Summer Holiday 96
Two weeks in Europe gave Ginny & I ample time to see friends over in Germany and also spend a short time in Austria.
Our first stop was Christian & Helga's at Leiningen (near Koblenz). They have a wonderful, 500-year-old house, with a large garden complete with orchard. Leiningen is a delightful village in the heart of the Hünsruck area of Germany, with plenty of wooded areas and places to walk. A couple of barbecues and a visit to the local brewery left us well comfortable for our subsequent visit to Darmstadt, with a promise to return to Leiningen on our return journey.
Darmstadt is the location of the German office of Gill's Cables Ltd., my former employer, and we made an overnight visit with Klaus who runs the German office. It was great to meet his wife Babs, and family. While there, we visited his local gun club and had opportunity to try various pistols of which the 'Grizzly', was by far the most powerful and indeed frightening to use. Even Ginny had a go with a .22 !
My concern for our vehicles health surfaced while in Darmstadt. The 'pinging' (pre-ignition knocking) from the engine, which I had had for some time, was now quite pronounced, and with the prospect of Austria and its hills the following day, a cure was sought. The local Ford dealer could do nothing except recommend a petrol additive and the suggestion to take it easy.
Thanks to Klaus and Babs for making us so welcome.
We set off for Austria late in the afternoon and made Füssen, in Bavaria, late that evening. This town is very close to the border and has a lot of charm. We slept in the car that evening and arrived in Piesendorf, a small village in the heart of Austria, the following mid-morning. Plenty of places to stay and only about £15 each for Bed & Breakfast. While in Austria we visited the Grossglockner (a high mountain pass), Heiligenblut (a picturesque village) and a number of other tourist sights. The southern side of the Grossglockner pass descends into Italy but a visit there was impossible due to the lack of leaded fuel for our car. Austria has been lead-free for some time now and we had to go back over into Germany for our petrol when we needed to fill up (apparently Germany plans to go lead-free in 97). This problem was compounded because of the pre-ignition problem and the need to keep 'pinging' to the minimum. We stayed 3 nights in Austria before returning to Germany to visit Paul and Sylvia in Bad Salzschlirf (near Fulda). On the way back I also acquired some lead additive for the petrol.
Paul is now retired from his job as Gruppenführer in the police force and now has less free time than before! Time was found however for excursions to a couple of historically interesting villages and a couple of good drinking sessions at Molly's bar in the town. As usual we were made extremely welcome and enjoyed our stay.
On return to Leiningen we had more barbecues and walks in the wood and all-in-all had a very relaxing time. I must mention the Wildschweinen (wild pigs / boar) at this point. Wildschweinen are very shy animals which are usually only seen or hunted at night or twilight, and then one must wait silently in a watch-hut. We always managed to see signs of their presence but never the beasts themselves. On the return journey however, one of these elusive animals ran across the path of our vehicle and quickly disappeared into the hedgerow; it was very fast; but now the 'legendary' animal has at least been seen by us in the wild.
On our return Ginny was made redundant from her job as office administrator but was offered another job 15 minutes later by another company in the same group. Ginny is not too happy though as the job involves pure data input work and is mind-numbing. She is now looking for other work and I am sure she will find something soon; every job she gets interviewed for she gets offered; it's just a case of waiting for the right salary and conditions of employment.
AAODS (Atherstone Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society)
Having been elected as producer for Oklahoma! I also found myself volunteering to produce two concerts. The first was on 10th October for the local Darby & Joan. The evening was a sure-fire success and we repeated the concert with a few enhancements for a concert on November 22nd.
The main difference between these two functions was that the first earned £40 for the society but the second, because it was promoted by the society, added over £300 to society coffers ! Both concerts were enjoyed by cast and audience. Excerpts from Phantom', Les Mis', South Pacific and many other shows were heard. The experience gained from these shows was invaluable for Oklahoma!
Well here is a show to remember and I enclose a programme. Six months of rehearsals finally culminated in the opening night of 17th March. A packed house (as a result of a budget price opening night ticket) saw my first production as a success. Monday is traditionally press night and we had reporters from two newspapers that evening. Two reviews subsequently hit the press within a couple of days; the Evening News gave us a good crit' (review) but the Tamworth Herald gave an unprecedented bad review the likes of which has never been seen. The 'Herald however, had a swift response by way of a number of letters from people who enjoyed the show. It really was hard to imagine that the 'Herald critic had seen the same show as the Evening News' reporter.
As you may know I hold the position of press secretary for AAODS and I am happy to report a satisfactory publicity campaign. Ginny appeared as a can-can girl in "Oklahoma!" and the press preferred to use the photos of Ginny and Joy (another can-can girl) as opposed to all the other cast photos taken, and they appeared on the front page of no less than four newspapers!
