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Sarah's thoughts and musings.

November 2013

Having spent so much of my career working in the science fiction and fantasy genre it might come as a small surprise to some to discover that I am not a particular fan. I have watched and enjoyed some recommended movies and TV but honestly would rather be gardening.

The exception to the rule is Doctor Who. I got on board with David Tennant and have enjoyed the ride along with him and Matt Smith. I couldn’t describe myself as a major fan. I loved it as a young teen and remember being terrified of Daleks but I can’t really remember much more about those early shows. 

Don’t Just Lie There Say SomethingJon Pertwee was MY doctor and I can see him so very clearly in my mind’s eye. I also remember being on tour with him in ‘Don’t Just Lie There Say Something.’ He WAS or rather had been the Doctor even though he really wanted people to recognise him as Worzel Gummidge. To be out and about with him was to be in the shadow of somebody very recognisable to the masses but even better was to sit up in bed with him in front of a full house with only my hands to protect my modesty and here some teenager in the audience exclaim…ooohh Doctor… priceless. Got to love a British farce.

I do have a memory of his predecessor Patrick Troughton and dimly remember the very first Doctor William Hartnell. Then there is a major gap and we zoom through time and galaxies until we come to David Tennant. Big gaps though so I haven’t really haven’t been a very consistent fan.

I have also touched on the very periphery of the Doctor Who world having done an audio with the delightful David Warner in the title role. I have even played a sort of blob in the computer download games with Matt Smith at the helm.

Once I had ventured into the Doctor Who Stratosphere I was able to wiggle my way into a couple of marvellous Doctor Who conventions in New York and Los Angeles and I have learnt to LOVE all things Who. They are also the most brilliant and knowledgeable fans and even more brilliant…many of them were already my friends.

Whilst we talk of these same friends I have to acknowledge that they are totally committed and somewhat obsessed ( to my mind ) with everything to do with the show. I am not like that and certainly could never hold a lengthy conversation about the Doctors latest adventures but I do understand.
I have my own personal little obsession and I am not sure what it says about me. I am completely hooked on BREAKING BAD. I just can’t get enough and having only started watching this year I am just starting season 6 after mammoth viewing sessions.

It felt like my own little dirty secret. Hooked on a programme whose lead character is a Met Amphetamine cook…junkies and killers and bad people…what will my friends think?

Now this is where it all gets wonderfully interesting. My lovely friends who spend their every moment fantasying about the TARDIS are now commending me or at least getting me because one of the directors of BREAKING BAD has just shown his love of the Doctor by directing the upcoming BBC docudrama ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ Mr Terry McDonough has made it alright and I can’t thank him enough for tying up the loose ends for me.

Sacha Dharwan, Mark Gatiss and Waris HusseinLast night I had the pleasure of going to the screening of ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ at the British Film Institute. Written by Mark Gatiss it tells the story of the creation of Doctor Who.

The BBC invited a bunch of folk and all the other seats went to serious fans that had almost fought to get their seats and the whole audience was an absolute delight. A little drink before hand and a very excited audience sat down to watch and wonder. Nothing overly starry about the audience just wonderfully committed fans of every size and shape and age.

Now you are possibly wondering how I, the not so serious fan, got there and why?

My dear friend and long-time L.A. neighbour and coincidentally my London neighbour as well, Waris Hussein, was the very first director of Doctor Who. Way before the Daleks were born and at the very start of his career, Waris worked for the BBC and was invited to direct the original script. I have heard Waris’s stories so often but to actually sit in a cinema and look at him along the row watching himself portrayed on the big screen by a fabulous young Indian actor (Sacha Dhawan) was most surreal.

I am not going to give any spoilers but suffice to say that whether you’re a major fan or not this is really good entertainment and a fascinating insight into the machinations of the early BBC (surely it can’t still be so archaic? ) But most of all I have to commend the wonderful performance from David Bradley who was so believable as William Hartnell and therefore the first Doctor. 

Mr Bradley will now join other Doctors who have walked the streets of Stratford and thrown the tourists into a complete tizzy. He gave a wonderful , poignant performance as the late great character actor and I am sure is now going to also be identified as yet another Doctor.

I urge you all to try and see it whether or not you are a fan. There is some bloody good acting. The sets are fabulous. The period is perfectly set.
My US friends will certainly get a wonderful flavour of England in the 60s and can find the show on BBC America, the rest of us can sit down in front of the telly next week…

I am now getting even more confused with who the real Doctor is…if there is one. Just last week I almost ran over one in Stratford. He was rushing to the RSC stage door and sporting long hair extensions and now there is another wonderfully classically trained actor to add to the list. Can someone please tell me who the REAL Doctor is? I would swear it is David Bradley!

Never quite sure what I am going to write about until the pen actually gets in to my hand my night at the cinema spurred me on to finish this blog but it was another incident in the summer that really got me thinking about what I feel is important to me and my career.

I recently talked with a young actress out in Hollywood. British and rather over confident with a recurring role in a not so brilliant TV series she nevertheless felt the world was her oyster. With a break in her TV schedule she told me she had recently turned down a job in film because ‘it didn’t tick all the right boxes.’ Her character was integral to the story and she would be working with a hot new director. The part required acting opposite a leading movie actor BUT she told me, with something close to horror, she had only very few lines.

Lucky cow and silly creature for missing such a learning opportunity. We gain so much from watching others and never ever fail to grow whilst we practice our craft. I appreciate that we all at some stage think we know better and I for one missed plenty of wonderful opportunities and regret that I often just wanted to stay home instead of getting out there. However, when it came to work I was SO fortunate to have a bloody brilliant agent. The late, great Julian Belfrage insisted in my early years, that nothing was too small and although we didn’t call it ‘networking’ back then…that’s what it was. Meeting and watching and learning. I don’t necessarily mean learning about acting either. Learning about Life too.

Years later I now look back at some of the wonderful opportunities that were handed to me. I also realise that I didn’t grab a lot of them, some just slipped through my fingers but I have few regrets and lots and lots of credits which might not be big acting role but in terms of experience….priceless!

A day’s work on TOMMY was an exciting chance to be in the presence of the highly regarded and totally barking mad Ken Russell. The day made even more memorable when he took a dislike to the hat I was wearing and swopped ME for another actress. I didn’t dare ask why he hadn’t swapped just my hat. But I was there and at least shook the hand of Anne Margaret and got a glimpse of Roger Daltry’s hair. I had called my agent at the first opportunity to bemoan my fate and dear Julian just told me to get out there and soak up the atmosphere…watch and learn.

In CANDLESHOE, a Disney production I was cast to play Jodi Foster’s mother. It was a flash back scene and ended up on the cutting room floor but again I was there and able to get a little more experience of a big American production to put in the mix of my early experiences. I didn’t actually meet the young Jodi but I certainly enjoyed telling her many years later that I had once played her mother. Luckily she had the decency to say I was way too young!

Some of my experiences were memorable for different reasons. I was thrilled to be cast as a ‘ harpy’ in a TV adaptation DRACULA directed by Dan Curtis whom I am sure I left a lasting memorable impression on. Sadly I don’t think it was my acting ability but more my inability to keep my fangs in my mouth after each attempt at gnawing on Simon Ward’s neck. They just wouldn’t stay in and when I pulled away after the attack, more often I would leave them balanced on Simon’s neck ruining the take! In desperation I was told to spit them out over his shoulder and make sure I did it off camera.

My fellow harpy, Virginia Wetherell , became a lifelong friend and to this day we laugh and laugh at our memories of flying fangs and remember with fondness Simon Ward and Jack Palance and our time cavorting around being ghoulies!

Once I was called to go to Franco Zefferelli’s house as he wanted to take some photos of me as he was looking for his Camille for a new project. I remember wearing a black turtle neck sweater (was it his?) and him applying eye makeup to me (can this be true?) and then taking photographs. He barely spoke to me. I am still in the dark about the whole bizarre experience but it was one of many, many strange meetings with even stranger industry people.

These were early days for me but so important and it must be said that us British are much more likely to grab anything at the beginning, whereas in the USA, agents start being incredibly selective from the get go. I certainly experienced that and back then didn’t have the voice or confidence to argue, It was a time to listen and observe and learn. 

In my time Drama school only prepared you for theatre. Big screen acting was something one hardly dared dream off let alone spoke off. How times have changed now. Consequently when faced with that first film job it could be very intimidating and somewhat overwhelming.

My very first job EVER was on a film called THE FINAL PROGRAMME and in the US it was titled ‘THE LAST DAYS OF MAN ON EARTH’ It was released in 1973 so I was just 20 when I went to work on it.

I remember walking onto the sound studio, a place completely foreign to me, and being utterly overwhelmed with its size. It was pitch dark and in the very further most corner of the studio was a small magical patch of light. This was to be my set and as I approached I remember being amazed at all the people working away to prepare it for my scene. My screen time. Sparks and painters and stunt men and prop masters, lighting and make up…the list of people was endless but everyone there to reach the same goal. All I had to do was to slip in and make it mine…Then the chairs, just like in the movies, canvas backed with cast names emblazoned on the back.

The Final ProgrammeThen the best part of all. The leading man. MY leading man…I was to play the sister of Jon Finch. At that time he was considered one of the leading lights of the British film industry and was drop dead gorgeous. I had watched him in Lady Caroline Lamb and also Macbeth and he was magnetic and now I was going to die in is arms…and go to heaven! But first he had to accidentally shoot me with a hypodermic needle. Having zapped me I then had to slide graciously down the curtain where upon he would scoop me up and I would die in his arms as he lay me down on the bed. Oh I did die…deliciously and happily I died and went to heaven over and over again…my chest was rising a bit too hard...be still my beating heart…but it did mean a few takes before we got the shot.

We dated a few times after that and I was so over excited the first time he came to pick me up from work. I had finished The Final Programme and gone straight on to work on a TV play with none other than the great Dame Edith Evans and Denholm Elliot. I was terrified but soon got over it when the stage manager told me there was a flash convertible sports car waiting for me outside.

We rehearsed in the Chelsea barracks and by the time I got outside there was quite a group of fluttering eyelashes and flailing limbs clamouring around Jon as he waited. What a treat. I was very puffed up with my own self-importance as I hopped into his car and we shot off up the Kings Road.
He took me to a well-known Chelsea pub and serenaded me by playing the spoons…

Later he took me back to his flat and I got glimpse of a white fur thrown over his King-size bed. Now I knew he was a real movie star and suffice to say to tell anything more would be indiscreet…well maybe in the book one day …but I digress!

Back to the set…

What has remained with me to this day is that extraordinary feeling one gets when the lights and camera are on you. All those people working away to make YOUR screen time memorable, That’s magic time for me! The feeling has always remained for me. Magic Time. We, as performers, owe so much to ALL the people behind the scenes. Whether a skeleton crew or a vast studio set up, we owe it to them to give our best, to know our character, to have learnt our lines, to have got enough rest.

Sometimes it’s hard and for those artists who abuse their positions, who screw up over and over again, for whatever reason….MOVE ASIDE. There are so many brilliantly talented people just waiting for their chance to shine in the Spotlight.

The summer has come and gone and as usual I have divided my time between Los Angeles and London and Stratford upon Avon.

DisplacementLos Angeles has been the home of my latest project ‘Displacement’ and I eagerly await the finished project. I have a small but integral role in it and was nevertheless spoilt and pampered and loved my time with the cast and crew. I really rather miss them. London has been the home of the wonderful world of Disney and I have been delighted to be able to work on numerous promos for them. Quite a change of tempo for me and especially rewarding as I am giving a softer and warmer voice to some lovely children’s programmes.

Stratford of course, is my 92 year old mother’s home and I am spending some wonderful time with her. Lots of family stuff and a few outings though time and age is somewhat limiting however it didn’t stop us from having a wonderful summers evening with the fabulous Illmington Morris Men who welcomed us so graciously into their midst. A perfect evening for a Warwickshire lass. Thank you.


July 2013

This month it’s all about flying.  Superman and airplanes and general flying around…

I enjoyed my evening at the Man of Steel screening.  I adored Henry and honestly harboured somewhat racy thoughts as he first exposed that fab physique.  He really made an old girl happy. It occurred to me that Christopher Reeve was such a good Superman that I only ever thought honourable thoughts about Truth and Justice and the rest. Somehow it wouldn’t have seemed right to have thought otherwise.  But Oh Henry….a different kettle of fish, Sir.

With Valerie PerrineI went to a marvellous cinema in San Antonio Texas.  It seemed so appropriate to be sitting with Valerie Perrine whilst watching MoS and even better it was a cinema that fed and watered you as you sat there. Brilliant. Thanks to my new Texas friends Julienne and Chris we all had a thoroughly good evening.  I know Valerie won’t mind me saying that she told us later that she loathed the movie. She even managed to sleep through a bit of it.  Can’t imagine how, as I found it so noisy and so visual.  It assaulted my senses. Too much.  Like a noisy, violent video game. 

The kids around all seemed to love it and I think that’s right. This is their time.  My lot have all had ours and 30 years have passed since the original Superman came out.  Times and taste change.  But where was the humour?  Where was the marvellous relationship between Clark and Lois?  I missed so many things.

