAGE HALL. We saw Alan and Eric recently when they came to support us at the Artrix Theatre in Bromsgrove. Great to be back here again. We spend most of the night chatting to people we know which is great. Big gang from Bromsgrove Folk Club, including Mac. Harry Seager and the gang from Birmingham who are such good supporters. Eric and his family and quite a few others . Lovely to see Cheryl and Ian again. Have a great holiday and keep in touch. Another great night. Many thanks for the food and for all the kind people who turned out to see us.

Not far from home today which is good. It is Sunday 7th and we are working at THE OLD SCHOOL HOUSE at WEEFORD. This is a big joint Wedding Anniversary Celebration for the two Mason brothers and their wives. …….Les and Cathy and Dave and Sue. Hope I’ve got them the right way round. They were a lovely crowd and although there were mixed ages they all seemed to enjoy it and gave us great attention. Many thanks for making it such an easy gig for us and for the kind words at the end. Congratulations to you all.

Wednesday 10th of October and we are over at WHITTINGTON for the WEDNESDAY CLUB. We have worked for them before and we had a great time. Today is probably better because we are all used to each other now. Chris and Graham have invited us over there for the afternoon to entertain. Great to see our old friend Sue…Give Al our love…stay in touch. Keep supporting the club it is a great atmosphere and it is always good to have friends.

Thursday and it is another afternoon gig for us at RUSHALL LABOUR CLUB. This is a special one we do for Sid and his lovely wife who puts these amazing concerts on there. He books some really great acts. Today is no exception. We are very pleased to be supporting the famous Ann Breen who is a lovely Irish lady. Ann had a million seller hit with the song “Pal of my Cradle Days”.
She works lots of theatres and has done so for many years. Her backing band were lovely lads, Jimmy and Graham. Great afternoon for us because we love Irish music. As usual the audience were marvellous and are always so kind to us. Big thanks to them.

Friday 12th and we are off to PERSHORE for “ A BLACK COUNTRY NIGHT OUT”. Pershore No. 8 Community Arts Centre. The theatre is nice and central and is a lovely place. We haven’t worked here before although Lizzie and Giggo did it a couple of years ago. It took them about 10 minutes to get used to us but it was fine after that and we had some good comments after. Staff were all very helpful and it was good to have a communal dressing room which is much more friendly. Nice to see Tony with Giggo now that Sue has gone back to France. Enjoyed the night.

Saturday 13th and we are heading over to BIRMINGHAM, to STIRCHLEY LABOUR CLUB. This is where THE ST. THOMAS OLD SCHOLARS meet up. The lady who has booked us is one of the very funny Tena Ladies who work very hard for charity doing comedy routines and parodies. We have seen them a couple of time and they are very good.
The audience is made up of a group of people, partners and friends who originally attended St. Thomas School. These people are all in the 60-70 age bracket so they have kept in touch a good many years. There are some really longstanding friendships among them which is great. Lovely people. Many thanks for the welcome, the food and the smashing night.

Friday 19th October and tonight we are just of the High Street in SUTTON COLDFIELD at ST. MICHAELS CHURCH HALL. Marie and Martin have asked us to help them and their friends raise some funds for Macmillan Cancer Research. They have all worked very hard to make this a good night. The ladies have prepared some wonderful food and a lot of tickets have been sold. Very well organised. Thanks to Martin we had a brilliant map to get there and Allan still managed to go to the wrong church. Obviously it is Sutton Coldfield, a Church Hall and ladies of breeding and gentility so Allan had been warned to be on his best behaviour. Apparently I was spotted by one man in the audience punching Allan’s back several times by way of a warning. Not that he needs it these days…I think I have got him well trained by now. He knows I will give him grief if he does something I don’t approve of. It all went very well and we shared a wonderful supper and a great evening with them. Many thanks and all good wishes in your further fundraising. The amount raised on the night was £696. Well done, everybody.

Saturday 20th and we are heading out to BRIDGNORTH to the BYLET BOWLS CLUB which we have done a couple of times. Tom McGill, himself, an entertainer has invited us over to entertain them at their special Awards Evening. Allan has just done his usual 70 point turn and gone into the bushes several times trying to negotiate round the catering van to the back door. Luckily the catering man came out to help him which was great because it was getting me very stressed and the damp had caused my perm to go “poodle”. Tom is a lovely man. Great to see him and is wife again. Nice crowd as usual. Good luck for the coming season.

