My Nest. It is Empty.

Yesterday was a long and complicated day.

The Son, his girlfriend and myself left the house at about 9.45am to commence Mission: Get Son To University. We drove in good humour, sang along to music, talked complete bollocks and reached Trowell services for lunch at around 11.50am. We met up with the Son’s dad, who was in Car #2 which contained pretty much everything the Son didn’t actually need.

We had lunch. We continued onward with Plan A fixed in our minds. Let’s look at Plan A, effectively created off the back of the letter from the university.

“You can collect your accommodation keys and move in from 2pm onwards. Your individual face-to-face enrolment appointment is at 3.50pm. There is a 15 minute drop off for unloading, and there will trolleys for your stuff.”

So, it followed that we would arrive at 2pm, unload the cars, find somewhere else to park, grab a trolley, get the keys, get the Son into his room and get him to his enrolment appointment. This allows time for me to see some of the campus before we leave to drive all the way home. This was a perfect plan. Would could possibly go wrong?

Then I remembered this.

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Those quiet, understated misgivings proved to be right. Here, in handy bullet point form, is a summary of yesterday after we left Trowell services.

  • 1.45pm – leave the M42 and join the M6 for the short hop to Aston University.
  • 2.10pm – still on the M6, because the traffic is bumper-to-bumper. Son’s dad takes wrong turn and we enjoy a brief, but entertaining tour of some back streets. Slight anxiety that we’re now late, but at least we’re in the right vicinity. Let’s find our assigned car park, Car Park 6.
  • 2.35pm – still in the queue for Car Park 6. Get in, get told car park is full and we need to go to Car Park 5. We end up in another queue of traffic as Car Park 5 is right next to the slip road joining the bumper-to-bumper traffic coming off the Aston ‘Express’way.
  • 3.00pm – spot a space on the on-road parking RIGHT NEXT to the entrance to Car Park 5. Reason that this will be a better plan than having to find another car park. Yoink space. Feel as though have accomplished something. Son’s dad parks in Car Park  which is essentially a) empty; and b) a building site. Not a sign of welcoming people with trolleys. Stress levels increasing.
  • Leave cars where they are, head into campus. Oh, this is nice! People! Trolleys (all in use)! And queues. Everywhere, queues. I’m fairly sure that people were queuing for queues. Let’s join one!
  • Queue One: The Queue for a Trolley. We stood in this queue for a while, when some poor woman came down to say that it was a ‘fake’ queue and there WERE no trolleys and that we should go to our car parks where people would bring trolleys to us. No. Not acceptable. Could feel levels of snark rising. Pointed out son’s enrolment appointment time, and pointed at queue for accommodation keys that went round practically the entire campus. And that’s not an exaggeration. Poor Woman let us stay waiting and eventually, a trolley came.
  • Briefly considered stealing trolleys and selling them to other people in same situation. Could have made a fortune.
  • Left Son’s girlfriend standing in Queue Two: The Queue for a Key while we charged off with a lovely final year student to unload the cars. Well, to unload my car which contained Things Son Needed, as opposed to stuff in his dad’s car which was Things Son Wanted. Reached stage where we both firmly said ‘if it doesn’t fit in the trolley, it isn’t coming’.
  • By now, it is about 3.40pm. Give Son his passport and pack him off to his enrolment. Myself, Son’s Dad and the Lovely Grace cart all the stuff back to the campus and wait for enrolment (which took about 50 seconds) and key.
  • It is now about 4.15pm. Irritation has subsided to be replaced with faint sense of relief and mid incredulity as we joined the final queue of the day: Queue Three: The Queue to Actually Get Into the Building.
  • By the time we finally got everything unloaded, it was now 5pm. My original plans to get a look around campus and leave about 6-6.30pm were completely out of the window. So we did the only sensible thing you can do in these situations. We went for a beer.
  • 6.30pm. Starting to feel like a spare part, so said ‘right, I’m going home’. Said goodbye to Son, didn’t cry. Waited for Son and Girlfriend to say goodbye and she and I drove home together without getting upset and keeping each other’s spirits up. Dropped her off at her house and then came home. Was back in about 11pm after a very trying day, which nonetheless was full of love and laughter.
  • Cried. Yes, I finally cried. Because he’s not here any more. He’s out there, having a grand adventure, without me (I’m jealous) in a lovely room on a beautiful campus and now I have to share him with the world. I’m sad and happy at the same time. So proud. So choked up. So… parent.

