Monday, April 30, 2007


Story contd.

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!


granny p said...

I will have to find that film!

PI said...

granny p: blink and you'll miss it!

Keith said...

I never saw any of St Trinians films, what was the title of the one you starred in? Or did you star in all of them? How many films were there?

Nosey, aren't I?

PI said...

Keith: I think it was 'The Belles of St Trinians'. I assume you are joking re starring. As I told Granny P if you blink you'll miss me.
Yes you are nosey - I am the same and it means you are interested in people - so it's OK:)


Seen the film - lots of times. Next time I'll look out for you.

Read all of Joyce Grenfells books. Like 'em a lot. Have a feeling she was as nice as she comes across.

R. Sherman said...

Do you want us to address you as "Bubbles" from here on out,dear?


apprentice said...

Oh as a kid I used to love those films. Wasn't Beryl Reid in one?

My MIL is a big fan of Joyce Grenfell. I thought Maureen Lipman did a fantastic job playing her.

PI said...

4d: she certainly didn't let me down!

Randall: I think my bubbles have burst!

Anna: I think Beryl came after Joyce. Yes Maureen Lipman could get to the heart of her.

sablonneuse said...

Oh yes, I must ask my son if he's got the film in his collection. If it's that quick can you remember whether it's near the beginning, middle or end by any chance? It'll be a bit like looking for Hitchcock's appearance in his own films.

PI said...

sablonneuse: sorry I can't remember. It was so quick I couldn't be bothered to watch it again but it's outdoors in the school grounds.

kenju said...

I wonder if Blockbuster has that in their film library? I would love to see it, Pat!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I love reading about your "career" Pat...Your movie career sounds so very interesting, too...I've always found the 'hurry up and wait' aspect of film, quite difficult...
I LOVE that you worked with Joyce Grenfell...Looking forwarc to more, my dear...

Here from Michele's today...I actually had wirgdrawel symptoms when her blog was unreachable..LOL!

fjl said...

You should have starred in Some Like it Hot. I am learning alot of escape techniques from this study x ;-) x

PI said...

Judy: the film's worth seeing in that genre but my appearance is forgettable.

Naomi: I got withdrawal symptoms also re Michele - thought it was just me.

fjl: glad I'm teaching someone something.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

You were in St Trinians? God, Pat you are my heroine! I loved St. Trinians and not all that secretly longed to be one of the glamourous leggy girls.

That is so flippin' cool that you were in that, I can't tell you. And I adored Joyce Grenfell too. Who was the headmistress again? I remember whatshisname from Minder, too - George Thingy - he was great.

These memoirs are a constant surprise and beautifully timed delight, Pat. Brilliant.


Lizzy said...

The memoirs are wonderful - full of unexpected twists and turns! You should certainly think about writing a book you know - you've lived through such an interesting time, and lived a very unusual life. Wonderful!


Guyana-Gyal said...

And film too! What a colourful life you've had, Pat! Good for you.

When I go to the US [if I can get my visa renewed, sigh] I must ask my sister to find that film for me.

Eryl Shields said...

Hello, I keep seeing your witty and apt comments on Kim A's and Dr M's blogs and as I have a minute thought I'd pop over and see yours. So glad I did.

I loved St. Trinians as a child, always admired the naughty but never quite managed to be it.

PI said...

Sam: the headmistress was Alastair Sim in drag I think - he wasn't on the set. The spiv was George Cole who had been fostered by Sim as a child. I think Margaret Rutherford may have been in one of them as head mistress.

lizzy: thank you for those kind words. I am copying (burning?) everything to CD with a view to making a book eventually and have even got my #1 son to agree to do it if I've popped my clogs.

GG: thank goodness the film is worth seeing anyway because truly I'm gone in a flash!

PI said...

Welcome Eryl! Witty? Me? In that exalted company? Half the time I don't know what they're talking about but many thanks anyway:)
I did manage the naughty I'm afraid!

eg(scotland) said...

Popped over from another site.

Wow, I loved St Trinians - I so wanted to go to a school like that. I thought George Cole was amazing. I'm sure I read they are doing a remake.

I look foward to reading back through your other posts.


PI said...

Hi eg! Scots guys and gals are always welcome! A remake would be good.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Still loving this story. I agree with Lizzy, it would make a fascinating book.

PI said...

Thanks Zinnia! Agents and publishers please form an orderly queue!