Why I Won’t Hear A Word Against Russell Brand !

I’ve always loved Russell Brand!

Russel Brand   Russell_brand_looking

From the moment I first saw him doing his stand-up stuff, I thought he was hilarious.  And yes ok, I quite fancy him too! Even though he’s all long and lean, there’s something about him that’s very sexy and that could just be that he’s so funny, but whatever it is, he makes me go a bit weak and unnecessary!

I’m sorry, but he does!

A few years ago, when I was still at the Beeb, there was the whole Sachsgate incident which was totally foolish on his part but even so, blown well out of proportion.  I was part of the press circus that was camped outside his house waiting for him to show his face and make some sort of statement.  I remember it was freezing cold and I think it may even have snowed a bit but I also remember it was one of the nicest jobs as even though we were all from rival organisations, we all quite liked him and that created a spirit of unity amongst us all as we shared food, drink and loud laughter…while he was trapped inside, going through his own personal hell.

Eventually, he came out as he had to go into the BBC to talk about his future.  The scrum moved forward and I thrust a microphone in his face but then went all silly and tongue tied as he looked directly at me.  I managed to stammer out a question asking him how he was feeling and what he was going to .  He looked down at me and clearly felt sorry for me with my red nose.  He put his hand on my arm and smiled and then said “It’d be silly of me to speak without thinking, because that’s what caused all this trouble in the first place.”  I walked with him to his car, or at least was pushed along by the rest of the snappers and reporters, and as he got in he said to me, in an almost little boy way “I am sorry though”.  And that was the clip that was used on the TV news all that day and beyond and I felt just a bit proud that he addressed all that to me!

He may have got sacked that day but it didn’t do his career any harm. He has gone from strength to strength and now he’s all over the headlines again because he has become a political agitator who has written a book called “Revolution”.  I can’t stop watching and listening to him on the interview circuit as although I may not agree with him on a lot of things, I find his passion and the way he talks absolutely fascinating.

He’s an unlikely revolutionary who simply wants people to rise up and take control of their own lives and get involved in their political destiny.  He wants to encourage all those who are despondent about economic disparity and make them understand they do have the power to change things rather than believing the media because he says most of the press and broadcasters are run by the rich elite of this country who have their own interests at heart.  He says they don’t know what ordinary people care about, which is their jobs, their homes and their services.

As a result, most of the mainstream media in this country have turned on him, accusing him of promoting conspiracy theories about 9/11 when in fact, he makes the point that conspiracy theories only run wild purely because people don’t trust American and British governments.  As far as I can see, most of the press commentary on his book has concentrated on his private life in a bid to undermine him.  There seems to be very little written about his views on the housing crisis and the issues that affect ordinary people because instead they want to show him as sexually depraved, mentally unstable, egotistical and trivial.  And a lot of people I know are buying into that….and it upsets me.  Give the man a break!

Besides, by calling him trivial, aren’t the press actually dismissing all the people just like him who have lost faith in the system and want something different?  His answer has been to challenge the general media approach by setting up his own channel, The Trews (true news!), which already has hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

https://www.youtube.com/user/russellbrand

On that channel and in his book, he talks about how to run co-ops, examples of direct democracy, drug regulation, climate change, opposing energy giants and various measures to address economic inequality. He wants to bring the ideas of Thomas Piketty and Noam Chomsky, in a way that’s easy to understand, to people who wouldn’t otherwise necessarily come across them.  His dislike of power and elitism and his contempt for materialism shines through, just like it did with many students of my generation before somewhere along the way, apathy took over.  And that may be why I have a sneaking admiration for Mr Brand.

I get that many people choose not to like him and find him actually quite ignorant on a number of issues and in fact, I’ve noticed in a number of interviews he changes the subject, or makes a joke when his book is quoted at him. Telling Jeremy Paxman last year that he chooses not to vote was a bit of an own goal but to be fair, he wasn’t calling on others to follow his example.  He was just saying that he can’t see the point of voting when there isn’t anyone to vote for.  Whatever people think of him though, you can’t deny that he has suddenly got a lot more youngsters engaged in political thinking, which is more than our main political leaders have done.

And anyway, what’s wrong with challenging the establishment view?  Isn’t that what we should all be doing so that those same leaders are forced to stay on their toes and do the job they are supposed to do, representing all of us and not their own interests?