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On Parenting Pt II: Results Day

It’s A Level Results day for young people – and their anxious parents – across the UK. Today is stressful for many, startling for others, sobering for the rest. There are tonnes of guides for young people to help them through the process. There are less guides for parents. That’s the first conflict.

You are no longer important.

That sounds more demeaning than it is. Let me quantify. Until now, you will have been involved, in some degree, with your child’s education, whether that was attending that first school Nativity when they were five and wearing a Wise Man crown made out of slightly peeling gold paper, or helping them with their homework, or getting on their case about revision… or dropping them off at their prom.

Today is about your child and their achievements, absolutely. But don’t forget to congratulate yourself as well. You probably had a hand in their success, so don’t undersell yourself.

So. In order to get his university place, The Son needed B, C, C grades.

This morning, he opened up his envelope, refused to come show me or his dad immediately (which made me instantly suspicious) and then finally revealed his results.

B, B, C.

Better than he needed, better than I thought he would do given his reaction to the exams and better, I think, than he believed in himself. One simple truism has rung throughout all of this and we reiterated it with him this morning.

You get the results you deserve.

He worked hard to get those grades. He didn’t do brilliantly in his mock exams and, I think, it was the solid boot in the arse he needed to focus his attention. I was conflicted as a parent over the whole process, because on the one hand, I wanted to emphasise to him how important revision was – but also, knowing how much like me he is – I didn’t want to push him so hard that he rebelled and did nothing. Turns out that we got the balance spot on.

Nobody prepares you for parenting. Oh, sure, they tell you about childbirth and what to expect in the early days. They show you diagrams, demonstrating quite clearly which end the food goes in and which end it comes out. (No joke: those early days leave you so sleep deprived that it’s an easy mistake to make). But nobody prepares you for the emotional  highs and lows that sneak in over the course of this crazy job.

This morning, I have swung wildly from insanely proud at his accomplishment through to melancholy that he will be ‘flying the nest’. I am delighted that he got the result he needed, but I am also prepared to acknowledge that had his results not earned him his place, I would have been secretly pleased to have him on hand for a little longer.

Whatever the outcome today, I wish you and yours the very best. Myself and mine are embarking on a very scary journey and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

On Parenting

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Me, right about now.

One heartbeat. That’s it. That’s all it takes. For something to go from as it was to how it will be. In a heartbeat, the second line appeared on the pee-on-a-stick test and I went from being… whatever I was to being an expectant mother.

Then in another heartbeat, everything changed again.

Well, alright, the morning the Son was born, it was a little more than a single heartbeat. But because of the Drama[tm] that occurred the morning of his birth, it might as well have been. One of the few joys of general anaesthetic is that one second everything is as awful as it can be, the next it’s all over and you’re wondering why it’s daylight outside when it was QUITE clearly not light when you got wheeled up here and why have you got tubes where tubes should not be thank you VERY much.

The morning he was born, a little scrap of a thing at 4lb 6oz, the consultant sucked in a breath over his teeth, full on car mechanic style. “I don’t know,” he said, “not sure we’ve got the parts.” 

Regardless, they managed an impressive patch job on my 8 weeks premature baby boy and his survival was duly declared both ‘excellent progress’ by the hospital staff and ‘exactly what I expected’ by my ex-husband.

A heartbeat. I went from being an expectant mother to being a mother.

The point is this. While I was pregnant, I worried constantly. Am I eating right? Am I taking the right vitamins? Am I being the best incubation vessel for this nutrient-sucking parasite that I can be? It turned out that apparently my body was doing such a good job, that he only needed seven months to get ready. (I appreciate that clinically his early arrival suggests that I was operating at less than optimal efficiency, but you know, I like to pretend).

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The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, he said. But what something DOES COME FROM MARS AND EATS MY CHILD’S HEAD?

Then, after he was born and during the two weeks of his hospital stay, I worried some more. What if I drop him? What if he suddenly turns out to be, I don’t know, a vampire? Or a werewolf? What if being premature results in issues with his health? What if he doesn’t like the X-Men? What if, Heaven forfend, he likes football? How will I ever engage with him?

All of the above issues were duly answered in their own time. I didn’t drop him, although once, he rolled off a bed quite spectacularly. He isn’t, to my knowledge, either a vampire or a werewolf (although he could do with a shave more often at the moment. Nobody wants a ginger werewolf). His health has been, thank goodness, phenomenal. He liked the X-Men and for years, called Apocalypse ‘Pop Lips’. And he isn’t remotely interested in football.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Pop Lips.

