A Spring Letter - April 2018
For those of you who celebrate May Day on May 1st, it's lucky to wear something green (The colour of nature). The hawthorn is the May tree and it's blossom is said to bring good fortune, abundance and protection so tuck that or a sprig of greenery into your pocket. Once into May we can put the rain, wind and snow behind us and embrace the brighter days ahead!
On a more sombre note, I was very upset to hear of the passing of our
wonderful friend, Sir Ken Dodd. The last time I saw him in person was at
another of our friend's funerals - that of Duggie Chapman MBE - at The
Lowther Pavilion in Blackpool. Whilst he seemed a little unsteady on his
feet his wit and warmth engaged everyone he spoke to. He joked with me about
work saying I was a workaholic and always on the go. I said that honour was
Letter from Caroline - January 2017
Well, Christmas is well and truly over for another year. Time is a strange thing – everything changes yet stays the same. We plod on doing ordinary and mundane things which we strangely enjoy – being creatures of habit. But yet, amongst all this 'normal-ness' is change. And now it's 2017. Everything changed for me in the latter part of last year. I was made President of Leeds Lions (I think I was the only one daft enough to take it on!) I re-joined the Friends of The City Varieties Committee and am now looking after the membership and welfare which will take up time but not as much I am gaining.
Gaining, because I have also said that, after twenty four years of performing at many of the most beautiful and expensive of hotels in Paris I wouldn't be going again. (The last time I went in 2016 I was involved in a campaign march which swept me off my feet as I tried to get away from it and then proceeded to get very ugly).
And, after ten years of performing in Prague in the 'Day of The Fight For Freedom' Parade I wouldn't be going there either. (Although, I might change my mind on that one as the people are great and I love it!) I felt that I didn't need the stress of getting to these places alone. I must have been braver in the past than I am now! Why alone you may ask? Well, all my expenses are paid for but, if John came my income for the 'gig' would disappear in expenses of:- flights, larger hotel rooms, food and sightseeing plus, of course, the odd trinket or three as it would turn into a holiday. (They sell the most beautiful Baltic amber there).
Yes, 2017 will be a time for new beginnings for me. I am on the last year of my Masters degree - freeing up more time. We've made the garden easier to manage - freeing up more time. I am not going to teach as much - freeing up more time. I am going to accept less engagements - freeing up more time. Sounds good doesn't it? All this free time – what will I do with it? - Nothing. Absolutely nothing!
Yes, all this change in the New Year will give me more normal-ness. I intend to enjoy more of the mundane like relaxing, watching television, reading, listening to music and spending more time with the family.
These are my New Year Resolutions – How long will I stick to them. Only (the magic word) TIME will tell. Or will it be a case of....What will I do with all this free time....Yes, It will allow me to be busy!
Happy New Year Everyone. May it be healthy, happy and may you too have the odd moment to yourselves.
Letter from Caroline - January 2016
Happy New Year
Hello everyone and I hope that you had a good Christmas. Ours was quiet if you are taking about Christmas Day itself – However, if you are taking about the run up to Christmas it was hectic. I keep promising to slow down but, whilst-ever the phone rings, I keep saying that sometimes silly word YES!
I was pleased to do some great shows in 2015. Jeff Kemp (Productions) put on The Bachelors with John Stokes. This is always a favourite show of mine to do as they are not only a superb act but great lads. (See their site for their latest gigs) We saw Jonathan Young from The Bachelors at Jimmy Crickets 70th party last year – along with every other well-known artiste alive today – I was the only person I hadn't heard of!
Jeff Kemp works tirelessly to keep theatre alive and I am appearing on another of his shows in April. This time it's with Duggie Brown from Granada TV's 'The Comedians' headlining at The Bonnington Theatre in Arnold on Wednesday 13th April. I have not appeared at this theatre before so will let you know what I think after the event.
