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.

Chat soon & keep reading
Fiona Harrison
A Voice in a Million


Costume Fittings & Booked to Play St James’s Palace!

Out with Paul on Valentines Day!

Once again I’m in something of a dash tonight as I’m deep in rehearsals with My Fair Lady. I open on the 1st March and I’m still working on adapting the script for my one woman show version. Tonight I had a costume fitting with Judi and everything is coming along splendidly. Although I confess I’m very conscious of how little time is remaining. I’ve completed the sewing of my hats although I’m just finishing off my Ascot one. My grey top hat turned up a couple of days ago which is just the ticket for Freddie Eynsford-Hill and this weekend I’m planning on doing something of a semi dress rehearsal.

My Fair Lady Dress Fitting!

I know what I’ve got to do and when but I need to time the mechanics and it’s important the show keeps to the straight through 60 minute format. In between rehearsals I’ve been out performing Valentines shows and Paul came up to join me last week which was delightful as we spent Valentines day together.

This Friday I’ve been invited to go on Big Al’s radio show on L&D Radio which I must prepare for in between catching up with my paper-work. I’ve also been engaged to perform at St James Palace this coming March for a special centenary event which will be attended by the Princess Royal. I shall tell you more about that closer to the day but in the mean time I must get back to My Fair Lady.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip for Now!

A Hat in Progress for the Ascot Scene!

 


Blog 1000, Rehearsing My Fair Lady and Happy Valentines Day!

Playing Alfred Doolittle!

I’m afraid once again I’m in something of a dash tonight as I need to get back to my rehearsals of “My Fair Lady”. On Saturday I was in the recording studio re-mastering some of my tracks for the show. This included a few little extra additions such as running horses for the Ascot Gavotte, a glockenspiel in the appropriate places and cut and shutting the tracks so when I preform they play immediately when they are commanded to do so.

I also managed to finish off my dustman’s hat for Alfred Doolittle which just goes to show what you

Me as Professor Higgins!

can do with an old cut down bowler hat and a bit of leatherette! I was even able to pick up an old watch strap buckle to finish off the strap. As for Freddie Eynsford – Hill I’ve ordered a grey top hat on line which I hope will be with me any day now.

On Sunday I spent all day rehearsing in my scruffs and although I’m confident with the songs I still have a few little niggles to put right. I’m now busy with Valentine shows and I’m starting to panic a bit with how little time I have left before I open with “My Fair Lady” on the 1st March. Interestingly I’ve been enjoying playing Eliza’s father Alfred Doolittle the most which is so different to all the other roles I’ve played in the past. Once I’d made my dust mans hat and started rehearsing with it his character came alive for me and I love singing “With A Little Bit of Luck”, which believe it or not was banned by the BBC back in the day for being immoral!

Wouldn’t it be Loverly!

I’m going to leave my blog here tonight as I must get back to work. I’d like to wish you all a very happy Valentines day and I hope you all receive lots of lovely cards on the 14th. In the mean time this is my 1000 blog since I first started writing back in March 2011. It’s true I’m one of those rear eccentrics who actually kept their blog up. Goodness me the things I’ve done and the places I’ve played since then.

Thank-you every-one for your support, keep following and Toodle Pip! 😉


Bath Costume Museum, Back in the Studio and All Set for Valentines Week!

Out and About in Bath!

Outside The Limplee Stoke Hotel!

If you caught my pictures on face book you will know Paul and I have been out and about this weekend enjoying Bath. We weren’t going to be put off by a bit of snow and I confess that since returning home on Monday I feel I could have done with a little more time away. I’ve worked so hard these last few weeks not only on my paperwork but on “My Fair Lady” that I don’t feel quite as rested as I should, but then the only way to succeed is to work hard.

This morning I received my pull up banner design for “My Fair Lady” which I will be using as a visual aid for when I play the show. I shall also be back in the studio this weekend making some last minute adjustments to the music so it will fit comfortably within my one women show format. I have a dress fitting tomorrow to finalize the costumes and I still have a hat to make for Alfred Doolittle. But all in all everything is coming together.

It’s important to get a good happy work balance and sometimes I find it extraordinarily just how many time wasters there are out there especially when it comes to show business.  To quote Professor Higgins “Some people don’t know there

Paul and I at the Assembly Rooms!

own silly business” which is why it’s important to know when to turn off the computer and to get away from it all.

