Thursday, April 30, 2015

The day I nearly joined the Garrick Club - Janette Miller

The Garrick Club is having a vote on whether to allow lady members. This is still a contentious issue. Any race and religion are allowed as long as you are a man or a homosexual.

I nearly became a  honorary member of this club but my life would have been very different.

A long time ago I answered an advertisement in The Stage for a secretary for a London gentlemen's club. I was about 21 and trying to break into musicals in the West End with not much success.

The club turned out to be The Garrick Club. I was interviewed shown around by the delightful membership secretary who was retiring and had run the club for 30 years. I had no idea that such places existed and it was pointed out that I should have to remain in the background as no women were allowed except for the secretary. She had been made an honorary member as long as she did not use it!

The job was simple and I could have done it easily and in fact if I wanted it the job it was mine. Two things put me off. I did not feel that I wanted to be buried in the basement for 30 years and  I knew that I could never live with the stench from the male lavatories.

Maybe I should have taken it. It would have been an excellent place for husband hunting and I was very pretty but I think I made the right choice.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Belief Systems The Nun,The Dwarf Red Cap and Adam & Eve and Janette Miller Part 2

How could anyone believe in a Dwarf they couldn't see? And what is worse force a child to say she saw it when she know she didn't.
What makes people say they can see something that they know is not there? What makes people believe six impossible things before breakfast? Sister K. gave me a lesson in seeing and believing in imaginary beings that I shall never forget when she forced a class of 30 children including me to say we saw a bad tempered dwarf called Red Cap who we all knew wasn't there!

At least I attempted to say I did not see Red Cap but not one of my school friends had the courage to back me up as they were terrified. That was what our convent school excelled in terrifying kids. We are still all terrified and it is only in our 70's that one or two are beginning to speak up.

Standing on top of a desk for two and a half hours because I refused to acknowledge her imaginary friend made me think about God. I was pretty sure there wasn't one or if there was he was horrible as at the age four I had seem the images of the opening of Belsen on TV in 1947. I only had Sister's word that God existed as my family never mentioned him. I had been less than impressed and indeed disappointed when I was taken to see God for the first time at school when I was five because he obviously wasn't there. The strange thing was that everyone else there pretended that he was.

Being at an RC school one could not escape religion. It was there every hour of the day. We all knew about God and hell. The story of Adam and Eve and their fall from grace by their Original Sin was drummed into us from the age of five with a ferocity which I saw replicated by Sister K. when she introduced her second imaginary friend Red Cap.

To all those not familiar with the Abrahamic religions and cannot understand why Darwin, The Modern Scientific Theory of Evolution causes such mayhem it is because of Adam & Eve and the Sin! Adam and Eve are the most important people in the bible as without their Sin the rest is history. Unlike God who can do what he please Adam & Eve are REAL humans, not myths, and have to abide by the Laws of nature. A&E have to appear in our DNA, they are real humans. Get it? However every Jew, Christian and Muslim must believe in Adam & Eve as their belief system relies on it.  Each branch has its own take on how to get over they don't exist in human DNA but in the case of the Vatican it goes like this:

We are all related to Adam & Eve who were the first humans and so we all all guilty of their Original Sin by association. Because by blood we are directly related to this wicked couple, the woman being especially cursed, we must all suffer eternal damnation in the fires of hell unless we live a good Catholic life and stay free of mortal sin
I think that puts it in a nutshell. Catholics still believe in this today along with many other improbable things, like transubstantiation and the Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven but belief in Adam & Eve is compulsory.

When I was young I had no way of proving that my school teachers were incorrect. They put their case with such fervent ferocity that it was impossible to refute. This went on for hours so that when our class was told to believe in an imaginary dwarf Red Cap they all did with the exception of me but in fact I don't think any of them did. They went along for the ride as it was safer.

I became very good at religion. It paid to be good at it otherwise one got punished. At the time there was no way to prove that Sister's imaginary friend  didn't exist and great care was taken never to mention Darwin and the Modern Theory of Evolution. I got 98% for my catechism test. I knew it backwards.

However I was still not really convinced. At 28 I read a Sociology  Book on Faith systems and became a non believer overnight. I still had not heard about Darwin. When I married my husband Dr Miles Heffernan, GP Oxford/St Mary's I did.

Today Science can prove without a shadow of doubt that  The First Humans, Adam & Eve, the most important beings in the bible, the couple to whom we are all related never existed. They never sinned. DNA proves this absolutely. Not only this but not one modern human is related to them even if they turned up which they won't.

