Saturday 22nd August 2020

Monday 24th August 2020: In our writing group today Anne Ditmeyer gave us the morning inspiration for the writing work we were about to do.  I felt it was fitting as I was just about to write about my gig. Howard Thurman said: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." For me it's always been singing.  That's what I felt on stage on Saturday, how it felt to be alive.  All the other things I do don't compare - I enjoy them, some I even love doing, take a pride in but singing makes me feel alive.

The day had arrived, a little windier than one might have hoped but apart from a short shower of rain as we walked along Cliftonville beach this morning it was nothing to worry about. The day had arrived and I was as nervous as usual.  I must have pressed the BBC weather app more than ever just to keep checking the power of the wind and to ensure the rain was still at bay.   As the evening would go on the wind's power would lessen but it's summer - it wouldn't be that cold would it?  I went through the whole set while Simon set the PA up.

I could feel the nerves kicking in so we went for a walk to Margate to take my mind off it.  It was sad to see that Godwin's fish and chips, on 171 Godwin Rd has now closed.  A review from 2015 states: "The Godwin Fish Bar is quite simply the best place for fish and chips in Margate. The fish is always freshly fried to order, rather than sitting under heat lamps and drying out as happens in order places. The chips are delicious and golden - classic chip shop style. I had the plaice and my friends all the the cod and both tasted great. I must also mention the the Godwin Fish Bar befits from being slightly "off the beaten track" - so you don't have to suffer the queues of places like Pete's Fish Factory. It also has a gloriously 1950s style interior." I agreed.  They probably have been here that long.  It looked like a family business with the elderly mother still alive and running it with her son.  The first time I had a pea fritter was here - a Thanet classic.  The last thing I had was a pea fritter.  And now they are closed and another loss to the rich past of Cliftonville.

There was the usual last minute online advertising that I did and questions from friends throughout the day about tickets and whether they could buy on the door but nothing more. Friends arrived around 5pm as we wound our way down to the pier for sound check.

It was certainly windy on the Pier as we greeted our old musician friends, who for obvious reasons we hadn't seen for a while.  Freddie, our trumpet player couldn't make the gig due to coming back from Switzerland and going through France, which currently had restrictions on so Joe Auckland stepped in instead.  Simon used to play with Joe in Funkification many years ago but Joe is known mainly for his part in the Horne Section, a group that appears with Alex Horne on the TV, in programmes such as  9 out of 10 Cats  and the latest is a programme with footballer Peter Crouch called Save Our Summer.  I'd never heard him before and he said it was lucky we didn't call him later than we did because his lips wouldn't have been ready due to the lack of playing during lockdown - embouchure takes a while to build up each day, starting with half an hour and building up each day.  I can only say that his tone and pitch was excellent and it certainly didn't notice at all - I was so impressed with his playing.  Ross Stanley had a new keyboard a Nord Grand that he precariously carried without case onto the pier. He brought with him Simon Pearson in his new super van.  Joe brought Dave Manington with him as they are all still in London - I'm always happy about a car share to save the musicians a bit of money.  

The sound on the stage was loud but we managed to go through the set as much as we needed to.  We finished around 7pm and I went home to change.  We were back by 7.45 and I got into my big yellow dress.  Once we were all on the stage I relaxed and was happy to get started.  Paul did the sound and Arty took pics for me.

We started with just Simon and I and Stardust.  It was so atmospheric on the pier, the lights twinkled along the side and it felt good to be on the stage and performing.  I was relaxed by It's Magic.  Ross' playing on You Go to My Head was stunning as was Joe's on the trumpet dominant charts.  Simon had rearranged I Know that You Know  so that they all had longer solos and did half time for one and back to tempo for the 2nd and 3rd time through.  Because I felt relaxed I was able to pace my words and the comic moments were heard and received well.  It relaxes the audience, it relaxes me and it gives the band a bit of a rest - I just have a lot to remember but that's my own fault.  Shanghai was well received and people sang along to By The Light of the Silvery Moon - how fitting it was.  By Bumblebee I was feeling very jovial and then we ended with what is everyone's favourite - our Calamity Jane medley, which changes tempo in each song and style - not easy but the chaps did it brilliantly considering it was the first time for half the band.
Lian and Gary came over and Lian helped me into my green dress.  I wore the beautiful green, black and yellow Jimmy Choos that I bought with Lian when we were in St Moritz together around 2006.  People were really cold - the wind was biting considering it had been so hot over the last few weeks - it was a real shock, so some people sheltered and some left.  At the start I had to mention about dancing and that people could dance off to the side as long as they kept in their bubbles and yes, portaloos were down the end.  I started the 2nd set with an announcement about the donation bucket for Jan. Close Your Eyes sounded beautiful with Dave's playing and I dedicated it to Jan. I said I thought she would like it and how it had a dreamy quality that reminded me of her. We played it as a quartet and Joe and Simon G stepped out.  So lovely.  We swept through Love Me or Leave Me, people seemed to really appreciate Simon's arrangement of Que Sera Sera, a favourite song with so many people and I said how apt it was for a day like today.  Simon enjoyed his solo over Move over Darling as did the audience and he played around with his George Benson fifths.  Sentimental Journey was a lovely end to the gig, ending on a touching note about Doris. We had time for one more so we did Day by Day and I could have cried at how beautiful it sounded - what a band!  
That was the end.  We spoke to a few people as they went home to get warm.  It had been such a lovely night and possibly the best I had ever heard the band and perhaps the best gig I had ever done as the Doris Day band.  Everything had gone so well and the band 's playing was just exceptional as remarked on by so many people in the audience.  Maybe it was partly because the band hadn't played live for a while - well, I certainly hadn't, or maybe it was lovely to play in front of an appreciative audience, maybe it was just lovely to be singing again especially after the hard time we have all been having recently. I gave everything I could, its hard to put it into words but maybe more than I had ever done before (although I always try to give my all), I don't know there was some added dimension I can't put my finger on but in the words of Doris Day it was Magic!

THANKS TO: When you do a local gig it is nerve racking because you know so many people and we had additional pressure as any additional money raised would go to Beach Creative in Jan's name, who I dedicated the show to.  To mention a few: Val Johnson, Jean and David Ramm, Julia O'Dowd, Theresa and Chris Partington, Dee Sullivan, Jackie and Ray Cordell, Jennifer and Elena Gumbridge, Ellen, Ron and Kevin, Rachel Nash, Pete and Val Hayes, Debbie Cobbold, Heather and David Giles, Marian and Peter Green, Pat, Julie and Mick Harris, Maria Martins, Sean and Karen Kane, Dan, Kelly, Niamh and Harriet Waller, Liane Wilson and Gary McCaskill, Deborah and Richard Salsbury, Dolly, Izzy and Olivia, Mandy Troughton, Wendy Bailey and Beryl, Ron Barker and all the Pier Trust helpers especially to Andrew Cooke (Jan's stepson) and Colin Barker who booked us in the first place (and who looked after us all so well with pizza and beer). Thanks to Paul Mundy who gave him time freely (and free) to help with sound. 

Janet Cooke 1933 - 2020.

I will always remember your wit and good sense of fun, your talent and your beautiful nature.  Gone but always present in my heart.