Sunday evening and we are on the way to REDDITCH to help Johhny Jones celebrate his 70th Birthday. John and Doreen have invited all their friends and family and Johnny is very excited. He is bravely going to sing a Norman Wisdom song. Needless to say they gave him a lot of stick. He is a big Baggies supporter so I’m amazed he asked Allan, who is a Wolves fan. They were a really nice crowd of people. Again lots of different age groups who were all great. The children were really well behaved…couldn’t have been better. Many thanks to all.

Friday night and we are just down the road at CHASETOWN FOOTBALL CLUB. John, who has asked us back is a great guy We are appearing again with our old friend WILLY MORGAN. Again lots of people in that we know from Hammerwich, R.A.F.A and various others . Big thanks to our favourite travel agents, Penny and Ian of YES TO TRAVEL (www.Yes2travel.co.uk) who have been arranging our holidays for many years now. Good to see them there, along with Penny’s parents… Janet and Ian and their dancing friends. Thanks for Allan’s box of chocs. We sat and ate them while watching 3 ghost films on Sunday afternoon. Brilliant. We had a real slobby day after a long drive Saturday night. Special big thank you to all the people who came to support us and gave us such a good time. We will be back again about the same time next year so please come along again. You are a brilliant audience.

Back at AYMESTREY VILLAGE HALL tonight after a few years. We have seen a fair few of the people at other gigs in the meantime. They are warm, friendly, hardworking people out there. Sorry we didn’t get to see Janet and Don. We missed you. Joe and Ruth had booked us for the village hall and we go back a number of years with them. Cold night but a Ploughman’s Lunch and a hot home made Apple Pie and cream were very welcome. It’s a long drive out there but at least we were putting the clocks back so we got an extra hour in bed. Many thanks to all for the food, the welcome and warmth and most of all for braving the cold and coming.

HOME NEWS

Lots of family celebratory gigs this month which luckily turned out well. Nice people. Age cross sections can be very tricky. Finding something to please everyone is never easy. Luckily for us they all worked. Social mores have changed so much. When we were young (Yawn! Wait for ghastly platitudes…….) we often had to endure long, boring evenings in the company of adults listening to conversations like “Ethel Grey, as was, you know, she’s now a Cartwright…lost a brother in the war, her mother had a steel plate in her head and used to steal the Pick and Mix from Woolies.” But …out of courtesy and good manners we had to look transfixed or suffer the dreadful wrath of our parents.
Nowadays there is no pretence. They take one look at us when we walk on stage and we are found wanting…Wrinklies! Then out comes their salvation…bits of technology to plug into. The worst is when they all get out their mobile phones and start taking photos of each other pulling faces or showing each other pictures on facebook and screaming hysterically. I can understand this happening with adolescents but usually the culprits are much older. Do I sound old and bitter and twisted? That would be a “Yes”!
Get off you soapbox, Glynnis before you fall and break one of those brittle bones! This little rant is just to prove that I do have teeth. I know I usually say in the diary that people are all lovely…and most of them are……but I have my moments! We all do. We take a lot of stick about the Black Country accent and most of the time it is people just having a laugh with us which is all part of the craic and we encourage it…. but occasionally people can be very rude and nasty about it. It makes you feel like saying “Sod off to your own end of the country.. Mr. La De Da.” I think I might put us forward as an Ethnic minority and take it to Human Rights. Lay off us Yam Yams …support the Wednesbury Two!

On the plus side we met 2 very interesting people last month over at Wallheath. One was the Black Country Jazz Musician, Writer, Public Speaker and Bookseller…Mr. John Sparry. We’d worked with John a couple of times. John has inherited his Grandfathers house built in 1910 and he has made a very few minor adjustments. It really is like stepping back in time. Wonderful place with loads to see and the front room is a little bookshop. How perfect. The whole place, like John, is quirky and fascinating. He has many tales to tell.
While we were there a friend of his turned up. Rick, who once worked at the Round Oak Steel Works has become a bit of a hermit and lives out in wildest Herefordshire in a most amazing place. It is a cross between the Borrowers and The Kingdom of the Hobbit. He has the most incredible imagination and it really is a unique kingdom with Rick working his magic to make it different and special. Alternative certainly describes it. We had a lovely time with them.
We’d gone over to see our Pat testing man, Clive. All the equipment has to have an M.O.T each year and a sticker and certificate to say it won’t burn down a venue. Again one of the nicest guys we have met and such a hard worker. He really deserves success.

