That’s Entertainment

SPOILT kids and parenting skills can be touchy subjects for anyone – but Irish comic Ed Byrne will be fearless in his approach on his current UK tour.

The star of Mock The Week (among many other TV shows) insists that the current breed of parents spoil their kids rotten, whether it’s to do with the ever-increasing size of garden trampolines, or his own kids’ demand for elderflower cordial.

“My dad wasn’t a bad dad, he was just a 1970s dad,” explains Ed. “I could never see my children ever again from this moment on, and I’ve already done more parenting then he did in my entire life.

“But, of course, I made a conscious decision that I was going to be an awesome dad. My wife will come back with tales from her friends of how awful their husbands are and she’ll see me smiling and say ‘alright, stop congratulating yourself just because such and such can’t be left alone with their children for two minutes’.”

Ed compares and contrasts the old-school child-rearing days with 21st century methods in his latest show, Spoiler Alert, and suggests that there are different ways to learn how to be a mum or dad.

“I grew up in what I would call an aspirational household in that my parents bettered themselves over the course of my childhood,” he says. “My mother was a radiographer and ended up a lecturer in radiography, while my dad was a sheet metal worker and went up to a supervisory role.

“I’d still say that you are expected to do a lot more parenting than our parents did and that’s a weird thing because you tend to think that your parents are where you learned parenting from. But you don’t, really, it’s more that you look around you to see what’s going on with other parents.”

Ed extends his analysis on the culture of entitlement to look at areas where we could perhaps do with being spoiled a little bit more. “Where I think we’re not acting spoiled enough is in the political arena. We have a tendency to accept what’s happening and that’s where we should be acting more entitled – we are literally entitled to the government we want. We’re spoiled in all these little ways, but not spoiled enough.”

As well as stories about his two young sons, Ed weaves in routines about running out of petrol in the most awkward place imaginable, helping rescue an injured man in the Cairngorms, and the nation-dividing campaign and result of the EU referendum. His way of tackling Brexit is to draw an analogy with the time his son was determined to touch an electric fence even though he tried to warn him of the dangers.

“I was telling the story of the electric fence for a while, and then suddenly it struck me that it was Brexit in microcosm,” he says. “I don’t want to alienate half of the population or maybe a third of my audience, but it works as an analogy whichever side you’re on.

“The government told you not to do this and that it would be a terrible idea, but you said ‘No, we want to do it anyway’. So now we’re doing it and it’s proving a terrible idea. I do think it’s a fair analogy…”

Ed Byrne brings his Spoiler Alert show to Camberley Theatre on Monday (16 Oct), G Live in Guildford on Friday 24 November and the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Saturday 14 April, 2018.

THE roar of engines filled the air at the sixth annual Autumn Motorsport Day at Brooklands Museum on Sunday.

The event is the Museum’s end-of-season celebration of all things motorsport, highlighting everything from grass-roots competition to the pinnacle of the sport – Grand Prix racing. As well as displays and Club stands, invited cars took part in demonstration laps on the circuit at neighbouring Mercedes-Benz World.

There were also engine runs from a 3,000hp dragster, allowing spectators the chance to experience the sight, sound and smell of these powerful vehicles, even though it wasn’t blasting along a track. To top off the action, there were Test Hill ascents, where the packed crowd was treated to brave drivers blasting their way to the famous summit.

Marc Almond is not the best singer you’ll ever hear – but what a performer he is!

He’s living proof that personality, charisma and a laser accuracy in choosing the perfect cover version can get you a very long way.

Marc first came into view fronting Soft Cell when they hit the charts way back in 1981 with their version of Gloria Jones’ Tainted Love. Now, his long career as a solo artist has hit the latest in a long line of peaks with new album, Shadows & Reflections, a collection of mostly obscure-ish torch songs from the 1960s.

So, he opens this show with 40 minutes or so from the new record and we get his take on The Herd’s From The Underworld, The Yardbirds’ Still I’m Sad, Bobby Darin’s Not For Me and many more.