I hate to admit it but he is not dissimilar to Nigel Farage who has also cleverly tapped into the current discontent with traditional politics. Anti-politics has become all the rage and those in power don’t like what Brand and Farage have to say because it resonates with the public and is creating a buzz.  Surely the simple answer isn’t for our politicians to discredit these men but to listen to the public and respond accordingly.

Russell Brand wants everyone to organise themselves and rise up against these politicians but what he doesn’t seem to realise is that the public don’t know how to do it alone and they need someone to follow, even if it’s just a celebrity entertainer who uses long words and makes us laugh.  Whether he likes it or not, they are looking to him.

He says he won’t stand as any sort of leader because he doesn’t trust the system.  For example, he cites Boris Johnson as an example of the kind of politician that people think they like because he comes across as very funny and a bit of a buffoon and someone who has the public interest at heart.  But Brand points out that in fact he is just part of the system, as like most other politicians, his views chime with the economic elite of this country.

Rather than taking on a leadership role, he just wants to amplify the voice of the people in a bid to encourage them to do things for themselves.  He doesn’t want to be part of a system that he says is presiding over a housing crisis and making young people poorer than they need to be as they pay back student loans that Nick Clegg, now deputy Prime Minister by the way, promised they would no longer have to take.  Brand says people are lied to constantly, while politicians have fun playing their public games of verbal tennis with each other, before drinking together later in their cosy snugs at the Palace of Westminster …and he can’t be part of that.

The point is, he’s taken time to write this book and his passion for economic fairness shows us his compassionate, altruistic, spiritual side which I recognised early on in my admiration of him.  And whether the press like it or not, it looks set to be the Christmas number 1 – and yes, it’s on my present list.

Oh, and I still fancy him rotten!

PEM – The New Way To Access Emotion

Back when I was still working at the BBC but taking more and more time off to pursue various acting projects, I heard about a new acting method called PEM – the Perdekamp Emotional Method – developed by the German director and playwright Stephan Perdekamp.

I was intrigued as to what it was about and after a little research thought it might be something to pursue. However, every time I signed up to a workshop, something would come up to prevent me from going.  It became ridiculous, especially as on one occasion I actually got there, to the exact street where it was happening, but then couldn’t find the building.  I started to think it wasn’t meant to be.

Fast forward a few years and my agent, Lennie, put out a note to all her clients saying that as part of our training and development she was arranging a PEM workshop to give us a taster of this new method in accessing emotion.  I signed up immediately!

I don’t really know what I was expecting but when I turned up and heard in the introduction that this method is based on a “bio-energetic process that involves accessing individual emotions from our various body organs”, I was more than a bit sceptical.  But blow me, after trying it out, it works!  It really does.

In that first taster session we covered aggression, happiness, grief and lust.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was to suddenly experience these states so immediately without the need for relevant personal memories or thoughts.  I loved it.

And then, to top off what was a very enlightening and enjoyable afternoon, Lennie called me later to say that PEM wanted to offer me a scholarship to study it further.  I was delighted and of course, said yes immediately.

Soon after that, I had a casting for a film, and the director said she wanted me to relate, in character, a story of happiness then anger and then sorrow.  For some bizarre reason, as I’d only experienced that very short session, I thought I’d give PEM a go to see if it worked and sure enough, it did! I switched to each emotion without any effort and when I finished the scene in tears, I looked up to see the director in tears too.  She said it was amazing and although I often never really know what directors at auditions truly think, I knew that this one meant it.  I felt so empowered, and I was able to do all that after just one short session.  Oh, and earlier this week, I heard I’ve got a callback for that part!!

I couldn’t wait to start for real and last week, I had my first class.  It was a one-on-on session with Sarah Victoria, a fantastic acting coach who is head of the PEM international office and who trained directly with Stephan Perdekamp himself.

It was very full-on and we went back over what we covered in the taster session but in a lot more detail.  I experienced the most intense emotion but what was amazing was that where I’ve had to do a grief-filled scene before, I have felt drained and flat for a quite a while afterwards but with this method, Sarah showed me how to literally switch it off immediately afterwards.

I am so fascinated by this how this simple and effective method can create such emotional depth.  It offers so many possibilities and I just can’t wait to put it to practical use again.

As part of my scholarship, I have agreed to document my progress and I intend to do that as honestly as possible for my own benefit but also for anyone else who might be interested in finding out more about this remarkable way of bringing actors out of their heads and into their bodies so that they can pass from one emotion to another without the mental attachment that normally is required.