Normally this revelation would make these religions shut up shop but they shout so loud that their God exists on the Radio, in newspapers even in government which take belief systems seriously that they get away with it. They even try to doctor school curriculum's to avoid teaching the truth so mislead their pupils. There is more links here to scientific subjects than I was ever offered at school.

There are many countries in the world where I should no longer be safe by just saying there is no Adam & Eve! I should be killed. To save my life I should be forced to say I believed although this could be proved in any court of law.

One way to stop this to give every child a secular education free from myth and superstition. Teach them about DNA and its implications. Show them that Adam & Eve of the bible could not have lived or sinned because their DNA does not show up in any of us and it should. If they lived the DNA evidence would be as clear as crystal. It isn't because they didn't exist.

Even when told this millions would not believe it.  I expect my school friends would never believe it. They cling to a superstition which in their hearts they know is wrong because they were taught it by people they thought they could trust. They would not trust me or DNA and so the world is harried by religious wars, overpopulation and cruelty to animals and women.

Today non-believers have the access to the media that was unheard off a few years ago but traditional media and governments still enjoy the power that a belief in any imaginary friend can offer so still push religion as if it were true. Each morning the BBC trots out Thought for the Day, a four minute puff for belief systems with no right of reply.  Platitude of the Day brilliantly written by Peter Hearty is the antidote for this nonsense. Oh I'd love to have four minutes on Adam & Eve!

Sister knew the power of her Imaginary Friend. I saw her in action. It was and still is terrifying. The irony is that her brilliant teaching of this myth gave me the knowledge to prove that she was wrong about her God because her God relies on two real humans Adam & Eve. Strangely I should still not be able to prove that she could not see Red Cap!

Sister K. would be surprised that the little girl she tormented in 1949 was able to tell the world about it in 2015. I always said if I found her I should write and tell her what damage she did to me but when I got the chance I found she was married with a dying partner. I could not bring myself to add to her sorrow. She had left her order and that says it all.

The Nun, The Dwarf Red Cap and Adam & Eve Janette Miller Part 1

On Facebook I was reminded of the nun above. It was just a picture and a comment about how she had been so much fun. Sister K. as I shall call her as she must be in her 90's if she is still living which is why I can write this, had a strange idea of fun.

I met her at the age of six and a half at my convent school. She was a postulant, a young girl training to be a nun in her first year. She wore a smart black cap with a short black net veil over a shock of the most glorious golden red curls that fell down her back. She had the palest of skins and beautiful hands. She looked like an angel and I was so happy to be in her class.

Sister K. came from Ireland and had a marked Irish accent. She also had a fundamentalist approach to her Roman Catholic Belief System. This was not a good omen for me, a child of a mixed marriage which at that time had the stigma of something worse than illegitimacy but this may or may not have something to do with my tale. Sister K. we found was a stern disciplinarian. We soon became scared of our beautiful teacher.

I could not read or write. I was in the Sevens although still only six as my mid-year birthday  meant I was either ahead or behind Two years under the nuns supervision and I could not read let alone write so I had no fear at all when Sister K. announced in class that there was a particular little girl who had been very, very bad and was going to be punished.

I knew all about punishment. The academic side of our school may have been questionable but the religious education was vigorous and thorough. I knew about God and how he punished those who had been naughty with eternal damnation and hell fire. I was somewhat disappointed the first time I met this God as I could not see him but I was assured by everyone that He was there it was only a question of loving him. I trusted my teachers. They were grown ups. God was real. They said so. They were old and wise.

Sister K. continued told us that this little girl had a beautiful doll. I sighed with relief. War rationing meant no toys and the only doll I had was a battered Italian one from Italy where my father had been fighting. Definitely not me!

Sister K. went on. This little girl had written an essay about this beautiful doll and could not spell the word beautiful? Another sigh of relief as I could hardly spell cat let alone Beautiful!

Sister K. took her time building up the suspense  We were all shaking by this time. It appeared a gnome was calling. His name was Red Cap and he hated naughty girls who could not spell Beautiful. Red Cap was going to teach this bad child a lesson she would never forget and would think of him every time she heard the word Beautiful. Red Cap would soon be knocking at the door and when he came in we were all to acknowledge him by saying Good afternoon Mr Red Cap. He was a dwarf and it was important not to anger him as he could turn nasty.

