It's a grim place, Whitchurch Civic Centre - a brutal concrete edifice in the 'modern' style; car boot sale architecture. Horrid. Soul-less and callously placed amidst the half-timbered and Georgian facades of this old town - named Mediolanum by the Romans who marched through en route to further outposts of their Empire.
Inside and in the dark, furnished in municipal style with brown interlocking chairs and sticky vinyl flooring it passes muster - but step behind the scenes and the decor goes downhill fast. Bare concrete stairways and dressing rooms reminiscent of those old tiled pubs in Birmingham which could be hosed down at the end of a beery evening. At every turn one is admonished by a plethora of laminated signs: "Do Not Smoke'. 'Do Not Open Doors - Alarmed' 'No Entry'. Just Don't. Outside in windswept alleys (where litter tumbles like sage brush in the old Westerns) the town's youth forgather to smoke, lob beer cans and jeer at passers by.
It was at this monument to crass town planning, home to passing pantomimes, tribute bands and other minor entertainments, that Shropshire Young Farmers held their annual drama competition. Performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday and the Day of Judgement yesterday. A total of 10 clubs presented one act dramas and a number of others did short sketches in between.
All things considered Chirbury and Marton made a good fist of it and we were proud of them. I was apprehensive and all I had to do was stand backstage with a script in my hand. It was an immense relief when the curtains closed - we'd reached the end with hardly a hiccup. The cast got a good and well deserved round of applause - and Maureen and I could now breathe easily. My only photograph - a fairly pathetic one - shows the cast hovering on stage just before curtain-up. My 'broken leg' can be seen in the background.
We were hugely disappointed not to have been placed and quite suprised to discover who the winners were. We Woz Robbed! It will be interesting to read the mark sheet which the adjudicators give to each club and find out what our weak and strong points were.
Anyway on Wednesday the humble surroundings of Marton Village Hall will be the next venue - modifications to the scenery are taking place at this very moment - and I know they'll receive a very good reception on home ground.