So, from time to time here on the blog, I will write about what I have learned in the training and how I’ve been able to use it.  After all, it’s set to be a big part of my great adventure that has been…..Life After The Beeb

(for more information, go to http://www.pem-acting.com/english/about-pem)

Lipstick On Your Collar (it’s probably mine!)

lipstick get-attachment

It is with a heavy heart that I have just thrown out a lipstick that I’ve had since I was 17.  Yes, that’s right – I had it for THIRTY-THREE years!

My friend gave it to me when we were on the bus coming back from school, because she decided that the colour wasn’t for her.  It was a Fashion Fair lipstick called “Control” and the dark shade of deep purple was perfect for me.  It was my first ever real lipstick and for a while I wore it all the time until I got up the confidence to experiment with reds and pinks and add other colours to my collection.  I’m convinced it was that lipstick though, that made boys start to notice me and yes, even fancy me a bit !   As the years went by, I only wore it when I was wearing something that was that same colour and then in the last decade, it became something I only used on stage….usually when playing the wicked witch or some other evil, wanton woman! But I found it yesterday and realised that although I have tried in vain to keep it going, it really is defunct now as it has pretty much lost all the oils that made it so luscious in the first place.

It was really quite hard throwing it away and as I looked at it sitting there all forlorn in the bin, I started to think about just what a fabulous thing lipstick is!

My daughter has only just started wearing it.  She’s a beautiful girl (obviously, as she takes after me!!) and I love watching her putting on her make up as she is far more expert at all that than me.  But it has always been her eyes that she spends time transforming. Her lips have always just had a bit of lip balm or even just a touch of Vaseline.  Rarely any colour.

But then just recently, she was off to some gala dinner and so we went shopping to find the perfect red lipstick to set off her little black dress. We found a few colours for her but she’s not in love with any of them as she maintains you either make up your eyes or your mouth, but never both!  And for her, she prefers to focus on her eyes which is a shame as when she was born and placed into my arms, the first thing I noticed about her was her pretty little cupid bow mouth, which she still has.

I despair at her lack of interest in lipstick.  It’s so simple.  Much quicker and easier than doing a graphic eyeliner or a smoky eye.  And yet it’s just as effective.

I love it!  It’s an instant beauty statement.  Where would glamour be without it?  Lipstick makes me feel like a woman – foxy and sometimes, with the right shade, downright sexy! I think it makes every woman look classy and definitely more glamorous with it than without it.

Being a sucker for anything called or involving cherries, I once spent a lot of money on a Tom Ford lipstick called Cherry Lush. It’s a full on RED lipstick and I adore it.  I like to lay it on thick to tell the world I mean business!

I love that my lips are plump enough to leave a fairly impressive impression on a tissue, the side of a glass and even a cheek! My mother says that’s cheap but quite frankly, lipstick gives me the confidence not to care!

My late Dad used to hate seeing too much lipstick, or any makeup, on a woman – so I used to put it on very lightly and when he asked if I was wearing any I would say no it was just chapstick bringing out the natural colour……because of course, my natural colour was Black Tulip!  Ah, but bless him, he believed me and I realised then that men often say they prefer women who don’t wear make up but they actually know very little about it.  So I perfected the art (I think, I hope) of not looking as if I’m wearing any. Even now, my poor innocent husband thinks I don’t wear much when we go out, although he can see with his own eyes that my dressing table is practically collapsing under the weight of all my various cosmetics.

Now that I’m at home a lot more though, I really don’t wear any. However, I always put on a touch of coloured lip-gloss when I head off to the shops or to meet a friend as that very act seems to magically inject the inner confidence I need to face the world.  And I always carry a lipstick in my bag or in the car, just in case.

You see, for me a well-coloured lip is like an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence…..and regular readers of this blog, will know just how much I like them !

And That Was Summer

Once again, I suddenly thought of my blog and realised with some disbelief, that I haven’t posted anything for two months.  I don’t know how that always happens!  It was always the plan to write here regularly but it hasn’t turned out that way, mainly because time seems to pass so quickly.  I often think of things I want to blog about but then never get round to it and so forget what it was I wanted to say!!  Guess that’s age…but I’m not going to go on about that again!