I had been looking forward to Bath immensely and I drove over on Friday just in time for the snow. Paul met me at the Limlee Stoke Hotel which is just out-side of Bath and the car park was completely covered in snow. If you have ever been to Bath then you will know there is much to see but on this occasion we had no particular plan and just enjoyed pottering about taking in the classical architecture.

On Sunday we made a point of visiting the Assembly Rooms  and the costume museum which houses a wonderful collection of clothes from the 18th century and beyond. On this occasion there was an exhibition of Royal Women’s fashion which included dresses worn by Alexandra, Mary,

Alexandra’s Evening Dress 1900!

Elizabeth and Margaret. I was particularly taken by a purple evening dress which was worn by queen Alexandra in 1900 and by some of the 18th century fashion which suited the Bath location splendidly.

Of course no trip to Bath would be complete with-out a visit to The Pump Rooms for afternoon tea and enjoying some of the towns lovely restaurants. On this occasion it  included a visit to “The Loft” which is a shop with a restaurant just around the corner from the Assembly Rooms and where Paul and I enjoyed the most marvellous lunch. Just down from there I discovered “VV Rouleaux” a shop which sells haberdashery galore  and everything you could possibly want in the way of dress and hat trimmings

Bath has no shortage of interesting dress shops and Paul and I particularly enjoyed “Sumptuous” the fabulous frock Boutique

Me with Hat Designer Nancy Rose!

and the Nancy Rose hats which are bespoke hand made pieces for all occasions.

This week I start on the first of my Valentine shows and I’m busy all next week with Valentine shows.

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

Shopping at VV Rouleaux!

Lunch at The Loft!


Off to Bath & Italy, The National Radio Center & Shaping 2019!

Radio Haven!

Inside the Radio Center!

I’m afraid I can’t spend too long on my blog tonight as I’m busy learning my lines and finishing off the year. I’ve worked so hard this January that I’ve nearly sold all of 2019. I’ve successfully sold two southern tours for March and October, 31 dates for April which will cover Easter and St Georges day, 25 dates for December, all of Halloween a couple of 1940s re-enactment events and rather thrilling Paul and I have been re-booked to sing in Italy for Graffignana’s Liberation Celebration. We will be flying out to Milan this October which is all very exciting. In between times we have been engaged to perform at Pegasus Bridge for the D-Day Commemorations in Normandy for June so we have much to look forward to and plan for.

I’m not use to spending so much time at my desk but the hard work has really paid off even though I feel my eyes maybe turning into computer screens and the office looks like a bomb has hit it. I’ve pretty much caught up with my contracts and I’ve been out running everyday which makes the office work bearable when I would rather be out singing. One doesn’t happen with-out the other

Out-side the Museum!

and I’m looking forward to being back out on the road again.

After a very intense week in the office on Saturday I decided to have lunch at Bletchley Park as I still hadn’t seen the National Radio Center. It’s true what they say it’s  easy to look and not see. When I first visited Bletchley Park I missed so much but this time around I was able to join a tour and learn so much more about the WW2 code breakers. I also found the radio center very interesting as I didn’t know radio waves are stronger in the sun light and you can launch a satellite now a days for as little as £60,000.

Out and About at Bletchley Park!

Although it’s better to piggy back on another countries rocket as we have a problem with health and safety in case the satellite fall back to earth. Can you believe it! I would expect a tiny satellite would burn up in the atmosphere before it made a hole in someones roof!

This weekend Paul and I are getting away from it all and heading off to Bath. We could both do with a break and I only hope it doesn’t snow as we want to enjoy the city. It had been our intention to go to Stoneleigh Militaria fair this weekend but as we both have everything, there’s nothing more we could possibly want. So keep following my news and when I get back I will share with you all my photos from our time away in Bath.

That’s all my news for now. Toodle Pip and bye for now! 😉


Bletchley Park, Up and Running, Costumes for Eliza & Forward into 2019!

Shopping for Running Shoes!

Hello every-one! I’m sorry I’m a bit late with my blog this week but in fairness I’ve been working incredibly hard planning the year, selling shows, catching up with contracts in-between learning my lines. If you caught my last blog you will know I was away working on my accounts last weekend which I now do every year. After the hustle and bustle of Christmas I like to check into a hotel for a weekend and concentrate on my accounts. I never like to go too far away as in past years I often find if I forget something it’s easy to go home and fetch what ever that item might be. It’s usually something silly like an old cheque book but fortunately this year I remembered everything. Phew!