Had some good nights with friends. Went over to the Robin to see our friend Chris Brighton in a new band called the Abbey Road Experience. He also plays with Desperado, an Eagles trib. Band www.desperadolive.co.uk He was playing alongside, the amazing Phil Bates, Derek Holt, Steve James and Peter Hughes.www.abbeyroadexp.com Great to see Phil’s Mum Beryl again who we hadn’t seen for some years. Took Louise and met up with Ann and Jack and Steve ,Gloria and Deb.. What a feast of vocal and musical talent!. They got a standing ovation at the end of the first half. Wow! Never realised what an incredible voice Chris has got.

Bad things this month were visits to the Dentist and a Mammogram. New digital mammogram machine hurts even more than the old one. It had actually caused a graze to the skin on my left breast. Can never prepare enough mentally for the degree of hurt.

Also managed another part week in Wales. Rained in the night but we had a couple of decent days and a nice break. Met up with an old friend before we left on the Sunday. Sandra used to run the Glen Rothay at Rydal Water in Cumbria and we went there many times and became friends. We hadn’t seen her for far too long so it was great to meet up for breakfast and to meet her new husband , Nigel. Great to see them so happy. He is a really nice guy. They had come down in their Motorhome to see Harvey Andrews doing his “last” concert at the Guildhall in Lichfield. We were just off to Wales so we could only get together for a couple of hours. Glad we did though.

SOME FUNNIES

I am writing this on the night of Halloween. My friend said this morning I want to take the kids out tonight to see something really scary that will give them nightmares. Her husband said…”Let’s take them to your mothers!”

We had to put the clocks back last Saturday. My phone, my iPod my T.V. and my laptop had all automatically changed……….I can remember when I used to be smarter than the stuff I own.

Went to the Dentist last week. He said “Can you scream very loud?” I said “Why?” He said…”Well the waiting room is full and the footy starts in 5 minutes!”

My friend’s kids had a Pyjama Day today at school. I think they are preparing them for when they leave school…… unemployment .

My friend has been reading Fifty Shades of Grey and I think it has influenced her. Last night she stripped off and called her husband upstairs and said…” Okay, you can do what you want.!” So he got changed and went up the pub!

Keep smiling…it keeps the wrinkles at bay!


NOVEMBER

As I am well into the Christmas madness of too many bookings, not enough sleep and too many jobs to do it’s fair to say I’m getting grumpy. I wrote out all the diary for this month ready to type up and send to our lovely web man Paul Shotan artworks unlimited …… Now…. it has disappeared. I am feeling evil and ready to bite chunks out of the furniture. All the amounts of money raised at various events, organisers and names of helpers etc. ……gone …all gone.

As a consequence none of the details will be 100% accurate. I will have to rely on my less than perfect memory but I will do my best…. with apologies. I’m hard pushed to remember my own name at the moment. If anyone that reads this wants anything amended then they just need to let me know. I’ve even been through all the papers I put in the bin…and much to Allan’s discomfort counted all his lager cans and given him a lecture about the evils of drink.

We start the month back at BROOK STREET COMMUNITY CENTRE, TIPTON and again it is a fundraiser for Compton Hospice. Keith books us for this event but like most fundraisers he is part of a very dedicated group of people who give up free time and have done for many years to raise funds for this very worthwhile cause. Tonight we are on with Michael Brooks aka Mike Plested who also happens to be one of our closest friends. He is on his home turf tonight and his Mum. The lovely, Joan, has sold about 50 tickets to family and friends.
Mike is an extraordinary singer and is kept very busy with work. There is also another singer on the show with us. He is John Oakley and is also a very good singer. We shall stick to the comedy tonight! Mike finishes the night with some great dance stuff and so we are all up having a good time. They handed over to Compton Hospice a cheque for over £3.000. Congratulations.

Tonight it is Saturday and we are on our way to DROITWITCH to SALWARPE VILLAGE HALL. This is another gig for Sylvia who raises funds for St. Richards Hospice. This is our 3rd booking for Sylvia but this time we have a change of venue. Tonight we are at the Village Hall instead of the Church Hall down the road .The aim is to get a few more in the audience. There is the usual crowd of helpers who leap into action to get the room ready for the audience. This part is usually funnier than us. We love watching the men trying to follow instruction. They are a lovely crowd as always and are quite used to us so we can have a good laugh with them. Big thanks for Al’s chips.
Well done to the audience who raised well over £300 on the night.

Friday 9th and we are on our way to WROXHALL. We have had sad news that Chris who has booked us here before has died quite suddenly. We offered to cancel but they are keen to go ahead with the night in his memory. So here we are and we are a bit nervous as the funeral was only yesterday and we are very aware of that.
The audience, however give us a warm welcome and the night goes surprisingly well given the circumstances. We always have good fun with the novelty prizes in the raffle. Thank you all so much for coming along and making it such a good night. Big thanks to Richard who stepped in and made us feel so welcome.