One theatre I have been to many times is The Palace Theatre, Mansfield. I am appearing there with Bradford's own Comedian Billy Pearce on Wednesday 16th March. This is for Mark Andrews who, like Jeff, promotes live theatre. Mark, a performer in his own right also sings many favourite songs.
Both are matinee shows starting at 2.30pm. This seems to be the norm now. As our audience ages (me included!) they don't like to venture out at night so prefer afternoon shows. At least we are guaranteed a full house! I must pay tribute to my fans and fellow members of The Derby and Nottingham Music Hall Association who kindly follow me to venues if they are within reach. Over 60 turned up to The Bachelors show and we all had a great afternoon which seemed to last for ever as we all had tea and cakes at the back of the auditorium after the show.
On a more personal note – My book, 'The Book Of Memories' – now in it's second year continues to sell well. This is supporting The City Varieties Music Hall Theatre in Leeds and can be bought directly from myself or from the Theatre.
Letter from Caroline - October 2015
Hello everyone. I sincerely hope that you are all well. I have had a busy summer will be taking a bit of time off - after Paris this weekend - to recharge the batteries before heading to Prague to lead the wonderful parade for The Day Of The Fight For Freedom. Then of course, the manic Christmas period will be upon us.
We have enjoyed spending time with other artistes and this last weekend, we enjoyed
spending time with Jimmy Cricket at his 70th Birthday party. This read like a Who's Who of show business. The Bachelors (Johnathon Young), Duncan Norvelle (who has suffered two strokes lately but is on the mend), Don Maclean (who has co-written a play called The Brummegem Pals who both enlist in the First World War - this true story will play at various theatres from November 2015 so look it up as it has had rave revues whenever it has played). There were also Jimmy's family, friends and neighbour's there.
Gary Lovini, the international Violin Showman, who announced that he and his family are leaving soon for a life in Florida, Jimmy and Brian Patton (Older brothers to the Chuckle Brothers), Bob Carolgees (Didn't see Spit the Dog!), Freddie 'Parrot Face' Davies, Tony Barton, Andrew Van Buren, Andy Eastwood, Bernie Clifton, Mark Andrews (Mark Andrews Productions) Derek and Michael (Derek Grant Productions), Morgan Lee James (who gave us a few wonderful bars of an Italian aria), Peter Sandeman (ex Manager of The City Varieties), and Me - the list went on and on.
With splendid food ably presented by Jimmy's wife May, comedy from Jimmy's Pals (who had flown in from Ireland especially for the event) and his Son who he calls Father (Ordained Father Frankie Mulgrew) and Daughter (Comedian Katie Mulgrew - currently appearing at The Frog and Bucket Comedy Club, Manchester) and a late night disco - it really was an entertaining and first class event. Thanks Jimmy.
Our Luncheon for The Derby and Nottingham Music Hall Association went with a swing, as usual, this year. Thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. Next year we have Bobby Knutt to headline who has been busy recording several episodes of BENEDORM.
This years photo's of the cast are now on site under the heading - Photo's 2015
Love and Blessings. Caroline
Letter from Caroline - November 2014
Nothing stays the same no matter how much we try. I, for one, certainly like to keep to the same routine as much as I can, especially being 'on the road' so much - it's a comfort to know that, when I have a couple of days off, I can catch up with things, watch a bit of telly, relax, read, have good things to eat - I'm thinking Chocolate here! (Instead of the food I sometimes have to grab whilst touring). But, as I say, nothing stays the same and I have to learn to live with it.
I have lost so many friends and fellow artistes this year and several of my friends are in a bad way. We have lost from - The Derby and Nottingham Music Hall Association the lovely David Gold who was our Meetings Co-ordinator. Dear friends, Comedian Stan Stennett OBE, Ward Allen the brilliant Ventriloquist, Linda Bellingham and added to that - my dear Mum. Lets hope they are all entertaining each other on that vast stage in the sky!
