Newsletter No 410 27 December 2016

A small but extremely enthusiastic bunch gathered to return to normality after Christmas with DON & HEATHER bringing us FIRE AND RAIN and BANJO JOHN taking us to the SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET and LOTTIE telling us THE SNOW IT MELTS THE SOONEST. It certainly did in this warm atmosphere as ERIC chipped in with his approach to life telling us ALE IS PHYSIC FOR ME. More rural JEAN turned to the beautiful WHERE RAVENS FEED by Graham Miles and then back when a folk song was a folk song COLIN sang the equally beautiful STARRY, STARRY NIGHT. By way of a complete change ANN, in a poem, described the LIFE STORY OF A SAFETY PIN, to which DON & HEATHER replied, YOU WILL BE THE LIGHT, and LOTTIE pleaded TAKE ME HOME WHERE I BELONG and BANJO JOHN asked THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE (P Ochs). Next JEAN came forward with a biter bit STORY from Saltburn on Sea told us of when she saw a busy man rudely brushes aside people on his way to the post box where, in his haste, he pocketed the letter and posted his car keys. Jean, of course, had the last laugh when she told him what he had done and he found the letter in his pocket and no car keys. As Jean was the only witness to his mistake and therefore his only way of getting the post office staff to open the box for him to retrieve his keys, his demeanour changed completely. Another Lancashire song from ERIC took us to PENDLE whereas ANN went south to meet TOM COBLEY leaving COLIN, in response to his treatment of Phil Ochs, to turn to Dylan for IT’S NOT DARK YET BUT IT’S GETTING THERE. For LOTTIE it was clear RED IS MY HEART and BANJO JOHN remembered Marilyn Monroe with RUNNING WILD and JEAN went with true love LOW DOWN IN THE BROOM. On his holidays ERIC announced WE’RE OFF IN A MOTOR CAR and ANN was off to the Hebrides for VAIR ME ORO VAN O leaving COLIN to take us to the interval vowing not to make THE SAME MISTAKE again with his own philosophy on life.

The raffle was made free using the entry tickets and Ann won the bottle of Wine, Chris won the box of Belgian Chocolate Shells and Heather Kenyon won the big Box of Tea which she promptly passed on the Alan who loves Yorkshire tea and after 2 hours of great music and good craic everyone decided on a slightly early big finish starting with COLIN and MARY MAGDALENE. With her lovely voice LOTTIE then sang MEDHEL AN GWYNS from Poldark as ERIC told the story of BOGIE’S BOONIE BELLE followed by ANN and her generic FOLK SINGER. By way of a complete change JEAN then turned to LLOYD WEBBER for I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM and LOTTIE teamed up with her Dad ERIC for HALLELUJAH before COLIN responded to a request and brought the house down with his magical MR BOJANGLES. What a great night!

Newsletter No 409 20 December 2016

In traditional fashion MARK & JAN started the ball rolling with JINGLE BELLS as PAUL sang GO TELL IT ON THER MOUNTAIN and PHIL went back to his ROOTS. From BRIAN came the cry IT’S SO EASY as JANET headed for the RIVER so no wonder JO went for a SILENT NIGHT. In contrast BANJO JOHN went wild with TIGER RAG leaving HILARY to DECK THE HALLS and SIMON to remind us of THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS. With all the sleigh bells around DON & HEATHER then took us WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND while ANN chased after THE NIGHTINGALE leaving ED to discuss the children’s toy list starting with SCARLET RAYGUNS. Next MARIAN told of the QUEEN OF GALILEE and JONATHAN & CHARLIE sang of JOY TO THE WORLD. In Latin MARK went IN DULCE JUBILO before JAN turned to Welsh for AR HYDO AR NOD leaving HILARY to SEE AMID THE WINTER SNOW. More conventionally SIMON went for BAR ROOM GIRLS while JO was taking it ONE DAY AT A TIME and BRIAN was going THROUGH THE MORNING THROUGH THE NIGHT. All this left RICHARD feeling I’M OLDER THAN THAT NOW so no wonder BANJO JOHN went back in time for WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Along with the Mulled Wine and Mince Pies the mega bumper raffle saw Hilary win a bottle of wine as did the Taylors, Charlie won Chocolates, Jonathan won the Christmas Puddings, Ann win the Christmas Cake, Kate win the Necklace and Chris, Kate & Jonathan win pots of Jam in Knitted Socks. Wow!