Sister K then said she heard the knock at the door, told us to stand up and opened the door for the visitor. Nothing! No one was there. Red Cap was something in Sister K's imagination. I looked on with horror as all my friends trotted out Good Morning Mr. Red Cap as if he were real and who was invited to sit on the desk by Sister K. and point out the naughty child. To my horror it was Me!

Sister K. told me to stand up and acknowledge this elf. To her horror I said I couldn't see him! The class gasped. Sister was not to be outdone. For the next 15 minutes she used every trick in the book to make me admit I saw this elf. By some miracle I stood up to her. I just kept saying Red Cap wasn't there she was making him up!  This made her furious.

Sister then invoked all my class mates into saying they saw this invisible dwarf and to my surprise everyone of them could. They could see a dwarf that wasn't there sitting on the desk. They were too terrified to say otherwise. I still held out. I just thought Sister K. was being stupid.

Sister K. then said that Red Cap was now sitting on the French windows and I had better stand on top on my desk to get a better view. I reluctantly  stood on the seat as I had no wish to do this. I felt stupid myself and I just wanted to go home. This was not good enough for Sister K. and I had to stand on the lid of the desk itself. I felt extremely exposed as some of my classmates were now enjoying this and saying they could see my white knickers and sniggering. It wasn't them!

I still held out so Sister K. just said that I should stay on top of my desk until I admitted I saw the dwarf. A long stalemate ensued. The class did nothing. I was up there for hours.  I was determined not to cry although I just wanted to run away. Every so often Sister K. would ask me if I could see him and I said NO! The class bored by now got restless. One or two wanted to go to the loo. This was allowed because the school was under looed and not everyone could go during break. Sister refused. Fortunately I had been but at around 2.30 I could see one of my friends wee on the floor. She was crying.

That did it. Reluctantly I decided to call it a day and I told Sister K. I could see the hated dwarf. This did nothing to placate her at all. I was in for a tirade of how wicked I had been not to see this dwarf and no I could not get down. I had to stand and spell beautiful out loud for the rest of the afternoon which I did. Mrs. B. Mrs E, Mrs A. MrsU, Mrs T, Mrs I Misses F,U,L! Over and over again as Sister banged out the rhythm with her ruler. Saying how sorry I was to Mr Red Cap each time. Even today I have trouble with the word Beautiful.

I was furious with myself. How could I have been so stupid to give in! The dwarf wasn't there. Everyone knew this dwarf wasn't there and yet they all pretended it was. I knew it wasn't and so did they. How could anyone believe in a Dwarf they couldn't see? And what is worse force a child to say she saw it when she knows she didn't. Today one would call this child abuse or mental cruelty. The one thing about Sister K. was that she was deadly serious. This was no joke to her and we knew it.

And then it hit me. I was six and a half. When we went to church God wasn't there either! Nobody had seen him and yet everyone behaved as if God was there just like Red Cap. Sister K. said God was there but then she said Red Cap was there and he wasn't.  Sister K's credibility took a dive at that moment. I knew she was crazy and I was in her power for the next eight years. This is what they did they forced you into believing something  by saying it over and over again with threats except it was God not Red Cap. I felt I was in a mad house. I was six and I now know I was right!

The Bell went to go home and I was released from my torture. I did not know where to look. I was isolated from my school mates at that moment on for it was obvious to them and me that Sister K. did not like me and they knew on whose side to be and it wasn't mine. One brave friend thought she must say something and said 'I'm glad it was not me'. I felt so ashamed. I wanted to crawl away and die. I did not tell my parents as I felt they might be cross with me too so I suffered in silence knowing that I had to go back and face this creature every day who could see things I couldn't. I thought hell was my destiny.

I never forgot this incident and neither it seems have my school mates. When I mentioned Red Cap on Facebook one replied.

I remember that so clearly. I tried to pretend it wasn't happening because I felt so bad for you. Some of them were sadists I think!

So readers I am not making it up. The little girl who weed on the floor was made to clean it up and I had to suffer Sister K. and Red Cap for another six years because she never let go and I had to constantly bow to him until my father unintentionally came to my rescue at the age of 12

This incident had unknown repercussions many years later so Part 2 follows when The Nun, Red Cap The Dwarf and Adam & Eve  met their denouement!

