Saturday, 31 December 2016

D.O.A. Scrimmage

  A medical student waiting tables at a Christmas corporate removed two of the cover settings from a table near the stage.  A couple (it was the woman's birthday) were shown to the table to find a festive centre piece and nothing else.  Certainly not the glasses of champagne that ought to have been just poured.  The woman demanded an explanation.  The waiter explained that the most up to date dinner service print out had said D.O.A. next to the woman's name.
  'Yes, indeed it does,' the maitre d' confirmed.  'Drinks On Arrival...'
  'Oh, but in a hospital D.O.A. means something different.'

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Another Rule of Successful People: Be Specific When Visualing Goals


  I would visualise and visualise Madame Galina on tour: London and Blackpool: wearing a fur, dragging a trunk, staying in old-school theatrical digs, being partnered by either Michael Nunn or William Trevitt. 

  About to move back to London from Aldeburgh, I was walking past the Sue Ryder shop when volunteer Janet banged on the window.  
  She dragged a blue trunk out of the stockroom.  'Don't open it till you get home.  Inside's for you to wear as Madame Galina. Thrilled you've got yourself that London residency.'  At Murray's Cabaret Club. 'My aunt forbade us girls ever to go on to Murray's in the sixties. "Filth goes in there!  The Krays, that Keeler monstrosity. Filth!".'
  At home I opened the trunk.  Inside was a rabbit skin fur. 
  For cheapness' sake on tour, I would book myself into the standard of B.and B that thought it was too posh for hot chocolate sachets, reeked of zoflora, and had patterned settees, walls and carpets to turn your sight kaleidoscopic. 
  One Blackpool landlady led me across the road to listen at the open window of a  rival's establishment:
  'Hear that hoover going, chick?  Notice there's no fluctuation in the tone. She's just left it on under the table, window open, trying to kid on that she runs a clean establishment. And she injects her eggs with tartrazine to make the yolks look more like the chickens that lay them have room to manoeuvre. And she wouldn't do you the courtesy - which it is really - of checking your room for tidiness before you go off to the Tower Ballroom and do your theatrics.' 
  And in 2004 my dancing idols MIchael Nunn and William Trevitt, having left the Royal Ballet and started George Piper Dances, asked me to be in their Channel 4 series The Rough Guide to Choreography. Michael was Prince Siegfried to my Odette. 'You really have some kind of balletic Aspergers, Galina.'
  So, go visualise! 

#thesecret #visualisations #positivevisualisations #rulesofattraction #manifestingabundance #manifestation

Christmas song...

I'll be lone for Christmas
You can count on that! 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Further Overheard

In Coffee Link, Solar, Leiston.

WOMAN 1.  And he's petite. 
WOMAN 2.  Never used to be.  I saw some photos of him in the past and he was ever so tall! 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Morning Rules of Successful People 2

2.  Get to the work towards your main goal.
  Oh, a couple of the people I researched go for cryotherapy or kiting on the sea before this.  I thought I might smash a crate of frozen lemonade bottles on the floor and stand naked in the gas that escaped.  Or hang over the Meare by a rope round my waist hooked over the boathouse clock tower.
  I remembered early this morning that goal setting has been around for longer than you might think. Amelita Galli-Curci, the great nineteenth century prima donna, talked about putting on horse blinkers and positively moving forward to a goal, taking them off, waiting for her critics and rivals to start the carping, putting them on again. Less positively she said that when one of her rivals, Dame Nellie Melba, sang for example “Lo, Hear the Gentle Lark” you would think it was about a deafening, bloody big turkey.
  I have more than one main goal at the moment, so I have a pad and a fountain pen with my plans for each goal written out.  I leave the pad open wherever I happen to finish each evening and go back to it first thing next morning. Most recently I handed in the proofs of My Tutu Went AWOL!  A Drag Ballerina in Iraq.  Since March I've spent a lot of man hours telling editors not to argue with me about the spelling of camiknickers as I’m the one who has been wearing them onstage for thirty years; or insisting that a muscle boy as big as that can't be used as a body double on the inside cover for the Royal Marine Stacks, as Stacks was on rations in Afghanistan and had bulked down; or can we not mention in the blurb about me trying to confiscate the President of Estonia’s custard creams to give back to the camels?  Which nitpicking has at times made me lose sight of the main goal I set when I began the book – to tell the stories I witnessed first hand of squaddies in extremis.
  Having a goal makes you first ask yourself ‘why?’, before ‘what?’, ‘how?’ and the inevitable at times ‘will you please just get back on your rocker?’
  Set ridiculous goals.  Like mine to become a Prima Ballerina assoluta.  I set out to get paid enough to live on for dancing the Swan Queen, Giselle and Nikya; and have achieved this goal. True, I ought to have set out to earn enough to buy great swathes of Chelsea…but that's the current goal.
  How did I do it?
  I kept my mind on it at all times.  I spent a certain amount of time each day in the mindset of a leading ballerina from the Mariinsky. When I did ballet barre each morning, I was in a studio being coached by Komleva.   When I sat sewing my ballet shoes I gave imaginary interviews about my amazing career.  I plaintively recalled serious injury.  My terror as each new leading role as given to me.  I imagined receiving letters of praise and abuse. I outlined the pros and cons of working with different partners in the company.  Perhaps most importantly, I saw myself exalted taking curtain calls in front of a roaringly adoring full house.  And, yes, my kidneys nearly packed up through, apparently, the emotional stress of performing Giselle’s Mad Scene and suicide this method-acted way - Mr Wong, chief Chinese herbalist, had to be  called in during my acupuncture session to have a tut over my doubtful tongue – but this is also a sign that positive affirmations work.
  And a reminder to be careful what you wish for….

Friday, 2 December 2016

Morning Rules of Successful People...the Theory and the Practice

1.  Get up two hours before your first appointment. Immediately express gratitude.  Spend half an hour reading something inspiring, half an hour doing physical exercise...

