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Showing posts from 2007

The End Is Nigh...

...well, of 2007, at least!

Yes, another year is under our belts like unwanted weight from too much Christmas indulgence ... and now its party time all over again!

For those of you that can't get out to party, here's a few things to keep you amused for the night, assuming you only started reading this about ten minutes to midnight!!!





In the meantime, whatever you are doing to see the new year in, have a fun and safe night and have a...

Happy New Year!!!

The Cost of Christmas

Why, oh why, do I let myself get caught out every Christmas?!

It seems that, as well as over-spending on presents for the family, I should really be putting money aside for the inevitable Christmas breakdown, too ... in addition to my hob's attempt to cook the worktop, my washer-dryer has given up the ghost for the fifth time!!

Ironically, the insurance company contacted me back in November to ask how it was doing and I told them it was doing fine, so they sent me the paperwork to apply for another year's insurance ... I think they thought they weren't going to have to pay out!

Mind you, so did I :-(

So, it looks like I'm going to spend another couple of weeks wearing old clothes I hardly wear because I can't get them washed ... good job I haven't been able to take them down to the charity shop yet, otherwise, I would need to buy them back!

I guess that also means I'm going to have to buy an airer for all the wet clothes that keep getting stuck in it...

With all…

Petrol Patrol

Its certainly worth getting up at 5:45 in the morning to go and get petrol before the masses get going for the day!!

I was half-set to go into work by train today, so put my alarms* on really early in order that I could at least check out the petrol station before heading for a train.

As I pulled into the station, I could see yellow boards and black-and-yellow tape wrapped round the various pumps, as though a row of half-wit Daleks had crashed through a police barrier and had succeeded in getting tangled up in the tape. But things were hopeful as there were two vehicles sitting by pumps, so I figured there must still be something available.

It turned out that these were the only two pumps and all they had on offer was the super stuff that costs a fortune ... 106.9p per litre ... about ninety percent of which goes into government pockets, never to be seen again!

Figuring that it could be a while until they refill their tanks, I decided to fill up. It has to be the most expensive fill-u…

Apple Grumble

Trying to rehearse a play when your head is overheating and your sinuses are fighting the Battle of the Bugs is not recommended!

A couple of days ago, I appear to have picked up this year's winter bug from someone in the family and have been fighting it off with a combination of paracetamol (which I rarely take), and hot honey and lemon ... with a shot of Jack Daniels, of course!

I thought I was doing pretty good at keeping it away, but tonight it tried real hard to get a stranglehold on my system, turning my brain to mush so that all my sentences came out wrong and I suffered from more giggle-fits than ever before ... my leg now has little welts on it where I was pinching myself to stop the laughter: lucky I bite my nails or it would look like I'd been attacked by a Christmas Elf with nail clippers!

The chuckling disappeared pretty quick when I discovered that, for the second night of trying, all the petrol stations are out of petrol. After getting back from the family visit on…

Christmas Cheer

Isn't it amazing how time flies?! One minute you're packing to visit family, full of festive cheer and the next, you're back in work and full of festive flu. Ahhh, Christmas!

It's been a full week since I had the opportunity to bash away at a keyboard so, to start with, I must apologise for not wishing you all a Merry Christmas! It was purely because time was against me. So, belatedly, I hope you all had an excellent break and managed to spend some quality time with the people that matter most to you.

Well, I don't know about you, but when Santa emptied his sack under the tree there were a fair few goodies for everyone. My list of goodies included the boxset of Heroes, Season 1 ... yay ... some photography books, Season 6 of Family Guy, a new watch and a fridge magnet telling me how other people are having sex on my behalf!

Well, someone's got to, cos I'm not getting much!

So, who out there had the most intriguing presents? Or did you receive something t…

Mid-week Distraction!

After discovering yesterday that we have gone full circle on a customer project and are having to return to the very first approach we took six months ago ... and having the dread build up at the realisation that we are about to have exactly the same conversations that we had way back then ... it was a nice distraction when my cousin sent me some links to a couple of places on t'internet.

Top of the list is GearCrave and it's list of Top 10 Most Useless USB Gadgets Of All Time, from a USB Vacuum to a USB Snowman. Unfortunately, missing from the list are those can't-do-without delectables, the USB Humping Dog, the USB Rat Race and the USB Panic Button.

