Appeal to save wildlife from fire

Liz Nicholls

West Sussex

Surrey Wildlife Trust is urgently asking for donations to help one of our most precious heathland habitats, and about 200 red deer that help maintain it, recover from a devastating wildfire.

In July, a wildfire broke out on Pirbright Ranges, one of the largest areas of lowland heath in Surrey and home to many rare and threatened species. Patches of ground continue to burn for three weeks and over 650 hectares of pristine heathland has now been severely burnt, at great cost to wildlife.

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s herd of red deer carry out a vital role by grazing the heathland to prevent scrub including Scots pine, common gorse and silver birch from taking over the site. This allows slower-growing dwarf scrub and specialist heathland plant species to flourish, creating the foundation of the unique and threatened heathland ecosystem. Following the fire, hundreds of meters of fencing and heavy-duty sleepers that keep the deer safely on site now needs to be replaced – and the ongoing welfare of the herd will depend on regular vet checks and inspections by SWT staff. Supplementary food in the form of haylage will also be made available to the deer to ensure they have enough food to maintain good condition heading into winter.

The immediate impact of the fire also includes the potential loss of hundreds of recently fledged rare ground-nesting birds including European nightjars, Dartford warblers and woodlark which may have been too young to fly away from the fire. The damage to the site will also have prevented their parents from nesting a second time this year and will change the availability of suitable nesting sites for years to come. Reptiles such as slow worms, grass snakes and adders have been unable to escape the fire, perishing alongside the many invertebrate species, including endangered heath tiger beetles that inhabit the remaining heathland fragments in the southeast of England.

WildNet
Pirbright_before_the_fire_(SWT)

Wildfires have put Surrey on the front line of the climate and nature emergency

Rising temperatures and a lack of rainfall has led to increasingly large, uncontrollable blazes that destroy large areas of heathland. The Pirbright Ranges Fire has potentially burned deep into the ground, affecting plant species including round-leaved sundew, marsh clubmoss and bell heather over hundreds of hectares.

About 85% of heathland in the UK has been lost over the past 150 years through agriculture, development and changes in land management. Surrey Wildlife Trust manages several areas of heathland, including Chobham Common National Nature Reserve and Wisley and Ockham commons that are particularly susceptible to fire in dry conditions. Strain on resources in the years ahead are set to be severe for all who manage and protect these diverse and sensitive habitats.  Dealing with the impact of the Pirbright Ranges fire is expected to account for more than 30 additional days of SWT staff time this year alone.

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s director of reserves management, James Herd, says:

“Wildfires have put Surrey on the front line of the climate and nature emergency – and we urgently need extra support to meet the challenge.  Whilst the heathland will regenerate over time, it is likely to be eight to twelve years before it returns to full health.  The deer will perform a unique and irreplaceable role in ensuring the lowland habitats recover during this time.  All donations we receive will go directly to ensuring their welfare and the continuing safety of Surrey’s heathlands and their unique plants and animals.

“With the help of local people, we will do all we can to explore what more can be done to protect our natural heritage as weather patterns change.  It’s vitally important that people in Surrey can continue to reap the benefits of diverse and healthy ecosystems.”

Pirbright Ranges is owned by the Ministry of Defence.  For safety reasons, it is not accessible to the public.  The herd of red deer that grazes the site is owned and managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust.

David Nolan, Area Commander for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to be wildfire aware. We have seen an increase in the number of wildfires we are attending recently and are asking residents to help keep Surrey safe. Please pack a picnic instead of a BBQ, and don’t have campfires or bonfires when the weather is dry! Ensure you dispose of cigarettes and litter correctly.”

Find out more

For more information about how to support the appeal please visit surreywildlifetrust.org/wildfire-appeal

Music & magic this summer

Liz Nicholls

West Sussex

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy some wonderful outdoor entertainment and Chapterhouse Theatre Company have just the ticket with their open-air theatre and concert tours.

What’s more, we’ve teamed up with them to offer competition to win a family ticket to enjoy 21st Century ABBA! Read on for details of all the shows which are sure to delight you…

Chapterhouse have been touring open-air theatre since 2000, making this year’s their 22nd anniversary tour. This year the critically acclaimed company have concentrated on productions that have elements of romance, beauty and fine story telling. Chapterhouse present some of the most entertaining and exhilarating events of the summer with music from one of the UK’s finest ABBA, Elton and Queen tribute concerts.

