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


Back from Pontins, Easter Shows & St Georges Day Here we Come!

In My Easter Bonnet!

I confess the last couple of weeks I’ve had a lot on my plate having performed twenty shows in sixteen days. It’s been mostly Easter Bonnet shows and for once it’s been lovely to see the sunshine. This April I had a new 1940s style floral dress made which has been my costume for the Easter season. I even made myself a couple of purple hats to match, although the little jaunty topper style has been my favorite receiving a few more outing than  my wider brim bonnet.

This season I’ve covered a lot of miles predominantly working in the Northampton area but also squeezing in a “We’ll Meet Again” show at Pontins Sand Bay holiday village in Weston Super Mare on Easter Sunday. Nothing is ever guaranteed and I’ve had a few last minute changes due to Covid out-breaks but in every case I’ve been lucky enough to sell the dates to other clients and reschedule.

All Set to Perform for St Georges Day!

Although keeping up to date with all the different contract and poster changes has given me no shortage of late nights.

It’s all change tomorrow  as I hang up my bonnets and start on Pearly Queen Shows with the run up to St Georges Day on Saturday.  On Sunday I’m in Woking and on Monday I’ve been engaged to sing “The Old Rugged Cross” for a funeral at All Saints Church in Leighton Buzzard. I have a run through with the organist tomorrow morning and then I begin a series of “We’ll Meet Again” shows as we get closer to May bank Holiday and VE Day  on the 8th. I’m also in Newark on the 29th performing songs from the 1940s, 50s, 60s & 70s  so as you can see I’ve much to prepare for.

It was lovely to be in Weston Super Mare on Sunday. Time was tight as I had a 2.30pm show in Northampton first before I embarked on the three hour drive down to North Somerset. It was good to play a holiday center again as I had not done so since I last appeared at Mill Rythe Holiday Village on Hayling Island ten years

Out-side my Chalet at Pontins!

ago. It was just like old times.  As soon as I arrived, I just had time to find my chalet, get into costume, talk through my music and I was then straight on stage.

On this occasion Pontins were staging a 1940s themed weekend and prior to my appearance I believe Sand Bay had booked a big band on the Friday night a “We’ll Meet Again” theater show on the Saturday evening and myself on the Sunday.  Initially I had been booked just to perform a straight through 60 minute ATS sing-along set but as they were struggling to find a band for the

Getting Ready for Jubilee!

late night dancing I said I would cover it for them.

For my finally I finished with my British Themes medley which earned me a standing ovation from the audience and next day a breakfast it was lovely to receive so many compliments from the guests saying how much they enjoyed my show. As I had another Easter Bonnet show to perform in Kettering that afternoon I couldn’t stay and I had to get away promptly.

I’m going to leave my blog here tonight. I have a

Land of Hope and Glory!

full inbox of e-mails I must answer and music to sort out for tomorrows rehearsal. I also need to make a final selection of which shots I’m going to use  to advertise my Jubilee shows as May and June are promising to be even busier.

Thank-you Following Toodle Pip and Bye for Now!


Happy Easter & Off Down to Pontins Weston -Super- Mare!

The Girl in the Little Green Hat!

Once again I’m dashing against the clock to get my blog out between shows. I’m now in full swing with Easter Bonnet shows and I’m loving my new song “The Girl in the Little Green Hat” which is going down really well with audiences. It took me a while to learn all the words but now I have I’m really enjoying it. This week I’ve been mixing together all my spring time favorites from Jo Stafford’s “April and You” to Max Bygrave’s  “Tulips from Amsterdam” which never fails when it comes to delivering a good old fashioned a sing-along!

In My Purple Easter Bonnet!

I’ve quite a week ahead of me especially when we come to the Easter weekend. On Good Friday I’m performing in Brackley in the afternoon and then I shall be at the Conservative Club in my home town of Leighton Buzzard performing the “Magic of the Musicals” from 8pm – 9pm and songs from the 1950s, 60s & 70s from 9.30pm to 10.45pm. On Saturday I’m in Wallingford in the morning and then over to Aylesbury for an afternoon show.

On Easter Sunday  I’m booked to perform a 2.30pm  Easter Bonnet Show in Northampton after which I have to get down to Pontins Sand Bay Holiday Village in Weson – Super – Mare to perform for their 1940s weekend. It’s going to be tight but not impossible as I have to be changed and on stage ready to perform at 8.30pm. Initially I had been booked just to perform a straight through 60 minute ATS “We’ll Meet Again” show but

My Other Easter Bonnet!

today I was requested to extend my show to 2 x 45 minute sets concluding with a Lindy Hop dance set. It will be interesting to see just how many dances will be in the audience but just in case we don’t get any dances at all I will have another  set up my sleeve if I have to adapt the show to suit.

