Paris here we come

Well, summer is over, although it is mid October and 19 degrees Celsius, but summer it ain’t.  Mind you, summer was not exactly summer, was it?  I am speed writing as the Captain gets back from filming in 2o minutes and is dying for a pint on a Friday night, before consuming the cottage pie that I have carefully prepared.  What it is to be a filming actor with a nice wife who cooks supper, eh?  We celebrate a good neighbour’s sixtieth tomorrow night and we celebrated a good mate’s fiftieth last week as a surprise, so it’s all happening.  And yet it ain’t.

No castings for I do not know how long.  I have tried to get seen for something I was very suitable for, and short of buying a gun and pointing it at the director, I know of little more I could have done.  One wonders in the wake of all the dreaded predatory stories emerging regarding that famous ex-nightclub owning, money laundering, sixty-something gent who has now gone in for some sex-addict rehab, who was Hollywood’s leading producer, whether my tendency over the years to turn down the overt sexual propositions has finally come back to bite me in the arse, as the Yanks say?

It happened to me as a young 23 year old when I made it into a production of a now dead actor, and his now dead producer.  The then famous  actor/singer put me in his play and asked me to ride in his Mercedes on the first day of rehearsal.  On the second day, he asked me to ride in his Rolls.  On the third day, he asked if I would be so kind as to accompany him down Sloane Street on his time off, so that we could “Go Through Our Lines”.  When his hand landed on my knee, I casually swept it off stuttering that we had plenty of time on the tour to get to know each other.  I tried saying that sort of thing each time.  It became clear to him that I was not going to be a sex companion for his tour, so two weeks in to the production the director was asked to fire me.  He refused, resigning, and the now actor took over as director.  I was then fired by the producer and offered two weeks pay with the excuse that I was too young for the role.  (In actual fact, the lead actor was thirty years too old for his role).  Equity’s lawyers elicited an out of court settlement for me that was appropriate.  I was told by the producer that my actions would make it hard to find work.  And now, twenty five years later give or take, I find that it might be true.  That if I had done the unspeakable, doors would have been opened, and knowledge gained, and I would have been able to bribe all the producers and agents and casting directors I knew in order to continue working.

It is of course totally different if the predator actually rapes or threatens violence.  That is more rare, but I am sure, as other actresses have said, that the recent revelations are just the tip of the iceberg.  Because when so few roles are written, women, especially young women, are vulnerable in their despair, and certain individuals with power play on exactly that.  Let us all hope that the recent revelations bring about some positive change.  Whether it ever makes writers create more active interesting roles for women is still under examination, and whether it makes producers whose own value systems are questionable wish to cast women is also  unknown.  Let’s hope so.  It would make for a film and theatre and television culture that is so much more interesting than it is currently.

I am about 53 000 w0rds into my novel.  Not sure if any of the words will remain in the final draft, but at least I plough on.  The sitcom is going to be sent to literary agents, but I need to write a pitch for it.  I shot a sweet role in a short film a month ago and really enjoyed every bit of it, so it’s not all bad.  And the Captain is taking me to Paris at the beginning of November.  It is our favourite city and we have not been back since Macron got in.  We used some of our points to buy the flights, and the hotel is on the left bank, so I will be buying some YSL Rive Gauche, just to get into the spirit.

My membership of my new gym has been very good for my back on the swimming front, but I am being driven mad by nosy members who look over my shoulder at my creams that I use for my face, or other nosy members who feel it is their right to tell me how the gym, lockers, and all other facilities  work and what rules I should know.  They do this loudly, in front of other members, with a tone that implies that I have behaved somehow wrongly.  Whatever happened to people minding their own business?  Or perhaps I have inherited the family gene, and become a loony-magnet?  I wouldn’t mind if any of them were remotely influential, but sadly all they seem to be is great big blots on my gym landscape.  Hey Ho.  So the next sit-com is going to be about annoying women in a gym in Chiswick, because truth is stranger than fiction.

 

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Previously in Kate Terence’s Letters from London…..

We are in August, the month that the Captain and I love and hate.  I love it because I give myself the month off from my consultancy job in the city, which allows afternoon siestas, writing, morning sleep-ins, frequent gym visits and very occasionally some wine during the week instead of waiting for the weekend.  The other side of the coin, though, is that every single person within 10 yards decides to do garden and home improvements, so that the sound of drills starts around 8.00 a.m and continues until about 6.30 p.m.  It seems to be a contagious disease, not dissimilar to a baby crying.  Once one of them starts, they all feel they need to join in.

I shouldn’t complain.  I could be in Edinburgh as we speak, taking part in a one woman show that I was asked to do at the Theatre 503 this year.  It was part of a beautifully written and directed trilogy of one woman plays, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.  But I was held back from progressing, due to the fact that the company’s administration had a few glaring flaws.  Questions of where and when the shows were to be performed and more importantly what and when were we being paid, remained unanswered for too long for my nervous system to bear, so I extricated myself.

It had been a difficult beginning to the year, in any case, as the Captain’s mother fell seriously ill, requiring his and some of my attention from February until April, when we lost her to cancer.  At the time it felt like it was dragging on forever, but looking back, her illness was incredibly fast and desperately cruel.

On reflection, I know that if I had been warned that I would lose a close friend to heroin at 28, another close friend to cancer in her 30s, have two ectopic pregnancies and fruitless IVF attempts myself, develop fibroids and have to have an hysterectomy at 45 and watch the painful death of my husband’s mother, I might have turned to the gods and said “Could you reverse my birth please, I am not sure I can take all this pain?”   However, there are many joys in life and I suppose one has to take the rough with the smooth.  But nobody warned me that it would be so difficult to actually manage pain and hurt.  How on earth does every body do it?

One way that I always found useful was to be acting in something, pretending to be someone else.  It is and always has been the best escape in the world.  If the person your playing has pain, it’s her pain not yours.  However, as I have got older, I have found that people want to see the real pain that the character is in, even if watching that pain is funny.  So the truth is, if you are giving a genuine performance, escaping pain is still not possible.  Unless you are playing the frothiest character on earth.  I wonder if I can find her.  Earlier this year I played a lovely role in one of the Wolfpack’s Sketches, which is part of a compact set of funnies that they show on their comedy website.  They’re lovely to work with and here’s a plug: they do self-tapes as well, so you heard it here first.

I got offered another role in an interesting play for this month which I also turned down, as I didn’t feel it was the right sort of project for me, unpaid and very much the complete other side of London.  I have also been offered a tiny little role in a tiny short film which I am delighted to be doing, for a couple of days in September.

So I am not short of offers, just short of the ones that I want.  Which I do not think is an uncommon predicament for an actor or actress to experience.  The advert castings slow down over this month as well, which is obvious, but a shame, as I absolutely love advert castings nowadays.  Having entered into middle age, the kind of ads that I am seen for involve comedic improvisation and I absolutely adore doing that.  I have been pencilled for quite a few by now, so I think I might be on the right track but oh how I would like to get one and roll around in the dosh made from it.

On the writing front, I did a brilliant course at Faber with Rowan Coleman during the last three months of 2016 and thoroughly recommend it.  While I did have to press the pause button during my mother-in-law’s illness, I have managed to write a chapter per week fairly consistently.  I have no doubts that most will end up cut out of it, but a dear mate and I are going to form a tiny writing group of three from Autumn onwards, and we aim to support each other towards completion.  Meanwhile I am going to go back to the sitcom pilot that I wrote and amalgamate some of the characters.  As it is practically all female, cross cultural and cross generational I have a particular production company in mind to see if they might bite.  So wish me luck.  If it hits at the right time and place it could be life changing.  It’s also got to be good.  Hmmmm.