21st Century ABBA

Following on from last year’s sell-out shows, this is an evening of hit after hit with songs you know and love from Waterloo, Mamma Mia, Take a Chance on Me, Super Trouper to many, many more?

21st Century Abba faithfully recreates all the greatest hits of one of the world’s most famous group combining stunning vocals, live musicians, and glittering costumes.

There are opportunities for pre-show drinks with family and friends, dressing up nights and singing along to favourite songs, join us for an exhilarating evening of the dancing queens of 21st Century ABBA performances.

21st Century Elton

21st Century Events presents a fabulous evening of one of the world’s greatest songsmiths Elton John with hit after hit including Rocket Man, Your Song and Candle in the Wind from one of the country’s finest performers as seen on Britain’s Got Talent.

We can’t wait to welcome family and friends to picnic in some of the UK’s and Ireland’s finest gardens and thrill to a wonderful performance of Elton’s greatest songs. Summer returns with magical music in magical surroundings.

21st Century Queen

Prepare for the concert of a lifetime as 21st Century Queen recreates many of the bands best known and loved hits including We Will Rock You, Radio Ga Ga, and possibly the best known single of all time Bohemian Rhapsody

Performing hit after hit of arguably the greatest rock bands of all time and combining stunning vocals and live musicians, 21st Century Queen promises the thrill of hearing the music in an exciting and extraordinarily atmospheric concert performance.

Head along with family and friends, picnic in some of the UK and Ireland’s most beautiful gardens and surroundings and enjoy a wonderful performance of Queen’s greatest hits! What could be more fun in the summer sun!

Romeo & Juliet

Chapterhouse Theatre Company are pleased to announce a wonderful new production of Romeo and Juliet. This best-loved story of star-crossed lovers and feuding families shall be performed in the gardens of some of the UK and Ireland’s most glorious country houses throughout the summer and promises to be one of the most sought after events of the open air season.

Dressed in beautiful Elizabethan costume and performed by a fine troupe of Shakespearean players join Chapterhouse for the greatest love story ever told as we perform magical theatre in magical surroundings.

Pride & Prejudice

Take a step back in time as we meet Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters. While their interfering mother engineer’s various courtships, Elizabeth and Jane must pursue their own quest for true love.

Amid mistakes and miscommunications, can Elizabeth finally surpass her prejudices to see past the proud exterior of the enigmatic Mr Darcy?

Join family and friends for what promises to be the most splendid evening of the summer as you picnic under a beautiful summer sky and lose yourself in this unforgettable love story.

Cinderella

In an enchanted kingdom in a faraway land magical creatures and fairy godmothers come together to tell the best loved of all fairytales.

Full of song, mirth, and joy for the summer ahead, join us on Cinderella’s journey of a lifetime to a magical ball where nearly anything is possible especially if it is before midnight.

Family and friends are welcome to picnic in the grounds in some of the most beautiful gardens in the UK and Ireland.

Children old and young alike are invited to dress in their favourite fairy tale characters and join for the midsummer ball dance.

Win tickets

We’ve got a family ticket to 21st Century Abba to give away! Click here to enter


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Gardens to visit this summer

Liz Nicholls

West Sussex

Kate Harrison of the National Open Garden Scheme invites us to enjoy some pockets of paradise in West Sussex.

Whitehanger

Marley Lane, Haslemere, GU27 3PY

National Open Garden Scheme_Whitehanger

Thanks to The National Garden Scheme, last year garden-lovers helped raise more than £3 million for charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, The Queen’s Nursing Institute, Carers Trust & Parkinson’s UK.

Whitehanger is just one of the beautiful gardens open this month. Set in six acres on the edge of the South Downs National Park and surrounded by NT woodland, this rural garden was started in 2012 when a new Huf house was built on a derelict site. There are now lawned areas with beds of perennials, a serenity pool with koi carp, a wildflower meadow, a Japanese garden, a sculpture garden, a woodland walk, a large rockery and an exotic walled garden.

Plan your visit

Whitehanger is open on Sunday 7th & Sunday 21st August, 10.30am-3.30pm. Entry is £6.50 and you need to book here. Groups of between five and thirty can also visit by arrangement throughout August, September and October.

Details of all the gardens open in West Sussex can be found on the National Garden Scheme Website or in the National Garden Scheme yellow booklet.

