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
A Voice in a Million
It’s been an extraordinary week in the office these last eight days as I’ve been working extremely hard to sell my dates for 2022. With the Queens Accession and Valentines day I’ve sold nearly all of February and I’m now fully booked for Easter with only seven dates remaining for December. Of course with the pandemic anything can happen as it twists and turns, and naturally I have to adapt accordingly. It’s important not to count your chickens before they hatch but at least things are on the up and I’m looking forward to getting back to some normality.
As you can see by the lateness of the hour I’m burning the midnight oil yet again. I haven’t had much time to devote to social media this week but despite that I’m thrilled to announce the launch of my new video “Lets Do it – Lets Fall in Love”. I’ve always been a big Cole Porter fan and this is one of my favorite Porter numbers. I filmed this song back in October with Peter Hardicker along with “That Man” and two other 1960s numbers which I hope
Back in the Office!
to release in the next couple of months. I have more editing to do later this January so keep watching this space as more films are on their way.
Tomorrow I’m back in the recording studio as I put into production a few new numbers for this coming season including “Busy Doing Nothing” which I think will make a great quirky addition to my 1940s act, not to mention my “Hooray for Hollywood” show. It’s from “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” which has got to be the most difficult film title to say of all time and I can’t wait to sing it.
I still need to collect my music together and organise myself for the morning so I shall leave you with a link to my new video.
Thank-you for Watching Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉
May I start my blog tonight by wishing you all a very happy new year and thank-you all for your wonderful Christmas cards, presents and new year good wishes. The final count is in, and despite the challenging times I successfully completed two hundred and nine shows last year and forty one out of the fifty shows I originally had booked in for the month of December. I was literally holding my breath from day to day during December hoping I wasn’t going to get a last minute call telling me another venue has had to close it’s doors due to Covid-19. However despite loosing nine shows I don’t think I have done too badly and I’m now looking forward to a fantastic 2022.
The Great Hall at Danny House!
I spent Christmas and the new year touring along the south coast which included the lovely Danny House. I only got back on Tuesday evening after first popping into the recording studio on my way home from Portsmouth. I’m always planning ahead and last year I asked Richard to produce a new musical arrangement of the classic Rodgers and Hart number “My Funny Valentine”. I’ve always felt this song has been conspicuous by it’s absence from my Valentine show and although there are many commercially produced arrangements of this number one can easily purchase, I wanted something unique.
Recording My Rehearsal Vocals to My Funny Valentine!
Once again Richard has come up trumps with an amazing arrangement which is very film Noir. I can’t wait to sing this song for Valentines Day. I’m fully booked Valentines week and I’m also busy the week before for the Queens Accession. I’ve learn’t from experience not to count my chickens before they hatch as anything could happen between now and then. A few of my customers have already rescheduled their show from January to other months and I’m keeping everything crossed for a bumper year. The last thing any of us want to see is another lock down.
Today I’ve been working with Peter on editing my
Shopping for Vintage at The One Legged Jockey!
new Cole Porter show-reel “Let’s Do It – lets fall in love”. I’ve always loved this number and once again I’m performing to another wonderful Richard Whennell arrangement. On this occasion we have been able to work in a few of Angela Adams gorgeous photos and I hope to release this video the end of the month in time for Valentines day.
Other events I have coming up include Burns night. One of my jobs is to expand my Scottish repertoire and learn a few new numbers for the 25th. Fortunately on this occasion the client is keen to have mostly songs from the musicals with a slight Scottish twist which gives me some leeway. However there is a market for a Scottish show and this is something I need to seriously look into developing further.
Getting the Scottish look right is easy as it usually requires a white dress with a tartan sash worn over the left shoulder for an unmarried woman. However for my show on the 25th
Out Walking with Poppy in Southsea!
January I needed something slightly Scottish but not too Scottish which wouldn’t look out of place when I’m singing songs from the shows. Fortunately I was able to pick up just the thing when I was shopping with Paul and Poppy in Southsea at the vintage fashion shop The One Legged Jockey. I managed to find a traditional green Scottish jacket and the following day when I was in Gosport at Voluptuous Vintage a full 1950s style tartan skirt. Perfect!
I shall leave my blog here tonight as time is creeping on and I must get to bed. here are a few shots of my time away.
Firstly I’d like to begin my blog tonight by thanking every-one for all your lovely Christmas cards, it’s so kind of you all to think of me. I confess I haven’t been quite as on top of Christmas cards this year as I usually like to be due to my busy work load. I’d also like to thank all of you who tuned into my live Facebook stream on Tuesday night which also linked up with Love of the 40s and Love of the Vintage on “1940s Events and Social Space”. It was great to sing for you all and I hope I included a few for your seasonal favorites.