Instead, I’ll go on about what I’ve been up to over this rather lovely summer…

I’ve been catching up with entertaining and we’ve had lots of dinner parties which I always love.  In addition, we’ve been off to summer garden parties (only two spoiled by rain!), weddings, lunches, drinks and coffee mornings and all have involved lots of laughter, which is what I now believe is the only thing that keeps you young!

I think I’ve finally come to terms with the whole turning 50 thing.  I dyed my hair, lost a few pounds and felt a bit better about myself. Both the grey hairs and the weight have returned with a vengeance but I’m cool about it now…..well most days I am! I think it was because we had a few more events to mark it over the summer, which I really enjoyed.  There was a lovely summer afternoon do at our house for friends and family, a fancy evening party for family and close friends and a lovely day out with some of my oldest friends who I will always love and adore and who I’m so proud of keeping in touch with all this time over all these long years.

The boy is fully recovered and getting ready to go back to university.  I’ve hardly seen him this summer as he got himself a job and when he wasn’t working he was out with friends and off on various holidays.  Same with the daughter.  She had several holidays but I couldn’t begrudge her enjoying herself as she kept reminding me that now she has started her working career she won’t get any decent time off again until she retires!   A bit dramatic perhaps, but I can see where she’s coming from.  Anyway, she’s enjoying work and is with an excellent company who seem to be looking after her well already! A bottle of champagne arrived for her last week …just to welcome her into the fold.

It really has been such a lovely summer.  We have been blessed with great weather and I made sure that when we were together as a family, we were off to the seaside, or on picnics or out shopping or off for meals out.  I still don’t feel I have had enough of them though.

In other family news, my mother collapsed last week.  I found her and that was a shock and a half.  Remarkably though, given I can get pretty hysterical, I stayed amazingly calm as I called the ambulance and went to hospital with her.  She perked back up pretty quickly but although the doctors ruled out all the major things, they couldn’t work out what caused it.  We brought her back home with some relief but over the next few days, the shock hit me and I went all quiet as I kept thinking of what might have happened.  Honestly, I think I’ve had quite enough of hospitals this year.

Workwise, I have been to a number of castings and auditions and as a result I filmed another commercial yesterday with a really lovely team.

And after being cast last October, I was beginning to think it might never happen but filming finally took place with the director, Stuart Gatt, on his short film My Beautiful White Skin.  I have no idea why but he cast me as a bitter old mother stuck in a wheelchair….but I loved every minute of it!  It should be out at the beginning of next year and I’m really looking forward to seeing it, as the preview that he sent me looks so beautiful

I took part in a short play written by the very talented Lilly Driscoll.  It was very poignant but great fun for me as I had to smash a plate which let me tell you, takes great talent and effort !  It was such an honour to work with Lilly and just a few days later I went to see her full-length play, Dirty Promises, which was absolutely stunning.  She’s a name to watch out for,

Later this month, my first ever short play gets an airing at the New Writing evening at the Actors Centre.  I’m so lucky that Mark Springer and Ursula Campbell, two fantastic actors, are going to bring my characters to life.  Also, as soon as my son read it, he said he wanted to direct it which was incredibly flattering so I am really excited about it all.  If any of you are in Covent Garden on 24th September, then come and see it !

Hopefully there’ll be more acting and writing over the next few months but I will make more of an effort to record life and thoughts right here on this blog rather than leaving it so long.

Meanwhile, I have been studying the work of the master of improvisation, Keith Johnstone, who I believe is a genius.  Thanks to him I have become more spontaneous and I leave you for now, with one of his most famous sayings:

“There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes’ and there are people who prefer to say ‘No.’ Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have and those who say ‘No’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.”

Which one are you, because I know which one I want to be

Waiting For My MLC

Now my son has pretty much recovered, I’ve stopped worrying about him and gone back to thinking about…..me, and I’m still having issues with the whole age thing!

I know it’s boring and I should give it up and stop going on about it but it’s bothering me.  I just don’t like being 50.  Well, I like the celebratory part of it as I am still dining out on it, with still more celebrations to come, but I don’t like facing the fact that I’m not a young thing any more.

So, I’ve decided to focus on my MLC.  That’s Mid-Life Crisis to those of you not in the know! 

