Saturday 19 October 2019

Through The Barbed Wire.

Cantering through October and have not posted for a long time....(no change there you cry......)
Well I have some sad news to impart. 
In January I lost my beloved Dad, well he'll always be with me in my heart and in my behaviour I guess. He was the best Father one could have and I'm grateful for that. Daddy didn't deserve what happened to him and I'll leave it at that. Love you always Dad xxxxxxx


As my last blog post stated, last summer I played Helga in 'Allo 'Allo which I enjoyed greatly. I met many lovely new friends and expanded my experiences. Here are some pics from it.

Death Of A Salesman.

This May I had a very small part in this play as the Salesman's secretary Jenny. Again very much enjoyed this run and happy that I was able to be involved. Some more pictures ensue.....

                                        My Writing News.   

I have had a short story accepted to be published in an anthology of both prose and poetry all concerned with Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. There was a similar book historically concerned with Paris writings. I shall be reading my short story from the book on the launch evening which takes place on Wednesday 30th October this year.The link takes you to all of the details for this should you wish to attend, hear the readings and perhaps buy a book !!

Book launch evening in Leicester details

Next post...some more book reviews and Soapbox rants mixed in with more ramblings from me x

Saturday 14 April 2018



Oil on canvas-Helen
Happy post Easter to all – sorry for lengthy layoff from blogging. But now I’m back ! Hope you all had a fantastic Easter and approach the world with extreme optimism and desire to try your best which is all one can ask. I read a quote recently which said “no one has the right to give you a hard time, not even yourself.” Therefore, if things didn’t go as you envisaged don’t beat yourself up and feel that you’re not good enough. Believe it you are! So what has dark horse been doing, I hear you ask? Well, I was cast in a play recently. A joy from start to finish. I was playing the Yorkshire formidable parent in  ‘The Happiest Days Of Your Life’ and they were ! A pleasure to be with such dedicated and lovely people. This opportunity came at a crucial time for me as I was on the point of giving up. So I am extremely grateful to have been back in harness  and thank those eternally who kept the faith with me. Hopefully more plays will follow, but I must continue to do my homework and try not to become discouraged by anything. Watch this space to see how I’m getting on.

**** NEWSFLASH !!!
At the time of writing I have just been cast as HELGA in 'Allo Allo' more info in later blogs. Delighted to be about to tread the boards again...Watch this space !!

 'Sowter selfie !' In the Dressing room mirror after ageing makeup !

Horrified at the 'Book of misconduct !'


All of the lovely dedicated people involved with 'The Happiest Days Of Your Life' xxx (I am fifth from the right !!)

* Production photographs taken by Sally Evans-reproduced here with her kind permission

Writing News 

My short story is ready to send into the literary maelstrom. I have not written any poetry for ages, despite appearing in three published anthologies.. but there are ideas aplenty. I have written letters and obviously Christmas cards, but perhaps these don’t count. But they do help the  flow however as they keep you connected via the pen to the brain. As Virginia Woolf might say, “ the stream of consciousness”. Apparently I’m a Panster. This means that I prefer to just write away and don’t like to plan my work. In fact at school I hated doing any sort of editing or structure! More news on this soon but I’m working on a new poem and an e-book of poetry so keep tuned to this page!


(Equivalent to Room 101.)

. At Cinemas now a recorded message states “ to help us to recycle please leave your litter by your seats…” That does NOTmean empty the contents of  food containers and cups including Popcorn all over the floor !! It looks like flytipping !!

·  Following on from this, bravo to Imelda Staunton for speaking out about many theatre distractions like mobile phones, eating noisy items of food and speaking loudly. Respect  the actors/directors and fellow audience members. If people cannot last for a couple of hours without these things then they should remain at home and give us all an even break as someone once said !!

·  People who have a cold/cough should try not to pass it to others as it literally could mean death to some vulnerable persons and I’m not being overdramatic ! Catch it-bag it-bin it as the slogan said.

·  Why do people drive so fast and  close behind all of the time ?! Putting themselves and others at risk when a little thought might help !?

·  What’s with the new trend of queue-jumping ? Is it a sign of the times-impatience ? Or due to thinking they can get away with it-banking on others not saying anything ? Just because there’s a gap next to the tills doesn’t mean it’s ok ! I wouldn’t mind if someone said “Do you mind if I go ahead ?” but they don’t.  Expect me to pull bad manners up !

·  The sheep-mentality…..why park right next to someone when there’s an empty car park, masses of other spaces and then struggle to get out of the car ??

