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Plenty on Wikipedia and on IMDd.  Those two websites are great for the date and place of birth, as well as listing the TV, films, stage and radio I've worked on.  What they don't do is describe what it was like working on those productions, alongside the wonderful and sometimes not-so-wonderful personalities involved. They also don't divulge the highs and lows of over 50 years of marriage, bringing up three kids as well as emerging grandchildren. If you're interested, Learning My Lines (my autobiography), Echoes (my first novel) are for sale through my website, as is an archive of my blogs from 2009-2013.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

APRIL 12TH

I arrived at The Little Theatre in Brighton at 5.00 on the 12th dragging a bag of books with me. It was exhausting. Twenty autobiographies, twenty copies of Lies, five Echoes, photos of Mr Benn and my lap top. Like pulling half a tree. Bloody heavy. 

It was a relief to dump the bag in the bar. My right arm was longer by an inch or two.

It’d been a few tricky days. On Wednesday I was off to The Moorfield Hospital for injections in both eyes. I  always remember what the doctor had said to me before the treatment ‘There is a 3% chance you might have a stroke or a heart attack.’ I haven’t had one yet but it’s always in my mind when I have to face the needles.

Anyway back to the Sunday. My Apple lap top had to be connected to the DVD projector. Bev the expert on these aspects was on hand. ‘I’m used to Windows. This could be tricky.‘ she said. But she  persevered and finally, after an hour of much huffing and puffing, it all clicked into place.

Sam and I slipped off for a pint wrapped in our thoughts about the outcome of the evening. There were some people drifting down towards the theatre. At least there would be some people there when we begin, I thought.

The set was ready when we got back. The plan was that Sam would nip on stage and put Mr Benn ten minutes before we were due to start. He’s then he come on and switch the machine off and introduce me. I wait in the dressing room for his call. I wait and wait. Then there is a frantic knocking on the  door. “You’re on!”

I have to enter, late, through the auditorium, It’s dark and with my iffy eyes, I struggle down the steps to the stage saying ‘Sorry‘ as I go. Is there a last step? I feel around with my foot, not wanting to fall and seem like a complete prat. I find myself on the stage. How I got there I’m not sure. I begin.

It goes quite well, a few laughs (intentional), I cock up a bit with the machine, going backwards instead of forwards. I seem to say ‘sorry‘ a lot but they didn’t seem to mind. Eventually I get to the end of the first half.

Sam didn’t move, nor did his mum and brother in the front seats.

‘I only asked four questions, Ray.‘ he said mournfully.

‘Yes, that’s right.’ son and mum said.

‘Did you?‘ I was confused. ‘I got on a run. I didn’t notice.’

‘You kept improvising.’

‘Did I? What did I say then?’

‘I don’t remember.’

This chat went on for a while. I won’t go into detail. The 2nd half went okay. Sam managed more than four questions this time!

After, my niece, Jane, her husband, Rob, Kate and her husband plus the other twittering Mr Benn appeared as if by magic. I didn’t know they were coming and I’m glad that they didn’t tell me.

Off to the pub, lots of laughs. They’re good company. Then home.

Next day I had to collect the books from the Little Theatre. As it’s run by volunteers I couldn’t get them ‘til 7.00. I dragged them up the hill. I’d only sold three of them and that doesn’t reduce the weight by hardly anything from their outward journey. On the flat, I pull them about two miles. I have to keep stopping. I pretend that I’ve got a call on my mobile, I don’t want people to think that I’m a wimp. How conceited is that to think anybody is interested in what I’m doing? 

Eventually I turn left. It’s a steep hill down to the flat. It’s the reverse of dragging the bloody bag now it’s the bag dragging me! No more mobile phone business, I’m fighting the blessed thing which is pushing me at a rate of knots. At last I arrive at the front door.

Now I’ve got to get the bag up 57 stairs. Edward do Bono’s theory comes to my rescue. Of course, lateral thinking.

I take some of the books out of the bag and carry them up the stairs until eventually the bag is light enough to get it up.

When the task is completed, I make myself an omelette and collapse into bed.

At least I got through it, a few hiccups but on the whole a bit of an adventure.


Now, The Riverhouse Barn Theatre in Walton on Thames. Whoops.  

Sunday, 5 April 2015

BLOODY FOOL.

I read in the papers a week or so ago that Fulham game against Brentford kicked off at 8.00.

I arrived at the Chancellors in Hammersmith, my favorite pub, in good time to get to the game. Got my pint and went outside.

A Fulham supporter comes out. Recognizes me. “ What a game.’ he says.
‘Yeah.’
‘Four one,’
‘Could be.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘We could win.’
‘We lost four one.’
‘Lost? It hasn’t started yet! Starts at 8,00.’
‘It’s finished! Kicked off at 3.00. You prat.’ and he stomped back into the pub. 

Yes, I did feel like one. How could I have got it so wrong? I felt like crying, we lost and I didn’t see it! I like to be there whatever happens. The door to the garden door opens and another Fulham fan comes out. I don’t want another conversation like the previous one. I start to dig into my pint.
‘Hello.’ he says cheerfully.
‘Hi.’ I say with my glass at my mouth.
‘That was a penalty, wasn’t it?’ he says showing me his ‘smart’ phone.
I watch it. ‘Yes.’ I say.’
‘My name’s Andy Onions.’ he says extending his hand. ‘I do comedy in the evenings. Run a comedy night in my local. For a a few amateurs and semi professionals.’ he stops suddenly and stares at me. ‘Oh, it’s you! You do the voice of Mr Benn. You did a VO of Mr Benn for one our company’s commercials.’ he fiddles with his phone. ‘Remember?’ he says showing me.
I didn’t remember. ‘Oh, yes.’ I say convincingly. He gives me his card.

So here I am, having missed the game but still Mr Benn pops up. How extraordinary.


This a true story.