August 2011

Matt-and-sarah-in-HollywoodI am starting this second blog somewhat tentatively as I haven’t yet launched the first one. Well I say I, but in fact it is my wonderful, whizzy, fabulous, computer literate friend Matt who is actually in charge. With his company Starfish Consultants he has transformed my life. It is he who designed and created my website and it is he, amongst others, who has sourced and discovered a lot of the more obscure little jobs that I have done. These videos of long since forgotten thespian interludes, he has captured and for posterity’s sake put on my website.

I had often wondered what the little telly symbol meant when placed next to something on my C.V.. One day I pressed on the symbol and low and behold there I was. Anyway, thanks to Matt I now have all this and more to share with you and more to the point with his encouragement I am now doing this blog.
He is also gently nudging me towards having an online shop – does he intend to sell veg from my allotment I wonder? Watch this space!

So now I am off and running and once again not totally sure of the format but I do know that certain things that happen capture my imagination and I mentally decide to write a little about them so…

As I start this I discover that my first blog is launched and I am getting some great response so I will just keep going….

I have always written bits and bobs. Not a diary, more a whim when the mood takes me.  I have saved most of these scraps of paper and they are often nothing more than a few lines. Something I observed or that caught my interest. I have decided to share some of them, especially those that relate to my Superman days or Hollywood experiences. God knows I don’t want to bore you rigid with tales of my youth or experiences working in the canning factory though I must say the piece I have just uncovered has rather had me reflecting on my teen age years.

My mother, knowing that I was about to embark on a career on the stage, felt it would be most useful for me to get a taste of a cross section of jobs so that I might be able to relate to circumstances and characters I encountered on my way. Indeed it was a real eye opener and certainly broadened my outlook but sadly in my career I have only ever really played the posh birds and not the factory worker, though there is still time.

Back in 1969 it appears that I was most concerned for my fellow workers on the pea line at Stratford upon Avon’s prestigious canning factory. Reading the notes I made back then I now realise that in fact my main concern was purely self preservation as I comment that I had demanded to be taken off the pea line as I feared that I, too, might suffer the same fate as poor Mabel, who after thirty years of sorting the black pea from the green pea was completely cross eyed. I had only been there three days but my concern was that I would soon lose focus and go boss eyed too.  I didn’t want anything to spoil my chances of a career on the stage. As far as the big screen went – heavens above – boss eyed wasn’t an option!!!

When I first moved to LA in 1983 I took a tin of peas with me. It sat on my shelf as a continual reminder of my early ambition and indeed from whence I came. I am sorry to say the tin got rusty. What does that mean, I wonder?

Singing and dancing are not words that trip off the tongue when asked to describe my talents. Dancing, in my case, is a painful, robotic shuffle and I ALWAYS lead and my singing is strictly for the shower and car and close, close compassionate friends.

At this point and only at this stage did I realise what was expected of me. I threw myself into the task at hand and launched myself diagonally across the floor. It came back to me in a flash. All those years of drama school and endless hours of Greek arm line movements. Just like Isadora….I leapt across the floor, arms outstretched and just as I hit the centre of the room something hit me. POW!! An apple maybe. Thrown at great speed and a lot of force.Imagine my panic when, on accepting the role of Natasha in ‘Monster Mash’  I discovered that indeed I was expected to do both. My futile attempts are captured on celluloid and I need say little more. However, in my defence I must point out that on the very first day of rehearsal the choreographer asked me to show the assembled group some of my moves. Err, Hello? Moves?

It hit the back of my leg and brought my gallop to a halt with a resounding ping. I assumed the producer was already throwing rotten fruit at me, well I wasn’t great but this was agony and my union would be hearing from me…it transpired my Achilles tendon had been torn and I was rushed off to the emergency room. When I next appeared it was suggested that I should just do some recording to save my leg. After the initial shock of hearing my voice some say that it sounded as if the Achilles in my throat had also been torn.

So there I was, leg strapped and voice far from perfect but hey it was a musical farce and I loved every minute of it. Suffice to say that offers haven’t been flooding in but performing is something I love to do and give me an audience and I am off and even when its not my gig I manage to grab the odd moment for myself. This was apparent quite recently when I accompanied my good friend Grace Jones to a music festival in Hyde Park , London. To say I harbour envy towards Miss G would be way too strong an emotion, however watching her singing and strutting and jiggling and cajoling her audience does leave me breathless and always in awe.
Last Sunday, dear Grace invited me along and it was a given that she would work the main stage and I would take the wings.