·  Windows 10 updates…….why do they take forever to upload-often when it’s late and one wishes to get  to bed ??! (I think it’s called ‘Sod’s Law..’)

·  Parents’ Evening…..allocation of THREE mins with each teacher . I mean seriously. Really ??

·  Postmen/women please stop folding single letters in half-just because of double-glazed doors-I can put mail through without folding  so you can too.

·  Undertaking on roundabouts very dangerous and annoying !

·  That’s all……for now !!

(Published by Nick Hern Books aka NHB.)

Anyone who has read any of Tony Sher’s other diaries such as ‘The Year of The King’ in which he played Richard III, will be familiar with his format. For those new to it-I’ll explain. It consists of Sher’s diaries of playing, initially reluctantly, Falstaff interspersed with his own paintings and drawings of the process, himself, current company and famous other Falstaffs of the past. some sketches he did on his actual script along the way. I found it a very entertaining read and a fascinating insight of an actor’s workings and the trials and tribulations of putting on a play. Or in this case Two plays in one. It’s an incredibly honest account as is all of his work and pulls no punches.  He said he blamed the whole idea of playing Falstaff on Sir Ian McKellen who suggested him to Gregory Dornan the director and who happens to be his ‘other half’ too. Sher himself very much doubted that this was ideal casting due to his size and demeanor and the popular conception of what  this most renowned Shakespearian character should look and sound like. This humility is  engaging and we are immediately on his side in his endeavors.  It’s  very funny, touching and inspiring-hard to put down at times as it flows like the river Avon to the RSC ! If you love theatre or arts in general  you will enjoy this but beware the scatological remarks (naughty words…)if you are sensitive to such things. Overall a cracking read.

BOOK REVIEW: OLD DOG by Barney Bardsley (Simon and Shuster.)

They say you should never judge a book by its cover and this is true for `Old Dog'. Although its central character and raison d'etre is Muffin, a mongrel Barney and her family lovingly rehomed from the RSPCA rescue centre, it's about so much more than that. It deals with the perennial questions of life, death, love and unstinting loyalty in the face of developing tragedy. As Muffin accompanies the family throughout her beloved master's terminal illness, the author has been deeply helped and inspired by her nature and compassionate steadfastness. She was there at her master's side along the difficult road of gruelling treatment. She helped Barney and her daughter through their subsequent grief by simply being herself and loving life and the universe, having a blast, showing that she cared and was protecting them. Some lyrics kept springing to mind from a certain song when I thought of Muffin. `I'll protect you from the Hooded Claw, keep the Vampires from your door, when the chips are down, I'll be around with my undying, death defying, love for you........' Muffin is ordinary but has an extraordinary effect upon those in her immediate circle. The book which is written in an easy style shows that dogs-especially Muffin are very sensitive creatures who are intuitive, sniff danger and pick up sorrow. They will do all they can to assuage it, giving comfort even just by being omnipresent. There are also wider examples of how famous dogs in history have shown such devotion and unselfish valour. It is a touching, thought-provoking book which you may need a tissue for at times, but it is in my view ultimately an optimistic read which answers far more questions than it poses, stays with you and is so much more than just a book about a dog. She is now immortalised in print and running on in the Gipton bluebell wood in the sky with coquettish red bandana about her neck and watching over her family as ever. Muffin -`second star to the right'.

So thank you for reading this and I’ll try to post more often than I have ! Off to find my nosebag and have a lie down on some hay. See you soon-unless you stay to read on. (Where have you been ?)    All comments, followers, suggestions for future posts , or subjects I can talk about welcome. However they will be read for prior approval by myself  before making it on to here. 
Au revoir for now-be kind-

Dark Horse x

Saturday 22 March 2014



Hello and welcome back again, thanks for looking in after a long wait........We are well into the year and still enjoying some warmer weather, but are wondering if and when the snows are coming.
Spring Flower by Helen
Galloping towards Easter and a surfit of chocolate eggs for number one son as always...perhaps I should moot an idea for families with surplus eggs post-Easter to donate them to their local hospitals instead of wastefully throwing them away.....maybe a large tea-chest could be in their reception and one could place them in there and bring some chocolatty cheer to those forced to stay in over Easter-just a thought from Dark Horse......
Back to my blog, sorry it's been a excuses.....mea culpa ! Usual format i.e. anything goes but mostly an artistic slant to things and I have some news to broadcast re a small breakthrough in the dramatic department.........
Read on dear peruser of bloggish sweetmeats.......

Actors' Stories Continued.........

