SESAME OPENED TO A RESOUNDING SUCCESS: Wasn’t the Iden Pantomime Ali Baba a feast? Many thanks to all the actors, and everyone behind the scenes. Bob Hammond wrote and directed the panto, and Debbie Hammond made the costumes, which were superb. Debbie used clever stitchery to introduce us to a wealth of characters, from robbers to rich merchants, office cleaners, to market traders .The ‘Gertrude Shilling’ of the panto, the dame [a.k.a, Ali Baba’s mother] was ably played by John Harrison [his hats were a hoot, and so was he..] As usual the panto’s lovers, Ali Baba [played by Helen Gray, and his love interest, the long-suffering Rosanna,- played by Donna Ferguson] were probably the most sensible folk on the stage, although Helen introduced a comic, confused element to Ali Baba’s character, which worked well, as did her enthusiasm for the part . Both were excellent, and had such good voices, and like all potentially star-crossed lovers, were the core of the plot. [Good grief! I dread to think what kind of get-up Ali Baba’s mother would be wearing to the wedding to upstage the bride! A hat fashioned out of olive oil- jars, I daresay] The scenery was literally a ‘work of art’, all cleverly painted by Teresa Parsons. It was sunshine on a plate, and smacked of terracotta tile and olive groves, and made me want to leave Iden immediately for somewhere hot, [and hopefully, to squeeze in a camel ride]. No camels were seen in Iden village hall however, just a gorilla, played by Dave Tyrrell, who lunged around the stage, snacking on the biggest, most stage-struck sandwich you ever saw, prompting people to shout out “he’s behind you” .There was treasure galore, gold plates, and sumptuous jewellery, trunks of the stuff [I swear I saw a pair of ‘Pat Butcher’s earrings!] Ray Griffin played Ali-Basher, a rogue with a heart of gold [no change there then!] Susannah Miller needs a medal for keeping the musical side of the panto bursting with song, her very presence, willing everyone to sing with gusto. Bob Hammond, played number one thief, Al-Sakr-Ahmar [what a mouthful], and Christopher Strangeways played Kassim Baba, a rich merchant, both with aplomb [and both portrayed as equally devious and money –grabbing] Thief number 37 was played by Teresa Parsons, and number 26, by Stanley Cope, both excellent in their parts as the hapless couple, separated from the other 40 thieves, who should have kept them both on a pair of reins.[They surely weren’t safe to be out alone in the desert without a brain cell between them], but it was the entire chorus , who were the stalwarts, each and every one of them, entering and exiting the stage with more costume changes than ‘Lady GaGa.’ They sang their hearts out, and their feather duster-dance, entranced [Rhymes doesn’t it], and so did everything else about the Panto, it all slotted together, each scene more ridiculous than the last, just as panto should be [Those little round hats with the draught-excluder edging were a masterpiece! ]

THANK YOU: to Ian Rhodes, who did all rehearsal teas, Mike Lovick, who was in charge of stage-lighting, and to Richard Cooper and Terry Munds, who were stage managers. Many thanks also to John Bryant, from ‘On Stage Ltd’, who lent all the lighting, not forgetting Geoff and Elizabeth from Iden Stores, who sold the tickets, and to everyone who donated raffle prizes.

EASTER CHURCH OBSERVANCES for PALM SUNDAY [29TH March]: At 9.30 am, we can meet at the Old Hall in Iden, for the Procession Of Palms, and Dramatised Gospel . The service of holy communion will follow at Iden Parish Church...

COMPLINE: This will be on Monday 30th March, Tuesday 31st March, and Wednesday April 1st, at 7pm each evening in Iden Parish Church.

MAUNDY THURSDAY: [2nd April] There will be a Eucharist and Watch at 7pm, in Playden Church

GOOD FRIDAY: There will be a Walk Of Witness in Rye, and from 2pm-3pm, and ‘The Last Hour’ observance in Playden Church.

EASTER EVE: There will be a ‘Blessing Of The First Light service’ in Iden Parish Church. [Saturday 4th April]

EASTER SUNDAY: There will be a Family Service in Iden Parish Church at 9.30am, , followed by coffee

11am there will be Family Service at Playden, followed by coffee.

NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY A.G.M.: Tonight, at 7.30 pm , in the village hall, there will be the Iden and District Natural History Society A.G.M. Refreshments will be served, and there is a raffle, and a slide show, given by Melvyn Smith.

THE NEXT POP-IN: This will be on Monday 30th March at 11. 30 am, in Iden village hall.[There is no Pop-In on Easter Monday]. Do come along on 30th, because there is much fun and conversation to be had, and everyone is welcome!

THE NEXT BINGO: This will be in Iden village hall on 9th April. Doors open at 2pm. Eyes down at 2.30pm. Anyone from Iden and surrounding villages is most welcome.

HOW DO THEY KNOW IT’S EASTER?: Rabbits seem to know that Easter approaches, and not only that, I’m sure that they know that they themselves have a starring part in it. They do seem to be rehearsing right now, placing themselves in parts of the countryside around Iden, against maybe a clump of daffodils or a verge clustered with primroses, because they know that we humans are sticklers for things that are aesthetically pleasing. They realise that it only takes a twitch of a nose, or a preen of those whiskers, to send us into raptures this time of the year, and they play up to it. The rest of the time they are seen as vermin, particularly by farmers, and this may be their only chance to shine. I’m never sure whether a toy rabbit, copies a real one, or whether it’s the other way round, because their whole stance is so easy to replicate. [Nothing is quite so twitchy, quite such a bundle of nerves as a rabbit, but they do possess a certain defiance [almost passive-aggressive] oh my word yes--- just observe them leaning over a lettuce!].Catching them in the headlights late at night sends them into a tailspin doesn’t it? They look so worried, almost as though they are out looking for a teenage- rabbit who should have been home hours ago! Lets just enjoy their tableau, and most of all let’s all enjoy Easter and have a splendid weekend.

CONTACT ME: If anyone has anything to add to the Village Voice, I will gladly include it. [please ring Gill Griffin telephone 01-797 280311].

Gill Griffin

Belfield, Main Street