  I was woken up four hours before my first appointment today.  There is no soundproofing to speak of where I live.  When I first looked at this studio, number 8, number 9 was also empty.  I asked the letting agent to let herself into next door and sing, cough, shout, clap her hands, whatever.
  Which she duly said she did.
  I was woken by the Sizewell engineer next door, who suffers with sleep apnea and who bellows at early dawn from within his Cpap-mask.  I reached for my Gratitude Diary: 'The Sizewell engineer goes home to Ramsbottom at the weekends.'
  I read the Book of Job for inspiration.  In Out of Africa Karen Blixen wrote that her farm workers saw God in terms of both Job and Tales of the Arabian Nights - as a richly imaginative being. I want to understand what she means so I'm reading both.  So far in Job I've been struck by a verse saying that God has poured Job out like milk and curdled him like cheese.
  For my physical exercise I did ballet practise.  I like to check from time to time that I can still do those solos that in performance would constitute showing the audience the bottom of my purse (i.e. that only come off when I'm at my flukily jammy best) so had a crack at the Black Swan Pas de Deux.
  It was so bad I had to borrow money from the front row.

   Tomorrow's Rule will be: Getting to Your Foremost Task.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

First Hearing of Christmas Carols

   Classic FM will start to play Christmas music tomorrow.  I remember sitting writing years ago, listening to the station, and noticing the silence before a piece was played; the piece being Jesus Christ the Apple Tree. I'd never heard it before and it was immediately one of my favourite pieces of music.  Here it is:

  I hope you like it.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Check Your Driving Test...

 ...examiner, with these tips from a Master Driver...

  On Boxing Day Stacks, Royal Marine, drove from Manchester to my panto digs in Blackpool to cook for me.  I was Mother Goose that year and, as usual, couldn't get home and back between shows on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.  As he got out of his car carrying bulging Sainsburys bags, the ripped jeans and Aran sweater were a surprise (I'm used to seeing him in desert combats) as was his height. There's always a moment when I'm wondering what he's remembering about the times we were out in Iraq and Afghanistan together, and I think he might be doing the same.  'Princess...'

  As I was due to take my driving test, and he's master driver trained, after lunch he took me out in his Lexus IS.
  'You can drive round the block and I can see if I'm going to let you go further, Iestyn.'   He handed me the keys.  'Do not prang my pride and joy, or I'll shoot you.  Let's do the engine check.  How do you open the bonnet?'
  'No idea.  But I'd have read the car's instructions.'
  'Try and put your examiner's mind at rest a little by calling it the owners manual.  Also, make sure to take your driving test already looking like an experienced driver.  Don't wear anything that can impede foot movement, sight, hearing, hands on the wheel.'
  'So, no S and M bondage gear but a High Vis vest?'
  'Concentrate. You've got the bonnet up...I'll do that for, show me the brake fluid.'
  See, I did notice that he seemed to wave his hand over the engine like he was performing a magic trick...
   I guessed wrong.
  'Lesson number one, an examiner will make doubly sure you know by, like I did, making a misdirecting movement.  You just pointed to the window wash.'
  I guessed correctly.
  'Now, your examiner will know full well that your instructor has been taking you time and again round the highways and byways of - where's your test going to be? - the highways and byways of Barnet.    So, just at random in a lesson ask to take a turning you never do.  Just in case you end up being directed down there on the day. Up your anti, so to speak.'
  I did just that.  During my next official lesson I insisted on taking the first right turn opposite the test centre.  My instructor said, 'Nobody ever gets asked to take this route in their test.'  Well, on the day of my test, blow me down if I didn't get asked to take that first right hand turn.
  Stacks and I got in the car.  I did my car checks.  Moved the seat forward.
  He said, 'Also move at least one of the mirrors.  Even if it's just a touch from where it was and back again. Show you're doing the right stuff to prepare for a driving test. And catch his eye in the rearview mirror so he knows you know he knows.  Don't go overkill and clean the wing mirrors with Windolene. Another good little trick is to show you've developed little habits in your driving.  Putting gloves on, taking a sweet out of the glove box, that sort of thing. And check that your passenger - your examiner - has his seat belt on.  Right, test-taker, if you would just start your engine.  And can you park up again behind that blue Volvo, please?  Then we can do the distance sight test and lights.'
  I did so.
  'Excellent parking, mate.  But gotcha. Major fault. You can't get safely out of this spot, with the turning behind you, car in front.  Sight lines.  All of the above.  That's a thing they do, first off. Tell the examiner no, you'll go ahead to a suitable place to park up. You can always say no to something, as long as you have a reason you can give.  While we're here, check your rear hazard lights.'
  I didn't have a car behind me to reflect them, so I switched on the hazards and got out to look.
  'Excellent. Check the reflection if you can, if not get out and look.  Number plate on that Fiat?  Correct. Drive on up the road and await further instructions.'
   He decided that my drive up the road was okay, watching me closely, but still (his breathing was unsteady) checking how close I was getting to parked cars.  'Turn left.'  I sensed him looking at my hands on the wheel.  'Good.  Onward, and take the right at the junction.  Don't sit so tensely. Onto the dual carriageway. Yep.  You're in control of your driving.  One thing - pull away sharper. Get through first and second to third quicker. Hang on, let me just teach you to pull away in third, so's you know...'
 Which later terrified my official driving instructor.
  ‘Really, all you did wrong was not waiting pull up in a safe and convenient place that really was,’ Stacks said. 'Say no, remember, but back yourself up.'
  In my test, I would tell the examiner not to hold his breath: ‘We’re on a hill, approaching a blind bend, there’s a school crossing, a very splurgey junction and that church.’
  Perhaps the church needn't have been in the mix.

  Over cheese and port, Stacks said I'd been in perfect control of my/his vehicle.  ‘You just need to stop shouting “hill start” every time you do one.  And have better manners.  Let alone some Christmas spirit.  The pleasant old lady crossing, yes in the wrong place, was clearly a local character, waving and smiling – not an atrocious old trout who should get out of your fucking way.’ He tutted.  ‘And talking of better manners: can you please pass the port to your left – did I teach you nothing in the Basra APOD mess?’

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Cribfest Carpings

A Polish crib similar to this one is displayed in St Mary's the Virgin, Grundisburgh.
It was made in Krak√≥w. 
Responding to being told this, a local woman said,  'Yeah, looks like it!'

Thursday, 10 November 2016

More Overheard...