Now I used to think that I was very good at not giggling or breaking down during a performance as it's very 'unprofessional', childish etc. Also each audience member has paid good money in most cases to come and watch and deserve a standard of respect and performance level.
Well, I have disgraced myself very few times so they are worth noting......
Okay, during a performance of a comedy version of 'the Scottish Play' Wot we can't mention, myself and another lady were clad in long cloaks and it was a very intense scene. We entered Stage Left in close conspiratorial mode. My colleague began to talk very seriously to me and as she did so the bottom part of her hood which was tucked under her chin suddenly flapped up and went straight into her mouth muffling her speech.......that would have been alright but she just calmly removed it and carried on speaking as if it hadn't happened and I'm afraid I burst out laughing but did turn upstage to face away from the audience, then my colleague caught the moment and began to splutter and shake along with me....we managed to get through the scene, but luckily the audience understood and it was a comedy.............

'Prompter'........definition........'a thankless task which is very difficult to get right......if you give them a prompt they didn't need it......if you don't give them one they were screaming for it........also the actors sometimes jump along several pages of dialogue and it's extremely hard to find where they are, causing frantic shuffling of pages....AND it's the Prompter who gets it in the neck for not knowing where the actors have strayed fair play to all those seasoned Prompters out there, I salute you.......personally you won't find me doing it again....!!! 'Death On The Nile' was quite enough for me.....!!

In the same play as above, I had an interesting experience. I was prompter and I was milling around the dressing room with the actors and chatting. I sat down on what I thought was a comfy sofa with a pile of rags on it.........I sprang up suddenly as I was sitting on an actor, who was blacked up and dressed in long strips of rags and long cloak..........Sorry Peter !!! (He was totally camoflaged by his get-up... and I had a shock. He didn't seem to mind.......!!!)What a mistake to make !!

I was in a short play at drama school where a party was meant to be taking place. This was performed in front of staff and other students. My character had to be physically sick at the end so I had a small trick up my sleeve, or rather elsewhere. Beforehand I'd purloined a can of chicken and mushroom soup and prior to going on I took a large amount of this, cold, into my mouth and kept it there throughout the whole scene waiting for my big moment. I went through the gagging motions and pretended throw up...splat !!!! Worked like a charm and got a major laugh as people weren't sure how this had happened.......I thought David my colleague was going to require medical assistance he was laughing so much. Next time I'll just pretend........

Still at drama school, I was cast as Caliban in 'The Tempest'.....I know not ideal for a woman with a large frontage but I had to make the best of it and there were more girls than men in my year.......
Well Caliban is a creature of many different parts, so my creation I decided was a mixture of tights, feathered-wings, a ring attached to my nose like a Bull, I also had a character I determined but since regretted as my knees suffered thereafter.....walked on all fours but upside down, like an upturned this would all have been all right. However, one day, there were workmen outside our country studio barn conversions who were tasked with erecting a Marquee for our Summer Ball. They were rough and tough and I noticed that one of them, fag in mouth, was wearing stubble and a Tee-Shirt which bore the legend....'Bollocks to the Poll Tax.....' Now, I was in studio One and I realised to my horror that I had to walk past these men in full Caliban garb to get to the other Barn across the grass. I'm sooo going to get cat-calls etc I thought........but I braved it.........I walked with as much dignity as I could muster under pressure and tried not to look at them.....
Sure enough...
"Whhooarrr, alright darlin' ? Would ye look at that.......Cor look at them legs.........going my way love? Get 'em off.."  Etc etc, much whistling and whooping........get it over with I thought-get it out of your systems. I reached the other Barn without further incident I'm happy to report....

My first effort at doing Cross-Stitch


Mother's Day

As it's Mother's Day soon, why not try something new to surprise your Mums with. Hope that the day goes very well.
Last year I did the sewn card on the left and enjoyed trying a different picture instead of painting and drawing.


Well, I am the newest addition to 'Liars League Leicester' and did my first performance last week.
Do have a look at their website to discover when the next event is going to be. At present the team is in 'hiatus' whilst the future reads are decided.

That's all for this edition-the next post will have more variety.
Bye for now, stay tuned.......

Dark Horse x                                                    

Saturday 28 December 2013


Trotting Along......

Tree detail-Helen

Hello again, hope you all had a lovely Christmas and thank you for returning to read and hopefully be entertained.This is extremely overdue and thanks for your patience. The fourth of my blog posts is upon you and the personal 'South Bank Show' ever an amalgamation of subjects and personal views. 