Then as everyone recovered Banjo John assembled the cast of his PANTO which was CINDERELLA: Banjo John - Narrator, Jonathan -Prince charming, Barry the Ugly Sister, Heather – the Good Fairy and Heather – Cinderella and pretty soon we were having a hilarious time. Well done gang! 

Follow that was the cry as PAUL led us in a CAROL MEDLEY and PHIL followed with his guitar version of JESU JOY OF MAN’S DESIRING and JONATHAN & CHARLIE told us I DUG A DIAMOND. Back in the tradition MARIAN gave us BILLY ARMITAGE as ANN & RICHARD said I’LL STRING ALONG WITH YOU and DON & HEATHER again went festive with Slade’s SO HERE IT IS MERRY CHRISTMAS. On the funny side MARK & JAN exclaimed O LITTLE TOWN OF ALTRINCHAM which for ED was a DISASTER and reminded PHIL of THE BEDROOM TAX. This made SIMON think of EASY MONEY but for BRIAN it was KILLING THE BLUES and for RICHARD it was an air on a B STRING. Coming to a climax BANJO JOHN turned to old favourite RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER and PAUL told us it was SOMEBODY’S BIRTHDAY leaving DON & HEATHER to suggest we should all STEAL AWAY whereas MARK & JAN had us RUNNING LIKE A TURKEY through the corn.

Newsletter No 408 13 December 2016

They came from near they came from far they filled up every pew! Phew!! A Storming Party Night hosted by GRASSROOTS who kicked off with DANNY BOY with HILARY explaining the stealing of Christmas by THE GRINCH (Part 1) while BANJO JOHN was still in his WINTER WONDERLAND. Also traditionally, PAUL was with MARY’S BOY CHILD and ANN with JO for AMAZING GRACE. Not being Christmassy ROD pleaded DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD which left DON & HEATHER instead of wishing everyone all the best rather they said MAY YOU NEVER do things that are not good for you. Poet DAVE COWE then sprinkled some SALFORD FLOWERS on PETE’S appropriately SUNNY AFTERNOON as ROB unveiled his first Christmas present, a new song for us, BARRETT’S PRIVATEERS. Next AL sang THE SHEPHERD SONG while KATH & STAN were just BABES IN THE WOODS leaving it to KAMRAN to announce, so HERE IT IS MERRY CHRISTMAS. Somewhat ironically JAN & MARK gave tradition a twist with THE IVY AND THE HOLLY but CHRISTINE & WILF were not fooled as they declared I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW as ED, in Robin’s absence, eagerly jumped aboard as A SPACEMAN CAME TRAVELLING. Next visitor JOHN CONDY in search of a good time took us to the TRAFFORD CENTRE which made JONATHAN wish he had A RIVER TO SAIL AWAY ON leaving RICHARD to calm the atmosphere with PEACE ON EARTH. With the interval buffet and super special chips approaching JAMES raised the temperature with I WISH I COULD SHIMMY LIKE MY SISTER KATE which sent JO off ROCKIN’ AROUNG THE CHRISTMAS TREE so no wonder BANJO JOHN gave us a burst of WHEN YOU’RE SMILING to keep the mood.

