Nuancing the Rome

Last night in bed I wrote the greatest blog…in my head.  This morning none of the words or ideas are springing into my brain with the force of my night-time insomnia.  It went a little like this.

I had been ruminating on how, on my visit to Rome, (glorious, wonderful, more on that later) the sculpted head of the Emperor Nero (the one who took it upon himself to have his mother murdered) was very similar to Emperor Trump’s visage.  Take a look on Google.  Others have made the same comparison.  It’s uncanny.

We have reality television to blame for everything.  If we had not been so madly addicted to watching people psychologically destroy each other, Emperor Trump would never have been elected.  Most of America would not have known the famous reality TV star whose catch-phrase “You’re fired” has since echoed down the corridors of the White House.  Mr Trump, and his complete lack of nuance had become a celebrity, and that is all you need to become a world leader in America.

Since then, we have all been watching the slow demise of anything possessing nuance.  Mr Putin and Mr Trump and like minded individuals puff their chests out as far as they can, beat them with their large, forceful fists and make loud noises.  Nuance is dead.  The days of Kissinger speaking in hushed tones guiding or manipulating are over. Of course this rubs off on how society behaves.  The days of job interviews in which both parties treat each other with intelligence are over.  The days when a person decides to set up a business because he or she loved the product they were making are over.

In our current climate, it is more likely you will find two or three individuals who will set up a company, let’s say an insurance company.  They will brand it, market it and then sell the whole thing a year later having made a mint.  They will not keep the company, nurturing it and ensuring that its integrity, values and philosophy remain in tact through the years.  No, they will MAKE MONEY out of it by selling it.  Then they will make another one.  Let’s say an online house-swapping agency.  Which will be marketed and branded and sold.  They will make money out of that.  This story will carry on until they are lying in their death bed.  Their children, if they have any, will sit around the bed.  Tell us your life story, they will say.  Well, I made a company, sold it, made money, made another company, sold it, made money and then made another….. REALLY?  Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, a play first performed in 1610 was utterly visionary.  As far as I can see, these individuals are not even making fake gold, they are selling hot air and we, yes I am talking about you and me, we are buying it.  Just like we are buying Trump.  As I said, on the whole, nuance is dead.  It will be a word that will not have it’s definition given in future dictionaries.

However, since the ability to sense nuance appears to be part of an ancient of civilisation, one in which people value kindness, love, culture, art, design, morals and integrity it came as no surprise to find it in Rome.  I can hear you gasp because obviously Berlusconi is hardly the personification of any of the values I have listed, but remember, his endless presence has been something that the Romans have chosen to ignore as much as possible.  Maybe this Five Star Movement had had some sort of positive effect.  Maybe the anger at Brexit had created a flush of pride in their own nation for still being a part of Europe. I really could not say.  Maybe it was the weather.  Maybe the happiness of my dear friend who I stayed with rubbed off on me.  I do not know, but it was my umpteenth visit and I fell in love with it all over again.

On my arrival on a Thursday evening, she, let’s call her the Italian, picked me up in her beautifully designed Alfa Romeo.  The seats were the colour of red wine and immediately put me in a good mood.  After parking somewhere near (parking like London is an issue) she took me to her new home.  Just off from the Coliseum up a cobble road, it’s shuttered windows greeted us with crimson bougainvillea surrounding the frames.  Inside was parquet flooring, comfortable rooms, her collections of necklaces and rings displayed on sculptured trees crafted in far-away-places, house plants dangled from shelves, it was all glorious.  We ambled off to one of her favourite venues round the corner, drank red wine, ate their home made gnocchi and talked until the early hours.

