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LEP column was epitaph to the ‘wonderful’ Vera Lynn 150 150 mhamer

LEP column was epitaph to the ‘wonderful’ Vera Lynn

Hi folks! I had no idea when I wrote this May @leponline column it would be as an epitaph to this wonderful performer and humanitarian. R.I.P. our Vera!

Jimmy Cricket’s latest newspaper column was devoted to Dame Vera Lynn – just weeks before she died.

Dame Vera passed away on Thursday (18 June) aged 103.

She was known the Forces’ Sweetheart, whose songs helped raise morale in World War Two.

The Queen, Prince Charles and Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney were among those to pay their respects to her.

People knew her best for her wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again.

Jimmy’s column in the Preston-based Lancashire Post on 18 May (above) was all about Dame Vera.

The headline read: Remembering the forces’ WWII sweetheart Vera Lynn.

He tweeted on the day she died: “Hi folks! I had no idea when I wrote this May@leponline column it would be as an epitaph to this wonderful performer and humanitarian.
“R.I.P. our Vera! Performing arts

The BBC reported: “Six weeks ago, ahead of the 75th anniversary of VE Day and during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Dame Vera said simple acts of bravery and sacrifice still define our nation.

“A week later, she became the oldest artist to get a top 40 album in the UK.”

The BBC recalled that Dame Vera had sold more than a million records by the age of 22.

The article added that she “was also remembered for singing The White Cliffs Of Dover, There’ll Always Be An England, I’ll Be Seeing You, Wishing and If Only I Had Wings.

“The Queen echoed her famous WW2 anthem during a speech to Britons who were separated from families and friends during the coronavirus lockdown in April, telling the nation: ‘We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again.'”

Looking on the lighter side of the lockdown 150 150 mhamer

Looking on the lighter side of the lockdown

Jimmy Cricket talks about life under the lockdown in his latest newspaper column.

Jimmy Cricket talks about life under the lockdown in his latest newspaper column.

The UK government announced on 24 March it was imposing strict new curbs on life in the country following the global outbreak of coronavirus.

It has included restrictions on leaving the house and also meant people observing social distancing when they are in public.

Jimmy, 74, tells readers of the Lancashire Post in his own inimitable way to “come closer but stay two metres away”.
The famous Northern Irish comedian says: “I’m having nothing to do with this coronavirus. I’m washing my hands of the whole thing.”
During the lockdown, Jimmy has been producing daily videos containing jokes and posting them on his social media channels.
‘Lift people’s spirits’
He has branded them part of a We’re doing this together series.
The veteran entertainer says in his column: “I think it’s important for someone like me to lift people’s spirits during these trying times.

“So after lunch I’ll put on my hat and wellies on and record some jokes and birthday wishes to send out on social media.

“I’m so blessed that my good lady May is such a whizz kid on modern technology, so she acts as director and producer on these little movies.”

He says he puts aside some time each evening to phone his friends.

“They’re all going to be in, that’s for sure.”

Jimmy adds: “We also look forward to our family get-together through Zoom and Skype.

“We get to see to see the latest drawings and stories from our grandkids, and extended family.”

 

The tall Texan who saved the day in Rochdale 150 150 mhamer

The tall Texan who saved the day in Rochdale

My Feb @leponline column folks, here I tell how at the very last minute, the Texan @AndrewJBoyer with his great voice, saved the Remembrance Day Concert at the Rochdale Town Hall for me and my fellow performers, which was in aid of the Lord Mayor, Billy Sherrin's Charities!

Jimmy Cricket has recalled the story about a Texan who came to the rescue in an English town.

Let’s hear it for the wee man is a musical which Jimmy created a few years ago.
It is about Northern Ireland’s only recipient of the Victoria Cross, submariner James Magennis.
The musical was performed in front of 300 people in aid of the Mayor of Rochdale’s charity appeal on Remembrance Day last year.
However, as Jimmy recounts in his latest Lancashire Post column, a week before the event, the singer playing the title role pulled out.
So Jimmy and wife May frantically began looking for a replacement and even put a plea out on social media channel Facebook.
And just a few days before the concert at Rochdale Town Hall, a Texan called Andrew J Boyer called them.
Andrew J Boyer will play war hero Jim Magennis in Jimmy Cricket's musical at Rochdale Town Hall on Remembrance SundayAndrew (pictured left) is a 24-year-old piano-vocalist from Dallas who had just moved to Salford.
He has been a performer for almost a decade, and sings and plays the piano from time to time on cruise ships.