How many of you have actually bought any of these? If you have, I bet you've only bought them for other people as presents, haven't you? You evil bastards!

Closely following the tat-craze, came a rather imaginative interpretation of the Karma Sutra by a Flickr user called cszar. If you want to find out what two T-800…

Ho, Ho, Flipping, Ho

Every year, I swear I'll start the Christmas shopping in November. Then November comes and I think, "It's too early! Go away!". Then I end up bouncing around the Christmas crowds like a pinball, entering shops only because I happened to be aimed that way.

A couple of years ago, I went to Bluewater about a week before Christmas and was amazed at how clear it was. Ever since, I've been going back there to get the majority of the Christmas presents.

So, in preparation for the long trip round the M25, I decided to fill up with petrol the night before. There was a fair queue at the garage, probably due to the weekend protests that were taking place, but I kind of expected that so switched the engine off and waited for the lady in front to fill her car.

Good job she wasn't the driver. After putting the nozzle back in its holster, she disappeared to the passenger door ... with the tank cap still hanging off the open cap door!

I figured she must be coming back to f…

Torchwood Heroes

It seems that there are some people at the BBC who have a sense of humour!

If you're a fan of Heroes and/or Torchwood, you should love this little clip they've put together!

Cheers, Clarky, for pointing this one out.

Enjoy!

60 Seconds of Fame

Any budding Spielbergs out there fancy 60 seconds of fame?

Well, if you do, those wonderful BAFTA luvvies, in association with the colourful Orange, have opened up a competition to the public (I'm assuming they do this every year?), called 60 Seconds of Fame.

Basically, it is your task to script, direct, produce and upload a film of no longer than ... um ... 60 seconds ... geddit?!

I wouldn't mind doing something like this myself but there is soooooo much to be doing that I just do not have the time so, for anyone who does want to do it be aware that a) the film has to be based around the theme of "Unite", and b) you have to get your skates on as uploads are only being accepted up to 5pm on 4 January 2008!

Good luck if you decide to go for it and let me know when you post anything!

Nearly nobbled by the trinkets

Anyone remember my little encounter with Tring Betty?

Well, I'd just about forgotten about it - though I'm still wary in Marks & Spencer in case she pounces on me again. Which is very daft (though very human), to link a person or event with one particular place when that place actually has no bearing! Its not like she stalks the aisles of M&S looking for people to chat to.

As I found out yesterday.

I wandered into Tring's rather excellent little card shop, House of Cards, on the lookout for some Xmas cards for the family - completely off guard - and that's when she caught me, just by the Xmas trinkets, disguising herself by wearing a hat, of all things!

At first I thought I was going to escape, but then she started with the same stories as last time and I knew I was in for another session. Thankfully, the staff in the card shop were much friendlier than the M&S bunch (who kept looking and frowning at us, like we were about to rush out with armfuls of food), …

Weekend Mix

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If you ever want to see a movie without being disturbed, see if you can get into a late night showing!

I really fancied seeing The Golden Compass and figured it would probably be really busy. However, the local Vue cinema had a late night showing I thought I'd try out ... at 11:20pm. Perhaps not the best time to watch a film if you're already tired from the week's activities, but better than being surrounded by noisy, jabbering, spotty little oiks who can't keep quiet for longer than 30 seconds.

Figuring that since there was a late show it was anticipated to be quite busy, I headed there a little early to get the good seats ... from which there was a helluva selection as there was nobody else there!

As it got closer to the movie starting, I started to realise it was pretty much going to be a private showing: by the time the film started, there were only seven of us watching. Either the film isn't as popular as they were expecting or people really don't like st…

Boycott: No. 2

Okay, so who's next on the list?

PC World.

Why?

Last night I visited their Watford store down by Bushey Arches, after popping into Comet and Currys to see if I could find a suitable hob unit to replace my knackered one. As I was in the area, I thought I would have a look about to see if there was anything I could get for the pooter: I was in half a mind to buy a joystick for a couple of the games I own.

As always, when I am on a general browse for spending money, I went up and down each aisle, stopping when I saw something of interest, whilst at the same time talking to my Mum on the phone about possible Christmas presents for people. It was one of those half-hearted shops where you're attention is divided, so you just wander.