In the morning, she bravely sat me on the back of her scooter and we breezed through the golden air of Rome passing the ancient monuments which took on a cinematic quality from where I was sitting.  We had breakfast at another favourite cafe, where they served me pistachio croissant and cappuccino with a little Zabaglione in the top part.  Sumptuous.  A little clothes and window shopping followed, salad lunch and a cold glass of wine on her terrace that overlooked Rome and its trees and architecture, then a trip to a Hammam, designed exactly like the original Roman ones were, with a massage to complete it.  We floated off to a small afternoon doze, then supper with her daughter, more white wine and a gorgeous pasta with Pecorino called Cacio e Pepe: divine, in case you hadn’t guessed.  Saturday, within an hour’s drive, we were at the beach, where large charismatic, deep-voiced men with dark eyebrows looked after us, feeding us with more white wine and their latest catch of all the seafood they could find, followed by a doze on the beach.  We had drinks and a late supper that night in town, all gorgeous but we had both begun to loose our voices with our jaw-aching talks (she is my oldest friend from boarding school, we have known each other since we were eleven), so we retired at a reasonable hour, ready for Sunday morning, where the Italian had booked a viewing of le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini, which had been worked on over the last twenty years.  It combined real archaeological artefacts and CGI / Virtual Reality assisted graphics so that you could imagine and also actually see what this home of someone in 400 AD was like.  Red marble staircase, a hammam, a  huge pillar with a long story engraved on it all the way to the top of the wars between Trajan and Dajan.  It blew my mind.  Walks in a rose-filled park followed and a farmers market, lunch on the terrace and then packing to return.

The Italian brought me luck because I had a very exciting casting that week, back in London, for a telly film that would be shot in a warm, far-away place.  For a delightful change, it was enjoyable and filled to the brim with nuance so we won’t be attending its funeral yet.  Nuance, that is.

Weekends with the May weather, have been filled with gardening, Italian lessons, which are always accompanied with Italian food and Mediterranean walks at night along the river Thames.  The Captain and I are now really excited about our summer holiday in Puglia in June.  I have added more excitement by booking three days to Corfu in August, on the invitation of other good mates, so I have been prepping by watching The Durrells on TV.  Very enjoyable, to the point that I think I want to read the books again.

I am on my seventh draft of my novel, about to amend Chapter Seven, having restructured it on the advice of my writing pal.  I am not a natural novel writer, with a burning need to write every day.  I do it if I cannot find any laundry, cooking, ANYTHING else to do.  So the progress is slow.  My reading it limited at the moment, to an enormous, tiny printed account of what happened to the cotton industry between this country and America, in terms of the termination of slavery.  It’s a toughie and as I am not a good reader, again, progress is slow.

In terms of what I am watching, in addition to previous blogs, I am enjoying the new series Barry and also Brockmire on Sky.  We loved Mindhunter and the documentary Wild Wild Country on Netflix.  I am afraid that I was disappointed by Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri as I felt it to be too violent without enough dark humour that Martin McDonagh did so well in his previous In Bruges.  Armando Ianucci’s Death of Stalin is very well worth watching.

So I think that’s it.  You will probably conclude that I am enjoying my life despite my sense that nuance is an elusive quality that we no longer see.  The key is, I find, that I will live my life with as much of it as I can, in the knowledge that many will not pick up or recognise it.  That’s fine with me.  If others wish to live their lives without it, go ahead.  Just remember, how you live now will rear its head in those last moments.  Just saying.  Peace and love to y’all.


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Welcome 2018, if I smile, will you give me everything I want please?

So here we are.  The end of an epic year. I am only referring to my own little microcosm, not global affairs such as the T word regarding America or the B word regarding Europe.  I honestly cannot be bothered to spend any more time on them.  It achieves nothing.

Having shared the Captain’s hell of losing his mother at the beginning of this year through to mid-April, and also hearing of his two old friends who were both his age and were also snatched away by the C-word, having also supported the incredibly busy schedule that followed his work life, it has been a year of mixed emotions.