I usually choose a Premier Inn as they have long dressing tables with a desk lamps which enables me to lay out my account books. Their rooms are spacious and quiet and always make for good working spaces. I enjoy going out running in the

Finding the Perfect Pair!

mornings and Milton Keynes has some great lakes. This year I chose Furzton Lake which is a great run and Milton Keynes is only a 20 minute drive away so Furzton made for the perfect choice. It’s good for me to get away and to be in my “scruffs” although I noticed while I was away my running shoes were in need of changing so I made it along to “Up and Running”.

I confess I hadn’t planned on going shopping and in truth I was dressed in my casuals more for shooting than running when I called into the shop. The fitting of running shoes is a little like the fitting

Bletchley Park Home to the Code Breakers!

of ballet shoes as they have to check your gate. It’s necessary to be filmed running on a tread mill so the shop can find the right pair of trainers for you. Running shoes are so bright these days but after a good try on of many styles I was able to come away with the perfect pair.

This year I didn’t have quite so much catching up to do although the time away is important to me as it gives me time to relax and to plan ahead. On the way home I had some business in Bletchley which involved the buying of fabrics as I work towards putting my costumes together for My Fair Lady. There’s a lot to think about now I’ve

Me with the Bombe Computer in Hut 11a!

condensed the show down to a 60 minute one woman show. The costumes have to work together as I play all the different roles swapping hats and coats. However on Monday I was able to pick up some fantastic textiles which will pull the costumes together.

My Fair Lady is set in 1913 which is a funny time for fashion as it’s where the old world meets the new and this is reflected in style. It’s important to note that when Eliza becomes a lady all her clothes will have been chosen for her my Pickering and Higgins so my designs need to reflect this. I already have most of the

Having Lunch in Hut 4!

costumes although when Eliza leaves Higgins after the ball and sings “Show me” to Freddie Eynsford-Hill I wanted a bollero jacket to go with my skirt.

Ladies jackets and coats were starting to get longer at this time with slightly higher waist lines. However I found the perfect combination by looking at designs of army officer mess jackets which have inspired me to design the perfect thing. I thought this would be the sort of design Pickering and Higgins would choose for Eliza. My basic costume will revolve around a long navy blue skirt which wont look too out of place with black

The Enigma Machine!

and all the colour combinations I will be using for the other characters. Eliza’s colour palette will consist of navy blue with a muted purples, Higgins will be in brown and beige. I’ve even been out and about wearing his hat this weekend getting use to it where the other characters will fall into place with Top hats and props.

Once I had bought my fabrics I decided to call into Bletchley Park for lunch. Since purchasing my ticket back in September I was keen to see more of the museum as I missed so much last time. I now have fee entry for a whole year and it really is best to go on quiet days when you can properly take in the information on display. I discovered a room about pigeons during the war which once again I really must go back and see in greater detail. Even now I still haven’t made it to the National Radio Center and I totally missed hut 12 so

Inside Bletchley Park Mansion!

who knows what’s going on in there. Some exhibition I expect!

Hut 4 is a great place for lunch and I would thoroughly recommend their carrot soup which is delicious. The Bombe Breakthough in Hut 11a is interesting although if you want to see the real thing it’s best to go out of Bletchley Park museum and up to the top of the car park where you will find The National Museum of Computing which is different to Bletchley Park. It’s easy to think they are one and the same museum but they are not. The National Museum of Computing have actual

Me with Winston Churchill!

computers from history and at times it’s a little like being on the set of 1970s Wonder Woman. I had a quick peak through the door in the summer and that really is the place to visit if you are into computers.

Well that’s all my news for now as I must get back to work and send out the rest of my contracts. I’ve sent out a staggering 80 contracts in the last 14 days and I still have more to do along with answering my e-mails. In the meantime I will leave you with a few of my photos from Bletchley Park.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip for Now! 😉


Remembering Peter Austwick, My Fair Lady & 100 in Wimbledon!

Peter Austwick as Churchill!

I’d like to begin my blog tonight by paying tribute to Peter Austwick who sadly passed away on the 16th Dec 18. Many of us on the 1940s scene knew him as Winston Churchill and he will be sadly missed by all his friends. I attended his funeral last week at Peterborough crematorium and it was a very fitting tribute to see all his fellow re-anactors in uniform saluting his coffin. The service was officiated by Kevin Bending which included some beautiful photographs of Peter’s life and footage of him speaking as Churchill. Our thoughts go out to Maime and the rest of his family. Peter was a gentlemen among gentlemen and he will be greatly missed. 30th Aug 1940 – 16th December 2018.

