MY very good friend Ben has this saying ‘everyday is a school day’.

And in recent weeks that has been bang on with me and my life.

Obviously having three children, I’m constantly learning interesting useful bits of stuff such as how to order a panini in Mallorca, why buying Portal 2 for the computer isn’t a waste of time when you already have it for the X Box (apparently it has add-ons) and what you call a teacher who is always late for school - Mister Bus.

Ok, so that last one was a joke but still a useful little thing to have up your sleeve when the dinner party conversation is flagging.

Last Friday I once again set the school quiz, which the winners of the previous quiz were meant to set but couldn’t for some reason that escapes me. I’m going with couldn’t be bothered.

So for the last few weeks I have once again been trawling through my extensive collection of books, encyclopedias, maps and assorted articles and pamphlets that I keep here at DJ Towers to compile fiendishly hard questions even Professor Stephen Hawking would struggle with.

Questions such as where the oldest outdoor museum in the world is? Who wrote Medea or the person who holds the longest track and field Olympic Record in history? And what kind of vegetable has varieties such as the Bunny Tail, the Cherry Belle and the French Breakfast.

Don’t tell anyone but I secretly quite like setting the school quiz. I tell everyone it’s really hard work, and it is, but I love finding out new stuff. I like everyday being a school day.

And so to the main reason for me talking about learning new things - even when you’re an old dog with a few rusty old tricks up your sleeve.

Well it’s a lovely new programme set up by the Mercury Theatre in Colchester to help nuture new talent.

It’s called the Early Career Training Programme, which for a 44 year-old who is technically on his second career already, might appear to be a little weird.

But it’s not - mainly because since writing about the theatre for the last 15 years, I’ve really decided I would quite like to make some of my own.

I’ve dipped my toe in, putting on a couple of children’s plays locally, and regular readers may recall I’ve had a play on in London back in November.

But three plays does not a palywright make. Well it probably does but I’d rather like to get better at, which is why I’ve gone back to ‘school’.

And what an incredible ‘school’ the Mercury’s Early Career Training Programme is.

Not only have I met some of the county’s most exciting new actors, writers, directors and movement directors, I’ve learnt an insane amount of cool new skills, which have already helped me in my own writing.

The current intake, of which I’m lucky to be included, is a pilot programme and I’m told the next one looks set to take place later on in the year with more workshops, one-to-ones with industry insiders and helpful hints to create better theatre-makers.

Anyone interested should check out As I tell my kids everyday - it really is great being back at ‘school’.


“Well done on the new job Chris, you’re going to be amazing at it.” - Karen