The musical tells the courageous story of Magennis who joined the Royal Navy aged 15.

He won the UK’s highest military honour for his bravery onboard a midget sub that attacked the Japanese cruiser Takao on 31 July 1945.

His job was to attach six mines to the enemy vessel in the risky covert operation in Singapore Harbour.

Jimmy and @RochdaleMayor Coun Billy Sheerin having a good old yarn about the James Magennis play

Jimmy with Bill Sherrin, the Mayor of Rochdale

However, he ran into difficulties and faced grave danger.

But he persisted with the mission before returning to the sub exhausted.

King George VI recognised his heroics by awarding him the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry.

Magennis continued his service until 1949 when he returned home with his wife Edna Skidmore and their four sons.

In 1952, he lost his job and was forced to sell his VC medal.

However, an anonymous benefactor later returned it to him on the condition he did not sell it again.

Blue plaque

Magennis spent the rest of his life in Yorkshire working as an electrician before dying of cancer in 1986 aged 66.

His heroics were commemorated in 2018 with a special blue plaque in his honour.

Belfast-born Jimmy, who has lived in Rochdale for many years, wrote both the words and the music for the play.

It also featured actor Charles Lawson, actress and singer Sue Devaney and comedian Jimmy himself.

Find out where Jimmy is performing and his other forthcoming shows by viewing all his tour dates on this website.
My chance meeting with ‘courageous’ BBC journalist 150 150 mhamer

My chance meeting with ‘courageous’ BBC journalist

Here is my November LEP column where I tell of my chance meeting with this wonderful courageous lady @OrlaGuerin in Manchester Airport on my way to New York this summer!

Jimmy Cricket has been recalling the moment he met a BBC TV news reporter on his way to catch a plane.

The famous entertainer was travelling to the United States to attend his daughter Jamie’s wedding earlier this year.

In his latest Lancashire Post column, Jimmy tells about his encounter with news presenter Orla Guerin.

He posted the image above and an accompanying comment on Twitter about his November column.

Jimmy said: “I tell of my chance meeting with this wonderful courageous lady @OrlaGuerin in Manchester Airport on my way to New York this summer!🎭

Orla Guerin MBE is an Irish journalist currently working as a BBC International Correspondent based in Istanbul.

Jimmy says: “How many times have we looked at our television screens and heard those dulcet Irish tones calling out from some war-ravaged part of the globe?

“Shining a light on injustice, holding dictators to task and giving a platform to the oppressed and downtrodden?

‘Spoke with affection’

“Now here she was standing opposite me uttering these immortal words ‘what’s your surname again?’

“Yes readers, I was face to face with BBC correspondent Orla Guerrin. And she couldn’t have been nicer.

“We weren’t in a life-threatening situation now, although going through security at Manchester Airport can be quite stressful.

“Orla was a delight.

“She smiled and, after she’d retrieved her belongings from the security belt, Mrs Cricket took a photograph of the two of us.

“Then, later on in the airport lounge, we talked about comedy and the entertain industry.

“She spoke with affection about the entertainers from her hometown in Dublin that we both knew.

“Then she was off to Istanbul for another assignment and we were off to New York for our daughter Jamie’s wedding.”

Paying tribute to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy 150 150 mhamer

Paying tribute to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

 pay tribute to a fellow Irishman, and to the Silver Screen's Stan and Ollie, with a great performance from @Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly

Jimmy Cricket writes about his admiration for a legendary comedy duo in his latest newspaper column.

In the 1 April edition of the Lancashire Post, the popular Northern Irish entertainer reviews a recent film about the careers of Englishman Stan Laurel and American Oliver Hardy.

They acted during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema and became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy. Laurel played the clumsy friend of the pompous Hardy.

Jimmy’s column begins: I’ve just come back from doing my one man show at the Slapstick Comedy Festival in Bristol at the Studio adjoining the Old Vic Theatre. The festival was started by a guy called Chris Daniels who just loves visual and silent comedy.

“I did my live set sandwiched between movies of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy up on the big wide screen. There’s been a resurgence of interest in Laurel and Hardy, mainly due to a biopic of the duo which went on general release in our cinemas recently called Stan and Ollie.

“In fact, I’ve been to see it twice. Well folks, our local Odeon Cinema here in Rochdale only charges a fiver to get in. It’s a moving, tender tribute to one of the funniest double acts ever to grace the silver screen; not only do Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel, and John C Reilly as Oliver Hardy get into the skin of these two lovable clowns, but the ladies that played their wives both give stunning performance as well.

