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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.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

THE SEAGULL

I’m not going to give a deep analysis of Anton Checkov’s The Seagull or the 70’s Jonathan Livingstone Seagull nor Roald Dahl’s James and The Giant Peach or mad Eric Cantona’s statement that ‘When the seagulls follow the trawler it’s because they throw sardines into the sea.’ Pick the bones out of that.

Yes, Seagulls have had a good press. Until now. They killed a little dog. I’ve seen them snatch Pasties from people, ice creams, cod and chips, all during a stroll along the seafront in St Ives.

They grab pigeons drown them then gobble them up. Flip tortoises over and eat them. And yet, these buggers are protected. It’s all crazy. Okay, they are pretty, swooping around in the sky. But those gimlet black eyes tell a different story.

The roof in Brighton became a nesting place for these gulls. Always there. I wanted to get rid of them because they scared the grandchildren. I spoke to some roofers in a pub.

‘You get some bread,’ they said. ‘Squash some Alcaselzer in it. That’ll shift them.’

Get the stuff, mix it all up and prepare to throw it among the seething mass of birds but there were two baby gulls waddling around. I couldn’t harm them, could I? So I called up John the Bird man.

He fixed up a sound system that emitted Falcon sounds and various other bird calls that would scare the gulls off. It worked for a while. But then a man from the Council came round.

‘Those noises are keeping people awake in the afternoons.‘ So I had to turn it off.

There have been reports in the paper about the Brighton Council banning smoking on the beach. Maybe that’s the answer.

Get some whizz kid with all the know-how on YouTube to fake gulls flying around with fags in their beaks. That should get the Council out with their popguns blasting the flying smokers out of the sky.

Even their precious seagulls aren’t immune from the self centered rights of the do-gooders.

Then...Ha, ha, job done. Hopefully.      


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A DAY OUT

It’s difficult writing a new show when the only person to judge it’s quality is you. No director, no producer. Of course, under normal circumstances, I’d always thought they could be a bloody nuisance. But at he moment it would be wonderful for someone to tell me what was good and what didn’t work.

So in order to get out, get some air, I joined Sadie for a coach trip to Anglesey Abbey. A two and half hour journey.

Looking round the coach at all these people I tried to imagine what they were like when they were young. The men were well preserved. Their wives, sitting next to them, I could see they were once very attractive. Some almost beautiful. Now just sitting on a coach to some obscure Abbey. Not talking to each other. 

The guide gives a message from the from of the coach, when we finally arrive, in a voice so soft that it sounded like a mouse with a sore throat. No one can hear him.

Bewildered geriatrics struggle to exit. Half an hour later we are on terra firma. The rumour was that he’s said that a guided tour would start at 12.00.

‘Are you going to come?‘ Sadie said.

‘No, I don’t think so. I’ll just have a wander.’

It was very hot. Yes, I did wander but stopped frequently under the shade of a tree. Time passed very pleasantly. I kept thinking about the guided tour, those poor people hobbling along and being told when a tree was planted or where Lord Fairhaven bought a particular statue. I came across a glade of beautiful trees. Looking in the National Trust Guide I saw hat they were Himalayan silver birches. Stunning. Well, his Lordship certainly got about. On the same page it said that he had bought this vast estate at the age of 30 at an auction sight unseen! Sight unseen! Where had 30 year old got all that money and be so cavalier when spending it? I saw one of the officials and asked him.

‘His dad was a bit of a lad.’he said. ‘He married an heiress who within a few years she inherited a giant oil company in America. And Fairhaven got the lot. He bred horses and raced them, loved gardening.‘ now he lowered his voice. ‘There’s a statue here, we’re not allowed to point it out to anyone, that’s worth a couple of million.’

The average age of the visitors here were well above eighty, I couldn’t imagine one of them putting this statue in a supermarket trolly and trundling it back to the coach and having it away. Not allowed to tell anybody!

The day ended and we assembled in the car park. The oldies looked exhausted.

‘The guided tour was over two hours. A lot of them fell by the wayside.‘ Sadie explained.

The coach was stopped on the M 11. There had been an accident. Fire engines roaring towards the scene. The oldies were very animated now. Scuttling up the aisle trying to get a good view of the chaos ahead. After about an hour we were on the move. The waterworks of the passengers were at bursting point. There was a queue waiting to climb down to the onboard toilet, one or two tumbling over as the driver raced back to London.

Four and half hours later we got back. There was the statuary half an hour wait as the grumbling oldsters disembarked. Were they ever young, I thought, watching them. Of course they were. Beautiful, rich and vibrant.


I was glad Sadie didn’t have a makeup mirror in her bag because I might have been tempted to look at myself just to check whether I’d ever been young.