Concert Review

It’s the 5th July 2024. I’m in the newsroom of the St Michael’s Daily Sword, and it’s so quiet. Nothing is happening in the UK today, so we’re left with Dog shows and church repairs to report.

But then, it all changed. “I need a reporter for the St Michael’s Singers 25th Anniversary Concert, Bridget Thomas, their PR chief has asked for a review” says Julie Cook, our editor-in-chief.

I seized my chance and bundled my way to the front of the queue; I knew that they had a good reputation for their light suppers as well as the music, and they served a good warm Hock at the bar. So, Julie gave me the keys to her Maserati, and avoiding Tony Penn at the Church junction I arrived just in time.

The room was full, with audience and choir and tables and stages. I found my place in the corner and prepared for a good evening. Eric Hudson and Danny Thomas were running the bar, and the queue snaked through the tables.

The concert started with an ominous beat, from drummer, Dave Bunn, as he ushered in the two excerpts from “The Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins. As if by a signal the choir assembled in front of the stage, between the Choir musical director, Jacqui Cable, and Kath Ainsworth on keyboards. Kath got the music going, and we were off.

A lively interpretation of the Armed Man was followed by an introduction from Eric Hudson, wearing a fetching white apron, who welcomed us all to the Village Hall and reminded us where the facilities and escape hatches were. He also explained how the music was chosen to reflect the history of the choir and to celebrate the 25th Anniversary Concert.

Pat Mutton, the chair of the choir then provided the most moving part of the concert. She told us that the choir had started with a group of friends from St Michaels arranging themselves round a grand piano singing their hearts out. The choir was started by Bryan Fisher, who was a Methodist, serious choral singer, who followed Arsenal, and had a trial for the Baggies. Pat pointed out that there were still choir and audience members who had been at that inaugural meeting. Anne Fox, Pam Owen, Annie Young and Jan Holloway all took a bow.

Unfortunately, Bryan is very poorly, and couldn’t be at the concert. However, his daughter, Jane, was present and thanked his friends in St Michaels for their support and help for Bryan and Chris, both in the good times, and now in these difficult circumstances. Jane told us how important music was in their family life, and Bryan had brought his love of music, and in particular singing, to St Michaels and the choir.

The rest of the concert was a musical excursion through the 20th century. We started with the Jazz Age, with songs from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin echoing the first third of the century. We moved swiftly onto the blues with a small soloette from Pat Mutton, and the choir giving the audience a Harlemesque experience.

The Blues section ended well, and we were off into the sunshine and surf of the U S of A. Paul Simon’s 59th St Bridge song was certainly feeling groovy. This was followed by a medley by the Beach Boys including one of my favourites “In my room”. The choir did this section with heart and gusto, although I’m sure the choir wouldn’t mind me saying it was a bit more Barry Island than Malibu.

It was then time for the light supper, a melange of cheeses and charcuterie with condiments and pickles to be consumed with warm bread rolls and butter delivered to the hall tables by the members of the choir. Its reputation for a good light supper is well deserved.

The second half of the concert featured the last third of the 20th century. It started with an innovation. The choir stayed seated in their chairs as they sang Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. This worked very well. The sound picture spread round the room, which added to the impact of the song.

There was then a short break for the consumption of chocolate and cherry fudge made by Kath Ainsworth. It was a short break, but long enough for one choir member to eat four, yes four, pieces of this delicious confection.

The concert moved onto James Bond. Back in their original positions, the choir belted out a concoction of Bond Movie Themes, including solos from Margaret Morrell and Jacqui. The medley included Skyfall which is a notoriously difficult song to perform well, but the choir should be proud of their performance.

Before the last song, there were presentations to Jacqui and Kath, and the drummer, Dave, thanking them for their hard and rhythmic work. Jacqui invited us to attend the Christmas concert in December.

And so we were into the last song which was “The best day of our life” by the pop combo American Authors. The concert ended with a great flourish, and the audience went home with the songs of St Michael’s Singers playing in their memory.

Peter Cole
Cub Reporter
St Michaels Daily Sword

June Update

Black Country night

On May the 18th we were treated to a wonderful performance from the Rotundas! Around 8 years ago the rotundas performed here for one of their first evenings! We were always amazed at their songs and story telling in their own music and created songs. They have grown in wonderful material and entertainment which is especially professional! Who ever you are you would enjoy their performances! Emily and Matt have joined them adding extremely good quality voices and violin and instrumental additions!