I got about one-third of the way around the store before storming out: everywhere I went, their security guard was several feet behind me. Just to be sure I wasn't being paranoid, I stopped halfway down an aisle as he went past the end and, sure enough…

Junkette

My friend Cath is a sweet, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, demure young lady ... and is capable of innuendo that would make your Granny blush!

She is also a total radio whore!

On Tuesday, she went with her mate to play with Michael's Bublés at Wembley Arena, and then hung around stalker-style to capture the young gent before he could escape. Whilst waiting for him to show his face, she phoned Simon Beale at Heart 106.2 FM to explain her dastardly plan ... to wait.

As she had already been waiting an hour, Simon asked her to call back but managed to call her back first, and here is their conversation:









Apparently, she calls Heart a lot and can often be heard chatting Jamie Theakston up in the early hours when phoning up for iPlay!

Tart.

Brumm Brumm

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The weekend just passed saw the final stages of the FIA World Rally Championship held in South Wales ... and I was there to see it!

This was my first rally and I have to say that I quite enjoyed it ... though if I wasn't attempting to take photographs I would probably have gotten bored. Sorry!

Four of us headed up to Crychan for the first run in the morning and luckily got there early enough to get a decent parking space. It was a bit nippy, but keeping my hands in my Craghoppers when I wasn't taking pics helped keep me warm.

All-in-all, with the camera set to high-speed continuous shooting, I came away from the morning with a whopping 444 frames on the card! Of course, that doesn't mean any of them came out any good!

After arriving back home this morning at 1:20am and unable to sleep, I decided to download the pics to my PC and have a quick scan through for a couple of semi-decent ones to put onto Flickr. Here's a couple I quickly adjusted ... hopefully I'll get t…

I'm Dreaming of a Hot Christmas

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For the past few years, Christmas has brought more than its fair share of surprises ... financial ones, that is. You can pretty much guarantee that something will happen that will involve forking out several hundred pounds at a point when you really can't afford to.

As I have just been paid, I was planning to hold back on buying stuff for myself and use this money for purchasing the majority of this year's presents. No such luck!

Whilst cooking tonight's dinner, the nine-year-old hob decided to cook more than just the contents of the pan and tried heating the worktop, too. Personally, I'm not into flame-grilled pasta, so opted to douse the unit in cold water (after switching it off of course!), and placed a large pan of cold water on it to help take the heat away.


Ooh, déja vu moment there just reading over this first bit ... weird!

Anyway, I don't suppose you can see it in this pic, but there is a nice puddle of water surrounding the heating element to try and cool…

For all your apologising needs!

Have you been horribly ill at a friend's place and are wondering how to apologise?

Well, wonder no more and try Serenata Flowers for all your apologising needs - they've never let me down yet!!

Female vs Male Models

Oh What A Night...

Crikey, what a weekend!

As I've been staying up late recently (my system is just about capable of playing Crysis), I ended up sleeping in longer on Saturday than I had originally intended, which meant racing round town trying to find the last bits for the US Serviceman uniform I was trying to put together.

I have to say a big thanks to eBay users epic_militaria, daveblower and maxmoo2 who all provided a sterling service getting my bits to me in time - thanks guys!!

For those of you that haven't read any previous posts, this post should explain the need for the outfit...

So, I arrived, all dressed up in my gear and camo face paint ... 15 minutes late! My sense of time is getting worse. I think I knew about one-third of the people there, but have only met them a couple of times so was outside of my comfort zone again. All good stuff to tell the life coach tomorrow!!

The host, Julie Noted, had done a great job organising the Café Resistance and laying on some quality food whilst we…

Will We Survive?

Good question and, going by the news today, the answer is a resounding: "NO!"

What a bunch of incompetent, bumbling idiots!!

Ignoring the fact that the first thing they have done is to blame a junior - who, lets face it, would have been told what to do by someone senior anyway - this type of data should never, never, never be left floating around on disks or mobile devices.

And I mean, NEVER!!

This is the type of data that should be stored in a centralised location under a strict security regime, with strict access and usage protocols.

