NEWS PAGE & BLOG


Hello one and all and welcome to my news page. Here you can see me as my two alter egos the ever efficient secretary Prudie Jones, Evette the Spivette and plain old little me as you catch up with all that is current in my world. Regrettably unlike Prudie my spelling is quite frightful at the best of times due to my dyslexia so I shall apologise now for anything which might be shamefully mis-spelt. In the mean time I hope you find this page fun, entertaining and informative and become a regular visitor to my site.

Kind Regards

A Voice in a Million


Happy Easter and Off to Normandy!

Out and About in My Easter Bonnet!

Out and About in My Easter Bonnet!

Hello every-one it’s been all go with “Easter Bonnet” shows this week and I’m pleased to announce that I’m now fully booked for the rest of this month and well into May. Next month I start on the first of my new shows “Thank-you for the Music” as I begin to move my repertoire forward into the 1970s. I still have quite a few new Motown numbers to learn which I have been learning while driving off to my Easter Bonnet shows. Motown makes a change form my love of show tunes and I’m looking forward to performing the first “Thank-you for the Music” show on the 26th of this month.

Easter is now in full swing and I’d like to thank- you all for your lovely Easter cards and well wishes. I’m pleased so many of you liked my “Fashion on the Ration” article in the Best of British magazine this month. I’m very proud of it and I took a great deal of pleasure in writing it. I hope it wont be too long before I’am able to add it to my web-site.

All Ready for Easter!

All Ready for Easter!

As many of you know I’ve been looking for a new web-designer these last couple of months  and after a long search I think I may have found just the right person. It’s early days but I have a meeting with them next week and I’m looking forward to moving my web-site on and perhaps giving my home page something of a new look. We will have to see as I have lots of ideas running around in my head and I need to discuss what is possible when it comes to web-site design.

Speaking about web-sites my new videos should be on their way very soon. Both the Music Hall and Lakme’ show-reels will make welcome additions to my site. I saw the last cut before Easter and their are only a few tiny little tweaks which need to be done before I will be releasing them – So keep watching this space.

Some more good news this week. I’ve been booked to perform in the town of Ste Marie du Mont on Sunday 4th June as part of the D-Day commemorations in Normandy. I shall be posting up my show times in due course although it looks like I will be performing a couple of shows during the day which will give me a little more time to speak to you all in-between sets. I will have more news on that in the next week or so so keep watching.

I shall leave my blog here tonight as I’m tired and need to get to bed. Keep Watching and Toodle Pip!

 

 


Tea at Ascott House & a New Exercise Opportunity!

Back in the Office!

I’m looking for a New Web-Designer!

Ready for Class!

Ready for Class!

It’s been an interesting week this week as I’ve been out and about interviewing web design companies and web-designers to take over the role of managing my web-site. Rachel has deiced to retire from this line of business to peruse a new career in selling antiques and retro goods. I’m going to mis her very much and I wish her well in her new chosen career. We got on so well and together we created so much, but the time has come for me to find someone new which hasn’t been easy but I think after an endless stream of IT people and listening to their various pitches I may have found just the right person this week, so fingers crossed all works out!

As many of you know I don’t do the 21st century very well but this last month I’ve spent much of my time looking at web-sites and web-site design in my quest to find a replacement. It’s difficult to find someone who is both good at the technical side and a wiz with design. Often it’s an either or  and being a bit quirky I needed to find someone who would get me and the vintage world I live in.

Ascott House Tea Room!

Ascott House Tea Room!

Linda and I Shopping for Vintage in Wendover!

Linda and I Shopping for Vintage in Wendover!

Outside Wendover Antiques Center!

Outside Wendover Antiques Center!

Apart from IT I’ve been trying out two new exercise classes this week which have been designed for the 55+ age group. The teacher is looking for someone to take over the running of them and I thought it was a job I would be interested in doing. I’m a trained dancer and it would make a change from always singing. I’m giving it some serous thought this weekend but it might be a good opportunity for me to call on my dance skills and do something different.