Because I keep on being asked about my feelings towards the new Zod and Faora I must add my thoughts but honestly don’t feel it really necessary. These guys are just SO different from our villains.  I really do think that considering we were dressed in organza and had no armour etc…we still were so much more menacing. They were certainly aliens but too futuristic for me.  Ours were simple and moved in unison. A trick that Terry Stamp came up with. He said we needed to be a little different from others on screen. After all we were aliens so he suggested we just moved in together.   Subtle and effective and consequently we floated along.  Very successfully I think.

Whilst Stateside I was able to meet up again with the director of DISPLACEMENT.  I wanted to find out how things are going with funding the movie and in particular how his crowdfunding  project was coming along.

DisplacementI have committed to this work even though the money to fund it is not all in place. It will be and what is exciting is the enthusiasm of the director, Ken Mader and his team. I am also working on the theory that as I have dug deep on a few different projects hopefully others will for this.  On other funding projects I have donated money and not really had much feedback .  With this you get continual updates and different perks and opportunities so you actually feel like you’re part of the team.  It’s almost as if your part of the production team.

I have had to have some lessons in the art of crowdfunding as it is a relatively new concept. Basically though it is simply a way an individual can reach a goal by receiving and leveraging small contributions from many parties.  It’s a chance for fans or ‘the crowd’ to help fund things that they want to see created and brought into the world.  What a bloody brilliant concept!

As I said this is my first experience of working on a project that is funded this way but quite honestly I like knowing where I stand. I recently had a horrendous experience where there was a complete lack of honesty and good will and more important FUNDS. People didn’t get paid. With DISPLACEMENT everyone knows what is happening at every step of the way.

I do urge you to consider investing, even a small amount. With our help and support there is a real chance to get this independent picture onto the big screen.  In this day it is increasingly difficult even for established artists to get films financed through traditional means so this is all our chances to get involved and make it happen. You can find out more at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/displacement-a-quantum-time-thriller 

Meanwhile the summer is upon us. I had a wonderful time in San Antonio and Texas Comicon and look forward to my next convention which will be at the end of August in Cardiff.

Me and MumBefore I go there I have my annual holiday with my elderly mother. We do hope Mum enjoys herself and it’s a relaxing, happy time. She will be 92 in September and I imagine she might not want to travel this time next year. Hope she does but its ok if she just wants to stay home.

A quick footnote…

I have just returned from  a  wonderful holiday with my holiday with my mother and sister and the sun never stopped shining. Hurray.
I am also busy trying to schedule my flight back to LA for my final few days of shooting Displacement so  things are looking good in that area…..

Once again I am going to try harder to keep more up to date with my blog…No promises though


June 2013

So what has prompted me to finally pull my finger out and do another blog? Simple, it’s time for another Superman and I cannot let the opportunity pass by without commenting on past/present and general Super/related incidents!

BFI ScreeningThis month saw my reunion with Terence Stamp at the British Film Institute. I haven't seen him for easily 25 years and it has always been a regret of mine because I adored working with him and indeed had the biggest school girl crush on him which remains to this day. I was delighted that he told the audience about his experiences in India and how he came back to acting and Superman after a long, long break. On our initial meeting I had rather expected to meet the dashing soldier from Far from the Madding Crowd and had been somewhat taken aback to meet a spiritual guru dressed in orange but wearing handmade shoes. At the BFI he talked of those days in a gently self-deprecating manner which made me love him even more. He was calm and meditative on the set. I was like a crazy colt. I was pleased to be able to thank him personally at the BFI for helping me 'find' Ursa. Without his calm goodness knows how she would have turned out!

Thanks to the BFI and Terence we were able to enjoy an evening watching the Donner cut of Superman 2 and what a treat that was. I feel very privileged to have worked on these timeless classics and especially to have worked with two of the greatest actors of our time, Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman.
Christopher Reeve took my breath away once again. He was, he IS Superman.

This brings me neatly to the arrival of the latest Superman, Henry Cavill. Who can dismiss him having seen his brooding performance in The Tudors? What shoes he has to step in. He looks fantastic though and totally believable as our Man of Steel. The short clips I have seen show a somewhat darker version of Superman but it nevertheless looks like it is going to be a blockbuster and I think we are all going to fall in love with Henry!

I have watched with interest the campaign that Henry's people have launched via social networking. Obviously he has a fantastic following already. His team are really whipping up his profile before MoS opens and they are doing a brilliant job.

A far cry from my day when there really wasn't anything but your own good self and the power of the press. I didn't have a PR back then and it was almost consider bad form to court publicity. I happily sold the Movie around the world and Warner Brothers made a great show of thanking me. Superman 2 was clouded in mystery because of the removal of Richard Donner etc. but no one actually knew that. It really wasn't discussed or acknowledged but the loyal cast were certainly not going to miss an opportunity to complain bitterly about the situation. I, however, seemed to be oblivious to all the back chat. I think it was mainly because every night I went home to my husband and the majority of the cast were visitors to London and therefore all hung out together all the time. Great bonding with their director that I sadly missed.

I was chosen to go out and spend the next 9 months travelling the world and spreading the news about Superman the movie and not the scandal. That is just what I did and have been rewarded with lots of kind words and accolades from Warner Brothers who I now realise were mighty nervous that their superhero was going to be tarnished. The only regret for me now is that I didn't understand how to sell myself.

I happily went around with most people not recognising me and certainly not getting to know the real me. I can only imagine what might have happened to my career if I had a team like Henry's blogging and tweeting my every move!

Back to today though and lots of opportunity to make up for lost time. At the moment the fans seem to be most interested in how I feel about having Ursa replaced by Faora...Honestly...she is not MY Ursa and therefore the only comparison would be her relationship with Zod and maybe her superpowers and short black hair.
Good luck to Antje Trau as Faora.  I hope she GRABS her moment.

Times have changed in the last thirty years and somehow I don't imagine that Faora had a mink lined bra to keep her warm on those cold, icy nights on the back lot. With the Ursa costume there wasn't much opportunity to wear anything to keep you warm under that organza costume with all those slits revealing skin everywhere. Many will have heard me proclaim that I had the ' hottest pair in the business' and did she have her own personal nose wiper with a forty foot pole with a tissue on the end? I don't think so! Supervillains don't carry tissues and I can tell you that hanging upside down all day on the end of a wire was often a miserable experience, especially with a cold. But this was a big budget movie and so I got my own nose wiper. It didn’t stop there though. Bert just dealt with nasal passages but a lovely lady called Sara dealt with the delicate problem of my toilet. Long, false Ursa nails were a big problem when it came to trying to get out of my costume to go to the loo. Too many false nails were falling down the toilet and holding up production whilst they were replaced. Sara had the thankless task of pulling my knickers down whenever I asked...that's actually poetic licence, Sara just undid my costume for me...Ursa didn't wear underwear!

So Ursa lives on and I have finally accepted her as part of my own makeup...people still ask for autographs and photos, they still want to tell me where they were the first time they saw the movie etc. and through Twitter and Facebook and the internet generally I have tried to answer for her.

This year I will visit Texas and Cardiff and Birmingham and Long Island for conventions and although there are many other roles on my C.V. it is Ursa they really want to connect with.

In America it is almost a daily occurrence that someone somewhere recognises me. Goodness knows how. Often I struggle to determine whether that strange look in a person’s eye is because they think they know me, they recognise me, think I might be 'someone' or maybe they are just plain strange people. It’s difficult to decipher.

Two anecdotes form these last few months illustrate my point.

NEW YORK.
Walking down Broadway I noticed a man of about 30 watching me carefully. He was black and had dreadlocks and was talking into his cell phone. I crossed the street. He followed. I walked faster. He sped up. A few steps behind me I tightened my grip on my bag and clutched it to my chest. I dove into Starbucks and watched as he settled against the wall outside eyeing me with a shifty eye. Finally he made his move and burst through the doors and straight towards me (again poetic licence please) I took a deep breath and waited to be accosted. But no. 'Are you the Bitch from Superman? ‘he demanded , yes says I . A BIG smile spread across his face as he furiously pumped my hand, the other was still hanging onto my bag, and this dear young man drew up a chair and told me just where HE had been when he first saw Superman etc.... There is a final note to this, having had a good chat and a coffee together ( I was consumed with guilt at thinking such negative stereotypical thoughts and felt we had to at least have a coffee together to absolve me of bad thoughts). Anyway, just as he was leaving he asked me if I was seeing anyone. I quickly said 'Oh yes and I have a wonderful partner of many, many years ' (again poetic licence ) he smiled and just said he had just wondered if I had needed a little COMFORTING. That was all. Is THAT what they call it nowadays?

LONDON.
Rehearsing for a play in London's West End I dashed out for a morning coffee. Dressed in typical rehearsal gear i.e. scruffy as hell and no makeup, I lined up behind a young, camp gay guy. Believe me I got this right this time. As he turned to leave I saw he was wearing a t shirt with the words 'KNEEL BEFORE URSA' For those not familiar with Superman there was a great line from Zod ( Mr Stamp ) where he demanded of the US President that he should 'KNEEL BEFORE ZOD'. This line has become one of those famous movie quotes and Terry told me that there is barely a day when someone doesn't shout it out to him, anyway I digress . So there are t shirts made up with this quote but to my delight some people have changed the wording to kneel before Ursa. So this guy turns around and catches my eye. He gave me one of THOSE looks of recognition as I smiled at his t shirt and its slogan. 'Go On then' I said provocatively, thinking I was giving a fan a real treat. The young man recoiled but not before spitting out the words 'PERV' and rushing out the door.

Deflated ego. Dejected me.  But everyone I have told has enjoyed the story and so I remain careful and cautious when trying to read those 'strange' looks. I don't want to get it wrong again I might be arrested!

So here we are up to date. I am off to the US in a couple of weeks and look forward to a visit to Texas Comicon and also to more work on my latest project 'Displacement' I am loving the involvement on this feature and it is a completely different way of working for me. I have a week or so more to do and just love the energy of the young star, Courtney Hope and if I didn't adore the director and totally believe in his vision and commitment I can assure you I would be in my garden or on the beach.

Let’s see what we all make of Man of Steel and meanwhile it’s on/on for me...


October 2012

It is a wonderfully busy time for me. There is plenty of audio work to do and that in itself is a challenge. There is also the play The Hallowe’en Sessions that will be at the Leicester Square theatre at the end of October. It will only run for a week and will be a little like a show case in that we all hope some fabulous producer will come along and snap it up and we shall all be in gainful employ for a good deal longer. There aren’t a lot of rehearsals and that makes me a bit wobbly but nevertheless I like the challenge. Working hard to find the core of my character at the moment and then I can get to grips with my second character as I shall be playing two very diverse but slightly mad ladies in this production.

Meanwhile my social life has been a lot of fun and the highlight really has to be my good friend Philip Treacy’s fashion show. I am not in the fashion world and find these events quite fascinating. They really are theatre and this did not disappoint. Not only was the venue spectacular, The Royal Courts of Justice, but the models were divine and the Hats out of this world, literally.

with GagaLady Gaga started the evening announcing that Philip was the most famous and talented Milliner in the world. He is!!  The hats are pieces of art work.  I have two that I treasure and even more special is the fact that they were gifts from Philip. Anyway the models were all dressed in Michael Jackson clothes that had come over from the States. It was great spotting favourites, loved the red jacket from Thriller, and it was fabulous having the sound track to Jackson’s life reverberating around the amazing hall.

The hats and the spectacle were certainly special but nothing quite prepared me for my encounter with Lady Gaga and Grace. What a pair. After the show I had spent an hour sitting in a small room sipping sparkling something with Grace. The odd visitor put their head round the door but this was strictly Philip’s time and Grace’ discretion allowed him to really be the focus of everyone’s admiration and interest. When Grace appears it can get a little crazy and she certainly wanted Philip to enjoy all the well-deserved attention.  

Somebody, somewhere decided it would be a good idea if Grace and I retired to an upstairs room where there were comfy seats and a bar and also some well needed heating so off we trotted…miles and miles of corridors and stairs and at 10.30 pm on a Sunday night the halls were spookily empty and shadowy and stunning,

Cut to us ending up in a room sitting quietly in a corner with a small group of onlookers and three or four photographers but it was very much a private gathering and very low key. That was until Lady Gaga (call me Gaga) appeared. She swept over to our corner and popped herself down next to Grace. Then she proceeded to tell Grace how much she adored and admired her and how inspired she had always been by Ms Jones.  Before Grace had a chance to respond the Photo op was upon us. Everyone wanted their pics but none more than the photographers who saw a terrific opportunity to get Gaga and Grace in a rare possibly never before situation. But NO! Grace was having none of it. Gaga pleaded and Philip cajoled and others put their case for a few pics but again No!  In the meantime I had taken myself off for a quick diet coke and was watching the whole spectacle unfold. Suddenly Grace roared! There was a scuffle of photographers as she leapt forward to grab a camera. ‘No Photographs’ she bellowed.  ‘Delete, Delete! ‘She exclaimed. Gaga pressed on about the benefits of press and Twitter and publicity...did she really think she need to tell Grace about self-promotion…anyway suddenly Grace spotted me and declared that there was to be only one photographer that evening and that was ME!!!!   Yikes!!  I was thrust forward clutching my camera and ordered to get some shots. Trembling hands, Lopped off heads, blurry shots and dazzling flashlights accompanied by tut-tuts and murmurs and worse from the professional photographers . Everyone was jockeying for position. Relatively calm people were suddenly waving frantically my way to try and have me grab a shot of them with either or best of all both great ladies ... All the while I know that these pictures are worth their weight but only if Grace says so. She insisted she could trust me and indeed so she can. Which is why you won’t be seeing any of Grace with Gaga right now.  Maybe later when she says its ok but right now they are for my eyes only.