But the parenting thing… has been more difficult in the last twelve months than in the last eighteen years put together. For a year now I’ve been ramping up to tomorrow. Tomorrow is Final A Level Results Day. Tomorrow, in a heartbeat, just as it will do for countless young people across the country, he will go from being whatever he is now to whatever he is tomorrow.

For other parents who are stressing out tonight while their prodigals are sitting there looking cooler than cucumbers, I say this.

In a heartbeat, their lives are going to change. In a heartbeat, my son will become something else.

He might go from being a schoolboy to a prospective university student.

He might go from being a schoolboy to someone who didn’t quite make the grade this time out.

But I’ve come to realise today, thanks to the love, help and support of a lot of people – including my ex-husband, with whom I have remained friends and to whom I am immeasurably grateful tonight – that no matter what happens after he opens that envelope, that Shroedinger’s Stationery Item of Doom, one thing is certain.

He will still be my kind, funny, smart, witty son. I was partly responsible for making him. And no matter what happens tomorrow, I will always, always be proud of him. He’s a fantastic human being and no grades could ever diminish that in him.

For me, across these last eighteen years, parenting has been a roller coaster ride, with more bits that make you go ‘wheeeeeeee’ than make you go ‘eeeeeeeeeek’. This last year, however, has been one big eeeeeeeek. Tomorrow, that ride will be over, one way or the other.

And then it’s time to get aboard a different ride for a whole new experience.

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BUT WHAT IF THERE ARE MUTANT, FLAMING BADGERS OVER THE TOP OF THAT CLIMB???

 

You Have a Woman’s Hands!

So the new Doctor Who is female.

This has, as you can perhaps imagine, generated a deluge of responses on that great and reasoned platform for discussion, social media. I have seen responses ranging from someone saying quite plainly and simply that they now have little interesting in watching the show if it has a female lead – which while disappointing is, at least, honest – to the response of ‘as a father of daughters, I approve’.

That last comment, for reference, was made by Colin Baker, the sixth Doctor Who.

For my money, I think that that new incumbent, Jodie Whittaker, is an excellent actress and I look forward to seeing if she can bring something new to the show. I hope, most sincerely, that the writing improves to do her talent justice, because the writing has been so horribly hit and miss since the show’s revival.

But of course, people are conveniently avoiding that discussion. Right now, it’s more about the gender issue. I have seen people on both sides of the divide saying some fairly horrendous things about the other side. It was curious to note just how many women were seemingly against the decision. Now, I’m sure that one of those reasons might well be that ‘women like to enjoy looking at pretty boys’, but let’s be honest, with the exception of David Tennant, none of the ‘New Who’ actors have been eye candy, have they? No. All that effort went into pretty, vapid assistants.

The fact that the last companion, Bill, was gay upset a lot of men. It’s the Doctor Who production team’s endless agenda, they cried. I found Bill to be one of the most enjoyable companions of the New Who to date (although still nowhere near the brilliance that was Catherine Tate).

So the eye candy argument is obviously a thing, although not one I particularly care to subscribe to. For me, my biggest concern as a woman is that Jodie Whittaker will be used as a scapegoat if the writing doesn’t improve. “Of course it’s crap,” someone will say, a little further down the road. “There’s a female Doctor.”

I believe the writers may have erred by banging the Missy/Master drum just a little too loud during the last series. All the heavy hinting that #13 would be woman (‘perhaps the future is all female’, ’let’s hope so’ is hardly subtle) meant that when Jodie’s announcement came, it was less of a shock, but every bit as controversial.

The time is right for change, says one section of the internet – men and women alike. A Doctor to represent the changing face of society.

Women can’t fly spaceships, argues another section of the internet. A woman can’t solve the kind of issues the Doctor faces, they continue, even though we all stopped listening after their first declaration. Their comments slither like little poisonous snakes into every discussion on the topic. Doctor Who can’t be a woman. It’s the worst thing ever. The entire economy of the first world is going to collapse as a result of this farcical decision.

Alright, perhaps that last bit is me being facetious, but you get the idea.

And then there was this comment.

She’s not even that hot. They could have cast someone better-looking.

What. The. Actual. Fuck? (That one WAS a male comment, by the way. I suspect that Bill would have disagreed and part of me hopes that #13 gets to meet Bill in some form. I have this lovely thought in my head that the Doctor’s regenerations are somehow influenced by the time they spend with their companions).

