Monday, April 30, 2007
Lots of photographic work was coming in but Paula thought I would have more chance of being ’spotted’ on a film set so I became a ‘special’, which is a step up from an extra and required auditions until you were known. I had worked with lots of ‘resting’ actors on photo shoots and they were in a cleft stick - not able to get an acting job until they joined Equity and unable to join Equity until they had a job.
Here was I, now made to join, and given the precious Equity card. Ironic, because I had always been against the idea of unions especially in the nursing profession. The thought of a nurse going on strike was abhorrent to me. Things have changed a great deal in the last fifty years- not always for the better.
The first film job was as a glamorous sixth former in one of the St Trinian’s films. We spent ages in make-up having false eyelashes applied and dressed in skimpy gym-slips and black silk stockings. My hair was short and curly so I was dubbed ‘Bubbles’. We were given boxes containing our lunch and I was the last to leave. The grounds were very pretty – I think it was Shepperton – I could see a group of people sitting outside a summer house so I thought I would have a quiet lunch on my own.
I settled under a tree and opened the box which was full of goodies. No sooner was my mouth full of salmon and cucumber than the whole group seemed to be shouting and gesticulating and one of them came running towards me. It seemed all was ready for the shot and they were waiting for Bubbles to pour the tea. By the time I had teetered there on my high heels the whole set was rocking with laughter which helped to calm my nerves. Maybe they should have named me Dopey!
The scene was outside the summer house where a group of teachers were being served tea by the sixth formers. Having been trained over the last few months to freeze for the camera I found it difficult at first to actually move whilst being filmed. There would be a little bit of action and then long, long periods of hanging around. At one time I felt Joyce Grenfell staring at me and started twisting my wedding ring round.
‘That’s telepathy!’ she proclaimed with her lovely brilliant smile.
‘I was just thinking - Bubbles can’t possibly be married – she’s far too young!’
I heard one of the girls say
‘She ought to be in films with that bone structure!’ and another said
‘Oh she’s not interested.’
I realised I should be careful what I said - Paula would not be pleased to hear I was not interested in a film career!!
During another quiet spell Joyce was advancing towards us using her hockey mistress walk which kept her in character.
‘Oh God not that walk again!’ said one of the male actors. Who said women were the catty ones?
I was starting my ’fifteen minutes of fame’. I was interviewed as me, by various magazines –and asked to judge competitions. One of them was’ bonniest baby competition’ – not to be recommended – you make one friend and thirty enemies. Even my mother was interviewed by the local rag and managed to find a photograph for them to use which made me look 50. Thanks Mum!
I was working hard and my bank balance was growing which I really enjoyed. William had arranged for us to go on holiday, sailing in a small wooden boat from Maldon in Essex. Two weeks of being able to slob around without make-up or stilettos. Lovely!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
I apologise for the incoherence of this post and the quality of the photos but try as I might I was unable to publish them in the usual way. I have had to do each one separately, first as a draft and then publishing with no control whatsoever. Why does Blogger suddenly stop doing what it has successfully done for ages. Today I am 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.'
It’s ridiculous really at our age but we are both hopelessly romantic and celebrate certain dates in our calendar. During our Reunion after 30 years separation, this date was the first time we had been alone together so it was pretty special. To celebrate we took advantage of one of the DT’s special offer to stay at a country house hotel – Bindon Country House Hotel. It is in Langford Budville near Wellington.
En route we saw the Wellington Monument on the skyline and decided to deviate to get closer. Easier said than done and after circling the hill for some time, we settled for at least a closer look than we have previously had. The Monument was built following his victory over the French at Talavera.
Originally Arthur Wellesley, he took the title of Duke of Wellington after he found that his ancestors originally came from Somerset and Wellington was similar to his own name. The monument was meant to be surrounded by 24 cannons but they were mistakenly delivered to Exeter Quay and there they stayed.
Bindon House Hotel reminds me of the Sacre Coeur in Paris with its wedding cake façade. It is an imposing 17th century mansion set in an idyllic landscape – glorious gardens and woodland. The house motto is ‘Je trouve bien!’ and the house is full of beautiful paintings and tapestries. There are lots of portraits of Emma Lady Hamilton and over an aperitif MTL tried to persuade me that she was a bawdy trollop and nothing like the vulnerable beauty portrayed be darling Viv!
We wandered round the gardens and woodlands working up an appetite for the splendid meal we were about to have. Added bonuses were the intercourse bits- the plump olives and hors d’oeuvres with drinks- the bonne bouche before the first course, the tasters during the meal and the petit fours with coffee and digestifs. A novelty was a foam concoction instead of the usual sorbet.
