Thursday, January 21, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Friday, January 15, 2021
REPRISE TIME: MY FIRST PUBLISHED BOOK 2001. MY LATEST & 12TH BOOK BRENTWOOD IN 50 BUILDINGS CIRCA 2021
Time flies when you're having fun, so the old saying goes, but when you have never dipped a toe into the publishing world, life can become a little confusing, as well as being exciting (and fun) when you are offered a two-book offer for publication. That date twenty years ago in January 2001 was exciting and the beginning of my book research and friendship with more than one hundred local resident interviewees in the Borough of Brentwood. Since then, eleven more books featuring various themes and topics have followed.
Although I had been a local history columnist working freelance for Essex press for ten years prior to my first traditional publications and a member of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists, plus chairman of Brentwood Writers' Circle at the time, it was still a thrill to see my first historical book on sale in the best bookshops in the county. Check out our SWWJ website and discover their eclectic appeal and broad membership across the world. www.swwj.co.uk
|1948 Line-up of pupils at Junction Road School, Brentwood|
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Still in lockdown, we recall that it’s only ten months since our local newspaper highlighted the decision to expand Brentwood Community Hospital to help accommodate the increasing numbers of coronavirus patients. Work on the isolation areas was carried out with help from Fire & Rescue Service and the Army. This state-of-the art hospital was built in 2008 under a PFI deal and foundation stone laid by MP Eric Pickles (now ennobled).
New patients and older Brentwood residents have expressed their appreciation for the modern Brentwood Community Hospital opened in 2008, built on the site of the former hospital known as the Brentwood District. This earlier building was opened in 1934 and that, too has an interesting history.
|Brian Lynch Sylvia and editor Nev Wilson Brentwood Gazette|
The late Brian Lynch was a local journalist who wrote the book “The Finished Stairway” on the 50th anniversary of the building of the Brentwood District Hospital. He outlined the story of the original hospital, which opened its doors in the summer of 1934. Its cost – £40,000 was met by the people of Brentwood. It was a wonderful achievement as the building was opened absolutely free of debt, remarkable in that Depression era of the thirties, when so many people were out of work.
Fund-raising is part of our lives now, but in 1931 – when the idea was first mooted - the cost of building a modern hospital was an impossible dream for such a small community. What happened next was an amazing feat. From a population of just 5,000 residents, rich and poor, working, middle and upper classes all came together to raise the money needed to build and equip this much needed hospital. The 20-acre piece of land was generously donated by a local resident, Percy Bayman. The elected chairman of the Brentwood Hospital Governors, Frederick “Limelight” Jackson, was a successful businessman. His nickname derived from his ebullient character, but his passion for ‘getting things done’ was appreciated and vital to this communal project.
He launched the Brentwood Hospital fundraising campaign in January 1931 and the foundation stone ceremony was performed by the then Princess Royal, daughter of King George V in May that year. Every penny was needed for the fundraising bucket, Carnivals, coffee-mornings, raffles, school bazaars, church collections and contributions from anyone who had small change, was collected for the hospital fund.
The building work was undertaken by sixty local workmen who had been previously unemployed. On 14 June 1934, Frederick Jackson wrote:
“The interest taken by everyone in the district has been wonderful and I anticipate that it will continue thus providing for upkeep and maintenance in which we shall require your further help.”
When the hospital was finished, the whole of Brentwood turned out to welcome Princess Helena Victoria, grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, who took a key from Geoffrey Bayman, grandson of the great benefactor and turned it to open the doors of the new hospital which remained the pride of Brentwood for more than seventy years. And now Brentwood Borough residents are again expressing their appreciation of the valuable work being carried out by hospital staff at our own Brentwood Community Hospital in these stressful times.
Further historical information can be found in BRENTWOOD IN 50 BUILDINGS published by Amberley Publishing available at WH Smith Ltd and Waterstones in Brentwood.
A few days ago, myself and some of our Carry On filmfans mourned the loss at the funeral of one of our favorite actors, Barbara Windsor, who brightened up our silver screens over many decades. Years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Barbara at the TV studio canteen and she was as chatty as myself, but much, much funnier!
Nobody can make low budget comedy films like the British. The Carry On series was a humorous mixture of clever filming using double- meanings, pure slapstick and farce – all rolled up in cheaply-made movies. From 1958 until the early ‘90s, thirty one films were released, first in Britain and then worldwide. Christmas Specials, TV series, West End stage plays and provincial touring followed.
Producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas recognised a winning recipe when they chose their cast.The series began with Carry on Sergeant in 1958 which featured a National Service mob of raw recruits being trained to become soldiers.
The Carry On actors included Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw, Terry Scott and June Whitfield, among many others. All the films were made at Pinewood Studios and the same film crew were employed in the majority of productions.
One of the most repeated film clips in tele-visual history is surely from the 1969-produced Carry On Camping which, during Babs Windsor’s first morning aerobics session, her bikini bra swiftly pops off - landing in the next field. Many viewers have often reflected on whether the camera was playing tricks to save her modesty! From that particular film, two of the leading stars went on to continue successful TV careers with BBC’s sitcom Terry and June.
Although sadly, many of those actors have now passed on, their legacy of fun and frolic lives on in the numerous repeats that pop up on TV to provide us with chuckles from yesteryear.
Wednesday, January 06, 2021
|The |Baddeley Cake celebrations in 1996 with some of the cast of Miss Saigon|
January 6 - Twelfth Night - down with the Christmas decorations and our poor old tree is out in the cold! Epiphany What You Will is a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written around 1601–1602 as a Twelfth Night's entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. It's a good read and even better performed in the theatre.
|Theatre Royal, Drury Lane|
News of Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
In 2019, we embarked on an ambitious £60 million project to restore the historic Theatre Royal Drury Lane, at the heart of London’s West End, to its former 1812 glory. Throughout 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, we have adjusted, adapted and, most of all, persevered. When we reopen the doors in Spring 2021, we hope the return of Theatre Royal Drury Lane will lead the revival of our beloved and vital theatre industry.
Friday, January 01, 2021
I admit it, I love listening to The Archers, particularly in these difficult pandemic times and was delighted some years back when I was invited into the BBC Studios to learn how the programme was made. Fascinated with the sound effects team. Then later still, our SWWJ supremo, Pamela Payne organised the actor, Sunny Ormonde (who plays the character Lilian Bellamy) to give us a talk about her life and times working on this amazing radio programme, and of course, I loved interviewing her and posting on my blog at the time (September 2016).
Now the programme has reached its 70th birthday. As well as broadcasting episode number 19,343 of the world's longest-running serial drama, stars from The Archers - are currently appearing on the programmes. The Archers, set in the fictional village of Ambridge, began in 1951 and the plan was to educate farmers on modern agricultural methods. So far, more than eighty actors have appeared on the programme.