People are passionate about fandoms, I get that and I understand it. But when the line is crossed, when it stops being about the fandom and starts becoming personal, then there’s a massive, massive issue.

I have experienced this – on a minute scale – when I was contributing to the Warhammer pantheon of tales. Let me caveat this from the start with the statement that the majority of feedback, reviews and comments I received from the beginning were overwhelmingly positive. Even though I’m not writing for BL now, I still love the setting and the people.

Positive things included the two girls at Games Day who said that thanks to me, they felt like they could have a go at writing sci-fi/fantasy stuff. The shop manager who told me he liked it when I visited the shop, because it made other female customers feel less intimidated about coming in. All the friends I’ve made.

But there were… horrible things. I have long since deleted the toxic forum and Facebook PMs, Tweets and so forth I received over the time I wrote for the Black Library because believe you me, nobody needs that in their life. But you don’t forget them.

Let me give you a sampler of some of the things that were said to me. They seem oddly comical when taken out of context, but I want you to appreciate that they were most definitely not meant to be. They were the choice phrases out of what were bodies of aggressive text.

“I see you are writing for BL. Don’t. It doesn’t need women’s points of view.”

“Unless Space Marines start having periods, there’s no need for you to write stories.”

“So I suppose they’ll all be handsome, now, then.”

“What do you know about being a Space Marine?” I’ve often wondered about this. Who DOES know about being a fictional, genetically-enhanced superhuman?

And those were just the things directly attributed to the writing. There were more personal comments, too, which I’m not going to repeat here, but suffice it to say that they weren’t pleasant ones.

I stood behind two guys in Waterstones back when The Gildar Rift was first released. One was reading the back-cover blurb and I was watching, feeling that strange sense of delight that comes when watching someone look at your baby. Then his friend tapped on the cover.

“Wouldn’t bother,” he said. “Written by a woman, innit?”

The baby was put back on the shelf.

I didn’t say anything, of course I didn’t. In hindsight, I probably still wouldn’t have said anything. But I was…

Wow.

Whatever that feeling is, I felt it.

In any fandom, there is an element of toxicity. When it bubbles to the surface, it reveals an ugly, unpleasant side to what should be something enjoyable. It’s the same with Doctor Who. I think Jodie Whittaker is going to have a lot worse than I did and I’m embarrassed on behalf of those of us who love the show and its concepts. I’m ashamed on behalf of my own species, both male and female who are so vehemently against her taking the role and who have condemned her before she’s even had a chance.

She won’t be in for an easy ride. She’s smart, however, and isn’t on Twitter. I dread to think what sort of abuse and threats would have been hurled her way already. That is not right in anybody’s books. If you think threatening and insulting someone just because they’ve got the wrong chromosomes for your beloved fandom, then frankly, sling your hook.

I think, given the right scripts and an appropriate companion (alien would be brilliant), she will prove people quite wrong. She will open up the fandom to a new generation of little girls who can have a fantastic role model.

Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong at all.

Good luck, Jodie. SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT.

And That’s How the West Was Won…

I’ve been quiet. Sorry about that, although I’m almost entirely sure nobody actually reads the weird-ass stuff that I put on the blog. I’ve been quite busy, though. Which is nice.

I thought I’d pop by and do a quick update, though, because there’s just so much going on lately. Also, and you know, don’t keel over with shock at this revelation, but we are finally getting a much-needed holiday in September of this year. It coincides (give or take a few days) with our tenth wedding anniversary, and after the immensely complex year we’ve had, with Near Death Experiences (NOT an exaggeration), a break is going to be very welcome indeed.

One of the things I’ve been busy with is an involvement in the planned re-launch of a cracking little tabletop game that goes by the name ‘Wild West Exodus’, and which you can read all about here. WWX, for that is the acronym by which I shall refer to it, is a corker of a game, with an increasingly developing rich and delightful alternative world background. The production miniatures are utterly glorious and really nice to paint. I have been a huge Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp fan since I was about 12 and I watched ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’ with my dad. Then along came ‘Tombstone’, arguably my favourite film of all time, and everything Val Kilmer brought to the character, and Denis Quaid’s equally glorious take on it.

I’ve had a long-held ambition to go to Arizona, to visit Tombstone and to see the O.K. Corral.

Guess where I’m going in September?

So when I discovered WWX and found I could make a Lawman posse that included Wyatt and Doc, it was a no-brainer, really. Look, look, here’s my Lawmen posse! (Not all painted yet, but here they are).

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They’re your huckleberries.