 Christmas Thoughts

Well, how was your Christmas ? The year to me had gone incredibly quickly, I could not believe another Christmas was on the horizon.......I felt very unprepared but as usual I managed to pull myself into line and be ready by the appropriate time. Number one son had been ill with school-acquired ailments. His Christmas performance this year was entitled 'Young Ebenezer' based upon guess what ? And what was his part ? One of three Devils who visit the main man during the night. I was hoping that he might put himself forward for a larger part but not this time. He is quite a performer at home and is capable of much more than he does....still at least I only filled-up three times during it...A cup of tea and a mince pie after it in the small hall whilst son was gathering his belongings...I bored people by telling them for the thousanth time that I was at this same school. They still have the same copper water jugs with dents, and the original wooden benches used for P.E. Hope I have stood the test of time as well as my school items have.....Christmas Eve felt very strange. Managed to get away from the chaos that was my living room and wrapping paper everywhere to join my parents and listen to the Carol service on BBC2. An Oasis of calm. Christmas Day I had my parents over for the day. Mum told me she wasn't used to 'being waited on'. I told myself inwardly to keep calm, and things seemed to be going fine in the kitchen until I burned my hand on the oven and then noticed having timed all to finish cooking at the same time that my garnish items were far from ready. What to do.....? I removed all other items from the oven and put the disobedient articles on the top shelf and whacked the temperature to maximum. Take that stuffing balls and 'pigs in blankets'.....had to do some juggling of items to keep them hot.
Phew, it turned out alright in the end. I was convinced that it had been a disaster, but compliments all round to my surprise for the meal and particularly the sprouts and the honey-roasted parsnips and roast potatoes. I hit the Cherry brandy and the white wine by this point.......
'HAPPY NEW YEAR' and fellow Christians remember to cut each other some love and forgiveness as you weave through life's rich tapestry........CHEERS !!!

Dad and Number 1 son tucking in to my home-cooked Christmas lunch-
do you think he still looks 'unimpressed ?'


Actors' Stories-some of my own......

I was about to come onstage whilst playing the Bawd in 'Pericles' at The Old Fire Station Theatre in Oxford. My right-hand person playing 'Boult' had a very dishevelled and ripped shirt as part of her I grabbed her arm and said "Now Sir, hast thou cried her through the market ?" her sleeve totally came away in my hand with a loud  tearing noise. I couldn't pretend it hadn't happened and as it was 'Theatre-in-the-round' where the audience are surrounding you- there was no hiding place to turn to laugh. I tried not to laugh but I'm afraid I did along with the audience. I added some 'Shakespearian made-up stuff to account for it, but enjoyed it with the audience.

Props/wardrobe malfunctions. Well, had to eat a bag of crisps in 'The Man' at the Little Theatre whilst on sofa. One night picked it up the wrong way up and contents spilt. Since then over the tannoy in the dressing rooms could be heard a distinct crunch as each actor sat on them in turn. Stage Manager wondered what on earth these noises were......

Dropped a tin tray backstage with a clatter whilst playing edith in 'Blithe Spirit' at the same theatre due to make-up on the hands mixed with perspiration. Of course this was during a quietish part of the play....

Before contact lenses and without my glasses I tripped over a black stage weight in the darkness whilst in the same play...luckily this wasn't very loud....

I accidently sewed a tapestry to my lap whilst in the play 'Siddown Sid' and quickly pulled it and snapped the cotton before I was due to exit.........

My long maid-dress got caught around the ancient dentist chair  in 'You Never Can Tell' at the same theatre. I had to give it a firm yank whilst pretending to do something maid-like.....thus able to kindly leave the stage.....

Also the strap of my character's handbag became caught around the arm of the seat in 'The Man' again and had to quickly flip it off before I could leave the stage.......

No costume malfunction but leave of senses....during the same play I sat onstage and thoughts had wandered....I thought 'which door do I go out of and when do I go out of it ?' But then I thought just follow it through and it will become clear. Thankfully, I did and it was alright...phew !

In 'You Never Can Tell' again I rocked up to the wings ready for my entrance. People started laughing at me. I had got my wig and maid headpiece on back to front. I raced off to rectify.....

'Blithe Spirit' again-I was quite late once due to public transport problems and laddered my black tights as I rushed to put them on.

I was in 'Murder in the Red Barn in London at the Arts Theatre I think as part of our drama school plays and had put on false finger-nails which were quite long-only trouble was once these were on I was incapable of dressing/undressing myself having never worn false nails before... Male fellow student buttoned up my blouse for me and helped me with my other costume elements.........