An elderly lady on the abandoned railway today tilted her head up and said, to nobody, 'Look at that crow sitting on that branch, like it thinks it's some kind of omen!'

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Little Joys

  Nan was sitting in the Solar cafe with granddaughter.  Both wore slacks and fleeces and had the same nose: fleshy, the colour of nictotine- stained cornice and appearing triangular viewed from any angle.  No, nan was saying, she wasn't going to let go of the responsibility for the Christmas biscuits and cakes, even though the process of laying hands on them changed from year to year. No, she certainly wouldn't be disturbed in her usual run up to the Festive season to go all the way to Halesworth...what for?  She didn't care that she would only have to go all that way (quite the whole hour and a quarter) in just the one direction, as Jean would be finishing in Beccles just at the right time and could drive them back.  She might think about going after Christmas, when she could concentrate on it.  What?  No, she would not enjoy toasting marshmallows over the fire with the guard moved when they got back from uncle Peter's on Christmas Day.  Since when had anyone been suggesting starting on something like that?  Her early evening on a Christmas Day was given over annually to the sleeping-off of the Queen's Speech.  Now, there was the meat business.  She'd seen some for fifty quid where you got all you could possibly want.  Your birds, your joints and your off cuts.  You could get it cheaper if you had less, apparently. What? No, she would be sorting the meat.  Why would she need help? Hadn't needed help these part forty-six years with the meat buying.  Ipswich?  Was what Ipswich? She didn't believe that's where she saw the meat offer, no.  Norwich?  When would she have had time to go up Norwich with her legs? Colchester, the same. No, now, funnily enough she couldn't for the life of her just then remember where she'd seen that blessed offer of all the meat you could need for fifty quid. 

  Then nan got up and set off with her shopping basket on wheels.  Granddaughter she that was funny, nan hadn't gone through her usual counting aloud 1-2-3-4-5 to get herself stood up.  Nan looked at her with intent to throttle.  Actually, her usual - if anyone had to refer to it - was 1-2-3-4-5-6.  Walking on again she pushed her basket on wheels neatly through a gap between two chairs.  Look at that now, she said, beaming, she would never have expected to have got it through that gap.  Thought she'd be forced to go all the way around the whole table! 

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


  One woman said, 'Rhonda's become a pescetorian.'
  The other asked, 'Is that where they sing those hymns like "The Lord of the Dance"?'

Monday, 31 October 2016

Hardwired for Hardware

  Apart from the discovery that red toadstools aren't just something from fairy tale illustrations, one of the best things about having found the disused railway line to Leiston is Coopers Hardware. I went there for fly papers.  You can buy the spray next door at Solar, but I want to watch the buzzers die.
  'The fly papers are upstairs, sir.  End of the aisle just before the chemicals,' said just the right person to be running a hardware shop - lined, weary, cheery and giving off that air that would make you trust him to know about everything from building a retro-but-Eco-privy; through the correct whisking consistency for carpet shampoo; to not, for the love of God, trying to cut costs by using varnished flour and water mixed to regrout along the side of the bath. (My nan knows who she is...well, she would except she's long gone to the Eternally Wednesday Bingo Club in the sky)
  I found the fly papers and then - as you do - decided I needed a sieve, a set of coasters and an oven glove. 'Sir, let me relieve you of those,' he said, as I stood happily clutching them and scanning the shelves for more nice things.
  'I love a shop like this,' I told him. 'So does Delores Deluxe.  There isn't a one of these in Aldeburgh any more, for when you do the Festival.  And what if you need those last minute raffle prizes; reels of cotton, spray starch (because your tulle's lost its bounce) or a magic marker?  When do you not need a magic marker? We were always over in the Robert Dyas in High Holborn pre the half in everything but the false eyelashes. Disappointed in Aldeburgh...except we did get to see the man on the souped up motorbike who lives over here in Leiston and is rumoured to be on the drugs.  And the woman who was in My Fair Lady.  See, as they say: if you just look around you when you're starving in the desert, you'll always find honey to spread on when you're forced to eat the darkling beetle. Oh, Lord...sorry. I have actually been out in the last six months, too. Friday. Walberswick. Concert.  Lovely spread.  Fishfinger wraps and brandy.  Apparently, the vicar on the bill with me found my trill in "Rule, Britannia" discombobulating. The concert was in aid of the Seaman's Mission.  The Walberswick Village Hall is right on the sea, so it was all nicely borderline site-specific. You could
have site specific entertainment in here. If you dress up in colander hats and t-towel pashminas you can be the Women's Auxiliary. Lot of that here in the war.  One of the past members, Margaret, was
able to point out to me where the train track had turned sharply to go down the backs of the houses. "Lot of townsfolk shamed back then into keeping up better appearances knowing the hobknobs for Aldeburgh would go puffing past with a view directly in.  Mrs Wilson would hear the whistle and take her washing in for the duration of it passing and then peg it back out again.  Course you might just have thought that was on account of the smut coming from the engine. No. Pride. Wouldn't have had back then clearly in sight all these old cars or shit bestrewn dovecotes or the recycling.  You heard the ghost story? Like you, someone was walking the abandoned railway and they heard the unmistakable sound of chuffing. Behind them.  Course nothing there.  But when they turned back
frontwards, there reflected in the top window of that last terraced house was the train now coming steaming up on them.  Broad daylight and at the right time it would have according to its old timetable."'
  Walking back along the track with my Coopers purchases, I had my usual look up at that window. Nothing.
  Though I was followed quite a lot of the way by a black cat, and saw a lost lamb and a pair of
eagerly lesbian blackbirds.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Cancer Prejudice

 At the till in Solar today a woman refused to buy a daffodil broach for breast cancer awareness. 'Thank you, but my mother died from cancer of the bowel.'

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Charity Christmas Cards Rn't One

Remember this: Poshness in Aldeburgh...

  Well, there was a follow up today in the library foyer. Two kapok stuffed ladies of Aldeburgh were going through the boxes of charity Christmas cards, and one said how pleased she was that the various labels on the boxes made clear which specific charity one would be supporting. 'Then one can avoid those that are just that little bit too overseas oriented. It was their own look out: those undeveloped countries choosing to throw our help back in our faces by leaving the Empire.'