The Captain has been blessed from the day after his mother’s funeral onwards with a flurry of work. You could catch him in the film The Snowman (Jo Nesbo), Count Arthur Strong, Endeavour, Vera, Trauma, Johnny English 3 and something soon with Benedict Cumberbatch.  He claims it’s all luck and nothing to do with talent, as he had a range of castings last year without the same results.  I have argued that I do believe some talent is involved and he has argued that it is ALL LUCK.  “You happen to be what they want at the time, when you have had the opportunity to meet them.”  is his phrase.  So he is not only good-looking and talented but extremely modest as well.  Annoying, right?

Meanwhile we annoy all our neighbours most of whom are retired, who all like to go to our local pub at least three if not four times per week.  We of course steer clear of calorific foods and drinks all week and so we are forever the boring couple who never go out and have spontaneous fun.  The problem is the hangovers.  And the calories.  And what alchohol does to the face.  It a big boring NO.

In May/June we went to Santorini: during England’s hottest spell this summer.  It was cold and grey for the first three days, which annoyed us both, although the hotel was fantastic and the views and food were incredible.  The sun came out in the last four days and made up for itself, we sailed, we swam and we spent so much money.  WARNING: SANTORINI IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE ISLAND I HAVE VISITED  £15 per glass of wine.  WHAT?

Theatre wise, I have been to Anatomy of a Suicide by Alice Birch directed by Katie Mitchell.  I thought it was two hours of brilliance and feel that those two should always work together, because while the subject matter sounds awful, Mitchell’s cool, calculated direction makes the content palatable and possible, and all in all I have not stopped thinking about how good it was.  I also saw Committee at the Donmar, and really enjoyed it, feeling that it was one hour and twenty minutes of the first half of a proper opera.  The music and classy performances held me, I just wanted more really.

Telly watching has entered a truly golden era for us.  I have The Americans (Cold War spies in the US), House of Cards 5, Veep, Modern Family, Nashville, The Good Fight, Better Call Saul, Master of None, Anne With An E, Baskets to name but a few.  Now you know what we do when we aren’t drinking and not answering the phone.  It’s close to a religious experience.

I intend to go to the Matisse at the Royal Academy and to both Tate’s via boat at some point.  Reading has been David Niven’s two books, The Moon’s a Balloon and Bring on the Empty Horses.  I wanted to find out how the entertainment industry had changed.  The answer to that is it has changed radically and also it hasn’t changed at all.  How about that for a cryptic finish?

 

Knights of Sappho (An Homage to Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale)

Knights of Sappho by Kate Terence (2003)

As she took a slug of beer, Digger pondered over how long she had run the family courier business.

“What’s on your mind, Diggs?” Amelia asked, looking up from her opened bag of dry roasted nuts. Her willowy figure and blonde hair were the only genetic indication of her sibling relationship to Digger’s partner Josephine.

“Amelia, you know why Josephine sent us here. Your sister doesn’t think we’re getting on together.” Digger kicked her legs out in front of the fire.

“Well, Diggs, as this is my first visit with my sister in quite a few years, it’s all come as a bit of a shock, you know.” Amelia lowered her voice.

“Why?” Digger paused for emphasis “Don’t they have lesbians in Australia then?” A few of the men at the bar raised their eyebrows. One of them gave Amelia a look, which she returned nervously with a smile. “It’s alright, Amelia, it’s not contagious. I just ask you to be tolerant if you are living under my roof.”

“Look, would it be easier if I helped with your business? I could do with the extra cash anyway, and obviously you could pay me less than the usual rates instead of rent.” Amelia blinked a few times whilst awaiting Digger’s response.

“Are you absolutely certain, Amelia,” Digger leaned her elbow on the table, “ that you would be able to cope with an army of lesbians. I mean, I didn’t rename the firm Dykes on Bikes for a joke you know.” She pointed at Amelia’s glass, “Top up, young lady?”

“Don’t insult me, Digger, of course I can manage.” Amelia flicked her eyes from Digger towards the barman, “I’ll take another rum and coke please.” She turned swiftly back to Digger “I mean, let’s face it, Digg, they’re only women, after all.”

*

“So how long have you ridden bikes for, Fab?” Digger was reading a paper napkin that was currently doubling up as a CV.

“Do we have to do this, Digg?” Fab grinned boyishly at her, her blue eyes sparkling with confrontation. “After all, you were the one that taught me to ride a bike in the first place, so just give me the job, will you?” She stood up and leant her body against one of the walls in the room. She fulfilled the very image of lesbian chic in the 1920’s, sporting a waistcoat and tie, which matched her glossed back Eton crop.

“If I take you on, it’s only fair that I do the same with Toni, and I’m not sure that I trust you both together.” Digg smiled. The door of the office startled them both by swinging open.

“Sorry I’m late Digg. Only got back from holiday this morning.” Toni, glowing brown, a chestnut ponytail pulling her exotic eyes upwards hugged Fab like a brother. She shook Digger’s hand. “So what did you need to see me about?” Toni flung her leather jacket off her strong torso and sat straddling the chair.

“She’s worried about giving us our job back.” Fab purred, placing a cigarette into a black holder, slipping it into her mouth and lighting up.

“Oh, come on, Diggs.   We’ve learnt our lesson.” Toni’s face flashed with a cool passion.           “Ladies, please. The jobs are yours, of course.” Digger grunted, “But we will have to write contracts stating that you work for me and me alone for twelve months.”

Toni and Fab paused. They looked at each other, and then back at Digger.

“Take it or leave it, girls. The choice is yours.” Digger rose, stepping towards the door to open it. She watched her two riders glance once more at each other in an attempt to gauge what the other was thinking. As she opened it, Toni spoke.

“All right, Digg, you win. It’s a deal. Are you with me, Fab?”

Fab nodded, Toni recognizing the familiar expression of her good friend. She did not doubt that Fab would say more once they were in the pub. They both turned towards Digger whose tough exterior belied how moved she was by their easy understanding of each other’s ways.

“Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got some work to do.” Digger beckoned them out of the room, “ I’ve a new receptionist who’s only started today. She’ll be taking the bookings so it’s likely that she’ll be the one that speaks to you regarding what jobs are going. Her name’s Amelia and she reports directly to me, so behave yourselves.”

If Fab knew how much her life was about to change the moment Digger’s office door shut behind her, she would probably have remained in the room, refusing, at all costs, to leave. Toni would have done the same, although as far as she was currently concerned all was well. As soon as they were out of the room, Toni did what she always did when she came to this office. She occupied herself with the notice board. She was too immersed in advertisements for spare rooms and lost cats to notice that her best friend was transfixed by the fleeting presence of Amelia. When Toni turned away from the board to face her friend, there was no indication that anyone else had been in the reception area.

“Well, I think a visit to the pub is in order, Fab, don’t you?” Toni patted her friend on the back as they left the building. “I haven’t even told you about my holiday yet.” Fab did not respond. Finally she spoke.

“Did you see her?” Her eyes stared into space, her voice a pale echo of what it had been a few minutes earlier.

“Who, Fab? Are you all right, mate? You’ve gone very pale. It was that talk with Digg. She can be a right bitch sometimes. Come on, let’s get you a whisky.” Toni led Fab into the pub and went up to the bar for the drinks. On her return with a whisky, a pint and two bags of crisps, Fab turned to her.

“Toni, you’re not going to believe this. I have never in my entire life experienced this. But I have just fallen in love at first sight. When I looked at her, I saw my life, my past and my future life all rolled into one. When I had the chance of seeing her face I could see her and my soul in an instant.”

“Jesus, Fab, you’re not talking about Digg are you? She’s spoken for. Josephine would murder you in a second.”

“You didn’t see her. She came in from that back room and was checking something at reception. She went back in after that. God, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so beautiful.” Fab’s eyes had become liquid.