More 'Actors' Stories' coming soon...........

Book musings...

Anthology-Pic Helen
Well this year I had another success with my poetry-with one poem included in another anthology and in a forthcoming book 'Poets Of The Year'.......This is only a small step but a step nonetheless. I'll keep working...
My friend Barney Bardsley's book 'Old Dog' was published and had good reviews, please see my review of it on the famous website which caters from A to Z....suffice it to say that one must never judge a book by its cover. Her book is so much more than a book about a dog as it touches on the human condition and so much more. Remember a book is for life and not just for Christmas......

Short Soapbox

Don't get me started......well ok here goes.....

Manners, I am disappointed when I don't get an acknowledgement when I hold a door......

Young female bus passengers who play the music way too loud, I am coming for you.....

On the same subject, we all know the old chestnut of pretending to read the bus timetable and then staying where you are.....there's a queue you know. If only people at the front of the line would say something to them......

Can we only allow guide dogs on buses ? Not Bill Sykes 'Trophy' dogs and certainly not allow them to sit on the seats......

You won't ever catch me at the Boxing day sales.....

Bring back the 'Startrack' system....then we shall know there's a bus on the way.

Suggest setting up a filtering desk at the A and E so that patients are sent to the appropriate treatment centre as soon as they arrive......

More Soapbox in the next post.............

Night night !!

Well a somewhat shorter post than normal but I have Christmas as a reasonable excuse........
Do stay tuned for another unpredictable diatribe in the fullness of time.........
All the best and HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL !!!

Dark Horse x


Monday 17 June 2013


    I was awarded a Liebster Award for newish blogs.....

**Late additions to question 6......Song 'This Woman's Work' by Kate Bush....... Also
   'Fragile' by Sting and practically everything by Sting solo and the Police..... 

  1. What motivates you to blog? A need to express, share and learn
  2. Who would you like to play you in a film about your life? Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep
  3. Bath tub or shower? Can I have both for different needs ?!
  4. Which figure from history would you like to meet and why William Shakespeare for human condition, apart from all the famous actors/actresses such as Ellen Terry, Olivier, and Churchill for admiration of their intelligence and help for this great country of ours..... 
  5. What is the most extravagant thing you’ve ever bought?Crumbs.......I suppose my computer and the digital music software home studio stuff-also IVF treatment was bloody expensive..sorry for swearword....
  6. Which book/film/song/poem/photo/artwork etc always moves you to sadness?Heck so many can I answer each one of these ?Brace yourselves.... Charlotte's Web, Schindler's Ark, White Fang for books, Elephant Man, The Railway Children and ET for films because ET takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions with the emotive music etc and that he dies and comes back to life and the long drawn out goodbyes etc.....I have to leave the room when it's on as it kills me as a Mother and I literally am racked with the music at the end builds you up and gives you the big orchestral hits at the end which allows you finally let it out although I 've already gone way before that....Elephant Man fantastically acted by John Hurt , "I am not an animal, I am a human being....!' Listen to how he pleads this and tell me you are not moved.....Remains of the Day because Stevens loves Miss Kenton and she him but they cannot seem to tell each other and so they have to part in the most painful way. Let that be a lesson for us all-IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY TELL THEM  for god's sake BEFORE IT'S TOOOOOO LATE.......I'm fine...........For songs, Why by Annie Lennox,No regrets, Robbie Williams, Get Here by Oleta Adams which is concerned with being together and making the journey to one another despite the obstacles, "There are hills and mountains between us, always something to get over, if I had my way surely you would be closer..." and it continues, many many other songs such as Sorry seems to be the hardest word and Your Song by Elton John, Wishing you were somehow here again and all I ask of you from Phantom of the Opera, Bring Him Home and empty chairs at empty tables from Les Mis. Papa can you hear me and a piece of Sky from Yentl, practically ALL of Sondheim's work including send in the clowns, I remember, Noone is alone, etc etc. Of course Bernstein's West Side story songs such as One hand one heart which is soooooooooo tender for a rough New York man to have written, "When love comes so strong, there is no right and wrong, your love is your life".All of Sir Edward Elgar's work inc. Enigma Variations, Sospiri and William Walton's work too and of course Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings (The music played at the end of the Elephant Man....)Also 'Weep no more ye sad fountains' from the film 'Sense and Sensibility' sung by Upshaw. There is a top note in that which just makes the hair rise on the back of yr neck well mine anyway.....Faure and Lloyd-Webber's Requiems.......beautiful. I'll have to go to the next one now but I could go on. Poem-high flight about the nearness of God when in flight, Joyce Grenfell's 'If I should go before the rest of you, break not a flower nor inscribe a stone but be the usual selves that I have known, nor speak in a Sunday voice.' Then later 'weep if you must parting is hell, but life goes on so sing as well'. Max Erman's 'Desiderata', and one about someones passing but not sure what it's called but goes 'I am I and you are you-whatever we were to each other that we are still. Laugh, smile pray think of me, use my name without the trace of a shadow on it...... All is well...' John Donnes' work and the other metaphysical poets........Keats, Shelley.....Anne Ridler's poetry and Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood of course, not forgetting Shakespeare and I could go on would be pictures of Oxford where I was in my element at drama school 
  7. And which one always makes you happy? You only get what you give by the New Radicals and you take me up by the Thompson Twins.Both songs. Riverdance is quite jolly.  
  8. Night owl or lark?Definately a night owl as the saying goes I'm not a 'morning' person and like to wake up gently although I often wake up feeling amorous......we'll move on......  
  9. What is your favourite food? When small girl used to be Vesta Chicken Curry as loved the mildness of it and the presence of sultanas, now like most things. Can't name a fave but Italian, Indian and English trad. food is all nice for me. If pushed I would say a full roast turkey Christmas dinner with ALL of the trimmings such as home-made bread/onion sauce and caramelised Parsnips etc etc.  
  10. If there was one thing you could change about yourself what would it be? Oh everything I would change but mostly elements of my emotional life such as the fact that I am a terrible worrier and full of angst most of the time but I guess I hide it well. Have a habit of saying yes I'm fine when I'm not, just to be maddeningly acquiescent. I suffer in silence at a cost to my health.I would love to be better organised and am a massive procrastinator which drives me mad and possibly others too........would also like to be tall but I am above average height so I 'll have to settle for that, also need to lose weight.......get a total body transplant etc.....but I was at the front of the queue when breasts were being given out, both my Grandmas had large breasts and I have been boldly going before myself ever since and keeping this going !!!!
  11. Do you like Mondays? No as a general rule but it's made bearable if one can see a beloved one......then one would look forward to the Monday................