54 Elmleigh

Midhurst, Sussex, GU29 9HA

National Open Garden Scheme_54 Elmleigh

Another lovely local garden opening is at 54 Elmleigh, this property has a terraced front garden leading to a heavily planted rear garden with majestic 120-year-old black pines, shrubs and perennials, packed with interest around every corner, providing all-season colours. There are many raised beds, sculptures, vegetables in boxes, a greenhouse, pond and hedgehogs in residence as well as a large collection of tree lilies, growing 8-10ft.

Plan your visit

Open on Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th August, 11am-5pm. Entry is £4 (children free) and you’ll find homemade teas: It’s also open by arrangement throughout August; click here.

Fittleworth House

Bedham Lane, Pulborough, RH20 1JH

National Open Garden Scheme_Fittleworth House

This three-acre, tranquil, romantic, country garden also a walled kitchen garden growing a wide range of fruit, vegetables and flowers, a large glasshouse and old potting shed, mixed flower borders, roses, rhododendrons and lawns. There’s a magnificent 115ft tall cedar overlooking a wisteria-covered Grade II listed Georgian house (not open), wild garden, long grass areas and pond, stream and rock garden.

Plan your visit

Fittleworth is open on Wednesday, 10th August, 2-5pm. Entry is £5 (children free) and you’ll find homemade teas: Pre-book or pay on the day. It’s also open by arrangement: book here.

Details of all the gardens open in West Sussex can be found on the National Garden Scheme Website or in the National Garden Scheme yellow booklet.

Music brings people together

Round & About

West Sussex

Haslemere Methodist Church is the venue for a series of stunning lunchtime and evening concerts

Haslemere Methodist Church is bringing a varied programme of instrumental classical music to the community through its ‘music brings people together’ series of concerts.

The project, spearheaded by flautist Susan Milan, embraces not only a concert series, but also an educational programme to inspire young musicians in local schools through workshops and a woodwind competition planned for May this year. Susan is a professor of the Royal College of Music and Trinitylaban Conservatory of Music and Founder and Director of the British Isles Music Festival.

The new year brings three evening concerts given by members of the London Chamber Music Group, the resident ensemble of Haslemere Methodist Church, and three lunchtime charity concerts given by young musicians from UK conservatories of music.

The concerts are held in the beautiful Sanctuary of the church with its friendly atmosphere and lovely acoustics.

The first charity concert of the year is on Thursday, 20th January at noon and this will be given by a young piano trio from the Royal College of Music consisting of flute (Ziqin Chen), oboe (Junhao Fu) and piano (Yihan Jin).

Ziqin Chen, flute
Junhao Fu, oboe
Yihan Jin, piano

Admission is free with donations welcomed for charities chosen by Haslemere Methodist Church. Enjoy cappuccino and cake in the coffee room before the concert.

The next lunchtime charity concert will be on Thursday, 10th February at noon featuring The Chiltern Winds, a wind quintet from the Royal Academy of Music.

The first Thursday evening concert on February 24th is a cello and piano recital featuring Christopher Jepson, co-principal cello of the Basel Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland and UK pianist Daniel King-Smith.

Christopher Jepson, cello
Daniel King-Smith, piano

The woodwind competition and workshops are planned for March in collaboration with local state schools, with the competition winners’ concert in May.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets: £18, age 12-17: £9, under 12: free.

Enquiries telephone: 01428 652202 / 07876 198498

Email: Online: www.wegottickets.com

From: Chamberlain Music, Wey Hill, Haslemere and at the door.

Refreshments available in the interval. Doors open at 7.30pm

Tell us your local news here

Star Q&A: Martin Jarvis

Liz Nicholls

West Sussex

Actor Martin Jarvis OBE tells us about life, love and turning 80 as he prepares to star as Ted Heath in Michael McManus’ smash hit play Maggie & Ted at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud this month

Q. Maggie & Ted sounds a wonderful play. Has playing Ted changed your understanding of Sir Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher? And do you think Ted was entitled to his “Incredible Sulk”? “Yes, it’s an extraordinary play. Brilliantly observant. Very funny! Surprisingly moving at times. The author Michael McManus was Ted’s Private Secretary. He has based so much of his play on personal recollections. So if, as ‘Ted’ I ever wanted to question a line or speech in the drama, ie ‘Would Heath ever say this? Michael is likely to reply ‘Well he did, I was there!’ Haha!

