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TO be honest there's nothing better than a Bond film is there? What better way to while away a wet Saturday afternoon than with a nasty villain, a car chase in a nice car, a couple of scantily-clad ladies, a suave British spy and a dastardly plot to rule or destroy the world.

James Marston

TO be honest there's nothing better than a Bond film is there?

What better way to while away a wet Saturday afternoon than with a nasty villain, a car chase in a nice car, a couple of scantily-clad ladies, a suave British spy and a dastardly plot to rule or destroy the world.

Now, dear readers, I have yet to see this latest outing of the secret agent 007 but many of us have and it's broken some box office records and I hear it's proving even more popular than Harry Potter's Goblet of Fire.

As we discussed the latest film over what passes for mid-morning coffee from the vending machine. a couple of my wittier newspaper colleagues wondered if I might make a useful spy with one colleague called Pete, who's learning Italian in his spare time, suggesting James Marston - Licence to Quill might be more fitting.

My other colleague Jon, who enjoys sports cars, said he thought that the similarity between me and Bond started and ended with our Christian names and that if I ever got into a Bond film it would be called Fatfinger anyway.

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Despite my bulk I'm fairly light on my feet yet I'm not sure I have the requisite stealth to creep around sensitive places and extract information - though as a journalist you'd be surprised at the things I've found out over the years.

Anyway as I sit here in my small Felixstowe salon with sea views (distant) waiting for a delicious fish dish to ping in the microwave and sipping a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc, I've just been thinking that I might make rather a good spy.

And with James Bond I think I have rather a lot in common.

- We both like a drink - though I'm not sure Bond has tried crème de menthe with lemonade recently.

- We're both excellent drivers - he chases people and I negotiate the Ipswich one way system every day.

- We both have cars suited to our purposes - he enjoys the benefits of an ejector seat in his Aston Martin but my little blue Polo is very economical you know and it has a very handy drinks holder.

- We both spent time on the Riviera - he on the French one and I on the East Anglian one.

- We both like a bit of violence - I am a red belt in karate, at least I was when I was 12.

- We both like the odd gadget - though my tend to be of the kitchen variety.

- We both like Shirley Bassey - no one to beat her.

- We've both got licences to kill - though that's a blatant lie on my part.

- We both like gambling - though I'm not sure a night at the bingo is the same as the tables of Monte.

And we can both handle a gun - as you can see.

Festive joke:-

I happened to be chatting to comedian Paddy McGuiness the other day - he of Phoenix Nights fame - and I asked him to tell me a Hallowe'en joke.

Paddy said: “I bought myself a ghost boomerang this year. When I got it home I went out in the garden and threw it. I thought to myself, that will come back to haunt me.”

Hallowe'een terror in Kesgrave:-

OF course we theatricals love an excuse to dress up - and isn't the American import of Hallowe'en just perfect.

I found myself in the Ipswich hinterland of Kesgrave at the weekend celebrating among other ghost and ghouls with a soiree which included on the guest list - me - and a few others from the Ipswich most Operatic and frightfully Dramatic Society.

On the way there I noticed what appeared to be a large pissoir on a roundabout - apparently it's been there for a while and made of granite and is public art.

I spent much of the time in the kitchen near the punch bowl along with IODS stalwart Margaret who had come along in a theatrical frock and wig, Lucy, my plain-speaking photographer friend dressed as a witch's cat, Kelly my well-educated teacher friend who was a witch and my tall glamorous friend Lucia who had dressed a gothic bride complete with veil.

I went along as Count Dracula -though admittedly a rather chubby one with not too much hair - in a borrowed cape once used by a vicar for funerals.

It was a most entertaining evening and I discovered that there are some graves at Kesgrave in a wood, reputedly belonging to a shepherd who hung himself a couple of centuries or so ago - fascinating.

Can anyone tell me more?

Christmas Eve gig:-

NOT only am I, and it's not a claim I wish to debate, a talented newspaper columnist, a wordsmith, a raconteur and a very good value dinner party guest but I also play the church organ - well once a year.

Each Christmas Eve for the last several years I can be found in the ancient Suffolk church of St James in the west Suffolk village of Icklingham - where I grew up - pounding out Joy To The World, double-de clutching into Silent Night, and Hark the Herald before tugging the grand diapason and rousing the congregation from their midnight slumber with O Come All Ye Faithful.

Dorothy, a lady who's a regular at St James, books me every year and we choose the hymns.

This year she mentioned it to me back in May and she mentioned it again a few weeks ago - indeed, no sooner had we finished the celebrations of the annual Harvest Supper than she was making sure I'd got the gig in my diary.