The evening progressed and I slipped back into my seat with Grace and Gaga, Conversation was bizarre and we sat there with three enormous minders standing blocking anyone else. Gaga told me she was wearing a burka and I was rather stuck for an answer but she didn’t seem to notice as she proceeded to tell me how she would love to collaborate with Grace. She said something about computers and interactive and I saw Grace glazing over a little but her head swung around as she heard Gaga talk about maybe using Grace’s face on some computer game and how the fans would be able to manipulate Ms Jones’s visage. Well that idea hit the dust pretty damn quickly and Grace was very quick to point out that she and she alone was in control of her image. I quickly brought the conversation back to burka’s as one does and discovered that this particular one, once belonged to the late great Isabella Blow. Gaga informed me she was channelling her that night. Oh dear! Sometimes I feel so ordinary and straight ...

As I left the room an assistant rushed up to me to ask if I might send Gaga some photos as she really, really wanted them as she SO adored Grace. I was asked if I was Grace’s personal, private photographer, glad to say I am just her long-time friend and proud to be so!


June to September 2012

The Royal Jubilee weekend was a truly fabulous one for me. I love the Queen and I get very over excited at parades and marching bands etc. so the whole glitzy and colourful affair was a delight for me. Rain and all.  I spent the very best day of the long weekend at Buckingham Palace courtesy of my long-time friend Grace Jones. Her invitation to join her at the Royal performance in front of the Queen came just as I had booked a flight out to the US. Of course it  was hastily changed to the following morning and the added cancellation fee was soon forgotten in all the excitement.

Sunday had already been spent celebrating in style if not a  somewhat soggy and wet style but nevertheless celebrating with friend Alison who has a house boat moored at Chelsea and a perfect spot for viewing the flotilla of boats. We drank champagne and nibbled on delicious treats whilst reminding ourselves how lucky we were to be able to duck down below deck when the weather just got to ghastly. The small group of us gathered were also close friends of Grace’s so we spent a great deal of time discussing the forthcoming performance. We already knew that she intended to hula hoop and as one of our group was Philp Treacy, we also had a good idea of what she might intend to wear. It had been agreed that her 4 minutes had to stand out from all the other talent and there was a lot of competion and it was unanimously agreed her legs are one of her great assets so hopefully she would be flaunting them. She didn’t disappoint!

My Royal day started with a golf cart ride down Constitution Hill flanked by security men and accompanied by Maurice, the most delightful Venetian prince a girl could ever wish for. All of Grace’s friends are deeply glam and unique and Maurice is no exception. In fact he is possibly the MOST unique of them all. I have known him for many years and was delighted to have his companionship for the picnic that preceded the concert.

My bad leg and hip  limited walking so dear  Alison (of the houseboat) and also Grace’s fix it friend, had managed to convince the organisers that as Mrs G’s good friend the least they could do would be provide a golf cart down the long drive that leads from Hyde Park corner to the entrance of Buck Pal. Quite a hike, but not for me. I trundled alongside 20.000 people slowly making their way to the Gates to be given fabulous hampers full of great picnic foods, a flag and a poncho. Everything emblazoned with the Jubilee logo (luckily a damn sight more attractive than the Olympic logo! )

Jubilee picnicWe loved our picnic and the ambience. Everyone was in such good humour and so delighted to be a part of the special chosen few. We walked through the palace and out the other side into the wonderful grounds and spread our picnic out and then proceeded to eat and drink champagne (one glass each with a Buck Palace voucher ) We smiled graciously at all the other lucky buggers, most of whom had received their invites courtesy of a nationwide lottery system.

The mix of people certainly indicated a lottery as all walks of life were represented from smart and posh to gawdy and ghastly. To smart and elegant to horrendously clad walking Union jacks but the one thing that bound everyone was the JUBILANT spirit.

As usual the spirit was somewhat dampened by the horrendous queue snaking its way through the royal bushes to the royal port-a-cabins discreetly placed in the herbaceous borders at the far side of the Palace gardens. There must have been 100 ladies in front of me and once again the mens line was shorter. I suspect a few had darted into the flower beds for a discreet wee.

At the concert itself, outside of the Palace grounds, we found ourselves in wonderful seats a few rows in front of the Royal box. We were definitely in the cool and groovy group as we exchanged pleasantries with our neighbours. David Walliams sitting next to David Furnish and David Frost. The McCartney family including the two daughter’s Stella and Mary and so many more familiar faces. We all sung and danced and cheered and shouted and I was especially delighted to hear the row behind shouting for their dad and Grandad as Sir Paul commenced his set.

Yes, the stuffy British really let their hair down and even the Royal box got lively with the young Princes up and dancing and Andrew looking like a bit of a nerd draped in the Union jack flag and waving his arms in time to some Tom Jones tune.

Pippa Middleton and brother and parents sat to my left and she looked stunning in a very red dress that certainly cried out for all to notice her.
David Furnish luckily knew all the words to his partner Sir Elton’s songs and looked like a real fan boy as he swayed and waved his tiny flag whilst his husband played along.

Nobody looked as majestic as Her Majesty though and the evening really took off when she finally appeared and joined her family.

I haven’t mentioned Grace yet. Suffice to say she was magnificent and at 8.20 she grabbed a world wide audience of millions and single handily put Hula hooping back on the map. Sitting with her son and mother and other family members the Jones team couldn’t have been prouder and I felt very, very fortunate to be included in such a once in a lifetime event.

The following night I was sitting in Los Angeles watching the very same show that aired that night on the TV. I had to pinch myself, not only to stop myself nodding off from jet lag, but more to remind myself that I was in California watching a ‘live' broadcast (except we knew it wasn’t) but talk about time travel. Very surreal. It was also very disappointing not to have Grace in the show as they edited the damn thing and left out some of the best moments.

More Green Lantern and another chance to see old friends. I also found out that sadly the movie had not done as well at the box office and therefore there was little chance of the animated series getting picked up…so no more for me. But that’s the business I am in so on to the next.

I don’t know why I find it so difficult to sit down and ramble on for my blog. I suppose an insecurity about whether anybody will be interested. It was the same with my FaceBook fan page and now Twitter, this social media thing is very bizarre as one spends so much time trying to be private in the public eye and yet exposing oneself to the world by writing short little bursts of stuff that can’t really be that fascinating to people. Having said that I read Cher’s Twitter and feel  like I know her. (I have had tea at her house, does that count? And hung out in Malibu…brownie points anyone? ) Anyway I am trying to embrace the whole thing and since I have it on good authority that Producers now check to see how popular you are I had better work harder at being wittier or scandalous or gossip monger like or maybe just by being me. That would be novel!


September to November 2011

Happy New Year to one and all and I know that it is the time to look forward and get excited at upcoming events and adventures but I am afraid we are going to have to commence this leg of my blog by going backwards!

I can only promise that this year of 2012 I shall try much, much harder to be up to date with my blog. I have lots to say already and we are only two weeks into the New Year but before I do we need to go back and catch up on the end of last year.

There is something about the term resident alien that always seems to make people smile. It really does seem to describe me as I flip flop back and forth between countries with an extraordinary ease. I have always considered my existence very Jekyll and Hyde ish as the two lives I lead are so very different. I have never managed to shake off the moniker of alien and even though I moved to Los Angeles way back in 1983 I still often feel like an alien. Things are just different here. Of course it amuses the masses that I also play aliens or at least characters that are from another world and indeed being brought up in the heart of William Shakespeare land and spending so much time in LaLa land I do feel that I really do come from another world. Nothing in Stratford is remotely like my life in California and indeed as I sit in the Bel Air hotel talking to my movie star friends I marvel at how different my life styles are. Anyway I have left Stratford upon Avon behind for September and October and in L.A but not before having had the pleasure of celebrating my mother’s 90 th birthday at home with all our family and friends.

Hurray for Hollywood. Sunshine all the way. A stay always lifts my spirits especially when the President of the United States has chosen to visit my local music venue just two blocks from me. The building is a shack like construction known as the House of Blues and it sits shabbily on sunset Boulevard. There was nothing shabby about his visit though and they pulled out all stops to make sure that we all knew he was coming and also that we couldn’t get anywhere too near to disturb his arrival. Road blocks and helicopters and sharp shooters and chaos and every type of Obama merchandising conceivable added to the palpable excitement of the masses. Even I got caught up in it and found myself most put out when on leaving my house I was stopped by the cop at the end of the road. It appears I looked or acted suspiciously and he wasn’t about to let me join my friends who had already staked out there spot. As it turns out the Pres. sneaked in the back door and disappointed many. The one nice experience was that the neighbour’s car got flagged down and pulled over by his motorcade. The President gave them a big smile and a thank you and I think the memory will last for ever for that lucky family.

With Abby Dalton from Falcon CrestSo it’s convention time. This time it’s the Hollywood Collectors show and I have been invited along to join some of my fellow Falcon Crest cast mates. It has only been 30 years! I have long embraced the whole business of conventions. I often have people say that they have noticed that I am on the ‘circuit’ and to a degree I suppose I am. I enjoy them and try to do two a year and especially in different areas of America.  It amazes and delights me that people will make such efforts to come out and visit. Let’s face it my body of work was way back when and certainly the stuff the fans love was mostly shot a good few years ago. Signing some pics and making a bit of pocket money is really not hard work AND having people telling me they love me is really an added bonus.

I have always maintained that the minute I have no visitors I will stop. I do sometimes see actors just sitting with no one visiting and it must be the most debilitating feeling. There are all sorts of different ways to draw attention to oneself at a convention. This can range from wearing scanty outfits to being overtly loud. I rather err on the side of caution and like to just sit and beam at people and trust they just feel comfortable coming over to say hello. Maybe they will grab a photo or get an autograph it’s all fine by me.

Last year I was offered advice from an ‘actress’ who told me, through her extra white teeth and botoxed face that if I showed a bit of cleavage I would do a lot better and sell more autographs.  Looking at her vast display I rather marvelled that she didn’t topple over when leaning down to sign a picture. Her fan didn’t seem to mind though and I think she could have signed her name Fred Flintstone and he wouldn’t have noticed.

Sarah & friendsA bit of lipstick and maybe a manicure to disguise my gardening nails is about as far as glamming up goes for me. They get me pretty much as I am. Some people make SERIOUS money and I mean many thousands at these conventions. Often a good business class air ticket is involved and a good hotel thrown in. Just depends. This last visit I was able to luxuriate in a Marriot hotel although the location was the North Hollywood airport of Burbank, not exactly glamorous.  However it was great stay and the most wonderful bed and pillows, it doesn’t take much to please me!

Next Spring I am delighted to be able to visit Charlotte and a new type of convention for me. Horror. Looks like fun and lots of chums will be there and I am sure we will all have a blast. Of course it does mean I shall have to own up to many of the scary movies I have shot and forgotten about. The fans won’t have though. So I shall have to do some viewing, if I dare, so I know what they are talking about!

The following week end I am going back to a favourite place. Stonybrook and the I-con convention. I love this show and the people that run it and I am very spoilt. It also gives me a chance to visit my family in New York which will be brilliant.

I have been very fortunate in my random choice of conventions round the world but sometimes I have got it wrong. I am delighted to say that I am now well protected by my long-time friend Julie who runs a successful business booking and negotiating for her clients who are invited to memorabilia shows and conventions. Thanks to Illumina productions I no longer have to worry about where I am going and who is looking after me and especially if it is legit. As I have said I have always been very lucky but there have been one or two scary calls and as a small example I will illustrate my point!

Two years ago I accepted an invitation to visit Coral Beach in North Carolina. I should have known better and my instinct told me that the person I was dealing with did have a dodgy track record but Hey, he was an old friend and I loved his family and surely he would steer me right. I don’t intend to go into the chaos that ensued or my deep disappointment with this individual because out of the chaos I befriended a wonderful lady who saved the day and I am in her debt. What I will illustrate is just how easy it is to be misrepresented and how easily one can be at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals.

My deal, including air fare, also stated a luxury 5 star beach front hotel. Delicious, especially in winter.  Two flights and a few hours later I was delivered from the West Coast to the east coast to an airport near Myrtle Beach. A drive through the deserted streets soon alerted me to the fact that this was very off season. Most of the shops were shut and boarded and as we approached the beach hotels it was apparent that a lot of them were closed too. However the following day’s forecast was good and even though it was dark and late at night I was aware we were passing a beautiful beach full of big hotels.  Before I knew it we had turned sharply into a driveway leading down into an underground car park. Down and down we went. There were just two cars parked which should have been a clue however I was tired and happy to be led into the elevator that took me to the penthouse.  A deserted corridor open to the elements and a view of a darkened beach and crashing waves added to the welcome , at this stage I did get a niggly feeling that all wasn’t quite as it seemed and the movie ‘The Shining’ suddenly seemed foremost in my mind… a clue of what was to come maybe? But then the door opened into my suite and what a luxurious one it was. A fabulous big bed with silk pillows everywhere. Plasma screens and all mod cons.  There must be a catch? I went to the mini bar. Empty. I was now very tired and hungry and a little cranky so I picked up the phone to call room service. Not only was there no reply but there was no connection…there was no body there. In fact there was no body in the bloody hotel. It was closed for the season. To this day I don’t know how they had managed to get the room opened and cleaned for me but they had. Green and stagnant.