Anybody else find it interesting that the preliminary of the UK Data Protection Act 1998 (c. 29)*, under section 2 Sensitive Personal Data, doesn't cover your personal financial data??

The following is extracted directly from preliminary of the above site:


2 Sensitive personal data

In this Act “sensitive personal data” means personal data consisting of information as to—

(a) the racial or ethnic origin of the data subject,

(b) his political opinions…

To Hell and Back

Leeds.

Just the very mention of the place makes my stomache turn.

Well, to be fair, more specifically the phrase "The Leeds Office". I have no objection to Leeds at all as a place ... I mean, how can you when they have stuff like the Carling Weekend going on?!

However, our customer has an office there and this is currently the source of the wall imprint on my forehead ... I look like I'm turning into a troll or something, with textured rocky features and a constant scowl. All I need to do is cultivate the unibrow and stick out my bottom lip, and I'll be there.

Unfortunately, tomorrow sees me taking my sorry little troll behind to this very place. I am not looking forward to this ... I always come away having dark thoughts and wondering how I can improve my CV.

Wish me luck!

A Sad Announcement

It is with sadness that I must announce the early demise of one of my tenants.

Yes, one of my little Ladybird friends has suffered a fatal blow, literally ... well, its his/her own fault for diving down the back of my shirt!

Let that be a lesson learned: you wanna get a feel of my hot bod, ask first!

Mission: Rendezvous

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Well, I arrived home Friday to find an important communication waiting for me on the door mat. It seems that Le Resistance is about to make its move against enemy forces...


I can't wait!

Feedback: Martin McColl

Well, this lunchtime I received a response back from Martin McColl regarding my query about their inflated prices ... admittedly not an answer, but at least a response...


From: customerservices@martinmccoll.co.uk

Subject: Price Query

Dear xxxxx,

I am in receipt of your email regarding the prices at our branch of RS McColl.

A copy of your email has been forwarded to our Buying Department who constantly monitor the prices being charged at our branches.

As a company committed to providing an excellent level of customer care, we are disappointed that you are not completely satisfied and would like to offer our apologies that you feel that the price was not what you expected on this occasion.

On behalf of Martin McColl may I take this opportunity to thank you for your valued comments and for bringing this matter to our attention.

If I can be of any assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,



Customer Services
Martin McColl



...we are disappointed that you are not co…

Its Boycotting Time

As of now, I have decided to make a stand - albeit a lonely one - against over-priced newsagent, Martin's.

With over 1300 stores nationwide, how can they justify their excessive prices??

An example in point, I like to buy a Mars bar (or two) at lunchtimes, along with a bottle of Summer Fruits Oasis and, currently, a can of Red Bull. The price difference between Martin's and the local Tesco is a staggering £1.25 - perhaps not a lot in ordinary terms but added up over time this is money that, as a consumer, I could be putting to better use.

So, the intention is now to shop at Tesco ... until they do something to upset me!

However, in the meantime, my sense of injustice has gotten the better of me and I have fired off the following email to their customer services:


To: customerservices@martinmccoll.co.uk

Subject: Price Query

Dear Sirs

I am writing as a member of the consuming public to ask you to justify your prices when compared to the likes of Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda. Whilst I und…

Old Mother Hubbard

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I have cupboard space!

After years of clogging up my cupboards* with nearly decades old tins and jars of ridiculously preserved food, I have finally had a clearout.

When I arrived home from my Mum's birthday party last weekend, I did the usual thing of dumping everything in the living room. This Saturday, I decided it was about time to start putting things away so, after spending half the day in Presence drinking coffee, eating chocolate chunk shortbread and learning my lines, I decided to start putting stuff away.

Unfortunately, I was in just the right mood to clean ... headphones on and listening to my eclectic music collection that would make my peers blush with embarrassment, let alone my niece and nephew ... so cleaning the dust off the top of the fridge-freezer to make room for the alcohol triggered a bit of a frenzy.

I seriously did have food stuffs nearly a decade old! Don't believe me, then check the date in the pic on the right here...

... June 1999!!!

I know this stuff …

Pussy Power

A friend of mine from 'Up North' pointed me in the direction of this great little cartoon today. Those of you who are cat lovers will probably relate to it!!



This got me thinking about my favourite cat cartoon that I saw a number of years ago and that I have never been able to locate since. All hail the YouTube!!!!!