Saturday 10th and tonight we are out in the beautiful Cotswolds at LOWER QUINTON. Al and have always love this part of England. We are so lucky that it is relatively near. This is our second time at Lower Quinton at the invitation of Rose who is looking very elegant this evening. We have another full house tonight which is very inspiring and we never fail to be grateful for.
Allan has been reading up about strange happenings here many years ago but I warn him not to mention it. I still remember the Wicker Man. The audience all look well adjusted for a Dandy audience and give us a great night. They give us all a beautiful, real country Ploughman’s supper. Thanks to you all for a wonderful night.

Tonight we are doing another date on A Black Country Night Out tour. We are back at ASTON WOOD GOLF CLUB. We are in the big Marquee at the back. It is lovely and warm in there and it is very well attended. Sadly Lizzie Wiggins is quite poorly tonight and cannot be with us. Her spot is taken by Phil Chase. The audience are great and everyone goes down well. Great night. Lovely to see old friends Ray and Ann Clews again.

leamingtonTonight 16th of November and we are heading off to a posh frocks do for the Royal Leamington Spa 41 Club. It is an evening to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and it is being held at WARWICKSHIRE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB, LEEK WOOTTEN.
They have kindly organised for us to have the meal which is very welcome as we had to start out mid afternoon because of Friday traffic. It has all been very well organised and at the end of the evening we have been requested to do some British crowd rousing standards like Jerusalem and Rule Brittania etc. Lovely to see so many people we know from past events. I’d written a couple of suitable poems and we all had a great time with plenty of singing and flag waving.

knowleBack on the Toll Road tonight and heading off to KNOWLE VILLAGE HALL. This is another charity fundraiser at the request of our friends Carole and Mike Powell. We have worked for them and their fundraising endeavours for about 10 years and have become firm friends. As usual all the family help out and as usual their band of hardworking friends and volunteers have come to move furniture in place, lay tables and organise the bar. In the past we have worked for them when they raised money for Heartlands Hospital Ward 19 but tonight the money is to go the Acorn Children’s Hospice. It is a full house and it is so pleasing to see so many regulars from the previous charity nights and to see so many of our old friends from Jasper’s old club….the Boggery Folk Club which we used to do as residents every Monday. It was a Fish and Chip Supper and a good night was had by all.
The event raised £860 for a very important charity..

earlswoodFriday 23rd and tonight we are back at EARLSWOOD VILLAGE HALL. This is another gig we have done for about the past 7 years and again it has become quite an event. The audience provide their own food and drink and it becomes one big friendly picnic with everything being shared round. Glad we managed to get there through the floods.
My friend, Jenny, as usual, looked after us like royalty. Sad to hear of the passing of Philip who was one of the stalwart workers on the Village Hall Committee. He was a real gentleman and I’m sure he will be much missed. Some of the money raised tonight will be going to buy a commemorative bench with his name inscribed on it. Thanks again to Earlswood and it’s lovely people for giving us such another great night.

great haywoodSaturday 24th and we are back at GREAT HAYWOOD. This is our month for seeing friends. This is our month for visiting venues we have been to many times over the years. The people have become well known to us and in many cases are regarded as friends. Great Haywood is another such village. We can’t express how good it feels to be re-invited to these places. It makes what we do seem very worthwhile. Thanks again to you all for another brilliant night and thanks for coming out in such terrible weather. A big thanks for Al’s fish and chips and his apple pie. Big fat greedy pig still hasn’t put any weight on!
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hammerwichTonight we are hoping to get to HAMMERWICH. The roads are very bad round there with the flooding but we manage it okay. We learned after that some of the guests for the evening had been out unblocking the drains to get rid of some of the water. We are at HAMMERWICH CRICKET CLUB. This is a venue we have done many times in the past and it is great to be here to help celebrate Dave Black’s 70th Birthday.
Dave and his wife, Adrienne have seen us many times. Ted and Mary have arrived with their Pickwick Oven and are promising their wonderful multi filling jacket spuds. The array of cheeses and puddings looks wonderful. We always have fabulous nights here and tonight is no exception. Big thanks for inviting us to share this special celebration.