I slept fitfully assured by the booker that everything would be sorted out the following day. The morning arrived and indeed the beach lay in front of me and the pool immediately below my wrap around balcony. I peered the 10 floors down and could see a large half empty pool. Green and stagnant. Nobody had been skinny dipping in that yucky pool in a long while. Never mind, there was always the beach. However the beach could only be accessed by taking the elevator to the basement and going through the security door and the hole in a fence. Not quite the luxury I had anticipated.

No phone. No service. No hotel staff. No good! Just me and two others guests on lower floors but how could I challenge the agreement? You see they promised me a beach front luxury hotel and they delivered.  I just forgot to ask them if the hotel would be open!!!  Who would have thought?

Since I last wrote things have changed a little and I am now recuperating after an accident in London in early November.  Never one to miss an opportunity to be the centre of attention I managed to curtail a rather lovely dinner party at the fine and glamorous Ivy club by slipping on the hardwood floor and taking a spectacular tumble which left me with a badly fractured hip. I shall repeat the piece printed in the Daily Mail as they did rather capture the moment but it is actually the hospital I want to mention, first though the illustrious Daily Mail report:-
The Daily Mail reportStill glamorous at 58, Superman baddie Sarah Douglas must have wished for her own superhero flying to her rescue after falling heavily on the polished floors of The Ivy Club. The Falcon Crest actress – she played venomous Pamela Lynch - was enjoying dinner with U.S film executives when she went to powder her nose. Unfortunately for Sarah, the floor was damp.  “I’d taken barely a couple of steps when I flew up in the air” she says. “The noise I made when I came crashing down was like a big piece of heavy machinery hitting the floor.‘
But it was no laughing matter and Sarah was taken to University College Hospital where doctors said she would need a hip replacement. “I was hoping to create a lovely impression with all these bigwigs from L.A and then there I was on the floor in agony.” She tells me. “The funny thing was, as I lay there , I realised I was looking up some of the most glamorous skirts in London.”

 

So there we have it and here I am now some 8 weeks later with a crutch and a limp and the prospect of one leg a little shorter than the other. Mind boggles as to the roles this will afford me. Suggestions please! On the positive side is the experience I had in our wonderful National Health Service hospital. I could not have been better taken care of in my 11 day stay. Indeed there were moments of misery and lack of sleep but on the whole a positive experience.  

University College HospitalI had a lot of laughs with two of the other patients and some great nursing. I was well taken care of by friends and family who visited constantly. I also spent a good deal of time writing down some of the dialogue from a crazy lady who briefly stayed with us and another dear old soul of 93 years who thought she was at staying in a luxury hotel with her mother. It was a real slice of life and also a wakeup call to the ghastliness of ageing. Talking of that I must point out that the biggest laugh came to my ward mates the day a fellow visitor remarked that my friend (who is 4 years younger than me ) was a wonderful daughter to take such good care of her dear old mother. Ok, I know I looked rough and was in a wheel chair and was being pushed to the bathroom but REALLY….her mother for goodness sake!!

Anyhow it did give everyone a well-earned laugh and a serious wake up call to me that I need to get my act together and quickly!!!

Now we are up to date and Oscar time is here and I have already attended the War Horse premiere so lots to tell. Next time!


August 2011

I am starting this second blog somewhat tentatively as I haven’t yet launched the first one. Well I say I, but in fact it is my wonderful, whizzy, fabulous, computer literate friend Matt who is actually in charge. With his company Starfish Consultants he has transformed my life. It is he who designed and created my website and it is he, amongst others, who has sourced and discovered a lot of the more obscure little jobs that I have done. These videos of long since forgotten thespian interludes, he has captured and for posterity’s sake put on my website.

Matt & SarahI had often wondered what the little telly symbol meant when placed next to something on my C.V.. One day I pressed on the symbol and low and behold there I was. Anyway, thanks to Matt I now have all this and more to share with you and more to the point with his encouragement I am now doing this blog.
He is also gently nudging me towards having an online shop – does he intend to sell veg from my allotment I wonder? Watch this space!

So now I am off and running and once again not totally sure of the format but I do know that certain things that happen capture my imagination and I mentally decide to write a little about them so...

As I start this I discover that my first blog is launched and I am getting some great response so I will just keep going....

I have always written bits and bobs. Not a diary, more a whim when the mood takes me.  I have saved most of these scraps of paper and they are often nothing more than a few lines. Something I observed or that caught my interest. I have decided to share some of them, especially those that relate to my Superman days or Hollywood experiences. God knows I don’t want to bore you rigid with tales of my youth or experiences working in the canning factory though I must say the piece I have just uncovered has rather had me reflecting on my teen age years.

My mother, knowing that I was about to embark on a career on the stage, felt it would be most useful for me to get a taste of a cross section of jobs so that I might be able to relate to circumstances and characters I encountered on my way. Indeed it was a real eye opener and certainly broadened my outlook but sadly in my career I have only ever really played the posh birds and not the factory worker, though there is still time.

Back in 1969 it appears that I was most concerned for my fellow workers on the pea line at Stratford upon Avon’s prestigious canning factory. Reading the notes I made back then I now realise that in fact my main concern was purely self preservation as I comment that I had demanded to be taken off the pea line as I feared that I, too, might suffer the same fate as poor Mabel, who after thirty years of sorting the black pea from the green pea was completely cross eyed. I had only been there three days but my concern was that I would soon lose focus and go boss eyed too.  I didn’t want anything to spoil my chances of a career on the stage. As far as the big screen went – heavens above – boss eyed wasn’t an option!!!

When I first moved to LA in 1983 I took a tin of peas with me. It sat on my shelf as a continual reminder of my early ambition and indeed from whence I came. I am sorry to say the tin got rusty. What does that mean, I wonder?

Singing and dancing are not words that trip off the tongue when asked to describe my talents. Dancing, in my case, is a painful, robotic shuffle and I ALWAYS lead and my singing is strictly for the shower and car and close, close compassionate friends.

Imagine my panic when, on accepting the role of Natasha in ‘Monster Mash’  I discovered that indeed I was expected to do both. My futile attempts are captured on celluloid and I need say little more. However, in my defence I must point out that on the very first day of rehearsal the choreographer asked me to show the assembled group some of my moves. Err, Hello? Moves?

At this point and only at this stage did I realise what was expected of me. I threw myself into the task at hand and launched myself diagonally across the floor. It came back to me in a flash. All those years of drama school and endless hours of Greek arm line movements. Just like Isadora....I leapt across the floor, arms outstretched and just as I hit the centre of the room something hit me. POW!! An apple maybe. Thrown at great speed and a lot of force.

It hit the back of my leg and brought my gallop to a halt with a resounding ping. I assumed the producer was already throwing rotten fruit at me, well I wasn’t great but this was agony and my union would be hearing from me...it transpired my Achilles tendon had been torn and I was rushed off to the emergency room. When I next appeared it was suggested that I should just do some recording to save my leg. After the initial shock of hearing my voice some say that it sounded as if the Achilles in my throat had also been torn.

So there I was, leg strapped and voice far from perfect but hey it was a musical farce and I loved every minute of it. Suffice to say that offers haven’t been flooding in but performing is something I love to do and give me an audience and I am off and even when its not my gig I manage to grab the odd moment for myself. This was apparent quite recently when I accompanied my good friend Grace Jones to a music festival in Hyde Park , London. To say I harbour envy towards Miss G would be way too strong an emotion, however watching her singing and strutting and jiggling and cajoling her audience does leave me breathless and always in awe.
Last Sunday, dear Grace invited me along and it was a given that she would work the main stage and I would take the wings.

Hyde ParkSo there I stood on the stage in  London for the Electric concert. Some 40,000 people staring at me from behind a flank of burly security men. I peeped at them from behind a large amplifier and then getting a little braver I exposed my whole body to the on looking crowd and soaked up my moment in the spotlight. I had my minute and darted back behind the amp but my young 6 year old companion hadn’t finished. She waved at the crowd. They ALL waved back, well it looked like they all did, so I tried it. Just a little tentative and coy wiggle of my fingers and bugger me, they ALL wiggled their fingers back. What power. I was just like Freddie Mercury conducting the masses. They were following my every move, responding to every gesture. What a feeling...but shortlived. To be honest maybe no longer than a minute as no sooner had they responded to me, than the fickle masses turned their attentions to the band who were arriving on stage. Seconds before, my captive audience, slightly bemused by myself and my friend, had watched us out of sheer boredom but now they were focused on the imminent arrival of my dear Grace. She was about to start her set and there was something about her magnificent body clad in oh so little, that had drawn all 40,000 pairs of eyes from our antics in the wings to the glorious centre stage goddess aka Mrs Bum-Bum (as my 6 year old friend had appropriately tagged her)  and if you have seen the photos you will understand how a child might be amazed by this wild lady ‘ wearing just her knickers’.

Grace Jones and friend!She was  strutting her stuff and I had, not surprisingly, lost my audience. Boy, she knows how to work a crowd and this lot certainly needed working. Dear Mrs G didn’t disappoint. She clambered down from the stage, straddled a poor security guards shoulder and positioned herself in front of the baying mob. Riding the poor guy with her thighs tightly garrotting his throat she rode up and down in front of the salivating mob. Hands outstretched and eyes agog, the crowd called and shouted and reached for her...No one was wiggling their fingers at me.

An adventure with Grace is always a BIG one. Wherever and whatever we do there is laughter and drama and after 25 years of close friendship we really know each other well. I love watching her perform and have been fortunate enough to travel to many exciting and exotic places with her. Our very first public outing back in 1984 was to the Grammy awards and as always there is a tale to tell about that evening. We always seem to find ourselves in the eye of a storm and that evening was no exception. But still she is the most wonderful and exhausting and exhilarating friend to be around. Our adventures are legendary and suffice to say a blog just isn’t big enough to give them credit. Maybe one day they will be serialised as they are certainly too much for a little old blog!

The last Sunday in July it was warm and dry and I was invited to go for a swim in the Highgate women’s pond. Set on the highest part of London this is a public pond and one just for ladies though men have been known to try and peer through the heavy undergrowth...and anyway they have their own pond though somehow I don’t think there are any woman peeping through at them! Now let me explain that I LOVE swimming in the Mediterranean, floating on air beds and buoyed by salty waters. This is a pond with weeds and ducks and everything else that you imagine goes into a pond and its COLD. I also must point out that in the twenty years in California I think I have been in the Pacific three times and as far as English water goes I am strictly an observer. However, the idea of swimming in a large pond with ducks and swans and water lilies and lots and lots of jolly, strapping English ladies almost appealed to me. I certainly was willing to watch and hold the towel.

The ponds are brilliantly well maintained and open around the year. They have life guards and showers and bonhomie. A small donation is all that is asked for and the setting is actually idyllic. Hardy types swim through the ice and snow but luckily I was there on a warm and balmy day. I sat on a grassy bank surrounded by ladies of all sizes and shapes and tried not to watch the floor show as they wriggled and writhed their way into swimsuits. Nude bathing is strictly not allowed as it seems to attract all sorts of wild life in the hedgerow; however it doesn’t seem to stop the ladies from showing their wares whilst sunbathing in a small meadow alongside the ponds. This is NOT LA and I found it comforting to see the variety of shapes and the sheer abandonment of the ladies. There were the pendulous and the pert and the beautiful and the scary and everybody was so frightfully nice! After watching my friend swim it was just a swift stroll to the pub and a large Pimms and a relax in the warm evening sun. Bliss.

Diana NyadMeanwhile, my friend Diana Nyad is preparing for a different kind of swim. There will be no ducks or swans to avoid, only bloody great sharks and jelly fish and sheer fatigue as she attempts the swim from Cuba to the US and Florida Keys. Diana is an amazing woman and an example to us all. Having hit 60 she determined that she was once again going to attempt this massive challenge. Sadly her preparation last Summer was in vain as she had to abort for all sorts of frustrating reasons but she is back this summer with her long time friend Bonnie at her side. She is determined to fulfil her dream. Go Diana. She is so focused and so fit and an example to us all.

I saw the new century in with her at her home in Los Angeles. She wasn’t even swimming any distances then having long since hung up her goggles but somehow as her 60 approached she determined that it should be marked by something momentous. You can’t get a much bigger challenge so fingers crossed...

Incidentally my 60th falls on 12.12.12 and I think the date is momentous enough for me. A swim is out.  It will be winter and too damn cold (thank goodness) but any suggestions?
My apples!To conclude for those that care my plums and apples are a triumph and I have a wonderful crop of tomatoes and potatoes as well. Last night I was able to relish the redcurrant jelly my sister had made from the crop she had picked...oh the good life. Anyone for dinner?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June/July 2011

It has taken me quite some time to get to grips with the business of keeping or is it writing a blog. I have battled with decisions over whether it is like a diary or notes on momentous events in my life or mere drivel.  Confused over format and worried about just rambling on I have tried jotting down notes whenever it felt appropriate and made short videos of my self peering into the lens like a deranged person waffling on about the day. People, friends and fans often ask me what I have been doing and what did you do, see, eat etc... and because I seem to be back and forth from America to England there are plenty of people who want to know about the other side  but my life is more than just Hollywood (doesn’t THAT sound pretentious?) but how the hell to decide which bits and what continent...
I have checked others crispy neat formats and been rather dazzled at the professionalism of some friends and realised that I actually don’t really give a toss ‘cos Miss Perry is no longer alive and consequently I no longer fear that red pencil through my work and those pursed lips and beady eyes, this is all me and mine and God knows you don’t have to read it!