Some of the venues I have been performing at for over 30 years are closing. This is either due to the owners having lost their former good health or they are having problems filling the place - which means they lose money and cannot carry on. Or, simply want to retire. These venues were close to home so, if I want to carry on performing, I must go further afield or, give in and 'close down' with them. This is a tempting idea but one I'm not quite ready for yet.
No, nothing stays the same - I tried on some of my warmer stage dresses, a red velvet one and a rich cream heavily embroidered shot-silk one - for my trip to Prague performing at the front of the wonderful parade of display floats paying tribute to the "Day Of The Fight For Freedom". (Where they dress me as a Snow Queen. I stand on a raised platform wearing a 7ft long flared white fur coat and the tallest tiara you have ever seen planted atop a white ringleted wig and then try to sing in the freezing cold)
Anyway, I wanted a warm ballgown or two. Would they fit? Would they ...... like! Ok, I'd forgotten that I last wore them when I was a size six a hundred years ago! "But, my dresses never shrink", I complained bitterly. John just shrugged and said, "Could it be those days off - and the chocolate of course?"
I hope that all your changes in 2015 are positive ones and not of the sad kind. May I wish you all a Wonderful Christmas and A Happy, Healthy and Properous New Year.
Oh, yes, and plenty of good things - especially chocolate!
Letter from Caroline - July 2013
I am having a very busy year compiling and editing my “Book Of Memories” for The Friends Of The City Varieties Music Hall Theatre in Leeds. It is a fund-raising idea which I began in April and, as the deadline of August arrives, am getting busier and busier.
I asked several Celebrities for their 'memory' in May and am still waiting, so as I chase them up, I am working at the computer early mornings and late into the evening – that's as well as my numerous gigs all over the country – looking after our neighbour who, after breaking her hip, needs attention;- the garden;- the house;- our holiday cottage in Whitby which has to be 'turned around' every Saturday to be ready for the incoming holiday-makers and whatever else needs doing during the day. Well, let's just say, if I haven’t worn myself to a frazzle by the time the book comes out in September, I will be amazed!
Seriously, I'm loving every minute!
Let me tell you about it...As a committee member of the Friends of The City Varieties Music Hall Theatre, I am currently compiling and editing a special book about the history of the Theatre which is to be called a
Book of Memories
This is to celebrate the three special events we have this year – It is 60 years since Theatre owner Harry Joseph and BBC Television Producer Barney Colehan devised and produced the television version of The Good Old Days – It is 25years since the 'Friends of The Theatre' was set up by the then General Manager Peter Sandeman and, 25years since the council bought the Theatre and, more importantly, retained the building as a Theatre (originally it was designated to be demolished and become a car park!)
It would be difficult for this tribute to happen without the help of The Arts, Attractions (Galleries, Museums etc), People and Places, Celebrities and quality commercial establishments. If YOU want to place an advertisement is is only £25 per quarter page
I already have many contributions and advertisements - including over a hundred artistes who have 'tread the boards there' - Ken Dodd OBE (who has kindly written the preface), Roy Hudd OBE, Jimmy Cricket, Nicholas Parsons OBE, Sir Richard Digance, Duggie Chapman MBE, Stu Francis, Barry Cryer OBE, Don Mclean MBE, Johnny Dennis, John Bouchier, Wyn Calvin MBE, Gervas Phinn, Bobby Knutt, Bernie Clifton, Kay Mellor OBE, Keith Harris, Chas & Dave, Vince Hill, Barney Colehan, British Equity plus many, many more. Also many memories from the general public around the UK.
Please send me your memory if you have one! - Deadline 8th August
Love and Blessings
Letter from Caroline - November 2012
I do hope that everyone reading this is well. I've not written a letter in what seems like ages due to circumstances with my Mum. I'm pleased to report that her health has improved and she is now being well cared for.
I've been working hard as you'll see from my date list. In fact, I'm amused that people still want to see me and have me entertain them on stage - I must be doing something right?!