As well as Some Secret Stuff, which I am really hoping to share more details about with you soon, I’ve also been writing a few flash-fics for the WWX blog and thought I’d collect all the ones I’ve done so far and gather them here, like a bunch of fluffy bunnies or whatever, for you to pop over and take a look at.

1 – The Storyteller – in which we learn a little about a fine chap by the name of Broad Arrow Jack.

2 – Harvest – in which we meet the supremely creepy Countess Augusta Byron

3 – A Gentleman’s Disagreement – in which we share a moment with those most glorious of Lawmen, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

4 – Dead Man’s Hand –  in which we discover what becomes of Wild Bill Hickok in the alternative world of WWX.

5 – Seeking Guidance – in which a young Walks Looking of the Warrior Nation seeks out her spirit guide.

If…

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,  
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

— Rudyard Kipling

Today, February 13th, 2017, my son turns eighteen.

This is an expected turn of events and hasn’t actually come as any sort of surprise, other than the fact that I’m fairly certain he was only born a minute ago. Seriously, the time has flown over and in the last eighteen years, I’ve been through all sorts of life-changing events that have made me into the slightly wrinkled, greying person that I am today.

I separated from my son’s father when The Lad was about three years old and it wasn’t an easy time for any of us. However, despite what were obviously our differences, his dad and I have remained completely amicable and civil, always putting The Lad’s needs first. I receive comments all the time about what a nice kid he is, so between the four of us (both of us have since re-married), we’ve produced what amounts to rather a splendid human being.

When we first separated, The Lad’s Dad was anxious that I might take the opportunity to pack up my things and our son and move back down south to my family. He was rightly anxious because he didn’t want to miss out on seeing his son grow up. It was never my intention to go anywhere, and so I remained in the north east and we had an excellent week on-week off, 50-50 sharing arrangement. Over the years, I’ve asked The Lad many times if he was happy with the arrangement and he’s always said that he thinks it’s brilliant.

So during these early days, I did my best to reassure The Lad’s Dad that I would never take him away, and I made a promise that on The Lad’s eighteenth birthday, he would take his Dad out for a pint. It sounds whimsical and silly in print, but I can’t convey enough how much making this promise meant to me. I made a promise. Just because The Lad’s Dad and I are no longer married, doesn’t mean I’m not inexplicable fond of him, neither does it mean that I make a promise lightly.

Tonight, The Lad is keeping that promise and it’s absolutely the best thing in the world. I have managed to raise a human being who appreciates feelings and understands obligation, even when it’s fulfilling a promise made by someone else and not him. He’s an extraordinary person and I often feel surprised that I was partly responsible for his creation.

The morning he was born was much like today: grey, overcast, drizzling rain. A standard February morning on which a child came into the world. Admittedly, he came into the world eight weeks ahead of schedule which is ironic really, because he’s rubbish at timekeeping now. It was all terribly scary and not without honest assessments from paediatric consultants who stated, in no uncertain terms, that they couldn’t honestly say if he would make it through his first day. By midday, he’d stuck two fingers up at them (metaphorically, obviously) and had turned around to such an extent that they admitted surprise. They clearly knew nothing about my paternal family’s stubborn streak. I knew he’d be fine. Actually, I was out of my head on morphine, so I was convinced that down was up and that I actually liked Marmite after all, so it was a case of believing anything.

I remember that I didn’t see him for about ten hours after he was born as he was whooshed off to the SCBU whilst I lounged around in recovery and later the maternity ward, languishing in a state of drug-induced bliss and semi-unawareness that anything was really happening at all. When I did finally get wheeled down to SCBU, I remember three important things:-

  1. The old hospital in Durham was built on a hill and I remember thinking ‘cripes, if they let go of this wheelchair, I’m going to careen down this hill and maybe get up speed enough to jump two double-decker buses’ (see also ‘Morphine visions’)
  2. The SCBU was, frankly, fucking terrifying. It was full of tiny babies, busy neonatal nurses and machines that went ‘BING’ at frequent intervals and at quite considerable volume. I remember once, whilst visiting The Lad asking, in alarm, what a particular noise was. It was the microwave in the kitchen.
  3. The Lad was in an incubator, like the eggs we hatched at secondary school, with a UV lamp and extra oxygen that made him super-pink. He was hooked up to a bunch of machines (that went ‘BING’), and with tubes up his nose. I was told I could hold him if I wanted. Which I wanted. And it was like cuddling a video. But I fell in love with him there and then and that, at least has never changed.