Eleven random facts about myself: These are all true !!!!

1.  I have sung solo for Princess Margaret for the Keats/Shelley at Italian Emb. in London.
2.  I have composed music for Peter Shaffer (Amadeus etc.) for 'Red Riding Hood' in Oxford
3.  I was shortlisted to do voices for 'Spitting Image'
4.  I can juggle and paint/draw
5.  I am on my third Judo belt
6.  I have had three poems published in poetry anthologies
7.  I am a member of Equity and have its famous 'card'
8.  I used to be a County Junior golfer for Leicestershire
9.  I have narrated two unabridged novels audio books/for order at Amazon/Waterstones
10.I have had a lot of IVF treatment in the past, one was successful......!!
11.I have had an imitation Cartier watch bought for me by the late senior Oxford Don
      I mentioned before and a brooch which I do cherish.
      The watch stopped at 2.30-the time he passed away.
      I was in his address book along with the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Iris Murdoch,
      Melvyn Bragg  etc. I was chatted up by Michael Codron at a party once- I didn't know
      who he was !!!!!
     (Only one of the biggest impresarios of the theatre, what a mistake to make !!!!!!)
      I was in a short film directed by Terence Donovan who was a nice chap. Sorry I added
      more random facts in than I was allowed...........

Normal blog will be back soon !! Watch this space............


Saturday 17 November 2012

And We're Off....

At the Drama School Ball
Dark Horse here, or Helen-welcome back those who have seen the first post, and welcome those who are reading this for the first time. This is the second of my blogs which as we stated in the initial stages is a sort of 'personal South Bank Show' where anything may be written about...........anything goes !! For my background-please see the first blog ! This gives an overview of the blog's premise.
Here goes...........

Firework-pic by Helen

Pumpkin photo by Helen

Son with sparkler-Photo by Helen

Hope you all enjoyed Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night if you did venture out through the smoke. Number One Son had a great time with setting up and helping to set them off. Also employed with the odd sparkler-luckily the weather stayed fine if a little blustery and very cold.

The time of the increased darkness brought the use of a cinema voucher which had hitherto remained in a box since last Christmas.
Not just any voucher but one for 'The Directors' Hall'-very posh !

