This site has a lot of readers, for which I’m flattered and grateful, but it’s still just a hobby. I’m not a celebrated newspaper hack who can bestow widespread publicity upon all who speak to me – leading to fame, riches, and and a sit on The One Show couch. I’m a local woman on the wrong side of fifty, and when organisations agree to allow me access to private meetings so I can find out more about them, I’m all too well aware that I’m an intruder. So I was as nervous as hell sitting in the car park outside the Thorp Academy last night, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, catching the tail end of Total Sport. I was there to meet members of the Ryton Choral Society, and the first one to say hello was Gerald, who pulled his car up alongside mine. We walked into the Academy together and I was made to feel very welcome. Nervousness forgotten.
Since I began writing this blog last June, I’ve been constantly amazed at the number of things that go on in Ryton, as well as the impressive volume of talent our small region nurtures. I mentioned the Ryton Choral Society a couple of weeks back, and said that I only found out about them because one of its members, Alison Stancliffe, kindly got in touch.
I emailed the society and asked if I could take some photographs to include on this site. It was great when Peter Rippingale replied to say yes, and last night I sat in on the first fifteen minutes of their rehearsal in the hall at Charles Thorp. I didn’t stay any longer, because their time is tight and rehearsal minutes precious, though I came away wondering why they need to rehearse for so long (two hours) because they really don’t seem to need it. They are very good indeed. The musical directors are David Murray and Eileen Brown, both esteemed musicians, and you can catch the choir at The Sage next month. Here’s a reminder. Tickets for the concert now are available from The Sage Box Office: 0191 443 4661 or from members of the Choral Society. They are priced at: Adults £18; Students (16+) £8; children under 16 £4 but FREE with paying adult. Tickets bought via the box office will incur a £1.50 booking fee, here’s the link; Book via the Sage. Tickets bought direct from the Choral Societies will not incur the booking fee! Click on the links above to contact them directly and for more detailed information. I’ve got mine!
In case you don’t know what a chugger is: It’s a term for paid fundraisers who stand in busy areas and approach passers-by asking them to donate money via direct debit. They don’t actually work for the charity, but are part of professional fund-raising organisations, contracted by the charities to raise money, and are usually on commission. It’s a job of course, but there are guidelines, in that representatives are not supposed to argue with you or use distraction techniques. For example, dropping an umbrella so that you pick it up for them and are then obliged to engage in conversation. Chuggers outside Beales in Hexham last week please take note.
Last February a telephone cold caller contacted my 93-year-old mother and said, “Have you have been involved in an accident?” My mother is deaf, and what she heard was; “Tammy has been involved in an accident.” Completely on her own and very distressed, she tried to ring me on my mobile, and when she found it switched off, she contacted both the QE and my work. In the end she got through to Heather, who knew I was at the Ryton Festival but didn’t manage to speak to me until I checked my phone during the interval. I had to leave the Festival to go and see Mum, who was understandably distressed, and who continued to be distressed about it for weeks afterwards. The techniques I’ve mentioned aren’t illegal, but to my mind they’re often questionable and unscrupulous practitioners sometimes push the boundaries. I hate them.
Email scammers are different of course, they’re criminals. Mum’s neighbour Jim died several years ago. He was well-known in the village, taking active roles in the Ryton Players, the Sailing and Rowing clubs, and he attended the Holy Cross church most Sundays. Towards the end of his life, Jim suffered from dementia, and he was persuaded to part with several thousand pounds by someone unknown. The money was swallowed into a cyber-hole somewhere in Nigeria.
Have you ever heard of Burkina Faso? It’s a land locked country in West Africa. A former French colony, it is a leading cotton producer, gaining independence as Upper Volta in 1960. I know this because I’ve just looked it up. I said above that my blog has a lot of readers, but apparently I have two people who are not only readers, but ardent fans. Wow! They are Mr Paul Aruna and his mother from Burkina Faso. Paul wrote to tell me that he and his sick mother read my blog in their local cyber café. Actually, the café isn’t all that local, it’s ten miles away from where they live. How his 88-year-old sick mother makes it there and back on foot every day, isn’t covered in the initial email, or any of the emails that follow come to that. The people of Word Press provide me with a little map over which I pour for hours, marvelling at how popular I am, how many readers I have, and in which countries. For instance in Holland I have one [reader]. Just the one, but I’m looking to expand. West Africa doesn’t feature at all, so although Paul is undoubtedly somewhere in the world, it isn’t Burkina Faso. I’ve always replied to email scammers, sometimes thy write back, more usually they don’t. Paul is one of the ones who did, and he and I have enjoyed a fairly lengthy correspondence over the past week. I thought we were developing a deep and meaningful relationship, but then he told me to F*** ***. Ahh well, you win some you lose some. I copied and pasted the thread on to my Facebook page, and never have I had so many ‘likes’ or ‘shares’. If you aren’t on Facebook, but would like to chart the progress of our burgeoning but ultimately doomed relationship, click here, Paul and his sick mother. then you will know what I’m talking about!