I once had the pleasure of actually meeting him. He suddenly arrived at a wine-bar/restaurant where my wife [Rosalind Ayres] and I were dining. He hadn’t booked and he and his eight young musician companions needed a table. With the help of the manageress, Ros and I relinquished ours. As we withdrew to park ourselves near the door he turned to us and, with immense charm and his familiar widening smile, announced: ‘Thank you so much. Very grateful.’

So that’s where I have begun in inhabiting the fascinating, and as I learnt, complex character of Edward Heath. Unexpected charm. I’ve much enjoyed discovering, too, how amusing he was. His comments about Maggie are often extremely funny, though sometimes with an undertow of misogyny and deep disapproval. I don’t think he ever quite recognised how very alike they were. Their backgrounds were oddly similar. I hadn’t appreciated how lonely a person he was, even early in his political career. And how cool and comedic he could be – his television encounter with Dame Edna (which occurs in the play) is a classic. When he lost office others termed him The Incredible Sulk. Really this came from the popular television character ‘The Incredible Hulk’. I sense he quite enjoyed the pun, even using it himself in public.”

Q. Do you follow British politics now? And how do you think this Conservative government compares to the times when Maggie & Ted is set? “How could I not follow current events and policies? Some things never change. Only perhaps ways of demonstrating attitudes and disunity. Perhaps there was more apparent courtesy offered in political exchanges in those older days. But in private, the attitudes of differing personalities, points of view, mindsets, jealousies were probably just as bitter, vitriolic, corrosive. Fortunately they didn’t have to deal with the pitfalls of social media.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer starring in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud

Q. You are renowned for your acting, and mellifluous voice – how do you take care of it? Anything you don’t eat or drink? “Well, thanks. I gave up smoking when I was 16, which I presume helped a bit! I’m told singers have a glass of warm water standing by in the recording studio for the occasional sip, to keep the throat open and relaxed. And an apple ready for the odd bite to prevent the sound of ‘lip-smacks’ on the microphone. I prefer cold water and a banana! Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been a great singer!”

Q. When did you know acting was for you? Were there any actors you remember being dazzled by growing up? “When I was selected for the school Shakespeare plays (Whitgift, Croydon, Surrey) I found I had an instinctual understanding of some of the verse and characters. Thanks to an inspirational English teacher, Maurice Etherington, I discovered I could speak the text believably and make it sound natural.

Actors that dazzled me ranged from Terry-Thomas the great comic performer and the superb actor Alan Badel. And on stage and film: John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson. Later I was lucky enough to work with many of them. Not Olivier. Though I did speak to him on the phone when he rang-up to offer Ros Ayres a role. It seemed almost surreal when I asked: ‘Who’s calling?’ and he said in those recognisably crisp tones, ‘Larry Olivier!’

Gielgud gave me some wonderful advice when I was embarking on Peter Hall’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest at the National Theatre, with Judi Dench. ‘Acting in Wilde’ (said Sir John) is best approached with all the seriousness of taking part in an elaborate practical joke’? He was right. We found that the more deadpan and ‘earnest’ you were, how much the comedy increased.”

Q. I laughed at an interview in which you say you almost trod on the Queen… is this still your most embarrassing moment?“Ah yes, it was fairly embarrassing. At a Windsor reception I hadn’t realised that Her Majesty had suddenly arrived and was standing just behind me. I had backed, laughing at something one of our group had said – oh dear – I then turned and apologised to the queen profusely. Absurdly it didn’t end there. Some years later at a party given by Jeffrey Archer I had to edge along a row of seats in order to get to my own. Unfortunately I had, in passing, trodden on Margaret Thatcher’s toe. Again an apology. In Maggie and Ted I haven’t yet trodden on the wonderful Clare Bloomer’s foot, either by accident or design. She plays Maggie superbly and would no doubt improvise a characterful response. When I was fortunate enough to be awarded the OBE for services to Drama a friend suggested it should really have been for services to Apology.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer starring in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud

Q. What’s your first memory of music? And your favourite song? “My first music memory (if I could call it that) was my attempt at the age of five to play the xylophone in the school carol service. I hit the wood more times than the metal bars.

My favourite song? It changes all the time. Sometimes it’s Schubert’s The Trout. Sometimes, especially now that we hope the world is opening up, the emotional and rhythmic After Hours by Weeknd.