A big bumper raffle saw Rob win the Wine; Ann win the Big Teddy; Al win the Small Teddy; Chris win the Room Perfume; Joseph win the Christmas Cake; Jillian win the Chocolate Orange: Alan win the Man United Calendar and Doreen win the Necklace before GRASSROOTS appropriately sang us off into the second half with LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT. Then in a moment of inspiration ROD asked what IF I WERE A CARPENTER while PETE was complimenting nature on our SUNSETS with his own composition which left the reality to KAMRAN who recognised some people could possibly have a BLUE CHRISTMAS. Never mind a turkey JAN & MARK then went for a LITTLE RED ROOSTER while ANN chose THE TROUT. Poet DAVE COWE then bowed down at the FEET OF GANESHA and AL didn’t fail us with Donovan’s JOSIE nor did RICHARD at the GATES OF EDEN (Dylan). Determined to get Christmas back HILARY gave us the final part of THE GRINCH (Part 2) while PAUL was out on his MORNINGTOWN RIDE and WILF & CHRISTINE were celebrating Salford with the DIRTY OLD TOWN. No wonder ED said it all seems to happen BETWEEN THE EARTH AND THE SKY leaving ROB to claim it was different WHEN FIRST I LANDED IN LIVERPOOL but for JOHN nothing has changed as he confessed I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS. Reaching the climax of a superb evening JAMES pleaded SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME as DON & HEATHER said they were going to STEEL AWAY and STAN & KATH departed for the WILLOW GLEN for some peace on earth and good will towards everyone who felt the same. Magic!

Newsletter No 407 6 December 2016
A serene evening with a few surprises saw PAUL start sweetly with SUGAR PUDDING while BANJO JOHN was away at the ALABAMA JUBILEE to which CHRIS replied, I WASN’T EXPECTING THAT. On the other hand JO was clear about WHAT MADE MILWAUKEE FAMOUS as KATH & STAN asked HOW WILL I EVER BE SIMPLE AGAIN and ED went into the difficulties of trading a horse for the woman RED HEADED ANN. Then PETE went all modern with Dylan’s surprisingly romantic love MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE whereas ALLAN went traditional with the story of the ELLEN VANNIN so no wonder DON & HEATHER thought we needed some RECONCILIATION. Next our surprise guests MICHAEL & RORY pulled on their bagpipes and played TURNER’S WALTZ and WHITWELL’S TUNE after which RORY undressed his Hurdy Gurdy to play his own SCOTTISCHE. A big fan of Ralph McTell CHRIS led us all through the STREETS OF LONDON as JONATHAN & CHARLIE asked us to be HUMBLE AND KIND (Tim McGraw) leaving JO to sing our first Christmas Carol IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER. KATH & STAN decided to play 2 tunes TWIGLET and BOSTON RISING while ED gave us Les Barker’s parody of Little Red Riding Hood MY HUSBAND’S GOT NO PORRIDGE IN HIM. This left BANJO JOHN in a A PAWNSHOP ON THE CORNER which made ALLAN observe IT ALL SEEMS SUCH A LONG TIME AGO and made JONATHAN & CHARLIE both feel FRAGILE (Sting) as we reached the interval.

A suitably bonzer raffle saw Allan win the wine, Banjo John take the Chocolates home, Sue snaffle the perfume, Heather grab the Chocolate Orange and Allan come back again to win the cake before DON & HEATHER went over the Irish sea to meet the SPANISH LADY. With yet more bagpipes MICHAEL played BRUDMARSHE FROM ALEPPO (trad Swedish tune) before RORY again was the Hurdy Gurdy man playing his own RORY’S TUNE. Somehow it reminded PETE of DAYS GONE BY and made RICHARD think of the CHIMES OF FREEDOM before PAUL had us singing WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH THE MILL. On the same theme KATH & STAN came up with WINDMILLS before for Christmas CHRIS, with a nice thought, wished us THE THINGS YOU WISH YOURSELF. Meanwhile ED was SAYING GOODBYE TO THE SEA and ALLAN was getting the KING BEE BLUES which had RICHARD disappearing SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW. Before PETE himself disappears for Christmas he asked us to SEE MY LIGHT COME SHINING before MICHAEL returned with even more bagpipes for NONSUCH and ALL IN THE GARDEN GREEN which left PAUL to head us for home with LEAVE HER JOHNNY LEAVE HER and DON & HEATHER to celebrate with A SONG FOR A LIFE which at this point was certainly very good.


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