Titanic struggle ahead

TENSION is mounting daily among the members of the Ipswich theatrical fraternity, of which I am an enthusiastic member. I can't eat, I can't relax, I can't concentrate and I can't even eat - a strange problem to encounter for the larger man.

TENSION is mounting daily among the members of the Ipswich theatrical fraternity, of which I am an enthusiastic member.

I can't eat, I can't relax, I can't concentrate and I can't even eat - a strange problem to encounter for the larger man.

And the reason, dear readers, is that the auditions are approaching for Titanic, the next musical to be performed by the Ipswich awfully Operatic and unspeakably Dramatic Society.

As I sit in my little Ipswich sitting room learning my words and humming the tunes I need to know, I can feel my heart palpitating, my mouth drying and my knees wobbling at the mere thought of singing and performing on the stage of the Regent Theatre in front of the affable director James and the co-ordinated choreographer David.

Not to mention the costume lady Pam, a showbusiness lady of many years standing, who has already expressed somewhat amused concern at finding silk pyjamas and a lifejacket big enough to fit me for the final scenes, where - and I don't think I'll be giving away too much if I tell you - the boat sinks.

Lucy, my plain speaking photographer friend, came up with some invaluable advice for the more nervous among us.

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“Stop fussing you big drama queen, and just do it,” she said plainly, as I mentioned my concerns after we visited an Ipswich primary school yesterday.

Stephen, the society's Scottish tenor, who was once in a boy band but gave it all up to work for Suffolk County Council and knows about these things, also proved useful.

“Och, eee, ach, aye, nah, noe, why don't ya, och, noe, eee, aye,” he suggested. He's from Dundee, you see.

Other high profile members, including Stephanie-the-diva, Samantha, a ruben-esque lady with healthy set of lungs, and Jason, a frightfully theatrical young lad who just loves the shows and dressing up, have all remained silent on the issue preferring, I suspect, to keep their powder dry.

Anyway for me, who is auditioning for the highly coveted part of large lad at the back, it is somewhat of an ordeal to be got through.

Indeed, I never had this with the Putney Light Operatic Society (PLOS), where, as a younger man, I was once a leading light having been quite chummy with PLOS musical director Philip who was always desperate for men - to join the cast that is.

But to show willing I have practised striking a few Leonardo Di Caprio - style poses and getting into the feeling of being aboard ship. I've eaten some cod and bought a bottle of rum in a bid to immerse myself in my part. I just hope it pays off.

JESS, a lady journalist and the Evening Star's equivalent of Janet Street Porter, is never afraid to say what she thinks.

Indeed, as I walked into the office this week wearing a hat to combat the icy weather that seems to be gripping our area of the UK in recent days, she looked up from her computer screen.

“James, you look like a flump,” she announced before asking everyone else in the office what they thought of my headwear.

Put it this way, to be likened to a rather obscure 1970s little furball with a Yorkshire accent is not my idea of sartorial elegance. I haven't worn it since.

GOD doesn't Ken Dodd go on?

I went to see him on Sunday night under express instructions from my editor to stay until the end.

I thought' he'd never end. By 11pm I was missing the comfort of my sumptuous maroon boudoir and it wasn't 12.22am in the morning that he finally hung up his tickle stick.

But I wouldn't have missed it.

He might be the last of something rather than the beginning, but he's no spring chicken and at least I saw a Great British institution in action.

Turn to page……. for my full review of the Liverpudlian funny man.

Did you enjoy the show? Tell me what you thought?

EVENING Star editor Nigel- who has recently promoted himself to the coveted position of sitting next to me in the newsroom- was on top form this week after the Evening Star got a mention by Guardian newspaper media commentator Roy Greenslade in his website blog.

“You must know who he is James,” Nigel, known as NP, said: “He is media glitterati, just like yourself.”

Under the headline, “Cameron backs Ipswich paper's hospitals campaign”, Mr Greenslade highlights our “Save Our Angels” campaign by saying “During a tour of East Anglian hospitals he (Cameron) accused the Labour government of targeting hospital services in areas like Ipswich for political reasons.

“Cameron said the Star campaign, which is aimed at preventing the culling of specialist and nursing posts from Ipswich hospital, had "shown up the strength of feeling... on the issue.”

I wonder if Roy might like to talk about my column in his next blog?

Weblink http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/greenslade.

Clean and tighten your pores with a spot of voddy. Apply Smirnoff Vodka to your face with a cotton ball to freshen your face. Lovely.

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