This Friday I started on the first of my Easter Bonnet shows and I now have a clear run of performances through to 12th May. I have to confess the Easter Bonnet show is one of my favorites. I get to sing some lovely songs which makes a change from all the Motown stuff I’ve been learning these last few weeks. On my way home I called into Ascott House for tea. The estate have just opened a tea room and it’s a handy place for me to call into when I come back from doing a show. The grounds are so lovely at this time of year and when we were children my mother would always take my brother and I to see the house and grounds during the Easter holidays which was just lovely. It those days we would always pack a pick-nick!

The weather this week has been fabulous and on Wednesday I caught up with the girls Betty, Chris and Linda for lunch in Wendover. No trip to Wendover would be complete with-out a look in the Antique center and the vintage trimming shop.

That’s all my news for now as I need to dash. Tomorrow I must catch up with my accounts and learn some more Motown which will be part of my new “Thank-you for the Music” show. This one will include songs from the 1950s 60s & 70s.

Keep Watching and Toodle Pip! 😉

 

 


Back from Portsmouth and Remembering Lorraine Rowan Smith

Walking Poppy Between Shows in Southsea!

Walking Poppy Between Shows in Southsea!

If you caught my last blog you will know this past week I have been performing down in the Fleet, Portsmouth area an assortment of shows combining the music of the 1940s with the Swinging 50s and 60s. It’s always good to get away and work a different area from time to time. These last few months I’ve been busy in the office  and I’m looking forward to performing the first of my Easter Bonnet shows this coming Friday with the run up to the Easter season.

It will be good to get away from my computer screen. There is still a lot of uncertainty in the air with Brexit and all but things are starting to come together or be it very last minute. Where a few years ago events were booked up 12 months in advance many are waiting to a few months before the scheduled event before committing, and quite a few have now fallen by the wayside which doesn’t surprise me at all.

Out and About in Emsworth!

Out and About in Emsworth!

I expect many of you on the 1940s scene have already picked up your “Best of British” magazine this month from WH Smiths. For those of you in the know the BOB April issue is the one to have as it lists all the 1940s events for the year. It’s a good way of mapping the changes. You can tell a lot by looking at  how events advertiser themselves and how they vary from year to year. It’s much more informative than reading a list on a web-site as you can judge which events are thriving and which ones are going down. When things get tight the first thing events cut is their advertising budget and entertainment which

My Fashion on the Ration Article!

My Fashion on the Ration Article!

doesn’t present a good image.  Often more is said by not having an advert which can be followed up by social media or in some cases the lack of it. You can always tell just how successful an event has been by it’s social media follow up. The results can be quite surprising so it never pays to underestimate the public!

This month you can find my advertisement on page 61 in the Best of British plus my article on page 40. This year I was asked to write about “Fashion on the Ration” and it’s effects on the British public. I really enjoyed writing this article so if you haven’t got your magazine

Lorraine Rowan Smith!

Lorraine Rowan Smith!

yet do make sure you pop down to WH Smiths and pick up a copy. The BOB makes for a great read!

While I was performing down in Portsmouth last week I was very sorry to hear of the death of fellow artist Lorraine Rowan Smith. Like many artists we performed at similar events and we were a little like ships which passed in the night. Sadly I wished fate had brought us together as we had so much in common. I didn’t realize just how much until I heard her daughter Emma speak at Lorraine’s funeral last Wednesday which took place at The Italian Villa at Compton Acres. Paul knew Lorraine far better than I and I only wished we had had the opportunity to have got to known each other. I think we would have had so much to have talked about having trod a very similar path.

The service was a celebration of Lorraine’s life which was illustrated with video recordings of Lorraine’s

Paul and I at The Italian Villa!

Paul and I at The Italian Villa!

performances. I’m so pleased that so many of her performances had been recorded in particular her singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel. However to my mind her finest tribute was a film chosen by Emma which showed Lorraine at her very best singing “The Jewel Song” from Faust in perfect French. I’ve sung that aria and I know just how difficult it is to do which I think highlighted how talented she really was.

Wednesday’s service was a wonderful and fitting tribute to a very fine lady who cared a great deal about so many things. I was particularly moved when Emma told us that every Friday Lorraine would wear something red to remember the people who died in both world wars as once a year on the 11th November wasn’t enough. Afterwards we were invited to walk around the gardens of the Italian Villa which was just beautiful.