The audience were captivated and found they learned a lot about industry and canals around the midlands esp the Black Country and Birmingham!

We had a most enjoyable supper of faggots/sausage and peas and a very cheerful audience who certainly left with happy faces and cries of ”when will they return?“

Thankyou for your support to a most successful evening!

Kite— ‘ the ten mile stretch’

Very recently, I took the train from Ludlow to Crewe to visit an old friend  from college days. In order to safely travel to and from the station without the added stress of parking all day or for longer I used the extended services of KITE!!

It made the day out so much more enjoyable with the comfort of knowing someone was dropping me off and collecting at the end of the journey day. This can be done  at Ludlow or Leominster.

At Ludlow there is an excellent privately owned ticket office, the three men who work there are so helpful, working your journey out to the last detail and getting you the best prices. Just before I alighted the train I bought a coffee from them at the very decent price of £1.00!!

Do consider this service in future whether for a day trip or a longer journey and use our wonderful KITE service further.

With our extension of a ten mile radius this year— KITE should be more in demand and more useful to you, this includes any need you may have to visit Leominster, Ludlow, Bromyard towns.

D DAY. BEACON

It was 6th June on a rather chilly evening, though bright and light, when a group of approx. 20 hardy souls arrived armed with chairs, bottles, glasses and sausage rolls to meet and cheer the 80th year of the Normandy  D Day landings.

We were on the common around the pond by the silver tree, sitting in the newly mowed pathways of our beautiful common. The view into the sunset and Clee hill was clear and glorious. We awaited for the lighting of the beacon, which had been announced for 9.15 pm.

Alas— it didn’t appear to us!! Whether it was in a small basket and we couldn’t make it out? BUT at 10.20 we decided we had raised our glasses to this memorable occasion and the warmth of our homes beckoned.

When things go well its great!! When they don’t go to plan — always good to look for someone to blame! So I’ll put my hands up to that! But add that it was so good to see you all and enjoy our friendly community spirit!

Only the previous day we received a visit from Natural Networks  / Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, who had popped in to see the pond. They reported seeing grass snakes curled up by the waters edge and some beautiful fauna surrounding. They were very complimentary on the up keep of the pond, it is an ongoing project, a place for us all to enjoy.! 

Midsummer Madness

The Midsummer Madness supper dance was held on a lovely evening for a change! We even had a fly past form the red arrows just before we began!!

The hall was decorated to its best summer style, with lovely flowers and balloons, candles lit lovely summery table settings and the room was filled with a great variety of friends and neighbours, old and new.

There was a delightful atmosphere and we welcomed a delicious supper, from Phil’s team! It was a first time in a long time to welcome Phil himself! After his winter accident.

John Bryan bought his wonderful band, Scratch along to play familiar tunes for sing along and dance. He set just the right balance and all 55 attendees enjoyed a summer supper dance to remember!

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

As guest gather on an island somewhere in West Ireland to celebrate the wedding of Jules and Will, secrets from the past arise. On the night of the wedding a storm leaves the island in a blackout.

When the lights finally come back on a distressed waitress screams that she has found a dead body. It has been described as evoking an Agatha Christie mystery but most of us didn’t think that was a good comparison. I though it rather slow to begin but when all the multiple character reveal themselves, the atmosphere builds, and the plot does come together in the end.

There are many storylines running through it and lots of detail. This is definitely one for mystery thriller fans but it’s not for young readers as it does have more ‘adult’ aspects of its plot.

we all enjoyed the book with minor reservations and thought it was well written and a good plot.

Follow the rabbit- Proof fence by Doris Pilkington

This short true story was given to me as I left Australia last year, it is the story of Doris Pilkington’s mother , Molly , who led her sisters on the escape route from the Moore river Native settlement in Perth. A settlement for Aboriginal children with white fathers!

These three girls had made a long and chaperoned journey from their home in Jigalong to this native settlement with many promises. Alas, they found this place cold, with bars at the windows and Molly believed they were in Marbu country which implies the presence of flesh eating spirits. Anyone trying to escape would be dealt with severely.