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Moon Landings

  My aunt remembers toddler me shouting about them being a bloody rubbish episode of The Clangers.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Second Sty to Your Right...

  Finally I found my way, after eight fails, along the disused railway from Thorpeness to  Leiston. I've failed mainly because people have to show off. Not the nice man yesterday who pulled his cowering, floppy eared dog close to heel while he carefully explained where I'd been going wrong - mainly that never in all my eight previous tries had I actually been on the disused railway line at all.  'No, you see, there you'd have been on the common.  No, that's the shell pits. Where?  Oh.  Did you not notice the bunkers and flagpoles and blue signs warning about balls from your right? Yes, the people in the funny trousers. Not walkers exactly, you see. Ah, now, there you were nearly on the old line: all depends on from which direction you approach the pigsties.  What you wanted to do was, where the road forks, trust yourself to take the track that don't look like nothing at all, just after you'll have seen what's left of the old platform at Thorpeness Halt. You'll see a tell-tale bridge, go twice over the golf course - that you were actually walking up then back down before - and then you'll approach the pigs just right.'
  See, not showing off, just factual bordering on descriptive. Whereas before, the route I must take was variously described thus by, let's call her, G-G Velo: 'Then there's the house where I passed one day on my walk singing a little bit of Madame Butterfly, and someone came out of the house specially to call after me how gorgeous I sounded, and that I was obviously beautifully trained.  And then the defunct platform where just as dawn was coming up one summer however many years ago, the Crastley boy was ever so lucky to have me as sex tutor and he gasped that I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Gasped.  And then will be the piggies...'
  Into which no doubt she commanded the demon, and they oinked all the way to Sizewell and threw themselves over.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Goose won't Get Fat at this Rate...

  The president of the Musical Association asked me to sing two serious, non-denominational Christmas songs, one Ivor Novello, two comic numbers, all linked by comically festive patter.
  I agreed.
  She then said, 'There's no money for you, apparently. Do you perform for free?  I'm sure you must at times.'
  I said, 'As I'm sure at times your husband must manage hedge funds for free...'

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

If it Bleats Like a Goat...

  My dad has been saving anecdotes for me to use in my act. In Norwich Market he met Geoff, who used to make sound effects for radio. Geoff wants to include in a Radio 4 quiz a round where contestants must tell the difference between a home made sound effect and a computer generated one.  He suggests as a test piece one he created in the sixties.  A goat running amok into a cottage, up the stairs and into the parlour where it knocks seven bells out of the fireside brass. The goat Geoff had planned to use turned out to be about to kid, so he made the bleating sounds himself and created the goatish running up the stairs sounds by wearing pairs of gloves and socks made out of halved and slightly charred cricket balls. 
  Dad empathised with Geoff's goat stopping play because his second ever Country and Western gig, at RAF St Asaph, was cancelled after the squadron mascot, a billy goat, refused to get out of the bath. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

BBC and Bake Off

  I did notice, apropos the BBC not being able to afford to keep the show, that Radio 3's afternoon programming on Saturday included random people playing their Grade Eight piano pieces.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


  When I go back to opera, I must make sure that my programme headshot these days doesn't look exactly like the mortuary photo of Annie Chapman, second canonical Jack the Ripper victim.
  Yes, I really must.

Monday, 12 September 2016

And so Term Starts

  I passed a small lorry being loaded with a child's stuff to take away to halls. Pillow and plants went in last.  A mother got on the 29, making sure her son knew where he was going. 'It's near the college itself, but the roads all seem too small.'
  Everyone involved in the migrations was smiling their bravest and not fooling anyone.

Saturday, 10 September 2016


  A hyphenated, body warmer old lady once referred to me as a catamite. It reminded me of my dad referring to sex as twanging.  My singing teacher once had to remind me that in Down by the Sally Gardens, the poet's love is just a flibbertigibbet of a girl wandering around in her bare feet.  'The tone you're using sounds like it's all a bit muckily Freudian.'   

Friday, 9 September 2016

Join in Nicely!

  In the street just now, two women catching sight of a late teen boy coming out of college stopped dead. A scowling, kipper footed much older woman clocked this, looked at him, said, 'Get a bloody job, no hoper!' and looked around for approbations.
  One of the woman explained to her that, no, actually their reaction to  him - he was now gesturing What the fuck?  - had been one of delight at how handsome he was. 'Like a young Brando!' 
  The old lady snapped back, 'What the fuck are you involving me in all that for?' 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Peripatetic Threat

  Eleanor, who'd been a River's Bend resident since the spring of Princess Anne's divorce, didn't think that a psychic evening there would be quite the thing. 

  'But, Caspar,' she remonstrated with the landlord, 'think where this might end.  Remember the thin end of the wedge over the switching off of the heated towel rail at the height of summer? Clothes pegs?  The Danish organist?  If Serena is allowed to have her peripatetic witches’ coven, there’ll follow peripatetic harpists, cake decorators, walk-in bath demonstrations, magicians, life-drawing classes, stair lift uprisings, tax advisors, taxidermists, computer experts, actuaries, string quartets, retro-nit nurses, One is Fun cookery demonstrations, lecturers on molluscs, sales of defunct library stock, cashers-in on mis-sold PPI, An Evening with Noel Coward with the inevitable three Nicaraguan lesbians dressed as the Lygon sisters who render the verses of “Matelot”, “Mrs Worthington and Conversation Piece” into varying sizes of tuneable copper bucket by passing synchronised water.'

  The psychic evening went ahead as planned at River's Bend. 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Letter from a Yak - Gerard, really?

  Gerard has been at it again.  Noah, one of his young cousins, has adopted a yak. And the yak sends Noah letters. Gerard has started sending Noah letters from the yak 

    Dear Noah,
  I skip around coffee plantation clippy-cloppy today and sit now under tree to writing at you.  I have yesterday before some days collect from post office box your lovely present, which I have eated.  Would you like some of it as dried droppings sent back to you, keep-safe?  Send more money immediate right now for yak-butted injury orphans.  I have made quite many of those. As for photo you asking for, I need know you are genuine because many yaks adopted here have send photo, and then get letters back from people say they lie down on settee with photo and dirty touch theyselves.
  Love (but not in dirty-touch way) Yan Yak. 
  PS  Up the Red Cross! 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Edinburgh Reviews Rewired

  Reading the Edinburgh Fringe oh, how exciting for poor little me reviews posted on social media reminds me of the quite rightly disciplined pilot flying troops back from Iraq. 'And this is one for the ladies on board,' he announced.  'Now that we’re back in blighty, your attractiveness rating will adjust itself back down in accordance with reality.'