Sometimes it’s Half a Moment from Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s By Jeeves. I listened to it from the wings every night when I played Jeeves on Broadway. A genuinely moving ‘relationship’ song that gradually turns into a supremely comic rendition because of Alan’s brilliant staging.”

Q. What’s the most surprising lesson fatherhood has taught you? “That the fun and laughter goes on forever. Toby Jarvis is composer of everything from popular game show music to television ads, and the scores for plays by Ibsen, Sheridan and Wilde.

Olly Jarvis, criminal barrister, is also a best-selling author of legal thrillers, (his latest: The Genesis Inquiry.)”

Q. Having voiced so many great stories – do you read a lot for pleasure and if so who is your favourite author and why?“I read for pleasure, though very often it’s also for professional reasons. PG. Wodehouse, Michael Frayn, Christopher Matthew, Gyles Brandreth, Olly Jarvis are all authors who can make me laugh aloud – and also make me think. I’m grateful for my long association with Richmal Crompton’s Just William stories. Have just recorded five more for Radio 4 to be broadcast this Christmas. My favourite biographer is Claire Tomalin. I’m proud to have recorded so much of these remarkable writers’ work, either as a performer or as producer/director for BBC radio or audiobook.”

Q. Many happy belated returns on your 80th birthday. How do you feel in your ninth decade and how did you & will you celebrate?“Ros arranged two ‘celebrations’- a family dinner the weekend before, and a ‘friends’ dinner the weekend after. In between, business as usual. On the actual day I visited the dentist, and then recorded a voiceover for an American company. Should perhaps have been the other way round? Cold water and a banana saw me through.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “One wish can never be enough – we desperately need an end to all the various horrors that are currently being visited upon us. This short piece, A Soldier’s Dream from the 1st World War poet Wilfred Owen comes to mind. He was 24 when he wrote it, in 1917. Killed in action the next year, a week before the armistice was declared.

‘I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big guns gears;

And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;

And with a smile Mausers and Colts;

And rusted every bayonet with His tears.’

 

If only.

Q: We look forward to the play in Guildford & lots of best wishes & thank you for your time. “Thank you, Liz. I’ve always appreciated Guildford. I came here in the 1960s to audition for the Surrey Scholarship that, somehow, I was awarded. Which meant I could go to RADA and begin to really understand what it might be like to be an actor. I’m thrilled to be back.”

Martin Jarvis OBE & Clare Bloomer star in Maggie and Ted at the Yvonne Arnaud, 12th-16th October. Visit yvonne-arnaud.co.uk or call 01483 44 00 00 to book.

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Star Q&A: Ed Byrne

Round & About

West Sussex

Liz Nicholls talks about life, laughs & lockdown saviours with comedian & dad Ed Byrne, 49, ahead of his live shows in September, including Oxford, Newbury, High Wycombe, Farnham, Camberley & Dorking

Q. Hello! Which comedians did you like when you were young? “I always liked Dave Allen. My brother had a 12-inch album The Pick of Billy Connollly which I remember laughing at with my Ma & Da. And then repeating the jokes (that I didn’t really f***** get but were still funny), to other kids who also didn’t get it, in a bad Glaswegian accent.”

Q. Have you had to rewrite material for your new show If I’m Being Honest? “I’ve done a few outdoor & drive-in shows, so I’ve been able to tinker as I go, see what works and what doesn’t. Now I am making jokes about the fact that jokes in the show are a couple of years old which really changes the joke. It demonstrates that life has been in suspended animation for two years.”

Q. What were your lockdown saviours? “I had visions of having a nice break, then taking myself off to the Scottish Highlands when the kids went back to school…but no! I did manage to film a show interviewing celebrities while hill walking but people love to accuse you of breaking the rules. At home we did a lot of Dungeons & Dragons and Pokemon battles. We divided and conquered in this house, and I was banished to the garden. I dug a vegetable patch, made raised beds, I laid a patio… all in the first flush of lockdown, obviously, before my get up and go got up and went. I taught myself via YouTube. When it comes to practical stuff it’s better to watch someone who’s only slightly more qualified than you cackhandedly find their own way through it first.”

Q. Is it true you shook hands with David Bowie? “It was more than that! I was in Adelaide and was invited on to an evening TV chat show. It was live, and as I was doing my bit, Bowie and his band gathered opposite me next to the cameras and audience. Then he did his interview & he was easily as funny as I was. We had a chat and, despite the enormous disparity in our standing, he spoke to me like we were contemporaries, like equals, which was very sweet, if mad! The following day Steven K Amos did the same TV show and he got to meet… The Wiggles. So I won that one.”