Anyway this week came and went again without me tackling the issue and just as I thought I would never start the idea struck me. The 4 Cs.  How brilliant is that?
Croydon: Work. Location for Strippers vs Werewolves.
California: My home for some 20 years and where I feel most valued as an actress and most warmed by the sun.
Carrots: The allotment. To plant or not to plant. My most time consuming hobby and my great pleasure.
Cornwall: My annual holiday with my 89 year old mother.

CORNWALL

CornwallAs I am writing this whilst on holiday I will start with Cornwall. In the southernmost tip of England and a surfer’s paradise one might be forgiven for imagining the sun beating down on my frail old mothers head but NO. Already two days have passed and challenged by wind and rain I marvel at the British resilience and the ‘make the most of it‘ attitude. Far from being a frail old lady, my mother, in her 90th year is not to be deterred and we have already hit a number of Cornish hostelries and consumed local brews and then quickly on through the rain to try the cream teas with lashing and lashings of clotted cream. No cholesterol fears on this vacation. Mostly though, we have ploughed up and down steep and narrow single track country lanes to be rewarded with magical little coves or vast expanses of beaches. Pausing briefly to sample the chilling winds and peering through our rain splattered glasses we have marvelled at the beauty of it all and rewarded ourselves with a quick photo op and a reassuring word from the mater...” you can just imagine how beautiful it must be on a sunny day “ on/on.

It took hours to get here and shortly we will head back again to Stratford upon Avon but this time we have the added bonus of passing close by Glastonbury Music festival. Lucky us. We will be on the motorway on the very week end the festival starts and we will be able to observe at close range the festival goers in the thousands. Wellington boots and mud their companions for the next few days.

My sister is with us and we are increasingly aware that this might well be one of the last summer hols we take with our mother as she has begun to really prefer the comfort of her own bed...and who can blame her.

CROYDON

Strippers vs WerewolvesHaving just downloaded my photos of my shoot on Strippers vs Werewolves the blood and the gore of it all are still fresh in my mind.

Firstly, I have to once again confess that it is a struggle coming to terms with ageing. I thought it wouldn’t bother me but I hadn’t realised that I was going to be continually bombarded with images of a younger, svelte self. The pictures, the downloads, the old movies are continually rubbing my face in the fresh faced youth that was me!

On my very first day on the set I was confronted with a photo of myself at 27. I have to play my scene to it...remembering bygone days and boy did I have to dig deep to find the emotions that mirror the scripts description of ‘Jeanette’ wondering where all the years have gone as she contemplates her younger self. Thank God for method acting!!!!

Anyway it was a fun shoot and the first time I had filmed in England in almost three decades. I love British crews and the banter on the set. For that matter I love being on any set. I feel totally at home and in my comfort zone.

The location is Croydon and most British people will understand that this does not conjure up anything remotely glamorous. There is a plethora of Pound shops, discount stores and thrift shops in the high street. Fast food and kids in hoodies...

The producers have kindly moved me from the first hotel which I remember from the TV commercial being a lot more comfortable but this one took me right back to some of the Eastern European gems I have bedded down in.

But at least those hotels had room for big girls like me. My Croydon place only had a disabled room available and although brilliantly adapted to accommodate wheelchairs not so great when you're 5’9.

Everything was very, very low and to wash or clean my teeth or even gaze at myself I had to spread my legs and bend at the knees to get low enough to look in the mirror. My bed was so close to the ground that I could amuse myself counting the fluff balls as I certainly couldn’t see out of the window which was at normal height!
Suffice to say that I have great empathy for fellow guests with disabilities but I also knew that I personally couldn’t live the next few weeks feeling like the Jolly green Giant....so they moved me and now I look over the back alley and side entrance to Larry Flynt’s strip joint in the centre of Croydon. It feels like the Ritz!

CALIFORNIA

Sarah & NikeI left L.A. at the end of May just as everything was flowering and sunny. I do miss the sun and my friends but mainly I miss Nike the wonder dog. She is a 15 ½ year old German Shepherd and the most loyal and loving and gentle of dogs. She has had a stroke and has lost the use of her back legs but her heart is strong. Every day is a blessing and she shoots around on her custom made wheels and no one is in any doubt that she doesn’t intend to give up any time soon. I hope to see her again, but one never knows. I am so grateful that she is being loved and cared for so brilliantly. What a Great Dog!

L.A is everything you have heard and more. If you live centrally there is a very strong chance that you will be rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. There is also the chance that the guy pumping your gas could be the next Spielberg so everybody is always so damn nice to each other.

I have just completed the 4th episode of the animated series ‘Green Lantern’. There is a lot of hype and press for the Green Lantern movie so Warner Brothers have high hopes that interest in the film will spark the imagination of another audience, fans of animation.

I love my voice over gigs. Wonderful short days of recording with the rest of the cast with much laughter and a very relaxed atmosphere. Possibly because you don’t have to learn your lines or even dress for the occasion, it’s a truly great way to earn a crust.

The other great thing about voice over work is that you get the opportunity to try different stuff. Be larger and louder and meaner than ever before. As an on camera actress one is incredibly aware of the time restraints and the costs and there often isn’t the luxury of too much rehearsal opportunity but in animation they encourage you to try different ways of expressing yourself and of course it is all about your voice and the way you use it.

I was thrilled to have been invited to join the regular cast of Green Lantern for few episodes and it amused me to discover that as I stood in front of the microphone alongside the other actors, it seemed to be my voice that sounded different amongst a sea of professional voice over artists and actors. To my ear they were all doing ‘funny’ voices and yet they all thought that I was the one that sounded odd. Guess that just comes down to being a resident alien, eh?

The rest of my time is taken up with wining and dining and sunning and a lot of BS but I also spend time working with my great friend Melanie who writes wonderfully and has very creative ideas. I have been coming up with streams of thoughts and ideas and words and nonsense and she has been sifting through them and making sense of it all. Our first venture was back in the 90’s and a sitcom. We got a long way along with it though sadly it never came to be made. Now we are being quite ambitious and working on an idea that is more in the sci fi genre and has me battling all sorts of monsters. Just like my everyday life. Anyway we have the support of the fabulous Pearry Teo and so we will continue with that idea. Thank God for Melanie as I would never be able to put my thoughts to paper in such a succinct way. This is her baby though and I am very excited about it.

CARROTS

Veg!And now to my carrots or lack of them... but a plethora of beans, broad and French and runners.

The allotment is a very English thing. It is a piece of land that local councils rent to residents for a nominal fee. It’s yours then to do with as you please as long as it means digging and weeding and mulching and growing your own. It is provided for the express purpose of cultivation and that is exactly what my sister and I do.
My sister, Marilyn, is the head gardener as I am often away and she lives permanently in Stratford upon Avon. Our piece of land is adjacent to Anne Hathaway’s cottage. We like to imagine that the young William Shakespeare often walked over these pastures whilst courting his future wife. It’s a beautiful spot and I love it. We sweat and toil and battle the elements. We also battle the stinging nettles and weeds but Oh the pleasure of growing one’s own!

I favour tomatoes and beans and all things green whereas my sister is the berry queen. All sizes and shapes and colours so we are a good combo. Goodness knows how much we spend on fertilising and nurturing and purchasing all the tools of the trade. Way more than our return I am sure. But the pleasure for me is undeniable. A summer’s eve and a small gas burner, the kettle is on to boil for a nice cuppa tea. Bliss.

So there you have the 4 Cs and goodness knows what might come next but I had to start somewhere. It might be months or an instant before I next put pen to paper. We shall just have to see how the muse takes me.

Summer 2013

So what has prompted me to finally pull my finger out and do another blog? Simple, it’s time for another Superman and I cannot let the opportunity pass by without commenting on past/present and general Super/related incidents!

BFI ScreeningThis month saw my reunion with Terence Stamp at the British Film Institute. I haven't seen him for easily 25 years and it has always been a regret of mine because I adored working with him and indeed had the biggest school girl crush on him which remains to this day. I was delighted that he told the audience about his experiences in India and how he came back to acting and Superman after a long, long break. On our initial meeting I had rather expected to meet the dashing soldier from Far from the Madding Crowd and had been somewhat taken aback to meet a spiritual guru dressed in orange but wearing handmade shoes. At the BFI he talked of those days in a gently self-deprecating manner which made me love him even more. He was calm and meditative on the set. I was like a crazy colt. I was pleased to be able to thank him personally at the BFI for helping me 'find' Ursa. Without his calm goodness knows how she would have turned out!

Thanks to the BFI and Terence we were able to enjoy an evening watching the Donner cut of Superman 2 and what a treat that was. I feel very privileged to have worked on these timeless classics and especially to have worked with two of the greatest actors of our time, Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman.
Christopher Reeve took my breath away once again. He was, he IS Superman.

This brings me neatly to the arrival of the latest Superman, Henry Cavill. Who can dismiss him having seen his brooding performance in The Tudors? What shoes he has to step in. He looks fantastic though and totally believable as our Man of Steel. The short clips I have seen show a somewhat darker version of Superman but it nevertheless looks like it is going to be a blockbuster and I think we are all going to fall in love with Henry!

I have watched with interest the campaign that Henry's people have launched via social networking. Obviously he has a fantastic following already. His team are really whipping up his profile before MoS opens and they are doing a brilliant job.

A far cry from my day when there really wasn't anything but your own good self and the power of the press. I didn't have a PR back then and it was almost consider bad form to court publicity. I happily sold the Movie around the world and Warner Brothers made a great show of thanking me. Superman 2 was clouded in mystery because of the removal of Richard Donner etc. but no one actually knew that. It really wasn't discussed or acknowledged but the loyal cast were certainly not going to miss an opportunity to complain bitterly about the situation. I, however, seemed to be oblivious to all the back chat. I think it was mainly because every night I went home to my husband and the majority of the cast were visitors to London and therefore all hung out together all the time. Great bonding with their director that I sadly missed.

I was chosen to go out and spend the next 9 months travelling the world and spreading the news about Superman the movie and not the scandal. That is just what I did and have been rewarded with lots of kind words and accolades from Warner Brothers who I now realise were mighty nervous that their superhero was going to be tarnished. The only regret for me now is that I didn't understand how to sell myself.

I happily went around with most people not recognising me and certainly not getting to know the real me. I can only imagine what might have happened to my career if I had a team like Henry's blogging and tweeting my every move!

Back to today though and lots of opportunity to make up for lost time. At the moment the fans seem to be most interested in how I feel about having Ursa replaced by Faora...Honestly...she is not MY Ursa and therefore the only comparison would be her relationship with Zod and maybe her superpowers and short black hair.
Good luck to Antje Trau as Faora.  I hope she GRABS her moment.

Times have changed in the last thirty years and somehow I don't imagine that Faora had a mink lined bra to keep her warm on those cold, icy nights on the back lot. With the Ursa costume there wasn't much opportunity to wear anything to keep you warm under that organza costume with all those slits revealing skin everywhere. Many will have heard me proclaim that I had the ' hottest pair in the business' and did she have her own personal nose wiper with a forty foot pole with a tissue on the end? I don't think so! Supervillains don't carry tissues and I can tell you that hanging upside down all day on the end of a wire was often a miserable experience, especially with a cold. But this was a big budget movie and so I got my own nose wiper. It didn’t stop there though. Bert just dealt with nasal passages but a lovely lady called Sara dealt with the delicate problem of my toilet. Long, false Ursa nails were a big problem when it came to trying to get out of my costume to go to the loo. Too many false nails were falling down the toilet and holding up production whilst they were replaced. Sara had the thankless task of pulling my knickers down whenever I asked...that's actually poetic licence, Sara just undid my costume for me...Ursa didn't wear underwear!

So Ursa lives on and I have finally accepted her as part of my own makeup...people still ask for autographs and photos, they still want to tell me where they were the first time they saw the movie etc. and through Twitter and Facebook and the internet generally I have tried to answer for her.

This year I will visit Texas and Cardiff and Birmingham and Long Island for conventions and although there are many other roles on my C.V. it is Ursa they really want to connect with.

In America it is almost a daily occurrence that someone somewhere recognises me. Goodness knows how. Often I struggle to determine whether that strange look in a person’s eye is because they think they know me, they recognise me, think I might be 'someone' or maybe they are just plain strange people. It’s difficult to decipher.

Two anecdotes form these last few months illustrate my point.

NEW YORK.
Walking down Broadway I noticed a man of about 30 watching me carefully. He was black and had dreadlocks and was talking into his cell phone. I crossed the street. He followed. I walked faster. He sped up. A few steps behind me I tightened my grip on my bag and clutched it to my chest. I dove into Starbucks and watched as he settled against the wall outside eyeing me with a shifty eye. Finally he made his move and burst through the doors and straight towards me (again poetic licence please) I took a deep breath and waited to be accosted. But no. 'Are you the Bitch from Superman? ‘he demanded , yes says I . A BIG smile spread across his face as he furiously pumped my hand, the other was still hanging onto my bag, and this dear young man drew up a chair and told me just where HE had been when he first saw Superman etc.... There is a final note to this, having had a good chat and a coffee together ( I was consumed with guilt at thinking such negative stereotypical thoughts and felt we had to at least have a coffee together to absolve me of bad thoughts). Anyway, just as he was leaving he asked me if I was seeing anyone. I quickly said 'Oh yes and I have a wonderful partner of many, many years ' (again poetic licence ) he smiled and just said he had just wondered if I had needed a little COMFORTING. That was all. Is THAT what they call it nowadays?

