Murder mysteries are an interesting intellectual challenge, hence the appeal of this genre of literature. The script was especially written for Sidlesham by Sarah Trip of the Chichester Players which supplied the six suspects for the death of Prof. McPagham, brutally murdered as ever in the library. Our very own Jane Blackford played Lady Sidlesham wife of Lord Sidlesham, the other characters were McBracklesham, McBirdham and sisters Moira and Mary who were the housekeeper and the cook. Before the drama got underway, David Blackford, in lieu of a piper, played Scottish reels on his accordion and then he accompanied the arrival of the haggis, the address to which was delivered by George Torrance in, it must be said, a very passable Scottish accent. A small portion of haggis with ‘neeps and tatties’ suitably sprinkled with whiskey was our starter. This was followed by a main course of poached salmon and vegetables, the dessert being butterscotch cheesecake. All this was cooked by Lawrence Hall, son of Corina and Richard Hall, ably assisted by an army of servers.
Each table represented a team of sleuths and to assist them in their deliberations was a bottle of red and of white wine. Between courses, each ‘suspect’, with a variety of accents, gave reasons why he or she could not possibly have done the dastardly deed with a sgian-dubh, dropping hints why it might be one of the others. There was also opportunity to interrogate the ‘suspects’. Of the eight ‘teams’, three concluded correctly – it was the cook what done it. Congratulations to everyone of the Sidlesham Community Association for arranging this event – Sandra Ryder for the floral arrangements, the Robsons for the raffle, the Halls for their son and bar, and Jane Blackford for corralling the actors. A cheap night out for £15 a head.
By Paul Devonshire
if to exemplify that Sidlesham is a progressive village, Trafalgar Day was
celebrated, not on the 21st October, but ten days earlier on the 12th
October. As we assembled on the
quarterdeck of the Church Hall, David Blackford regaled us on his accordion with
sea shanties. With a slight hiccup in
the galley, we had a short cabaret from one of the singers. Some of the ship’s
company complied with the option of wearing ‘nautical fancy dress’, and, though
not exactly in compliance, Dudley Pound showed that he could still fit into his
naval uniform displaying the three rings of his rank as a commander in the
Royal Navy. No weevil-infested ship’s
biscuits and limes on this occasion, the crew being served a splendid steak and
mushroom pie and vegetables with drinks from the bar. While this was settling on the stomach and
before the sherry trifle, we were entertained with a ‘reduced’ H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan.
This was performed by the Havant Light Opera, there being a local connection with
this troupe through both David Blackford and Mary Cameron. The plot sped along with the omission of certain
songs and choruses and by David reading a précis of the intervening action.
Like many a Gilbertian plot, this one too demanded our credulity allowing the
man to get his girl in the end. It pokes
fun at class snobbery, political cronyism and the assumption that only
beautiful people can do beautiful things.
All this was ably accompanied on the piano by their musical director,
For such a special event we had not one but three toasts – first, the loyal toast, “The Queen”, then one to Admiral Lord Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar, and finally one to Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alfred Dudley Pickman Rogers Pound. We were told by Diana that this First Sea Lord in WW2 had died, perhaps aptly, on Trafalgar Day, 1943. However, this “ruler of the queen’s navy” had really gone to sea, unlike the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter in Pinafore. At the end, we all sang Rule Britannia and Jerusalem each led by a soprano from the cast.
This was truly a community effort organised by the SCA. The catering was organised by Vivienne Mellodey, Anne Wade, Sandra Ryder Lynda Knowles and Corina Hall. The chef, who cooked the meat, being Lawrence Hall. Marjorie Ridley helped serve, as did Nicholas and Vanda Hall, with Richard Hall at the bar. Norman and Louisa Robson ran the raffle and David Blackford organised the performers. The hall was dressed overall with flags collected from villagers within the sailing community, the message being nothing in particular but to enjoy ourselves. The event advanced the argument that the village could benefit from another hall which would better accommodate not only all the Halls and all their works, but other events and functions too.
Although the date was more appropriate for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the weather for The Tempest, the citizens of Sidlesham gathered in the wooded copse at the bottom of the Sidlesham School playground to see an edited version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, put on under the aegis of the Sidlesham Community Association. This rural setting took the place of ancient Rome. This feature of this production was not the only one requiring the audience’s imagination. Though there were no “proud hoofs” as in Henry V, we had to imagine children as members of an adult mob and women as the scheming male conspirators. But, no matter – “the play’s the thing”. Because of the various commitments of people in the cast, the afternoon’s rehearsal had been the first opportunity for all to be ‘on stage’ at the same time. Despite the various understandable imperfections, the drama still came through. Theatre is an opportunity to witness the decisions of others and their consequences, and so consider the question – “And what would you have done?”. Caesar puts aside the advice of his wife and is assassinated, and the noble Brutus is unable to ride the tiger let loose by his joining the assassination of Caesar. We were able to witness Mark Anthony’s oratory swaying the affections of the mob, thereby moving power away from the conspirators.
All credit to the actors for taking on the challenge of learning the lines, (adults -Hannah Baggott, Jane and David Blackford, Mary Coales, Gloria Jupp, David MacDonald, Ali Merrett and Diana Pound; and the children – Evi, Franki, Kristina, Lewis, Lucie, Maggy, Olive and Tilly), for the prompter/stage hand (Sandie Walker), sound effects (Lewis), to the producer (Diana Pound) for conceiving and delivering the project, for the school and the parents in encouraging the children in an otherwise adult event. Afterwards there was an excellent barbecue and bar which involved another group of people (David Blackford, Eddie Jupp, Corinna and Richard Hall, Dawn Lawson, Zena MacDonald, Julia and Dudley Pound, Franck and Marilyn Sharp, Others, Ebony and Emily, could not be there on the night. Flaming June it might not have been, but the SCA is to be congratulated for being initiating and carrying through this project that involved so many people in a village activity. Thanks too to the school.
On Saturday 9th March the Sidlesham Community Association hosted a successful Italian Night in the Church Hall.
The event was a sell out and attendees enjoyed a tasty Italian meal, a competitive quiz and some wonderful Italian music performed by members of Havant Light Opera. The two sopranos are also students at Chichester University and bowled us over with their singing of opera and Neapolitan songs. They were joined by their lecturer, who sang some rousing tenor parts.
A huge thank you to David Blackford who organised the event and did all the cooking with his son Tom, as well as taking time out to accompany the singers on his accordion. After the main course the quiz took place and the eventual winners were the WI who hardly dropped a point! Ali Merrett put in a lot of effort to make the quiz successful and it was much enjoyed.
With a raffle taking place as well the event raised a fantastic £662.00 to go towards the funds for a new community hall.
Guess who came along to the Sidlesham Community Association carols last night?