Fifteen minutes of entertainment at the Leicestershire and Rutland Annual Women's Institute Group Meeting, hosted by Lutterworth WI and held at, The Lutterworth Cricket Club, on October 4th 2013.
Madalyn Morgan in dinner suit
It was a fantastic evening. Lutterworth WI President Frances welcomed everyone, and then we stood up and sang, Jerusalem, which got the evening off to a great start.
Toastmaster, Geoffrey Harris
When we arrived both Geoffrey Harris and I were dressed in black. Then Geoffrey changed into his red Toastmasters tails and I changed in to... Well, you'll see what I changed into lower down the page.
Geoffrey had been a school teacher, and then a professional clown. Ten years ago he trained as a Toastmaster and is now a Fellow of the National Association of Toastmasters, working in some of the grandest hotels and houses in the country.
"A Toastmaster's Tale" is a light amusing talk about his work, which Geoff has performed in a wide variety of venues all over the UK.
First, on the table behind me, I put a black chiffon and sequinned stole and a string of pearls for Mrs Fanshaw in "Stately As A Galleon." Next to that a polka-dot headscarf, already tied in a bow at the top, wave grippers, nappies and clothes pegs. I draped a 1950s bibbed-pinafore on the back of a chair, so I could easily and quickly slip my arms into it while introducing the second sketch as a cockney girl, "Rainbow Corner." Finally, I set a simple brown cardigan and a beige woollen scarf for the nursery school sketch where I play the nursery school teacher in "Story Telling".
Frances introduced me and I joined her in the middle of the room in front of the table. I smiled broadly, but I had never been so nervous in my life.
Mrs Fanshaw in "Stately As A Galleon"
I thanked Frances for inviting me, said what a lovely evening I was having - and how good the Toastmaster was - and began chatting about Joyce Grenfell's life and career while I took off my jacket and put on pearls and stole to play, Mrs Fanshaw in, Stately As A Galleon.
The audience laughed in all the right places (not difficult to achieve when you're saying Joyce Grenfell's amazingly funny lines). And, after being more nervous than I had ever been, I was enjoying myself. At the end of the first sketch, still talking, I went for the second costume, the pinafore on the back of the chair. And it had gone. I got myself ready all but the pinafore, and then said, 'Who's nicked my pinny?' The audience laughed. They looked around. I think they thought it was part of the show. Then I said, 'It was on a chair just here.' The super lady who had adjudicated with me said, 'I took the chair.' I pulled her leg accusing her of trying to steal the show and there was more laughter. She had been sitting on it. It was great fun.
Cockney friend of Gladys and May
in "Rainbow Nights"
This sketch is set in a kitchen some years after WWII where London girls look back to when they were young; when they used to go, up West (the West End) to a US canteen called, Rainbow Corner. I play, Me, Gladys, May, and four yanks - Joe, Hank, Red and Slim. Yep! No kiddin. I don't think I could have written a better bit of audience participation script, if I'd tried. At the end of the first paragraph I look to the left and say, 'Me and Gladys had some fun. We did, didn't we Glad?' And before I could say the last line as Glad, 'We did.' The lady on the table where I was looking said, 'We did.' It was perfect.
A photograph of London girls dancing with American servicemen at Rainbow Corner, 1944
A Getty image, borrowed x ? x
The last sketch, Story Time, was written in 1944 and is one of Joyce Grenfell's Six Nursery School Sketches. It has the famous line, 'George... Don't do that!'
Preparing to play the girls in "Rainbow Nights"