“Hold that thought, Fab, I’ll be right back. I left my jacket in Digg’s office.” Toni strode towards the office in order to catch the doors before they closed for the day. As she got to the front, she noticed a delicately framed lady beginning to lock up.

“You must be looking for this jacket.” Amelia picked up Toni’s leather and handed it over to her.

“Thanks.” Toni replied. She was unable to say anything else. Her heart was beating too fast. Words seemed trivial. The way her rose bud mouth had spoken “this jacket” had sent her blood rushing into her face. A horror of the situation was beginning to dawn on Toni as she returned to the pub. This could not possibly be the same woman that Fab had talked about. They did not share the same taste. But who else could it be? There was no other receptionist working at Dykes on Bikes.

Toni sat herself back down in front of Fab, distractedly opening a packet of crisps. She gulped at her beer and glanced over at her friend whom she had known and loved for so long. Fab was looking towards the door. Toni wondered whether Fab was contemplating returning to the office to see if she could have another taste of heaven. Toni herself began to wonder whether Amelia was going to walk through the door, so strong was the force of both their emotions. Fab did not turn to Toni, but with her eyes fixed towards the exit she addressed her.

“Was she there when you went back?” Fab now turned her pale face towards Toni, who could not prevent a guilty blush spreading over to her face. Holding eye contact with Fab became too difficult so she cast her eyes down to her beer. She hoped the golden colour would distract her from the image of Amelia, but it only reminded her of the wispy hue in her hair.

“Yes, I saw her. She gave me the jacket.” Toni answered as flatly as she could.

“What did she say to you?” Fab’s spoke through gritted teeth.

“What do you want me to say, Fab? That I don’t want her? You won’t hear that from me, I’m afraid. Besides, you have to understand, she looked after my jacket for me didn’t she? There’s some chemistry there, I know it.” Toni plunged her hand into the salty crisps and shovelled a couple into her mouth.

   “That’s where you’re wrong, mate. Because we’re not talking about chemistry here, we’re talking about love. And I love her. She’s mine.” Fab’s voice had turned utterly cold towards her friend.

“I don’t think you can make that sort of claim. Besides, as I said, she spoke to me, not to you.” Toni felt the aggression rising from within.

“I saw her first, Fab. Now you are either a friend or not.” Fab’s face was inches away from Toni.

An hour later, catalysed and fuelled by several beers and whiskies, Toni and Fab were shouting at each other. The manager, who had known them for a long time was forced to ask them to leave. Outside, the two women were incapable of dispelling their mutual feelings of passion and betrayal. Drunk with both alcohol and adrenalin, they did not notice that Digger was approaching them.

“What in Christ’s name is going on here?” Digger shouted

“A betrayal of friendship, that’s what.” Fab responded, slurring. “This stupid cow has decided that she wants my girl.” Fab swung her arm in Toni’s direction.

“She’s not your girl. I think you’ll find she picks me.” Toni retorted, flushed with intoxication.

“Girls, you’re both drunk. Who are we talking about?” Digger asked.

“Amelia.” They both answered.

“Well, I hate to upset the applecart but she’s not for either of you. She’s my sister-in-law, and she’s straight. So, go home both of you and sleep it off.”

They watched as Digger got into her jaguar to drive herself home. As the car sped off into the distance, Fab turned to Toni.

“I don’t care if she’s straight or not, you bitch, I’m going to get this sorted. I don’t care what it takes.”

“Fine. Here’s an idea, you butch cretin. You want to fight this, we’ll do it. We’ll race to Brighton on our bikes. The first one to reach the pavilion wins.” Toni stood like a character in a western, her body poised for action.

“Good plan. Let’s do it.” Fab spat back at her.

The bikes were parked nearby, and as they sat on them, they held each other’s gaze for half a second. Fab started her engine, as did Toni and then they were off, screeching desperately into the night.

*

Toni wept as she held Fab in her arms. Wrapped in so many bandages it was hard to recognize her. The machine helping her to breathe made a consistent rhythmic sound of air being pushed in and then out of her friend’s lungs. The door opened, and Amelia stood in the doorway. Toni looked at the golden haired girl. She turned back to Fab, wishing her out of her coma.

END

 

Sunday Trains

So latest news, I will be playing Maureen in a rehearsed reading of Elizabeth, Peter and Me at the Union Theatre on Monday 27th February 2017, written by Vincent Rawding, adapted from the book by Mark Baxter.  Maureen is a very interesting character indeed.  That’s all I’m telling.  Meanwhile, below is one of my stories that I wrote years ago, probably about a decade or more.  For your entertainment:

Sunday Trains by Kate Terence

Charlotte got out of her father’s Jaguar while he pressed the button to open the boot.   She took out her suitcase, leant back into the car and kissed him goodbye. As she made her way slowly through the dank tunnel that led to Platform One at Pulborough station, she tried to curb her mind from heading into the Sunday night blues that plagued her since childhood.

She sat down on the available space of the bench next to a couple who were contentedly mulling over the sections of the Sunday papers. A cool Autumnal air brushed against Charlotte’s skin making her shiver. Why was it that, at the age of thirty-seven, she could still feel like a lonely teenager?

She knew part of the problem was that whenever she visited her parents she always allowed herself to regress in age. This luxury was particularly delicious on Saturday mornings when her mother would bring her a steaming cup of tea in bed. However, it definitely produced its drawbacks when returning to London on a Sunday evening. The weekend of behaving like she was the young, single daughter seemed to have the effect of compounding her awareness that in fact the situation was the exact reverse.

She heard the isolated clatter of the rails in the distance as the train loomed into view. She stood back waiting for it to pull to a halt, taking advantage to view all the carriages in order to pick an emptier one. She hated listening to the animated chatter of travellers returning to their busy homes.

She had to admit to herself that returning to her abode did not fill her with glee. With some help on the deposit from her parents, she had bought the two bedroom, end-of-terrace house in Tooting when property was at its cheapest. She knew for a fact that the property had more than doubled during the time that she had owned it, but somehow the financial triumph felt hollow.

Charlotte clambered on to the train, finding herself a free space to spread herself out. She hung up her splendid Burberry coat, put her Mulberry weekend bag that she had bought in the summer sales up on the rack and sat down, pulling her large, satchel bag close to her.

She got her portable CD player out. As the countryside through the windows began to move past her vision, she immersed her senses in the dreamlike sequences of John Barry.   It was going to be about an hour and fifteen minutes before they arrived at London Victoria, so she let herself relax.

She was not looking forward to going to work the next day. She wondered at her own laziness in terms of why she had never really bothered to look for another more suitable job. She had wanted to work in TV production and had ended up working as a business development manager for a small advertising company. She could forgive herself that particular choice, but what Charlotte found intolerable is that she had continued to work for the same organization and irritating group of people for over ten years.

What seemed like seconds passed by before she felt a tapping against her shoulder. She had been dozing, and gasped as she opened her eyes to notice that the train had stopped. The lights were still on, and all the passengers had left the train: all except one man, who was standing above Charlotte, looking at her face to see if he had managed to wake her.

She removed her headphones because he was talking to her. She looked quickly out of the window, assuming that they must have arrived in Victoria.   Unfortunately, there was no signpost in her vision to confirm her guess.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear what you were saying. Were you saying something to me?” Charlotte found herself speaking like a schoolteacher, partly out of an unexpected awkwardness, although partly because she was still half-asleep. She felt as if she was struggling to conduct herself properly. Perhaps she was thrown by the fact that the man had disarmingly kind eyes.

“We’re at Horsham. Sadly, there’s engineering works going on so apparently they’ve laid on a bus service that goes to Three Bridges. I thought I better let you know before I got off myself. You looked like you were fast asleep.” The man answered her, smiling as he then got off the train and began walking towards the yellow WAY OUT sign.