Marc is in full 1960s lounge mode backed by an 18-piece band, including strings, brass, drums, guitars, piano, five – yes five! – backing singers (which may excuse the eye-watering ticket prices) and they produce the lush, orchestral sound these songs deserve.

Later in the set of over two hours we get Almond originals like Winter Sun, My Hand Over My Heart and A Kind Of Love as well as additional cover versions (Bowie’s London Boys, Dusty’s I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten, Pitney’s Somethings Gotten hold Of My Heart and more) plus a couple of nods to Soft Cell (Torch, a burst of Tainted Love and an appropriate farewell with Say Hello Wave Goodbye).

Marc is his usual affable self throughout, semi-joking about tributes to himself by the likes of Burt Bacharach and David Bowie and having the good grace to laugh mid-song when he tried and failed to climb onto his leather chair centre stage (“Tight jeans and bad knees is not a good combination” he later joked).

He stopped to drink in the genuine applause at the end and it’s great to see such a star getting true acclaim again.

WOKING music legends The Jam are about to be immortalised in a graphic novel – with help from the band’s original drummer Rick Buckler.

He has joined forces with author Ian Snowball and artist Richard Shaylor to produce The Jam: The Start to ’77, the first volume in a planned three-book set chronicling the band’s history.

Rick Buckler, The Jam’s original drummer

Most of the stories in the limited edition book have been lifted from Rick’s bestselling autobiography, That’s Entertainment, to tell The Jam’s story from their earliest days playing the pubs and clubs in Woking through to signing for Polydor Records and their early success with the first two albums, In the City and This Is The Modern World.

Frontman Paul Weller and bass player Bruce Foxton feature alongside Rick in the drawings but have not been involved.

“I don’t know what they’ll think,” says Rick, who is no longer in contact with his former bandmates. “I’m not that bothered what they think. It’s a story to be told and I’m doing it because it’s a good bit of fun and it’s intended for the fans that want to get involved.

“This first one is about the early days. It covers the different formations of The Jam with Steve Brookes and Dave Waller – as well as myself, Paul and Bruce – and goes through to the final line-up of the three of us. Then signing to Polydor, and releasing the first two albums.

“It’s a bit of fun. I think the drawings bring things to life. The stories include us playing at Coldingley Prison, where we sharing a dressing room with a drag act (this story features on the cover and shows the front page of the Woking News & Mail!).

“There’s also a bit about Steve Brookes dancing on a grand piano, and the band setting up and playing in Soho market… we were hoping to get arrested but never did.”

The seminal moment when Paul saw the Sex Pistols at London’s Lyceum is included, as well as The Jam signing to Polydor before releasing In The City as their first single.

“It’s quite funny and I don’t think the images are likenesses as such, although of course you can tell who everyone is,” explains Rick, who still lives near Woking. “It’s not portraiture, it’s storytelling.”

The book will be limited to 1,000 paperback copies and 100 hardback signed copies –and Rick is not sure that will be enough.

“It’s 35 years since we split up so the longevity of the whole thing amazes me,” he says. “The fan base is still really strong and anything we do seems to go down well.

“With That’s Entertainment I planned to do a couple of Q&A sessions to help promote it but they just kept selling and we kept booking more. It’s great because people can come along and ask questions they’ve always wanted to ask.

“It’s keeping it alive. As a band we were quite close to our audience, all the people who came to see us. So, this is an extension of that, it seems to work.

“The original book is still selling, we never seem to have enough at the Q&As. I thought I might end up with loads of them in my loft but thankfully that hasn’t happened!”

 

The Jam: The Start To ’77 will be released this month and is available via strangetown.net, an online Jam archive run by Rick. He will also be attending Q&A sessions to promote the book and details will be on the site.

To coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a new collection of celebrity-designed bras for Walk the Walk will feature in the free Bust Up! exhibition at Woking’s Lightbox Gallery from Tuesday (3 Oct) until Sunday 15 October.

