As we come to the end of another year it is customary to look back at the highlights, and low lights, that have made the year special in one way or another. One of the benefits of having to write 1000 words every week for this blog is that as I look back at the weekly reports it does bring back some great memories. This week I’d like to share the events that for me were 2017.
Mal Pope & The Jacks live at the House of Commons
January started with me looking at Christmas around the world. Because of variations in the way we run our yearly calendars in Russia they celebrate it on 6th January and in the Gwaun Valley on the 13th. At the invitation of our local Swansea MP Carolyn Harris I went to the House of Commons to play at the Welsh Labour Party’s ‘Christmas Party and we hosted a very special Santes Dwynwen Day event at the Hyst to raise money and awareness for Welsh Women’s Aid.
Santes Dwynwen Day Show at Coast Italia withthe Cappuccino Girls before it became The Hyst
Interviewing Edward Thomas about Resident Evil 6 for Bay TV
February started with the Welsh premier of a new film designed by my mate Edward Thomas. Resident Evil cost nearly $100 million and had premieres around the world including Los Angeles, Tokyo and the UCI in Parc Tawe. We had a pretty good ‘after party’ and raised lots of money for local charities.
Production designer Edward Thomas & Nathalie Thomas at the Resident Evil Premiere
In February Paul Clement was named Premier league Manager of the month for the amazing job he was doing at the Swans and we battened down the hatches as Swansea was hit by Storm Doris!
Marilyn Croft at the Premiere of Jack to a King with Ed Thomas, Alan Curtis and Kev Johns
This year St David’s Day coincided with the start of Lent. The storms were coming and going and in between I manged to burn my head a little as we finally had some early spring sunshine. This was the month Swansea City lost one of its finest and most fierce supporters. As spokesperson for the Swansea Supporters Trust Marilyn pulled no punches in making sure Tony Petty, the man who bought the Swans for £1, knew that his every move was being scrutinised. She terrified me at times, so I am not surprised Mr Petty finally sold up and left. She is still sorely missed.
This was the month Coast Italia became The Hyst and we opened with a SOLD OUT Show with Texas
Texas Live From The Hyst
In March I went to London to discuss a new musical with old friend and Legendary Theatre Director Michael Bogdanov.
Guy Masterson, Michael Bogdanov and Mal Pope – London March 2017
On the 14th of April my parents celebrated 68 years of marriage. By April they were living in care together but they were still holding hands.
This was the month that the Swansea Harriers went global courtesy of the London Marathon. Matthew Rees stopped his own race to help a runner in distress cross the line. This was the race that turned Josh Griffiths from being a good club runner into a national star as he became the first Brit to cross the line in the men’s race. Commentators had to scour the race entries list to check out his number because no one recognised him.
Matthew Rees and Josh Griffiths join the Hyst Hall of Fame
This was also the month Leon Britton bought each member of the Swans squad a copy of ‘Jack to a King’ to make sure they knew how much the club meant to the city as they entered the final phase of the battle to stay in the premier league.
This was the month we heard the sad news that Michael Bogdanov had passed away whilst holidaying with family in Greece.
By May Clyne was back in Bloom and we were performing Cappuccino Girls 2 for the final few shows at The Hyst.
I was hoping Sunderland and Crystal Palace would keep on losing to help Swansea in their bid to escape relegation. Back in the real world by the end of the month we were mourning the senseless tragic deaths of so many young people at the Manchester Arena. Ariana Grande went form being a teeny bop idol to an inspiration to many of us.
This was the month I walked my youngest daughter down the aisle. It was the month of the snap general election where ‘strong and stable’ became the most often heard paired words in the media. By the end of June James Comey the head of the FBI was saying that Russia had interfered in the US Presidential elections and it looked as if some people in America had also been involved.
Cardiff had hosted the Champion league Final which led to such traffic disruption that I ended up being stuck in a Cardiff Car Park for 4 hours, Finally, Mrs May won an election which people then said she had to all intents and purposes she had lost and she shared a stage with Lord Buckethead, an intergalactic space lord who regular stands in elections against sitting Prime Ministers.
In July Swansea was shortlisted for the award of City of Culture 2017. Four years before we had lost to Hull in a 2-horse race. This time the shortlist contained 5 cities but with the race on we were confident we would put on a good show for the judges before they made their decision in December.
For me, August was a couple of weeks holiday before a mad rush to get everything in place for our Summer Season of the original Cappuccino Girls show at the Ostreme Hall in Mumbles. The sun shone, the prosecco flowed and I seemed to remember most of my lines which is pretty essential to be honest because most of the audience know the show better than me as they been to see it so many times before!
This was the month that I lost a dear friend far too early. I had worked with Alan Thompson at BBC Wales for nearly 25 years. We had presented together and laughed every time we met. After an extremely short illness he was gone. 2 weeks after he presented his final BBC show I was presenting a special tribute show where friends and colleague including Rob Brydon and Sharlene Spitteri from Texas told stories of their friend Alan.
Cassettes ready for the rubbish
In October I found myself having to explain to one of the lads at the Swansea Recycling Centre why I was dumping hundreds of my old cassettes. I wanted to tell him that technology had moved on and that all of my albums were now available as downloads and that no one had a cassette machine anymore but in the end I said nothing as he pointing me in the direction of general waste. By the end of the month the clocks were going back and the nights were getting longer.
This is the month I went to London with representatives of Coastal Housing as the Urban Village in High Street was given a National Award to celebrate its work in city centre regeneration. I took on the role of Chair of the Swansea International Festival, Fireman Sam celebrated his 30th birthday and I remembered that I had only been paid once for singing the theme song and I realised that these days I need to email myself with reminders to make sure I do everything I need to do.
Live From The Hyst Adam Gyorgy plays his own composition 'A Day in New York'. For more on Adam's Masterclass https://malpope.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/from-carnegie-hall-to-the-hyst/
Posted by The Hyst on Saturday, 2 December 2017
The Hyst got really busy including a special show with the Hungarian born Concert pianist Adam Gyrogy who flew in from New York. The organisation involved getting a £78,000 piano from Coach House Pianos in Fforestfach but with a million followers on his Facebook page it was worth all the hard work. We shed a few tears as for a second time in a row Swansea lost out in its bid to become UK City of Culture but within a week or so Swansea was full of Christmas Jumpers as we celebrated the real meaning of Black Friday.
So that was 2017. I wonder what 2018 holds in store for us. Best keep our fingers crossed and I’ll see you next year.