My favourite subject - me!

A FAN, well someone I know, recently asked me if I had a big ego or if it was all just for effect.

James Marston

A FAN, well someone I know, recently asked me if I had a big ego or if it was all just for effect.

What an outrageous insult.

“Clearly,” I replied “If you are as talented as me a big ego is a natural and unavoidable consequence.”

He wasn't impressed.

And this week I have the most exciting news which cannot help but boost my ego.

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I am following in the footsteps of Bob Monkhouse, Derek Nimmo, Alistair Cooke, Peter Ustinov and other such real celebrities.

I am, you see dear readers, joining the after dinner, well lunch, speaking circuit.

Asked to talk about my specialist subject, me, myself and I from 1975 (1982 according to my looks) to 2009, this time by the ladies of the Inner Wheel Club of Felixstowe at their 70th anniversary luncheon.

The ladies have asked for about half an hour and I am, to be honest, rather honoured and rather scared.

A few anecdotes are already in the bag - including the one about how I got stuck on a fence while reporting on an unexploded bomb in Kesgrave and the time I became most unnerved and quite dizzy in the bell tower of St Peter and St Paul, Stowmarket - it's very high you know.

But the feature I wrote when I was forced to wear an ill-fitting tracksuit and play with a group of over-excited children at a holiday camp is a memory on which I doubt I shall expound.

Of course, the problem is that writing, where you don't really see your audience eyeball to eyeball, is a far different animal than standing up in a roomful of people enjoying coffee and mints.

Nevertheless, I am giving it a go and I have been practising recently while driving around in my little blue Polo. I even made myself laugh, once.

To take the ladies up to the moment I became a journalist will take, I reckon, the best part of three hours so I shall have to be a little more concise unless we all decide to stay the night.

The last time I did a little talk - to an organisation, if memory serves me right, called the Ladies Cathedral Guild in Bury St Edmunds - I remember noticing a lady quietly sitting at the back as I came to the end of my 30-minute slot.

I suspect they may well have lunched well as I distinctly remember the lady in question whispering to her friend “I was just resting my eyes, has he finished?”

Perhaps I better threaten the ladies of the Inner Wheel with a post-talk quiz on me to make sure they remain alert.

My sister Claire, who enjoys Miss Marple and lives in the west of the county, has told me to take along a handout so people can shut their eyes and pretend to be reading.

Of course none of this is going to my head.

Has anyone got any tips? Any advice will be gratefully received.

WEEKENDING in the west of the county, I happened to pick up a leaflet called Saints Together - a newsletter for the parish churches of Beck Row, Eriswell and Icklingham - the village where I grew up.

Not only does this small publication contain details of church services and events but also, this month, an article about the Suffolk dialect - a topic, as the more regular readers among you will know, which intrigues me.

So, thanks to Saints Together, I shall share a few more words with you.

Mawkin - scarecrow

Tye - common land

Het - past participle of to heat - “he's all het up”

Kedgy - active old person

Dardledumdue - lazy person

Bishabarnabee - a ladybird

Have you heard these words? Do you go to church in Eriswell, Beck Row or Icklingham? - do drop me a line or e-mail.

I SUSPECT you have read about our success at the Mayor's Quiz in Ipswich the other week.

My colleague Matthew Tacket was most impressed by the Star Scribes' impressive win.

Fellow quizzer Paul also won a bottle of wine in the raffle - lucky fellow.

I love a raffle don't you? They are such a British institution.

You can't go anywhere without someone selling you coloured tickets you hope to exchange for soapy things, a cuddly toy, notelets or all sorts of things people have won in other raffles.

At the mayor's quiz I had my eye on a rather attractive fruit basket - not something you often see is it nowadays, despite all this five-a-day business.

HAVE you seen these Wii things advertised on television?

Is it just me or are they totally odd?

Nothing to do with the Women's Institute, they are video games which enable you to enjoy a game of tennis, golf, or learn the drums or what have you in your own home.

The adverts show smiling people doing very odd things in their front rooms.

Even old people are not immune - poor things, imagine having to jig about like that at a venerable age.

But surely using a Wii misses the point? Why have a virtual hobby? And what's the point of playing a game of golf or tennis or whatever without actually going out in the fresh air?

I don't know about you but I'd rather not play with one thank you.

Dear Readers

This week's mailbag is most amusing - my hair loss continues to elicit comment.

And Brenda from Felixstowe seems to have rumbled my innocent routine - was I that obvious?

I shall take Brenda's advice though and start being nice to people especially when they recognise me and tell me how much they enjoy my obvious and unadulterated talent. I am not so sure about Freda's suggestion though.

Anyway, keep them coming.


Dear James

I know you act the innocent so that you get a good response! However, you always lighten my week!

Lent is traditionally a time for spring cleaning - lives as well as the house, it lasts for 40 days, not counting Sundays! The days mark the 40 years of the Israelites going through the desert as well as the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness.

Hence the “giving up” chocolate etc!

It is not necessary to “give up” something at this time, better still do something positive!

Phone or write to someone you haven't contacted for a while, perhaps someone who lives alone, in fact put others first, smile and greet the folks in the supermarket queue - OK they'll think you have lost it!

Love and blessings



Dear James

Re the hair loss problem.

I came across the following some time ago and thought you might like to try it.

Just rub four tablespoons of salt, cooking or table, into the scalp and leave for an hour.

Then cover head with towel and hang over a bowl of clear water.

Hair being so thirsty it grows towards the water.

I should say this method has not been proved but it might be worth a try.


Wangford Road,