River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Notes from a Newcomer

March 2004

Marion introcues us to two of her friends.

I have recently been lucky enough to meet two talented but very different newcomers who have one thing in common - a gift for sharing their enthusiasm with others.Jazz fans in the Eastern counties are familiar with Paul Barnes' jovial greeting of 'Pip pip!' as he presents three hours of their favourite music on Gold for Grownups on BBC Radio Norfolk. When I met him for coffee at the home he shares in Norwich with his wife Helen McDermott (the newsreader on Anglia TV), I discovered that he had a fund of stories to tell of his days as a broadcaster on national radio.

Before he moved to this part of the world in 1977, Paul presented the Saturday morning edition of Today on Radio 4. He nursed Brian Redhead through his very first programme but comments wryly: "He was a terrible know-it-all." He had rather more admiration for another colleague, Robert Robinson, from whom he learned a great deal, especially the difficult art of writing cues that smoothly link one news story to the next.

Pump readers may remember Paul when he worked as a reporter on About Anglia and travelled around the region interviewing people for Portrait of a Village. He launched Gold for Grownups ten years ago as a reaction to the unrelieved diet of pop music on local radio stations. The programme gives him a chance to play all his own favourites - Duke Ellington, Oscar Petersen, Ella and Frank - and he reckons he enjoys it even more than his listeners do.

My other newcomer also enjoys life to the full, even though she is in her eighties. Peggy Spencer, known to millions from Come Dancing, retired to King's Lynn six years ago to be near her daughter. But far from leading a quiet life, she is as busy as ever, especially since she took on the Gaywood Formation Dance team. None of the members is under 65 years of age yet they are all as trim and nimble as people 30 years their junior - and thrilled to have such a distinguished teacher putting them through their paces.

Peggy is a firm believer in the benefits of dancing, not only as a way for oldies to keep fit, but also for youngsters. She is backing a scheme for children to be taught ballroom dancing as part of the school curriculum. (As she rightly says, the exercise would help combat the childhood obesity we hear so much about these days but my mind boggles at the prospect of the skateboard generation taking to the floor for a foxtrot!)

Come Dancing is due to make a return to our screens with Bruce Forsyth as one of the presenters. Peggy coached him when she was dance adviser to the BBC and praises his dedication: "He was one of the few who actually practised the steps in between lessons," she recalls. And - quite a coincidence - another of her pupils was Paul Barnes. He told me that Peggy taught him and Anthea Turner to do the Lambada which, as we know, is definitely a Dance for Grownups. in view of those raging teenage hormones, schools would be advised to stick to the foxtrot.

Marion Clarke

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