Photography by Fiona Freund

Brighton Fringe show Seventy-Eight Thank Yous

In May 2023, James Pretlove is bringing his one man show about his mother’s suicide to Brighton
Fringe. It is a piece full of laughter, love and lightness; depth, passion and deconstructing slices of
Battenberg cake. It tells of the transformation of a grief through gratitude.


James’ Story

Always positive and upbeat, Val Pretlove was 78 years old when she filled a rucksack with bricks,
drove to the Thames in Reading and walked into the water. Anguish followed for James Pretlove but the chinks in its armour began to fill with his thank yous, and once they started, they didn’t stop.

Having trouble publishing the memoir he went on to write, he saw a psychic. She told him kindly to
stop hiding behind his computer screen and to find ways to engage with the public in person.
Terrified, Pretlove did public readings and then undertook an intensive residential storytelling
course which enabled him to develop both the story, and his ability to step in front of a crowd.

He has since performed this all over the UK, from St Stephen Walbrook in the City of London—
birthplace of the Samaritans—via the Oxford Storytelling Festival to Findhorn’s Universal Hall.
The piece has deeply impacted Pretlove: it seems to have a life of its own and through doing this
work he has found that he can look death in the face and often finds himself having those
conversations-less-ordinary in our culture: ones about death in general and suicide in particular.

Val Pretlove training as a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital in the early 1960s

Pretlove loves engaging with people on these taboo subjects and uses his Seventy-Eight Thank Yous shows as one way to do this. Each performance is followed by half an hour or so of space for
discussion and questions.


“Absolutely superb performance—intimate, uplifting, funny and sad. A rollercoaster ride of a single human experience with universal themes.” Dorota, London

“Excellent. I cried and laughed continuously through out the show. James is like a confident boat captain. He will take you with him on a journey of gratitude with his strong presence and then fill up the cup of your heart with tenderness.” Isabella, Findhorn

James Pretlove is a performer, writer and teacher of gender-role-free Scottish country dancing. He first came to prominence in the 1990s co-creating and editing the cult satirical fashion magazine BLOW. The Brighton Fringe performances take place at St Luke’s Church, BN2 9ZB at 3.30pm on Sundays May 7, 14, 21 and 28 and June 4; and at 7.30pm on Tuesday May 9th and Mondays May 15, 22 and 29.

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