Q. What’s your most memorable heckle? “To this day the most devastating heckle I ever had was in Sydney when woman just stood up and shouted [adopts drunken Aussie accent] BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! That really was all she was hearing.”

Q. You’re a humanist, right? “Yes. Humanists help people organise things differently. A lot of the big things in life; how we mark marriage, babies, death, used to be controlled by religion but now there’s choice. You can be altruistic and an atheist.”

Q. Any up-and-coming comedians worth a shout-out? “When work was scarce, I watched a lot of short videos. I do think it’s fitting that I’m made to feel old by the app TikTok, which sounds like someone pointing at their watch counting my career down. I have enjoyed Alistair Green, Tom Little and Naomi Cooper who are all very funny.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world what would it be? “Wow; big question! That it be disease free. And if we can’t go for disease-free, can we just make the diseases we have slightly less contagious?”

For Ed’s show details & to book, visit edbyrne.com

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Star Q&A: Andre Rieu

Round & About

West Sussex

Liz Nicholls asks international classical music champion & dad Andre Rieu, 71, about life, love & music ahead of Together Again which comes to cinemas on 28th & 29th August.

Q. Your concerts look so joyful! How do you create that magic? “Wherever we play in the world, people start to dance when they hear The Blue Danube. Magicians use their wands, I have my violin and my bow. But there is also the joy I feel when I play my music. It’s real, and luckily, my fellow orchestra members share that joy and passion. And then there is this unmistakable interaction with my audience: we face them and they can see our faces too. You know, classical music has been composed for all of us – not only for the elite like some people tend to think. Johann Strauss, Mozart; they were pop stars in their own times. Music is my oxygen!”

Q. How have you coped over the last 16 months? “When a concert was over and we were travelling to our hotel, I used to watch baking tutorials on YouTube. So that’s what I’ve been doing: making cakes, pies and all kind of pastries for the street, haha! One of the most famous cake bakers in the Netherlands (Cees Holtkamp) gave me a masterclass on my birthday, that was a nice surprise! Nevertheless, I missed contact with my audience and my big family; that’s the nickname for all my fellow orchestra members. My saviours? My wife, our sons with their wives and our five gorgeous grandchildren. I am looking forward to touring and returning to the UK in 2022.”

Q. How did your father shape your path in life? “I was raised in a classical family. My father was a symphony orchestra conductor, all my brothers and sisters play one or more instruments, chosen by our mother. She thought the violin would suit me and she was right! No other instrument translates my inner feelings so well. My first violin teacher was an 18-year-old blonde girl with whom I instantly fell in love (I was five years old, haha!).”

Q. What’s the key to a happy marriage like yours with Marjorie? “The key to our blissful happiness is the 100% mutual trust, but also sharing the same sense of humour and giving the freedom the other needs. We’ve been married 47 years, we work together but we’re also still each other’s lovers. Most people forget but it’s important to enjoy life and laugh. In the Netherlands we have a saying: ‘Not having laughed one day is not having lived that same day’.”

Q. What surprising lessons have fatherhood, and being a grandpa, taught you? “Not a single day is the same as another. Try to enjoy every moment because your (grand) children grow quicker than you think. Besides that: freedom is the secret… they’ll come to you as a father or grandfather when they’ll need you. Last thing: I love to spoil my grandchildren once in a while…”

Q. Who would be your dream dinner party guests? “Walt Disney who said: ‘If you can dream it, you can do it!’ Next to him, the one and only true King of the Waltz: Johann Strauss. Albert Einstein because of his knowledge about the universe: Jules Verne and Columbus.”

Q. What wish would you grant the world? “World peace. Not to fight for, let’s say, one year. Try to make music… more fun than weapons!”

For tickets please visit andreincinemas.com

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Star Q&A: Paul Stellar

Round & About

West Sussex

Singer & dad Paul Weller, 63, opens up about his new album Fat Pop (Volume I), collaborations and a hopeful return to live music.

Q. Congratulations on the album! How was it born? “Most things become more apparent when you’re working on a record, so I don’t think I had a masterplan, I just wanted to make a record as I was facing a whole year or more of not doing anything, as all the live stuff had been cancelled.”