On living alone in 21 century - Janette Miller

Janette Miller 2015

Today the UK Guardian ran a strange article about living alone. It seems the writer would feel uncomfortable going to a concert alone!
One of the signature pleasures of life in New York City is the freedom to drink alone at a bar or eat alone in a restaurant without needing to worry that anyone’s judging you harshly, because everyone does it. (I realize it’s harder for women than men to drink solo at bars unbothered – but my female friends agree that it’s easier here than elsewhere, at any rate.) Yet my tolerance for public solitude has limits: I’d never take a book to the pub on Saturday night, and wouldn’t eat alone in a Michelin-starred restaurant even if I could afford to. I’ve often gone to films alone, but “taking myself on a date” to a concert or play is inconceivable: that, for some reason, would make me feel like a loser. Oliver Burkeman

If I worried about that I should never go anywhere. Being an only female child of an only child, I have few relations and have always been alone. It really has never bothered me.

Even when I was married I had to travel alone for business and the fact that my husband could not travel because of illness. If I worried about this I should never do anything. I love Wagner, few of my friends do, so if I did not go alone I should never see The Ring. I stood through that alone at Covent Garden when I was 16 and have been going alone ever since. I am going to hear Christine Goerke alone when she comes to sing in Auckland and  being alone will not spoil my evening one bit.

We all are alone and we definitely die alone. I do get annoyed when I fine dine alone that I usually get poor service from the staff, that happens too when two women dine in such establishments. The remedy is to complain but I enjoy good food and can see no reason not to treat myself.

I now live alone. Have done for 13 years. Thought I should hate it but now I enjoy it. I can do what I like. I actually pity people with huge families.

I have learned  like myself. I give myself presents. I buy my diamonds not my husband, I give myself holidays and I treat myself as I treat others, that means well. I do not feel sorry for myself. We are all alone today more than ever before and we only have one life so we might as well live with it that does not mean I do not appreciate my friends, but I realise that my friends are friends and I am not their first call. Christmas is the only time I can feel a bit left out . Being left out of weddings does not bother me and I do not have to buy a present for someone I hardly know.

I shall be dying alone, as we all do but have made a few plans in that direction. It will be horrid so do it quickly and with little fuss.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The London Desert Song 50 years on

The Desert Song & Susan

Janette Heffernan

This week I was reminded of those far of days when I worked in West End Musicals as my wonderful leading lady Trish Michael came to visit me in Auckland.

In 1967 John Hanson brought The Desert Song by Sigmund Romberg to the Palace Theatre in the heart of London's West End. It was an unbelieveable hit!
Surprisingly of all the characters I have played Susan in The Desert Song has been quite my favourite. She was the most like the real life 'Janette Miller'. Susan was fun, attractive if not beautiful, sexy, bright and under valued. When I got to know 'Susan' I felt I really understood where she was coming from. Susan had 'IT' in more ways than one.
Susan was a part I did not want. I did not want to be in The Desert Song. This old war horse had taken London by storm in 1967. Starring John Hanson as The Red Shadow himself it was a theatrical joke. I mean who would want to be in The Desert Song? I for one.

The Palace Theatre

And yet a part had come up for the comedy lead. I had just finished my intimate classy revue and my agent just forced me to go to the audition at The Palace Theatre in Shaftesbury Ave. I went reluctantly. I was not over pleased when the stage door manager,Charles, took one look and said 'You'll get the job!'.
I did not try! I sang a couple of bars and was told to come back tomorrow. 'Oh God' I thought. 'I had better go and see it!' The theatre was sold out so it really cost me. With actual trepidation I watched the curtain rise and I was 'hooked'. The Desert Song has that unbelievable 'magic'. The way it was done, a la 1927, with the old painted scenery, magnificent cast of singers and dancers, tatty costumes, and donkey added to the charm but I was still not convinced that I should be in This. However I could see what had taken London by storm. So sharp and so unusual. Brilliant.
My spirits did not rise when I saw what my part was, a dowdy secretary in love with her stupid reporter boss,Benny who just did love back and I could see why and the first scene was played in front of a backcloth with a real live donkey! Quel Horror!
Margot the leading lady was totally out of this world, striding in, in a French Foreign Legion uniform with a blisteringly good top 'C'. Patricia Michael's was a star. John Hanson was John Hanson.
Then it happened. The IT number! Clara Bow the IT girl was all the rage in 1927 and this was a number dedicated to her! Susan was the 'IT' girl of The Desert Song. Sigmund Romberg had pulled out all the stops for this number and it was the show stopper. Susan had IT. The moment I saw that number I knew I had to have that job. Here were all my Xmases rolled into one. The moment every young actress dreams of and in London too.
At the next audition I tried. The stage was slippery, I was up against a colleague with more of a track record than me from the revue but I looked cute and I had a fabulous figure, the sort men die for and after a grim session where money or lack of it was discussed I got the job.
Why I got the job became clear the morning of my first rehearsal. The leading man had been attracted to the current Susan. Wife found out and ultimatum given. Present Susan out or good family man reputation out of the window. John Hanson did have a thing about leading ladies,. He always seemed to fall in love with them. I knew all about this from the grape vine so I knew what to expect. Four days was all I had to 'Take over'. John Hanson's behavior would never have been allowed today. I had to develop a fiancee quick as I was next on the list. This scheme, I thought was the easiest way to escape his clutches and the sack. I loved my job. He went on doing this all his career. I felt sorry for his wife. Sexual harassment was part of the job.
I am a fast study. You have to be with intimate revue but the rest of the cast had had six weeks rehearsal and four days seemed a bit of an ask. It was a big part!