She hurriedly put on her coat, pulled her handbag strap over her shoulder and grabbed her case. This typical inconvenience would have added insult to injury, as journeys go in Charlotte’s book. She would usually have whipped herself up into a fully blown melancholy regarding her bad luck when it came to travelling, if it hadn’t been for the noticeably warm way that man had spoken to her.

As she walked towards the exit, she wondered whether he lived in Horsham himself. She assumed he did, otherwise, surely, he would have accompanied her to the bus. Although he might have left in order to prevent her from feeling uncomfortable.   In any case, as these thoughts dashed swiftly through her semi-wakeful brain, her question was answered as she saw his elegant profile on the bus.

She felt a rush of blood to her cheeks as she stepped on board, which was packed with passengers from the train. Everyone had been forced to sit closer to each other, which was usually her idea of a journey from hell. But to her own surprise, she looked directly at the man who had spoken to her. She raised her eyes to heaven, as if to mock herself.

The man’s face broke into a wide, dimpled smile. He moved his hand with subtlety to indicate that there was a space free next to him. Charlotte’s heartbeat felt loud enough for everyone to hear it, but no one seemed to be paying her any attention. So she moved towards him and sat down.

“I’m just beginning to wake up.” She hoped that this might break the ice.

“Do you mind my asking what you were listening to?” The man asked her casually.

“John Barry, do you know his work?” Charlotte asked, a little embarrassed that she could not boast of more fashionable tastes.

“Now, isn’t that uncanny. We’ve just completed a proposal for a documentary on modern composers, and he is on our list.” The man answered, genuinely interested.

Charlotte did not seem to notice the lurching forward and backwards of the bus, the slowness of the journey or the proximity of the other passengers. She barely noticed one of the mothers screaming at her three kids to sit still.

“What do you do, then, as a job?” she asked, knowing the answer already.

“Me, oh, I’m a TV producer. I run my own TV production company. I should introduce myself, shouldn’t I? I’m Adam Hill.” He put his hand out and shook Charlotte’s. She blushed as she gave her name. One thing was for sure, she decided. She did not mind Sunday travel. She did not mind it at all.

 

 

God and the Wind

Latest news, I am in rehearsal for a show called Femage A Trois with Loquitur Theatre Company.  We perform on the 5th and 6th February at Theatre 503 in London, in addition to three dates in May at the Brighton Fringe, and for three weeks at the Edinburgh Festival.  Within Femage A Trois are three small plays which happen to be monologues, I perform in the first one, as Cathy in Safe to Shoot by Polly Churchill.  Perhaps I will see you there.  In the meantime, here is another story.  I wrote it back in 2000.  Enjoy.

God and The Wind

Smuggington was not an exceptional village.   It boasted a newly renovated non-smoking village hall where fêtes were held, when it rained. It grudgingly allowed three public houses, despite some vain attempts to keep the village dry, and one medieval church. Mr. Cecil Wind frequented the latter almost permanently. He was confident this would endorse the commonly held view, that he was a thoroughly religious member of the local parish.

Mr Wind was terribly pleased with the way he had prepared the old church. As an ardent member of the choir, he wanted to make sure there was every possibility that large donations would be made this time. He was particularly disappointed that despite his pinning a notice on the local news board, no one had shown any interest to help him. He stood up to survey his work, keenly aware that the vicar was watching him.

“No, need to overdo it, Cecil. You’ve done more than enough.” The Reverend Edwards tried to hold a tight reign on his own impatience.

“But, Reverend,” Cecil Wind spoke in hushed tones, “there’s never enough any of us can do for the church.”

“Oh, I think you’ve broken the record, Cecil. Now, go home. I’m sure you have plenty to do there.”

“Are you sure you can spare me, Reverend?” Cecil’s nostril’s flared pleasurably.

The vicar responded with a wintry smile. “I’m really not one to rush anyone out of the House of God, Cecil, but I really do have to ask you to, to, to…take what God has given you here and put it into practice at home, for heaven’s sake.” Reverend Edwards’ face flushed as he spoke.

The vicar watched Cecil Wind march purposefully in the direction of his castle, which comprised of a two up, two down semi-detached box that Margaret, his wife, and he had bought two years ago. Cecil decided he would brew himself a pot of tea before studying the garden for any stray growths. The geraniums were continuing to triumph in their beds, as indeed were the roses. Cecil was convinced that his recent horticultural success was entirely due to the special compost that he had been developing.

Standing at the edge of his garden, he was always hoping that his neighbours would notice his arduous efforts. Often, when they did finally look over their fence, as if by sheer coincidence he would start singing hymns. Some had been known to say their own private prayer to the Almighty entailing that if indeed Mr Wind was so close to his maker, could the All Powerful One do everyone a favour and shut him up.

No one particularly wished to associate with Cecil Wind. Even the regular churchgoers found him offensive. The main cause of this universal contempt was the fact that when the vicar would lead the prayers, the response to “The Lord be with you” would always be bellowed out by Cecil, pointedly annunciating every syllable in “And also with you.” He tended to do this accompanied with a fanatical smile, leaving the rest of the congregation in decidedly bad spirits.

However, these petty observations were not the only reasons why most of the village did not associate with Cecil. There was indeed a more mysterious cause that played upon their psyche. Margaret, Cecil’s wife, had disappeared six months previously.

By contrast, she had been well liked in the community, always providing spontaneous visitors with plenty of biscuits and tea. She even offered spirits, occasionally when she knew Cecil would not notice. She was fickle in terms of her church attendance but the vicar did not mind. When she did care to appear, it always seemed as if the sun had decided to shine through the recently renovated stained glass windows.

For the first two months of her absence, people made polite inquiries as to where Mrs Wind might be. They were greeted with monosyllabic responses from Cecil, who would occasionally expand, saying that he had been praying that God might know the answer to that question.

Cecil Wind’s neighbours were confounded by the idea that he seemed completely unperturbed by his wife’s disappearance, and it was at that point when Bunny Atkins from Number 36 made an unnerving observation. Over a cup of coffee one morning with Dora Bond from Number 40, she mentioned a casual fact regarding the state of soil in cemeteries.

As she bit into a piece of rather dry Madeira sponge, she alluded to an article she had read in the gardener’s section of the Smuggington Gazette entitled, “How Flowers Flourish in Graveyards”. Bunny Atkins had wondered what that had to do with the price of bacon, but Dora had qualified her comment by adding that Cecil Wind’s garden had blossomed in such a way since Margaret’s absence that it was impossible not to suspect something morbid. Bunny was still unclear, so Dora clarified her deductions further by stating that she would not be surprised if Cecil Wind had murdered his wife and buried her in the garden.

The news spread through the village like wildfire. Even Reverend Edwards had begun to believe it to be possible. It was therefore quite a remarkable day, when Margaret Wind appeared at the gate of her house in a golf cabriolet, a young, handsome man by her side. She waved at Bunny and Dora, who stood open mouthed as they pinned out their washing, temporarily under the impression that they were seeing a ghost.

“Hello, Dora, Bunny. This is my friend Carlo.” Margaret glowed over the fences.

“Margie, where’ve you been?” Dora shouted back, feeling irrationally cross with Margaret’s golden tan.

“Oh, Dora, did Cecil not mention? I’ve left him, darling. Moved to Italy. I’ve only come back to pick up some things. You haven’t seen Cecil, have you?”

From inside the house, a pair of net curtains moved imperceptibly against the window. Had anyone cared to look, they would have noticed Cecil’s beady eyes watching with malice. If it was revenge he was after, now was his chance. After all, God would forgive him.