Monday, 15 August 2016

A Sight for Sore/Poor Eyes

  Oh, I thought, nice mix of sweet and camp: the binmen have their names on the windscreen.
  I had a closer look. 
  Apparently they're called 'Caution' and 'Reversing'...

Friday, 5 August 2016

Another Psychic Tune-In - the Borden Case


                             Abby Borden, murdered while she was emailing.

  The psychic went into a trance and picked up a strong smell of Windolene.  She said she had no idea why this should be.
  Well you're the only one that hasn't, dearie.  
  In that voice of barely suppressed excitement the fact-checker said, 'At the time when Abby Borden was killed the maid was cleaning windows.'
  She was indeed!  But with plain old soap and water.  Windolene wasn't around then. 

Monday, 1 August 2016


  Before posting yet another and another photograph of yourself on social media, ask yourself who it's intended for. And nicely think on this...

 In the 1960s writer Nancy Mitford was the subject of a BBC documentary. She said to Marie, her housekeeper: 'I'm going to Madame Trefussis to watch my television programme, would you like to?' 
  And Marie wondered: 'But why Madame, when I see you every day?'

  Talking, at the early stages, of which.
  Outside the cafe downstairs a six-year-old said to his slightly older sister, 'At breakfast daddy listened to at least fifteen of the things I said.  But only, like, six of yours.'

Friday, 29 July 2016

Tit for Tat

           Irrelevant but so pretty...Bard looking like a face swap of Brad Pitt and Mark Wahlberg

  Overheard in the village shop:  'Marian, you really must go to Clemmie's funeral - or she mightn't bother going to yours!' 

Thursday, 28 July 2016


                        Copyright: Alarmy Stock Photographs - did you guess? 

  A quick question for parents of toddlers.  When you crouch down and put your arms out and encourage your child to run to you from a way away, do they ever not fall down? 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Olga, the Grrr Lady

    Carol answered the phone in the Thorpeness Village Stores. 'Hello Mr Pearson!  Two dozen of the Grrr Lady's chunky?'
  She made a note and said she'd see Mr Pearson as usual on the twenty-sixth.
  'Stays here the same dates every year,' she told me. Takes the same amount of marmalade home.' 
  The Grrr Lady is Thorpeness resident Olga. She's only ever referred to by her first name, as with Madonna,  Cher or Emu. Her selection of fudges and preserves may just be the next locally produced range to follow Suffolk Mud and Purely Pesto into the likes of the Co-Op, Waitrose and Fortnum's. When told that her Aldeburgh Festival show had sold out as fast as the latest Apple product, Prima Ballerina Madame Galina, another Thorpeness resident, wondered: 'I-phone 6S or Olga's chutney...?'
  I've tried and love all her prize-winning preserves - perhaps my favourite being the Pink Peppercorn Marmalade. Olga's Mince Pie Fudge, a glass of fizz and a read through most of Sherlock Holmes made my Christmas. 

  Buy from the VIllage Stores, or tweet Olga directly: @grrrlady.  The Harrods Food Hall beckons. Then Olga might be hard pushed then to find time to make Mr Pearson's annual batch.



Monday, 25 July 2016

I Just Didn't Have It...

                                         Me and my shadow, apparently...

  You know how when someone doesn't get a role it always seems to be in spite of the fact that the director said he loved them, as did the producer, the stage manager, the actor they read with, the understudy to the actor they read with, the head of running wardrobe, box office, chief usherette, foyer book stall attendant and the two Guildhall freshers watching the auditions for experience? Well...
  Years ago, before my voice finally sank to bass-baritone, I was being considered for the role of Albert Herring.  I didn't get it. The director thought that it would have suited me vocally, but Albert is a virginal innocent.  
  'You're too apparently the lived in, been round the block a number of times, tart with a heart, Iestyn.'
  Actually, I was relieved -  Albert has to hiccup on a top c flat!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Nowt so Unreal as Reality


                                         CAN you imagine? 

  I read somewhere that the accent David Suchet used for Poirot wasn't pure Belgian, but a hybrid of Belgian and French. The actor made this choice knowing that the pure accent would sound unconvincing to the casual listener.  I can't really explain this, but have an example of my own.  The daughter of an exiled Russian princess came to watch my Madame Galina show and said that my accent was accurate to the point of indicating social strata and where precisely Galina lived in Moscow. Other members of the audience thought that the accent had travelled from Cardiff via Crete to Bavaria and back again.  

  When Hercule Ease, part-time male stripper, performed his squaddie themed act in Chelmsford, he was advised to get a much more realistic looking soldier's outfit. Hercule is in reality Corporal Bailey, 9th SQ, and he had performed the act wearing his army issue uniform. 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Dreams or Dregs?

  In 'miscellaneous' downstairs in the Emporium: Trinkets, Ephemera and Masks, were the most elegant blue china cup and saucer.  I was imagining myself as Linda Radlett having afternoon tea with Fabrice at the Ritz; Dame Margot in the intervals of Swan Lake drinking darjeeling in dressing room five; Maria Callas unable to sleep before she'd read the reviews of her Berlin Lucia, sitting up in bed in her her woolen nightgown, drinking cocoa.
  I took my treasures to Lorna at the counter.  
  'Morning, Iestyn - old maid crockery for one?!'

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Pudding Provides Proof


  I went to my piano lesson the morning after the Guildhall Rag Week Revue.  I'd sung "The Stately Homes of England" in black tie, and danced Swan Lake Act Two in sequins and feathers glued onto forty-six doilies. Professor Peppin said how she'd enjoyed me singing the Noel Coward, but who on earth had that pudding of a girl been doing the ballet? 
  She refused to believe it had been me until I stopped playing Schumann and did lame ducks round the Bechstein...