So many people came to pay tribute to this lovely man including fellow singers Christine and John from Timescape who were great friends of Peter.

Christine and John from “Timescape”!

 

Putting the Show Together!

This week I’ve been working exceptionally hard. I’ve made a real start on learning “My Fair Lady” and I’m now at the point where I know all the words to the songs but not necessarily in the right order! I’m confident with the Eliza numbers as I already had them in my repertoire but the Higgins songs are quit in depth and there is much to remember. Once I master the continuity then the rest will fall into place and I’m now well on my way. I’ve also made a start on the costumes which isn’t hard as I have most items already in my wardrobe but there are a few pieces which will need to be especially made. The show will also have a pull up banner which I will be using as an aid to describe the different characters. I’ve already seen the initial designs and it’s great to see my vision coming together. So I still have lots to do and plenty to get on with in between times.

Apart from “My Fair Lady” I’ve been working extremely hard on selling dates. I’ve never worked so hard and this week I’ve sold a staggering 62 shows in nine days. It’s been hard graft but all the forward planning I’ve put in place has really paid off. The phone has been red hot!

Meeting up today with Sybil!

It’s all about knowing when the opportune moment is and that time is now. This week I’ve completed and sent out most of my 2019 contracts, put Easter to bed, sold the bulk of December and I now only have five days remaining for Christmas. I’ve even been able to tied up a return trip to Italy for the Liberation Festivities in October which is all very exciting as it involves me singing in Italian, French and English.

As for France things are still very much up in the air with Brexit but I hope before long everything will come together. It’s very tough out in France at the moment as the French feeling is towns and organisations should be employing French artists first. Paul and I will definitely be performing at Pegasus Bridge on the 5th and 7th in Benouville and all being well we will be singing at the D-Day Breakfast when the veterans sail into Arromanches first thing on the 6th June. Until it has been  decided where the big international ceremony is taking place no one dare book a thing.

Today I had the pleasure of performing in Wimbledon for a 100th Birthday Party which was a delight.  It was Sybil’s 100th birthday and I put together a special program of songs which Sybil and her friends thoroughly enjoyed. Although I think the birthday girl might have enjoyed the risque numbers best of all which included, “Let’s do it”, “Hands Knees and Boomps a Daisy” and that little gem “My Winkles Fallen Out” which was written by Paul Spence who sadly passed away last December.

That’s all my news for now as I’m off tomorrow for my accounts weekend and I won’t be back until Monday evening. It’s great to get away from the distractions of home and to concentrate on one thing. Yes doing accounts is the most boring job in the world but the only way to get on with it is to shut myself away in a hotel and to knuckle down to the job in hand.

Toodle Pip and bye for now!


Singing Music Hall in Syresham, Glitter Boots & Walking The 70s!

Back stage at Syresham Village Hall!

Once again you can see I’m burning the midnight oil fighting against the clock to get all my paperwork up to scratch and sent off to the reliant clients. I’ve been working extremely hard this week to sell dates and my hard work is starting to pay off. Bookings are coming in quicker than I can write them down and as a result I have a mountain of contracts I must address before the weekend. It’s all very healthy, so fingers crossed it continues!

Last Saturday’s Music Hall show at Syresham went extremely well. So thank-you to every-one at the friendship club for making me feel so welcome. Dinner was delicious too and I’m so pleased you all enjoyed my music. Now I’m back home it’s full steam ahead with My Fair Lady and this weekend I need to have a proper sing through.

Ninety nine point nine percent of the music I use is custom made but with My Fair Lady I’m having to use  commercially

My Favorite Sequin Glitter Boots!

bought backing tracks so I have the entire show. These tracks were taken from an American production and they are all tailored to other peoples delivery so not only do I have to learn the words but I have to learn their timings and phrasing too. With Higgins it’s all in the phasing and in a live performance you would have a conductor and the orchestra would move with you but this is quite different and it takes a lot more work to get it right.

This year I want very much to finish my final set of songs and make some film recordings of my 1970s and 80s repertoire. With the sales in full

My New Mamma Mia Sandals!

swing now’s the time to buy and I’ve been able to pick up some of the most remarkable costume items which I think will work splendidly. My favorite buy has been a pair of sequin glitter boots.  I haven’t quite decided with which song I will pair them but I know they will come in and will look great on camera. I’ve also picked up a couple of blocked heel sandals which will finish off my 70s outfits which I might add a few sparkles too.

