Return of the twinkle-toed tubby boy

SO my humiliation is complete. This week I went through one of the most unpleasant experiences of my adult life all in the name of art.Not only do I take ballroom dancing lessons, which are indeed progressing nicely, I have decided, after some persuasion to take to the stage and dazzle the world with my acting, singing and dancing talent.

SO my humiliation is complete.

This week I went through one of the most unpleasant experiences of my adult life all in the name of art.

Not only do I take ballroom dancing lessons, which are indeed progressing nicely, I have decided, after some persuasion to take to the stage and dazzle the world with my acting, singing and dancing talent.

“But no” I pleaded as my so-called friend took me along to a rehearsal.

“I don't like musicals much and I will just be the tubby boy prancing around at the back,” I protested.

But by then it was too late.

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“Oh shut up,”she said “and stop moaning. You'll enjoy it when you get there.”

If I ever write my life story, and I have thought about it believe me, this will surely have to be a chapter in it.

So it was with some reluctance that I necked my 6pm sherry, stubbed out a cigarette - smoked only due to nerves honest - left the comfort of my sofa and put on a cravat.

As I turned out of my warm little house, covered my face with my scarf and set off into the centre of Ipswich I remember wondering what on earth, apart from my friend's brusque bullying, could have possessed me to be heading towards my destination: the rehearsal room of the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society (IODS).

It has been many years since I trod the boards but once, as a younger man I was a leading light of the infamous Putney Light Operatic Society and my limitless, as opposed to limited, talent was recognised across South London.

Once there inside the hallowed IODS rehearsal ground, hidden in an Ipswich side street close to the job centre, I found a number of other thespians all confident and keen to be the centre of attention and it all came flooding back.

The make-up, the drama, the fans, the sets-this business we call show.

It was my moment to shine as I had to audition for next year's show Summer Holiday- of - we're all going on one with Cliff and Una - fame.

Of course I was completely unprepared, my throat was sore, my car had broken down, my back ached, my tummy hurt, my hair needed cutting-I have every excuse conceivable to account for what happened next.

As the friendly musical director grimaced as I strained to the first notes of 'Do you wanna dance?' I knew things weren't going well.

The next bit-the dancing-“step ball change, kick, step ball change kick and shadow walk and shadow”-proved trickier than it sounds and as I shimmied around the floor with all the grace of a mule the choreographer soon realised he had no Nureyev to work with on this one.

However, after a couple of times of trying, a little note wavering and some strange moves I was told I had passed the audition-apparently they need men.

Delighted as I was with my success, I settled into the rehearsal with gusto until the moment when the director told me to move upstage. The tubby boy at the back is back.

LIKE a beast of burden I ventured out on Thursday to crack the nut of Christmas shopping.

Braving the harshest weather and hoards of screaming and giggling teenagers, late night Christmas shopping in Ipswich was tortuous affair.

Still unable to really find what I am looking for, mostly because I don't know what that is, my 28-year-old sister's present remained elusive and definitely not in any of the shops I had the misfortune to enter.

I have phoned her and asked her what she would like but nothing seems to be forthcoming. She doesn't know either.

Apparently, she informs me, getting something she isn't expecting is half the joy. I'd like to know what the other half is. I am at a loss.

Anyone with any ideas please contact me or she's getting a pair of gloves and a Toblerone.

AS I mooched around my little Ipswich house avoiding housework and worrying about the heating bill, I found myself listening to Desert Island discs with renewed vigour-if that's possible.

Though not yet asked to supply my chosen records, I have started to make a mental list of what's going to in there when the call from Miss Lawley comes. But it hasn't been easy.

Abba's If It Wasn't For The Nights (I think that I could make it) is up there alongside Dolly's Harper Valley High but for the other six songs I am at a loss. I know that I am only 30 and there are so many memories yet to come but what if fame and fortune beckon earlier? What if Sue wants an answer after the New Year? I spent the next three hours going through my limited CD collection only to add something haunting by Scott Walker - the one with the jumpers.

I have however decided my luxury, after the ubiquitous works of Shakespeare and the bible. I couldn't possibly live without my mobile phone just in case I get called back from the desert island to appear on Parky.

Looking forward to a nice little binge drink on Friday I wrapped up warm walked to a cosy pub and settled in for the night.

After a week on the high octane environment of the Evening Star newsdesk, I felt I deserved a little celebration and enjoyment with my talented colleagues.

A couple of pints of bitter, a warm fire and a nice seat, I was enjoying my night out grateful for the fact that I wouldn't be chucked out of the pub until at least midnight.

Imagine my horror when everyone started to down their drinks and put on their coats at 11pm. The pub I had chosen for my late night drinking spree was shutting at the usual time. Typical.

Outraged I was that my binge was curtailed - I hadn't even got into a fight or vomited on the carpet - I left the pub, walked home and found myself in bed by midnight.

Hardly the hell-raising night of reckless hedonism and drunken cavorting I was expecting after the change in the law.

Oh well, there's always next week.

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