I haven’t played Pontins in years so I’m looking forward to it very much. Back in 1991 I started my career as a Red coat working at The Metropole Hotel in Blackpool. Red coating gave me the bridge I needed to make the break from amateur to professional which I did in 1992. In the early days I use to play at a lot of the holiday centers around the country. I think the last time I played at Sand Bay was in 1998 so it will be interesting to see if anything has changed.

Happy Easter!

I will be staying the night at Sand Bay before I have to make it back up the country to play in Kettering on Easter Monday at 2.30pm. From Easter it’s straight into Pearly Queen shows with the run up to St Georges Day and then VE Day is just around the corner as we move into May.

This Easter I had a new 1940s dress and swing coat made. It’s not until I go back over my social media I realize just how long I’ve been wearing certain dresses. It’s true I do have favorites but this year I thought it was time for something fresh which is why I choose pink and purple as my colours for the season. I also decided to make myself a couple of matching Easter Bonnets which have been fun to wear.

I shall leave my blog here tonight and thank-you all for following. Have a Wonderful Easter and I look forward to catching up with you all soon.

Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉

 


Horwood House, All Set for Easter & The Queens Jubilee!

Patriotic for Jubilee!

This week I’ve been out and about tying up loose ends and getting set for the new Spring/Easter season. Everything is still very transitional with me never quite knowing from day to day if shows are going ahead or not until the very last minute. Covid is still very much amongst us and I’m constantly having to reschedule shows due to unforeseen eventualities. The extra paper work it involves can be exhausting but on the plus side my diary is full and I’m keeping my finger crossed for a super Spring/Easter season.

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of singing at

Remembering Anne!

Horwood House in Mursely, Milton Keynes. I had been engaged to sing for a a special remembrance party to remember Anne, beloved wife, mother and grandmother to the Kilmer family as the family came together to honour her memory. I had been engaged to perform some of Anne’s favourite songs from the Hollywood movie musicals which is also my favourite genre of music too. It was a lovely afternoon and Horwood House is a beautiful country house hotel set in the Buckinghamshire landscape. Strangely enough I had never performed at Horwood House before and it seems to be one of those hidden

Horwood House!

gems which I look forward to visiting again sometime in the future. After my show I had a walk around the grounds which were just delightful.

Between shows I’m constantly planning ahead – this year I’m investing much more into my photography as I build my photographic library. I still have a void when it comes to documenting my 1950s dresses. I’m not short of studio shots but when it comes to making videos, it’s better if my photos are shot on location as the scene contrasts are far more engaging. This is one of my projects

Taken from the Garden at Horward House!

for the Summer and Autumn as I already have a couple of shoots lined up.

Yesterday I was working in Olney with photographer, Ian Mellor. With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee just around the corner I wanted a couple of patriotic shots to advertise my forthcoming shows. I kept everything very simple yesterday; I just had two costume changes documenting the styles of the 1940s & 50s. I think Ian took over 400 shots, so between us, we should have the perfect shot. I’m looking forward to getting the photos back next week and when I

Behind the Scenes with photographer Ian!

do, my designer Karen will be quick to start work on my advertisements.

It’s so important to document things and this week Paul and I were so sorry to hear of D-Day Veteran Harry Billinge’s passing. I feel very honoured to have met and known all these wonderful veterans when I did. They represented an extraordinary generation and will be greatly missed.  I will be returning to Normandy this September to perform at Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse on the 17th September for the towns Liberation Ball. The Ball has been

Paul and I with Harry in Arromanches in 2018!

rescheduled from June to September due to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and refurbishment which is taking place at the Salle Victor Lorier Hall.

That’s all my news for now.

Keep Following and Toodle Pip!

 

 

 


My Fair Lady & A Song for Spring!

On Stage as Eliza Doolittle!

It’s just a very quick blog tonight as I’m a little between seasons as I go from  “My Fair Lady” and forward on into Spring and Easter . I’d like to begin by thanking Bea for inviting me to perform “My Fair Lady” at Portobello Place last Sunday for Mother’s day. Sadly Saturday’s “My Fair Lady” show had to be rescheduled due to a Covid outbreak but I was still able to perform in the garden with a different show which didn’t require costume changes and script.