The girls decide to escape, Molly being the leader ,on their way to find the rabbit proof fence. They have rabbits to eat, many fears along the way. They hide from a search plane that is looking for them!. They eventually find the rabbit proof fence, their hope is renewed and after a total of 9 weeks they arrive at Jigalong and find their family.

To the modern reader, the fence is a symbol of humanity, misplaced trust in its ability to control nature. The fence is also a symbol of the racism that British colonial control uses to divide the country into whites and natives.

The Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

This is a mystery/fantasy book. The story is quite complex with many threads, all necessary as the story evolves. The main character is a rookie PC heading for a dreary job until he sees a murder and meets a ghost. He then works with DCI Nightingale in the Special Assessment Unit. It is a fascinating story with weird and wonderful characters and slight overtones of Harry Potter.

Most of the group enjoyed the book, some even wanting to read more, whilst it was not to the liking of others.

A good start!

A very happy new year to one and all! Do hope the colds and bugs have done their rounds now and left you feeling refreshed and revitalised after a busy festive season!!

We began the year with a hearty ramble with a brave and enthusiastic group, sadly the planned walk was intensely boggy and after one field of mud over the tops of boots we settled for a good lane walk which did a circular 5 miles!! It was a good day and enjoyable views and company, we enjoyed snacks and drinks in the v hall after!

The usual activities began in the hall during the second week of the new year, following decorating of the hall, kitchen and foyer in the first week. This has freshened up the hall big time and now we await some dado rails being fixed in the half term week 12th to 16th feb to help with marking the walls from chairs.(we will let you know when this will take place)

Our first film of the year began with Supernova ,some great acting from Colin Firth and Stanley Lucci. The following morning we welcomed our community police lady and community builder to speak with us at the coffee morning (don’t forget to report anything you are worried about or feel is suspicious) and in the evening we held a rowdy warming beetle drive!

Thankyou for starting us off! We look forward to seeing you at the Skittles night,3rd feb, with sausage and chips(please get your tickets) the next film, Where the Crawdads sing, 15th feb and the following morning, the coffee morning.
Please put Friday 1st march in your diaries for a new event to us, St. Davids supper, tastes and sounds of Wales.
A lovely meal, 3 course and some welsh entertainment! Tickets on sale now!

Please see the programme for the rest of the year! Hopefully something for you all. Thankyou for your continued support, stay warm and well!

Ros and the committee

Book Review: “Choices” by Susan Sallis

This book came under the heading of romance and it is the story of the sole
survivor of a horrific car crash facing life in a wheel chair and her interaction with a
survivor of the other car in the crash. It deals with them both coming to terms with
what happened. There are several other story lines of the people in the health and
social services with whom the survivors are in contact.

The book made one think about people who suffer similarly and was enjoyed
by some but others had reservations. The general census was that it was an easy
holiday read.

Jane Yardley.

ST. MICHAEL’S READERS’ GROUP

Book review: ‘Forged’ by Tina Cole

Our book for March was ‘Forged’ by local author Tina Cole.

Poetry is a very emotive medium and perhaps not overly popular with a lot of people so perhaps we were not expecting a very enthusiastic response. However we were very pleased that Tina’s poetry was extremely well received by nearly all of the group. Many of the poems are very personal and I think we could all relate them in some way to our own experiences.

I can’t do better than to quote one of the reviews of the book which seems to me to sum up the essence of the poems: ‘these poems sing of the literal fabric of women’s lives. I love the detail, texture and colour. All this and the tricky, complicated subtleties of lives where people don’t quite get one another, but where there is a great deal of love. Tina Cole is a very fine writer indeed.’

April Update


The Voyage round Britain
, presented by Mike Jenner in late January was a most popular and interesting evening. A good 70 people turned out to watch and listen to some great adventures that (Eleri) sailed through. The hall committee provided some delicious curries in the interim and the wonderful amount of £450 was presented to Mike for Pancreatic cancer research.

A Valentines Evening with supper and the Kitchen Island Band was held on 11th February. It was a very enjoyable evening with good entertainment and excellent supper. 60 plus folk ventured out in what has seemed a long cold winter!
(I’m afraid I was fortunate to be away the next month in New Zealand and Australia in some very different temperatures !)