30TH November and this is our 3rd visit out here for ALCESTER Rotary.. This is our second one in this beautiful medieval Town Hall.
Eric has invited us over but we know most of the people here by now, particularly Nick and Cham. November is a bad month is many ways because we are really spoiled by the audiences that we get. Most of them know us really well and are brilliant to work for. December comes as a bit of a shock then. Another great night here at Alcester. Big thanks to you lovely people. Al was particularly pleased that the lady at the front from New England could understand him. Have a fab. Christmas

HOME NEWS

Plenty of the usual highs and lows this month. We had a few meals out with friends which was nice.
We had to close up the caravan for the winter which was not so nice. All the mountains were snow topped on the drive out there and the views were beautiful. I so miss it when we can’t go but time is short in November and December and the van is far too cold.
My friend, Chris, has now successfully had her cataract ops. and corneal transplants done. It has been a long and painful process and she has been incredibly brave. Big thanks to the amazing Mr. Chell at Worcester Hospital for his wonderful work.
We went to see the Lapworth Players Panto as our friend, Rick was playing the villain in it. Had a nice meal in Knowle first with Carole and Mike and then we all went on to the Panto. Great fun.

bob newtonI had bad news about the death of a friend. Bob Newton and I had been friends since I worked at the College of Commerce in Wednesbury when I was 16. He was a General Studies Lecturer and I worked in the Library when we first met. Folk music was also a common bond and Bob was one of the organisers of the Lichfield Folk Club which we were residents at.

Born in 1926 and as a young man he had acted at the Wednesbury Hippodrome Theatre. He had also been in the Navy before taking up his teaching career. He was a Member of Walsall Artists. He taught art at Lichfield College and he did voluntary work teaching mentally and physically disabled people crafts .Bob never married perhaps he was always too busy.
He was a very talented man and had wide ranging interests although the arts…music, drama and fine art where his favourites. He was an amazing artist and craftsman and was very knowledgeable on many topics from world religions to Black Country history to costume and cookery.
He loved birds, animals and the countryside and drew and painted many wonderful pictures. He went almost daily to Twycross Zoo to sketch the monkeys.
He helped me with my drama pieces for my Lamda exams and with my drawing and watercolour painting. He did the beautiful pen and ink sketch of Allan and I on our business cards and flyers.
When Allan still worked I would bike over to Bob and spend the day working with him on some project or another. He lived in the servant’s quarters at Little Wyrley Hall just across the A5 from us.
We lost touch when Allan retired which was entirely my fault and which I deeply regret. Bob was eccentric, and sometimes difficult but never dull. I shall miss him for there are so few real characters left.
I wish that I had been a truer friend but we always feel that time is on our side and it most certainly is not.
I hope that this lesson in loss will teach me to be more honest about my feelings and to realise what and who are important. Time is ticking.

I think Christmas and particularly New Year makes us think about age. In the light of Bob’s death a friend and I were discussing it and she said:
“As you get older you find you lose interest in sex, your friends drift away and your children often ignore you. There are other advantages but these are the main ones!

She’s a bit older than me she said: “ In dog years I should be dead by now.” I said “Age is just a state of mind”…she said “Try telling that to my thighs!”
She’s always having a go about her husband
She said….. “The only thing he has ever achieved on his own is to grow a moustache …and that grew in ginger!”

I went past one of those ambulance chasers in Lichfield the other day…she stopped the man in front and said “Excuse me sir have you had an accident in the last 2 years that wasn’t your fault.?”
He said “Yes, she’s nearly 2 now!”

What is the worst thing a girl can hear when she has just had sex….”.Now then, now then, now then…How’s about that then?”
The Jimmy Savile fiasco rumbles on…and on.

We were in Wednesbury last week and I heard the woman in front say …I’ve just spent 40 minutes in a bleedin’ queue…I day know yow couldn’t’ get gift vowchas in Poundland!

Soon be Christmas…the time of year when the whole family gets together to remind themselves of why they don’t get together the rest of the year.

Bah! Humbug!


And so the run down begins as we look forward to a very busy December

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balsallWe start the month off for the Lions over at BALSALL COMMMON. We worked for them last year at the Reading Rooms, Berkeswell , but Ross has organised a new venue so that they can get a few more in tonight.
It is St. Martin’s Church Hall and it is a massive room. The whole event is very well organised with a well stocked bar and a fish and chip supper. It just remains for us to play our part in the proceedings.
Great to see some of our crowd from the Sils and also some old friends from the Shirley Heath days when we used to play so many of the schools in this area. Paul is our very able master of ceremonies for the evening.
The Lions are fundraising to try to provide a measles vaccination to all of the children worldwide. This is a venture which is also funded and supported by Bill and Melinda Gates. Brilliant night. Well done to all concerned