Whilst I've worked all over the world (well Paris and Prague!) and what seems like every venue there is in Yorkshire, I'm proud to say that this year I've appeared twice at my favourite theatre - The City Varieties in my home town of Leeds. I appeared there in March for the Good Old Days programme alongside Bernie Clifton (he of the Ostrich, The Red Shadow and Peter Kaye's TV version of 'Is this the way to Amarillo' - alongside Keith Harris and Orville) and four other acts, which made for a super show. The music hall season takes in Friday evening, Saturday matinee and Saturday evening each week for a month.
I really love this theatre and, for those who didn't know, I am sorry to report that Peter Sandeman the General Manager there was made redundant in April this year.
The theatre has now lost it's heart and soul in losing it's 'rudder'. For twenty four years Peter was at it's helm. He oversaw the theatres massive 9.2 million pound regeneration to great acclaim. He brought the theatre 'back from the brink' to the success it now is today and now - we've lost him! Let's hope that this is one ship that can carry on without it's captain.
The second time I appeared there was for a charity event (called Showtime Spectacular) put on by Equity members which raised well over £2000 for the regeneration fund.
I have just completed my last article for the magazine 'The Dalesman'. I've thoroughly enjoyed writing tales of my 'Grandma's Wheel Of The Year' every month and the things she had to do to survive. I've been writing for The Dalesman since May 2010 and am now giving myself a short break whilst I concentrate on short stories for womens magazines.
I wish Paul Jackson, the Editor for many, many years every success in his retirement from The Dalesman. I hope he finds the time to do all the things he wants to do.
It's now well over a year since the Derby and Nottingham Music Hall Association made me their President and, if you are visiting or live in Derby and would like to attend the 'Presidents party' on Thursday 20th December, you would be made most welcome - although, I would hope that you would join us and become a member. Believe me it's well worth it - only £7 per person or £10 per couple per annum - and there's such a lot going on within the Association it would be daft not to join if you live in the area!
If you're single or a couple, there are Theatre trips out (transport provided), Luncheons, Dinners, and Meetings each month with a guest speaker and a 'programme' of events to entertain you. You can attend anything you like or nothing at all. It is up to the individual how much involvement they fancy but, suffice to say - their members are all lovely people who are trying to keep theatre alive in this age of modern technology. (See gig list for more details - venue, time etc.,).
Well folks, all for now. I hope to see some of you at my forthcoming gigs. Don't forget to send a note backstage to let me know you're there and, whether I know you or not, I will always come out after the show to say hello.
I sincerely hope you have a wondeful Yule and a Happy New Year.
Love and Blessings
Letter from Caroline - November 2011
Hello everyone and warmest greetings.
An interesting part of being on t'internet is that it is seen and read worldwide and beyond and, you never know what being part of this modern day communication may bring. For example, for those of you who have read my article (somewhere on this growing site!) about my friend Florence Merton who spent time at Gracie Fields Orphanage, there have been major developments.
Throughout her life, Florence has believed that she and her brother were alone in the world without any other known living relatives. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from someone who had put the name Gracie Fields into a search engine and landed on my site.
Whilst reading my article on Florence, he realised that not only did he know her Father, Henry Merton, but that he was actually related to Florence! (Henry, who was a clever mimic, toured with Gracie Fields in her variety shows - hence the reason Florence was able to stay at Gracie's orphanage when Henry died suddenly).
He writes "By some amazing chance, I just stumbled across your page on your website and the article on Florence Merton. I can fill in quite a bit of family details. I am descended from his younger sister... I had no idea of her connection to Gracie"!
Naturally Florence is over the moon to hear she has a relation and so excited you wouldn't believe. She can't wait to speak to him and hopes they can meet up in the future. He's presently working abroad but, upon his return, promises to ring me. Then, at long last, I'll be able to put them in touch with each other. What a Christmas present eh? And, all because I enjoy writing!
So, for those of you who follow my writing and, in particular, my articles in The Dalesman Magazine, I'll have more articles in both the December and the February editions if you're interested.