In brief the meal was goat’s cheese with fig roll, beef and warm chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream - sheer poetry. Drinks were G&T for monsieur – kir for madame, a bottle of Merlot to share and brandy for him, Grand Marnier for yours truly. You would think after that, breakfast next day would be a modest affair but thick creamy yoghourt with delectable sliced fruits and croissants and pain au chocolat were too tempting to ignore.
Opposite the grounds of the hotel is Langford Heathfield – 228 acres of the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Reserve with diverse habitat flora and fauna. There is:-
Purple moor-grass, sweet vernal grass,
Flea sedge and Meadow thistle.
Sneezewort and Saw-wort.
Common spotted and Heath- spotted Orchids
And the rare Pale Heath Violet found nowhere else in Somerset.
There’s Heather, Cross-leaved heath, Western gorse and Petty whin.
We wandered round this lonely place – not a soul did we see and marvelled at a wonderland fit for Oberon and Titania. The birds were singing their heads off, a wood pecker was rat –a- tatting and as we slowly drove off a startled fawn darted across the road and our delight was complete.
It had been fun to explore another part of the county and on our way home we popped into Watchet – first time for a year or so. There was the statue of the Ancient Mariner commemorating dear Coleridge. In spite of the sun it was still a little chilly so we wandered up the main street, bought some plants and came home. Always a pleasure.
Emma Lady Hamilton – the lover of Lord Nelson.
Darling Viv – Vivien Leigh – film star.
Coleridge – poet.
For some strange, infuriating reason Blogger will not let me publish the rest of the photos from Picasa and I am going round in circles – endlessly signing in to no effect The ones I have published are inferior because I couldn’t tweak them. I will try again after breakfast. GRRR
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Since I planted this clematis Marie Boisselot I have suffered intense frustration at its habit of immediately shooting skywards to the top of the arbour making it invisinble even from the balcony. One of the montanas does the same thing but I can see that from above. This spring I remembered to tweak it round a climbing rose and voila!
I now have nine clematis. That great gardener Christopher Lloyd says:-
"Clematis do not relish isolation. They are sociable, flourishing on a modicum of competition, good mixers enjoying the company of their neighbours. ( Now and again they may happen to smother and kill one of these, but 'with no offence in the world'.)
Now you can't say fairer then that can you?
My favourite rose - New Dawn - we appeared at the same time. Never bloomed in April before
These little daisies come up, unbidden , everywhere! Note the vaseline to prevent the snails crawling up the Hosta pot behind. On the left is the jasmine my son gave me in a pot, which now reaches the balcony and has a strong woody fragrance.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Only one in five people in England know that the 23rd of April is St George’s Day and more than a quarter of them don’t know he has been our Patron Saint since the 14th Century.
William Shakespeare was also born on April 23rd in 1564 and died the same day in 1616
Shakespeare made sure that nobody would forget St. George, and has King Henry V finishing his pre-battle speech with the famous phrase,
‘Cry God for Harry, England and St. George!’
St Andrew for Scotland, St Patrick for Ireland and St David for Wales get a much better press so let’s hear it for George – maybe it’s not politically correct but anyway:
HAPPY ST GEORGE’S DAY!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
This is a five mile walk from the pretty village of Luxborough to Wheddon Cross and crosses the highest part of the route at Lype Hill (423 metres - I realise this is peanuts to seasoned climbers like Randall but this is West Somerset ). There were four of us – son # 1, myself and two teen –age grand-children. My son had just given me a walking pole and he carefully adjusted it to the correct height. I don’t need a stick but on long walks I find it useful to have a third leg. The wrist strap makes it less cumbersome than a stick as I usually keep my camera in my hand.
It was a beautiful day; we left the car in the Village Hall car park. I wasn’t familiar with the west end of the village and as we passed a charming tea-garden with a stream I thought how my mother would have loved it. No time to linger - we had a long uphill slog to Newcombe Farm. We stopped to talk to the animals and then had another long haul up a track with deep tractor ruts. We were chatting and taking photos when we noticed the farmer waving to us from his tractor. We gave him a cheery wave back and then realised that his frantic waving meant get the hell out of it. He wanted to drive the cattle back down the track we were on - ushering them with his tractor and we were stopping him. Somewhat abashed we scuttled up the hill out of his way.
Looking back we got superb views and the visibility was excellent. At the top we had a brisk walk along Colly Hill, Lype Common and Lype Hill. It was Good Friday and I asked the children what significance it had for them. We felt as if we were on top of the world and imagined Jesus walking, carrying his Cross to the sound of the elusive skylarks. It felt ‘Nearer to Thee’ than in any church I must confess. We tried to identify the surrounding hills but Dunkery Beacon with its dark blue colouring, was the only one we were sure about. We saw a couple of burial mounds by the trig point dating back to the early Bronze Age.
