Columnist James Marston talks about amusing malapropisms, his meteoric rise to almost-celebrity status and his recent walk through the ancient medieval core of Bury St Edmunds

James Marston on one of his many adventures (Picture: James Marston)

James Marston on one of his many adventures (Picture: James Marston)

I love a nice malapropism don't you?

I looked it up – its one of those occasions when you use the wrong word in place of a word which sounds similar, with amusing effect.

This week I happened to be talking about a forthcoming talk I am conducting at Mildenhall Museum in west Suffolk about my life – my favourite subject and at least one I know something about – when my sister Claire suggested a few 'good antidotes would be useful as people want to hear funny stories not what you do and don't do in your Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant).'

Claire might have a point but I know she meant anecdotes.

Anyway I thought I might include the episode when I interviewed Mick Hucknall of Simply Red fame without having a clue who he was for the whole half hour, and the occasion when I nearly came to verbal blows with magician Paul Daniels, he was a charming chap as it happens, when I suggested, quite innocently, that he bring Debbie McGee along to a forthcoming performance as I might be too wide to cut in half. For some reason he didn't like the joke.

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Anyway I'm no Kenneth Williams and anecdotes aren't easy to pull out of the hat are they? Especially when people are expecting one and you are on the spot. In fact to make a story sound interesting takes quite a lot of practice and, quite often, a little embellishment. I'm sure Mr Williams would agree.

I'm going to stick to what I know and tell the friends of Mildenhall Museum about my meteoric rise in journalism to columnist and almost celebrity – well I would be if it wasn't for the fact I'm not famous; my fascinating insight into the world around me – which I would have if only I knew who people were; and the episode when my interview with Petula Clarke moved to somewhat sticky ground when I asked her is she was thinking about retiring. That way I shan't need any embellishment to make me interesting at all.

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In other news I have been to Thetford this week to speak to Tim Cowan of the RSPB's Stone Curlew Project. These rather strange birds, and I have seen one once staring at me with its yellow eyes, require quite a bit of looking after to ensure they keep returning to our part of the kingdom, well the Brecks, year after year.

Mr Cowan told me the birds themselves are secretive, a little bit unpredictable, and have yellow legs and knobbly knees, which rather put me in mind of an eccentric great aunt.

In other news I was taking a post-jentacular walk through the ancient medieval core of Bury St Edmunds when I noticed, for the first time, a lot of intriguing carvings on what I know as the market cross building. Perhaps someone could let me know a little bit about its history?

If you would like to contact James to satisfy his curiosity please email him at

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