THE LINDEN SINGERS CHRISTMAS PARTY: Every year the choir put on a Christmas show in the schoolroom of the Congregational Chapel in Griffithstown. This is very familiar territory for the ladies, as that is where they hold their weekly Monday practices.

It is a very informal affair and the audience mainly consists of supporters of the Singers who have followed them at their concerts during the year.

Some of them had accompanied the choir when they went away to perform over the weekend.

The Singers were all dressed very smartly in evening dress with Christmas badges flashing, and some had reindeer antlers on their heads and they certainly made the evening look festive.

Under their conductor, Lyn Weaver, they started off with a couple of numbers that set the tone for the night and then he invited the audience to join in singing Christmas carols from a song sheet that had been prepared.

They were all very well known and most people could have sung them without the aid of the sheets. I pride myself on knowing the words of many, many songs, although what good it has ever done me I have never worked out.

I must admit that I was absolutely stumped by the second verse of O Come All Ye Faithful, it read: God of God, Light of Light, Lo! He abhors not the Virgin's womb. Very God, Begotten, not created.' Not only had I never heard it before, but I did not understand a word of it as I was singing it.

As well as the choir and the community singing there were a number of individual acts.

One chorister recited an appropriate poem composed by Pam Ayres, and a couple of the songsters got together to provide specialities.

Lyn insisted that he took no responsibility for their efforts, as they had taken it upon themselves to prepare, rehearse and present their renderings.

As usual, they took the opportunity to make their annual presentations. One lady who they rely on and really cherish is the caretaker of the church, Mary Preece.

It was said that she is always there at every practice, and even when they are leaving for one of the weekends when they are going away early to sing she is always there to ensure that everything is ready for them and similarly when they return.

The ladies showed their appreciation of her work throughout the year with the presentation of a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Rather an unusual event was the recognition of the regular supply of cough lozenges by Dorcas at rehearsals and concerts.

They also took the opportunity at their annual party to make their presentations to the charities that they had chosen. This year they were the local branches of the St John's Ambulance and Mencap.

An additional award was made to the Caerphilly Male Voice Choir, with whom they recently appeared at the Millennium Hall at Garndiffaith.

All this was followed by the serving by the ladies of the most delightful buffet, with as many cups of tea as you could drink.

We have attended these parties for a number of years now, and this occasion was just as enjoyable as the previous ones. We are now looking forward to going to the Linden Singers' concerts, and then joining them when they go on their annual tour later in the coming year.

CANCER THE POWER OF PREVENTION: Every month I contribute by direct debit to the World Cancer Research Fund, and so I am sent a copy of their quarterly newsletter.

They are always full of interesting information about the treatment of cancers of various sorts, but the most recent edition turned the subject right on its head. Their research has been switched to trying to prevent people getting any sort of cancer in the first place.

After six years of dedicated work a report has been published which lays out the choices for the public.

The accent has always been on treating cancers after they have been diagnosed, but now the experts hope that there is a chance of helping to avoid getting cancer in the first place.

Their findings have confirmed that everyone's everyday choices of lifestyle can help to prevent the onset of the disease.

They have found that the link between obesity and cancer is even stronger than the scientists originally thought, with fast foods and sugary drinks fuelling obesity rates. Breastfeeding protects both mother and child.

There is new evidence on processed meats and there is strong science on alcohol intake. Their final conclusion is that it has been found that physical activity is now recognised as being more important than ever.

The experts estimate that about a third of cancers could be prevented by making healthy diet and activity choices about the same as not smoking.

This is positive news for you, your family and friends interested in reducing their risk of getting the disease.

There are ten new recommenda-tions for everyone. They are: 1 Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight; 2 Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day; 3 Avoid sugary drinks, opt for water or unsweetened tea; 4 Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and pulses such as beans; 5 Limit consumption of red meat and avoid processed meats; 6 If you must drink alcohol, limit it to two units for men and one for women per day;, 7 Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt; 8 Don't use supplements to protect against cancer; 9 Mothers should breast feed for up to six months, and 10 After treatment, cancers survivors should follow the Recommendation for Cancer Prevention, in other words, they should stick to the first nine headings above.

The whole idea of preventing people getting cancer in the first place, rather than having to wait until that horrible moment when the ailment is definitely diagnosed, is a strong word of encouragement to everyone to look carefully at their lifestyle and decide whether they can change it for their own benefit.

"CHASE ME UP FARNDALE AVENUE, S'IL VOUS PLAIT": This was a play that the Torfaen Theatre Club, recently staged on two nights at the Settlement, in Trosnant Street, Pontypool.

It was advertised as a hilarious farce and so it turned out to be. One of the principals, Gill Harris, was kind enough to send me a report of the fun that was taking place on the stage.

From the deliberate false start of this hilarious comedy the audience was carried along on a wave of mirth.

Mrs Reece, played by Gill Harris and her second in command, Thelma (Julie Jackson), greeted the audience waving tiny French tricolors, as this was, in Mrs Reece's words, a gala evening welcoming representatives of our twin town of Pontypool Sur Mer, in the South of France.

This French flavoured evening had Fifi, the French maid, ably played by newcomer Sue Bradley, vainly trying to make her first entrance, but being shooed away by Mrs Reece.

Sound effects appeared in the wrong place, scenery collapsed, the actors playing three parts each persisted in coming on too early or too late. But as all this was part of the original script, it all added to the general hilarity of the event.

There are two things that are difficult to do in any form of dramatics at whatever level, they are to play comedy and to act badly.

It is always a worry when your part requires you to act badly and the audience get to thinking that is the top range of your ability.

Gordon, the stage manager, carried out his bad acting with some aplomb. Marie Rees was pushed into playing Roger Parrott, and Jacques Charot was in a continual daze as to who and where she was supposed to be. She told me that her hardest job was to keep her moustache in place. I think she actually discarded the thing in the end.

As each character appeared or re-appeared in a different guise, the audience had little time to catch their breath.

But then, in a huge finale, and absolutely weak with laughter, the audience was unprepared for the sight of the four ladies of the cast being chased around the stage by Gordon, complete with gendarmes' hat and whistle - All dressed in frilly skirts, the ladies performed an impromptu Can-Can, attempting dance moves that would not have disgraced Strictly Come Dancing, but, unfortunately, a lot the of intricate steps were beyond the ability of these ladies.

Gill told me that as the play was ending a piece of scenery fell down. This was unintentional, but the capacity audience did not know this and thought it capped of a wonderful evening As they left the hall there was a lot of discussion as to how many of the mistakes were deliberate and how many were sheer accidents.

They will never know.

Special thanks must go to Mike Webb for the construction of the sets, B W Harris for the scenic design, Lyn Cole on the lights, sound, John Counsell, and Pauline Davies as their prompter. Keiron Austwick and Lyn House were the stage managers.

It seems so sad that after almost 50 years of performing at the old and the new Settlement, the Theatre Club has finally been forced to fold.

They have provided a lot of pleasure to the people of Pontypool over the years, and it is yet another facility going that the town can ill afford to lose.

Perhaps Gill would like to provide me with a history of the their activities over that long period of time, with mentions of their high spots and memorable productions for a future edition of Grassroots.