LONDON.
Rehearsing for a play in London's West End I dashed out for a morning coffee. Dressed in typical rehearsal gear i.e. scruffy as hell and no makeup, I lined up behind a young, camp gay guy. Believe me I got this right this time. As he turned to leave I saw he was wearing a t shirt with the words 'KNEEL BEFORE URSA' For those not familiar with Superman there was a great line from Zod ( Mr Stamp ) where he demanded of the US President that he should 'KNEEL BEFORE ZOD'. This line has become one of those famous movie quotes and Terry told me that there is barely a day when someone doesn't shout it out to him, anyway I digress . So there are t shirts made up with this quote but to my delight some people have changed the wording to kneel before Ursa. So this guy turns around and catches my eye. He gave me one of THOSE looks of recognition as I smiled at his t shirt and its slogan. 'Go On then' I said provocatively, thinking I was giving a fan a real treat. The young man recoiled but not before spitting out the words 'PERV' and rushing out the door.

Deflated ego. Dejected me.  But everyone I have told has enjoyed the story and so I remain careful and cautious when trying to read those 'strange' looks. I don't want to get it wrong again I might be arrested!

So here we are up to date. I am off to the US in a couple of weeks and look forward to a visit to Texas Comicon and also to more work on my latest project 'Displacement' I am loving the involvement on this feature and it is a completely different way of working for me. I have a week or so more to do and just love the energy of the young star, Courtney Hope and if I didn't adore the director and totally believe in his vision and commitment I can assure you I would be in my garden or on the beach.

Let’s see what we all make of Man of Steel and meanwhile it’s on/on for me...


October 2012

It is a wonderfully busy time for me. There is plenty of audio work to do and that in itself is a challenge. There is also the play The Hallowe’en Sessions that will be at the Leicester Square theatre at the end of October. It will only run for a week and will be a little like a show case in that we all hope some fabulous producer will come along and snap it up and we shall all be in gainful employ for a good deal longer. There aren’t a lot of rehearsals and that makes me a bit wobbly but nevertheless I like the challenge. Working hard to find the core of my character at the moment and then I can get to grips with my second character as I shall be playing two very diverse but slightly mad ladies in this production.

Meanwhile my social life has been a lot of fun and the highlight really has to be my good friend Philip Treacy’s fashion show. I am not in the fashion world and find these events quite fascinating. They really are theatre and this did not disappoint. Not only was the venue spectacular, The Royal Courts of Justice, but the models were divine and the Hats out of this world, literally.

with GagaLady Gaga started the evening announcing that Philip was the most famous and talented Milliner in the world. He is!!  The hats are pieces of art work.  I have two that I treasure and even more special is the fact that they were gifts from Philip. Anyway the models were all dressed in Michael Jackson clothes that had come over from the States. It was great spotting favourites, loved the red jacket from Thriller, and it was fabulous having the sound track to Jackson’s life reverberating around the amazing hall.

The hats and the spectacle were certainly special but nothing quite prepared me for my encounter with Lady Gaga and Grace. What a pair. After the show I had spent an hour sitting in a small room sipping sparkling something with Grace. The odd visitor put their head round the door but this was strictly Philip’s time and Grace’ discretion allowed him to really be the focus of everyone’s admiration and interest. When Grace appears it can get a little crazy and she certainly wanted Philip to enjoy all the well-deserved attention.  

Somebody, somewhere decided it would be a good idea if Grace and I retired to an upstairs room where there were comfy seats and a bar and also some well needed heating so off we trotted…miles and miles of corridors and stairs and at 10.30 pm on a Sunday night the halls were spookily empty and shadowy and stunning,

Cut to us ending up in a room sitting quietly in a corner with a small group of onlookers and three or four photographers but it was very much a private gathering and very low key. That was until Lady Gaga (call me Gaga) appeared. She swept over to our corner and popped herself down next to Grace. Then she proceeded to tell Grace how much she adored and admired her and how inspired she had always been by Ms Jones.  Before Grace had a chance to respond the Photo op was upon us. Everyone wanted their pics but none more than the photographers who saw a terrific opportunity to get Gaga and Grace in a rare possibly never before situation. But NO! Grace was having none of it. Gaga pleaded and Philip cajoled and others put their case for a few pics but again No!  In the meantime I had taken myself off for a quick diet coke and was watching the whole spectacle unfold. Suddenly Grace roared! There was a scuffle of photographers as she leapt forward to grab a camera. ‘No Photographs’ she bellowed.  ‘Delete, Delete! ‘She exclaimed. Gaga pressed on about the benefits of press and Twitter and publicity...did she really think she need to tell Grace about self-promotion…anyway suddenly Grace spotted me and declared that there was to be only one photographer that evening and that was ME!!!!   Yikes!!  I was thrust forward clutching my camera and ordered to get some shots. Trembling hands, Lopped off heads, blurry shots and dazzling flashlights accompanied by tut-tuts and murmurs and worse from the professional photographers . Everyone was jockeying for position. Relatively calm people were suddenly waving frantically my way to try and have me grab a shot of them with either or best of all both great ladies ... All the while I know that these pictures are worth their weight but only if Grace says so. She insisted she could trust me and indeed so she can. Which is why you won’t be seeing any of Grace with Gaga right now.  Maybe later when she says its ok but right now they are for my eyes only.

The evening progressed and I slipped back into my seat with Grace and Gaga, Conversation was bizarre and we sat there with three enormous minders standing blocking anyone else. Gaga told me she was wearing a burka and I was rather stuck for an answer but she didn’t seem to notice as she proceeded to tell me how she would love to collaborate with Grace. She said something about computers and interactive and I saw Grace glazing over a little but her head swung around as she heard Gaga talk about maybe using Grace’s face on some computer game and how the fans would be able to manipulate Ms Jones’s visage. Well that idea hit the dust pretty damn quickly and Grace was very quick to point out that she and she alone was in control of her image. I quickly brought the conversation back to burka’s as one does and discovered that this particular one, once belonged to the late great Isabella Blow. Gaga informed me she was channelling her that night. Oh dear! Sometimes I feel so ordinary and straight ...

As I left the room an assistant rushed up to me to ask if I might send Gaga some photos as she really, really wanted them as she SO adored Grace. I was asked if I was Grace’s personal, private photographer, glad to say I am just her long-time friend and proud to be so!


June to September 2012

The Royal Jubilee weekend was a truly fabulous one for me. I love the Queen and I get very over excited at parades and marching bands etc. so the whole glitzy and colourful affair was a delight for me. Rain and all.  I spent the very best day of the long weekend at Buckingham Palace courtesy of my long-time friend Grace Jones. Her invitation to join her at the Royal performance in front of the Queen came just as I had booked a flight out to the US. Of course it  was hastily changed to the following morning and the added cancellation fee was soon forgotten in all the excitement.

Sunday had already been spent celebrating in style if not a  somewhat soggy and wet style but nevertheless celebrating with friend Alison who has a house boat moored at Chelsea and a perfect spot for viewing the flotilla of boats. We drank champagne and nibbled on delicious treats whilst reminding ourselves how lucky we were to be able to duck down below deck when the weather just got to ghastly. The small group of us gathered were also close friends of Grace’s so we spent a great deal of time discussing the forthcoming performance. We already knew that she intended to hula hoop and as one of our group was Philp Treacy, we also had a good idea of what she might intend to wear. It had been agreed that her 4 minutes had to stand out from all the other talent and there was a lot of competion and it was unanimously agreed her legs are one of her great assets so hopefully she would be flaunting them. She didn’t disappoint!

My Royal day started with a golf cart ride down Constitution Hill flanked by security men and accompanied by Maurice, the most delightful Venetian prince a girl could ever wish for. All of Grace’s friends are deeply glam and unique and Maurice is no exception. In fact he is possibly the MOST unique of them all. I have known him for many years and was delighted to have his companionship for the picnic that preceded the concert.

My bad leg and hip  limited walking so dear  Alison (of the houseboat) and also Grace’s fix it friend, had managed to convince the organisers that as Mrs G’s good friend the least they could do would be provide a golf cart down the long drive that leads from Hyde Park corner to the entrance of Buck Pal. Quite a hike, but not for me. I trundled alongside 20.000 people slowly making their way to the Gates to be given fabulous hampers full of great picnic foods, a flag and a poncho. Everything emblazoned with the Jubilee logo (luckily a damn sight more attractive than the Olympic logo! )

Jubilee picnicWe loved our picnic and the ambience. Everyone was in such good humour and so delighted to be a part of the special chosen few. We walked through the palace and out the other side into the wonderful grounds and spread our picnic out and then proceeded to eat and drink champagne (one glass each with a Buck Palace voucher ) We smiled graciously at all the other lucky buggers, most of whom had received their invites courtesy of a nationwide lottery system.

The mix of people certainly indicated a lottery as all walks of life were represented from smart and posh to gawdy and ghastly. To smart and elegant to horrendously clad walking Union jacks but the one thing that bound everyone was the JUBILANT spirit.

As usual the spirit was somewhat dampened by the horrendous queue snaking its way through the royal bushes to the royal port-a-cabins discreetly placed in the herbaceous borders at the far side of the Palace gardens. There must have been 100 ladies in front of me and once again the mens line was shorter. I suspect a few had darted into the flower beds for a discreet wee.

At the concert itself, outside of the Palace grounds, we found ourselves in wonderful seats a few rows in front of the Royal box. We were definitely in the cool and groovy group as we exchanged pleasantries with our neighbours. David Walliams sitting next to David Furnish and David Frost. The McCartney family including the two daughter’s Stella and Mary and so many more familiar faces. We all sung and danced and cheered and shouted and I was especially delighted to hear the row behind shouting for their dad and Grandad as Sir Paul commenced his set.

Yes, the stuffy British really let their hair down and even the Royal box got lively with the young Princes up and dancing and Andrew looking like a bit of a nerd draped in the Union jack flag and waving his arms in time to some Tom Jones tune.

Pippa Middleton and brother and parents sat to my left and she looked stunning in a very red dress that certainly cried out for all to notice her.
David Furnish luckily knew all the words to his partner Sir Elton’s songs and looked like a real fan boy as he swayed and waved his tiny flag whilst his husband played along.

Nobody looked as majestic as Her Majesty though and the evening really took off when she finally appeared and joined her family.

I haven’t mentioned Grace yet. Suffice to say she was magnificent and at 8.20 she grabbed a world wide audience of millions and single handily put Hula hooping back on the map. Sitting with her son and mother and other family members the Jones team couldn’t have been prouder and I felt very, very fortunate to be included in such a once in a lifetime event.

The following night I was sitting in Los Angeles watching the very same show that aired that night on the TV. I had to pinch myself, not only to stop myself nodding off from jet lag, but more to remind myself that I was in California watching a ‘live' broadcast (except we knew it wasn’t) but talk about time travel. Very surreal. It was also very disappointing not to have Grace in the show as they edited the damn thing and left out some of the best moments.

More Green Lantern and another chance to see old friends. I also found out that sadly the movie had not done as well at the box office and therefore there was little chance of the animated series getting picked up…so no more for me. But that’s the business I am in so on to the next.

I don’t know why I find it so difficult to sit down and ramble on for my blog. I suppose an insecurity about whether anybody will be interested. It was the same with my FaceBook fan page and now Twitter, this social media thing is very bizarre as one spends so much time trying to be private in the public eye and yet exposing oneself to the world by writing short little bursts of stuff that can’t really be that fascinating to people. Having said that I read Cher’s Twitter and feel  like I know her. (I have had tea at her house, does that count? And hung out in Malibu…brownie points anyone? ) Anyway I am trying to embrace the whole thing and since I have it on good authority that Producers now check to see how popular you are I had better work harder at being wittier or scandalous or gossip monger like or maybe just by being me. That would be novel!


September to November 2011

Happy New Year to one and all and I know that it is the time to look forward and get excited at upcoming events and adventures but I am afraid we are going to have to commence this leg of my blog by going backwards!

I can only promise that this year of 2012 I shall try much, much harder to be up to date with my blog. I have lots to say already and we are only two weeks into the New Year but before I do we need to go back and catch up on the end of last year.

There is something about the term resident alien that always seems to make people smile. It really does seem to describe me as I flip flop back and forth between countries with an extraordinary ease. I have always considered my existence very Jekyll and Hyde ish as the two lives I lead are so very different. I have never managed to shake off the moniker of alien and even though I moved to Los Angeles way back in 1983 I still often feel like an alien. Things are just different here. Of course it amuses the masses that I also play aliens or at least characters that are from another world and indeed being brought up in the heart of William Shakespeare land and spending so much time in LaLa land I do feel that I really do come from another world. Nothing in Stratford is remotely like my life in California and indeed as I sit in the Bel Air hotel talking to my movie star friends I marvel at how different my life styles are. Anyway I have left Stratford upon Avon behind for September and October and in L.A but not before having had the pleasure of celebrating my mother’s 90 th birthday at home with all our family and friends.