Yes, I think I have earned the right to rampage wildly in an overcompensatory manner and I’m quite looking forward to it.  After all, it’s only another phase of life.  I’ve long passed the yummy mummy stage and I admit to being quite flattered about being called a milf (I’m sorry but I was!) and recently I was told there’d be no shortage of cubs if I fancied being a cougar, which I’m not sure how I feel about but it’s another possible badge to wear.  So now, it’s time to get my MLC award.

Because it really must be time for that now.  At 50.

Traditionally It can occur any time between the ages of 40 and 60 but it is supposed to happen once you have ticked certain boxes, like buying your own home, bringing mini versions of yourself into the world, owning the obligatory big family car (with a smaller one on the drive) and getting as far as you are able in the workplace. Well, I’ve done all that.  In fact, I did it all a while ago and well…I’m still waiting.

Sometimes, life feels hard.  The mortgage never seems to go down and seems as much now as when we first took it out. And the recent long recession and high inflation made shopping and paying household bills very stressful.  I feel slightly trapped in a domestic prison, which I think must make me ideal for an MLC.

The thing is, I’m not quite sure how to go about it.  I thought a gardener might be the answer, in a Lady Chatterley/Desperate Housewives sort of way. But instead of the bronzed Adonis that I was looking forward to, I got Ken. Lovely man but he had no teeth, drank too much of my tea and insisted on showing me endless photos of his grandchildren.  And when he took his shirt off in the sun, and revealed his skinny, pasty white-haired, wrinkled frame it was quite frankly just too much and I haven’t invited him back.

I don’t know what I would have done if some gorgeous young thing had turned up to mow the lawn.  I’m good at flirting but anything more than that would take too much effort and quite frankly, I haven’t got the energy.  I quite like the husband anyway and don’t fancy running off with a younger model which apparently, is a typical MLC thing to do.

So what else?  A facelift?  That’s also a popular MLC choice but no way am I going anywhere near knives and needles.  The needle thing is probably why I haven’t gone down the tattoo route.  I quite liked the idea of marking half a century with a tiny tattoo.  Probably, wait for it…..a cherry !!  I thought I could have a tiny one on my hip, or the top of my thigh or the very small of my back.  I liked all these ideas and if I was brave enough I would have gone for it.  Though my daughter said she would never have allowed a cherry as it has sexual implications. How does she even know that ?  She also said all my favoured areas would make my tattoo a “tramp stamp”.  What does that even mean and why must she always be so disapproving of me?

I need to behave badly in some way as I have waited long enough for this MLC.  After all, while I’ve been enjoying all the World Cup football on TV, I realise I am approaching the half-time interval of my life…..OK, OK I know full well I’m actually nearer extra time but that’s far too depressing to say out loud!

Given that I don’t know how to have an MLC and yes, I know, I probably should have had it a while ago, the actual answer is probably to just give it up.

I think that my deep obsession with age is more a pathological fear of being left behind or missing my shot at the big time.  Soon after her fantastic run on Strictly Come Dancing, Pamela Stephenson said the experience had “ignited something in me that I thought I had lost”.  I feel like that when I’m acting and increasingly, when I’m writing – especially when I hear others reading my scripts. But sometimes, I feel as if I’ve left it far too late to be starting all this now.  So much to learn and maybe not enough time…

I’ve said it before but I need to learn to be ageless.  That doesn’t mean trying to halt the passage of time but instead cherishing the opportunity to let the past years go, in the knowledge that life still holds interesting challenges.  Icons of agelessness are Susan Sarandon, Tilda Swinton and Joan Collins who just seem to embrace life and get on with it without worrying about what they once were.  When I last watched EastEnders, I realised that June Brown still playing Dot Cotton/Branning in her eighties is undoubtedly an old woman but she’s also truly ageless.  I’m going to try and emulate these women because it’s about not hanging on to what I might have been but focusing on who I still can be……without fear.

As for my MLC, forget it – if I go with the ageless thing, I’m not going to have time !

 

A Parent’s Nightmare

So, I am putting myself in therapy here and hoping to finally get this all out of my system by writing about it.  Here goes:

It all started with that early morning call that every parent dreads.

Our son’s girlfriend called us that morning at the end of April to tell us that he had been attacked and was in hospital with a badly fractured jaw that needed surgery.  She couldn’t tell us much more as she hadn’t been with him and had only just arrived at the hospital.  She put him on the phone but he couldn’t speak clearly because his jaw was dislocated too.  All I could do was hold back the hysteria and tell him as calmly as I could, not to worry and that we were on our way and would be there as soon as possible.