Tuesday 4th and tonight we are working for SUTTON COLDFIELD BOWLING CLUB at the Sutton Golf Club.
Our last time here I was “bundled” and I do mean “bundled” out of the EMPTY “Gentleman’s Bar” by the Bar staff for fear that I would be discovered by one of the “said gentlemen”. We had to spend 2 hours prior t performance sitting in a freezing cold conservatory. This time was much the same. I am amazed that in this day and age this kind of segregation is still acceptable or even still within the law. Although we had asked the bar staff for permission and it was granted it I was still asked to leave by some of the “gentlemen”. I may have heard cries of “Burn the witch!” as I left… but I can’t be sure. Some friends of ours …husband and wife…played there the week after and they were placed in the laundry cupboard. Members of the Bowling Club, however, were very well mannered and gave us no trouble at all. Many thanks for your attention.

NailcoteTonight is Wednesday 5th and we are over at NAILCOTE HALL for the LAPWORTH LADIES SUPPER CLUB.
Nailcote Hall is a beautiful place and what a complete contrast to last night. The Manager gave us easy access from the staff car park to the function room. The staff offered to help carry in the gear. The management offered us a meal and gave us a wonderful bedroom suite to rest and get changed in. Every one of the staff was ultra polite, warm and helpful.
We know a fair number of the Lapworth audience as we had been over to see their panto a few weeks ago and we have played their village hall several times. Posh frocks all round. Thanks for a great night.

Friday 7th and Rosemary has asked us back to the Old School Court which are retirement apartments in WHEATON ASTON. We did their birthday party in the summer but now we are here to help them celebrate their Christmas Party. Not many of them but as usual, they made us feel very welcome and I think we all enjoyed the singalong. Happy Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year.

Sunday 9th and Derek Buxton has asked us over to CODSALL FIRS to entertain Codsall Bowling and Sports Club who are gathered for their Christmas meal.
Great to see our old friends Barry and Beryl in the audience. While our audience were eating their meal we nipped out for some fresh air and found a real delight. It was a coffee and food place called the Village Coffee. I am very fussy about decent coffee and have been known to walk round for ages until I see somewhere with a proper coffee machine. One of my “Irritating Behaviour Traits”… well, one of many. That’s the trouble with us Virgos we love finding fault…ask Allan. This was wonderful and we had some brilliant French ham omelettes, rocket salad and a bowl of chips. Heaven! If we lived nearer I’d be there every day. Hope they all had a good time.

Monday 10th of December and it is a beautiful day today with lots of sun. This coincides with my nightmare migraine type headache. Pity for it is such a lovely drive out there and I had to spend all of the journey with sunglasses and my head down.
We are doing an afternoon gig at the Hundred House, GREAT WITLEY for ARLEY KINGS FRIENDSHIP CLUB. We’ve not done this road in the light before had never realised just how pretty the countryside is round here. While they were eating their Christmas meal we treated ourselves to a turkey baguette and chips. I shall be a real porker by the time Christmas comes around. They were, by their own reckoning, not a young audience but they were by far the most imaginative and appreciative one that we had all of the month. One of the ladies came up to tell me she was the fairy in the Christmas Panto next week and she was 91. They were wonderful and we had a smashing time with them. Many thanks. Thanks also for the kind words from the couple we met in the bar who had seen us at the local village hall.

WaltonTuesday 11th and counting. This is a little village out by Burton on Trent called WALTON ON TRENT and we did it a few months back for a big W.I gathering but Margaret has asked us back and invited the men to join them this evening for their Christmas Bash. It is a very cold night and the hall is in need of some T.L.C. but is well used and the warmth of the people make it special. The ladies have fixed a great Christmas buffet which they have invited us to share. Allan has to be warned after contemplating a second helping of the incredible Banoffee Trifle. Big thanks to all you lovely people and a bravery award to the lady who fell on her way in and hurt her ankle and had to sit with her leg up all night. We don’t ‘arf see life!

PelsallThursday evening and we are just up the road at PELSALL FRIENDLY FOLK. We have never played here before but we have visited the club to watch friends perform here. Steve and Margaret who run the club are great people and put on free refreshments in the break. They work very hard at making people feel welcome and the friendly folk really live up to the name. We were a bit worried as we use pre recorded musical backing tracks and a sound system. Bob Dylan was nearly hung up by his bits and pieces when he went electric. Folkies can be very unforgiving. Fortunately there are still plenty alive who remembers Allan’s acoustic set and his unusual guitar style so there was no real argument. We were doing them a kindness.
Great to see our old friends John and Jan Stokes. I have been friends with John since Junior School. Good to see him fit and well again. Thanks so much for turning up. Also good to see Brian and Jean from the Barrels Folk Club and the lovely Ken Paris from days of the Pretty Bricks and the Hatherton and the Boundary. Good guitar set in the middle from Brian who is quite a regular at the club. We had a great time and everybody was very kind to us.