Christmas will soon be here. I have a full diary for December and if I'm appearing anywhere near you, please do pop in to see me. I welcome fans and friends alike.
Have a Great Yule and Christmas Everyone.
P.S. I have had a very nice write up in the Yorkshire Evening Post which can be viewed by going to:
Letter from Caroline - September 2011
Greetings everyone. Well, I've done it! I've finally done it - two years into my Masters Degree on creative writing - I've done it!!
Grandma's 'Wheel Of The Year'
Samhain - pronounced 'sow-en' or Halloween (October 31st)
Winter Solstice or Yule (December 20th/21st)
Imbolc or Candlemas (January 31st/February 1st)
Ostara (Spring Equinox - about march 20th/21st)
Beltane (May day's Eve - 30th April)
Summer Solstice or Midsummer (June 20th/21st)
Lughnsadh or Lammas - 'Loaf-mass' (July 31st/August 1st)
Autumn Equinox or Mabon (about September 20th/21st)
The first article begins with Samhain (Sow-en) or Halloween - Oct 31st and will be printed in the October issue of THE DALESMAN. I hope you find it entertaining.
Letter from Caroline - May 2011
Hello to friends and fans alike.
I have had a very busy year so far but, most importantly, a reasonably healthy one.
So sorry to report that yet more of our lovely 'show business' pals have fallen this year - Jack Seaton, a fellow patron of the Derby and Nottingham Music Hall Association died suddenly whilst sat in the comfort of his own fireside chair. Jack was the straight man for Tommy Trinder and they worked happily together at theatres all over the country. You may remember them from Sunday Night at The London Palladium.
Work in 2011 is, so far, very good. I have been touring in a show called 'The Good Old Days of Music Hall and Variety' with the lovely Mark Andrews (Mark Andrews Productions) starring Stu Francis (with whom I spent many a happy hour crushing grapes!) and, whilst staying over at various 'Holiday Inns' and 'Travel Lodges' we have all met up for dinner after the shows (which are matinees).
I have also had another article published in 'The Dalesman' - July issue.
The stories told have been wonderful. Stu told us many tales including some of his time spent working with Les dawson.
Les, bless him, was known to be Very lazy (He once sent me round the corner from the theatre to the newsagents for a paper because he couldn't be bothered going to his car to fetch the morning paper lying on the back seat!!).
Stu said that Les once received an important invitation to a party. The ticket said Fancy Dress. Apparently Les deliberated for ages. The only time he got dressed up was when he and Stu did their Cissy and Ada routine together. They'd been doing this routine for years so had the full outfit and could get ready in no time - the wig - the pinny - the baggy stockings - and a swipe of bright red lipstick was all that Les needed.
I've got more dates for SAGA this year, this time in Durham. Several paris visits entertaining at the larger hotels in after-dinner Cabaret and Music Hall, at Galleries LaFayette (with it's magnificent glass ceiling) and the Theatre de Paris. Plus, as usual, many one-nighters. My degree course is going well but, whilt I promised myself I wouldn't fall behind, I have. But, I hope to catch up when autumn comes and there's less gardening to do!
Thank you for your continued support.
Love and Blessings to you all.
Letter from Caroline - October 2010
Hope this letter finds you well and contended. Where has this year gone? The older I get the faster time seems to fly by. They say that 'time waits for no man' - well, it seems to be overtaking me! (Hope it doesn't get there before me!).
I began a new degree earlier this year. This one is a 'Masters' degree which I'm enjoying immensely. One of my 'modules' takes in journalism so I have begun writing 'professionally' - that is, being paid for my efforts.
I have always written fiction and poetry but have to demonstrate how I can take a true experience and turn it into money - can't be bad I hear you say - but now I'm burning the candle at both ends and in the middle too! (Not that I haven't always).
Initially, it was a real challenge as I hadn't a clue what to write about or where to start. I began with 'tips' for magazines - amazingly I was paid anything between £20 and £60 (include a picture or photograph of the 'tip' and you are paid more)!
