My starring role

“JAMES, James. It feels like I'm flying” said my plain-speaking photographer friend Lucy as we enjoyed a moment in classic Titanic pose. “Lucy, Lucy,” I replied in my best Leonardo Di Caprio voice, “there may be an iceberg ahead but you'll die an old lady in her bed.

“JAMES, James. It feels like I'm flying” said my plain-speaking photographer friend Lucy as we enjoyed a moment in classic Titanic pose.

“Lucy, Lucy,” I replied in my best Leonardo Di Caprio voice, “there may be an iceberg ahead but you'll die an old lady in her bed.”

You see, dear readers, Lucy and I were trying on our costumes this weekend for our forthcoming production of the musical Titanic along with other members of the Ipswich awfully Operatic and somewhat Dramatic Society.

Lucy, who wore a fetching third class cloth creation, collared me in my White Star Line navy jumper and ship's crew cap.


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“Where's Thomas?” Lucy asked as I slipped on my outfit and paraded around the poop deck aboard Harmony II which is currently being fitted out in Ipswich dock.

“Eh?” I replied “Thomas who?”

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“Thomas the Tank engine. You look like the fat controller,” she said somewhat more honestly than I thought necessary.

Though deep down I could feel the tears welling up, I took the joke.

But why am I in a jumper and a cap in the first place? you may be asking. Well, I play the terribly demanding and much coveted role of Titanic's stevedore. He's the man, for those of you who don't know, that's employed to load the ship.

During the opening sequence I amble on stage left of the Regent, shuffle to one corner, and stay there for the next ten minutes or so shouting out random lines every now and again.

“36,000 oranges, Titanic.” for example, and “7,000 heads of lettuce, Titanic.”

During my announcements, members of the cast and crew board the ship.

Stephanie the diva resplendent in a shocking outfit of white and purple, walks on and does a number.

Evening Star colleague Helen Johns, who also plays a pregnant woman for the purposes of the production, strolls on with her much older (pretend) husband and other first class passengers in a rather large feathery hat. Mike, who works in insurance in real life, pretends to be Irish and ambles on like a cheeky leprechaun to join the third class poor people.

It's all so very, very entertaining, and all the while I'm rooted to the spot looking at a clipboard ticking off lists and making sure the booze has arrived.

James Hayward the affable director has then got me releasing the aft springs as the great “ship of dreams” heads out towards impending peril.

I then slide off into the wings, the equivalent I presume of going for a quick port and lemon and the rest of the day in a Southampton pub, before reappearing a little later in act one as a third class passenger bedecked in brown cloth.

Nevertheless, I'm assured by fellow thespian Stephen, who used to be in a boy band but gave it all up to work for Suffolk County Council, that my best line (one of four or five I have to deliver) is the memorable and crowd pleasing announcement: “42,000 fresh eggs Titanic.”

I'm expecting a show-stopping-main-brace-splicing standing ovation.

I NOTE that bird flu has landed in our county.

I also note that the government has assured us all it's perfectly safe to eat turkey.

Well, on the basis that I trust few people better educated than myself - and trust this government and its scientists even less - I shall keep my own counsel thank you.

GOSH what an odyssey.

Have you ever tried to buy a new mobile phone?

It's like a whole new language. What's a blue tooth and why would I want one? Wanna be celebrities like me need to be contactable at all times and after some weeks of deliberation and confusion, I've got a new phone and a new number, plus a camera as part of the phone you see.

So far I've had one textual message.

“Have you heard about these new designer Saddam Hussein shirts? They're a bit tight around the collar but hang well.”

I don't know who it's from.

I'M worried about the Falkland Islands.

If Argentina persists in laying belligerent and ever increasingly vocal claims to the islands, I suggest we send a battleship or three complete with lots of large missiles somewhere off the coast of Buenos Aires.

As soon as they set foot on British sovereign territory we can start some shock and awe of our own.

Rule Britannia.

THERE'S a vicious rumour going round that I'm anorexic.

Let me scotch it. I've no truck with eating disorders.

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