What no basket?

There are a few things that have been troubling me just recently.Have you noticed how things disappear?Perhaps you don't notice when things aren't there anymore but I've been wondering what happened to those sights and sounds that once used to be commonplace?I know what you're thinking.

There are a few things that have been troubling me just recently.

Have you noticed how things disappear?

Perhaps you don't notice when things aren't there anymore but I've been wondering what happened to those sights and sounds that once used to be commonplace?

I know what you're thinking. Surely he's not on about 'white dog poo' in a family newspaper, and though I'm not going to dwell on that subject that's the sort of thing I mean.

The other evening, with nothing else to do, not much on the television, no James Bond film to watch and no decent selection of short stories to read, I sat down and had a think.

I came up with a few things I have noticed just aren't around anymore.

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Hitchhikers - when was the last time you saw someone thumbing a lift?

Chicken in a basket - used to be quite nice didn't it?

Well behaved children - I never used to scream like kids do today, my mother wouldn't stand for it.

House martins - they used to nest under eaves didn't they? what happened to them?

Children on reins - my generation was perhaps the last to use such a device.

Wine in a box - now everyone's a gourmet does anyone still buy plonk in cardboard?

Chips in yesterday's newspaper - a salutory lesson for all us journos

Clear roads - traffic's everywhere nowadays. where did it all go wrong?

Pianos in pubs - it's all Sky tv and flashing machines.

fake parsley in butcher's shop windows - a strange idea in the first place.

Quiet Sunday afternoons - it's a shame isn't it that the keep Sunday special campaign didn't win?

The trade deficit and money supply - there was a time they made the news.

Odd isn't it? - and quite a long list.

But I'm sure there's more things, like children without shoes and car-less families.

Is there anything you've noticed you just don't see anymore? Do drop me a line.

I am starting a new high profile campaign -Vote Letitia!

With the backing of 125 years of Star campaigning history, we are today launching a fun crusade to make sure the Regent theatre's 2007 panto star stays in this year's BBC production of Strictly Come Dancing.

Letitia is due to appear as the Fairy Godmother at the Ipswich venue in this year's production of Cinderella. She has much impressed all who she's met here.

Theatre manager Hazel Clover said: “Letitia is an absolutely charming woman and we are behind her all the way. We are really excited for her.”

So today we urge you to join us and back the former EastEnders star.

It's been a busy time for me at the theatre.

On Thursday I met Petula Clark. As regular readers will know I wrote about her last week being the tiniest bit touchy about her age.

Well her performance - which was a joy to all that were there - was pretty amazing for a woman in her eighth decade. After the show I went into her dressing room and told her how much I enjoyed her section of songs from the shows of Sondheim, Lloyd Webber and Willy Russell.

She seemed pleased. She even told me she'd consider taking another part in a show if one came along - I wonder if she's a bit of a workaholic? I certainly don't think she's ready to give up and retire do you?

On Wednesday I went along to The Full Monty. The latest production by the Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society (IODS).

Though an IODS member, I wasn't in this show. The show was so entertaining that I went again on Saturday evening. At that final curtain call, the roar of the packed Spa Pavilion - I suddenly wished I'd been performing.

After the performance I spoke to IODS choreographer David who doubles up as a hairdresser in his real life and asked if there was a role for fat-boy-who-can't-tap-dance in the forthcoming production of Singing in the Rain.

He said: "Oh James. You can always dress the stage. You're handy if we need to fill in any gaps."

Hardly a ringing endorsement of my talent is it?

I went to a 40th wedding anniversary in the west of the county at the weekend.

As usual my celebrity company was in high demand.

So despite a streaming cold, I attended a luncheon to honour the happy couple Eve and Ray. Naturally I made everyone aware that I was suffering but soldiering on.

Over my roast beef with horseradish - a large dollop of which made my nose run at double strength - one of the company got up and made a little speech.

"And I'd like to thank James, a so-called celebrity columnist whose favourite subject is himself, for making the effort despite his man-flu." she said.

"His achievement is almost remarkable."

I think her words might have been just a tiny bit tongue-in-cheek (much like my own!), don't you?

A man walks into a butcher's shop and asks for eight legs of venison.

"That'll be £40," says the butcher.

"£40?" says the man. "That's too dear."

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