Whichever of you thought this wasn't a post about cats ... shame on you! ;-)

What shall I do about the voices...

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Ever plagued by indecisiveness, different voices telling you different things? Why not sign up for a TomTom and download them for some peace and quiet! ;-)

Tring Betty

Tring appears to be composed of two main groups of individuals: youngsters and wrinklies.

With a Performing Arts school attracting the next generation of celebrity wannabes and a range of charity shops attracting the Walking Stick Brigade, its easy to see why most of the kids are pretty well behaved around here: even I wouldn't want to meet any of the grannys round here down a dark alley. If there was ever a battle to be held between the two groups (Tring Park will do as the battle ground), I'd put my money on the older generation!

Yesterday, I had my first interaction with one of the WSB members; a little slip of a woman who goes by the name of Betty. I say she goes by that name because it is apparently not her real name!

I won't give any personal details away*, but she managed to condense a rather interesting 83-year life story into 1½ hours whilst I was on my 1 hour lunch break. Yes, I was late back to work, but hey, I didn't have the heart to stop her mid-flow.

Now…

What's all the fuss about?

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Well, ignoring the growly post where I practised my Lion's roar, I finished off last week by suggesting I was working on something rather interesting.

To be honest, it probably isn't really all that interesting to anyone other than those involved!

This Wednesday, Journey South's one and only fan ... my Mum ... will be 60, so this weekend my Dad put on a bit of a surprise party for her. Being the kitchen demon I alledgedly am, my little contribution was to make the birthday cake (which earned me a nice bottle of Jack Daniels).

However, I had totally forgotten that my little plastic hand mixer had chewed itself up when I last used it, so I had to go on a hunt for a replacement machine. I hunted everywhere, but couldn't find anything that was nothing more than a lump of cheap plastic that couldn't realistically be used on anything stiffer than egg white.

And then I found this beauty, my very own Saucy Lawson in sleek metal form, complete with curvy bowl to put my mix in…

Growl Time

I was all set to post about everything that's been keeping me off the streets these past few days and then bam, mood swing!

It seems that the new Marks and Spencer in Tring is so popular that some people are too impatient to wait their turn to be served.

I was happily waiting in line for one of the two express checkout girls to become available, and there was a reasonable queue building up behind me. The guy that was at the furthest till was just being handed his receipt, so I started to make my way forward when some haggard blonde bit pushed past me and dumped her basket at the till, looking back at her friend behind me with a big grin on her face, all proud at her lack of manners.

What did I do? Nothing, as usual. I'm still working on my confidence and anger control!!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaarrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

*sigh*

That's better.

Anyway, I am a little calmer now I have found a picture that closely resembled her in a Big Brother forum*: just stick some lo…

Project X

Blimey, so much to be getting on with I haven't had a chance to let you know what's going on!

That said, there is a perfectly good reason for being quiet at the moment ... I just can't tell you what it is yet :-D

Grumpy Post

All dressed up and nowhere to go :-(

I was supposed to be meeting my cuz and his new wife in London tonight, as they are here this weekend for her thirtieth birthday, gallavanting around the capital to do all the interesting things people do there.

So why am I sitting here, posting?

The trains are buggered. I'd heard this morning that there were problems but figured they would be sorted by tonight. How naive!

Checking the Journey Check website for Silverlink, there are no trains to Euston from where I am within the next hour ... and its been saying that for the past hour. Fine. That's that cancelled then.

What about going out with mates? Only one person out of about seven bothered to reply and is already busy.

So here I sit, all psyched up for going out, with nowhere to go...

... and totally grumpy.

Beastly Attraction

Well, Monday saw my return to the Centralian Players for the first rehearsal of their next play and it felt very much like putting on an old pair of flourescent socks: comfortable, but nervous that everyone will be looking at you and laughing.

Of course, I need not have worried as everyone was in the same boat, and I appear to have gotten back into the swing of things pretty quick. There was one line that was easy to learn and, because we ran through that piece a couple of times, down went the book and out came the acting, which resulted in the guy playing Trevor laughing nervously and commenting on how I'd just given him the evils! Oops, getting into it a bit too soon, me thinks!!