Q. You recorded in each of your homes, coming together at Black Barn studio in Surrey didn’t you? “In the first bit of lockdown, I was recording my vocal and a guitar or piano to a click track, then I’d send that to the band members… so there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing until we could all get together. It was very weird, and I wouldn’t say completely enjoyable as little things kept coming back that we could have easily fixed if we were all together, but it enabled us to stay working. Getting together in person though, was special. I’d say like the first day of school, but I hated school, so it was more like the last day, a real f***ing joy.”

Q. With your huge back catalogue you like to keep it fresh don’t you? “I’m always trying to keep my own interest and not repeat myself, which when you’ve been recording music as long as I have, can be difficult. The older I get, the less cautious I am about trying things. There was a similar ethos in The Style Council, I just don’t think I had the chops to bring it off successfully at times. If I believe in something though, I want people to hear it.”

Q. What was it like working with your star collaborators Andy Fairweather Low and your daughter Leah? “It was so easy and natural with Leah. We were sitting around the night before and I was playing this song on piano. She’s doing an album just now that Steve Cradock is producing. Even without doing the proud dad thing, I can see she’s coming up with really good songs. Andy Fairweather Low? Well, it was a joy to have him on board. We sang together a couple of years ago on a charity thing round my way in Guildford and our voices went really well together, so we’ve often said we should do something together.”

Q. What’s on the horizon? “My only ambition is to have more of what I’m having now; life, music, family, children and all that. I don’t have long-term plans because, as we’ve discovered in the last year, there ain’t no plan. As long as I get a bit more of this, I’m a happy man.”

For the latest news on Paul’s tour dates and releases, visit paulweller.com

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Star Q&A: Danny Goffey

Round & About

West Sussex

Liz Nicholls chats to musician & dad of four Danny Goffey, 47, who will star with his Supergrass bandmates at Englefield House in Theale as part of a series of gigs which have been postponed to July 2022…

Q. Hello Danny. It’s great that live music is back – do you enjoy playing the hits, getting the bangers out..? “I love getting my bangers out! Our songs are interesting and intricate enough that when you’re playing them, you’re concentrating and getting really into them. We did a tour before Covid, finished with a couple of gigs at Ally Pally and it felt… all right actually! Now playing live has a new meaning. Mind you, we’re doing a year of touring – maybe ask me at the end of that!”

Q. Do you know Englefield House? “I don’t. I moved to Oxford when I was 10 or 11. I went to school in Maidenhead and grew up around Cookham. It was a lovely childhood, mucking about in the woods, on the river, mad stuff.”

Q. Can you tell us about Oxford in the 1990s? “I remember loads and loads of pubs, characters. We had such a good laugh up and down the Cowley Road and in Jericho, at the Tavern, Freud’s and Raoul’s. Down Little Clarendon Street there was a place called Barcelona; I think I got thrown out for wearing pyjamas and acting really stupid. It was so free and easy compared to today.”

Q. Do you wish you kept a diary of those early days? “I suppose the beauty of mad off-the-wall moments is that you don’t remember them, which is sometimes the best way, haha! Some of those times were hectic and insane so it’s great not to be able to remember them. I’ve been writing my book to go with my new record so I’ve been reflecting on old times. I wish I’d written a diary from ages 16 to 20; how the band started, ins and outs. I’d recommend anyone starting something they think’s gonna be great to document it… Which everyone does these days anyway.”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “Going through my dad’s rack of 45s, the Beatles, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Rolf Harris. Weird comedy records. The first band I got into were Dexys Midnight Runners; that was the first single I bought. I am crap with music nowadays; I haven’t got a record player or good stereo at the moment. I don’t listen to music much, it’s more Radio 4.”

Q. Have you felt insular during lockdown? “I’ve kept busy, with my album and book. It’s about an ageing semi-retired rock star and how he gets bullied by his family! I’ve spent a lot of time at a beach house, trying to fit decking. But I know it’s been really tough for a lot of people so I’m lucky.”

Q. What’s on your rider? “Me and Gaz tend to have a few vodka and Red Bulls before going on stage; it gives you a bit of an edge, lets you go a bit bonkers for a couple of hours. Wine and beers. A good coffee machine. We’re quite easygoing.”

Q. Who is your dream collaboration? “Ahhh, it’s endless. I’d loved to have worked on songs with Ian Dury. David Bowie. Years ago I wangled a way to play drums with Paul McCartney on bass for a Christmas album. That’ll do me.”