She then put one of the medical staff on the phone who reassured us that though it was serious it wasn’t life-threatening and he was in good hands. That calmed the panic somewhat but all I could think was that we needed to get on the road for the three and a half drive to Liverpool as soon as possible. His girlfriend said she would arrange accommodation for us on the university campus but once I came off the phone to her, I couldn’t really move or think what I needed to do.  My husband got ready quickly and my daughter sorted out a few clothes into a case for me as she could see I had stopped functioning.  But she was crying and I remember being quite surprised at how upset she was as she is always so on top of everything.  It was her though who was thinking practically, giving me all her loose change as she said we would need it for the hospital car park and reminding us to keep her informed of everything while she stayed behind to sit with my mother, who had taken the news very badly.

I think we made that journey faster than we have ever done it before.  The roads were empty and the husband was driving at breakneck speed but it felt like the longest three hours ever.  My son’s girlfriend was brilliant, ringing and texting regularly to let us know what was happening.  It seemed that he had been returning to campus with three girls, and some guy had started pestering one of them.  My son told him to back off and the guy hit him, and the girl as well.  The thought of my boy being pounded in the face had me in silent tears for much of the journey.  My husband was doing well and seemed very calm.  He said he felt detached from the whole thing and just wanted to get there.  But then, my son’s girlfriend sent a text saying that the police had someone in custody who they were hoping to charge later that day. I read that text out loud and noticed then my husband was crying too.  I don’t know how he was able to drive.

We got further calls and texts saying that they were moving him from Liverpool’s Royal Hospital to Aintree Hospital where they have an excellent maxillo-facial unit. They wanted to get him into surgery as soon as possible but were waiting on a slot.

We arrived at lunchtime and when I walked into the ward and saw him for the first time, I nearly passed out.  It took all the strength I had to keep walking towards him with a smile on my face and not show my absolute horror at seeing half his face drooping quite severely and his distorted mouth still full of blood.  I wanted to scoop him up in my arms and hug him hard but was so scared of hurting him that I just gave him a tiny kiss on his forehead and made some pathetic joke about this being an extreme way of avoiding his exams.

His girlfriend, one of his best friends and someone I hadn’t met before were sitting with him and true to form he had been trying to make them laugh but his speech was barely recognisable as he couldn’t move his mouth and his tongue was lolling around unsupported in his mouth, which kept filling up with blood.  It was really quite gruesome.

We got the full story then and it seems there was only one punch from this guy and for some inexplicable reason, that made me feel better even though I could see the horrendous damage that single blow had caused.  But there was something about knowing that he hadn’t been repeatedly beaten that seemed to untie that knot in my throat that, up to then, had been making me feel so sick.

Almost as soon as we got there, a small team arrived and announced they were taking him up to theatre.  He held my hand then and said he was scared and that stupid knot was back in my throat as I tried to tell him that it would be fine as he would be in a deep sleep and completely unaware of what was going on and when he woke up he would be so much better.  He looked really frightened as they wheeled him off and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on his face which reminded me of when he was just a little boy.

We were told the surgery would take an hour or so because even though his injury was so horrific it was all quite routine for the medical team.  His friends, who had been with him for most of the day, decided to go back, freshen up and come back later at visiting time with some fresh clothes and toiletries for him.

We waited in the hospital coffee shop where we realised we hadn’t eaten all day.  I ordered caramel lattes and muffins but neither of us had the appetite or energy to get through them.  After an hour, we returned to the ward but the staff said he was still in surgery and they told us to go offsite and get a meal and promised they would call once he was back on the ward.  But neither of us dared leave the hospital so we just sat in reception and waited for the call.

But it didn’t come and although I tried to keep calm, I could feel the panic rising as I became convinced something had gone wrong during surgery.  Maybe his heart had stopped or perhaps there was bleeding that couldn’t be stemmed or what if he was reacting badly to the anaesthetic or allergic to something they had given him?  I made my husband call the ward every hour or so but they kept saying he was still in surgery and they would ring us when there was any news.

I couldn’t understand why so-called routine surgery was taking so long.  We decided that we would go up and wait outside the ward in the corridor so that we were close by if there was any news.  After another hour or so my husband, who had seemed relatively calm up to that point, got up and said he was going to find a doctor to get some answers.  I knew then that he was as scared as I was, but he was soon back with a huge smile on his face and he told me to come and meet the doctor who had performed the surgery.