Famous for its MoonWalks, where thousands walk a midnight marathon in bras to raise awareness of breast cancer, Woking-based charity and walking challenge specialists Walk the Walk have raised over £120 million to date.

MoonWalk participants create uniquely-designed bras to wear during the walks, and they have become an iconic part of the charity’s heritage. The celebrities and designers behind the bras in this new collection will be revealed at the exhibition.

Over the years, Walk the Walk bras have included the Lorraine Kelly OBE bra created by Barbour, Ab Fab bra created by Victoria Grant, Nina Saunders bra, BAFTA bra created by Sandy Powell, Little Mix bra created by Jane Bowler and Heather Orr, Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE bra, and many more.

Founded over 20 years ago by Nina Barough CBE after she had a dream about walking the New York City Marathon in a bra to raise money for breast cancer, Walk the Walk is now the UK’s largest grant-making breast cancer charity.

Nina says: “We’re all very excited to be launching Bust Up, our exhibition at the Lightbox. Woking has been the home of Walk the Walk for the past 21 years so it is a huge honour and privilege to be given the opportunity of exhibiting some of our most uniquely decorated bras in such a wonderful venue.”

The Addams Family, New Victoria Theatre, Woking

A little early for Halloween, the spooky stage musical version of the famously morbid cartoon creations of Charles Addams has slipped into town.

Musical comedy is perhaps not a format you might associate with the original outings of this weird and wonderful clan, but this production does triumph – even if it’s only style over substance.

The magnificent, ever-changing set provides a superbly creepy backdrop, recreating the Addams’ semi-derelict Victorian mansion, while the costumes and make-up are simply superb.

The problem lies in the wafer-thin plot and the lack of killer tunes.

The ‘story’ is that arch-goth Wednesday Addams has fallen for an all-American boy Lucas and wants to marry him. Her father Gomez reluctantly agrees to keep this a secret from his wife Morticia until after the two families have met up for a meal…

As any Addams Family fan knows, this highly unlikely scenario undermines what we all love about the sadistic, bitter nature of goth icon Wednesday. The sight of her in a bright yellow dress, simpering towards a wholesome boyfriend is way too unsettling.

As for the many songs, they’re mostly mere narrative, helping the story along without creating too many standout moments. You’d struggle to hum a chorus afterwards and for some inexplicable reason the famous ‘duh-duh-duh-duh’ Addams Family theme is virtually ignored.

That said, there are some great performances here. Samantha Womack is superbly icy as Morticia, delivering vicious put-downs to all and sundry, nailing probably the best song of the evening in Death Is Just Around The Corner and resurrecting some of the great Addams quotes like “Normal is an illusion. What’s normal for the fly is chaos to the spider…”

Carrie Hope Fletcher as Wednesday, Cameron Blakely as Gomez, Scott Page standing is for Les Dennis as Uncle Fester all more than hold their own, while Charlotte Page delivers a great transformation from fowntrodden wife to fearsome vamp as Lucas’ mother Alice.

There are plenty of laughs too, one moment which outshone the many caustic one-liners was when the looming and mostly silent butler Lurch (Dickon Gough) bursts into song near the finale with a glorious bass voice.

The real star, of course, is the idea of the macabre but loveable Addams Family, created by Charles Addams for his New Yorker cartoons in the 1930s and continued through several TV series and films as well as books and even a computer game. In the end, this musical version is a treat for anyone who loves their entertainment kooky and spooky.

WOKING’s Lightbox gallery and museum celebrated it’s 10th anniversary with a big birthday bash for the entire community at the weekend.

The special family-friendly day was entirely free and included live music, food, crafts, activities for all ages and, of course, I giant birthday cake.

Over the past decade The Lightbox has welcomed close to a million visitors and established itself as one of the leading cultural venues in the South East.

Cutting the cake – Marilyn Scott and Mayor Graham Cundy

Inspirational driving force and sole director of the charity run gallery, Marilyn Scott, led the team that successfully fundraised for the Lightbox to be built.

