In The Words Of The Old Song............


Well they can say that again! Very beautiful is the snow I know, but one can have too much of a good thing. Just as we thought Spring was on its way with a sign of life from the daffodils, wham! Back comes the winter with a vengeance. But are we disheartened NEVER! Things are bursting out in the greenhouse, it is the same every year. I have left all till later for sowing but it has all caught up with me and boxes of flower seedlings all need thinning out and some are big enough to be planted out but one dare not, even things like sweet peas and nasturtiums which ought to be planted outside might shrivel up in these cold nights. But I do need to be able to move, and big as the greenhouse is, it is never big enough at the start of a season. But I did have to make room by getting the veges into the ground because they were getting straggley. If thay fail we can always plant the seeds again outside. In the polytunnel the potatoes are flourishing rather earlier than usual and I am delighted with the sight of rows and rows of strawberries which I decided to move from outside as they were such a problem with all the netting needed to keep the birds off. Now I hope picking them will be less of an art form (oh the very thought of summer). Yes please compare these two pictures. Same spot in my garden at rather different times. So can you wonder I am yearning for the spring?

But all that apart (while we wait) I must say that one of the most enjoyable things I have done recently is to attend the party of a very old friend down in Eastbourne. This was Roy Patrick and his friend Bill Allison who live in a beautiful house, full of wondrous memorabilia from Roy’s days as an actor and Producer and Bill’s as a Sea Captain and latterly an actor. A veritable Aladdin’s cave of a house and one I could have spent hours in just looking through the pictures and mementos that were displayed with tasteful elegance everywhere. Roy and I worked together for the first and only time way back in 1949 when I was only just beginning to think of going into the theatre as a career. I am quite alarmed as I realise that this is 61 years ago. But mustn’t dwell upon that. We are both still here and enjoying life. Here is a picture of Roy then and now.
 Well, back to normality again tomorrow and no parties in sight for the foreseeable future. Next on the date list is another session of my writing class. The topic we were given is one that caused me a bit of worry because it was titled
"In a Rut" I am very lucky because I can hardly ever remember that this happened to me - ever. So I really did have to wrack my brains and try to recall a very 'down' time. It was so long ago. I was almost tempted to write it as if it had happened to someone else, but gradually I can remember a time many years ago. Well here is the tale, not very long, for what it's worth.


So OK it’s a pretty miserable title. But being in a rut is a pretty miserable thing. Isn’t it? Haven’t you ever been in a rut? I think I have. But not too often. In fact I can only think of one time in my life when I could have applied that term to myself. And I consider myself lucky to be able to say that. So when was it? I can remember that I had given up all efforts at the time. Efforts to get out of it I mean.

I think I must have been depressed. Something I am not ever prepared to give into these days. But this was way back in the late fifties. Personal problems were at the bottom of it all. And to my shame I must have given in to them.

Then the phone rang.

A man I will always remember was end of the line. “Get here to my office at about 4 today. Wonderful job and you’d be perfect for it” “But John” I said (his name was John Parsons) I am not up to an interview, I look awful, haven’t slept properly for days and have totally lost confidence in myself”

“Listen” came the stern reply. “I don’t give a fig for all that. There’s no one else I know who could do this, so get you face on, do your hair and come here looking as if you mean it!!!” Down went the phone. What time was it? 1.30, time for a sandwich, I could ask Mother to pick Robin up from school, but look at me. 26 years and I look 50. Bloody men, yessir, bloody men!!! One man in particular was on my mind of course. Was this me talking? Me – who’d had a wonderful time and only been away from Newcastle a couple of weeks? What on earth was I doing giving up like this? Get out of this rut woman. Oh God, look at the time. What could I do about myself? Look at my hair, look at my face, and what the hell could I wear? I think it was late spring and I do recall a lovely grey/blue silk suit I had bought for a rather elegant role I had played in Newcastle. Yes the colour was a good one for me. But look at my hair. Long and blonde, it hadn’t been done for ages. So I feverishly brushed and brushed, and on went the slap. Wow, I was looking better already. What time was it? 3 o’clock Mother was OK to collect Robin, I’d grabbed the sandwich. I took a deep breath and headed for the tube to Leicester Square. Can you believe it but the fare was fourpence hapenny!!

I made for the nearest bank of phone booths, put in my 2 old pennies and called John Parsons. He was head of the Pathe film studios in Wardour Street and we had met only once when I was enquiring about possible work in any of the many documentaries Pathe turned out at the time.

“Well I am here and who shall I ask for please?” “Knew you’d make it” said John. “Just ask for me and I’ll give you all the gen once you get to my office.” So I climbed the stairs and walked up Charing cross road. Turned left at Shaftesbury Avenue, crossed the road and walked right down the length of Wardour Street to number 142. Got the lift to the top floor and was taken into the office. My spirits rose when John told me I was looking great. A cup of coffee was brought and I found out that the publicity group for Good Housekeeping magazine and Woman’s Realm from Odhams Press were on their way to meet me, because they wanted a good face and personality for the following year’s TV commercials to be transmitted each Monday night for the foreseeable future. They were bringing the scripts, knew what I had done, seen photos (Oh God!) and were prepared to offer me the job. I don’t remember too much, but I know I left the office walking on air.

This turned out to be the job that turned my fortunes round. I never looked back after that. And I never forgot John Parsons who’d had such faith in me. The fees were excellent, I had to learn the lines and the shots pretty quickly because it was always so very last minute but I will forever cherish my days working at Presbury’s Studios on Dean street.  In between times I did publicity jobs all over England and Scotland for Woman magazine, Ideal Home, Woman’s Realm and Good Housekeeping. Those magazines have totally changed their persona now, but then they were really what we might call classy now. On one occasion I even spoke to the Vatican because there was an article about the Pope. The Good Housekeeping Event at Olympia was another great time for me because I met up with so many real celebrities of the day. Barbara Goalan, Jean Simmons, Bandleader Ted Heath. Oh I am so lucky to have been offered that job and to have been made to get out of the rut.

So on that rather happier note I'll sign off for this time and promise I'll be back a little later in the year.  'BYE.


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