He was a young man, with the most gorgeous eyes, and he was really enthusiastic about the surgery showing us the before and after pictures, saying it had been a far more complex case than at first thought which is why it had taken so long as they had to repair some nerves and then mend and fit his jaw back together which he had managed to do, in his words, “perfectly”.  He was clearly very pleased with his work and that he’d had such a “challenging case”.  I wanted to be cross about his inappropriate delight but it was obvious that all had gone well and so I couldn’t help but beam along with him.  He said my son would soon be back on the ward and that he would be absolutely fine.  He also said that although it would be a long 6-8 week recovery on just a liquid diet, he would be back to normal with no lasting damage to his face apart from some permanent numbness just under his bottom lip where he didn’t think the nerve, which had been so badly stretched out of place, would recover.  He assured us that it wouldn’t make any difference to my boy’s speech and that he would soon get used to not having any feeling there.

The relief was amazing.  If he hadn’t been behind a desk, I think I would have hugged him forever.  As it was, when he went to shake my hand, I just couldn’t let go of him until my husband had to prize that poor surgeon’s precious hand out of my grip

When we went outside the ward to wait for his return, a whole group of his friends had gathered and I told them all the good news and they were so thrilled, some of them even punching the air.  It was lovely having them all there, even though there were far too many of them, and I was in slight overdrive talking and laughing much too much.  After what seemed like forever, we saw him being brought down the corridor on a trolley.  He was pretty much out of it but when I told him all his friends were there, he sat up like a shot ready to play to his audience.  It was at that moment I knew he was going to be just fine!

He was discharged the next day and we brought him back to London where he pretty much slept for a week as I clucked around him.  And then he was just the same boy he has always been – laughing, joking, doing his ridiculous impressions, taking the mick out of me and his sister, watching football with his friends and on and on. He’s lost a lot of weight but has coped really with his liquid only diet without any fuss, even though this is a lad who LOVES eating. He was finally given the all-clear from the hospital last week when they took out all the wires and studs from inside his mouth that had been holding his jaw together while the bones were mending. It was a painful process but the boy didn’t make a sound, even though I nearly passed out as I stupidly accepted the invitation to watch them do it!

He has been hailed as a hero and the police, the hospital, his university and all his friends have been so kind and supportive but I am seriously impressed at how incredible he has been through the whole ordeal.  To me, that has been truly heroic as I know it has affected him and that he still plays it over in his mind but he has been determined not to let it influence how he lives his life.  I told him he didn’t have to go back to Liverpool if he didn’t want to but he is counting the days to the start of his second year and getting back to the course he loves, the place that has become home and the people he adores.

I can only look and learn really and although I want to keep him close to me forever so that no one can ever hurt him again, I know deep down that he has to live his life and that I should be following the example he has set – to stop moping around and get on with life!

What’s Going On?!

Dear, oh dear!

A good blog (well at least the ones that I enjoy visiting) posts interesting things on a regular basis.  To that end, mine is not a good blog!  I knew it had been a while since I had written anything but didn’t realise quite how long.

I admit I’ve been a bit quiet recently.  Suddenly the blog and Facebook and yes, even my beloved Twitter have all felt too much of an effort.  It isn’t that I haven’t had things to say, it’s just that I haven’t felt that sudden need to get out my phone or laptop to share it with the world.  I think that may have been the case in real life too as I’m suddenly aware I haven’t been returning personal texts, calls and emails with any real enthusiasm.  I’m not depressed or even low, I just feel very tired but not in a physical way……if that makes sense.

However, despite all that, I’ve been keeping pretty busy and that probably explains quite a lot too.  I don’t feel tired when I’m working and I’ve really been enjoying the things that have been coming my way.  Today, I suddenly felt I must make a note of what I’ve been up to recently so that this blog at least lives up to the title!

I’ve become quite an academic.  Well, in the loosest sense of the word, as I’ve spent some time on courses and workshops both on Modern Theatre and on Shakespeare’s tragedies and I feel very knowledgeable now!  So even if I’m just involved in a conversation about the weather, I like to drop in little nuggets about Ibsen or Lecoq’s influence on theatre or whether Shakespeare’s Gertrude is villain or victim….