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Jane Eyre's Alternative Ending

  At drinks I heard that someone in Cartwright Mansions had sought help during a heart-attack by banging on a party wall with the base of a stuffed owl. Hamish, apparently, got that little nugget into the Reader's' Digest. Tom, youngish, asked me what the Reader's Digest was, please. I said it was a magazine/book hybrid that taught people to give a tracheotomy with a bic biro and to say "Christmas bauble" in Serbo-Croat. 
  'Oh, and it condenses books down into happy endings,' I over-egged the pudding. 'Jane Eyre ended in five and a half chapters, with Mr Rochester's partially severed arm growing back.'
  Gin does that to me...

Thursday, 14 July 2016

On Editing...

  The editor of My Tute Went AWOL! just reminded me: 
  'Only tell the reader what they need to know. If you want them to particularly notice or remember something, repeat it three times. In your book's prologue, why don't need to know any more than that we're in Camp Bastion outside the NAAFI, you're in a tutu and the nurse gives you some news. The rest of it needs to go: fast food prefabs, the Garrison Sergeant Major and the anecdote about someone castrating themselves with a pull-along Dyson.   
  'Think of the Prologue to The Sleeping Beauty. We learn that the fairies are coming to the christening - and are alerted to the fact that something is potentially amiss when the Master of Ceremonies insists three times - yes, your majesty, yes, your majesty, yes you halberdiers - that he has remembered to invite all the fairies. We get the arrival of the good fairies, then of the forgotten bad fairy, the curse, the mitigating of the curse. We don't get a description of the fairies' various hole-in-a-tree dwellings, their diet of conker and acorn broth or their Amazon orders for wing clippers. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

My Tutu is Going AWOL Again!

My Tutu Went AWOL! the show...

Actually, it's a deconstructed, bookless book launch!


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Booked up till the Tube Map...

  My singing teacher, Pamela, joined a book club that met at the library. During the first meeting she was ticked off for an opinion. She said that she was so entitled to any opinion she chose to have, she would repeat that unpopular one right now: here we go...
  The organiser of the club found it tricky to commit to a second meeting. 'The week in question my wife and I have a concert, preceded by the concert insight afternoon - with tea. The following day we're watching a masterclass. There'll be drinks after that, possibly some nibbles. Then there's another concert, preceded again by the insight afternoon - also with tea. The next night we have drinks at the Simpson's and dinner at the Lighthouse. The following day we have lunch with the Minsmere wardens, tea with the Giles's and dinner with the Bishop of Dunwich. Actually, I've just seen I might be able to make the next evening...'
  'I can't,' Pamela said. 'I've got brunch with the Queen of Denmark, lunch with the Pope and in the evening I'm singing solo Bach Cantatas at St John's, Smith Square.'
  I'd warned her that she wouldn't like being in that book club.

Friday, 8 July 2016

See, if I had a car...

...I would have missed overhearing this, from an elderly woman on the bus to the station. 

  'What was that ambulance doing going up your track, Bernard?  It were a car-ambulance, not a ambulance-ambulance. A ambulance-ambulance wouldn't be able to get down your track, Bernard, it's all so overgrown! I know you've not lived there long, but what would they have done in the past? I'd not have wanted the council to ever move me down there if I knew I might be vulnerable to needing taking away in an ambulance. Just as well developments in industry mean ambulances are getting smaller and smaller. I expect the day will come when we go in and out of hospital in a computer controlled, hovercraft hip-bath.'

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Leavers' Reasons...

  One woman in Aldeburgh, in a cotton dress, pumps and and editor's green visor, said that she really hadn't used Europe in such a long time. There had been that Easter when she and Rima - did I know Rima? - were eighteen and hitchhiked through Italy. Oh, no, nothing to worry about: two experienced Catholic girls were always going to have an instinct about getting into a car. She supposed they'd seen a lot of beautiful things. But, really, since meeting her late husband - had I known her late husband? - she'd been more of a West Indies girl and hadn't really found much further use for Europe. So she voted 'leave'.
  To adapt an old gag: more St Barts than St Ockholm. 
  The second leaver is a house-keeper who tells me that the various landlords she works for will now have to pay her a decent wage.  Access will dry up to all the Lithuanian cheap labour coming over to work as cleaners - so called - and who will insist on bleaching everything.
  And there's Scotty-Roy, a PT, model and bouncer, who gives cam shows on Skype. He charges ten pounds a minute for semi-nude posing and hopes that the single market will now be applied to the internet. He is forever being undercut by Romanians who charge a flat fiver to show actual bumhole. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Thoughts on Swan Lake

                            Copyright: Luke Casey-Browne, House of Black

 The Swan Queen, Odette, has been bewitched by Baron Von Rothbart. By day she is a swan, at night she can retain her human form.  Unless Prince Siegfried happens to be swan-hunting nearby, might it not be a bit dull: this night time, lakeside existence in human form? What can she, the big swans, cygnets and the rest find to do all night? There's no library, internet cafe or 24/7 Mcdonald's. Do they even have a television? How long can it take each night to clean up the molted feathers and swan shit...
  I wonder if at times Odette simply doesn't bother with her swan to human transformation.
  Not to mention that she'd actually look a bit daft in the now far too tiny tiara.

Kings Cross to Leeds, First Class

  Lorna, from ephemera, trinkets and masks downstairs in the Emporium, told me that her father would treat himself to a first class ticket going home at Christmas to Leeds from university in London. 
  'It was in the days of having the whole first class service on sleepers. Dad said he often wondered what would happen if he'd missed getting out at Leeds, the worse for wear with the meal served in first class, and ended up in Inverness. The train would have divided by then and that would surely wake you?  He said you could spread yourself out in those seats. Waiters in livery. Course after course. He said they'd sing carols. There'd be plum pudding. Brandy. Seasons greetings passed around the carriage. A real treat for the psyche - something we just don't do enough for ourselves these days.'  She paused, then asked, 'How did we get onto the subject of trains?'
  I didn't have the heart to remind her that I'm editing my book and had just mentioned trains in terms of doing an Anna Karenina with one...


