I met the old git during the last heat wave. 1976, Leeds Playhouse, several of us actaws sat by a wall discussing the very play we would be performing. ENGLAND EXPECTS, written by Gavin Richards and performed by the members of Belt and Braces Roadshow in all their sweaty glory.
We were in our late twenties and early thirties, we had few commitments, we raised our fists high as we sung and cajoled our audience to bring down capitalism.
Seeing it written down I can’t believe how naive I was.
I still stand for the same principles. Get the bastards out and let the downtrodden get a look in.
That heatwave was the beginning of my life as a northerner’s wife. I could well end my life with this heat wave, still the wife of an ageing Leeds boy, but always maintaining my independence. I had it back in 1976. The Nordic Runes state to let the winds of heaven dance between you – we’ve done a fair bit of dancing over the years, and as a couple we have had much wind roaring between us, but we’ve always held hands round midnight and given the other room to manoeuvre.
Now the thing about me and him is that he makes few demands and I make a lot.
He is calm with perfect blood pressure.
I am erratic with my blood pressure sitting on the window sill of self destruction.
He has perfect blood sugar.
Mine is that of an ageing Jew who has had too many pickled cucumbers and heated Rabbinical arguments.
We laugh at the same thing – mainly. We certainly have the same attitude to politics, although given half a chance he would literally shoot anybody with a double-barrelled surname with a double barrelled shot gun.
As partnerships go we have had a colourful marriage. Eleven years living in sin, then thirty five as a legitimate married couple, although I wouldn’t say either of us were in any way legitimate. He’s never worn a suit to work – only if a character required it, or at weddings and funerals. Whilst I’ve never done anything that wasn’t underpinned by a pair of dungarees. I think the only thing we vehemently disagree about is Mrs. Brown’s Boys. I hate it but and the old git thinks it is an expression or genuine working class humour. Fuck off.
I sit up all night watching movies whilst he sleeps the sleep of the wicked, even in a 40 degree heatwave.
I don’t drink – well hardly, and he does – a lot.
We have three daughters between us, two grandchildren and a platoon of God children and nieces and nephews who cannot rely on us for money any more, but we are always there for their whingeing, moaning and existential panic.
I left the theatre in 1980 and the Northern entertainer remained. He trod the boards of the West End, The Globe, The Fringe and The Arcola. He is dead good and I love watching him.
I have worked for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, Shit shows, Good shows, Food shows and LBC.
We have both mismanaged our money. We are useless and have about as much idea of pension schemes as we do pruning Bamboo.
He is practical I am not. I cook he doesn’t.
He bathes rarely, I slip into a tub at the drop of a flannel.
We read and write and if I howl loud enough he will sit down opposite me in the kitchen and give me a game of Scrabble. I win, he doesn’t.
Money, when we had it, was spent on boxes of sparkling Shiraz, CD’s, garden furniture, a kitchen extension and my little red sports car. Money, when it was disposable, was spent on a boudoir grand piano and a fancy cello for the dawter. Money, when it was abundant, was spent on parties and holidays and a swanky Japanese, blue, sports car for him.
We don’t have any disposable income now, we can eat and have the lights on should we wish, but holidays and cars went the way of green stamps and the Labour government.
When I left the theatre I was head hunted for loads of telly programmes. And then I got a sit-com ‘CABBAGE PATCH’ which starred Julia Foster, Betty Marsden and me.
Betty was in “Round The Horn’ and had the raspiest of voices. She wore gold chain bracelets and lived on a houseboat by Kew bridge. She was sassy and clever and taught me how to play in front of a camera.She was my mentor. She was a comedy legend. I wrote a comedy drama for her, and we would sit either side of her huge round walnut table and do a table reading.
‘Keep it real darling. Keep it real.’
Her comedy arrow was always bulls-eye accurate.
She died mid joke, holding a class of vodka tonic. Her funeral was what we would all wish for.
People cried and laughed, swung off the church rafters, then we all boarded her boat and toasted her till the sun sunk on the Thames.
I loved Betty, and still miss her.
There was a picture of her in the newspaper today, it hurt my heart.
None of us can swerve the fucking grim reaper, but with friends like Betty in your life, just for a moment we can feel immortal.
I’m drinking water in this heat.
The dawter has filled a bath of cold water, in the garden and is submerged.
The old man has a glass of icy cold gin and tonic, “but not before four”!
1976’s heat wave feels like yesterday. 46 years between then and now and luckily my marriage is still in tact. I’ve no idea what the magic is but I do know that not even a Tory re-election can split us asunder.
If, however, the fucking new Prime Minister does not fuckingwell look at global warming and the state of the planet; if the newly installed arsehole does not repair our ailing country; if the number one turd does not heal our nation, then I cannot guarantee that the ‘oosbind and I won’t have a monumental bundle and declare ourselves consciously uncoupled.