“Nina Arianda plays Stan’s other half and Shirley Henderson is Ollie’s. I had a little inside information on this film. Steve Coogan’s Uncle Bernard takes his grandkids to the same school in Rochdale that I take mine, so I get some tasty nuggets of gossip in the playground.

“I looked at him enviously as he told me about getting the red carpet treatment when he got invited to the premiere of the movie up at the local cinema in Ulverston where Stan Laurel grew up. The only time I get to see a red carpet is when Mrs Cricket hands me the Hoover.”

Read Jimmy’s full column here

 

June Whitfield – a ‘great actress and lovely lady’ 150 150 mhamer

June Whitfield – a ‘great actress and lovely lady’

 

Hi folks I had the great pleasure of working with this great actress and lovely lady the late June Whitfield here is my tribute to her!

Jimmy Cricket has been sharing his memories of his good friend, comedy actress June Whitfield, who died at the end of last year.

The comedian devoted his latest monthly column in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post to the late English radio, television and film star.

Jimmy told all his social media followers about his column, saying: “Hi folks I had the great pleasure of working with this great actress and lovely lady the late June Whitfield here is my tribute to her!”

His LEP column read: “The death of June Whitfield at the great age of 93 closes the chapter on one our best ever comedy actresses. In a career that spanned more than six decades, June brought so much joy and laughter that, for many of us, it was not just losing a brilliant performer, but losing a friend.

“You have to go right back to the 1950s to find out when June first got the nation’s chuckle muscles rippling. Radio was king then and June could be heard on a popular show called Take it From Here, penned by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden. She could also be heard on a weekly segment called The Glums, playing Eth, the daft girlfriend to equally dim witted partner Ron, (played by Dick Bentley).

“Her timing and vocal inflections were such that I almost envied the studio audience who were there to witness it in the flesh. She then went on to play straight woman to some of the best comedians of the last century. Tony Hancock, Frankie Howard, Benny Hill, to name but a few.

“So how come when comedians can be a neurotic bunch, (I should know), and always worried about other people getting to many laughs, did June get the gig, so to speak?…”

Read the full column here

 

LEP column: Bruges trip and play goes on the road 150 150 mhamer

LEP column: Bruges trip and play goes on the road

Hi everyone! With the New Year comes my January 2019 @leponline column for you to have a little read at!

Jimmy Cricket has been telling Lancashire Evening Post readers about his eventful festive trip to Bruges and giving them an update on his new play, No More Fiffing and Faffing.

The popular Northern Irish comedian’s first LEP newspaper column of 2019 was published on 7 January.

He wrote: “I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and you didn’t lose any sleep over Brexit.

Speaking of which, I went to one Christmas party and we did the Brexit Hokey Cokey – it was in, out… and we didn’t know what to do after that.

And there’s more. I did hear one story about Christmas morning that a friend told me – his seven-year-old was opening his presents when suddenly he shouts across the living room floor: “Dad, I think Santa Claus has moved house.”

My somewhat surprised pal says: “What makes you think that son?”

“Because,” says the boy, “It says on this toy. Made in China.”

As I didn’t have a panto, I was able to have a more restful festive season.

Christmas in Bruges is delightful. The fairy lights and decorations that surround the market have a unique style, especially when lit up at night. You have to make sure you have your thermals on because it can be a bit nippy. Of course, there’s always a nice restaurant nearby ready to fortify you with a hot chocolate.

In the daytime you can stroll over bridges with flowing rivers for company and drink in the gorgeous Belgian architecture.

Local inhabitants love their bicycles, and you can see folk of all ages cycling along their merry way.

All right, here’s a clue.

The name begins and ends with R. Of course, it was cheap. But that was the only positive thing it had going for it. Although we were lured into going Priority, it didn’t stop the security guys rifling relentlessly through our cabin luggage. Saying a tearful goodbye to your shaving foam at 4.30am in the morning at Manchester Airport isn’t the most pleasant of starts to a holiday.

Although I did get to keep the aftershave lotion, but it was a close shave.

We didn’t really strike it lucky with the hotel, either. Two lights weren’t working in the bedroom. A wheel was missing from the bottom of the bed. The kettle in the room wasn’t working.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse it did. The toilet was blocked.

The next morning, armed with an extensive list of repairs, we headed downstairs.”

Read the full column here.

Find out more about Jimmy’s play, which will be performed at The Met in Bury (23 February), Chorley Theatre (19 May), the Bridlington Spa (18 July) and the Gladstone Theatre on The Wirral.