ACE Europe – Shame On You!

Business in the UK is in a parlous state, and I used to wonder why.  Then you get a letter like this, and I don’t wonder why any more.

I’m still waiting for a phone call to explain, maybe even apologise – what are my chances do you think?  Do me a favour and spread the word about this as much as possible.   If you feel like ringing them to tell what a bunch of complete idiots they are – be my guest – the number is on the letter.

What faith would you place in a company who can be as slapdash and uncaring as this…..


ACE Europe Failure of Service

I had not one, but two letters like that from them… utterly shameful.

Life Changed

Four weeks ago today life changed. I don’t have the words to describe the horror of it, or the place that it has left me. I wouldn’t want to, this kind of misery is not a thing to share. Suffice it to say that the Dearly Beloved is no longer here with me and I am broken until we are together again, and begin a new life’s journey together, as we have so many times before.

Our Lovely Daughter is a tower of strength and together we are trying to come to terms with something that we still can’t absorb as real. You live in a kind of altered reality where for whole seconds at a time you forget and then it comes crashing back like a recurring nightmare that you know will last for the rest of your life.

I’m not going to say that normal service will resume in due course – we are striving towards a ‘new normal’ which, in time, will come into being. Who knows what that will be – I don’t and at this moment in time I don’t want to, it will just happen.

Whatever it is, the Dearly Beloved will always be a huge part of it, ever present in our thoughts and our hearts – love you, always and forever

When I Rule The World 3


When I rule the world, which will be a benign Dictatorship anyone using stupid words like ‘de-normalisation’ when there are perfectly adequate words available will be severely chastised.  The sanction for being a pompous ass will be as follows. They will be put in the Stocks and the more sensible members of the community will be invited to read to them from the works of writers who use language properly, not just to try and make themselves look clever or more important.  A dual purpose will be served by this as the rest of us will hear some beautiful words put together properly which will help our ears and brains heal from the abuse inflicted by said pompous ass.

P.S.  Anyone using ‘Text Speak’ will be subject to the same sanction – if you can’t put a message into 140 characters, learn to edit or shut up.

The Adventures of The Birthday Hat – 1

The Birthday Hat

It was my birthday very recently, a milestone marked by much celebration as is ever the case in the Smith household – we like birthdays. This one was marked by something extra special – and before you ask it wasn’t a birthday marked with a zero at the end and I wasn’t 21 again – I am 56 and proud of it. The something special was the arrival of ‘The Birthday Hat’, a gift from my Lovely Daughter.

I need to digress a little here and explain the Birthday Hat. At Christmas, said Lovely Daughter received a gift from her friends Rob and Tracy, the most wonderful hat made by Tracy (a talented Costume Designer and maker). I was smitten. It had ears, and not just ears but Puppy Ears. It had an integral scarf that, like the hood, was lined with fur fabric so it’s very warm and cosy. Best of all it had little pocket gloves at the end of the scarf that are like puppy paws, with little fur pads… It was and is a thing of beauty, especially to someone like me who has never quite grown up. Not only did Lovely Daughter have one, but her friend had one with kitten ears… need I say more! A conversation at a later date with the two of them ended with me stoutly declaring that if I had one, I would wear it, and I would wear it in public – and I meant it!

On my birthday a parcel arrived and, joy of joys, it contained my very own Puppy Ears Hat! My delight was unconfined, not only was it a freezing cold day so warmth was needed but I was bemoaning the demise of the famous flaminglacer Pink Thinking Slippers – the fluffy pink slippers which, when worn, meant ‘Don’t disturb me, I am thinking and I will bite your head off if you do’. I needed something to signal to the outside world (mainly the Dearly Beloved) that I am not available for conversation unless it begins with the words ‘Do you want a cup of tea?’  So the upshot of that particular aspect was that the much missed Pink Thinking Slippers have now been replaced by the Puppy Ears Birthday Hat – and huge joy in my heart at being in possession of such a splendid thing.