She said: “The last ten years has seen The Lightbox go from unknown newcomer on the gallery and museum scene in the UK to now being recognised as one of the most exciting and innovative in the country.

“This would not have been possible without a fantastic staff, supportive local authority and above all immense local support and pride.

“We are celebrating with everyone who has played their part in our success.”

Anniversary events culminated on Saturday with the big birthday bash when all of the galleries were free for the day.

The canal-side courtyard was filled with vintage games, live music and a visit form the Friends of Woking Palace ,who brought Tudor history to life.

A Butterflies and Bugs craft workshop for families and younger guests was later mounted as an art installation as a reminder of the historic day.

A nostalgic photo exhibition of the past decade honoured members of the public, existing and recent staff members, volunteers and popular exhibitions.

Mayor of Woking, Cllr Graham Cundy, cut a giant birthday cake which was shared amongst the party-goers.

CHOBHAM’S annual nine-day cultural celebration is branching out this year – across the parish boundary into West End.

The splendid Recreation Hall at Gordon’s School is the venue for a performance by one of the country’s best barbershop choruses.

The evening of musical entertainment is one of 10 events for the 2017 Chobham Festival, which starts on Saturday next week, 23 September.

The award-winning a capella group, Royal Harmonics, from Windsor, will be at the school on Thursday 28 September. They have performed for The Queen at a private function.

An evening of vintage jazz in the village hall with the Excel Jazzmen launches the festival on 23 September,

St Lawrence Church in High Street, Chobham, is again the venue for the festival’s two classical concerts – a candlelit performance of Schubert’s Trout Quintet and Beethoven’s Archduke Trio on Tuesday 26 September, and Festive Baroque on Saturday 30 September.

The latter will include Albinoni’s Oboe Concerto, Bach’s Double concerto for Oboe and Violin, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins and two of Handel’s most popular works, The Water Music and the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.

The oboe soloist for the Baroque concert is Helen Barker, who grew up in Woking, before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where she won all the oboe prizes.

Since then she has had a busy career as soloist, chamber and orchestral musician in London and around the UK.

“I am delighted to have been asked to play at Chobham Festival this year,” said Helen. “As a musician, you end up travelling far and wide, giving many performances hundreds of miles from home, so I am really looking forward to doing a concert which so many of my family and friends will be able to attend easily.”

Author Jane Austen features at this year’s festival, 200 years after her death. Sophie Andrews, a young “Janeite” fan and blogger, will be bringing an entertainment of words and music about Austen heroines.

The event is on Sunday 24 September at Chobham Church Hall, with a glass of bubbly, tea and cake, included.

The weekend of 30 September and 1 October features an art show in the church hall staged by members of Chobham Art Group. On display and for sale will be paintings in oils, pastel, watercolour and mixed media plus miniatures, folios, prints and cards.

Also on the programme is a Ukulele Evening at Pasha in Chobham High Street, on Wednesday 27 September and Songs of Praise in the church, rounding off the festivities, on Sunday 1 October.

No tickets are needed for the ukulele evening at Pasha or Songs of Praise. Other ticket prices range from £10 to £20. Call the box office on 01276 857222 or visit festival.chobham.org for more information.

THE News & Mail has found a forgotten Woking-born 1960s pop star in a search that was prompted by letter from a reader.

Earlier this month, John Cotter of Sunbury-on-Thames, wrote to us recalling seeing Kevin Kirk in a concert tour that included Joe Brown and The Crystals, the US female vocal group whose hits included He’s a Rebel, Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home) and Then He Kissed Me.

John said he still had the programme from the 1964 concert and wondered if any readers might know whether Kevin Kirk was still alive and where he might be.

It turns out that Kevin, real name Barry Willison, is very much still alive and living in Hove, where he has revived and expanded his musical career after a big lull that came after some early success.

Barry, 74, was born on October 11 1942 in the Woking Maternity Hospital, which was then in a former house called Wynberg in Oriental Road.