Another bit of publicity worthy of note was the advantage taken of a minor stage accident when Joy fell into the scenery after a stage-fight during the Monday performance and injured her face. One local newspaper took a photograph which totally filled their front page along with a small editorial about the event. There was absolutely nothing else on the front page apart from Joy's injury. This unprecedented publicity however only generated a couple of telephone calls for tickets which lends weight to the idea that publicity does not necessarily generate ticket sales and that there is no substitute for good, grass-root, knocking-on-door, ticket selling.
Anyway, the show was enjoyed by audience and cast, and may even show a slight profit.
Do I want to produce another show ? No, I don't think so. I much prefer being up there "treading the boards" but it was quite an experience and I have learned a lot about other aspects of theatre such as back-stage, properties, casting etc.
Next year AAODS bring "The Little Shop of Horrors" to the stage but for various reasons I may not be involved with the society in the future. I intend to stick around till the AGM however, in order to assist in electing a good committee for the next year.
Coleshill Operatic Society (COPS)
"Fiddler on the Roof" is on at the Library Theatre, Solihull (near Birmingham) from April 21st - 27th and I have a cameo role (a small part) as a Russian soldier. Ginny is also helping backstage. Tickets are not selling well though at the moment and at the time of writing (9th April) only a 50% sell had been reported. This show boasts a large cast and will be expensive to stage but it does not seem to be very popular with the public. Strange that the show has a good reputation, with many societies wanting to produce it, many people wanting to be in it, but not many wanting to watch it.
COPS 1998 show will be "Anything Goes", a Cole Porter show.
Nuneaton Pantomime and Revue Society (NPRS)
I recently auditioned for the part of Higgins for NPRS' production of "My Fair Lady". As I write I have not heard anything and am not optimistic. However any society that can keep an auditionee waiting over two weeks for a result can keep their show and I will be writing to them expressing my disgust at their failure to contact me. Believe it or not I auditioned before a panel of over 14 people and 5 members of cast.
St Augustine's Musical Theatre Company
This society are due to perform "Follies", a musical by Stephen Sondheim, in November this year, again at the library theatre. I auditioned and have been awarded the part of Roscoe, an ageing tenor and MC (Master of Ceremonies), who opens and closes the show as well as making odd appearances. Not a large role but as St Aug's are a 40 mile round trip I am hoping to keep rehearsals to a minimum. Stephen Sondheim writes very clever and unusual music and his shows are often widely acclaimed. Although I have not seen "Follies" yet, the music sounds great and typically 'Broadway'. Remember "The Mikado" and that sometimes elusive top 'A'; well I have to reach it again for this show with a song called "Beautiful Girls" and I know I will have to take a few vocal lessons before then.
I do not expect the role to be too demanding though and will be looking for something else to get involved in through the summer.
A new venture for me has been to join a band of intrepid performers organised by Jennifer Wardman, a very talented producer/dancer/musician from Solihull, who produces a series of one night shows at various locations throughout the year. These evenings are performed for various organisations such as Rotary, Women's Guilds etc. and consist of song and dance from the years gone by. An evening of nostalgia really and great fun to do.
Throughout the year I had become increasingly despondent at Gill's Cables. Finally, in October, I sent my CV to two computer recruitment agencies and within a week had three interviews set up. I finally settled on a new position with a local company which has a world-wide customer base and operating sites all over the world and a turnover of over half a billion £ sterling ; IMI Norgren. After three more weeks at Gill's I started Norgren on the 4th November. For the technically minded my official title is now Senior Analyst Programmer and I work with IBM AS/400's. The site that I am based at is only 3 miles farther than Gill's so my commuting time is only fifteen minutes.
The cruise has been postponed till '98, due mainly to cost.
Instead we are visiting the States.
Times are local
From To Date Leave Arrive Flight
Birmingham Chicago 23 June 10:45 13:24 AA23
Chicago San Antonio 26 June 08:55 11:46 AA1537
San Antonio Dallas 05 July 08:50 09:57 AA716
Dallas Boston 05 July 10:40 15:13 AA1370
Boston Chicago 08 July 15:45 17:26 AA2037
Chicago Birmingham 08 July 18:20 08:05 AA24
I have included all the flight details for the USA for the interest of our friends there.
During our stay we have no hotel information yet for the 3 nights in Chicago or 3 nights in Boston but are hoping to visit with the Hailles when we get to San Antonio.
Then in the autumn we visit the Greek island of Kos for one week and are staying in the resort of Tingaki, a resort that comes highly recommended.
Disco and Karaoke
The entertainment side of things continues to be popular with more bookings being received for the Karaoke than the Disco, or for both. I am seeking another residency for the Karaoke on Sunday nights as I have now left my second resident Sunday gig, The Tweedale Arms. I am out working most Fridays and Saturdays, along with my trusty 'roadies' Dave and Ginny.
The awarding of the full-time licence for the area is imminent and Centre FM now have backers for their bid.
My left knee is still not right but continues to slowly improve.
As I write, Ginny has had an offer for her flat and all being well we hope for a rapid completion.
Well that's all at the moment, bye for now!.