My dead men at the Directors' Hall-Photo-Helen
Directors' Hall-Pic, Helen
I saw 'Skyfall' and thought it was entertaining and a good film but not the best Bond film as some have dubbed it in my view. Not much humour or sex this time but impressive stunt scenes, chases and much more of Judi Dench. Will say no more about it otherwise I will spoil it for those who have yet to see it. (If you thought you knew the elderly man in it and couldn't place him it was Albert Finney.) Which brings me nicely on to my next topic.

Actors' Stories

'Lawrence of Arabia' directed by David Lean had a stellar cast of actors which included Sir Alec Guiness. In one scene set in a tent, one of the actors Henry Oscar as Selim was required to quote heavily from 'The Koran' in a section called 'The Brightness'. This would have been fine but several times he had stumbled and failed to remember it properly thus causing the actors in the scene with him to have bouts of the giggles-especially Peter O'Toole who was playing Lawrence. This eventually became almost hysterical and out of hand. Eventually Guiness exploded with "gentlemen, gentlemen, remember we are professionals, let us remember that....." and stormed out. Lean decided the actors needed a break to sort themselves out. They paced around the tent with O'Toole chanting to himself. " I must not laugh, I cannot laugh, I will not laugh, if I laugh again it is the end of my career, I must not laugh, I cannot laugh, I will not laugh...." 
Guiness walked around to himself, "I hope they don't laugh, they must not laugh......" It was decided to place parts of 'The Brightness' everywhere Oscar looked. On the table, on his arm, on the lamp, above the bed that he could not forget it and was prompted wherever he looked. In walks Guiness."Action!" shouts Lean.
"Welcome 'awrence, welcome welcome- we have just been listening to Selim reading from the Koran from a selection called 'The Brightness'. Sit down and listen, and now Selim..."
Turns to Henry Oscar who is all glued-up, words everywhere he looks and says
"Give us the Brueeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeee."

Two old actors appearing in a touring play which had been running for a long time were having difficulties. One night they were in the midst of a performance and they were thinking of what they were going to have for dinner that night or what card game they were going to play later and suddenly they both dried stone dead.(Which means forgetting your lines....) The girl in the prompt corner whispered a line to them. Nothing. She hissed the line again a bit louder this time. Still no glimmer of a response. Finally she shouts the line very loudly. One of the old actors slowly rises and walks over to the prompt girl.
"Yes we know darling we heard you the first time-but which of us says it ??!"

An Agatha Christie play was in its final denouement and the Inspector was going around the suspects questioning their movements. He reaches the prompter's corner and dries.
The prompter hisses "Try and remember."
The actor is outraged by this and still is stuck. Again she shouts "Try and remember". This happens several times.
Eventually the actor playing the inspector storms over and grabs her by the lapels. She gags:
"Try and remember what you were doing on the night of the eighteenth....."

One story I recall from performances is this. Was in the middle of a Chorus scene during 'The Sleeping Beauty' and suddenly became aware of the gentleman behind me-who seemed to be fiddling with something and it started to feel like he was 'touching me up'. I was rather livid about this........As we came offstage I accosted him angrily although he was twice my size and basically tore him a strip off about being unprofessional etc. Along the lines of what the hell was he playing at........??
He meekly said "So sorry me ring broke and I was trying to pass it to you........." Needless to say I  wished to drop through the floor !

On the last night of the same panto. some stage-hand had placed plastic sick in the font to make us laugh. Not really a fan of practical jokes but it produced some merriment.

On the final night of 'Worzel Gummidge' some stage wags had rigged up pulleys at both sides of the stage and out of the corner of my eye I spotted something/s moving back and forth. They were little toy hedgehogs being worked by said stage hands. Tried not to laugh and turned upstage in case !

The Witch and I as one of her robotic guards in one of our Pantos had so scared the children that we decided to do backstage tours afterwards to show that we were nice people really !

Met Dame Judi Dench after she had come offstage playing the lead in 'The Cherry Orchard' by Chekov in the West End. She was lovely and could not have been more welcoming. She signed my programme and when she heard that I and my two fellow pupils were at Drama school she said that she hoped that we would work together but she would be playing our Grandma............she did tell us to drop her a postcard to let her know how we were getting on. We never did do this-maybe one day we we left I recognised Michael Frayn the playwright, director coming along to see Judi carrying some flowers. What a nice lady she is !


Meeting Lord Attenborough

New Walk Museum-Pic taken by Helen.
 For some years Lord Attenborough has has been collecting Picasso ceramics and has amassed quite a collection now. His intention to leave it to the museums of Leicester. I was at the New Walk Museum when he launched his exhibition and signed copies of the catalogue. I hadn't intended to go as I thought there would be no way we would get to meet him. How wrong I was !!There he was mingling and talking to people. He had spotted Number One Son from a long way off as I had picked him up to cuddle him. Approached Lord A. gently and he asked if I would like a picture. Would I ?!!He picked up N.O.S. and here is the picture !

