Have you heard the one about...?

WELL known local man Brian Johnston has years of experience as a raconteur. And now he has gathered some of the best humorous stories, poems and limericks together in a book which is being sold in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The book has been launched to coincide with Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Daffodil Appeal this month.

Brian has always had a love for the world of entertainment and fondly recalls going with his parents to variety concerts and guest teas in local halls.

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“I have vivid recollections of being fascinated by the performers who, to me, were starsʼ” he said, “and I can clearly remember thinking that someday it would be great to be like them.”

And Brian did just that. He is now in great demand as a compere throughout Ireland and the UK and, after thirty years on the entertainment circuit, has decided to put pen to paper to preserve some of his best loved jokes and tales, all in aid of a very worthy cause that is close to his heart.

“I have always had the desire to entertain, and in my experience there is nothing that raises the hairs on the back of the neck more than to hear spontaneous laughter after telling a humorous story,” explained Brian.

“For more than thirty years I have had the opportunity, and indeed the great privilege, to compere concerts all over this island and occasionally on the mainland. These events have been arranged by churches, concert bands of all types, male voice and ladies choirs, charitable and numerous other organisations. They have taken place in locations ranging from the humblest country hall to the Ulster Hall and Belfast’s Waterfront Hall, but on every occasion, the aim of the organisers has been the same, to raise money for some good cause.”

At the end of the concerts Brian was often asked to retell some of his stories and it was this that spurred him on to compile his book. He was also keen to take the opportunity to raise funds for charity.

“Several people have suggested that I should compile a book of the stories that I have told over the years,” he continued. “This was an opportunity to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, which is an organisation very close to my heart, and one that I have done my best to support for many years, ever since my late mother spent the last weeks of her life in Beaconsfield some 15 years ago.”

Brian’s book includes stories that he has heard or read somewhere else, which he has amended to suit his own style. He has also included some limericks and poems which has written himself.

“Since my schooldays I have enjoyed writing humorous verse, and have included a few of my compositions,” he explained. “These include one about the charlady Daisie Hardcastle, when she was ‘ʻStood up at the Altar’ʼ and ‘Reflections on a Marathon’,ʼ which I wrote following my experience of having run in the Belfast event. The poem was included in the official programme the following year.”

Brian’s book also includes a foreward by award-winning journalist Alf McCreary and illustrations by Gary McGall.

The book costs £5 and is available in Marie Curie shops throughout Northern Ireland, as well as at Sam Robinson Printing and Business Systems, Bachelorʼs Walk, Lisburn and Carlisles Fresh Foods, Belfast Road, Ballynahinch. Books can also be purchased directly from Brian by contacting 9263 8546 or 07773 765781.