I confess the last time I streamed was a few months ago, so to begin with I felt a little out of practice but from what I hear my sound balance was right and it was lovely that so many of you
Santa Clause is Coming to Town!
enjoyed my song selection which had something of a fairy tale theme.
This will be my last blog of the year as I get ready to head off down to the South coast after my second show in Brackley tomorrow. I’m spending Christmas with Paul and I also have a short mini tour to perform which will be taking me from Hurstpierpoint, across to Fareham and through into the New Year. I’m also back in the recording studio on the 4th January where I will be picking up my new arrangement of the song “My Funny Valentine”. Richard sent through, a teaser yesterday of the orchestration which is just phenomenal. I can’t wait to sing it. It’s been a song I’ve been wanting to sing for a long time but I’ve never heard an arrangement I’ve truly liked which is why I’ve commissioned Richard to produce something unique and special for me.
Taking a Breather Between Shows!
December has been manic and I don’t mind admitting a little stressful with me not knowing until the very last minute which of my shows were going to take place. Fortunately most have gone ahead and I’ve been performing two shows daily most days so I’m looking forward to having Christmas Day and Boxing Day off before starting work again on the 27th.
I look forward to catching up with you all in the new year. Have a Wonderful Christmas and New Year and thank you every-one for all your support over the last twelve months
Here’s to a fantastic 2022 and I shall leave you with my favorite Christmas carol – Silent Night!
Once again I’m in a bit of a dash to get all my paperwork up to date and ship-shape between my Christmas performances. It’s already proving to be a topsy-turvy season as nothing is certain. I’ve lost four shows this week due to people testing positive at various venues I’d been due to perform at; and with this new strain of Delta Covid every-one is feeling a little jittery.
A lot of the time I don’t know if I’m coming or going and I’m having to take each day as it comes. Yesterdays afternoon show got cancelled literally twenty minutes before I was due to leave but fortunately my evening show went ahead as planed. I still have plenty of work in the diary but who knows what the next couple of weeks will bring.
On Stage for Bromham WI
Next Tuesday I’m hooking up with “1940s Events and Social Space” on Facebook to stream one of my Christmas shows live from my page. Every day from Monday they are having three artists stream their shows live so I’m looking forward to doing so, as this will be a first for me. All being well I should be performing in Didcot at 2pm earlier that day and then I will be rushing home to stream live form 9pm. For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook you will be able to see my show from my personal page (That’s the pink piano photo page, in case you are wondering which one).
I dare say with so many fine acts performing over the week there will be a fair amount of Christmas song repetition so I’ve decided to perform my “Fairy Tale Christmas Spectacular” show which gives great musical variety and is perfect for the time of year. So if you are free on Tuesday 21st December at 9pm it will be lovely if you are able to join me on
Christmas at Long Marston Victory Hall!
line for what promises to be a fantastic show.
The last couple of days I’ve been doing a number of Christmas party shows for the WI. Last Thursday I was at Cranford Village Hall, Monday I was in Bromham and last night I was at The Victory Hall in Long Marston. Tonight I should have been in Beaconsfield but sadly many members didn’t feel confident about coming out and Beaconsfield WI plan to reschedule their party to the summer.
Last Friday I was in North Crawley performing for the North Crawley Historical Society. So their show could go ahead the Society took the decision to relocated to the beautiful church of St Firmins. As the members enjoy classical music I made sure I included Opera and performed Schubert’s Ave Maria which worked perfectly with the churches natural acoustics.
I shall leave you with a few photos and I must make a start on my Christmas cards. I’m so behind this year but despite everything I’m still rolling along and making the best of it which is what we Brits are good at!
As you can see by the lateness of the hour I’m dashing against the clock to get my blog out tonight before falling into bed. I love to be busy and so far I’ve successfully performed nineteen Christmas shows to date and I just have another twenty six to do before the year is out. Of-course any thing could happen with the current Covid situation but I’m keeping my fingers crossed I wont loose any more having lost five due to new restrictions.
It’s that time of year where everything goes a little bit crazy, however it doesn’t take me long to
get my Christmas shows swinging. I have lots of variations on the Christmas theme which help to keep my performances fresh and individually tailored for each particular client.
In The Motor Bike Shop at the BCLM!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of performing for “Christmas Nights” at The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley. I had been looking forward to this event very much which was a complete sell out. The museum had 2000 visitors per night and I had been engaged to perform a variety of songs from the Music Hall and Operatic stage along with a few seasonal favorites over three shows nightly. I had been booked to sing in the museum’s chapel.
Acoustically the chapel was the perfect location for me and it was packed full for all of my
Greg and I on the Steps of the Chapel!
performances. I wasn’t quite sure what I would need so I brought my full rig with me but in the end I only needed my little speakers. I was also able to change in the vestry which helped enormously especially as I had been booked to perform in Victorian costume and some of my costumes can be quite complicated to get into.