I’ve kept up with the writers’ workshop too, which I’ve loved.  With their encouragement I wrote my first script for the group to read. I was stunned at how hard I found it.  It’s such a different discipline from writing a novel.  That came very easily to me.  Basically, I just opened my laptop and it all came flooding out. Writing a script took a lot more thought and I was surprised as the actual writing of speech has always come very easily to me.  I was so nervous about presenting it to the group but they are such an encouraging bunch and they said they loved it.  They gave me lots of feedback and I couldn’t wait to get back to work on it.  I didn’t get a chance to do that though as almost immediately, I was offered the chance to develop a script in collaboration with some others.  That project was not as hard as I expected, as I was given the action for each scene and I just had to write the dialogue.  It wasn’t difficult but I had to get it done to a deadline and so effectively lost 24 hours of my life as I did it non-stop from 3.30 one afternoon to 4.30 the next, hardly sleeping or eating in the process.  I loved it !

I have a friend who had already told me to write scripts like that by laying out the action before the words and he is so right.  Actually, I’m reading a draft of his third book at the moment.  He’s such a great writer and it is a real honour and a privilege that he rates my thoughts on his work.  I need to get back to it as I had to put it to one side with everything that has been happening and haven’t had a chance to look at it again, until now.  Look up his first two novels “Sex Lessons” and “Three Way” by Daniel Grant – they’re great holiday reading.  In fact, go visit him at http://www.danielgrantonline.com.  He’s been very encouraging in getting me to write my first novel but to my shame, that is still in a drawer and I have hardly looked at it this year.

I’ve done more medical and corporate role play and a few more freelancing stints at the Beeb which is all good for the bank account.  I never imagined freelancing would work for me as I thought I needed the security of a regular salary but I’m getting used to this way of life and I like the flexibility of being able to get to castings as they came up, which is usually with very little notice.

Castings and auditions are such a strange business.  Often, when I think they have been rubbish and I haven’t been able to engage with the panel and clearly haven’t got it, the call comes through that it was successful and the job is mine.  But then I go to castings where the role seems perfect and practically written for me and they’re all so friendly and encouraging and even tell me to keep various days free for shooting and I leave thinking that it’s in the bag…..and then I never hear from them again!  Maybe one day I’ll get used to the whole business.  Unlikely though !

I’ve done a couple of plays – one which involved various states of undress which at my age and size is not the best sight!  There is no doubt though, that I am happiest when I’m on stage and I still can’t explain why.  I don’t enjoy camera work as much but I’ve been lucky enough to get a couple of corporate filming jobs too.

Wardrobe fittings have stopped being such a nightmare as I have just about got over the embarrassment of giving out my real measurements.  I’ve realised that no one actually seems to care…..except me.  I will do something about it though, I will, I will ….after I’ve had this mid-morning piece of cake!!

Not having seen many friends recently has made me the life and soul of all these jobs.  The filming I did last week, was with a lovely group and we were very loud in our green room. It made me realise that I actually miss my friends and I need to make more of an effort and get back in touch with everyone.

In between work, I’m still sorting the house now that the building work which started in October has finally ended!  As a result, I have a new utility room, shower room and bathroom.  A new boiler means I’ve also had to add in new kitchen units and change the floor and then, there has been general redecorating and new carpets throughout the house and yet, after all that stress and effort, when the whole place should be shiny and glamorous…..it just looks exactly the same as before!!

I suppose the most significant thing that has happened since my last post was an attack on my son when he was returning to his University campus, leaving him with a severely dislocated and fractured jaw which needed several hours of surgery and weeks of recuperation which is still on-going.  He has been amazing.  He goes a bit quiet at times and has had some flashbacks to it all, but generally he has been so calm and brave and coping really well with his liquid-only diet, even though he has lost so much weight.  He’s still making jokes and playing the fool and has even written a song about the whole thing.  I’ve tried to follow his example and be the same around him but when I’m alone I find I can’t stop thinking about what he has gone, and is going through, and it has hit me hard as a parent and I feel so helpless.  The police have been brilliant and told my son that counselling is available if he needs it but he says he doesn’t. When I told a friend of mine that yesterday, she asked if I had considered it.  I haven’t, because as his family we have only experienced it second-hand but actually, it made me suddenly understand just how much it has affected me.  So, although counselling is bit extreme, I do plan to write about it just so I can get it out of my system and then, hopefully, I can move on like he has done because, if I didn’t know it before, I’ve realised my son is quite a remarkable young man