Hurray for Hollywood. Sunshine all the way. A stay always lifts my spirits especially when the President of the United States has chosen to visit my local music venue just two blocks from me. The building is a shack like construction known as the House of Blues and it sits shabbily on sunset Boulevard. There was nothing shabby about his visit though and they pulled out all stops to make sure that we all knew he was coming and also that we couldn’t get anywhere too near to disturb his arrival. Road blocks and helicopters and sharp shooters and chaos and every type of Obama merchandising conceivable added to the palpable excitement of the masses. Even I got caught up in it and found myself most put out when on leaving my house I was stopped by the cop at the end of the road. It appears I looked or acted suspiciously and he wasn’t about to let me join my friends who had already staked out there spot. As it turns out the Pres. sneaked in the back door and disappointed many. The one nice experience was that the neighbour’s car got flagged down and pulled over by his motorcade. The President gave them a big smile and a thank you and I think the memory will last for ever for that lucky family.

With Abby Dalton from Falcon CrestSo it’s convention time. This time it’s the Hollywood Collectors show and I have been invited along to join some of my fellow Falcon Crest cast mates. It has only been 30 years! I have long embraced the whole business of conventions. I often have people say that they have noticed that I am on the ‘circuit’ and to a degree I suppose I am. I enjoy them and try to do two a year and especially in different areas of America.  It amazes and delights me that people will make such efforts to come out and visit. Let’s face it my body of work was way back when and certainly the stuff the fans love was mostly shot a good few years ago. Signing some pics and making a bit of pocket money is really not hard work AND having people telling me they love me is really an added bonus.

I have always maintained that the minute I have no visitors I will stop. I do sometimes see actors just sitting with no one visiting and it must be the most debilitating feeling. There are all sorts of different ways to draw attention to oneself at a convention. This can range from wearing scanty outfits to being overtly loud. I rather err on the side of caution and like to just sit and beam at people and trust they just feel comfortable coming over to say hello. Maybe they will grab a photo or get an autograph it’s all fine by me.

Last year I was offered advice from an ‘actress’ who told me, through her extra white teeth and botoxed face that if I showed a bit of cleavage I would do a lot better and sell more autographs.  Looking at her vast display I rather marvelled that she didn’t topple over when leaning down to sign a picture. Her fan didn’t seem to mind though and I think she could have signed her name Fred Flintstone and he wouldn’t have noticed.

Sarah & friendsA bit of lipstick and maybe a manicure to disguise my gardening nails is about as far as glamming up goes for me. They get me pretty much as I am. Some people make SERIOUS money and I mean many thousands at these conventions. Often a good business class air ticket is involved and a good hotel thrown in. Just depends. This last visit I was able to luxuriate in a Marriot hotel although the location was the North Hollywood airport of Burbank, not exactly glamorous.  However it was great stay and the most wonderful bed and pillows, it doesn’t take much to please me!

Next Spring I am delighted to be able to visit Charlotte and a new type of convention for me. Horror. Looks like fun and lots of chums will be there and I am sure we will all have a blast. Of course it does mean I shall have to own up to many of the scary movies I have shot and forgotten about. The fans won’t have though. So I shall have to do some viewing, if I dare, so I know what they are talking about!

The following week end I am going back to a favourite place. Stonybrook and the I-con convention. I love this show and the people that run it and I am very spoilt. It also gives me a chance to visit my family in New York which will be brilliant.

I have been very fortunate in my random choice of conventions round the world but sometimes I have got it wrong. I am delighted to say that I am now well protected by my long-time friend Julie who runs a successful business booking and negotiating for her clients who are invited to memorabilia shows and conventions. Thanks to Illumina productions I no longer have to worry about where I am going and who is looking after me and especially if it is legit. As I have said I have always been very lucky but there have been one or two scary calls and as a small example I will illustrate my point!

Two years ago I accepted an invitation to visit Coral Beach in North Carolina. I should have known better and my instinct told me that the person I was dealing with did have a dodgy track record but Hey, he was an old friend and I loved his family and surely he would steer me right. I don’t intend to go into the chaos that ensued or my deep disappointment with this individual because out of the chaos I befriended a wonderful lady who saved the day and I am in her debt. What I will illustrate is just how easy it is to be misrepresented and how easily one can be at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals.

My deal, including air fare, also stated a luxury 5 star beach front hotel. Delicious, especially in winter.  Two flights and a few hours later I was delivered from the West Coast to the east coast to an airport near Myrtle Beach. A drive through the deserted streets soon alerted me to the fact that this was very off season. Most of the shops were shut and boarded and as we approached the beach hotels it was apparent that a lot of them were closed too. However the following day’s forecast was good and even though it was dark and late at night I was aware we were passing a beautiful beach full of big hotels.  Before I knew it we had turned sharply into a driveway leading down into an underground car park. Down and down we went. There were just two cars parked which should have been a clue however I was tired and happy to be led into the elevator that took me to the penthouse.  A deserted corridor open to the elements and a view of a darkened beach and crashing waves added to the welcome , at this stage I did get a niggly feeling that all wasn’t quite as it seemed and the movie ‘The Shining’ suddenly seemed foremost in my mind… a clue of what was to come maybe? But then the door opened into my suite and what a luxurious one it was. A fabulous big bed with silk pillows everywhere. Plasma screens and all mod cons.  There must be a catch? I went to the mini bar. Empty. I was now very tired and hungry and a little cranky so I picked up the phone to call room service. Not only was there no reply but there was no connection…there was no body there. In fact there was no body in the bloody hotel. It was closed for the season. To this day I don’t know how they had managed to get the room opened and cleaned for me but they had. Green and stagnant.

I slept fitfully assured by the booker that everything would be sorted out the following day. The morning arrived and indeed the beach lay in front of me and the pool immediately below my wrap around balcony. I peered the 10 floors down and could see a large half empty pool. Green and stagnant. Nobody had been skinny dipping in that yucky pool in a long while. Never mind, there was always the beach. However the beach could only be accessed by taking the elevator to the basement and going through the security door and the hole in a fence. Not quite the luxury I had anticipated.

No phone. No service. No hotel staff. No good! Just me and two others guests on lower floors but how could I challenge the agreement? You see they promised me a beach front luxury hotel and they delivered.  I just forgot to ask them if the hotel would be open!!!  Who would have thought?

Since I last wrote things have changed a little and I am now recuperating after an accident in London in early November.  Never one to miss an opportunity to be the centre of attention I managed to curtail a rather lovely dinner party at the fine and glamorous Ivy club by slipping on the hardwood floor and taking a spectacular tumble which left me with a badly fractured hip. I shall repeat the piece printed in the Daily Mail as they did rather capture the moment but it is actually the hospital I want to mention, first though the illustrious Daily Mail report:-
The Daily Mail reportStill glamorous at 58, Superman baddie Sarah Douglas must have wished for her own superhero flying to her rescue after falling heavily on the polished floors of The Ivy Club. The Falcon Crest actress – she played venomous Pamela Lynch - was enjoying dinner with U.S film executives when she went to powder her nose. Unfortunately for Sarah, the floor was damp.  “I’d taken barely a couple of steps when I flew up in the air” she says. “The noise I made when I came crashing down was like a big piece of heavy machinery hitting the floor.‘
But it was no laughing matter and Sarah was taken to University College Hospital where doctors said she would need a hip replacement. “I was hoping to create a lovely impression with all these bigwigs from L.A and then there I was on the floor in agony.” She tells me. “The funny thing was, as I lay there , I realised I was looking up some of the most glamorous skirts in London.”

 

So there we have it and here I am now some 8 weeks later with a crutch and a limp and the prospect of one leg a little shorter than the other. Mind boggles as to the roles this will afford me. Suggestions please! On the positive side is the experience I had in our wonderful National Health Service hospital. I could not have been better taken care of in my 11 day stay. Indeed there were moments of misery and lack of sleep but on the whole a positive experience.  

University College HospitalI had a lot of laughs with two of the other patients and some great nursing. I was well taken care of by friends and family who visited constantly. I also spent a good deal of time writing down some of the dialogue from a crazy lady who briefly stayed with us and another dear old soul of 93 years who thought she was at staying in a luxury hotel with her mother. It was a real slice of life and also a wakeup call to the ghastliness of ageing. Talking of that I must point out that the biggest laugh came to my ward mates the day a fellow visitor remarked that my friend (who is 4 years younger than me ) was a wonderful daughter to take such good care of her dear old mother. Ok, I know I looked rough and was in a wheel chair and was being pushed to the bathroom but REALLY….her mother for goodness sake!!

Anyhow it did give everyone a well-earned laugh and a serious wake up call to me that I need to get my act together and quickly!!!

Now we are up to date and Oscar time is here and I have already attended the War Horse premiere so lots to tell. Next time!


August 2011

I am starting this second blog somewhat tentatively as I haven’t yet launched the first one. Well I say I, but in fact it is my wonderful, whizzy, fabulous, computer literate friend Matt who is actually in charge. With his company Starfish Consultants he has transformed my life. It is he who designed and created my website and it is he, amongst others, who has sourced and discovered a lot of the more obscure little jobs that I have done. These videos of long since forgotten thespian interludes, he has captured and for posterity’s sake put on my website.

Matt & SarahI had often wondered what the little telly symbol meant when placed next to something on my C.V.. One day I pressed on the symbol and low and behold there I was. Anyway, thanks to Matt I now have all this and more to share with you and more to the point with his encouragement I am now doing this blog.
He is also gently nudging me towards having an online shop – does he intend to sell veg from my allotment I wonder? Watch this space!

So now I am off and running and once again not totally sure of the format but I do know that certain things that happen capture my imagination and I mentally decide to write a little about them so...

As I start this I discover that my first blog is launched and I am getting some great response so I will just keep going....

I have always written bits and bobs. Not a diary, more a whim when the mood takes me.  I have saved most of these scraps of paper and they are often nothing more than a few lines. Something I observed or that caught my interest. I have decided to share some of them, especially those that relate to my Superman days or Hollywood experiences. God knows I don’t want to bore you rigid with tales of my youth or experiences working in the canning factory though I must say the piece I have just uncovered has rather had me reflecting on my teen age years.

My mother, knowing that I was about to embark on a career on the stage, felt it would be most useful for me to get a taste of a cross section of jobs so that I might be able to relate to circumstances and characters I encountered on my way. Indeed it was a real eye opener and certainly broadened my outlook but sadly in my career I have only ever really played the posh birds and not the factory worker, though there is still time.

Back in 1969 it appears that I was most concerned for my fellow workers on the pea line at Stratford upon Avon’s prestigious canning factory. Reading the notes I made back then I now realise that in fact my main concern was purely self preservation as I comment that I had demanded to be taken off the pea line as I feared that I, too, might suffer the same fate as poor Mabel, who after thirty years of sorting the black pea from the green pea was completely cross eyed. I had only been there three days but my concern was that I would soon lose focus and go boss eyed too.  I didn’t want anything to spoil my chances of a career on the stage. As far as the big screen went – heavens above – boss eyed wasn’t an option!!!

When I first moved to LA in 1983 I took a tin of peas with me. It sat on my shelf as a continual reminder of my early ambition and indeed from whence I came. I am sorry to say the tin got rusty. What does that mean, I wonder?

Singing and dancing are not words that trip off the tongue when asked to describe my talents. Dancing, in my case, is a painful, robotic shuffle and I ALWAYS lead and my singing is strictly for the shower and car and close, close compassionate friends.

Imagine my panic when, on accepting the role of Natasha in ‘Monster Mash’  I discovered that indeed I was expected to do both. My futile attempts are captured on celluloid and I need say little more. However, in my defence I must point out that on the very first day of rehearsal the choreographer asked me to show the assembled group some of my moves. Err, Hello? Moves?

At this point and only at this stage did I realise what was expected of me. I threw myself into the task at hand and launched myself diagonally across the floor. It came back to me in a flash. All those years of drama school and endless hours of Greek arm line movements. Just like Isadora....I leapt across the floor, arms outstretched and just as I hit the centre of the room something hit me. POW!! An apple maybe. Thrown at great speed and a lot of force.

It hit the back of my leg and brought my gallop to a halt with a resounding ping. I assumed the producer was already throwing rotten fruit at me, well I wasn’t great but this was agony and my union would be hearing from me...it transpired my Achilles tendon had been torn and I was rushed off to the emergency room. When I next appeared it was suggested that I should just do some recording to save my leg. After the initial shock of hearing my voice some say that it sounded as if the Achilles in my throat had also been torn.

So there I was, leg strapped and voice far from perfect but hey it was a musical farce and I loved every minute of it. Suffice to say that offers haven’t been flooding in but performing is something I love to do and give me an audience and I am off and even when its not my gig I manage to grab the odd moment for myself. This was apparent quite recently when I accompanied my good friend Grace Jones to a music festival in Hyde Park , London. To say I harbour envy towards Miss G would be way too strong an emotion, however watching her singing and strutting and jiggling and cajoling her audience does leave me breathless and always in awe.
Last Sunday, dear Grace invited me along and it was a given that she would work the main stage and I would take the wings.