I shall leave my blog here tonight. Keep Watching and Toodle Pip!


Admiral Byng & Off Down to Fleet!

Out-side All Saints Church, Southill

Out-side All Saints Church, Southill

Southill Church of All Saints

Southill Church of All Saints

If you caught my last blog you will know that this week I have been out and about performing “We’ll Meet Again” shows to tie in with Vera Lynn’s 100th Birthday. However after my performance in Biggleswade on Tuesday fate brought me by chance to the charming village of Southill.

While I was on my way home I saw a sign for a vintage tea room which I thought deserved a visit. I turned off the main road missed the tea room but came across another sign which pointed to the church saying they were serving teas on Tuesday. So by a twist of fate I ended up there instead which was just lovely. The church looked so beautiful with all the daffodils out and I thought it could have been used as a film setting for Miss Marple. What I didn’t realize was the village of Southill is famous for of the ill fated Admiral Byng. I sort of half remembered the story having had it told to me as a child as the ladies and gentlemen in the church reminded me over tea and cakes. He is buried in Southill’s All Saints church and was shot by sentence of court martial on the 14th March in 1757. Only the week before they had held a special

Admiral Byng!

Admiral Byng!

event in Southill

to commemorate the admiral.

Byng’s execution was satirized by Voltaire in his novel Candide. In Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad and is told that “in this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others” (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres).  That’s where the saying comes from “to encourage the others”. If you are not quite up to speed with why Admiral Byng was shot here is an explanation.

Byng was 50 and a full admiral when the Seven Years’ War broke out in 1756 He sailed with ten ships of the line to Gibraltar. His orders were to prevent the French in Toulon

Out and About in Marlow!

Out and About in Marlow!

from capturing the British stronghold of Fort St Philip on the island of Minorca, and to this end he was to carry a detachment of 700 men from the Gibraltar garrison to Port Mahon.

When Byng reached Gibraltar, he discovered that the French had already landed a sizeable force on Minorca and were besieging the fort. He and his council of war decided against landing more troops and he wrote to the Admiralty to explain that carrying out his orders would not stop the French and would be a needless waste of manpower.

The letter, which arrived at the end of May, aroused consternation and fury in London. George II said flatly: ‘This man will not fight!’ Then came news of an inconclusive encounter in June between the British fleet under Byng and the French, from which the French had

On Stage in Marlow!

On Stage in Marlow!

sailed away scot free, and late in June Fort St Philip surrendered. Byng was summoned home and put under arrest on arrival. Mobs went about chanting ‘Swing, swing Admiral Byng’ and the court martial, which convened at the end of December, was reported in detail in all the newspapers. Byng was charged with ‘failing to do his utmost’. He defended himself, but the court found against him and with the utmost reluctance sentenced him to death.

All Saints Church in Southill is so beautiful so if you would like to find out more do visit the church.  In 2007, some of Byng’s descendants petitioned the government for a posthumous pardon. The Ministry of Defence refused. Members of his family continue to seek a pardon, along with a group at Southill in Bedfordshire where the Byng family lived.

A Photo by Derick!

A Photo by Derick!

On Friday I found myself performing two more “We’ll Meet Again” shows back to back in the town of Marlow. This Monday I shall be on the road once more heading down to Fleet and then onto Portsmouth for a few days. I have a run of shows so I wont be back until Friday and then we will be into the Easter Bonnet season.

In the meantime I will leave you with a few photos which were taken by The Barnet and Finchley Photographic society when I modeled for one of their shoots.

Keep Watching and Toodle Pip!

A Photo by Tony!

A Photo by Tony!


Singing at The Waterside Theater, Vera Lynn & Vintage Fashion at Hammersmith!

Kim and I at The Waterside Theater!

Kim and I at The Waterside Theater!

Ready to Sing for Armed Forces Day!

Ready to Sing for Armed Forces Day!

Judging the Painting Competition!

Judging the Children’s Painting Competition!

Editing Lakme!

Editing Lakme!

Hammersmith Vintage Fashion Fair!

Hammersmith Vintage Fashion Fair!