Going back down to civilization we had been warned about the slippery surface even in dry weather. The rock surface is slate-like in pretty shades and we did have the odd slip. Past a kennels we continued down to Cutcombe Cross and the adults went to investigate Cutcombe Church. Eventually we all converged on the Rest and be Thankful Inn which was very busy. We had a rest and were thankful for a drink and sandwiches (The men were cooking steak in the evening) and made plans for the last two legs of the Coleridge Way – maybe in the autumn.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
My conscience wasn’t entirely clear as far as being summoned to Paula’s office was concerned. Recently I had called on a large studio – Carlton I think it was – where there were lots of excellent photographers. They were about to do a campaign for Macleans toothpaste and were keen to look at my photographs and my teeth. With my’ talk first – think later’ habit - I told them my teeth weren’t perfectly straight and they all lined up to have a look.
Feeling like a prospect for the Grand National I submitted to the examination and the consensus of opinion was that a slight imperfection would be charming and I did the job and all were pleased. They were having a large party for models, agents and clients and I was invited. Paula said it was important that I should appear, that I should look my best and she also would be there.
Obviously I had to buy a new dress and went to Harrods where they had a new department which was meant to be way out. Unfortunately it was entitled ‘Way Out’ and I mistook it for an exit for ages before I realised it was what I was looking for. The result was a red lace dress which I adored. It had a tiny waist and a billowing skirt and made you feel like a million dollars.
At the party I started off with Paula and some of her best girls and then got caught up in an intoxicating whirl – dancing – meeting new people – drinking the odd glass of wine and having a ball. The truth was for the first time in ages I was having fun and I loved it. Married life was quite serious and earnest and something seemed to be missing. I told myself all would be well when we had children. I knew Mum would say,
“You’ve made your bed – you must lie on it!”
One day I had been working with an artist and he was asking me all about my life and marriage and I was talking the usual tripe and he said.
“You sound as if you’re bored silly!”
That really shook me.
Back at the party I was sorry when it was over and I had to leave to catch the last train. One of the people I had met delivered me to the station but it was all jolly and nice and nothing untoward. But what did Paula think?
When I walked in her office she was on the phone as usual and motioned me to sit down. When she had finished she looked at me thoughtfully and said.
“At the Carlton party I had people coming up to me asking who was the girl in the red dress. Where did you get it by the way?”
“Harrods at Way…” I started…
“And also I’ve been getting feed back from the studios.”
I wondered what was coming and took a deep breath.
“I’ve decided to put you under contract – that’s if you accept it of course and quite frankly you’d be mad not to. I only have one other person under contract – that’s Marta and if you work hard and do exactly as I say there is no reason why you couldn’t be an international star. Talk it over with your husband – here is the contract – try not to lose it – and you can tell me when you phone in tomorrow.”
William and I talked it over. Paula would have completer control over me and my work and I would not work for any other agent without her permission. In return she would guide my career and ensure I had a certain amount of money each month. As our plans were to start a family when I had earned enough money we decided to accept it.
Grand National – famous horse race held annually at Aintree – UK
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The house is deathly quiet. The Sussex family have just left in brilliant sunshine although there is still a nip in the air and I think maybe I should hold off putting such as lobelia outside yet awhile.
Yesterday we repeated Coleridge Way 5 – at least I did – it was the first time for the family. Last time was October so it looked quite different. It’s where you join the Exmoor Park and the variety of scenery is enchanting. If you want to see it you have to go back to October 2006.
At lunch in the Valiant Soldier I noticed a couple with back packs and asked them if they were doing the Coleridge Way. They were - doing the whole route in three days staying at B& B’s. (Bed and breakfast places). What a lovely idea. I’m fairly sure I could manage nine or ten miles at one go.
Today I just feel like mooning round the garden to restore my joi de vivre. As we waved goodbye I caught a delicious waft of vanilla scent coming from the clematis below. I’m going to sit in the garden and remember the reason why Paula wanted to see me and why I felt guilty. And I’ll tell you later.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
We have the last of the Easter family visits until Wednesday so forgive me if I lie low until then. On the other hand if I’m bustin’ to tell you something I will.
I’m drunk with the smell of bluebells and am away to my bed.
Night night – sleep tight – hope the bugs don’t bite!
HELLO AND GOODBYE!
Hello to the bluebells popping up in my garden joining the symphony of blue – gentian, grape hyacinths and forget me nots.
Goodbye to the Bluebell who has been my friend for ten years. When I look out of the kitchen window she isn’t there and I didn’t even get to say farewell. MTL thought it would be kinder, once we knew it would cost a king’s ransom to restore her to proper working order, to take her straight to the knacker’s yard.
So we’ve down-sized to one car. What with our obligatory no flying, we are becoming greener by the minute. No regrets - the joy of driving on the open road has long gone and I now have to get proficient in driving the family car – avoiding jutting walls. That’s what really did Bluebell in when I took the girls to the