So there I stood on the stage in  London for the Electric concert. Some 40,000 people staring at me from behind a flank of burly security men. I peeped at them from behind a large amplifier and then getting a little braver I exposed my whole body to the on looking crowd and soaked up my moment in the spotlight. I had my minute and darted back behind the amp but my young 6 year old companion hadn’t finished. She waved at the crowd. They ALL waved back, well it looked like they all did, so I tried it. Just a little tentative and coy wiggle of my fingers and bugger me, they ALL wiggled their fingers back. What power. I was just like Freddie Mercury conducting the masses. They were following my every move, responding to every gesture. What a feeling…but shortlived. To be honest maybe no longer than a minute as no sooner had they responded to me, than the fickle masses turned their attentions to the band who were arriving on stage. Seconds before, my captive audience, slightly bemused by myself and my friend, had watched us out of sheer boredom but now they were focused on the imminent arrival of my dear Grace. She was about to start her set and there was something about her magnificent body clad in oh so little, that had drawn all 40,000 pairs of eyes from our antics in the wings to the glorious centre stage goddess aka Mrs Bum-Bum (as my 6 year old friend had appropriately tagged her)  and if you have seen the photos you will understand how a child might be amazed by this wild lady ‘ wearing just her knickers’.

She was  strutting her stuff and I had, not surprisingly, lost my audience. Boy, she knows how to work a crowd and this lot certainly needed working. Dear Mrs G didn’t disappoint. She clambered down from the stage, straddled a poor security guards shoulder and positioned herself in front of the baying mob. Riding the poor guy with her thighs tightly garrotting his throat she rode up and down in front of the salivating mob. Hands outstretched and eyes agog, the crowd called and shouted and reached for her…No one was wiggling their fingers at me.

An adventure with Grace is always a BIG one. Wherever and whatever we do there is laughter and drama and after 25 years of close friendship we really know each other well. I love watching her perform and have been fortunate enough to travel to many exciting and exotic places with her. Our very first public outing back in 1984 was to the Grammy awards and as always there is a tale to tell about that evening. We always seem to find ourselves in the eye of a storm and that evening was no exception. But still she is the most wonderful and exhausting and exhilarating friend to be around. Our adventures are legendary and suffice to say a blog just isn’t big enough to give them credit. Maybe one day they will be serialised as they are certainly too much for a little old blog!

The last Sunday in July it was warm and dry and I was invited to go for a swim in the Highgate women’s pond. Set on the highest part of London this is a public pond and one just for ladies though men have been known to try and peer through the heavy undergrowth…and anyway they have their own pond though somehow I don’t think there are any woman peeping through at them! Now let me explain that I LOVE swimming in the Mediterranean, floating on air beds and buoyed by salty waters. This is a pond with weeds and ducks and everything else that you imagine goes into a pond and its COLD. I also must point out that in the twenty years in California I think I have been in the Pacific three times and as far as English water goes I am strictly an observer. However, the idea of swimming in a large pond with ducks and swans and water lilies and lots and lots of jolly, strapping English ladies almost appealed to me. I certainly was willing to watch and hold the towel.

The ponds are brilliantly well maintained and open around the year. They have life guards and showers and bonhomie. A small donation is all that is asked for and the setting is actually idyllic. Hardy types swim through the ice and snow but luckily I was there on a warm and balmy day. I sat on a grassy bank surrounded by ladies of all sizes and shapes and tried not to watch the floor show as they wriggled and writhed their way into swimsuits. Nude bathing is strictly not allowed as it seems to attract all sorts of wild life in the hedgerow; however it doesn’t seem to stop the ladies from showing their wares whilst sunbathing in a small meadow alongside the ponds. This is NOT LA and I found it comforting to see the variety of shapes and the sheer abandonment of the ladies. There were the pendulous and the pert and the beautiful and the scary and everybody was so frightfully nice! After watching my friend swim it was just a swift stroll to the pub and a large Pimms and a relax in the warm evening sun. Bliss.

Diana-NyadMeanwhile, my friend Diana Nyad is preparing for a different kind of swim. There will be no ducks or swans to avoid, only bloody great sharks and jelly fish and sheer fatigue as she attempts the swim from Cuba to the US and Florida Keys. Diana is an amazing woman and an example to us all. Having hit 60 she determined that she was once again going to attempt this massive challenge. Sadly her preparation last Summer was in vain as she had to abort for all sorts of frustrating reasons but she is back this summer with her long time friend Bonnie at her side. She is determined to fulfil her dream. Go Diana. She is so focused and so fit and an example to us all.

I saw the new century in with her at her home in Los Angeles. She wasn’t even swimming any distances then having long since hung up her goggles but somehow as her 60 approached she determined that it should be marked by something momentous. You can’t get a much bigger challenge so fingers crossed…

Incidentally my 60th falls on 12.12.12 and I think the date is momentous enough for me. A swim is out.  It will be winter and too damn cold (thank goodness) but any suggestions?

To conclude for those that care my plums and apples are a triumph and I have a wonderful crop of tomatoes and potatoes as well. Last night I was able to relish the redcurrant jelly my sister had made from the crop she had picked…oh the good life. Anyone for dinner?