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Bring Me Sunshine

Variety, so they say, is the spice of life. Take the weekend just gone. Two events - one on Saturday, one on Sunday - both marking Armed Forces Day, both a pleasure and privilege to be a part of, but as different from each other as it’s possible to be. As it happens both were held a week earlier than the majority of events taking place up and down the country the following weekend. Which, of course, is handy for my diary, having two bites of the cherry. It was the same this year for D-Day, when three separate commemorations all neatly fell on three successive days. Someone up there must be smiling at me. So often the enquiries that come in for me, as a 1940s singer, are all for the same date. Usually a key one – May 8th, June 6th, November 11th, for example. So to have three Armed Forces Day events neatly confirmed in my schedule worked out well.

The first was at one of my very favourite locations - Morecambe. The size and scale of the event, stretching from the railway station opposite the famous Midland Hotel all the way down the front for some distance, meant a road closure and diverted traffic. Not, though, for us as Dave ignored the diversion and drove up to the row of traffic cones blocking our path. A quick word with a friendly steward and we were being escorted, at walking pace, down to The Platform music venue, which is where I was going to be today. A hot day meant we had the windows down, so overheard our escort explain to another security person that “I’ve got a VIP here...” I wasn’t so sure about that, but it did make me giggle. Soon we were parked up and set about unloading all the gear. Having only ever seen it from the outside, I was surprised at how cavernous the venue was. Really, thinking about the acts they have had there, I shouldn’t have been surprised. To one side of the venue was seating and a splendid array of cakes and tea urns, and on the other both the bar, and tables and chairs for the real VIPs of the day – our Armed Forces veterans. Connecting the two sides were rows of seating facing a large stage that can and has accommodated big rock groups and orchestras – but today would be playing host solely to little old me. I was pleased to learn that the public could freely come in to the venue.

Now, as powerful as our Bose Pro32 music system is, there is a reason why professional theatres have in-house systems, ten times more powerful - and installed to ensure maximum surround sound. No singer is remotely going to be able to match that capacity with their own sound system, which would take a large lorry to transport, not a Ford Kuga! So, in truth, I knew I was up against it from the start. However, I had the ample dressing-room to myself and was soon in my ENSA uniform ready to take to the stage and entertain.

I was happy enough with my performances, although looking at the number of empty seats I was disappointed more visitors hadn’t found their way inside. That said, it was a glorious day for being outdoors and there was so much going on anyway on the front that I had to keep telling myself it was no reflection on me as a performer. Besides, afterwards some of those who had stayed the distance were very complimentary, with one couple later leaving me a Google review, saying simply: ‘We watched Jane give a superb performance at the Armed Forces Day in Morecambe. Two great sets.’ The highlight of the afternoon was having the honour of meeting a D-Day veteran, Norman, who at the grand old age of 101, asked me for Lambeth Walk – and not only asked me, but danced to it as well. I felt it was appropriate at that point to come down off the stage and join him on the floor. A wonderful gent… and a true hero, in my book.

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