I have been lucky enough to still have my parents both alive and happily married to each other, a brother who has been through much hell this year, but is stoically forging ahead, so I have no real right to complain.  I was in a one-woman show in the early part of the year at Theatre 503, called Safe to Shoot by the brilliant Polly Churchill, which tested my boundaries, but artistically was beneficial to me.  I was also in a short film, which was a total joy, which has been accepted to show at many festivals.  It is called Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times written and directed by the wonderful Marcus Markou of Double M films.  In addition,  I have recently had several opportunities that were from film makers and theatre makers who had stumbled across my Spotlight page and invited me to meet them, so I am feeling confident that my page with its show-reel and headshots is doing its job well, seemingly for all mediums, although I should really like to see more television castings.

Having tinkered with my TV sit-com that I have written, I am going to be submitting it to literary agents, alongside additional comedy sketches and a one act play, and see if anyone bites.  The literary novel that I am also penning has been coming together, with the mutual aid of an old chum.  We are both writing novels, and our skills are very different so that our meetings to criticise constructively are helping us both progress in a far more motivated way than if we were still going it alone.  We have both agreed that it is very handy and I recommend a writing chum to all, if they are having a go at it.  So I am at the stage now where I am editing and re-writing, creating much more structure and meaning, and we shall see.  I have been working on it for an awfully long time, and I almost do not care if it never gets finished, just as long as I can keep working on it.  I mean, what on earth will I do when it is finished?  The chum has helped me see what the story might actually be about, and what genre it is.  It’s  a psychological thriller, in case you wanted to know.

This year, to celebrate bringing in the 2018, a core group of neighbours were invited to the new neighbour’s house.  The Captain and I lined the stomachs with Spaghetti Carbonara, which the former has always cooked to perfection, and then wandered round the corner to the new neighbours’ large Chiswick house, in which we drank Champagne, drank Expresso Martinis, played darts and watched the fireworks as midnight struck.  It was one of the sweetest parties that we have attended in a long time and I believe it is boding well for what is lined up for me this year.

I was lucky enough to visit Prague for my birthday this December where the Captain was filming a new series for Amazon.  I was presented with a beautifully designed huge aqua-marine and diamond ring, made by the Captain’s close friend, who will be known in this blog as The Jeweller.  So having gone to Paris the month before, I did feel like a very spoilt lucky wife.  The lead up to Christmas is always fun, but the actual day was difficult for the Captain due to it being his first one without his mother.  We had been obliged to attend a wedding in Yorkshire on the 22nd, so we only managed to get back home by the evening of the 23rd, had a few quiet days including a charming local pub drink with our neighbours, boxing day involved travelling to Warwickshire to the Jeweller’s family for a clay pigeon shoot which was fun, but I am untalented with my aim, sadly.  The 29th was presents and Christmas with my parents and brother, which was low-key and by then, everyone seemed to have caught the lurgy that had been around for the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, we have a visiting mouse, who has now avoided all traps and the pest control man, Matthew Mouse-Man, has assured us that there is currently only one, but he is not touching any of the traps laid out for him.  He seems very casual in his stance, ambling past us to his favourite nook under the cupboard on most nights, to the point that I was sure he did the V sign to us the other night.  Or was he lighting a cigarette?  Either way, he has got to go.  So I am thinking that when we have won this war, and it is a war, I may get a cat or a small yappetty dog who likes killing mice.

So, what does 2018 hold for me then?  Well, if I get an advert, (dagnabbit, I MUST, I MUST) I am going to spend at least half of that dosh on a hot holiday during these dreary winter months.  I also plan to visit my mate in Rome, (if she is reading this, this is the first she hears of it, so I hope she likes the news).  I also plan to get loads of acting work, in particular on TELEVISION, so do send out great vibes for me on that one.  Hot middle aged woman who is great at comedy.  Yes, I know, self plugging.  Disgusting habit.  Too bad.  If you don’t like it, nobody is forcing you to read it.  So there.  I also plan to buy some more thermals from M & S.  Yes, that’s the exciting life I lead.  And some clothes and toiletries, of course.  I want to go to more galleries. Incidentally I watched a brilliant documentary on David Hockney on Sky Arts, which has inspired me to do more painting.  So there it is, success, love, money and holidays await me.  Just you wait.  What’s your 2018 got in store?


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.


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.



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.


“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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