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Well, they say be careful what you wish for!!: But firstly, how was your Christmas?! Hopefully it exceeded all your expectations and wasn’t half as stressful as you feared!! And then.. there it was, gone! ‘Just like that’ as Tommy Cooper would say! And next on the agenda is New Year, a mixed bag of emotions to say the least, and a time for reflections and resolutions, parties and presentations, or, for some, quietness and contemplation. I have to say, I’ve never been a great fan of the big New Year do’s, except when I lived in London, when going through Trafalgar Square after a show and joining in with different groups of jolly people was great fun.. Nowadays I prefer something more locally orientated, friends and family, and with the Fireworks on TV as the top of the bill! However.. you might remember me mentioning a couple of weeks ago, that I was resting, unwillingly!,(i.e unemployed!) from Pantomime...?..that I was vaguely getting used to it..NOT!.. Well, on the Wednesday before Christmas, I had just finished teaching the last Dance class of the year, and had decided to finally go into unwind mode, with Christmas Crafts next on the agenda, getting ready for the big day. Esteemed Mama and I had completed ‘presents and bits’ shopping, had had soup and a sherry en route, and I was back home to unpack all the goodies....and then, the phone went. My friend and producer Chris J., with whom I’d previously worked for the last 5 years, and who I’ve known for 25, was suddenly on the line relaying an awful emergency situation in one of his shows. One lovely actress had to leave the show immediately as her sister had fallen gravely ill and had been rushed into hospital. There being no cover within the cast, he asked if I could get up to the theatre to take over, from the next day...!! Now, this is basically what I’d been wishing for... getting back into Panto, but obviously not at someone else’s health expense... and all would have been absolutely Dandy if it had been a part I’d played before. But no!, it was to play ‘French Fairy Formidable’, in Beauty and the Beast, which I have Directed, played Malevolent in, and watched.. but not ever performed a word of the Fairy! Do you know.. there was, strangely, a dilemma... could I actually do it? I’d wound down, too far possibly, I definitely wasn’t ‘Match-Fit’ show-wise, so to speak, I’d got into the swing of being at home.. and the thing I’d really hoped for suddenly became a demon! I called E.M for her opinion...then the O.H, both of whom said ;Go for it!’. So, I did..!! A whirlwind began..! Bags packed, make-up found, hair washed, Christmas presents back into carriers, with paper and selotape, for wrapping somewhere, sometime..! Car packed, I left home on Thursday morning at 6.45am, got to the theatre at 10am; a wardrobe fitting, followed by music call; script bits made into a ‘Spell Book’ and, with a bright smile hiding the absolute terror, twinkled onto stage in front of 500 people at 1.30pm! It has been a blur since, with, luckily, the shows getting easier, the lines now learned- the ‘Spell Book’ in the wings just in case!- and the songs very comfortable...2 shows every day, with Christmas Day off.. and that was absolutely fantastic; being back home even for only one day, with E.M and O.H plus Canine Crew and Bramble-Kat! I managed to throw the Christmas Dinner together in fair fashion, relaxed, and enjoyed the whole day. All quite extraordinary, and now, as I write it’s Boxing Night; late, after another long drive up and two shows to packed houses. And even though I’m pretty tired, I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to now be part of my 35th Panto; and also now absolutely convinced that this last year has been one of the most thought provoking and shocking for losses in the Entertainment Industry. Since I started writing for this column in January, when the first passing was David Bowie, every month, it seems, has seen other, irreplaceable figures leave us. George Michael was, again, one of a kind; an extraordinary musician, a very kind, charitable man, and an icon to those who grew up with his music, and after the death of Rick Parfitt the day before, Christmas began to show a facet of sadness for many. I’m sure there will be other surprises and shocks as we approach the New Year; it seems inevitable; disasters, deaths... But, as far as I’m concerned, I will be making one resolution only on New Year’s eve, after two shows and a drive down to be with O.H for the Bells and the Fireworks on T.V. Just one resolution; and that will be to make sure that every day is full of positivity, joy and appreciation of those who matter most... Oh!, and don’t forget, be careful what you wish for!!

Ninfield Flower Group: Will hold their AGM on Monday 9th January, in the Memorial Hall for more information call Jennifer Collet on 892878 or email ninfieldflowers@gmail.com.

Church Services: Ninfield Methodist Church - Sunday 1st January 10.30am - New Years Day Café Church

Parish Church: Sunday 1st January -St Mary’s Ninfield 9.30am Parish Eucharist.- St Oswald’s Hooe 11.15am Family Service.

Defibrillators: Can be found for 24/7/365 emergency use in Ninfield and Hooe on the front walls of the Public Houses - Kings Arms and Red Lion - respectively.

Happy New Year!: To everyone who reads this weekly natter from Ninfield and Hooe...or Kettering, where I am until the first week of Jan.! I hope that 2017 brings you the best of everything, and that it’s, basically, a darn sight better than 2016! Enjoy! Let me know any entries for the coming weeks... 07970650321, email samanthaguard@btinternet.com, Tweet @guard_jane - Cheers!

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