A theatrical weekend at the Spa

IT'S been a most theatrical weekend at the Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe.

James Marston

IT'S been a most theatrical weekend at the Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe.

I appeared on stage to celebrate 100 years of the venue - it started off as a bandstand you know - and sang and moved my hands around at the back with several other theatricals including Stephanie-the-diva, Margaret the stalwart of the Ipswich most Operatic and frightfully Dramatic Society and Jan of the Dennis Lowe Theatre Company who struggled into a most interesting combination of shimmer tights and fishnets and what she referred to as “hold it all in pants” before being sewn into her frock.

Julie, the lady manager of the theatre, also performed and we even found ourselves on the beach at three o'clock in the afternoon in full make-up.

And naturally there was quiche at the after show buffet.

Oh my goodness they've put a game show host in government.

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Sir Alan Sugar is some sort of tsar now isn't he? Though why they want to call these people after the Tsars - most of whom were pretty horrible or murdered - goodness alone knows.

Anyway this development of ennobling celebrities and putting them into important positions has got me thinking - maybe we should have an all-star government with two page spreads with lovely pictures in Hello! magazine instead of prime minister's question time.

I'm not sure what happened to Ted Rogers - perhaps he retired to the great landfill in the sky with his mate Dusty Bin - but I bet he would have made a marvellous minister for recycling.

And maybe David and Victoria Beckham should be ministers for tattooed people or Jonathan Ross first minister for being rude or Cilla Black as secretary of state for lorra, lorra, lorries.

It might all sound a bit ridiculous but I reckon they'd do better than the MPs we've got.

The latest news that John Gummer of Suffolk Coastal fame is to repay thousands in the spirit of something called “corporate responsibility” is laughable.

What on earth does that mean? It's an abstract noun isn't it? Or at the very most wishy-washy business speak.

He says his payment is nothing to do with guilt but either he thinks he's had too much from the trough or he doesn't.

Whatever he thinks, after 34 years on the gravy train, the man should resign.

It is grand people like Mr Gummer, with country piles and moles to kill, that have given the Tory party such a bad name in the first place.

Mr Gummer, whose most memorable contribution to national life was giving us all a laugh by feeding his daughter a burger for the cameras, has the nerve to bang on about how he waited until a new speaker was elected before announcing his decision to repay �11,500 to the tax payer and the same amount again to charity and isn't he marvellous…..

If Mr Gummer felt so strongly that he had to repay in the spirit of whatever why didn't he do it earlier?

I'm a cynical hack, I admit, but I don't believe a word of it.

It's called spin where I come from.

And it seems David Ruffley over in the west of the county isn't much better.

He told us journalists that he's been repaying money - nearly �1,000 - for furniture following “discussions”. He has also “reviewed other allowances” and has repaid some mortgage interest money paid to him between April 2005 and December 2006.

And I don't remember a single word of apology on Ruffley's press release either - at least Jonathan Ross managed that.

TEMPTED though I am to open my small balcony on my small flat with sea views (distant) in the Edwardian spa town of Felixstowe to the public, I don't think anyone would really want to pay to look at three rather ill tomato plants and a lupin that has failed to blossom.

Nevertheless other people have much better gardens than me and they are going to be showing them off to the nosey on July 5.

It's all part of a fundraiser for St Mary's Church in Walton where my friend Brenda, a theatrical lady, is a regular.

Tickets are �3 and there's going to be a barbecue, live music, and things for sale like pickles and cakes and jam in gardens in Old Felixstowe and Walton.

“LADIES and gentlemen” - that's how I started my little speech at the 70th anniversary luncheon of Felixstowe's Inner Wheel.

In front of, I might add, a large crowd of 106 mostly ladies who had all come to see me - well and each other I suppose.

Anyway, I think my speech went fairly well - though I probably rattled through it. I even sat on a top table where I enjoyed a chicken pat� starter, a chicken supreme and a fresh fruit salad - funny how you never see old fruit salad on the menu isn't it? - and a glass of white wine with a very pleasant lady called Myrtle who had flown in from Northern Ireland for the occasion. She put me at my ease.

I don't find public speaking very easy do you? I remember once talking for the Ladies Cathedral Guild in Bury St Edmunds where I went on for a rather enthusiastic 45 minutes only to find several of them asleep at the end.

Thankfully no one fell asleep at my latest foray into the world of talking about me - the only subject I know anything about - and at least I didn't notice if they did.

POOR old Michael Jackson.

Imaging having a cardiac arrest just before a massive money-spinning tour? I bet he's most annoyed.

Strange though wasn't he? And he looked odd. Good dancer though.

It is the kids I feel sorry for. They've lost their dad and however fascinating and eccentric he was to us, it will be a sad loss for them.

Of course there was a lot of fuss wasn't there? The British steel industry died on the same day - once it was the envy of the world - and no one batted an eyelid. It's a strange world.

James' Mailbag

Dear James,

Like you I am a wordsmith and love language.

In halcyon days, when having tea with a particular swain, his mother would sigh “Oh dear, better fetch the dictionary I suppose!”

Yes, hushwing is a lovely synonym for barn owl. You request other examples.

Shufflewing or Hedge Betty - dunnock.

King Harry - goldfinch - one of the few good acts of brutal Henry VIII was to legislate to protect goldfinches. They were still caged until late 1800s however.

Bottle-poke - long-tailed tit (often referring to exquisite bottle shaped nest)

Jenny Wren - part of singing includes whirring, clicking like spinning Jenny (machine).

My seriously Suffolk Nana never referred to big - but “master great spiders”.

Anything without a flow was declared, not to have a “wem” in it.

My mother called snapdragons, nipnoses, and to her uncle, song-thrushes were always the “mavis”.

Well cheerio together, and mind how you go.


Mill Rise,