I DECIDED to forgo the beautiful sunshine to stagger into the dark and watch a matinée of the Beck Youth Theatre's production of Oklahoma.
The home-grown talent we have here in Hillingdon borough blew me away, particularly the principal actors: Liam Stewart-George, Auriol Hatcher, Kitty Murdoch, David Harris Edmond, Alenya Wood, Adam Gilbey and Brendan Bannon. But the whole cast contributed to a highly professional production.
I confess to a real fondness for the BYT, having been in at its conception 21 years ago when I was part of the steering group that set it up.
Sadly, I can't take a crumb of credit for any of the productions since that time (I left my teaching jobs to join the Gazette in 1989, before the first one even hit the stage), but for a while I was a BYT tutor.
By coincidence, I heard recently from Matthew Stirling of Uxbridge, who was Bugsy Malone in the first youth theatre production 21 years ago.
He's recently been working with Russell Crowe in Windsor. As an accomplished stunt-man, Matthew has been using many of his skills - riding, fighting and using a bow and arrow - and in August he will be in the new Harry Potter film.
We are blessed with many very good amateur companies in the borough, which have also produced some top-notch talent.
Argosy, for example, which usually performs at the Compass Theatre, Ickenham, has been going since 1947. It was where Bafta winner Anne-Marie Duff began.
Now, of course, she is known for TV's The Virgin Queen and Shameless, as well as many National Theatre appearances.
My own star, Mr F, tells me his talent is "pottering", so he'll be pleased to hear that recent research from Queensland University shows this is good for metabolic health and keeps levels of sugar and fat in the blood in check.
Pottering even stands up against intensive workouts. So, I'll cancel the gym membership planned for his birthday this month then...ha! [25a0] Do you or your other half have an unusual, amusing or plain silly talent? Do you know of any stars who started their careers here? Email me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.