It’s important to be prepared and I packed a couple of different Victorian costumes to suit the weather. Experience has taught me that the temperature can drop dramatically at this time of year and it’s essential to have costumes which are
Meeting Up with Other Costume Artists Between Shows!
warm enough to with-stand freezing temperatures. Friday was quite mild and I only needed my cape where come Saturday night my long leg-of-mutton sleeve wool coat became a must.
Black Country Living museum is a wonderful location and it takes on a completely different character at night. I think they must get a lot of regular visitors because as soon as they opened the doors there was a mad dash to the fish and chip shops. I’ve never seen anything like it but as the chapel is in the same street as one of the fish and chip shops this actually worked to my
BCLM During the Day!
advance. I also had Greg who did a wonderful job as my barker guiding people into the chapel.
Every audience is different and I always make sure I don’t repeat my repertoire when performing multiple shows in one location. Good showmanship is about understanding each audience and giving the public what they want. Saturday’s audience were really jovial and sang along to everything, so I kept my performances up tempo, where Friday’s crowed were a little more reserved and enjoyed listening to the Opera & Ave Maria.
A Dickens of a Christmas!
As I was staying next door at the Travel Lodge I decided to visit the museum during the day as I wanted to find out a little more about the museum’s history.
The BCLM opened to the public in 1978, and has since added over 50 shops, houses and other industrial buildings from around the Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and the city of Wolverhampton which is collectively known as the Black Country. Together the museum has created a specially built village. Most buildings were relocated from their original sites to form a base where costume demonstrators portray life spanning over 100 years of history focusing predominantly on life from the 1850-1950.
The museum continues to evolve and is currently building a 1950s, 60s village which plans to open in 2023. It was great to talk to the museum staff and see everything from the night
Getting Ready to Sing at The RAFA Club!
before in daylight. I particularly enjoyed the motorbike shop and the gentlemen’s outfitters.
Straight after my performances at BCLM I was in Olney on the Sunday at “A Dickens of a Christmas” and then on Wednesday I sang at the Rafa Club, RAF Halton for their Christmas Dinner. For the RAF I had been engaged to perform popular swing tunes and seasonal favorites during dinner and then as the evening progressed I made sure I included Dam Busters and a few other aeronautical musical favorites from the 1940s.
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree!
This week I’ve been performing two shows daily. Last night I was at St Firmins Church in North Crawley singing for the Historical Society and the night before I was in Cranford having dashed from my previous show in Chesham. Next week is very much more of the same as I continue to keep “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”.
Oh yes I almost forgot – but you can now read my latest article “Taking Care of Show Business” which featured in my union’s magazine “Equity” by clicking the link below.
As you can tell by the lateness of the hour I’m dashing against the clock to get my blog out to you tonight before I head off in the morning to Dudley in the West Midlands to perform at The Black Country Living Museum. As you might expect my Christmas season is now in full swing with me “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” which includes all the usual seasonal favorites. However my shows at The Black Country Living museum will be a little different.
I’ve been engaged this weekend to perform three shows nightly for their Christmas nights, a selection of popular songs from the Music Hall
Me in my New Reversible Coat!
and Operatic stage along with a few seasonal favorites. I’m looking forward to it immensely and I have a fantastic program planned. I’ve also had a new Victorian leg of mutton sleeved coat made for the occasion which will keep me toasty warm. It’s very heavy. I’ve had it made out of wool and taffeta with a hidden silk lining so this coat should be able to with stand very cold temperatures.
Although I’ve been booked to perform in the Providence Chapel it’s important to be well prepared. Initially I had been asked to sing out-side and with that in mind it’s essential to be properly kitted out and understand what fabrics to wear in order to keep warm.
I have a very busy December ahead of me and fortunately I was able to get my Covid booster jab done on the 30th November. I had been booked in for the 14th Dec but now the booster
All Set for The Christmas Season!
program has been accelerated I was relived to get it done earlier in time for the start of my Christmas season. I did feel a little under par the following day but now I’m fine and raring to go.
Last Sunday I had the pleasure of of heading up to Leicestershire to the True Vintage Fair. It’s been years since I last had the opportunity of visiting a vintage fashion fair and sure enough I found some wonderful treasures. These included a beautiful pair of 1940s navy blue shoes, a hand made poppy corsage by Miss Bella’s Blooms and a late 40s early 50s reversible yellow and black check coat. It was a wonderful day out as I met up with friends and enjoyed a break from singing and all the office work which goes with it.
My Beautiful 1940s Vintage shoes!