Today we are at GREAT WYRLEY COMMUNITY CENTRE. This is a gig we have done several times. We do an afternoon and evening show for the older (our age and up) residents of the area. The event is subbed by the local council and they get a 4 course Christmas dinner and entertainment. Us!
There was a torrential downpour all day. We couldn’t get on the car park so we had to unload and then park on the church car park. The afternoon went fine and it was nice to see a friend there who we hadn’t seen for a while.
We then had to drive back home to get something to eat and then drive back over for the evening show. A lot of the lanes were flooded and the traffic was terrible but we got back over.
From our point of view the evening show was a bit of a disaster. Someone had organised an additional part to the programme. A lovely lady named Elaine had been asked to bring over her Olympic Torch as she had been one of the ordinary people” who carried the torch. I can’t help thinking that is quite an insulting title. But still, there you go. She did her talk which was very interesting. She was then asked to go all around the audience to talk to the people and to give them a chance to have photographs taken holding it. This coincided with us being announced on stage. It was fairly obvious and understandable that we would come a very poor second in the interest stakes. I think the Beatles might have had their work cut out.
Fair to say it will stick in our memory as not one of the better gigs of December or in fact, the year. Sorry we couldn’t compete. Big thanks to Deb and the hardworking girls who run the centre…as usual they were kind and helpful. Also the volunteers who gave up their time to ferry people there and to wait on tables.

PedmoreHere we are again at Stourbridge Institute which is now in the middle of an almighty Tesco’s build. John Homer has asked us back to entertain the Pedmore Men’s Club and their partners. These are one of our favourite groups to work for. We have done their Christmas Party before and know quite a few of them well by now. Terrible journey to get there but well worth it. Beautiful food and great company. A lovely offering of poetry from Ron and a few carols at the end. Perfect. Thanks for a lovely night.

Early start today and our last December gig before Christmas. We are back at RUGELEY PHOENIX CLUB for their Christmas club meet. The people gather at 9.00 a.m. and we are on stage at 10.00a.m. They are a lovely crowd of people and they all seem to get along so well. It is good to have an uplifting last gig before we break up for Christmas. Our good wishes to all of you for 2013.

ClunLast gig of the month and we are setting off for a caravan meet at CLUN in Shropshire. We have worked for them several times in different locations. The big problem tonight is that there is no telephone signal out there and really I am not well enough to go out tonight but we can’t let them down. Dragging myself from my sick bed and wishing it was not such a journey. It was a 2 hour drive over bumpy country lanes and even my eyelashes were throbbing with pain, my ears were blocked and I had no voice.
I must confess when I saw how far we had to park from the village hall I had a bit of a moment. Luckily a team of willing volunteers came out in the drizzle and carried our gear in. I was in full grizzle mode by this time. Had I mentioned it was a pyjama party? No! A good number of the younger men were wearing the Asda onesies. This fashion which was sponsored by the slimline Cheryl Cole doesn’t take into account that their all in one babygro would be worn by strapping big lads with their bits and pieces very evident.

They had all gone to a lot of trouble to dress up and there was some brilliant outfits. They were very kind considering my lack of singing voice and the children and younger people were all well behaved and didn’t make any noise. Many thanks for all your help with the gear and for once again making us welcome. As you can see from the picture my strong men were Neil and Richard.
We got through it but I must admit I was soo glad to curl up in bed that night.

HOME NEWS

Considering how many gigs we had we managed to fit in a fair amount of social nights.
We didn’t manage a night round at Louise’s house because her son Jozef contracted pneumonia, thankfully he is well on the way to recovery. He enjoyed the fuss and notoriety of a visit from the paramedics in front of his school chums who duly caught it all on their mob.phones.Boys!

Had to forgo a night with Ann and Jack who also went down with something unpleasant. At least I managed to get Christmas well out of the way before I was struck down.
We had a good evening of catch up gossip with Nick and Cliff. They are putting on their new show at Prince of Wales, Cannock on Sunday April 7th. It is a full Carpenters Tribute Show www.carpenterstributeshow.com They have done this show at quite a number of venues now and it has been very well received. Box office 01543 578762

Had a night with Chris and Kev and Jenny and Lou came over to see my Christmas grotto. Met Alan and Normas at the Bell for lunch on the way back from taking John Plant/Ayli’s wreath over to Netherton. Can’t believe it has been 6 years since his death. His family has never recovered from their loss.