A New Life

I am aware that I have not written my blog for exactly a year now, but I have been busy improving myself over 2017.  In particular, I have been performing comedy sketches that I have written with the very talented Emma Swinn at the Hospital Club Co-Lab events and I have spent three months on a course at Faber under the expert guidance of Rowan Coleman, in order to propel my novel writing which is 40 000 words in and due to be finished end of March.  I plan to join a sit-com writing course at City Lit once that is done, in order to proceed with my all female cross-cultural cross-generational idea,  a slice of which was performed by me and a handful of wonderful actresses also at the Hospital Club a couple of years ago.  In addition,  I had the privilege of joining the dynamic and gifted Wolfpack Productions to feature in one of their filmed comedy sketches for 2017.  The rest of this blog today will be  A New Life , my short story I wrote years ago.  I thought it might suit the new year.  Love to all.

A NEW LIFE BY KATE TERENCE

“No, I’m afraid he’s not here, would you like his voicemail?” Hilda tried to prevent the tone of her voice from sounding bored. She would not have blamed herself if she had become slightly monotonous. She had been employing the same excuses to the callers of this company for seventeen years.

Red lights on the switchboard had started to flash persistently which tended to demarcate the time when Hilda’s back would begin its perennial afternoon ache. Her bladder felt uncomfortably full, but she was damned if she was going to give the rest of the company the satisfaction of knowing how many times Hilda Winthrop went to the toilet.

She sighed as she thought back to all those years ago, when she had started at

Schneid, Finchwade and Swallow. The office manager, a young, enthusiastic trainee lawyer had shown her around. It had been clarified that as a receptionist, Hilda’s job was to answer all calls to the firm and deal with any visitors. When Hilda enquired about the breaks that she could take through the course of the day, the junior article clerk assured her that there would be ‘no problem with that at all’.

To prove it to Hilda, she proudly demonstrated how to use the Tannoy system. That way, she repeated to Hilda, if she ever needed to take a pause, she was to announce this requirement to the entire firm of sixty employees, and succour in the form of one or other work colleague would soon follow.

As the weeks progressed, Hilda became part of the everyday furniture that the company possessed. It soon became apparent that the rest of the workforce did not seem particularly concerned about Hilda’s minimal, if not modest need for toilet breaks. It seemed to escape their attention that they themselves made frequent trips to answer the most human of all needs.   Never having to suffer the indignity of announcing it to the world, their ability to empathise was limited. In fact, to her extreme humiliation, despite their regular and unnoticed ablutions, they also found it mildly amusing to casually tease her about her allegedly numerous visits to the lavatory, especially at Christmas parties.

Hilda took some comfort from the fact that it was only another ten minutes till the end of the day. Six hundred seconds before she would switch the board on to night service and head straight to the loo. She continued to answer the calls, maintaining as precise a tone as possible, as she clenched her legs together. As the digits on the screen hit six o’clock, Hilda pressed the appropriate buttons, grabbing her handbag and practically hobbling in the direction of relief.

Sighing with momentary solace, she just had enough time to wash her hands. As she drew a pinkish stain across what was left of her lips, the reflection in the mirror worried her. The unflattering lights shed a grey pallor across her face. What had once been laughter lines around her eyes and mouth appeared to be deeper crevices now, and the whites of her eyes had developed into a jaundiced shade.

As usual, the twenty-past from Kings Cross was disturbingly crowded. Hilda was sure she could feel varicose veins cropping up every minute as she stood, her lower back relentlessly throbbing into her spine. She put her left arm through the leather straps of her bag, placing her hand onto one of the metal rods to grip as if her life depended on it.

She felt her handbag as its weight pulled into the crease of her elbow, cursing herself for the unbroken habit of packing it so densely with unnecessary objects. Why she thought she needed small jars of coffee and some spare Marmite, only the heavens knew. Her spare hand dipped into her handbag, letting her fingers search for what she liked to call her lifesavers. After popping a barley sugar in her mouth, she did not feel so resentful, finding a sweetened world in the romantic novella she had started.

The train, almost out of spite, Hilda felt, drew into Kings Cross. She had just reached the part of the story in which the hero had decided that he had to declare how he felt to the leading lady. Hilda had naturally decided that she identified in every respect with the heroine, excepting of course the age. She gripped the book menacingly, marching purposefully towards the underground where the Victoria line would take her up to Walthamstow. Eyeing the carriage with intent, she spotted a seat, and like one possessed, ran to grab it.

As soon as she sat down, she joyfully re-entered the rosy world of the love story. After soaking up as much satisfaction as she could squeeze from the cheap words that decorated the page, Hilda took her nose out of her book. Looking up, a photograph of a young man and woman with back- packs grinned back at her from the wall. The advertisement advocated to “Live Your Life.” Below it was the name and logo of a well-known credit card that would supposedly help the individual to do so.

Hilda felt irrationally captivated by the picture. Before she could stop herself, a tear began to trickle from one of her eyes down her cheek. She lifted her book quickly up to her face to hide any further embarrassment. Somehow, though, she could not force herself to continue reading.

It was as if reality, in its harsh entirety had stared her in the face. Those two seemingly real people who had smiled from a photograph appeared to be enjoying themselves. The characters in her cheap fantasy novel were being portrayed as living their lives at the height of their emotions. Hilda, on the other hand, was worried that fellow passengers would see how she truly felt.   People on the tube always seemed to react to emotion so perversely. But she could not stop the tears.

All those years ago, when she first joined the firm, she had thought that Mr Swallow had shown an interest in her. She was not unattractive, and although she had one failed marriage behind her, she was certain that Charles Swallow did not find that a stumbling block. But after a brief, uneventful flirtation, it had become clear that Charles was friendly to everybody. It was just his way.

As Hilda walked along Edward Road, she looked up at the various little cottages. Lights warmed the insides of these happy homes. She pictured the contented faces of the couples preparing food for each other, after their hard day’s work. Although she herself smiled at the thought, her face felt stiff, unyielding in its movement. The pit of her stomach was as hollow as a cave.

As she placed her key in the lock, the pile of post shifted against the door. Slowly, she bent down and picked up the stuffed envelopes and flyers, heading upstairs. Spring had produced a gentle light to the marshes, so for a minute Hilda gazed outside dreamily. Every motion her body made was slow as if it had decided to stop completely.

Out of the freezer, she pulled one of her frozen food packs of steak and kidney pie, placing it in the microwave to defrost. She filled and switched on the kettle. Having removed her shoes with difficulty, she padded her way into the bathroom and turned on the bath taps. She did not bother with the bath salts. What, after all, was the point? Back into the kitchen she went, to pour out her tea.

In her bedroom, she removed her clothing, folding each item carefully onto the bedside chair. She sat on the end of the bed as she painstakingly pulled her tights off, the aches in her back persisting. Housecoat on and semi skimmed milk added to her tea, she took out the defrosted meal, and placed it in the oven. Mug in hand, she moved back to the bathroom and immersed herself into her beloved bath. She wondered what was on television tonight. She hoped it would be something funny. Hilda was in the mood for something funny.

*

Hilda sat up and gasped. The sitting room was baking hot. She had a terrible crick in her neck, and as she adjusted herself to the fact that she was in the armchair in front of the television, she looked at her watch. It was ten past three in the morning. After switching off the gas fire, lights and television, she dragged herself to bed.

She woke about eight hours later, the morning light already pouring through the gaps in her curtains. She continued to rest her head comfortably against the crushed feathers in her pillow, as she tried to work out what day it was. After a moment, she established that it was eleven o’clock, Wednesday morning. She was going to have to call the office to explain. Somehow though, the world felt good today. She was not going to panic.

Hilda picked up the receiver next to her, and dialled. After a considerable time, a flustered voice answered. To her own amazement, Hilda found herself saying that she was ill and that she did not know when she would be able to return. The voice on the other end of the telephone asked what she meant. Hilda repeated what she had said, her voice the same nondescript tone that she had used for work.