He knows very little about his parents, Frederick and Joyce (nee Last), and remembers living in Streatham, South London, shortly after the war. It might be that Barry’s pregnant mother was evacuated from the capital during the war.

Barry said that the idea to become a singer began in his early years at school.

“The teacher got the whole class to sing. He came to me and said to the others ‘if you were all as good as Barry, then we could have a choir’.”

After leaving school, Barry went for some auditions at various London nightspots to be a resident singer.

“At one, there was this bloke sitting in the corner. He heard me and told me not to go ahead with the audition as he had a better idea,” Barry says.

“He turned out to be Ray Mackender, a talent scout who would later manage Cliff Richard and Mark Wynter [whose best-known hits were Venus in Blue Jeans and Go Away Little Girl.]”

Barry was surprised to learn that Wynter was also born in Woking after his mother was evacuated during the war.

Without any explanation, Mackender told Barry to use the name Kevin Kirk and organised a two-record deal with Columbia and the six-week nationwide tour called Your Lucky Stars, featuring some of the biggest pop acts of the time, which is where reader John Cotter saw him.

The programme shows that the fellow performers included Manfred Mann and Heinz, best-known for his 1964 hit Just Like Eddie.

After the tour, Kirk spent several months performing in the top clubs in Hamburg, rubbing shoulders with The Beatles. One of his drummers was a predecessor to Ringo Starr in the band.

Sadly, Kirk did not go on to have the success of the acts around him and Barry says that his career suffered a “big lull” during which he was married and divorced three times and experienced close family tragedy.

During what he describes as a “life of turmoil” Barry gave up music and ended up living in Reigate, working as a school caretaker for many years.

Kevin Kirk would have ended up as a small footnote in pop history, had it not been for the intervention of the  rock covers band Mutz Nutz, which proudly advertises that it has a “combined age of 238 and over 155 years playing experience.”

The group persuaded Barry to re-record some of his Kevin Kirk hits on YouTube and the experience inspired him to expand his musical repertoire.

He later moved to Hove and, alongside his pop music, has moved into “Steampunk” in the persona of Baron Volt Hazard and is soon to perform techno as DJ Sonic Boom Bazz.

His work, old and new, has been given a new audience thanks to YouTube.

“I’ll do anything to do with the arts,” says Barry, who has a sizeable portfolio of paintings and has done a lot of photography.

He seems to have blended in well with the bohemian side of Brighton and Hove and, ever active, has written  and performed English versions of Greek songs written by a bar owner he met on holiday in Mykonos.

As for the heady days of the early 1960s when he was touring with international pop stars, Barry says he looks back on those days “with a big smile”.

He spent a lot of time with the stars and says he got on very well with Heinz, who has been portrayed as difficult.

“He wasn’t like that at all. He was a really nice guy – and quite shy.”

WOKING-born rock star Rick Parfitt has been honoured with a BBC Music Day Blue Plaque.

The tribute to the Status Quo legend, who died on Christmas Eve last year, was unveiled in Jubilee Square, Woking by his son, Rick Parfitt Junior, and singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner.

Dozens of people, including Rick’s second wife Patty, original Status Quo drummer John Coghlan and Woking Mayor Graham Cundy, watched the unveiling ceremony on this year’s Music Day, last Thursday.

Rick Junior said as the plaque was revealed: “He absolutely would have thought that he wasn’t worthy of this.

“Perhaps that’s the nicest way to think about it. He wouldn’t be in any way arrogant, he wouldn’t be thinking that he was deserving in any way, he would have just been immensely humbled and immensely honoured.”

Rick was chosen for the honour, one of 47 Music Day plaques awarded, by BBC Surrey after a vote by listeners suggesting people or places that have influenced the musical landscape across the country.

The tribute commemorates Richard John ‘Rick’ Parfitt OBE 1948-2016, guitarist, singer, songwriter, who was a member of Status Quo for 50 years.