That earner me a few 'brownie' points but was told that 20 or 30 words were not quite enough! Now my assignments are between 500 and 10,000 words. After staring at a blank screen for hours I began to drift into my past and - thank goodness - came up with lots of ideas, especially about my family life.
I particularly enjoy writing about my Grandma and her old-style odd country ways. Whilst she was a simple soul lacking a formal education, she was very clever in many ways and was what you might call "A Wise Woman".
She had a remedy for any type of ailment, complaint or condition where she used berries, fruit, herbs, flowers, leaves and home-made vinegars in her compounds and medicines. She read the tea-leaves - despite there being very few leaves in the cup to read (it was too expensive!) and the cards. She would interpret dreams and knew the language of flowers (red roses for love etc).
Turning her hand to anything, she made rag rugs and patchwork quilts and taught me tatting, knitting, embroidery and sewing. Milk, cheese, butter, honey and candles came from her two cows and bee hives she kept 'on't' farmers 'little patch' which must have been at least 30 acres. Jams, marmalades and chutneys came from the hedgerows and fields nearby.
She passed a great deal of knowledge down to me so I have sent some of my tales of her recipes, lifestyle, healing and restorative remedies to different magazines.
Some of my longer articles about her have been taken up and printed by The Dalesman Magazine and the Editor has kindly promised to print another article on 'Grandma's doings' in May 2011 so, if you are interested, look out for it.
I'm still in demand for my singing despite my great age - I must work cheap or be popular - and I thoroughly enjoy appearing in variety shows where I meet up with all my showbiz friends. We have a good gossip and a laugh and, maybe even have time to appear on stage.
I have done a few 'Help the Heroes' (Blitz) shows this year which always get a good response and makes some lovely 'lolly' for our soldiers fighting or injured in foreign lands in the line of duty - we salute you all. Lets all hope and pray for peace.
Show business has lost even more wonderful folk this year and, I hope that, wherever they are in that big theatre in the sky they are still getting standing ovations. We love and miss them all.
Love and blessings
Letter from Caroline - January 2010
I do hope you had a Merry Yule and I wish you all a Happy, Prosperous and, most of all, Healthy New Year.
If you're like me, you will, by now, be fed up with the weather and all this snow! There's far too much of it and, as I sit here writing, it's starting again. The sky is quite dark and gloomy. Talking of which, parts of 2009 were filled with gloom with the deaths of many of our dear friends.
So many friends in the 'business' have fallen this past year - The first was Danny La Rue. He was a wonderful performer and a pleasure to work with. I appeared with him many times at Theatre's up and down the country and always found him warm and friendly. However, he could be temperamental. He enjoyed Champagne and, written into his contract was a request there was a bottle in his dressing room. If it wasn't there he would throw a fit! If you knocked at his dressing room door and he was ready - corsets, frock, wig, jewellery etc., he welcomed you warmly - However, if he wasn't ready, woe betide anyone who knocked and entered without waiting for a reply! You would not be welcome - and you would be reminded time and time gain to "Knock and wait for an answer BEFORE entering!! We got on well and he liked working with me and he said, providing "Your frocks are not better than mine!".
We also lost our very good friend Neville King. He was a unique Ventriloquist - who began in The Black and White Minstrels. His talent for mimicry was second to none and on many occassions he pulled a fast one by throwing his voice. Once at lunch with him I was eating celery with cheese and biscuits. Suddenly, the celery began talking. "Put me down, put me down. Please don't eat me!" it cried. "I'm only a little stick, eat the bigger sticks first as they've lived longer than me!" The whole table was in stitches.
He was most famous for his routine with a dummy he named 'The Old Boy' who, whilst fastened in 'the' case would cry "Let me out...Let me out!". A couple of years ago, Neville and his wife Joan (who was a Television Topper) went on holiday. "How much luggage are you gonna take?" Neville asked Joan. "Stop squashing it. For goodness sake take another case" said Neville.
