Does anyone remember Any Questions?

6pm on Friday evening found me sitting in the midst of my old stomping ground, the Charles Thorp Academy school hall, stealthily munching my way through a bag of Haribo while I waited for the third session of the Ryton Festival to begin. Solo woodwind instruments and pianoforte solos were the order of the night.

t_clefHeather was with me this time, and she was every bit as impressed as I was with the wealth of young talent here for our enjoyment. I must apologise for the blog I posted last week where I mistakenly told you that the adjudicator was Christina Thompson. Apparently Ms Thompson is to be the adjudicator for 2016, I had mis-read my programme.  Eileen Field is in charge of the musical categories this year.  If you Google her name you will see that Eileen studied at the Royal Academy of Music and is a teacher of singing and piano from beginners to post-graduate level and gives master-classes for choirs and solo singers. She is an ABRSM consultant, moderator, trainer, grade and diploma examiner. Lead consultant for selection of repertoire for ABRSM Singing Syllabus, she has also selected and written performance notes for Boosey & Hawkes Song Collections. Eileen examines and presents seminars for teachers in the UK, Southern Africa, the Far East, USA, Canada and throughout Europe, and is on the panel of jurors for Young Musician of the Year Competition in Hong Kong. It’s an indication of the festival’s importance that someone of such eminence comes to our village to adjudicate.

Another delight of the evening, was to meet up again with my former English master Richard Reid after an interlude of forty years. I think I’ve mentioned before that when I was a teenager, my mother collared me climbing into our house via the kitchen window one afternoon because I was skipping games. I explained to her  that I always skipped games, but it didn’t matter because I simply came home, watched the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and then went back to school for English. Three hours later I was standing in our hall with my ear stapled to the living room door eavesdropping on a parental conversation appertaining to my many shortcomings, including my fondness for truancy.  The most unlikely source of support imaginable materialised with my father’s utterance of, “I don’t care about her missing games. So long as she goes back for English.”  I would NEVER have missed one of Richard’s lessons.

Next weekend the festival sessions include Bible Reading, Public speaking, Solo Acting, Choral  Speaking, Verse Speaking, Mime, and Drama. There is a lot more going on so for full details see Ryton Festival.  Two of the trophies to be awarded on Saturday 7th March, are the Sheila Beveridge Trophy, and the Donald Beveridge Trophy for open class plays. Aunty Sheila was my Mum’s sister. Unfortunately I won’t be able to see any of the drama sessions, because Heather and I are going to Braintree to watch their football team play Gateshead. Yes you did read me correctly, we are driving 300 miles to watch a game of non-league football.  I’m disappointed to be missing the drama, but I can’t complain really because Heather always does everything that I want to do. Seven times I have dragged her to far-flung corners of English soil to see and hear Clare Teal.  Seven times Heather has stood in line with my babbling and simpering self to ask Clare Teal for her autograph, and seven times Heather has said to Miss Teal (who possesses charms over which Heather remains mysteriously impervious) “I’m her carer,” meaning me.  So I can hardly moan.  I’ve never been to Essex before, I don’t think I’ve ever even driven through it, so it will be somewhere new.

Having mentioned the Thorp Academy, does anyone reading this remember the night that the Radio Four “Any Questions” team visited there?  They did a live show from the school, and it was presented by the late David Jacobs.  Germaine Greer and Tony Benn were two of the panelists, and then there was a Lord somebody, and I can’t remember who else. I’d largely forgotten about it but my friend Margot reminded me having read my last blog. I should remember it though, because I got to ask a question live on air.  Some cleric or other had been in hot water for having an affair, and at the time it was big news.  These days it wouldn’t even merit a paragraph on page 20. We had to submit our questions on our the way into the school hall to hear the broadcast, and before it went on air the producer told me that my question was one of the ones selected.  Somewhere, lurking under the dust coated space under my bed, will be the cassette taped recording of this programme.  I remember I stood up when instructed to, and said, “Tttttammy Linsell. Does the panel think that ex-communication for adultery is compatible with practising Christian charity?” The panel gave me their answer, and mercifully they didn’t ask me to comment.  I say mercifully because it wasn’t my question at all, my Dad’s friend Max Williams was the person who had in fact come up with it. It wasn’t really five minutes of fame, more like five seconds, but very exciting nevertheless.

imagesMy brother and nephew visited on Saturday, and they came with Heather and I to watch Newcastle play Aston Villa. I got to meet Chris Kamara (pictured left).  We were right next to the press box where he was reporting for Sky. What a lovely bloke.