This last week has been a real assortment of all sorts. If you caught my last blog you will know I was filming on Monday at the Limelight theater and then on Friday I was at The Waterside theater in Aylesbury singing for the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Armed Forces Day Ticket Launch. My friend Kim was also there as she is a standard bearer for the Royal British Legion and very smart she looked too along with the rest of the RBL team!

These are always great events to do as there are plenty of interesting people to meet and while I was walking through with my equipment to 2nd Space I bumped into Brandon Cole from “Strictly Come Dancing” who was performing in the main theater. His producer helped me in with my rig which was very kind. I only wished I could have stayed afterwards to see Brandon’s show although I did get a quick peek at some of the costumes as they were being unpacked and hung ready for performance. Maybe next time!

I was engaged to perform 30 minutes of patriotic songs by the organizers  and afterwards they announced the winner of the children’s painting competition of which it was very hard to choose, especially as we were all asked to vote for the painting we thought best on our arrival. This year the Jive Aces will be headlining the Armed Forces day event  on the 17th June which they have brought forward a week which I guess makes it easier for service personal and their families to attend. I shall be performing in various locations over the course of the day songs from WW1 -WW2 although change is in the air and I feel people are craving for more 1950s & 60s music. It’s important to engage with audiences and I’ve been rehearsing at home some new songs which I’m looking forward to putting into my shows later this season.

Today I had two shows back to back as for those of you in the know will know it was Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday today. It wont come as any surprise to learn I will be busy for the rest of this week performing “We’ll Meet Again” shows with one 50s and 60s show squeezed in on Thursday just to be different.

As for last week I was able to make a start with David on editing Monday’s filming of the Flower Duet from Lakme’. When filming me as a three girl harmony group it’s easy to have me standing next to myself in a line but for this David came up with the brilliant idea of filming over my shoulder and playing with focus between Lakme’ and Mallika which I think will look fantastic. It’s a completely different approach and very exiting so I can’t wait to see his first edit of the aria.

On Sunday I decided to make it along to Hammersmith to the Vintage fashion Fair which I just adore. I hadn’t been for ages and there is always so much to see. To be honest

Shopping for Vintage in Hammersmith!

Shopping for Vintage in Hammersmith!

my wardrobes are bursting as it is but it’s always lovely to look and to be around like minded and creative people. While I was there I was able to pick up some flowers from “ISOBEL” which I intend to make into a corsage. I’m also looking for a pair of purple 3/4 length gloves but as yet I haven’t been able to find what I’m looking for. I did see a long pair on Sunday  but they weren’t quite right so I will continue with the hunt.

Next week I shall be down on the South coast as I have a run of shows in the Porstmouth area so I shall leave my blog here tonight.

Keep Watching and Toodle Pip!

 


On Set With Scotland to India – Loch Lomand to Lakme’

On Set with David!

On Set with David!

Since returning home from Nottingham on Sunday I’ve been extremely busy in the office this week. So as you might expect I was pleased to have a change of surroundings today and to be working in Aylesbury at The Limelight Theater with David filming The Flower Duet from Lakme’.  If you have been following me you will know I’ve been planning this film shoot for ages and it’s great when a plan comes together.

My day started bright and early as I was in the hair dressers with Kim first thing this morning as my hair needed to be set in rollers before it could be dressed out and worn long. Kim often works with me as my sound engineer so it was great to be working with her again today employing both her skills not only as a sound engineer but as a hair dresser too.

In Costume for Lakme'

In Costume for Lakme’

As with anything I do, a great deal of thought goes into the planning of it. For many years I had wanted to leave a video record of me singing the Flower Duet and I had had lots of ideas about how I wanted to stage and costume the aria. Although written in French by Delibes the Opera is set in India at the time of the Rarge so I wanted a look which would suit the date of 1883. Then one day all my ideas fell into place when I re-watched the 2001 film Moulin Rouge. Nicole Kidman’s Hindirehearsai  dress really inspired me as I wanted a dress which would tick both the Victorian and Indian box – and hay presto there it was!

My next job was to find an Indian beaded fabric which would make up the bolero designs I had sketched. Sometimes fate has a habit of stepping in and by chance I came across a purple Indian dress in a charity shop.