Over the years, I’ve watched The Lad grow and blossom from an earnest and over-serious child, to an articulate, thoughtful and occasionally stubborn young man. He is almost entirely self-sufficient, able to cook, clean, iron and occasionally he even remembers to put the loo seat down. He is hoping to go to University this year – as long as he gets his finger out and studies properly, although to give him credit, he finally seems to understand how important this aspect is.

Yes, it’s been a roller coaster eighteen years from premature baby to grown adult, and sometimes it felt as though the safety harnesses were going to fly off and the ride would fling us out into the queue, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wait. That’s not entirely true.

If I could change one thing, it would be to have my mother here to celebrate with the rest of us. We lost her when The Lad was only two years old and so he has no real memories of her. I would change that aspect of today, definitely. It’s the only sad bit among all the reasons to be happy, though, and for that I am very grateful.

I think I am very lucky in the relationship that I have with The Lad. We seem to harmonise more than we clash. We share a sense of humour, we share a taste in music (mostly) and because his personality is so like mine, I know when to push and when to give. A couple of years ago at LRP, one of the photographers (who is, incidentally, also one of the most gloriously lovely human beings I know) captured a candid shot of myself, The Lad and The Husband. I adore it, because I think it completely captures our mother-son relationship.

This blog post is completely dedicated to The Lad. You are, today, a man, my son. The world is your mollusc. Take it out of its shell and enjoy its slimy amazingness.

I love you.

Mum.

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I love The Lad. The Lad loves his mum. The Husband loves his chips.

The Play’s the Thing

Having just joined the local am-dram society in the never-ending attempt to pick up that part my life after it was truncated at the age of 18, I found myself idly trying to recall some of the most fun roles I’ve had on stage. There’s been loads of rehearsed readings, but I’m excluding them. So I’m committing the following list of favourite things to the blog.

Catherine Winslow – ‘The Winslow Boy’

Why memorable? For the curtains. The marvellous curtains. There’s a line in the play when a super-fussy journalist comes to the house, ostensibly to talk about a crisis that’s ripping this lovely family apart, only to be distracted by the curtains. The girl who played the journalist delivered this line with such delight that it cracked us up every time in rehearsals and even now, whenever I hear someone admiring curtains, I start to giggle.

Also memorable for the poor chap, very hard-of-hearing, who called for a prompt (who was sitting inside a hollowed-out piano, no word of a lie) and couldn’t hear it. Line became ‘I can’t hear a bloody word’.

Further memorable for the two elderly ladies who stopped me after the performance and said that they’d hoped my character and the barrister were going to Get It On.

Sorrel Bliss – ‘Hayfever’

Why memorable? Because I played opposite the same guy who’d been the barrister in ‘The Winslow Boy’ and our characters DID sort of get it on. The two elderly ladies were delighted. Also memorable for the barometer that kept falling off the wall.

Toinette  – ‘The Hypochondriac/The Imaginary Invalid’

Why memorable? Oh my good heavens, this was easily the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. Pretending to be a doctor, false moustache and all and assuming a big, booming voice. Nearly breaking some poor guy in the audience who laughed so hard he couldn’t breathe with my choice to deliberately leave that moustache on when I came back in as the maid. This was a joy from start to finish, this play.

Guard – ‘1984’

Why memorable? I got to be mean. Also, doubled up as the Main Villain’s Assistant. This was the first play I’d done for a few years, and I enjoyed it enormously.

Bernice Billet – ‘Sand Castles’

Why memorable? Kites were involved. Also, it was a very funny play. All about beach hut politics and the sad existence of the upwardly mobile and downtrodden.

Chelsea Thayer Wayne – ‘On Golden Pond’

Why memorable? WHAT a role to play this one was. Brilliant. Emotive. Sad. Glorious. Terrible attempt at an American accent. Also referred to throughout rehearsals as ‘On Golden Syrup’.

PC Conklin – ‘Rumours’

I don’t remember an awful lot about this one other than someone complimenting me on my comic timing and delivery of what was, conversely speaking, one of the smaller roles. It was good fun though, I DO remember that. Not every day you get to be a severe (yet tiny) police officer.

Muriel Tate – ‘Plaza Suite’

Why memorable? For the absolutely terrible American accent – probably worse even than the one from ‘On Golden Syrup’. Also, vodka stingers. Also, also, the sense of outrage I felt at the character for being so bloody stupid and gullible and letting the ‘amazing Jesse Whateverhisnamewas’ win her over.