Hello Everyone,

I am sad to hear that John Sessions has passed away. I first saw him performing his One Man Show in the small theatre above the Latchmere pub in Battersea. John populated the stage with a huge gallery of famous characters, creating a gloriously anarchic world with relentless wit and limitless energy. He was so good in fact that I was slightly daunted at the prospect of working with him on Spitting Image. I needn’t have been. He turned out to be the most gentle, sensitive and generous man you could ever hope to meet. To see John fly off the handle was something to behold. A Sessions rant was so articulate and structured, it was virtually a mini one man show, hilarious and usually justified. We have lost a uniquely talented man. Rest in Peace John.

We are of course living through truly unprecedented times and as things stand it is very difficult to identify a viable route back to what we used to call normality. I am keeping an open mind about the entire situation and how it has unfolded. I would urge you to do the same. We are often hearing that we may never return to normality, or, to give it another name, freedom, and we are now seeing various aspects of what the ‘new normal’ might look like. I don’t know about you, but to me, it doesn’t look overly attractive. So remember, keep your mind open and never forget that the power is with you.

We put a lot of hard work into ‘The Promised Land’ so it is most satisfying to hear that it has generally been well received.

Back in April I enjoyed linking up with Paul Jackson, Rob Grant and Ed Bye for a Red Dwarf webinar and subsequently contributed to two ‘Lockdown Theatre’ productions. All good fun and an excellent way to break up the routine of life under ‘lockdown’.

It seems that Comic Cons and Conventions will simply not be happening in the pre 2020 form that we all knew and loved. However I am looking at the possibility of doing some ‘on-line chats’ and am happy to record bespoke video messages for special occasions. Arrangements for the latter can be made by contacting Speakers Corner on 0207 607 7070

As for TV projects, I simply do not know at this stage. I hear that the filming of some drama and comedy is going ahead and I also hear that more Red Dwarf product may be in the offing, but we shall just have to wait and see!

SSAFA (The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) has been serving the armed forces community for more than 130 years, making it the oldest national tri service charity. Every year SSAFA staff and a team of volunteers help over 60,000 people whether they be WWII veterans or young men and women who have returned from Afghanistan. I recall my father being involved with SSAFA in the 70′s and early 80′s, so when it came to finding a charity to support, the choice was straightforward. In 2019, thanks to your generosity at conventions, the total raised for the charity was £2657. Once again, many thanks for your generosity.

A word on the welfare of our ex-service personnel as it currently stands. The number of these people who are now homeless runs into the thousands, PTSD and mental illness generally are on the rise and, most shockingly of all, suicides appear to be on the increase. Former Chief of General Staff, Richard Dannatt, has warned that veteran suicides have become an ‘epidemic of our time’. This is almost unbelievable when you consider that the people I am talking about here are those who have been prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country. I am old enough to remember the days when soldiers, sailors, airmen and veterans were prioritised in Britain, a time when they commanded our utmost respect and a time when we were proud to celebrate our Armed Forces. We are now living in very different times, where, in some quarters, pride and respect for our Armed Forces is non-existent, a time when serving and ex-service personnel feel unsafe in their own country and a time when, it is not unreasonable to suggest, these fine people are a very long way from the top of the Government’s priority list. Indeed the appalling treatment of our veterans is nothing short of a national disgrace and that is why the role of SSAFA and other Charities has never been more important than it is today. And, the way things are going, this will be the case for the foreseeable future and beyond.

In 2010 I was on the cusp of completing eight years of filming documentaries exploring the magnificent machinery which has made such a valuable contribution to to our lives over the last two hundred years and more. I was recognised by The University of Loughborough for promoting engineering and technology on TV. Well, in an effort to continue along this path and in line with my role as an ambassador for The Tank Museum, I have decided to become involved with the Association of Heritage Engineering, an organisation which is serious about keeping the skills and knowledge of traditional engineering alive and well as we go forward. As a passionate heritage transport enthusiast, the AoHE ticks all the right boxes, so please visit the website at associationofheritageengineers.co.uk

That’s all for now. Stay safe, keep well and…. stay sane!

Best Wishes
Chris Barrie (November 2020)