After putting the receiver down, she reached under her bed. She felt something like solid aluminium, and started to yank at it. As its top slid from under the bed, Hilda laughed in delighted recognition of her old stepladder. She quickly got up, dressing in some old clothes that she used to use for work around the house. She carefully positioned the ladder in front of the loft panel that led to the attic.

After making sure she had a torch in her hand, she braved the climb as if she had decided to pioneer entirely new territory. Ten minutes later, she descended, slightly dusty but jubilant with her ex-husband’s army backpack in her hands. The khaki coloured rucksack felt moist and was covered in mildew. Hilda looked at it and started to laugh. She felt no pain in her back, no weariness in her soul and a mild sense of euphoria began to overwhelm her.   This old, foul smelling bag was Hilda’s happiest sight for years. Tears accompanied her laughter but she didn’t care because nobody could see her, and so what if they did?

*

Charles Swallow, one of the senior partners of Schneid, Finchwade and Swallow, sat at his desk. A bemused expression was playing across his face, as he read his morning post. His secretary brought in his coffee and croissant.

“Did you see the one from Hilda, Mr Swallow?” His secretary watched Charles’ face for a reaction.

“Yes, I did, thank you, Susan. Better alert Human Resources to get hold of a temp whilst we look for a permanent.” Charles’ expression remained blank.

“Right, Mr Swallow, I’ll do that right away.” As the door closed behind her, Charles started to chuckle. A close observer would have seen some sadness in his eyes.

“Good for Hilda.” He said, “I’ve often wondered what Australia was like myself.” Charles muttered under his breath, as he read her letter of resignation for a second time.

 

Bali, Bollinger and Chiswick

C25C8646My last blog rabbitted on about my big birthday, which when it actually came on it’s real date, felt as if I were in mid flight and about to crash into a wall.  It was not aided by my expectation of some form of recognition of this big day from work colleagues, the head of the company having known me to work for her over a period of twenty years, interrupted obviously by various acting jobs.  Sadly for whatever reason, they did not remember, only realising it three quarters of the way through the day.  Perhaps something else was occupying their minds.  But I know how it made me feel.  And I will never repeat that expectation.

I have learnt a major lesson from this, although on the day itself, I was unable to stop crying when I returned home.  The wonderful Captain had prepared a Christmas tree in our new tiny cottage, the best Champagne on ice, and my loveable neighbours, who incidentally have only just met me, brought me some Bollinger Grande Annee.  Bouquets of flowers were waiting from the Captain and an old dear friend, so I began to feel soothed.  It is, if you have not been there yet, a daunting experience to reach half a century, with the sensation that any of the dreams one had wished to accomplish had not yet even begun.

But before I get maudlin, and start to morbidly discuss the recent tragic losses of the historic figures of David Bowie, and the charming and kind Alan Rickman, let me tell you about Bali.  We flew with KLM from Amsterdam, stopping in Singapore for a confusing hour, but I was enchanted with the flat bed system on business class. You sit in a cot that turns into a bed, any film at your disposal and running alcohol and food brought to you at your demand.  What’s not to like?  Despite my cold that I had caught at Christmas, I managed to sleep for about five hours, so that arriving at the Legian Hotel, Seminyak, Bali was memorable.

We had a suite that was larger than our own home, welcoming the air conditioning as the heat was even higher than I had expected.  The next evening, despite the spaced-out jetlag we dressed for a Shanghai 1920’s night to celebrate bringing in 2016.  Having been brought up in South East Asia, I was expecting it to be like Malaysia, but it was much hotter, so that the Captain and I literally dripped with sweat all over our faces and bodies.  We didn’t care, though, because the mere occasion gave it a sense of another world and another stage in life.  We blew loud paper trumpets as we watched the awesome fireworks display by the sea, and I felt I could face 2016 and being old after all.

The service was permanently brilliant, the Balinese are utterly unique, both proud and kind, mindful and individual.  Their faces are highly expressive and disarming.  The way they move about a space is like watching a slow, languorous dance.  Their hot, spicy food and too much sunshine on my third day sent me into a sunstroked haze for 36 hours during which I slept like a character from a fairy tale, awaking with a new kind of vigour to my step.  We waded against the powerful current of the ocean, we swam in the three layers of infinity pools, we visited Ubud with its rice fields and astounding glass and wood creations.  I chatted with some of the Balinese in the hotel and they explained that there was more likelihood of a baby being able to paint or carve before they had even taken their first steps, so natural to them was the  creation of art.

It must have blown the mind of the German artist, Spies, who discovered Bali’s artistic culture a couple of hundred years back.  I reckon if Gauguin had arrived in Bali instead of Tahiti, he would have produced even more extraordinary paintings, so violently different is this island.  We returned via Singapore and Paris, by Air France, and I watched and enjoyed Out of Africa having read my little writer friend’s lovely  Christmas gift, Circling The Sun by Paula McClain about Beryl Markham who was also part of the world and real life characters in Out of Africa.  I also watched Meryl Streep again in Music from the Heart which I thoroughly enjoyed, as well as her performance in Ricki and the Flash.  I basically had a Meryl Fest, while flying, and she is definitely a comfort on a long plane journey, no question.

The Captain and I are beginning to settle in our Snow White and the Seven Dwarves terraced cottage in Chiswick.  A few little things need to be completed ranging from the second little leak in the join on our new roof, the utility space and the dining and soft furniture.  But it is home, the new added building that makes up the bathroom is a triumph, the loft and ladder a boost, and our bedroom and study are as quiet as if we were not in London at all. Having decided that whatever downtime we have in the future should be spent in Italy, (I can already imagine my Italian oldest school mate laughing) we have decided to have Italian lessons, and have Italian nights with food and films and podcasts, so that we immerse ourselves in it.  I shall be looking to develop my massage skills again, with female clients only, as well as my voice over work.  I will also be keeping my ears and senses on full alert for acting work.  I feel poised to dive.  The board is springing under my pointed feet.  My arms are in the air, the deep water below awaits me.  A breeze brushes over my face.  I’m  ready.

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Champagne, Moves and Journeys. This is the age of Terence.

IMG_4471Well, we’ve moved house.  We packed for a good two weeks, left the rented flat in Fulham, and I left the Captain with Gentleman and a Van (yes that’s their name and they are cost effective, professional and brilliant) and scadaddled off to join my marvellous parents, for a few days, ending it with the mother at Grayshott where we saw Vanessa Redgrave looking distinctly cheekboney and immaculate.  All of which sounds rather smug.  It should.  We had a great time.  Massages, great food, a glass of champagne every night with our customary game of scrabble by the fire.  I noted how stress shows itself, because on the first night I was very anxious about the game, trying really hard to win, but on the second night it did not matter a jot, as by that time I had been pummelled to within an inch of my life and felt like I could breathe again.  Besides which, I never really beat my mother at scrabble, she is a wordsmith par excellence, while being German, her knowledge of English vocabulary is peerless.

We chose to watch a film in our room, since the nightly cinema ( a plush room with luxurious armchairs) had a choice that did not appeal.  So I borrowed Sunshine on Leith from their library, and we wallowed in the brilliant direction of Dexter Fletcher.  I had watched him play Baby-Face in Bugsy Malone, as well as his stints at the RSC and ensuing television career, but it was Alan Parker‘s influence that came across during his interpretation of this film.  One of its most wonderful points was that while set in Edinburgh, with the music from The Proclaimers, the gap between talking and breaking into song was seamless, which it so often is not in most musicals. I thoroughly recommend it if you have not seen it already.  I hope poor old Mr Fletcher wasn’t traumatised when as a schoolgirl on one of our school trips, I insisted on kissing him twice as he came out of the stage door.  A whole coach of giggling school girls watched as I placed my lips strategically on his face  and then ran before the coach sped off.