That’s all my news for now and it’s far too late. I must get to bed as I have a meeting in the morning .  Toodle Pip and Keep Following! 😉


Back from Portchester, Mary Poppins and Moving Forward into 2019!

Midnight Mass at St Mary’s!

Boxing Day at Alresford Station!

I’d like to start today by wishing all my readers and fans a very Happy New Year as I take this opportunity to thank-you all for your business and support over 2018. Since returning home from Porchester I’ve hit the deck running. It’s easy to underestimate just what busy months January and February are. It’s the time to sell and already I have most of the year mapped out and sold with lots of new opportunities on the horizon.

This week I’ve been performing New Year shows having learn’t Abba’s “Happy New Year” song for the season which has been going down well in my Winter Warmer shows. I also need to start work on “My Fair Lady” as the weeks are rolling by and I have lots to do before my first performance on the 1st March.

In the meantime I’d like to begin my blog by telling you all of my time away, which has included some well deserved holiday time as Paul and I made it along to St Mary’s Church in Portchester for Midnight Mass. I traveled straight down after my Christmas Eve show and it was good to spend some time away enjoying Christmas with Paul’s family and Poppy. In between times I still had a

Paul and I at the Ballet!

few shows to perform in and around Portsmouth but on this occasion it wasn’t all work as we spent Boxing Day in Alresford and had tickets to see Ballet Theater UK’s production of The Sleeping Beauty at The Guild Hall.

Last year we went to the pantomime but this Ballet was a vastly superior production and it was a joy to watch the dancers. Paul and I traveled straight to The Guild Hall after my show and we enjoyed the pre theatre dinner which was excellent. I have nothing but admiration for the dances who go through endless agony to achieve perfection.  I hadn’t been to a ballet in ages

Shopping for 1970s Psychedelic Fashion!

Shopping at The One Legged Jockey!

and for once it was a treat to be entertained rather than the one booked to do the entertaining.

This season I’ve noticed there have been a lot of Disney films on the TV which I’ve been taking musical mental notes from. I caught a little of Mary Poppins the other day and Paul and I went over to Port Solent to see the new Poppins film.  I enjoyed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s performance as Jack the Lamplighter and Emily Blunt in the title role although for me I didn’t think her singing voice was quite high enough in tone. For Mary Poppins you really do need to have a high soprano voice and it’s just a shame nobody asked me. After all Mary Poppins is my nick name and I have a wardrobe of shoes just like the ones Emily wore in the film. Now I think about it I’m not short of Marry Poppins suits and hats either!

For the sequel the story had been moved forward in time to the 1930s and the opening lamplighter’s song was reminiscent of the music from “Me and My Girl”. It’s given me lots of ideas as I will be putting a new Mary Poppins medley into production later this year and using it as part of my 2019 Christmas show.

Out for a Walk with Poppy!

New Years Eve at the Hilton Hotel!

No trip to Portsmouth would be complete with-out a visit to “The One Legged Jockey” in Southsea. It’s one of my favorite vintage fashion shops and I’m now seriously collecting fashion from the 1970s so I can start work on my final showreel. When it comes to 70s fashion it’s my least favorite  period but I’m keen to finish my showreels and complete my video collection. Looking at my 2019 diary I’m not quite sure when I can fit filming in but it’s something I must plan ahead and do sooner rather than later before long.

The One Legged Jockey has no shortage of  vintage clothes and I was able to pick up the most wonderful psychedelic monstrosity which is straight out of  Abigail’s Party. It’s horrible! But the dress was just what I was looking for along with a flared orange jump suit from Tk Max. Seeing is believing so something for you followers to look out for in the future. I was also able to pick up a sweet grey 1950s hat which I think will go splendidly with my suit.

For New Years Eve  Paul and I saw 2019 in at the Hilton Hotel, Arundel. We went to the event last year as it’s one of the few places that hold a

Happy New Year at The Hilton!

dinner dance and have a live band. When it comes to new years eve nether of us like discos but the Hilton puts on a good event and it’s always a pleasure to sit back and be entertained by a live band.

That’s all my news for now as I have heaps of paperwork to crack on with this month which I must get done. This weekend I will be performing a Music Hall Show in Syresham and I still have my costumes to sort out.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip!


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