However, being such a splendid thing, the Birthday Hat cannot possibly remain hidden in my office – so, true to my word, I have been wearing the Birthday Hat out and about. It was proudly worn on my birthday trip to the wonderful Regal to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and to the restaurant afterwards. I am not quite sure what my friends thought in the privacy of their own minds but they know me well enough by now to realise that if there is something ever so slightly daft being done – it will be me that is doing it. They have also developed the ability not to be embarrassed by me any more, or at least to pretend they are not!

I still haven’t told you the best thing about the Birthday Hat – it is an incredible piece of clothing because it makes you happy, however down or miserable you may be feeling. You see, when you slip your hands into those Puppy Paw pockets you just have to clap them together, you can’t help it. Tracy has sewn some kind of magic spell in there that makes you laugh and smile. Just wonderful! I suspect my Birthday Hat and I will be having all sorts of adventures, and if you are very lucky – I might just share them with you…

Regal Redux

When we moved to Evesham almost fifteen years ago one of the joys was being able to walk to the cinema. In those days The Regal was a tired old lady, her former glory just a memory. From being an Art Deco jewel nestled in the heart of the town, she had become tired, her makeup was cracked and peeling, shabby was too kind a word. Despite all that, there were glimpses of former glory, and there was that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that lingers around true beauty, however faded. Sadly, not long after our arrival the owners gave up the struggle and The Regal closed.

The years were not kind to her, vandalism, holes in the roof and more all took their toll. Despite mutterings over various alcoholic beverages we resigned ourselves to the trip to Worcester or Cheltenham to see a movie – which meant we didn’t go so often (cue sad music…). Then came a glimmer of hope on the horizon, faded, flickered out, then another – same result but eventually brave souls with a vision arrived, Ian and Laurence Wiper took on the task of reviving the career of the faded star.

I cannot begin to imagine the amount of work that it has taken over the last three years or so but with the help of some grants and a committed team of volunteers the newly refurbished Regal opened her doors a couple of weeks ago.

We couldn’t make the opening night and I have to admit to some trepidation when we went for the first time – would all those little quirky things that made The Regal so unique still be there? The plans had promised much, Coffee Shop, Bars, comfortable seats, even toilets that worked! My main concern from an aesthetic point of view was the light fittings – silly I know, most people would have been more interested in the quality of the screen and sound. I loved the light fittings in the old Regal – elegant, stylish and beautiful. I almost cried when I saw them restored to perfection throwing a soft and gentle light over a scene that would have gladdened the heart of any movie lover.

From the outside, The Regal is classically simple, the sensitive restoration has given a new focus to a neglected part of town. As you go in you are greeted and pointed in the direction you need to go – what a difference from the cattle queues in the big cinemas. You can sit in a comfortable chair around a table downstairs with a bar in the back of the auditorium. Half way up the stairs is the Circle bar with huge picture windows, you are welcome to take your drink upstairs to the more traditional cinema seats. There are a couple of changes, leg room – Hoorah! You can book a ‘love seat’ so you can snuggle up or even a ‘Royal Box’ if your taste runs to that.

All those little quirks that made the Regal so special have been retained, my beloved lights are only one of them. Where appropriate tradition has given way – a new digital screen that even I can see clearly is one of them. The coffee shop that stays open late is an excellent innovation, you are not chased away after the show has finished, it’s lovely to be able to sit and chat about the film. The newly revived Chums Club for the kids is going from strength to strength.

I could wax lyrical for hours on how impressed I am, far better that you see for yourself. Suffice it to say that three visits in less than three weeks and a couple more planned for next week shows the quality of the programme. That will result in a series of film reviews and you can read more about it in those. You can see more on the Regal Website, the facebook page or the very active facebook group.

Last words – to all the team involved congratulations and thank you – if there was an Oscar for Cinema Restoration, you would win it.

Photos by kind permission and courtesy of the Regal Cinema,  The Evesham Observer, the volunteers and patrons of the Regal.