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Jill Jarrett, Henley Down Cottages

The WI Jumble Sale and Cake Stall will be held tomorrow, Saturday 9th March in the Village Hall from 10 am to 12 noon, contributions of jumble and cakes will be gratefully received and should be taken to the Hall from 8.30am onwards on the morning of the sale.

The Horticultural Society’s AGM last week started off as the usual jolly affair, with Vanessa in the chair and the usual twenty-five or so village folk who always attend with an interest in keeping this traditional Catsfield society active. To everyone’s relief Vanessa agreed to remain as Chairman, Mike as Treasurer, Chris as Flower Show organiser and Caroline temporarily will continue as Secretary – although she did warn that she would be resigning within the next year. David has given up the duties of Membership Secretary, but fortunately Peter Josling agreed to take over the job and David was thanked for all his years of hard work. He will continue as a committee member and his old Granny’s recipes will go on inspiring local cooks when he writes for the Parish Magazine!

The bombshell fell when Vanessa announced that the Fete, Flower Show and Barn Dance at the Playing Field was likely to be cancelled due to the lack of response for volunteers of one or more people to organise the fete and the drop in numbers of people coming to the Barn Dance. After the initial sense of shock that this wonderful annual village event will no longer take place and following various ideas offered from the floor, it was decided that under the circumstances, a compromise would be made. A scaled-down Summer Flower Show will be held in the Village Hall in August, with some kind of dance to follow in the evening.

The Spring Show schedules are available now in the Village Shop, Baker’s the Sausage Shop and Great Park Farm. Do grab one now and start planning your entries for the show in the Village Hall on Saturday 13th April from 2pm – 4pm.

Our Theatre Critic, Mike Cooper writes:

A steady stream of people arrived at the Village Hall last Thursday to see the ‘Prisoner of Zenda’ They were a little confused at the outset to find that they were in fact in the village of Tollingworth in 1956 where for the very first time the village hall had been turned into a cinema and the enterprising ‘Malcolm Storey’ was going to show them the famous 1952 film version starring Stuart Granger, but it seems everything is lost when the projector breaks down before the opening credits have finished. Fortunately the residents of Tollingworth are used to creating their own entertainment and therefore the show must go on.

And go on it did a swashbuckling farcically entertaining tale of mistaken identity, with its echoes of Shakespeare and WS Gilbert, deliciously hammed up in Philip’ Dart’s sparky version.

The direction was slick, the ‘improvised’ costumes good fun, the shadow puppetry hilarious and the music wittily apt. In places, it was face-achingly funny. It will be a long time before I forget a sequence involving Rossini and two broomsticks, for example.

This talented cast played well off each other and whose accomplished voice work supported the doubling so well that the piece become almost a showcase of versatility. Delme Thomas, a very watchable actor, was master of the suggestive leer and cheerful malevolence. Liam Bewley delighted as the awkward, irritating Henry in ‘real’ life and as the dastardly Black Michael alternating as a supportive loyal servant. Gabrielle Douglas was elegant and passionate in three female roles along with various minor parts, all played with distinction. Most impressive of all was Thomas Richardson as the kidnapped King and the lookalike tourist from England, Rassendyll, darting between roles with panache and conviction.

This, sadly, is Chalkfoot’s last tour - but how nice to see a company that has produced so much pleasing work in its 25-year history going out on a high. The final show is quite a swansong. There is a final chance to catch this wonderful production at Robertsbridge Community Hall on Tuesday 19th March.

Ann, our Sports Correspondent writes: The football team lost 5-0 on Saturday on a cold afternoon at Hawkhurst, where I am told that for once we did not play well. The fixture this Saturday is away against Bexhill Athletic starting at 3pm. It is a great pity the transfer window is over or we could have tempted David Beckham to finish his playing days here and donate his fee to the Home for Old Footballers that we are hoping to start in Watermill Lane.

Arable farmers are alert and ready to plant after the past few dry weeks, although some of last winter’s crops may have to be torn up and re-planted. We all need a good spring and summer.