I'm even famous in the land of Alps

WHAT a weekend, my dear readers. Yet again my almost-celebrity is stretching far and wide.

James Marston

WHAT a weekend, my dear readers.

Yet again my almost-celebrity is stretching far and wide.

On Friday evening I found myself in a small Essex village near Great Dunmow as a guest of a gentleman farmer who is very big in potatoes and has been busy building his own reservoir.


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My fame, as I sipped a luxuriant claret and chatted to the lady on my left called Doreen who was evacuated during the war as a child to the village of Westhorpe, I discovered, has stretched far beyond the Felixstowe peninsula to the very limit of East Anglia.

“Oh yes James,” one fellow guest called Barry announced over the fish course,

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“We know all about what you get up to with your spring cleaning and sea views (distant).”

Naturally, I laughed it off, thinking I might get a few spuds instead of a party bag when the time came to leave.

And then just 24 hours later on Saturday night I found myself at a 70s party accompanying my Felixstowe-based theatrical friend Suzie who wore a colourful lycra frock while I attempted, to pass myself off as a rather tubby Rambo. Unfortunately I didn't have either the requisite machine gun nor the well developed muscles - no one guessed who I was meant to be.

Anyway, we were celebrating not only my Rubenesque friend Samantha's 40th birthday but also my friend Steve's 30th - he's the one who used to be in a boy band before he gave it all up to join Suffolk County Council.

It was a most amusing evening.

Another friend, Mike, who had flown in that afternoon on the red eye from Zurich, told me he had been keeping up with my life while working in the Swiss Federation for the last few months.

He said: “I've been reading all about you on the Evening Star's website. And keeping up with what's been going on in Ipswich too.”

Even famous in the land of Alps and nice chocolate, I thought to myself.

I know that I have a few fans, a word I use loosely, in New Zealand, a gentleman in Bristol, a few friends in London, not forgetting a very amusing lady called Evie who lives in Hull but I often wondered where else I might be read - so if you're from a long way away do drop me a line or e-mail and let me know.

Anyway somewhat later in the evening, while I happened to be introducing myself as a celebrity of the Felixstowe peninsula to a lady who also worked for Suffolk County Council, one of the other guests, who had dressed as a hippy, piped up: “James. You're not still going on about all that celebrity stuff are you?”

That told me didn't it?

SHE may well have sipped champagne on a yacht and danced like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed them what she's got but I, dear readers, have fulfilled an ambition this week.

I met Charlene, the singer who sang I've Never Been To Me of Priscilla Queen of the Desert Fame, who divides her time between California and Hadleigh.

She was lots of fun and even signed her new book for me - it was the highlight of my week.

I told her I'd been to Trimley and to Shotley too and sipped an Adnams in Southwold, I've lived in Felixstowe but I've never been to Scotland - she understood exactly what I meant.

AS regular readers will know I am an enthusiastic member of the Ipswich most Operatic and terribly Dramatic Society for which my friend Stephanie-the-diva is also involved.

Though I shan't be appearing in their latest production The Producers, I may well be backstage administering hugs and you-were-wonderful-darlings during the performances.

Anyway Stephanie asked me to be quizmaster at a terribly dramatic social event held at the Bramford Cock on Sunday night - of course I leaped at the chance to listen to my own voice in Bamber Gascoigne mode.

I thought you might like a little quiz yourselves so here's a few of the questions.

- Who discovered penicillin?

- What is the English generic term for German white wines from the Rhine?

- Who has played Count Dracula most times on film?

- What is the county town of Somerset?

- What does TARDIS stand for?

Make sure you read next week's column for the answers.

COFFEE, chocolate and social networking site Facebook are the most common addictions in the UK, a study into modern lifestyles has revealed.

These modern vices have ousted traditional favourites such as cigarettes from the top of the charts in a study on our behavioural patterns.

Well I for one rarely drink coffee unless it Irish, and though I like an occasional spot of fruit and nut on an evening I am not addicted. Smoking, of course, is a different story and a vice with which I am in constant battle.

On Facebook, however, I am no longer to be found.

You see, I discovered that everyone I knew had far more interesting lives than I and reading “James is lying on the sofa eating crisps and watching Gosford Park” wasn't going to excite anyone.

MESSING around with Act of Succession and religion of the Royal family is a dangerous precedent,

For 300 hundred years our country has enjoyed one of the most stable forms of government in the western world - based on hereditary monarchy which is strictly controlled and limited in the breadth of its power.

Only once in that time has a king dared to even drop the merest hint that he might defy the rules, and Edward VIII was soon dispatched into exile with the woman he loved.

It is a system that works.

Sectarianism in Britain isn't a distant memory, it is, I'm afraid, alive and well and deeply rooted in our national psyche - the most obvious manifestation is the hugely popular and annual burning of a Roman Catholic effigy on bonfire night.

Perhaps the most recent example of British sectarian attitude is Tony Blair's reluctance to convert to Roman Catholicism while in office - he knew it would not be a politically good move.

Furthermore the fact that Mr Blair's conversion and the conversion of other public figures remains newsworthy at all is a reminder how much Roman Catholicism, rightly or wrongly, is still distrusted in the UK.

It might be a good idea to allow women to succeed to the throne -some of our best sovereigns have been women - but fiddling with the rules about religion and the crown can only lead to the logical step of church disestablishment.

By doing that it's a short step to losing the monarchy altogether - something we have tried before and we didn't like much and for which there is almost no popular backing - though this tinkering is a golden gift to the republican movement.

And anyway the rules have been bent and loopholes found over the years.

For example, the Duke of Kent is married to a Roman Catholic and he has retained his place in the succession.

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