Covid is still very much among us and I’m often having to turn shows around on a pin head adapting to what ever challenges the day brings. “My Fair Lady” is a complicated show and there is so much for me to remember which means I always have to rehearse it before performing the show to a paid audience. However every-time I do I think I get a little better which just goes to show practice really does make perfect.

Happy Mothers Day at Portobello Place!

Next week I start on the Spring/Easter season and I’m dying to try out my new song “The Girl in the Little Green Hat”. Some of you may remember Will Young singing this song in the 2005 film “Mr Henderson Presents” which told the story of the Windmill Theater in London during the 1930s & 40s. It’s my favorite film and I’m thrilled to add this number to my Easter Bonnet show and also to my Wrens show too. It’s slightly nautical which is why it makes for a good fit and Easter wouldn’t be Easter with-out a song or two about hats.

Me as The Girl in the Little Green Hat for Easter!

Once again Richard has produced a wonderful arrangement for me and I plan to sing the number a Bletchley Park later this year when I open their concert season on the 6th August. Perhaps not surprisingly I’m keeping everything crossed for good weather as last time we had rain and we all had to dash indoors as I performed the second half of my show in the ball room.

In between shows I’m busy trying to arrange a couple of photo shoots this year as I have a number of out-fits I want to document and use in my future videos. I’m going to be very busy with the Jubilee and I have a great run of shows from 23rd May through to the  12th June.

I’m going to leave my blog hear tonight as I must get to bed and I have a number of e-mails I must do in the morning.

Keep Following Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉

 


Performing My Fair Lady for Mothers Day!

On Stage as Eliza Doolittle!

It’s just a very quick blog tonight as I’m taking a break from rehearsals to write this post. I’m currently rehearsing my one woman show of the popular musical “My Fair Lady” as I get the show ready for this weekend. I have been booked for two private parties on Saturday and Sunday to perform the show to tie in with Mothers Day.

Learning is definitely down to practice and I’m pleased to say  it’s not as difficult second, third or fourth time around to find the words in my head after a break of a couple of years as all the hard work has been done. I last performed this show prior to the pandemic so it’s good to performing “My Fair Lady” again. I think it’s one of my finest achievements as this shows uses all my skills as a musical actress, dancer, writer and designer.

My Fair Lady!

Tonight I need to go over my dance steps and a few of the Higgin’s numbers just to make sure everything will run smoothly when I come to the dress rehearsal on Friday.  Tomorrow I hope to get a couple of run throughs, which can be exhausting as there is much to remember and to do physically . The hardest part of this show is going from “The Rain in Spain” into “I Could have Danced all Night”. Neither songs are difficult to sing  but when you add in the Rain in Spain dance sequence there is little time for me to catch my breath, so I have to be super fit. I shall keep practicing!

Last week I had the pleasure of performing on Sunday in Harrow for a special 80th Birthday party. It was a lovely event as most of the people at the party were musicians so they really enjoyed my 2 x 45 minutes sets as I performed music from the 1930s, 40s, 50s,

With a Little Bit of Luck!

60s & 70s. You can’t really go wrong with Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Abba and Rock and Roll when it’s a family party and afterwards I really enjoyed listening to the pianists who all performed their favorite party pieces.

I’m going to leave my blog here tonight as I must get on. I shall leave you with my “My Fair Lady” show-reel which gives you an insight into how I stage the show.

Enjoy watching Toodle Pip and Bye for Now!

 


Back from Tour, Danny House, Sheet Music & The Girl in the Little Green Hat!

The Stage is Set at Danny House!

Straighten Up and Fly Right at Danny House!

I arrived home on Monday evening after spending last week touring along the South Cost. It’s lovely to go somewhere different and since returning home I’ve had a mountain of e-mails to go through in-between performances which is why I’m a little later with this blog this week than I would like. I started my tour in Hurstpierpoint at Danny House with my  WAAF 1940s show. Initially I had been booked to perform this show in September to tie in with the Battle of Britain, but after coming down with Covid I had to reschedule my September tour to March.

Danny House is one of my favorite venues. The house has many historical links, the main one being in 1918, when it was rented for three months by Prime Minister Lloyd George. He lived there with his dog, his wife Margaret and his secretary Frances Stevenson. He held regular conferences in the Great Hall, where on 13 October they agreed the terms of the Armistice at the end of the First World War.

I love performing in the Great Hall and I shall be returning in the Autumn to perform “Putting on the Ritz”, songs from the 1920s & 30s, which goes

Some of the Sheet Music from the Collection!

splendidly with the halls elegance. I’ve since become a regular visitor to Danny House and when I was last down in East Sussex visiting the Vera Lynn exhibition in Ditchling I met by chance Vivien Andrews-Smith. On this occasion Vivien very kindly invited me to her home and has given me a wonderful collection of sheet music  which belonged to her late father, some of the music dates back from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s & 60s.

