I've been (almost) talent-spotted

OFTEN, when I'm sitting alone in my small Felixstowe salon with sea views (distant) wondering how on earth I ended up there and what a rich tapestry life can be, my mind turns to a more reflective pose.

James Marston

OFTEN, when I'm sitting alone in my small Felixstowe salon with sea views (distant) wondering how on earth I ended up there and what a rich tapestry life can be, my mind turns to a more reflective pose.

As I pour a relaxing Canadian Club and lemonade, I think of some of my achievements made throughout my short and eventful life.

Within the top ten triumphs and qualifications are things of interest such as my, as yet unrequired, red belt in karate, a very useful GCSE in Latin, and the dying skill and art of shorthand. The list isn't endless.

Though not everyone can be as brilliant as I, I do have another qualification that has rarely been called into action.

That was, dear readers, until I found myself at a gathering of the Suffolk branch of the Society of Recorder Players in the very well appointed Bentley Village Hall the other spring-like morning.

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It was there, you see, that I found in my hand a musical instrument several inches long, trying to remember the fingering.

“James,” had said a very friendly lady called Moira who was in charge of the gathering, “why don't you have a go?”

Never to say no to a challenge - well as long as it doesn't involve heights, excessive heat, horses, dogs or anything that would require me to break into a sweat - I did not demur.

Moira had selected me a descant recorder and the music to When I'm 64 to play along with.

Now by virtue of the fact that music lessons were a way of getting out of playing sport at my Alma Mater - that's Latin, I told you I was fluent (sort of), and in a roundabout way means my old school and not a singer from the 1950s - I can read music, a skill that has proved itself far more useful than the totally unpleasant experience of playing so-called games with other people.

Furthermore, while sitting with the members of the society I found myself called upon to recall my grade one qualification in recorder earned at the time of the Falklands War. I was at the tender age of six at a school in the west Suffolk village of Risby which is now an old people's home - the school not the village.

Do you know dear readers, apart from the rather quick and twiddly bits, I didn't totally disgrace myself.

In fact, if I may make so bold, I think I did rather well when you consider the last time I played Prince William was a babe in arms and not everyone had credit cards.

My performance, though occasionally squeaky, earned a graceful round of applause - far more than I ever achieved in my short and all-but-over-by-the-time-I-was-15-thank-you sporting career.

Even Moira, a proper musician, was impressed.

She suggested I join the group for the less able which meets on a Saturday afternoon.

I think I've been almost been talent spotted, nearly.

SO what are you giving up for Lent? And what is Lent anyway? And why do people give things up?

My plain-speaking photographer friend Lucy has given up chocolate - she always does - and suggested I give up smoking - she always does that too.

But I thought Lent had something to do with fish or meat and was going to give up pork pies until I decided I wasn't Jewish and like pastry so would it matter?

Lent's definitely something to do with 40 days and 40 nights which is how long Noah was in his overcrowded ark - later discovered by Harrison Ford - which is how he saved the Easter Bunnies.

And the Queen is coming to Bury St Edmunds for some pancakes.

To be honest I've become very confused.

AS regular James Marston fans /readers/aficionados will know I like nothing better than a letter - preferably a nice one and not a bill.

Over the years I've learned you have to be fairly forthright in your views to elicit the odd epistle and people have to be fairly upset before they put pen to paper.

Well, dear readers, next week is Write a Letter Week so I thought it might be a nice idea for all of you to put pen to paper and send in some nice things for me to publish next week

Here is an example:

Dear James

You bring me much pleasure and I agree with everything you say - for testamentary reasons could you please supply your name and address?

Yours truly

A Loyal Fan

So why not have a go, eschew angry e-mails and abusive phone calls and whispering to your friend words like “there's the fat boy from the newspaper”- you know who you are - and write a letter do.

Failing that I shall have to be controversial and suggest we kill little animals or bring back slavery or force children to smoke or something.

SOMETIMES, here at the newspaper, we like to boost morale with a little sing-song - often I can be found humming a tune, maybe from the musicals or the hit parade.

Colin, my colleague who enjoys crime and is important enough to carry a briefcase, likes the more amusing little numbers - they butter parsnips for him apparently.

Most recently he has been heard to sing something like Delany Had a Donkey - a song of which I had never heard.

Yesterday he started a new number entitled Paddy McGinty's Goat - a little ditty often sung by someone called Val Doonican.

It goes something like this:

Mr Patrick McGinty, an Irishman of note, Came into a fortune, so bought himself a goat.

Said he, “Sure, of goat's milk I mean to have my fill!”

But when he got his Nanny home, he found it was a Bill.

And now all the ladies who live in Killaloo are all wearing bustles like their mothers used to do.

They each wear a bolster beneath the petticoat, And leave the rest to Providence and Paddy McGinty's goat!

Missis Burke to her daughter said, "Listen, Mary Jane, .

Now who was the man you were cuddling in the lane?

He'd long wiry whiskers all hanging from his chin."

"Twas only Pat McGinty's goat, " she answer'd with a grin.

Then she went away from the village in disgrace, She came back with powder and paint upon her face.

She'd rings on her fingers, and she wore a sable coat, You bet your life they never came from Paddy McGinty's goat.

Etc etc etc

Have you got an odd song you like? What was your favourite Val Doonican number? Who was Val Doonican? Do drop me a line?

SUCCESS at last!

Last week, dear readers, I was on the winning team at the Mayor's Charity Quiz and I have a certificate to prove it.

Thankfully I was joined on the Star Scribes team by my far cleverer colleagues but still I did know a few things, including the fact that Elton John once recorded Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word with Blue.

Naturally we were delighted to win - for the third year in a row I might add - and lift some silverware - in this case The Croydon's Cup.

Success aside today I would like to pass on a message to the lady who thinks she stopped me in Felixstowe swimming pool the day after as I made stately progress in the lap lane and said “Well done last night James at the quiz.”

That wasn't me you see, I'm much slimmer with no clothes on and never appear half naked in public.