By the time I got home last night my feet were humming, my back singing and my brain all of a concert. I fell into bed, cut out the noise of the old git, the daughter, her friend and the throbbing balls of my feet.
I fell asleep immediately until 6.00
Went back to sleep until 8.00
Did all my admin. and now, at 9.38, I am wacking out yesterdays adventures.
Hold on while I say goodbye to the Northern spouse.
After yesterdays show I should have had, what we call in the world of broadcasting, an AIR CHECK.
Your mentor, in my case CHRIS LOWRIE, sits you down and tells you all the bits you got wrong, all the bits you got right and ‘Moves you on’, ‘Keeps you off the rails’. No matter how old I am its still nerve wracking, like going in to see the headmaster. However, I couldn’t make it because I had to get to the theatre.
I spun home through Earls Court, for a change, and at 4.30 hugged Jim in the flat. We left immediately.
Walked down the riverside to Battersea Bridge. I had my yellow anorak tied round my waist as Mr. Lowrie, our weather man, had predicted rain.
I yakked all the way to the bus stop and beyond.
A No.19 came immediately. I knew then it would be a jig-saw of an evening, wth everything slotting in perfectly. My presentiment was right. The evening unfolded thus:
We sat in the front seat on top of the bus. Lounging on the other double seat to our right was ALAYNE REESBERG. Who she? I hear you ask.
Well I didn’t know either until we all dismounted on the Shaftsbury Avenue. She was off to Ronnie Scotts for a birthday party, but on Friday was flying out to Petra, in Jordan, to organise a conference for a whole pile of important people including the Nobel Prizewinners. She was tall, stately, elegant and as it turned out, my neighbour. She gave me her card, a huge hug and off we went. That was a good bit of serendipity.
Jim and I walked down to THE DONMAR WAREHOUSE. We were meeting the wife of one of the actors in THE CHALK GARDEN, by ENID BAGNOLE.
At press night all the same critics turn up. They are completely recognisable as they wear their first night attire. One wears his white linen suit, one a baseball hat, one a crumpled old pin-stripe, me my dalmation dungarees. They carry their requisite ring-bind notebooks, a clutch of pens and a look of pre-emtive apology.
Firstly we bumped into NICK SNAITH. He broadcasts at exactly the same time as me on HEART. I love him, why, because he’s tall, handsome, has a pilots licence, and says hello to me.
Then I bumped into LINDA BROUGHTON. We haven’t spoken since 1980 when we clashed on REVOLTING WOMEN, the first ever femninist comedy show. I rest my case.
Jim and I settled down for a fruit salad and bruschetta in Neals Yard when I heard a whistle. A wee voice shouted ‘JEN’. Way up fourteen stories high, hanging out of a widow, was JO HARDING, a delicious cameraman I had worked with on GFL. Indeed he was with me when I was given my dalmation dungas….
‘What are you doing?’ I shouted up.
‘I was about to throw myself out but you’ve just saved my life.’ he shouted back.
‘What?’ said Jim, who had that kind of gormless look you get when the crunch of bruschetta is just a little too loud in your ears.
JO came down an hugged me.
So far we nearly had all the pieces, the jig-saw was shaping up nicely.
We took our seats at the Donmar, an old Hop warehouse right in the middle of London Town, great space. I sat next to VICTORIA WOOD. She’s shy, I’m shy, we bumped shoulders in the ladies lavatory and said hello to each other. We’ve known each other for years, literally since she was at THE BUSH back in the late 70’s. But celebrity does a funny thing. The more well known you get the more the need for privacy. She didn’t come to the party afterwards. I wish she had I would love to have spoken with her.
THE CHALK GARDEN was magnificent. PENELOPE WILTON, MARGARET TYZAK, LINDA BROUGHTON, JAMIE GLOVER, to mention but a few, were truly terrific. I fell in love with Ms Tyzac back in the FORSTHYE SAGA days, and Penelope Wilton since the BORROWERS.
I don’t normally go over the top – she says hyperbolically – but the piece was pitch perfect. Real old pros doing it as it shoudl be done. The writing, the design, the lighting, the music, the timeing. Set in 1956 its a funny, touching play about lonliness, love and gardening. I urge you to go and see it. Book now because I predict a smash. It was a wonderful, wonderful night in the theatre. Well needed since so much stuff now is crap.
We went across the road to the first night do, humous, pitta bread, tomatoes and booze. I had water, the old git had red wine.
It was then we decided to complete the jig-saw.
I yakked all the way in to town the ‘oosbind yakked all the way out.
Leaving at 10.30, the night air balmy, we walked though Covent garden to Trafalgar Square. Nelson now presides over tourists, travellers and the homeless who sleep under the fine art of the National Gallery.
Through the square, across the road and through the arch of The Mall. Down past the ancient plane trees towards Buckingham Palace. The flag was doing its thing so Madge was obviously washing up whilst Prince Phillip watched the last night of the ‘Apprentice’. Down past the big house to Hyde Park Corner. Through Wellington Arch over the road and down into Grosvenor Square. One embassy after another had Mr. B. and I cooing into the night air. The Belgians, The Turkish, the Italians, The Bahranians. All standing perfectly peacefully next to each other in the dark of the night.
‘It’s a pity they can’t do that in the day time’. The old git remarked.
Followed by two Hooray Henry’s we trotted down into Pimlico. Past Edith Evans’ blue plaque, 1888-1876, she was always one of my inspirations, along Mozart Way, another, and round the corner past Lord Linleys fancy furniture shop.
On we marched, down Royal Hospital Road, as the Northern fellow continued his monologue, when my feet begun to burn, my back let out a twinge and the old git’s foot started to smart. At the same time we both thought….if a taxi comes along….which it did….we would grab it…which we did.
We climbed in tthe back, drove past Gordon Ramseys caff. I thought we really ought to go and eat there sometime time, the old git said it as I thought it – it really was one of those evenings – past the Albert Bridge all pink and light-bulbed, over Battersea Bridge and into the flat by 11.30.
Now I have to get my things together and get off to the studio. I have fifteen minutes left before I’m late.
Tonight I’m judging THE FUNNY WOMEN semi finals in soho. I may walk, depends on my balls……..NOW I’M LATE.
5 thoughts on “THE CHALK GARDEN”
Love the long blog. When are you finishing that book?
Hope your balls are better!
Not sure what ‘hanging out of a widow’ would entail …
Dear Jeni, It’s so lovely to read your bloggs, although I’m a northerner, my father has lived in London for 40 odd years so I do know some of the places you talk about, you make it so interesting. Lovely to hear how Kirsten is doing (You go girl). Just know you have lots of people wishing you well. Love to all xx (Must go, I’m one of the saddos watching Big Brother. I know I should know better at my age!!)
Another great blog Jeni,
Hope you realise how much we appreciate you….
Brilliant blog Jeni! How did the Funny Women semis go? I heard the first part of the show yesterday (16 June). Very interesting. I have no problem with gay couples, who have a religious faith, wanting a church ceremony to profess their commitment to each other. However, I do find the subject of religious faith intriguing. I was raised Catholic & lost my faith at age 10 when I started to ask questions & no one could, or would, answer them.
I went off to the hospital yesterday laughing at your description of hiding behind the piano when the postman called! Got to be honest with you honey, I think the majority of bodies look much better clothed! 🙂
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