The producer has put us in some positions that do not feel right, but it was only the first rehearsal for blocking, so this is bound to change the further we go. I guess I'm a little bit purist about such stuff. In my mind, if the playwright puts a specific stage direction in the script, then it i…

Mixed Moods

Right now, I am not a happy bunny.

Last week, I placed an ad in the Freecycle Watford Yahoo! group*, offering 12 cans of decorating paint to anyone who was interested. Surprisingly, I had half-a-dozen people show an interest so, rather than picking someone at random to have the paints, I decided to go on a first-come-first-served basis.

The first person was a lady called Linda who arranged to collect last Wednesday. She then couldn't make this and changed it to either saturday or sunday, which I agreed to. Unfortunately, I forgot I was going to the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon on Saturday, so had to mail her back to ask if she could make it Sunday. She agreed to this, saying that she should be here 'early afternoon'.

Well, it is now Sunday, it is well past 6pm and she still hasn't arrived or contacted me to say when she will be here.

Once again, I have had my time wasted waiting for someone else. That's two out of three times this has happ…

Wish Me Luck!

Well, tonight is the night I try for my opportunity to tread the boards! Kind of like walking the plank but with fiercer sharks!!

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a single thing about the play we're auditioning for (House of Secrets by Peter McKelvey), so I'm going to be walking into this blind. But then, I guess, so is everyone else.

Despite getting nervous just thinking about this, there is a part of me that would really like to have a part again ... but another part of me screaming: "No, don't do it! Stick with the stage management!!"

But I don't always listen to that part of me ...

Is it lies or just business?

I don't know how many of you will recall, but roughly one year ago, my previous employer became a customer of my current employer*, transferring their IT department to us under the TUPE regulations.

At the time, my boss informed me that, as per regulations, the transferred staff could not have their terms and conditions changed (understandably) and that my terms and conditions could not be improved in order to match theirs, as much as he would like to do so.

This has been bugging me for a while especially since the transferred staff have; minimum 22 days holiday, increasing upto a maximum of 27 days; 3 privilege days between Christmas and New Year; and are contracted for less hours of work. All far more than the government minimum that I get.

It always seemed odd to me that there would be stipulations in a regulation that would prevent an improvement in terms and conditions of employees, since its creation was to protect transferred employees from being disadvantaged. So this week,…

Video Fun

In view of the fact that I have just posted another epic entry to my blog, here's something a bit shorter and more entertaining!!!

This one is good...



but this one is sooooooooooooooo much funnier!!!



Cheers, cuz, for pointing me to these :-D

Bugged

I know I've said this before, but there is something to be said about not having a television to distract*. I think I have got more stuff done in this past week than I have in the preceding months!

It also means you have to get your entertainment elsewhere. Usually, this would be computer games, such as the excellent BioShock, but I've just not been in the mood for it lately.

However, my little visit to the old drama group last week seems to have planted a little seed in my head and, on my way past the Palace Theatre, I decided to take a look to see what was on ... which led to me booking a seat as soon as I got home!

At first I thought The Hired Man by Melvyn Bragg was showing as I had my dates mixed up, but then I discovered that A Small Family Business by Alan Ayckbourn was on its last night, so I thought: "Why not?!"

It would appear that there are two extremes when comparing am-dram with professional theatre, namely, quality of the acting and quality of the audience…

Drive-by Projecting

Its Friday, its hometime, its funtime!!

Thespian Thinking

Several years ago, I was a member of a local amateur dramatics group, The Centralian Players.

From the stories I had heard about other drama groups, I think I struck gold with this group as they were very friendly and inviting, and they weren't afraid to put a total newcomer on stage: not me, I hasten to add, but my mate Tim who did a great Councillor Mason in Curtain Call by Bettine Manktelow. Instead, I blew them away with my stage management :-)

After stage managing one play, and appearing in two others (Gym & Tonic by John Godber and Deadly Nightcap by Francis Durbridge), I decided to leave the group as I was getting a job in High Wycombe and, with having to work late, it would be very difficult to make rehearsals. Apparently, I was the first person in the history of the group to hand in his notice! In the past, people just vanished and were never seen again...

Anyway, the group's October production, Murder in Rehearsal by Angela Lanyon, opened last night at Henderson …