When I arrived at the new home, the delays that had taken place,( based on the one and only unhelpful neighbour insisting that he appointed the least helpful and most expensive Chelsea based quantity surveyor he could find) meant that the building works were about two weeks behind.  The other neighbours had rallied together and helped in a way that took our breath away.  One set insisted that while there were no tenants, we could use their place to stay in while the works were finished.  The others offered their empty garages to store all our moved belongings.  Without this exceptional assistance, we would have been well and truly stumped.  In twenty-five years of living in London, we have both not come across such kindness before.  This pocket between Chiswick and Hammersmith is proving to be a dream come true.

My journey to work takes me from my house, passing our local pub and across the A4 onto the glorious Chiswick High Street with its glorious cafés, antique shops and dangerously expensive pharmacies, which if you know me, you will know must be considered as perilous as an opium den to an addict where I’m concerned.  I am a toiletries junkie, and have to control it.  In fact I might start a group… Toiletries Anonymous. Hi, my name is Kate, I’m a toiletries addict… Anyway, I digress, so I leave for the city for my consultancy job via Stamford Brook.  On my way home, I get off at Hammersmith so that I can walk along the Thames back past my local pub and home.  I now call it my river, as I watch the tide ebb and flow, as the various moored boats tinkle and the light plays across it, the buildings at dusk silhouetted around it, I feel unspeakably lucky to live in my favourite part of London looking at the very water that the likes of Shakespeare and Hogarth and King’s and Queens saw.

Outside our bedroom window is a huge tree, perhaps forty yards away.  I have silently greeted it most mornings and it silently nods to me.  I know what you are thinking.  She’s going mad.  Well perhaps, but it is a nice way of doing so.  Especially as a significant birthday takes place this week.  I am spreading my celebrating of it right across the entire space of December.  I began with a lunch with an old friend at J Sheeky’s Oyster Bar in the west end, with my favourite food, half a lobster and a glass of Champagne.  In fact I had two, come to think of it.  Sponge pudding followed, while my friend had cheese cake and I had coffee, and he insisted despite already having bought me a cashmere jumper, (a delicious soft cowl neck in taupe) to pay for the bill.  I’m just a huge spoilt brat.  We strolled around the west end, and I finished the day watching a fascinating homage to Gore Vidal, who now strikes me as the Bernard Shaw of his time.

Among all these events we attended a fiftieth birthday of the German Prince’s as well as a Spectre-themed party at the Gore Hotel courtesy of my brother, Ferris Bueller.  We had the Captain’s mother to stay for a few days, as her birthday fell over those dates, which was a challenge, given that we had barely moved in, but we had arranged some brilliant outings with her, including dinner with all the neighbours at the local pub (I was offered and am now in love with our local gin, Sipsmiths), and her birthday was at the Villa di Geggiano which was so good, we have booked for my birthday this week, just for me and the Captain, as it is pricey but glorious.  They have promised me a free Negroni and I’m going to hold them to it.  We also went to see Lady and the Van in which Maggie Smith was at her best.  That said, it is not the choice of anyone who is easily depressed.  I cried throughout it, and did not feel joyful as a result of watching it.  So you have been warned.

I also attended press night of the RSC Wendy and Peter Pan as a good mate invited me to see her husband, also a good mate, in it.  My agent represents the good mate (I introduced them), and also two other actors who are at the RSC, so it was a tremendous night of both theatrical splendour and great chats.  I had the pleasure of meeting many sparkling industry people and then stayed at the good mate’s cottage, directly opposite the theatre.  I think he has a one minute commute to work.  Puts the District Line to shame, really.  One of my favourite parts of this whole event was the Brief Encounter sensation of meeting the good mate at Marylebone, which retains its old fashioned and sweet little nature as a station.  The train journey was stuffed but we ran into a kind agent acquaintance who happily gave his seat for us to natter, only to discover that our natter had to be on the “down and low” as we were in the quiet carriage.  A few giggles later we all disembarked at Leamington Spa.  I am trying to think of the collective noun for agents, producers and casting directors but Leamington Spa was full of them.  A Darling of Luvvies?  A plethora of Darlings?  Anyway, you get the picture.  We all piled on to the chuggy-train to Stratford, having connected with my brilliant agent and a rather groovy producer, and chuckled our way along.  Tremendous fun, all in all.  Just what the doctor ordered when acting work has made itself a little spare.

Champagne has been the theme, it seems.  My boss bought me a bottle to celebrate my move which was a joy as well as a surprise.  It simply never loses its attraction, as far as I’m concerned, especially Veuve Cliquot and Pol Roget.  Funnily one of my new young colleagues decided that I was very “Champagne” as a person.  Remind me, if you see me soon, to do my Audrey Hepburn “Champagne Darling” imitation homage.  I’m told it works.  She also said that she really thought I should be in a Baz Luhrmann movie.  I asked what made her observe this delightful fact. I suggested it was because I was possibly capable of being camp.  She said I was more than that?  Grotesque, I asked.  More than that she said.  So Baz, if you are reading this, give us a job.  You heard it here first.

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A French Exit

I was on the brink of making a French Exit from this blog, until yesterday, when I noticed that I had acquired several more followers on Twitter, on the blog itself and from Linked-In, so as a duty to the new followers, I feel I owe them a blog or two.  Those faithful readers who have stood by me for the last three years, I thank you, and my still possible French Exit was with no disregard to your fidelity.  It is just that I began to bore myself.

Some readers have perceived my musings as the real interpretation of a person who lives the life of Reilly. On reading some of the blogs that I have written, I can understand this misconception, so I hope you will allow me to correct this.  It has not been explained properly, by the author, myself, that is, that I heavily edit my musings, heightening the drama and events in order to make it entertaining.  I avoid actual names of real people, and I work hard to avoid my very personal issues, so that I can retain parts of my life to be private.

The events of this blog are sometimes true but not always the whole truth.  I reserve that as my privilege.  If that offends, stop reading or stop following right now.  That is your right.  Essentially this blog has selfish purposes, to stretch my writing muscles by learning how to put stories across within the boundaries that I set myself. I am the CEO of this blog, and its mission statement belongs to me.  So if I choose to write a pile of lies or a pile of truths, this country’s freedom of speech allows me to do so.  But it is important to be warned that it is entirely up to the reader as to whether he or she believes the events in it are real or entirely my invention.

With that pompous speech out of the way, I will now try to entertain any of the remaining readers of the blog.  I’m not sure I’ll manage it, as it has been a funny old summer. The Captain and I tend to become child-widow and widowers through most of July and August, while every friend of ours dedicates their life blood to their children’s school holidays.  They emerge in September, eyes wide with fatigue, unable to string adult sentences together, catatonic with exhaustion.

Knowing this, the Captain and I decided on a holiday in August instead of the usual cheaper June, since August was always devoid of work and our friends. We travelled round large portions of Andalusia, Spain, idiotically thinking we could naïvely turn up in various places and stay. Suffice to say it was permanently scorchio, but the shortages of rooms surprised us.  Here are the good bits: the supermarkets were fun, with glorious cartons of gazpacho and mammoth hams hanging for incredibly cheap prices.  I could have sat down on the floor and pretty much have eaten the lot.  We visited Vejez de la Frontera, where the food was delicious and I learnt that Sherry was called Sherry because the Brits, being the brilliant linguists that they are, felt that was their best attempt at saying the word Jerez, where the aforementioned fortified wine originates.

The Andalusian scenery on the long drives was fascinating in terms of its utter similarity to Arizona in California.  It was as if the landscape had originally been two identical brothers who were split at birth, except one was much larger.  It became clear why Sergio Leone kept using it for his Western films.  The Captain introduced me properly to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly when we got home, to see if we would recognise bits, since Mr Leone brought Mr Eastwood to film it all in Spain fifty years ago.

