So, it’s New Year’s Eve and I guess any blog worth its salt uses today to look back over the last year.
I could write about my favourite books or films or theatre productions from this year but as this is still a relatively new blog, I thought I’d write about… me!!
It’s actually good to look back. It keeps you grounded and I think it helps work out what the priorities are for the New Year. And if I’m honest, 2013 has been a landmark year that will stay in the memory for a while.
The biggest event of 2013 for me was leaving the BBC after a thirty-year career there. I never thought I would actually go because as much as I my have moaned from time to time, I loved my time there. When the end came, it was an emotional last day followed by an absolutely fantastic leaving party a week later where I was completely overwhelmed by the warmth, affection and generosity of my wonderful colleagues. They gave me some beautiful gifts and made the most amazing leaving film, which I still can’t stop watching some nine months on!
I like to think that March 2013 will always be remembered as the time the BBC said farewell to two clapped out, creaking old institutions. One of course was me, the other was….Television Centre. We had our own News farewell party at the end of 2012 when we moved to New Broadcasting House but the doors finally closed in 2013. I still feel very nostalgic for the old place as I spent most of my thirty year stint there and it was a fabulous place full of celebrities and for decades, it was the very heart of British television. I loved it and the official farewell party, the week after mine, was a very emotional one for me.
I really don’t know where the time has gone since I left, as in my head I had planned to have another job by now but I have been having too much fun writing and acting. It’s all I want to do. I do love actors and writers. They are all so creative and I have met some extremely talented new friends, some of whom have been amazingly generous in recommending me for various bits of work. In this last year, I’ve done lots of little things that are lo-pay or no-pay but they have all made me so happy. They include:
– a couple of murder mystery dinners
– playing Mary in a new musical on the life of Christ
– various immersive theatre, street theatre and art installations all of which have involved interacting with an unsuspecting crowd
– medical and corporate role-play
And I’ve also experienced the downside of the whole business as I lost a couple of roles after thinking they were in the bag. Note to self – never assume anything until the camera starts rolling or you’re in front of the audience!
I have worked on some great new writing projects which in turn have really got the juices flowing and have encouraged me in my own writing. I had nearly finished my novel but just in the last week, I was suddenly struck by an idea which means I need to restructure it all somewhat. I think I need to take a few days out somewhere on my own, with no distractions, so that I can finally finish it. Then after that, I plan to write some scripts, as I literally have hundreds of ideas in my head and I need to get them down on paper and up on stage!
2013 was quite an eventful year for my son too. Even though he took it all in his stride, it felt like a rollercoaster for me. He started the year, in his usual lackadaisical way re-sitting some of his exams which he somehow managed to scrape through even though he spent far too much time partying and playing football. Then, when he should have been focusing hard on his A-levels, he took time out to finish writing his third musical which he produced and directed and put on in mid-February. I was really cross that he spent so much time on it when he should have been studying but I have to admit that it was brilliant and got excellent reviews and in spite of my frustration, I am incredibly proud of how amazingly talented he is to have written such beautiful songs and a story that had everyone in tears!
For those first few months of the year, he auditioned at all the key drama schools including RADA, LAMDA, Central, Guildhall and Rose Bruford. It was a bit of a wake-up call for him as I think he thought he would just breeze in but actually, he didn’t make it in to any. He got some really good feedback from them all, with Central even telling him that he was very talented and easily marketable but like the others they wanted him to go off and live life a little before auditioning again.
That hit him hard and made him realise that he needed to work hard towards his exams if he was going to get a university place to study drama at Liverpool, Warwick or Manchester and so around April time, he started making a real effort. As I was relatively free, I was also able to spend time with him helping him with the some of the topics he was struggling with. I take credit for making him love Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” almost as much as I do. In May he finally left school for ever, took his exams in June and then in August, we found out that miracle of miracles, he had actually got some decent grades, which meant that at the end of September, he took up his university place at Liverpool and had an amazing first term studying the subject he loves.
He has done well in his first exams and assessments, got the lead in the university musical, “Asco”, compered a charity variety show and next term, will be hosting his own show on the University Radio station. And to top it all, that lazy boy who didn’t seem at all motivated at the start of the year was awarded a university scholarship! Immense pride simply isn’t adequate enough to cover just how I feel about him at the moment!
Meanwhile, my clever studious daughter who has worked hard ever since she first started at nursery, lost a couple of dress sizes as she hardly ate or slept in the run up to her Law finals in her last year at Oxford. I was very worried about her but it was all worth it as she passed with a 2:1 and her Graduation in August was one of the proudest days of my life as I watched her take part in a ceremony dating back hundreds of years.
She turned 21 in 2013 and celebrated with a party that lasted the whole weekend! I keep telling her that when her grandmother was her age, I was already a year old but neither she or her rather gorgeous boyfriend seem to be hearing me !!
Talking about her grandmother, my mother turned 70 in September and we had a bit of a do for her. I think she enjoyed it….but it nearly killed me !! In fact, it has put me off any kind of “do” for some time, so that even though it’s only six weeks away, I have no plans to celebrate my “special” birthday in February. 39 again, in case anyone is asking!
We’ve had some work done on the house. The builders started at the end of October and I thought it would take a month……they are still here ! Bathroom, kitchen, shower room and garage all still to be completed. Hopefully, they’ll be gone by the time I settle down this time next year to write about 2014. Hopefully….
Anyway, I’m looking forward to 2014. I’ve got all my writing and a part in a short film with an award-winning director to look forward to. The rest is a bit of a mystery which I think, is quite exciting! Trust you all have an exciting 2014 to look forward to as well.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!