Q. Do you still get compared to McCartney? “Not as much as when I was younger. I look really mental at the moment with my long, wild hair.”
• To book your tickets visit heritagelive.net

Star Q&A: James Arthur

Round & About

West Sussex

Liz Nicholls asks singer James Arthur, about music, mental health and more. His new single September is out on 11th June, via Columbia Records, taken from his as-yet untitled album out in autumn

Hello James – thank you so much for taking time to share your thoughts with our readers.

 

Q. Congratulations on the new album, and the single out in June. You must be really proud of these? “Honestly, I am so proud of this whole album. I made the whole thing at home during lockdown, and I never could have imagined the difference working in a space I felt comfortable in could have led to me being able to produce the best work I believe I’ve ever made.”

Q. As someone who suffers anxiety myself, and a huge fan of CBT thank you for being so honest about it. How are you feeling now? “I take it day by day, I’ve found really focusing on staying present is the most important thing for me, I can’t control the past or the future, and trying to do so only breeds anxiety, so I focus on being in the present moment and just being grateful for that. What advice would you have for anyone going through a dark time? Speak to someone, you will be so surprised at the support you will receive if you just let people in, all it takes is a text to someone saying ‘I’m really not feeling ok’ which might sound like a scary thing to do, but by doing that, you are no longer alone. There is also an amazing out-of-hours mental health helpline by the charity SANE (sane.org.uk) if you don’t feel like you can speak to someone you know.”

Q. What is your go-to album or song to lift your spirits & make you feel good? “Got to be Real by Cheryl Lynn is my jam.”

Q. What is your first memory of music? “My early childhood memories of music are of rock vinyls playing at my dad’s (Thin Lizzy, AC/DC etc) – also Prince, Michael Jackson and soul music on repeat at my mum’s.”

Q. How did you feel about fame when you were young? And how do you feel about fame now? “I don’t think I ever really thought about fame when I was younger – the greats that I looked up to, I didn’t necessarily see them as famous, I was just so inspired by their talent. I also think the concept of fame was very different when I was younger – people that were ‘famous’ were very untouchable, you knew nothing of them apart from their art, and fast disposable fame didn’t really exist, whereas now, with social media, people really have an massive amount of access to a person’s life and personality. I guess it’s a necessary evil. I don’t think of myself as famous which probably helps me, and I’m so grateful to have people who love my music enough that would consider themselves a ‘fan’ of me, but if I could do my job without being famous, I’d definitely take that option!”

Q. How do you take care of your fantas1c voice? Anything you don’t eat or drink, or exercises etc? “I learnt very quickly after back to back tours that if I want to sing the way I want to sing every night I have to look after my voice, so I do an hour’s warm-up before a show and then a cool down after the show too. Even with that, if I don’t have days of complete voice rest built into the tour my voice completely cuts out for a few days, and it’s the worst feeling in the world as there’s nothing I can do to make it come back but wait and rest. It’s one of the most frustrating things about touring for me, so it’s a constant balancing act.”

Q. You have said you miss touring – having had some rest time, are you ready to go & perform live now? “I cannot wait! I’ve got some festivals lined up this summer and I’m really hoping they go ahead.”

Q. Is there an upcoming /lesser-known artist out there who you want to give a shout-out to & urge us all to listen to their music? “Shotty Horroh – I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about this artist for many years and I will continue to do so. He’s the best MC.”

Q. Rule of six time: who would be your dream party guests to hang out or have dinner/picnic with, living or dead, real or fictional? “Kurt Cobain, Jay Z, Elvis, Cillian Murphy, Ed Norton, William Wallace.”

Q. Do you have a favourite book? “My two favourite books are Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.”

Q. What were your favourite saviours of lockdown: i.e. things that made lockdown life better? “FIFA was massive for me during lockdown – I put my gamer tag on Twitter and my requests went crazy. From that I managed to find five guys who have become my really good friends. We spent the first lockdown speaking for hours and hours while playing FIFA every night. I’ve never even met any of them, but I speak to them nearly every day, and having that escapism was massive for me during lockdown.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “I’d wish that people would be kinder to each other. I don’t even think that’s that big an ask.”

Q. Is there anything on your horizon or future ambitions you can tell us about? “There’s some exciting acting roles coming up for me, but I might get sacked if I talk about it so you’ll have to ask me again next time!”