Nicole's Hindirehearsai Dress and my Jewlery!

Nicole’s Hindirehearsai Dress and my Jewelry!

Immediately I saw it’s potential and by cleverly re-cutting the skirt panels I knew two new boleros could be made from the dress. Of-course when it comes to making dresses this is all down to the cleaver skill of my dress maker Judi who did me proud to-day. Sewing  fabrics which are already heavily hand beaded isn’t easy and Judi told me she went through 5 needles in the making of it. So well done Judi and thank-you for your skill!

Today I filmed and sung both parts Lakme’ and Mallika to split screen. As I was playing both parts I had two boleros made which went over the same dress which I accessorized with

Backstage in My Mallika Costume!

Backstage in My Mallika Costume!

an array of different jewelry. Much of this jewelry I have had for years thinking at the time of buying I’m sure this will come in useful for something and to-day was that day. My big Indian earrings I bought in Richards sale back in 1989. I’ve always loved them and I’ve been waiting for 28 years to find the right outfit for them to go with. The necklace I bought in John Lewis’s sale this year after Christmas and what a splendid set they’ve made.

After putting so much work into the costuming I’m pleased to say the filming went really well to-day. I’ve been rehearsing for weeks going over Mallika’s part which I never sing live. In performance I always take the top part of Lakme’ which I know really well. I recorded Mallika’s part onto my backing track back in 2001 so it’s been good for me to go over it again and refresh my memory.

Ready to Sing Loch Lomand!

Ready to Sing Loch Lomand!

Apart from going Indian and singing Lakme’ I was also able to record the Scottish favorite Loch Lomand today too. So you could say it’s been a really international day what with one thing and another. Loch Lomand is from my back catalog when I performed the song in my Wrens theater show How HOVIS Won the War, but that’s another story.  I will be working with David again on Thursday this week when we start work on the edits which is all very exciting.

I shall leave it here tonight as I have a show in Peterborough tomorrow, Harlow on Wednesday and on Friday I will be performing at The Waterside theater in Aylesbury as part of Buckinghamshires launch for Armed Forces Day. More on that in my next blog. If you would like to see more photos from today’s shoot please click onto my facebook page where you can also see some behind the scenes footage taken on Kim’s phone of me singing Lakme’.

Keep Watching and Toodle Pip! 😉


Nottingham Castle, Catching Up with Friends & Meeting Robin Hood

Paul and I with Robin Hood!

Paul and I with Robin Hood!

Nottingham Castle!

Nottingham Castle!

Inside Nottingham Castle Art Gallery!

Inside Nottingham Castle Art Gallery!

This weekend Paul and I were in Nottingham with out friends Brian and Viv as we had a day out at Nottingham Castle. For those of you who don’t know Nottingham castle isn’t like the castles you see in Hollywood Robin Hood movies but in fact a house which was built in 1678 on the sight of where the castle once stood. It now houses a Museum and Art Gallery which first opened back in 1878 and was the first municipal art museum in the country out-side of London.

As you might expect the sight has had a long history. William the Conqueror built the first Castle in 1067 which every school boy knows was the year after the Battle of Hastings. 1066 is a very good place to start when remembering British history and certainly a date I will never forget which was taught to me at the age of six during my very first history lesson.

In 1150-1189 Henry II rebuilt part of the castle in stone and in 1194 it was besieged by Richard the Lionheart which I guess ties in loosely with the romantic Robin Hood stories around this time. In 1331 Roger Mortimer was dragged out of the castle and faced trial for the murder of Edward II. King David II of Scotland was held prisoner in Nottingham castle and in 1485 Richard III set off to Bosworth from Nottingham where he latter died in battle. Charles I raised his standard at the start of the Civil War there in 1642 and with the Kings defeat the remains of the castle were demolished in 1651. A new palace was built on the sight by the first Duke of Newcastle in 1678 and much of this building is what you see today, despite burning down in the Reform Act Riots of 1831 it re-opened in 1878 as a museum and art gallery.

Portrait of Miss Elizabeth Hoare 1826!

Portrait of Miss Elizabeth Hoare 1826!