As I commission 99% of my backing tracks I’m always looking for original sheet music which I can put into production. I was thrilled to find a

Musical Gems from the Collection!

number of songs I’d been looking for for ages. These included Irving Berlin’s “My British Buddy” “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive” “Goodnight Vienna” and “Tico – Tico”. Although I have a lot of this sort of music in books so often they are not complete sometimes missing verses so it’s great if I can find the original sheet copies.

I always enjoy going away on tour and for many this was the first time some of the venues had had live entertainment in two years. From Danny House I went onto Brighton and along the coast to Chichester, Hayling Island, Fareham and I

Out and About with Poppy in Portchester!

finished my tour in Farnham. Paul and I also managed to have a day out in between shows with Poppy as we had Sunday lunch in Portchester and then took a trip over to Gosport and to one of my favorite shops “Voluptuous Vintage”

While I was touring I had an appointment to see Richard in the recording studio as I dashed up to Bracknell between performances. Richard has just completed “The Girl in the Little Green Hat” for me which I have commissioned for Easter and I will also be adding it to my Wrens show. I’m booked to perform at Bletchey Park on the 6th August as I open their concert season with my 1940s Wrens show “The Fleet’s in Port Again”.

The song was written in 1933 and it mentions a girl in a house by a lake in a park which is perfect for Bletchley. “The Girl in the Little Green Hat” was also sung by Will Young in the 2005 film “Mrs Henderson Presents” (My favorite film by the way) which told the story of the Windmill Theater in London during the 1930s & 40s.

Paul and I Shopping at Voluptuous Vintage!

Last year I commissioned “Babies of the Blitz” which has been going down extremely well in my shows. Once again I recorded my harmonies and it never fails making a refreshing change from The Andrews Sisters and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy which has rather lost it’s musical mojo, having been done to death!

When it comes to the music of the 1940s there are so many wonderful pieces to choose it’s important to keep shows fresh and think a little bit out of the box. That’s why I’m not adverse to a little bit of artistic licence when it comes

Beautiful Poppy!

to songs which are written retrospectively. I currently have in production  “I’m Busy Doing Nothing” from a 1949  film “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” which deserves a prize for the most ridiculous title. It starred Bing Crosby and Rhonda Fleming and I’ve learn’t there is an appetite for something other than the obligatory swing tunes and tempos which dominate 1940s events.

I’m constantly working and I’m looking forward to a fantastic 2022. While I was away Bretteville l’Orgueilleuse have confirmed for the 17th September moving their Liberation Dance from

All Set to be the Girl in the Little Green Hat!

June which will balance out better for me with the Jubilee weekend. I’m fully booked for Jubilee weekend and I only have one date left for Christmas so the year is really starting to take shape. I’ve also been booked by Quainton railway to perform at the Buckinghamshire Railway Center for the Pee 88 car show on Bank Holiday Monday 29th August where I will be singing from WW1 through to the 1970s.

Next week I’m in rehearsals with my one woman show “My Fair Lady” as I get ready to perform it next weekend for Mothers day. While I was on tour I spent much of my time going over my script and score while driving between shows in my van. It’s a great place to learn as I never like to waste a minute. I also have an appointment on Monday to have all my equipment PATS tested. Gosh that’s come round quickly – zoom another year gone!

That’s all my news for now. I must leave it here as I have a few contracts to finish off tonight which I must crack on with.

Keep Following, Toodle Pip and Bye for Now!


Off Down to Hurstpierpoint & The South Coast!

Off Down to West Sussex!

This week I’ve been out performing every day and I’m now getting ready to head off on tour this Monday as I work my way along the south coast. Once again there never seems to be enough hours in the day as I’ve been trying my best to squeeze in as much paper work as I can between shows. I’ve been working hard to sell the year and I’m thrilled the Black Country Living Museum have booked me for their 1940s event this coming July. I was all set to go to Normandy after the Queens Jubilee weekend in June to perform at The Liberation Ball at Bretteville l’ Orgueilleuse. That event has now been

The Girl in the Little Green Hat!

rescheduled to the Autumn and I’m juggling dates to fit every-one in.