With Lord Attenborough.(Don't know who the bearded man is on the left !)

Some Picassos-Helen

Lord Attenborough holds court.(Helen.)

Was so pleased to meet Lord A. He was a Leicester Lad through and through and had fronted and chaired so many organisations and of course was an exemplarary actor and director-I prefer him as actor. Was heavily involved in the BAFTA and RADA where he trained. I always felt I was on hallowed ground when I passed by his photograph at the foot of the Little Theatre stairs. Hope it will always remain there. I never pass it without looking at it. I give thanks for all that he and his brother Sir David has done for the arts and for Leicestershire as a whole. I shall always recall his kindness to me on that day. Bless you Richard x 


Short Soapbox

 Please stop dyeing dogs-they do not have a say in the matter

Similar vein-stop using children as political slogans

Buses stop leaving early or late-just be on time

Before you do anything which involves others please ask if anyone minds ?!

Fingerless gloves-why ?!

Stop whinging and just do it !

Large Company tax evaders should be made to pay as they penalise the small man in the street-and lady

Please go out and vote-an abstention is a vote for the status quo.(Not the Pop group.....)

 Please can we have the pavements gritted-they are like an ice-rink. Is it any wonder that there are masses of people in A&E with broken limbs and sprained ankles ??!!


Writers' Houses and Worlds

 In deepest Dorset there is the former home of the author Thomas Hardy-run by the National Trust. (Don't try to get it on your SatNav as it is not on for some reason.) Also don't rely upon there being a Public convenience there as there isn't one. (One wondered where the staff went then ?!Woods nearby my son was forced to disappear behind a group of trees too.) I however had to wait until the next village for this purpose.Having lowered the tone now I shall raise it again with some pictures.

Thomas Hardy's Cottage in Dorset-another stranger in the picture-Panoramic Pic-Helen.

Monument to Hardy-self explanatory-All pics by Helen

 What struck me about being there was that although it was sparse-it was very peaceful-a must for any writer grappling with his work. No gift shops or playgrounds here just the writers' retreat and worth a visit. Read the inscription on the monument.

Cloud's Hill (Helen)

Now we come to 'Cloud's Hill' former home of T.E.Lawrence-yes of Arabia again.And he was a writer as well. There is a small hut near the house showing biographical DVDs with a bust of him and masses of information and background on the walls. Not sure where to look first. Again a peaceful retreat. If I thought that Hardy's cottage was on the sparse side then this was bordering on the most basic to survive. His bed was very high up-not sure the reason for this maybe it stems from being safe from any attack which would have been drummed into him in the Army. There was a gramophone and a domed cheese server. Not much at all but then I suppose he was used to this whilst living in the desert. (Just as Gandhi had very few belongings-it also may have been spiritual.)

Information Centre (Helen)

After visiting the house if you travel down the road there is a restaurant/cafe which has many links to Lawrence and especially interesting or macabre depending upon your view is the table which holds the cake selection there. It was the bier which was used to carry Lawrence's casket down to the churchyard !* But something clicked with me that its function had gone from a sad one to a happy one. 'Post Nubila Phoebus' after the clouds comes the sun I think the translation is although as a girl I wasn't allowed to do Latin at school but might have liked for my Soapbox feature another time perhaps.....

The Bier which carried the casket of T.E.Lawrence to the Churchyard (Helen)

I must show you the local church, in whose grounds Lawrence lies, as it has some unusual and beautiful windows.

Pic by Helen

Photo Helen

Pic Helen
You guessed it- pic Helen

Finally we come to one of the houses where  'Pride and Prejudice' for the BBC was filmed with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. It is a B&B in Teigh, Rutland called 'The Old Rectory'.The lady who runs it provides a cream tea and allows a tour of the house and a look through her photo album. The only thing she asks for is a donation to church funds to be passed to her. Her house was used for the Reverend's scenes played by David Bamber.     

(Pic Helen)

Son unimpressed

Featured in P&P the Reverend's room (Helen)

One of the bedrooms there (Helen)

One more look ! (Helen)

Coming up in the next Mosaics installment..........



Some Book reviews


Son's Sayings




More Actors' Stories 

Sport For All and Specifics

Music-A Prelude

See you soon !                  Lots of love....