The museum has a collection of all sorts from fine paintings, Medieval Alabaster to Textiles from around the world. My favorite portrait was of Miss Elizabeth Hoare painted by Thomas Barber in 1826 and reminded me of the actress Jennifer Ehle who played Lizzy in the BBCs 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I particularly enjoyed looking at the historical fashion and especially a Chinese tippet which caught my eye for it’s beautiful workmanship.

Of course no trip to Nottingham would be complete with-out a photo opportunity with Robin Hood as we all stood by the famous statue. Although this was my first visit to Nottingham I hope Paul and I will get the chance to visit again so we can see Sherwood Forest. So thank-you Brian and Viv for inviting us. It was very kind of you to take the time to show us around your city and to introduce us to Robin Hood.

Fashion History at Nottingham Castle!

Fashion History at Nottingham Castle!

I don’t know what I was expecting but I’m afraid Robin’s statue doesn’t look a bit like Errol Flinn – shame!

Paul and I drove back on Sunday and now it’s full steam ahead in the office as I plough on with paper work and start on the Spring season. I have some new songs to learn and meetings this week which I must get ready for so not to mention I will be back filming on Monday. So much to do. I shall leave my blog here this afternoon but don’t forget to Keep Watching.

Toodle Pip and Bye for Now!

Friends Together!

Friends Together!

Nottingham Lit Up at Night!

Nottingham Lit Up at Night!

Out for Coffee with Brian and Viv!

Out for Coffee with Brian and Viv!


Modeling, Loretta Young, Contracts and Off to Nottingham!

 

Snap Shot of Me in My Loretta Out-Fit!

Snap Shot of Me in My Loretta Out-Fit!

Inspiring Photo of Loretta Young!

I’m afraid I can’t spend too long on my blog tonight as I’m off first thing tomorrow morning to Nottingham for the weekend. Paul and I have been invited by our friends Brain and Viv to visit the castle and as I’ve never been to Nottingham before so Paul and I thought we would make a weekend of it. We had planned to go to York but what with one thing and another we weren’t able to get the dates to click together. So in the end we decided just to do Nottingham this time around and leave York for

A Kim of Quainton Hair Do!

A Kim of Quainton Hair Do!

another occasion. Unfortunately I’ve just seen the weather forecast so it looks like it might be a case of wearing macs with umbrellas!

This week I was invited to model for the Barnet and Finchley Photographic Society and although I haven’t seen the photographs yet I have a feeling the shots will have come o

ut very well. One of the members took a few on my little camera and as a starting point we took inspiration from a photograph I saw in a book of Loretta Young. Interestingly rather than look like Loretta Young I think I look more like

Glamour Shot!

Glamour Shot!

Eva Paron and my friend Kim was able to wiz together a suitable hair style which went with the dresses I brought along.

For the Loretta Young inspired shots I wore a black 1940s suit with red roses and we used a green background. The wonderful thing about the green background it highlighted the detail in the black suit where a white background would have just over powered the black.  As one starts to model

and move accordingly we found a praying shot worked really well which made me think of Catholic Church and Eva Paron. I’m looking forward to seeing all the photos as different photographers see different things and it’s amazing the verity which can be gained from one set up.

Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt

Another inspiration was a photo of Eartha Kitt and in order to recreate the look Paul lent me his 1950s microphone which is just that little bit bigger and smarter than mine. What can I say my microphone gets a lot of use and maybe I should think about replacing it along with my mic stand which is covered in battle scars! I also brought along two 1940s evening gowns one floral and one in a mint green which had lots of folds in the fabric. I have a feeling the mint green dress will work well in black and white as it has a black sequin trim. We also did a few glamour shots as I always like to bring along more accessories than I need which gives one a chance to improvise and go with the flow.

Apart from modeling I’ve been working very hard in the office to get all my contracts out this week. I still have a few more to do when I get back from Nottingham and a loose end

A Snap Shot Between Shots!

A Snap Shot Between Shots!

or two which still needs to be tied. It’s that time of year again when I need to get all my equipment PATS tested before the start of the season so fingers crossed I can get that done next week before I head back to the Limelight theater and start filming again.

That’s all my news for now. Keep Watching and Toodle Pip!

Lets Swing it!

Lets Swing it!

 


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