Of all the theatrical and musical performances I do it remains one of my favourites.

You see it appeals to my sense of history.

Governments and kings have come and gone, empires have risen and fallen, wars won and lost and yet little has changed at St James - and churches like it are one of the few constants in our world.

And I am one of a long line of people who have, for centuries, provided the musical backdrop for worship under the medieval roof and amid the mystical stone columns on that night of the year.

It's in my diary and everyone is welcome to come along.

JAMES' MAIL BAG

MY dear readers,

Yet again a busy mail bag and I do so love a proper letter.

This week's topics have including getting “the pip”, dogs and cats - a never-ending debate, and the suggestion I look at a dictionary.

Mrs Catchpole has put pen to paper again, she's turning into quite a regular and entertaining correspondent.

And for Mr George Thornalley, I ought to clarify, the dog that bit me and marked me for life wasn't yours but it did happen in Worlington.

But I grew up in the small village of Icklingham, which is not too far away.

Anyway, keep the letters coming.

James

Dear James

IF you continue writing such very topical and interesting columns you certainly will become famous-ish, if not already so.

To carry on, if you can bear it, I was also interested in your recent article, we must be kindred spirits, as I had a bad experience of dogs and was always scared of them, having been told a dog jumped up to my pram and took my biscuit. Of course the memory has gone, but thought again it might do you good to read how my future relationship with dogs turned out.

The lovely man I married always had a yen for an Alsatian to lie on his hearth when he had his own home.

And so he did, we purchased a beauty from our local policeman, a good start, it was a male and we had him for the whole 16 years of his life and acted as my footstool. When we had to make a traumatic move from our country cottage in Charsfield to a much more convenient bungalow here in Wickham I thought him a surprise black Labrador for his birthday, a pedigree, which he trained for the pheasant sporting field. She is lovely and now ten and retired we named her after our granddaughter who married in July.

Keep up the good work. Sorry for the frequent splurges in this one.

JEAN CATCHPOLE,

Orchard Place,

Wickham Market.

Dear James

Cats Cleaner?!

One expects to be wary walking along a pavement, re dog fouling, but not in one's own garden where the only animal presence is that of neighbours' cats (nine at the present count, I suspect more), and the smell is atrocious.

Glad Mr Hollands has put you right about 'sobersides'.

There is a paragraph about being 'given the pip' too in the dictionary - I suggest the Oxford Concise.

Thanks for your entertaining columns.

AUDREY THOMSON,

Second Avenue,

Trimley St Mary,

Dear James,

MY husband and I are both in our 70s, Ipswich born and bred, and both brought up with “getting the pip” if we went out inadequately dressed in the bad weather. I still tell my husband he'll “get the pip” when going out in the garden without a coat on when its windy or wet, so it's still used in our house, can't remember the children using it for many years so guess it could be dying out.

Better keep wrapped up well James or you might be in for a cold or flu or even “the pip”, don't know what's worse.

J ROBINSON,

Dover Road,

Ipswich.

James

I read your comments about the "pip" and it brought back some memories. Growing up in Ireland, my family used to keep chickens and other domestic birds. I remember seeing many of the chickens struggling to breathe. My mother always managed to cure them. The condition was indeed "pip" which was a collection of mucus in the back of the throat which caused them great difficulty. My mother and indeed anyone who kept domestic fowl always used a feather to clear the mucus and very few died.

Hope the above is of help.

MICHAEL O'DONOVAN,

Fountains Road,

Ipswich.

Dear James,

I remember that there was another meaning for 'the pip' that my family would use occasionally.

That expression was; 'you're giving me the pip', which meant that one's parent was being irritated by an offspring's childishly naughty behaviour. I don't know if any other local readers might have heard of that one. In similar circumstances, my old dad would bark out: 'You're getting on my wick!' This meant he was pretty annoyed with something I might have got up to.

I wonder if anyone else might have heard of this expression as well.

BERNARD JASPER

Dear James,

I have lived in this village of Worlington all my life (apart from the war years when I lived in a tank), you should try it some time, it's very interesting.

Now my wife and I have been trying all day to decide who is this James Marston who was born here in our village.

I thought we knew everyone in Worlington this small village. Never heard of him. A missing famous one? Maybe.

Was it our old black Labrador that removed the seat of your trousers? I think not, he was more interested in the ladies. Our Worlington dogs do not bite they just bark.

GEORGE THORNALLEY,

Church Lane,

Worlington.