Monday, 4 July 2016

Cruelty to Animals

  A woman at the back end of middle age, with wiry, flicked hair, in a pink vinyl mac, and gingham pedal pushers came through from Thorpeness Meare, leaving her jack russell off the lead as she continued past the pond. Three pairs of nesting swans and the egyptian geese were grazing there. The woman turned as people remonstrated with her, then stood in a beveled pose, like the central figure in The Three Graces statue, and indicated that she was happy for her jack russell to run to and fro barking by the water's edge. The goose nosed the tiny gosling into the pond and jumped in after it followed by the gander. The swans stood absolutely still, feathers up all around, in front of their cygnets. 
  The woman stayed in her pose, smirking indulgently at the jack russell, until a man picked the dog up by the collar, walked over to her and thrust it into her arms.
  'Take this back to wherever it is you're from!' he told her.
   After a stunned moment, the woman loped off across the grass, drawling back over her shoulder, 'Crouch End!'
  Where else? 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Brexit, Bleach and B-Holes

  I haven't posted anything recently. Two self-proclaimed critics wouldn't take their telling off and argued with me about it, which wasted my time, ink and rage - more of that at some point in the future.  And I've been working with editor Mike Jones on the book My Tutu Went AWOL!  
  And now the UK has left the EU. 
  The housekeeper of the flats where I live said thai leaving the EU would mean that the landlord would have to pay her properly. 'The cheap labour Lithuanians - who just want to bleach everything - will dry up.'
  And my muscle-boy mate, who does semi-nude posing shows on Skype, believed that a similar thing would happen in his world to boost his earnings. 'Leaving will get rid of these fucking Romanians showing actual bumhole for a fiver.'
  Tragically, both these people could vote. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Jolly that Wasn't

 By the carpark opposite the Scallop Shell on Aldeburgh beach I overheard a man on his phone.  
  He was saying, 'But it gets her out, there's air, and I'm taking her to see an interesting landmark.  It's just that she'll be ungrateful.  Always is.'
  Walking about ten yards behind him was an elderly lady, leaning heavily on a stick and watching the ground. Just then she looked up and across the shingle at the Scallop Shell and demanded to know, 'What's that bloody thing?' 
  Hurriedly winding up his call he answered, 'It's the famous Scallop Shell. It's what I've brought to all this way to see, mum.'
  She leant slightly away from her stick to look him in the face. 'All this way - and there's this wind - and you think I'm going to enjoy looking at something like that?  I may be totally alone indoors, and I may feel that at times and get a bit down. But really - '
  He said, 'Well, we can go straight back in the car if you wanted?'
  'Oh, no, as you've laid the guilt on me about how thought out this trip is on your part, we must go all the way over there for the sake of cooing over the bloody thing, mustn't we? But for future reference, I'd rather not be forced out on these jollies that are anything but.  There are such things as human rights. Now, come on. It'll be tough getting all the way over there on these stones, me on this stick and all.  But as Mary Poppins had it, "Well begun is half done".'  
  Shoving the stick in among the stones she muttered. 'Daft bitch.  Probably a dyke, if you read between the lines.'


Saturday, 4 June 2016

Ali Can't be Emulated

  Because Muhammad Ali was the epitome of a world champion, it's annoying me that the PT wannabe combatant brigade is sharing one his quotes to get attention and to kid on that they could possibly emulate him. Here's the quote: 
  'I hated every minute of training.  But I said: "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion".' 
  Interesting that he admits to hating the training.  According to the Russian adage, quoted at many a ballerina over the years, there can be no hate. 'If you love to toboggan, then you must love to carry the toboggan to the top of the hill.' 
  My nan had an inspirational adage all of her own. 'If you want to keep the chronic family flatulence under control, you'll have to suffer licking the carbon straight off the coal as it is untouched in nan's scuttle.' 

  But, now, let's welcome the humility of knowing that an Ali, like a Ponselle, a Pavlova, or a Tolstoy, can't be emulated but must be set apart. 

Friday, 3 June 2016

On the Modernisation of the Church

  A new vicar in Aldeburgh was approached by Lady Davies and Daisy Williams-Smythe, among others, hoping that he would abandon the shaking of hands when the Peace was given. He thought their request reflected a worry about the Church becoming too happy-clappy. Actually, Lady Davies and co were worried that they might be shaking hands with a fisherman or their daily or that ghastly unfrocked monk from the bric-a-brac shop. 


Thursday, 2 June 2016

I Like Living in a Village...

  When I bumped into Carol from the shop today she said she'd seen me yesterday passing her bungalow going onto the heath. 'Bet you didn't expect to have to wear your wellies this time of year going your favourite way to the piggery and back, did you?' 
  'I know!  The pigs were surprised at it. Staring at me...'
  Carol has a slow smile, but it's worth waiting for. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

East Suffolk Power Cut

  Sign that automatically turns to face the wrong way so that people aren't encouraged to venture into Thorpeness during a power-cut, where they'll have to listen to the inevitable person described below...

  There was a power cut yesterday.  From eight-fifteen until eleven forty-five. Irritating for everyone to a greater or lesser degree. 
  And then there was the inevitable person walking around volunteering information about a previous power cut that lasted three weeks and started right in the middle of their dialysis. Apparently, they had to resort to the petrol-syphoning method through the tube from their freshwater aquarium pump. 
  I may have made up that last bit. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Just Going to Leave this Here...

  A stooped, watery eyed New Yorker used to buy his programmes from me at Covent Garden in the early eighties. I asked if he would be coming to the new production of Norma
  He looked alarmed as he answered, 'Oh, no. I saw Ponselle as Norma at the Met in nineteen twenty-seven.  That woman's glory ruined opera for me forever, just when I was getting started with it.'