A highlight was Seville which due to it being low season was cheaper than everywhere else. The city was architecturally very beautiful, the hotel still having old fashioned windows that you could open and watch the world wandering on the cobblestone streets, so it was romantic as well.

Ironically August has seen both the Captain and myself being very busy when we were not in Spain.  He has had a series of adverts, and as I write this he is returning from Budapest where he was dangling from a harness that the aforementioned Mr Eastwood had to wear for a previous film.  The Captain has a new couple of projects this next few weeks, whilst he oversees the renovation of the new home in Chiswick.  We move into it at the end of October, despite the delays, it will not be quite ready, so I, the Princess, will have to tolerate the Pea.   To my surprise, I was offered role of a bent copper whose love was unrequited in a German telly job, filming in Cornwall, thanks to my brilliant agent.  That proved to be tremendous fun, although I don’t think I am in love with Cornwall.  In fact, the Atlantic Ocean and its rugged winds are not my cup of tea, frankly.  Bit like Cádiz in Spain, which we also visited.

I became very attached to my make-up artist, who was confronted by me, looking bleary eyed having slept with pre-filming nerves accompanied by howling winds outside.  The miracles that he achieved on my face were nothing short of award winning.  I had to go back and forth from London to Cornwall, going on one of those tiny planes with massive propellers for a couple of the trips.  On the return journey, I sat next to a charming man who was employed by the actual airline as the Chief Engineer of the fleet.  So when the steward tried to explain how to use the emergency exit to me, I teased, ” Don’t tell me, tell him, he’s the chap who knows how to deal with an hysterical actress while he’s trying to open the door.”  Thankfully, he had a sense of humour.

I also got down to the last two for a rather good theatre job recently.  The only reason that this is being mentioned at all, is that the marvellous agent forwarded me a letter from the director, in which there were some heartening compliments.  But I did not get the job, so none of you will see me open the second act dressed as a kangaroo, which I venture would have been worth seeing. Time for Kate “Skippy” Terence to sign off. Or skip off.

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Summering Splendour

There are some strange folk out there who, I’m sure entirely for attention, confess that they like winter, snuggling in coats and sitting by fires.  F*** That Sh**.  Give me summer any day of the week.  I know I mentioned that I like the seasons. I do.  But it is in order to have a favourite, and mine is the summer.  I’ll provide my reasons, in case you disagree, which is after all, your right.  1/ The days seems longer, as getting up at 7a.m. is easy since the parakeets in the graveyard squawk until you notice them from 6 a.m. onwards and the light blasts into the bedroom from earlier than that. The evening hours only begin from 9 p.m., leaving stacks of time to do all necessary things with plenty of margin to doodle, read, write, pluck eyebrows, file nails, bathe, beautify, watch endless Netflix or HBO series and generally ENJOY life.  2/ All of this can be done without shivering from one room to another, in fact if wished and if fellow inhabitants do not mind (the Captain doesn’t) one can wander around naked or semi-naked. 3/ When needing to leave the sanctuary of home, coats, scarves and other ridiculous layers can be abandoned, producing a feeling of jaunty carefree childlike delight.  What’s not to like?

In addition, when your brother invites you and others to a Fleetwood Mac concert at the O2 in that sort of weather, life cannot actually get much better.  It began with lunch (on his invitation again) at the Chinese Cricket Club in New Bridge Street.  In a good sort of mood, the brother was quoting the soundtrack from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, while we had fragrant Dim Sum, Peking Duck and Pancakes accompanied by two bottles of very cold Gewurztraminer wine.  Merry, we all ambled through the hot pavements of the city to Leonidas to have coffee, where it is a Mecca for city folk, due to the extraordinary Belgian chocolates and marzipan fruits and jellies they sell.  On we went, to Blackfriars Pier to catch the Clipper to the O2.  Ferris Bueller, I mean my brother, ordered ice cold gin and tonics for all, as he sensed that since we had done this on the trip to the Eagles last time, it was swiftly turning into a tradition.  Oddly enough, no one disagreed with him.  Enough time had elapsed for us to develop an appetite for the meal that had been booked at Gaucho’s by the Captain, on his invitation.  He had wangled the best corner table on the first floor providing a fascinating view from the balcony of the excited guests and lighting displays before the main entrances.  The steaks and wine were exceptional.  We were all pretty high in spirits by this time, taking a drink in the VIP lounge before we went to our seats.  Words will not describe how exceptional Fleetwood Mac were.  Quite apart from the fact that their music awakens a formative time in both my brother’s and my life, their music and ability to play and sing it in the form of performance were astounding.  Their private histories that had created the dramatic glue that held them forever together (like their song, The Chain) moved me to tears and to joy.  Euphoria is the only word that might describe how they rendered me.  So Ferris, as my brother will currently be known, did well indeed.  Unforgettable.

The big secret that I have been hiding, is that the Captain and I have purchased a house by the Thames.  It is a minute terraced cottage, but it will be our home, and it is in an area where arty type folk seem to live.  I burst into tears when the Captain first found it and showed it to me.  We had extended our search to other areas, since we have had no particular luck looking in the past three years.  I was in the kitchen making tea, in a moment when having tea was totally essential.  I had staved off for the previous hour or two but was boiling the kettle when the door closed downstairs and the Captain marched up the stairs with glassy, staring eyes.  The conversation went as follows:

” You need to come with me now,” said the Captain.

” But I’ve just made a cup of tea,” said / whined the wife.

” It doesn’t matter about the tea, we need to get in the car, the Captain persisted.

” How about if I put the tea in a thermosflask?” asked the wife.

” By all means, but you need to come with me now, ” answered the Captain, who was quite used to her addiction to tea.

In that state we went to the little cottage by the Thames, and not being a poker player, as we walked in to it and the owners joined us, I burst into tears.  That’s how much I loved it.  Anyway, reader, we only went and bought it.  And now own it.  I can already see the Captain having a Sunday pint at the local pub by the river a stone’s throw away from the cottage, reading his paper and keeping company with the other arty intelligent sorts who do similar types of things.  There is some work to do to it, but it is now ours and the planning permission plans have been submitted so here’s to our new adventure.

My wonderful old mate from school (she’s not old but our friendship is the longest one standing) and her gorgeous young daughter came to visit and escorted me to the new house to collect the keys.  This was while the Captain was away in Bangkok filming an advert for a French bank.  We walked along the river from the rented flat to the cottage, and their company made the slice of paradise that it is all the merrier.  The previous two days had been made up of her being messed around by Easyjet (she will never be flying them again after two cancellations and two reschedules) resulting in her and her daughter’s arrival at 2.00 a.m.  Undeterred by the determination to have fun, we explored the wonders of our being able to walk to Chelsea in the summer sunshine, taking in all the shops, stopping for a light lunch, more shopping and then hopping on the bus home for some horizontal rest and cocktails on the balcony, followed by more walking to Parson’s Green for a delicious supper at Cote, the French Brasserie, on her invitation.  Having an actual summer has made all this possible.

A fiftieth in North London with an old friend was thrown into the mix of all of this, and all on American Independence Day. (which my father jokingly refers to as Britain’s Thanksgiving Day….. he was only joking…. we love our American cousins, honest, we do.  Come on, it’s that wacky crazy irony thing those British do, right? Right?)

Next weekend it’s a mini outdoor 45th festival.  I’m not sure if the Dalai Lama will make it there as he’s exhausted from Glastonbury, but let’s hope the weather holds for it.  I shall be sporting shorts and festival-type clothing in the hope that I don’t look like a reject from Woodstock.  Wish me luck.  I’m going to need it. Namaste and peace to y’all.

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