Patick Newley also passed. He was Editor of 'The Callboy' (The magazine of The British Music Hall Society). Luckily - and most gratefully - we have a new Editor in the shape of Geoff Bowden who promises to take the Magazine to new heights. Also leaving us was Johnny Dallas who was my Agent for Panto for many years and Edward Woodward who I appeared with many times in TV work. They will all be sadly missed and can never be replaced.
Work was good in 2009. I had dates for SAGA. Quite a lot of Paris visits, entertaining at the larger Hotels in after-dinner Cabaret and Music Hall, at Galleries LaFayette (with it's magnificent glass ceiling) and the Theatre de Paris. A show (with a 'fish and chips' supper) for our local Hospice - St. Gemma's - where we raised £550. Plus a lot of one-nighters. I had promised myself not to do as much in 2010 as I'm doing an MA Degree and didn't want to fall behind. However best laid plans of...Whenever the phone rings, if all's 'right' with the invitation to work, I can't seem to say no! (Gracie Fields had the same problem!!).
On a brighter note, loving Whitby as we do, we've bought a cottage there which we plan to rent out as a Holiday Let. So, if anyone out there would like to rent it for a week (Saturday to Saturday) or for short mid-week breaks, or would like further details, ring me on 0113 2886393 and I'll send you a little brochure. (More details - 'Whitby Cottage' link).
There are Tour Buses every half-hour touring around Whitby - finishing at The Abbey - The Abbey Ruins, The Abbey Museum, the tea-rooms and St. Mary's Church. There is also the Train Station with a Steam Train service to Pickering over the moors.
The cottage sleeps seven in three bedrooms although it should be noted that the third bedroom has a restricted height on the door.
Well everyone. Do hope we meet up in 2010 and I thank you for your continued support.
Lots of Love and Blessings, Caroline.
Letter from Caroline - October 2009
Hello to all my Fans, Friends, Fellows, Familiars and those who couldn't care less!
Well, autumn is here - although it seems more like winter some days - especially last Saturday! We had the last of our garden parties last week when, on Saturday, friends and supporters from Derby and Nottingham Music Hall Association came back to our house after enjoying a day out at Millstones Restaurant where I was performing all week in a "Wartime Memories" Show .... You know the sort of thing .... I'm dressed in my RAF uniform singing 'Sing As We Go', 'Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer', 'Keep The Home Fires Burning', 'White Cliffs of Dover', 'Wish Me Luck' and 'We'll Meet Again' amongst many others of that era!
On Tuesdays we had friends back for eats and drinks after the show who work at Sainsbury's (where we shop!) who, bless them, keep supporting me. Wednesday was the turn of The British Legion and, last Saturday, folk from The Derby and Nottingham Music Hall Association. The coach arrived here at 5.00pm along with - Gale Force Winds, Heavy Rain and Dark Menacing Skies - however we all had a great evening squashed into our summer house like sardines (which normally seats 12 around an 8ft square table - although there is plenty of standing room) and totally forgot the weather!
I shall be seeing all the D and Notts lot again this Sunday at 'The Spot' Entertainment Centre for our annual luncheon where Bernie Clifton is topping the bill. The Show this year is called "Our Patron's Entertain" which means, as I'm one of the Patrons - I'll be doing a 10 minute bit myself - when I shall be 'Remembering Joyce Grenfell'.
Also on the bill will be Victoria Yellop (whose Mum was one of the original Tiller Girls). Victoria plays the violin beautifully and played "When You Wish Upon A Star" in the church at our dear friend and colleague Neville King's funeral (Neville was a brilliant ventriloquist who began in the Black and White Minstrels and continued on Stage and in TV until the end. He died on Sat 22nd Aug 09).
Duggie Chapman MBE will be compering. Duggie is known as Mr Blackpool - he puts on great variety summer shows in many of the larger venues in Blackpool. He is a Water Rat and helps to raise thousands of pounds for charity. Panto's are also his forte and I have appeared in many myself.
