King of the singers

I HATE being the centre of attention and I can't bear being applauded by a room full of adoring fans. I am modest. So modest in fact that after three pints of cider and two unexpected cigarettes - I have still given up really - I was still reluctant to stand up and sing in a pub full of people at the weekend.

I HATE being the centre of attention and I can't bear being applauded by a room full of adoring fans.

I am modest. So modest in fact that after three pints of cider and two unexpected cigarettes - I have still given up really - I was still reluctant to stand up and sing in a pub full of people at the weekend.

Leaving the Ipswich massive for Barton Mills deep in the west of the county, I admit ambition to perform was secretly burning bright.

Tempted to belt out a show tune or something by Elton John, I had been studying the book for a while, humming to myself a few tunes wondering if my eight or nine octave range would cover the melody.


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However, no sooner had my wandering eyes rested on Pearl's a Singer or Flashdance - What a Feeling than I heard my name being called from the karaoke man in the corner.

“Hang on a minute,” I said to myself.

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“I haven't made a choice, I might not be able to serenade, am I really a crooner? What's happening?”

As my face betrayed my confusion, I heard the voice in the corner again…

“You've been set up mate. What do you wanna sing?”

OH MY GOD - can you imagine my horror? Rooted to the spot, my legs fell into a catatonic stupor only overcome by an unnerving urge to run.

But as any true pro will tell you I couldn't let down my fans. They mean so much to me.

I had been asked to sing by popular demand and someone, quite naturally I suspect, saw a spark of latent talent that I had hitherto hidden behind the screen of shyness.

I coolly strolled over to the corner.

Surrounded by wires, black boxes and tv screens, I instantly became Robbie Williams. All of a sudden I had a microphone in my hand, a glint in my eye and a room full of people to entertain.

Though tempted to whip off my top and climb into some spandex I managed to restrain myself enough to keep my act clean. And anyway my sexy moves, grinding pelvis and washboard stomach don't really work with Puff the Magic Dragon.

But that was just the start, by the time I had finished with Jackie Paper and his unfeeling abandonment of Puff I was ready for my next song.

Build Me Up Buttercup and, if I may say so, a particularly impressive and emotional rendition of This Is My Life followed. I was addicted.

Ever the gracious performer, I let someone else have a go after a while. The applause more than made up for the comment by one drinker that if I knew the Sound of Silence, I should try it. He was only jealous.

I have learned my lesson though; I shan't be hiding my light under a bushel or anywhere else from now on. My talent is too plentiful to waste. I wonder how long it will be before Simon Cowell gives me a call…

PANTOMIME, pantomime, what a thrill, what a time!

The various banners and flyers that I have spied in Ipswich town centre reminded me of the last time I appeared on stage.

I was a young, naive cub reporter. Hungry for a story I was sent on an assignment to a village hall, deep in rural Suffolk. It was opening night and they needed a review.

I was relaxing at the back, even enjoying the music and acting. I was preparing to make my exit before I had to buy yet another raffle ticket, when all of a sudden the spotlight was on me. The hunting hack had been hunted himself.

Outed as a member of the press, I was forced to reveal my identity, walk the length of the village hall and join the cast on stage for some audience participation.

'Become a journalist' I had told myself, 'you'll see the world, meet leaders, tell the truth, uncover scandal.' Never did I envisage rolling up my trouser leg, dancing like and Egyptian supported by Ali Baba his transvestite mother and 40 thieving thieves.

Can you imagine John Simpson or Kate Adie going through such public humiliation? Now that would be a good story.

ISN'T lying easy?

'Tis the season to be jolly, and people you haven't seen since this time last year start getting in touch and you start lying on autopilot - at least I seem to.

After a busy week at work, I went home on Friday ready for a port and lemon and a packet of cashews, only to be bombarded with textual messages and a ringing mobile phone.

While so-called relaxing in the bath, surrounded by muscle soaking bubbles - a product I have to buy as it means I do have muscles somewhere - I found myself conducting three phone calls, a conversation by text and inviting a friend over I hadn't seen since last year.

“We must catch up James. It's nearly Christmas.”

Must we? “Yes of course, how lovely it would be to catch up” - I found myself saying.

“It's been so long.”

“Yes it has hasn't it?” can't you get the hint?

“I must come over to Ipswich”

“Yes, you must,” must you?

By the time the water had gone cold and I was beginning to resemble a prune, I had organised two lunches, a night out in Ipswich and a visit to a London art gallery.

To tell the truth I can't wait.

Contact James: Call 01473 324788, or email james.marston@eveningstar.co.uk or Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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