Our visit from Ashley Hutchings with Becky Milla and son Blair, Paradise and Thorns took place on Friday 31st March. This is through the Live and Local presenters who bring music and often a play to our hall, you may remember the performing chef last year?
We welcomed this performance from Paradise and Thorns on Friday, yes, the association is with Fairport convention! Hope you all enjoyed this unique performance.

On 14th April there is a spring walk about 4 miles but places where you can turn back should you want a shorter one. Starting at the village hall, at 10.30 am, very enjoyable.

On Sat  22nd April, the Skittles Evening moved from March will take place! Tickets-£10 to include Bangers and Mash. Please get tickets from committee members.

On Sunday 7th May at 3pm there will be a Coronation tea in the village hall, tickets £7.50. Funds will go towards our annual upkeep of the pond management and help in maintaining the natural environment.(Our future King is very keen on natural environment!)

The pond on the common is looking somewhat good at present as Biosphere organics have cleared it and will return to maintain it each year. They have also put up Bat boxes, bird boxes and a bee post. We are awaiting an information board to complete the updating of that area. There is a tree planted to commemorate our late Queen. Please visit the site when you can and let us know your thoughts. We were fortunate to receive a generous donation ,along with a grant and constant advice from Natural Networks in Malvern Hills.

On Sat & Sun, 3rd and 4th June the wonderful Open Gardens will hopefully enchant you and all visitors!
 Many gardens will be open, the hub being the village hall where tickets are to be purchased and teas devoured!
Details about this weekend will follow. We are indebted to those who open gardens as well as the many people who have offered to help!!

A mid summer madness supper and dance to take place on sat 8th July, details to follow.(I believe they are looking to make a new series of midsummer murders! Who knows?)

Thankyou as ever for your continual support. Ros Plested

January Update

We Thankyou all for joining in the festivities of the village hall this Christmas, an enjoyable time of preparation and activities for all. We were almost back to normal inspite of adverse weather and winter health issues.

The light festival created a good start to Christmas with lovely decorations and lights in and out of the halls well as the houses in the lane, Thankyou for cheering us all up, some lovely lights. Mulled wine, mince pies and lovely voices together with hand bell ringing was a sheer delight on a cold night!

The Birmingham students filled us with amazement again, their voices beautiful, their presence in our village a treat! It was a pleasure to feed and water them in the hall as well as welcome them into our homes. Yes — so many of you say, this is the beginning of Christmas!!

Our village Christmas meal was scrumptious,as well as enjoying the sound of the saxophone,silly jokes, games, quiz and lovely chit chats lovely evening.
The mums and tots enjoyed a visit from Santa,the choir produced a wonderful concert, full of cheerfulness and all activities celebrated the season in their own way!

We began the new year with a New Years walk, just a 5 miler! ending in the village hall with a sleepy lunch and sweep up!

We proceeded with our first film night showing ELVIS! This went down well and we thank Mark Brooks for sourcing some excellent projector, screen and speaker equipment  for the hall which can be used for your own hire when showing a film or presenting a talk. Hopefully this will follow with a film on the 3rd Thursday of the month in winter months! Operation mincemeat and Mrs Harris goes to Paris are next!

We have a full programme for the year, which will be advertised on noticeboards, website, sword and around town. We welcome you all to come along when you can, some events need to be booked in advances don’t miss out. Do join our monthly coffee mornings, 3rd Friday in the month and bring a friend! If you need a lift let us know.

In the near future we have a Round Britain talk by Mike Jenner on Friday 27th January, who this last year sailed round Britain raising funds for pancreatic cancer, this should be interesting and includes a curry supper! Please let us know.

On February 11th, there is a valentines supper, 2 courses with the wonderful music of The Kitchen Island band! Again tickets available from committee members. March brings a skittles evening including bangers and mash supper, let us know! And 31st March, Paradise and Thorns, through Live and Local! This is an excellent evenings entertainment, well known too!

More to come of course so please check the website and sword!! Enjoy your lovely village hall, if you have ideas to share for activities and events , then we welcome them very much. See you soon and

Thankyou again for your support,

Ros Plested and village hall committee.

A happy, healthy and hopeful new year to all!