Jack Seaton will be bringing us 'Cockney Capers' - Jack used to be Tommy Trinder's side-kick and, on Sunday, will be performing some cheeky cockney comedy songs.
Lovely songstress, Beryl Johnson will sing us some Vera Lynn songs which, I know, the audience will love to join in with - especially as Vera and her vast repertoire are so popular at the moment. Beryl has appeared in most theatres in the country and now produces and directs Panto for Duggie Chapman.
Last - but not least - topping our bill this year is the zany comedian/singer/raconteur and compere Bernie Clifton (He of 'The Desert Song' and The Ostrich!). I spoke to him this morning and he told me a little story. He has just returned from Malaga where he went to meet a cruise ship to work on board. The queue at check-in at East Midlands Airport became quite a muddle as 2 busy flights were being checked in at once, one for Malaga and one for Prague. He was sat on the plane for Malaga just before 'take-off' when he turned to the lady sat next to him and said "Have you been to Prague before?" - The poor woman went white and stood up shouting "I want to get off - I'm on the wrong plane!" - I've told him he's a rotten sod but he just laughs!!
I have had some super 'gigs' this summer. I have been working at Cranage Hall, Cheshire for SAGA doing "An evening with Caroline Fields" where I included some Joyce Grenfell, Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields amongst others. I am pleased to say that Gracie is becoming increasingly popular at the moment and folk love to hear her songs and snatches of her life story (which I tell to accompany the songs).
I performed "The Life and Songs of Gracie Fields" over in Lancashire at Birtle nr Rochdale a couple of months ago, which went down very well considering I'm a Yorkshire lass trying to do a Lancs accent!! (Down in the south of England folk think it's the same accent - which it almost is - but in Rochdale they can usually tell the difference! - being as it's Gracie birthplace!) I think I got away with it!!!??.
I continue to jet over to Paris every month or two (doesn't it sound glamorous?). Believe me it is hard work. My costumes go by air freight a few days before I fly and what a palaver it is. A skip is sent from the airport. I pack it with my cabaret and music hall costumes/crinoline underslips/shoes and 'dots' (music for the trio who accompany me) and an inventory of the contents. Then a courier collects it. At the airport an official opens it. He rings me and, together, checking my inventory, we go through every item I've packed .... THEN HE TRIES TO REPACK IT!! ... Mmm .... I have learnt NOT to pack any personal items and usually take them with me in hand luggage. It's a good job I do. Once I got to my hotel and the skip hadn't arrived, luckily I had my frillies and toothbrush with me!!
Now before I forget, whilst at Millstones, my friend Pam took some video footage of me performing with the intention of putting it on YouTube. If my Website Manager Tony can put it on this site too you might also find it on here?
Do hope some of you can make the show I am putting on for St. Gemma's Hospice in Moortown, Leeds. They need all the help they can get! It is to be held at Pool Village Memorial Hall on Saturday 12th December at 7.00pm onwards. Supper is being delivered at 8pm. Tickets are £12 for adults and £8 for children - which includes a delicious hot fish and chip supper (cooked in vegetable oil) from the onward winning MAYPOLE Fisheries in Otley (West Yorkshire). On the bill is myself, funny man Billy Bedlam and, from Guy Holloway, music on the marimba. There will be dancing for all and some games for the little ones. There is also a bar and a raffle with some lovely prizes.
Closer to home - Mum is still settled in a very good nursing home with excellent care and, whilst we (myself and my siblings) feel guily she's there, we know that - after her illness in hospital - a slight stroke followed by double pneumonia, a chest infection and a kidney infection - she is in the right place. The staff are wonderful and she is putting on weight and enjoying life.
Well, all my playmates I shall say 'Goodbye' and Godbless' to you all. If you happen to get to one of my shows please make yourself known to me. Send a little note backstage and I'll meet you after the show in the foyer or the bar area.
Have a wonderful YULE
Love and blessings
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