Few last minute Christmas jobs. I always make the wreaths and garlands to take to our parents and John. So a visit to the Newton road Crem. And James Bridge Cemetery for my Mum and Dad and our old friend and best man, Micky Moseley. By this time we are suicidal so we ended up in Ikea for meatballs to cheer ourselves up a bit. Too many memories round here that were once good but are now tinged with such desperate sadness.

Ivy leagueOur Christmas treat to ourselves is a trip out to Crowle in Worcester to see our favourite group the Ivy League. They have been doing the Sensational Sixties Tour at major theatres up and down the country for the last few months and getting rave reviews. Still a few dates left after Christmas if you’ve not seen the show. Fabulous night. They are so good and so professional. Musically great and so funny. Their “ Runaway “is the best version since Del Shannon. We got up and did some dancing in the second half. They are by far, the most approachable and sincere people we have ever met in this business. They made it such a special night for us. They even gave Al their sandwiches to eat on the way back. Big, big thank you. We love you loads. See you in Brum at the Alex. Also big thanks to Rob Skinner for selling us the tickets.

Next night was a complete contrast. We attended the Carol Service at Lichfield Cathedral. We usually go to my church, Holy Cross for Christmas Eve but I thought it was about time Al had a choice and I thought he might prefer the Cathedral for a change. Tremendous turnout and what a wonderful spectacle and such a lovely atmosphere.
It was a lovely dry evening so we had a walk through Lichfield and a coffee in Wetherspoons then went back home.

We didn’t go out again until the 30th by which time I had the beginnings of my chest infection and was ready to put my foot through the television screen. Still…. antibiotics doing their work. Not many people have managed to escape it.

And so we live to fight another day. We had no horrendous gigs with drunks or unpleasantness. A friend of ours who is a very adaptable and brilliant singer arrived at a gig to find he had to entertain 150 female shop workers from a top supermarket who had all been given a bonus bottle of vodka which they had duly consumed. Complete Mayhem. He had to fight them from grabbing his very expensive radio mike and try to stop them dancing on his equally expensive base bin speakers. In the end he packed up and went home. I suppose they would have said “It was just a bit of fun”! That seems to be the excuse for anything these days.

FEW JOKES FOR CHRISTMAS.

A retired couple hadn’t seen their son and daughter for several months and had received news that neither of them was going to make the usual trip home for Christmas unless their fare was paid for. The couple couldn’t afford to pay the travel fare on their meagre pension so the husband said I’ll write to them both saying that we’re going to get a divorce The wife said “What good will that do…. Why lie?” “Wait and see”….. Two weeks later both son and daughter were on the doorstep. The husband said…” See…both here at no cost to us!”

I’ve found a way to get my husband to remember our anniversary date…I’ve made it the password for his computer.

A young woman was getting increasingly annoyed at a man’s constant use of his mobile phone on the long train journey home. Eventually he was obviously trying to make excuses to his wife for not getting an earlier train. Finally out of patience she grabbed his phone and said “Eric for God’s sake turn the phone off and come back to bed!”

My girlfriend and I have broken up because she’s too controlling…well, that’s what she told me anyway.

I asked for something a bit flash for Christmas…..he bought me a kitchen de-greaser!!

Things have finally hit rock bottom even in the Rock world. Apparently Chris Rea is biking home for Christmas this year!

Allan and I would like to say a really big thank you to all the lovely people who have paid their hard earned money to come and see us making fools of ourselves.
When we look back at the diary and the photos we realise what a great time we have had again in 2012 and how fortunate we are to still be able to go out and do this.

Thank you to all the people who stumped up big bucks to come and see us in one of the theatres. I hope you enjoyed it. I think it turned out quite a decent show. We all had a good time doing it.
We never take it for granted and we really do appreciate the kindness that we encounter along the way. It re- affirms our faith in people. Never be afraid to come up and say “Hello”.

Thanks to all the “Returners” particularly the November bookings where we go back year after year for the same crowd. We always work very hard to change the show and this is often remarked on and appreciated.

Another big thank you to all the people who have bought our C.D. “A Long, Long, Time” even though it has no comedy on it and most people don’t know the songs. It shows a great leap of faith. Luckily most of you have got back to say how much you enjoyed it.

I am hoping in the New Year to write a piece paying tribute to the original Black Country Night Out Team. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.

It is now New Year and the diary is looking cautiously healthy. We wish you all a Healthy and Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you in 2013.

 

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