In my eightieth year
A warm thank you to those who sent me such sweet and generous birthday wishes.
I am now more than 28,836 days old and almost certainly in the last act of this strange eventful farce called life.
I can remember when I was only about 1,095 days old losing my mother in Woolworths, Lord Street, Liverpool in 1938. I remember the panic I felt as I yelped in terror and all the wide sympathetic eyes of a group of women trying to console me.
My mother meantime was hurling prayers skywards to St Anthony who was the saint who found lost children, or lost keys, or puppies and sometimes even lost faith and in 1938 found me.
There was a saint for all occasions: St Jude who specialised in hopeless cases or Saint Polycarp for upset tummies.
St Michael's Hospice
In the lead up to Christmas, I agreed to join forces with a group of about twenty generous local souls to do an evening entertainment to raise money for St Michael’s Hospice nearby. What a good cause, and who could refuse?
I read a funny, chilling story I had written and in the second half was interviewed by three wise men. A lovely group of singers treated us to wonderful songs throughout, and the audience loved it all.
Paul Darrow from Blake's Seven recited Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and held the house in tense silence. Toby Hadoke, the comedian, linked the acts and amused us all.
In the second half the three wise men, Steve Corke, Oliver McNeil and Toby Hadoke gently grilled me! After all these years people are still interested, even fascinated, by tales from the crypt of my old memory. There were quite a few youngish people there, too, who might have wondered why the old white-haired fellow from the past was getting laughs: so did the old white-haired fellow himself, but the light grilling seemed to please everyone and I think all the seats were taken. A few thousand precious pounds were raised for the cause we love.
Everyone was happy. AND THEN appeared an angel, as we say at charity events. This angel – I won't reveal the name – generously offered to double the amount taken at the box office. Fabulous generosity and a fabulous end to a jolly evening.
Here we all are - the whole cast and production team.
The other day, I got some amazing news. Something I lost 29 years ago was found!
I was in a film called “The Passionate Pilgrim”, directed by Charles Wallace and starring Eric Morcambe, Madeleine Smith and me. It was terrific fun. The tale was mimed and there was a good bit of running about. It was a very happy experience, one of the best jobs I ever had. Everything was well planned by Charles Wallace, and Eric, Madeleine and I got on very well.
It was all quite perfect, quite perfect until.......this was a costume drama, medieval I think. Anyway on the last day there we were on the drawbridge of Hever castle, Kent; Eric, our director Charles and me.
AS we stood there swopping tall stories and laughing and me twiddling with a lovely antique sword, Excalibur, I think, a terrible thing happened. Eric said something very funny and I, overacting perhaps, fell about with laughter and let slip my trusty sword, Excalibur.
Can you believe it, there was a small gap in the drawbridge, a very small gap, just small enough to allow a priceless sword to slip through if you were very unlucky. And guess what? YES! Excalibur slid through the gap and down, down, down into the castle moat! The grief! The laughter died and colour fled from our faces and heads bowed.
This feeling of regret has never left me From time to time I have been haunted at my clumsiness. And the other day came the news from Hever Castle that they had drained the moat and found the sword! Here it is – having lost some of its sparkle. Anyway, at last I am at peace and forgiven.
Now I know many of you are cat lovers, so might be amused to hear how our new Burmese kitten has become obsessed with my iPad. I have an app called Painting for Cats. This wonderful game encourages cats to do abstract paintings by means of a squeaking mouse that suddenly skuttles across the screen with sharp squeaks that causes the cat to pounce on the screen and produce an interesting blob. Then the mouse reappears and squeaks and the cat pounces again.
It’s not intended for dogs, but my Poppy, gets terribly agitated and leaps up growling and baring her teeth. Sometimes she leaps right up on the table.
I'm telling you all this because we are snowed in as I write this and painting for cats passes the time. The only problem is that now I can’t surf the web or do my emails without the kitten leaping on my iPad!
On that note, I’ll say goodbye for another few months while I get on with new scripts for Big Finish and some other interesting new projects.
Watch this space!