So far the year is looking very positive but like every-one I’m concerned about the war in Ukraine and how this might escalate into a full blown third World War. It’s heart breaking to see families fleeing their homes with only what they can carry and nothing more. The bravery of the Ukrainian people is to be commended and I can’t believe this is happening in 2022. It’s like something out of the last century. It just goes to show we are all living through very uncertain times where no-ones home is secure and my thoughts and prayers are with the Ukrainian people at this terrible time.

It’s just a short blog today as I need to crack on with my packing and organise myself for the week ahead. I’m opening my tour with my Battle of Britain show “Those Magnificent Men” at Danny House in Hurstpierpoint  before making my way along the coast and finishing in Farnham as I start to work my way home backup the country. If I’m able to fit it in I’d like to make a trip to the recording studio between shows to pick up my new musical arrangement of the song “The Girl in the Little Green Hat”. This will be a wonderful addition to my Easter Bonnet show and I can’t wait to sing it.

Keep Following Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉

 


The National Museum of Computing, Peaky Blinders & Manic March!

At The National Museum of Computing!

Once again I’m a little late with my blog this week due to the fact I’ve been performing every day and I’ve had a lot of paper work to get through in between shows. I usually like to get my year booked by March but I’ve had a lot of last minute rescheduled shows to fit in which has kept me busy. I was so tired after my show last night I slept for a straight through twelve hours. I’ve just got back from doing a show now and I’m quickly trying to catch up.

We also had a tree snap off in the high winds last week which fortunately fell the other side of our

Setting Up in The Garden at Bushey House!

wall. The story went to press this week and was covered by our local paper The Leighton Buzzard Observer.

Dressed For An Out-door Show!

https://www.leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk/news/people/second-time-lucky-for-linslade-singers-house-during-storms-as-it-escapes-hit-from-falling-tree-3578550

The History Of Computing!

All things considered it’s been a very positive week but I’m still having to adapted quickly and turn on a pin head. Although restrictions are lifting some clients still need me to perform out-side if there is a last minute change in their health status. That happened to me on Friday when I was booked to perform in Bushey.  I don’t mind performing out-side as long as I get advance notice. My green baize coat was made for this very purpose and as the sun shone it was a great day to be in the garden. However at this time of year if the sun goes in behind a cloud the temperature can drop really quickly which is why

A Working Re-build of the 1940s Bombe!

it’s important to wear boots as well.

I’m taking each day as it comes and I’m nearly fully booked for March, but I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. I’m performing “My Fair Lady” at the end of the month and I’m busy going over my lines. I’m very proud of this show having adapted it into a one woman show and I especially enjoy playing all the different roles. With so many songs and shows going on in my head at any one time I have to departmentalise other wise it’s all too easy to get get brain over load.

Going Back to the 1940s!

Once a song or show is in my head it doesn’t take long for me to get it back to the front of my brain. It can take some work to get it slick again, but once the hard work and memory has been created it’s easier second, third or fourth time around. Memory is practice and the more I do something the easier it becomes.

However every so often I do get a rogue song where I can’t quite get the lyrics to stick in my head correctly and I come out with a slightly muddled word order. This week I had a break thorough where I managed to unravel a few of

Colossus a re-build of one of the first Computer designs from the 40s

these rogue songs which had been plaguing me for years. It just goes to show practice makes perfect and if at first you don’t succeed try try again.

Despite being busy I still think it’s important to take some time out and visit a museum from time to time. Last Sunday I had a fantastic day at The National Museum of Computing which is situated at Block H at Bletchley Park. It houses the largest collection of working historic computers from the 1940s to the present day. The museum has no shortage of interesting people who can tell you all about them and what I love best about this

Computer History from the 60s, 70s & 80s

museum is you can get up close and see these computers actually working. I’m sure none of these computers what ever their age would struggle with remembering song lyrics!

I’m always looking for interesting back drops and it’s important to get these things right when covering different historic periods. One volunteer told me that the easiest way to date office computers is by their colour. In the 1960s computers were blue, Orange in the 70s and mushroom cream in the 80s. Of course there are exceptions for example IBM computers stayed blue throughout due to it being their trade colour but it’s still a good place to start.

Tonight the BBC are airing their six series of Peaky Blinders which is attracting a lot of interest. I always like to be on trend and this week my local paper went on line and ran a story about my “That Man” show-reel which have something of a

Keep Following!

Peaky Blinders look. I shall leave you with a link and photos from my visit to The National Museum of Computing.

Linslade singer Fiona Harrison’s new music video inspired by returning BBC drama Peaky Blinders | Leighton Buzzard Observer (leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk)

Keep Following Toodle Pip and Bye for Now! 😉

 


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