I shall leave you with a few of my snaps as I need to pack my bag for tomorrow. Keep Following Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉
It’s just a quick blog tonight as I’m in something of a transitional period. I’m still working every day and I just have a couple of days left to do all my Christmas shopping, cards and get ready for a very busy Christmas indeed. I’ve sold fifty shows for December so far and although I expect to loose the odd one along the way due to unforeseen circumstances and maybe the odd possible Covid lock down I still need to be ready for what ever the season throws at me.
Life is busy and now we’ve come out of the Remembrance season I’m filling the November gap with “The Magic of the Musicals” and songs from the 1950s, 60s & 70s. I can’t believe I start Christmas next week and on the 3rd & 4th December I’m in Birmingham singing at The Black Country Living Museum for their Victorian Christmas Nights. I’m looking forward to it immensely as I’m booked to perform 3 shows nightly, although I expect it to be a cold one.
I’ve had a new Victorian coat made for the occasion with leg – o’-mutton sleeves which will keep me toasty warm. I’ve learn’t from experience it’s important to have my clothes lined in silk which makes all the difference when I’m working
Matching Red Hat and Gloves!
in freezing temperatures and I can’t wait to wear it. I also have a wonderful show planned which will be a fabulous start to the Christmas and the festive season.
Last Friday I was at Ashridge Golf Club singing for the members which was a lovely evening. I had a show before hand which is often the case with me working two shows back to back. I had been booked to perform a selection of songs from the 1940s, 50s, 60s & 70s and the evening couldn’t have gone better. Sadly I didn’t take any photos which is so unlike me but I guess I’ve been
Lets Go For a Drive!
too busy and concentrating on my shows to think about it.
Last week I launched my new Peaky Blinders inspired show-reel “That Man” and thank-you to every-one for your great feed back. It’s lovely to hear how much you have all been enjoying it and I’m looking forward to editing some of my other videos in the new year.
I also forgot to mention in my blog last week I was featured in Equity, my unions magazine in an article about “Taking Care of Show Business” all about the art of care home performance. I’ve
just had the PDFs through from Equity and when Karen my web-designer comes back from holiday I will have it added to my web-site so you can click on and read it.
As I’m short on photos this week I shall leave you with a few stills of me in my little red hat from my latest “That Man” show-reel.
Once again I’m in something of a dash tonight as I burn the midnight oil to get my blog out to you this week. I’m currently working two shows daily with little to no time in the office to catch up with my paper work and social media.
Firstly I’d like to begin by thanking every-one who came and supported us at The Lion in Waddesdon on Remembrance Saturday. It was a wonderful night as Paul Marsden and I sang the very best music from the 1940s. Many people came in costume and it was great to see so many of our audience up and dancing, entering into the spirit
Back on Stage for My Glamour Set!
of the evening whilst singing along with all our favourite wartime songs . It was also an opportunity for me to try out a couple of my new arrangements including “Babies of the Blitz” which has been going down extremely well this season.
It’s hard to believe I first began my professional singing career back in 1992 and I’ve now been singing the 1940s for 25 years of it. As you would imagine my forties acts ( all 11 of them) are well polished. To keep my shows fresh I’m constantly adding new arrangements and it’s important to think a little bit out of the box from time to time
We’ll Meet Again!
which maintains the magic and keeps me sharp.
Music just gets better and better and I’m so fortunate to have Richard Whenell as my musical arranger. “The Wizard of Oz”, “Be Like the Kettle and Sing” along with “Babies of the Blitz” have been great additions and really sparkle along with all my usual war time sing-along favourites.
This year is rapidly drawing to it’s close and due to a reschedule I was able to grab some valuable time with Peter yesterday to finish the edits on my latest video “That Man”. If you know your
Paul on Sound!
music then you will know this song was originally recorded by Caro Emerald in 2010 and was featured in Marvel’s season one of “Agent Carter”. As soon as I heard the number I knew I wanted to sing it.
“That Man” has a wonderful vintage sound and where Agent Carter is set in the 40s I wanted to set my accompanying video a little earlier in the 1920s. It’s taken me 10 months to realize my vision and where I’m so often associated with having a Mary Poppins voice and persona I wanted to go slightly dark and dangerous and give my video a gangster/moll feel. For this video I though it would be fun to play both the male and female rolls having taken much of my fashion inspiration from the popular TV series Peaky Blinders and the movie Chicago.
As yet I wont be officially launching my video until this weekend but here on my blog you get to see my video first as I become “That Man”. My still shots were shot on location at Milton Keynes Museum and Stoke Bruerne thanks to top photographer Angela Addams. Enjoy Watching!
I shall also leave you with a few photos from Saturdays show at the Lion.
Land of Hope and Glory!
Must dash – Keep Following Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉
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