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It was that time of year again, when Suttonford played host to

Cringe Park Opera in the grounds of Incapability Black’s lakeside


City types on corporate freebies were booking their hampers and

hamper-toting minions; women who confused Oprah Winfrey with

Jessye Norman and who preferred Sergei from comparethemeerkat.

com to Gio Compario, had had their heels exfoliated at Aquanibble, by

mini-pyranhas, in readiness for stepping out over the lumpy sward in

the latest Coltsfoot ankle-breakers.

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Suttonford resembled Bethlehem on the night before Jesus’ birth:

there was no room at the inn and locals had shifted their grannies

into respite care, in order to free up a spare bedroom, for they were

onto a nice little earner in B&B- the householders, I mean.  No wonder

there was local lobbying of their MP regarding opposition to bedroom


Geoffrey Poskett, choirmaster and Head of Music at St Birinus Middle

School (there was only a single full-time member of staff and he was

the selfsame) was acting as repetiteur in some of the early rehearsals,

until the vocal coach arrived to take the chorus through their language


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He was dismayed to discover that his white tie and waistcoat had yellowed

over the winter and he was aware that his cummerbund would not fasten

and that he did not give the impression that he was in any way related to

that attractive young actor, Cumberbatch, who, no doubt would have no

difficulty in buttoning up his evening garments.

No, he had had the indignity of being given a severe look by Matron,

before she agreed to insert an elastic panel into the aforementioned

weight redistributor.  Oh, the shame!

Castor and Pollux, the musical twins from Poskett’s school, had been chosen

to represent the juvenile souls of the doomed lovers.  All they had to do was

to remain immobile on stage for twenty minutes, wearing putti wings fabricated

from two old feather boas sourced from Help The Ancient charity shop and

which had been donated by Sonia and Ginevra, the local erstwhile gaiety girls.

Castor had proved allergic to feathers and had experienced dreadful urges to

sneeze during key emotional arias, so Brassica, his mother, had remembered

to bring along his swimming nose plugs for the final rehearsals.

Their musical talents, which were prodigious according to their mother, were

not required in their roles. Their offsprings’ past stage experience sufficed to

gain their parents two coveted tickets to the dress rehearsal, where they sat,

three rows back from the orchestra pit.

Suddenly Brassica spotted Castor’s freelance flugelhorn teacher in the band

and she waved enthusiastically, but he pointedly ignored her, in spite of all the

lessons she had paid for over the years. He couldn’t have been less

acknowledging if she had clapped after the overture and shouted, Bravi!

She thought how unsupportive the school had been in general to this

marvellous opportunity.  Snodbury had very reluctantly given the boys leave to

miss bowling practice after school and had muttered something about Alastair

Cook and Stuart Broad not going in for such poncey activities.  She must

complain about his lack of professionalism.

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