Monday, 30 May 2016

Classic Cars

  There was a classic car rally in Aldeburgh today. Down where the ice-cream van is parked during the summer.  The one Coochie Maltman used to deal from. I thought at first he might be a freemason, noticing the sideways-on handshakes going across the Mr Whippy counter. But, no, as Gerard explained, Coochie was your man if you wanted something buzzier with your cornet than a flake. 'And whatever the working class versions are of chopped pistachios or raspberry coulis, sweets.'
  There was a Vauxhall Zephyr among the cars, like the one my dad used to own before his driving was legal, insured and under the limit. I thought how compact it was.  Dad's had looked vast to my six-year-old self. And how primly it seemed to be sitting up on its wheels. Dad's had brooded languorously. 
  Car owners milled around thanking each other for coming and saying not to forget such and such a date in such and such a place for the next meet up. The numerical breakdown of specific models represented reminded me of the hierarchy in a ballet company. The many: the corps de ballet. The few: the soloists. The one: the prima ballerina assoluta. At the rally were many Morris Minors and Minis. There were fewer sports cars: a TR7, for example, or a Ford Mustang. And there was the one: a white 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Seville. 

                            Was too in awe to take a pic of the one today...

Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Bookless Book Launch in Metrodeco

 Link to my nicely book, again...

  Mendelssohn had his Songs without Words, so I can I have book launches without books - events at which I read from my forthcoming e-book, natch. 
  The first for My Tutu Went AWOL! was on Thursday at Metrodeco in Brighton. My rider included eats and drinks from the exceptional Metrodeco menu.  Nicely!  The event was well attended and people listened closely while I read, gamely following me wherever I went off-piste. 
  'One minute we're in Iraq, the next you're at a convent bun fight being ticked off by the Mother Superior for telling her the facts of life,' heckled Metrodeco co-owner Maggie Morgan. She then truly made my evening by requesting an encore of the off-piste material.
 Do you remember the time I circumvented Therese, soprano, giving encores at our shared recital?  Read that little story again here...
  For those of you not wishing to follow the link, here's a recap. My mother never follows a link, can I just say, seeing them as a cross between a ouija board and the live rail on the underground.   Anyway, Therese and I had shared the hire costs of the venue that night and were splitting the takings from the door. In the interval Therese decreed that as I had pulled in only two members of my family compared to her eighteen 'fully external' opera-loving gays, then she must sing more material than must I in the second half. If I insisted on singing all my planned programme, she would go to town with the encores.  To prevent Therese singing "I Feel Pretty" I immediately agreed to pocket little more than the price of my bus fare, a kebab and a tin of ready mixed Pina Colada. 
  Some months later, when we performed together at the book launch in Lower Chipping On-the-Wold, the question of encores never arose. Therese didn't even make it to the end of her planned programme.
  I had convinced myself that the launch had been for one of the fab Deborah Moggach's early novels - hark at me! - but when I emailed Ms Moggach to verify, she replied sweetly saying that it wasn't and that she was sure she would remember what I was describing.
  Therese and my contribution to the event should really only have been either as amuse bouche or as those last few petits fours put in a doggy bag. Except someone had put Therese in charge of the whole programme.
  I opened with my Madame Galina Ballet Star Galactica shtik, then got quickly changed into civvies to accompany Therese in a recital of opera arias. A lovely, long recital of opera arias: "Ah, Forse Lui", "Casta Diva", "Un Bel Di", "O Mio Babbino Caro", "Vissi D'arte" and "Klange der Heimat".  
  After "Un Bel Di", the host, Graham, walked onstage carrying the bouquet that had already been presented to me, for my Madame Galina turn. Thrusting the bouquet into Therese's half-parrying grasp he whispered, 
  'You have to stop now. We're having complaints from...from...the neighbours.'
  There had been a complaint, we later found out, but not from the neighbours. The author of the book under launch had pulled Graham to one side by the municipal tea service cupboard.
   'What on earth is going on? I haven't so much as opened my book yet but there's been all this comedy and operatic singing. What's next, a magician? The raffle? That lot out there putting their car keys into the onyx bowl by the door?'
  In the green room, meanwhile, Therese was saying, 'I didn't even finish the official programme I'd planned, let alone do any of the encores that would most likely have been wanted.'
  I said, 'You couldn't have done encores here, Therese. There are no gays at all out front, let alone your tame ones. Lower Chipping's a minorities-free zone. When the nettles, patchouli and madrigals brigade here apply for Arts Council funding and need to play the disadvantaged card, all they've got is Kelvin the nouveau-riche coachworks owner.  "Oh, but my dear government arts funding wallah, we're talking about the most dire need for outreach. Kelvin's just so utterly milk in first".' 


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Masterclass on Being Passive-Aggressive

  The letting agent asked me did I mind if the landlord put the rent up. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

He Travels the Fastest who Travels Alone

  My Proper Nan Silcox would use the line of Kipling quoted above when any of us complained of being lonely. 
  'Have you lost your library card? Lonely, indeed! Lonely having tea with Miss Bates? Lonely on travels with the Pickwick Club? Lonely at the Horse of the Year Show with Rupert Campbell-Black? And furthermore, let's remember that the banding together mentality is all lovely when it leads to The Huddersfield Choral, or the Massed Bands of the Coldstream Guards or those monkeys with the typewriters who are one day going to finish Timon of Athens - but not when it means the Gestapo or the WI, or when it leads to an epidemic of the illness of the moment...' 
  Serious illness was her thing - we had regular bulletins about complete strangers dying in lingering agony up at the Forty Houses in Gelligaer - and she had contempt for what she called illnesses of the moment. 
  'Fevers of the faddy!' 
  In her time she called AIDS an illness of the moment. ADHD, alzheimers, mad cow, bird flu and narcolepsy were all illnesses of the moment. Had she been in Kaffa when the flea-ridden Mongols routed the Italian merchants there in 1346, she would very likely have called the resulting bubonic plague epidemic an illness of the moment. 
  'Oh, yes, because a get together that starts out all joyful so often ends in disease running rampant. We're all going on a summer holiday...and coming back with dysentery. Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare, all along, down along, out along lea, for I want for to go to Widecombe Fair with Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy, Dan'l Whiddon, Harry Hawke, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all... and we won't expect to see Bil, either of the Peters or Harry again after the cholera gets them on the boat swings.  After the Ball is Over...there were all those girls getting into carriages without their shawls properly draped and TB or not TB, that was the question.'
  She would draw herself up by the handbag, as she did. 'You make the best of your solitary circumstances, now.  Better to live by choice in a bedsit than by force in a leper colony.' 

  #traveltuesday #hetravelsfastestwhotravelsalone #kipling #lifehacks #life #illness #death