Hyde ParkSo there I stood on the stage in  London for the Electric concert. Some 40,000 people staring at me from behind a flank of burly security men. I peeped at them from behind a large amplifier and then getting a little braver I exposed my whole body to the on looking crowd and soaked up my moment in the spotlight. I had my minute and darted back behind the amp but my young 6 year old companion hadn’t finished. She waved at the crowd. They ALL waved back, well it looked like they all did, so I tried it. Just a little tentative and coy wiggle of my fingers and bugger me, they ALL wiggled their fingers back. What power. I was just like Freddie Mercury conducting the masses. They were following my every move, responding to every gesture. What a feeling...but shortlived. To be honest maybe no longer than a minute as no sooner had they responded to me, than the fickle masses turned their attentions to the band who were arriving on stage. Seconds before, my captive audience, slightly bemused by myself and my friend, had watched us out of sheer boredom but now they were focused on the imminent arrival of my dear Grace. She was about to start her set and there was something about her magnificent body clad in oh so little, that had drawn all 40,000 pairs of eyes from our antics in the wings to the glorious centre stage goddess aka Mrs Bum-Bum (as my 6 year old friend had appropriately tagged her)  and if you have seen the photos you will understand how a child might be amazed by this wild lady ‘ wearing just her knickers’.

Grace Jones and friend!She was  strutting her stuff and I had, not surprisingly, lost my audience. Boy, she knows how to work a crowd and this lot certainly needed working. Dear Mrs G didn’t disappoint. She clambered down from the stage, straddled a poor security guards shoulder and positioned herself in front of the baying mob. Riding the poor guy with her thighs tightly garrotting his throat she rode up and down in front of the salivating mob. Hands outstretched and eyes agog, the crowd called and shouted and reached for her...No one was wiggling their fingers at me.

An adventure with Grace is always a BIG one. Wherever and whatever we do there is laughter and drama and after 25 years of close friendship we really know each other well. I love watching her perform and have been fortunate enough to travel to many exciting and exotic places with her. Our very first public outing back in 1984 was to the Grammy awards and as always there is a tale to tell about that evening. We always seem to find ourselves in the eye of a storm and that evening was no exception. But still she is the most wonderful and exhausting and exhilarating friend to be around. Our adventures are legendary and suffice to say a blog just isn’t big enough to give them credit. Maybe one day they will be serialised as they are certainly too much for a little old blog!

The last Sunday in July it was warm and dry and I was invited to go for a swim in the Highgate women’s pond. Set on the highest part of London this is a public pond and one just for ladies though men have been known to try and peer through the heavy undergrowth...and anyway they have their own pond though somehow I don’t think there are any woman peeping through at them! Now let me explain that I LOVE swimming in the Mediterranean, floating on air beds and buoyed by salty waters. This is a pond with weeds and ducks and everything else that you imagine goes into a pond and its COLD. I also must point out that in the twenty years in California I think I have been in the Pacific three times and as far as English water goes I am strictly an observer. However, the idea of swimming in a large pond with ducks and swans and water lilies and lots and lots of jolly, strapping English ladies almost appealed to me. I certainly was willing to watch and hold the towel.

The ponds are brilliantly well maintained and open around the year. They have life guards and showers and bonhomie. A small donation is all that is asked for and the setting is actually idyllic. Hardy types swim through the ice and snow but luckily I was there on a warm and balmy day. I sat on a grassy bank surrounded by ladies of all sizes and shapes and tried not to watch the floor show as they wriggled and writhed their way into swimsuits. Nude bathing is strictly not allowed as it seems to attract all sorts of wild life in the hedgerow; however it doesn’t seem to stop the ladies from showing their wares whilst sunbathing in a small meadow alongside the ponds. This is NOT LA and I found it comforting to see the variety of shapes and the sheer abandonment of the ladies. There were the pendulous and the pert and the beautiful and the scary and everybody was so frightfully nice! After watching my friend swim it was just a swift stroll to the pub and a large Pimms and a relax in the warm evening sun. Bliss.

Diana NyadMeanwhile, my friend Diana Nyad is preparing for a different kind of swim. There will be no ducks or swans to avoid, only bloody great sharks and jelly fish and sheer fatigue as she attempts the swim from Cuba to the US and Florida Keys. Diana is an amazing woman and an example to us all. Having hit 60 she determined that she was once again going to attempt this massive challenge. Sadly her preparation last Summer was in vain as she had to abort for all sorts of frustrating reasons but she is back this summer with her long time friend Bonnie at her side. She is determined to fulfil her dream. Go Diana. She is so focused and so fit and an example to us all.

I saw the new century in with her at her home in Los Angeles. She wasn’t even swimming any distances then having long since hung up her goggles but somehow as her 60 approached she determined that it should be marked by something momentous. You can’t get a much bigger challenge so fingers crossed...

Incidentally my 60th falls on 12.12.12 and I think the date is momentous enough for me. A swim is out.  It will be winter and too damn cold (thank goodness) but any suggestions?
My apples!To conclude for those that care my plums and apples are a triumph and I have a wonderful crop of tomatoes and potatoes as well. Last night I was able to relish the redcurrant jelly my sister had made from the crop she had picked...oh the good life. Anyone for dinner?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June/July 2011

It has taken me quite some time to get to grips with the business of keeping or is it writing a blog. I have battled with decisions over whether it is like a diary or notes on momentous events in my life or mere drivel.  Confused over format and worried about just rambling on I have tried jotting down notes whenever it felt appropriate and made short videos of my self peering into the lens like a deranged person waffling on about the day. People, friends and fans often ask me what I have been doing and what did you do, see, eat etc... and because I seem to be back and forth from America to England there are plenty of people who want to know about the other side  but my life is more than just Hollywood (doesn’t THAT sound pretentious?) but how the hell to decide which bits and what continent...
I have checked others crispy neat formats and been rather dazzled at the professionalism of some friends and realised that I actually don’t really give a toss ‘cos Miss Perry is no longer alive and consequently I no longer fear that red pencil through my work and those pursed lips and beady eyes, this is all me and mine and God knows you don’t have to read it!

Anyway this week came and went again without me tackling the issue and just as I thought I would never start the idea struck me. The 4 Cs.  How brilliant is that?
Croydon: Work. Location for Strippers vs Werewolves.
California: My home for some 20 years and where I feel most valued as an actress and most warmed by the sun.
Carrots: The allotment. To plant or not to plant. My most time consuming hobby and my great pleasure.
Cornwall: My annual holiday with my 89 year old mother.

CORNWALL

CornwallAs I am writing this whilst on holiday I will start with Cornwall. In the southernmost tip of England and a surfer’s paradise one might be forgiven for imagining the sun beating down on my frail old mothers head but NO. Already two days have passed and challenged by wind and rain I marvel at the British resilience and the ‘make the most of it‘ attitude. Far from being a frail old lady, my mother, in her 90th year is not to be deterred and we have already hit a number of Cornish hostelries and consumed local brews and then quickly on through the rain to try the cream teas with lashing and lashings of clotted cream. No cholesterol fears on this vacation. Mostly though, we have ploughed up and down steep and narrow single track country lanes to be rewarded with magical little coves or vast expanses of beaches. Pausing briefly to sample the chilling winds and peering through our rain splattered glasses we have marvelled at the beauty of it all and rewarded ourselves with a quick photo op and a reassuring word from the mater...” you can just imagine how beautiful it must be on a sunny day “ on/on.

It took hours to get here and shortly we will head back again to Stratford upon Avon but this time we have the added bonus of passing close by Glastonbury Music festival. Lucky us. We will be on the motorway on the very week end the festival starts and we will be able to observe at close range the festival goers in the thousands. Wellington boots and mud their companions for the next few days.

My sister is with us and we are increasingly aware that this might well be one of the last summer hols we take with our mother as she has begun to really prefer the comfort of her own bed...and who can blame her.

CROYDON

Strippers vs WerewolvesHaving just downloaded my photos of my shoot on Strippers vs Werewolves the blood and the gore of it all are still fresh in my mind.

Firstly, I have to once again confess that it is a struggle coming to terms with ageing. I thought it wouldn’t bother me but I hadn’t realised that I was going to be continually bombarded with images of a younger, svelte self. The pictures, the downloads, the old movies are continually rubbing my face in the fresh faced youth that was me!

On my very first day on the set I was confronted with a photo of myself at 27. I have to play my scene to it...remembering bygone days and boy did I have to dig deep to find the emotions that mirror the scripts description of ‘Jeanette’ wondering where all the years have gone as she contemplates her younger self. Thank God for method acting!!!!

Anyway it was a fun shoot and the first time I had filmed in England in almost three decades. I love British crews and the banter on the set. For that matter I love being on any set. I feel totally at home and in my comfort zone.

The location is Croydon and most British people will understand that this does not conjure up anything remotely glamorous. There is a plethora of Pound shops, discount stores and thrift shops in the high street. Fast food and kids in hoodies...

The producers have kindly moved me from the first hotel which I remember from the TV commercial being a lot more comfortable but this one took me right back to some of the Eastern European gems I have bedded down in.

But at least those hotels had room for big girls like me. My Croydon place only had a disabled room available and although brilliantly adapted to accommodate wheelchairs not so great when you're 5’9.

Everything was very, very low and to wash or clean my teeth or even gaze at myself I had to spread my legs and bend at the knees to get low enough to look in the mirror. My bed was so close to the ground that I could amuse myself counting the fluff balls as I certainly couldn’t see out of the window which was at normal height!
Suffice to say that I have great empathy for fellow guests with disabilities but I also knew that I personally couldn’t live the next few weeks feeling like the Jolly green Giant....so they moved me and now I look over the back alley and side entrance to Larry Flynt’s strip joint in the centre of Croydon. It feels like the Ritz!

CALIFORNIA

Sarah & NikeI left L.A. at the end of May just as everything was flowering and sunny. I do miss the sun and my friends but mainly I miss Nike the wonder dog. She is a 15 ½ year old German Shepherd and the most loyal and loving and gentle of dogs. She has had a stroke and has lost the use of her back legs but her heart is strong. Every day is a blessing and she shoots around on her custom made wheels and no one is in any doubt that she doesn’t intend to give up any time soon. I hope to see her again, but one never knows. I am so grateful that she is being loved and cared for so brilliantly. What a Great Dog!

L.A is everything you have heard and more. If you live centrally there is a very strong chance that you will be rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. There is also the chance that the guy pumping your gas could be the next Spielberg so everybody is always so damn nice to each other.

I have just completed the 4th episode of the animated series ‘Green Lantern’. There is a lot of hype and press for the Green Lantern movie so Warner Brothers have high hopes that interest in the film will spark the imagination of another audience, fans of animation.

I love my voice over gigs. Wonderful short days of recording with the rest of the cast with much laughter and a very relaxed atmosphere. Possibly because you don’t have to learn your lines or even dress for the occasion, it’s a truly great way to earn a crust.

The other great thing about voice over work is that you get the opportunity to try different stuff. Be larger and louder and meaner than ever before. As an on camera actress one is incredibly aware of the time restraints and the costs and there often isn’t the luxury of too much rehearsal opportunity but in animation they encourage you to try different ways of expressing yourself and of course it is all about your voice and the way you use it.

I was thrilled to have been invited to join the regular cast of Green Lantern for few episodes and it amused me to discover that as I stood in front of the microphone alongside the other actors, it seemed to be my voice that sounded different amongst a sea of professional voice over artists and actors. To my ear they were all doing ‘funny’ voices and yet they all thought that I was the one that sounded odd. Guess that just comes down to being a resident alien, eh?

The rest of my time is taken up with wining and dining and sunning and a lot of BS but I also spend time working with my great friend Melanie who writes wonderfully and has very creative ideas. I have been coming up with streams of thoughts and ideas and words and nonsense and she has been sifting through them and making sense of it all. Our first venture was back in the 90’s and a sitcom. We got a long way along with it though sadly it never came to be made. Now we are being quite ambitious and working on an idea that is more in the sci fi genre and has me battling all sorts of monsters. Just like my everyday life. Anyway we have the support of the fabulous Pearry Teo and so we will continue with that idea. Thank God for Melanie as I would never be able to put my thoughts to paper in such a succinct way. This is her baby though and I am very excited about it.

CARROTS

Veg!And now to my carrots or lack of them... but a plethora of beans, broad and French and runners.

The allotment is a very English thing. It is a piece of land that local councils rent to residents for a nominal fee. It’s yours then to do with as you please as long as it means digging and weeding and mulching and growing your own. It is provided for the express purpose of cultivation and that is exactly what my sister and I do.
My sister, Marilyn, is the head gardener as I am often away and she lives permanently in Stratford upon Avon. Our piece of land is adjacent to Anne Hathaway’s cottage. We like to imagine that the young William Shakespeare often walked over these pastures whilst courting his future wife. It’s a beautiful spot and I love it. We sweat and toil and battle the elements. We also battle the stinging nettles and weeds but Oh the pleasure of growing one’s own!

I favour tomatoes and beans and all things green whereas my sister is the berry queen. All sizes and shapes and colours so we are a good combo. Goodness knows how much we spend on fertilising and nurturing and purchasing all the tools of the trade. Way more than our return I am sure. But the pleasure for me is undeniable. A summer’s eve and a small gas burner, the kettle is on to boil for a nice cuppa tea. Bliss.

So there you have the 4 Cs and goodness knows what might come next but I had to start somewhere. It might be months or an instant before I next put pen to paper. We shall just have to see how the muse takes me.