The company manager whom I knew from a tour of The Student Prince where I had played Kathie,.told me how to play Susan and for his advice I shall be forever grateful.
He told me that the audience must like Susan. That was the key! So I played Susan so that not only did the audience like Susan but they sided with her to make the oaf that she loved, Benny look even more stupid than he was. For me it was a gift.
This attractive, pretty, intelligent, slightly naive girl, fresh out of secretarial college on her first job, madly in love with her boss in romantic Morocco, obviously a 'sexy little piece' make wonderful lover, wife, companion and the silly man could not see it. The audience could see it, Susan herself could see it but Benny'couldn't. When the chips were down it is not Benny that The Red Shadow turns to but Susan with her wit to bring about a happy ending for all. Susan had IT! Wow what a girl! The sort of woman we in the 21st Century should be proud of. A girl who by rights should have had Benny's' job! Every woman in the audience could relate to Susan and every man wanted to go to bed with her.
I did not have to look or play dowdy. I did not have to don spectacles to look unattractive all I had to do was to play me which I did. My partner the comic, who I fed, I said the line and he got the laugh.  Tony Hughes made the most of an impossible part and script. One had to like him too.
In the first Act I just looked a cute little thing and bought the house down with the 'IT' number. I was a fabulous dancer, could easily turn 32 fouettes if asked, but never was, so the dance was a piece of cake. No singing, only one line so I could not show off in that area. Slippy stage though and dangerous. The show was only supposed to last 6 weeks max so cheap flooring was installed.
In Act II I was abducted to The Red Shadow's' Harem and dressed as a concubine! I do have the most fabulous figure, and the costume glittered with hundreds of rhinestones and you could hear the gasps of approval from the audience as I walked on in it. I looked just so sexy and kittenish. You could hear them say It’s Susan. The costume had two well placed tassels which played a big part when I changed costumes with Benny but then again I looked stunning in a white jelaba with an enormous and now very politically incorrect red star and crescent saying that I had lost IT. Susan and Benny are sent out into the desert to die but of course they arrive home after a night in the sands. So a very tussled Benny with equally disheveled Susan arrives back seated on the donkey and everyone can imagine what happened or did not happen. Again a theatrical gift of the Gods. I could not put one foot wrong.

The First Night

I had had hardly any rehearsal as most of the time was spent getting shoes and costumes to fit. To say I was petrified is no understatement. I was literally thrown on. I spent the afternoon watching The Sound of Music which I had resisted seeing but as I needed total escape this seemed the perfect choice. It was!
My performance felt awful. I just wanted to get to the end and then I had. The curtain came down and the whole cast stood and applauded. I could not believe it. It was absolutely genuine. It seemed I was a hit much to my surprise. The cast appreciated the position into which I had been put. In fact it seems I stole the show and continued to steal it every night for the rest of the long run I am told.
One fan wrote to say he had seen The Desert Song on a regular basis since 1927 and never had he seen Susan played better. Well there was nothing secret about how I played it. It was so obvious.
With all roles you have to get to the crux of the matter. Once this is discovered and it may not be obvious at first you are away. Flora in The Turn of the Screw, another difficult character is the same. Flora is so complex that most directors leave her out. Thanks to Benjamin Britten I found out how to play her. It was my greatest role but one that I did not enjoy as the pressure on me was too great.

Dressing Room, Dresser and Stage Door.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed my two years in the West End. It was such a thrill to see my name Janette Miller being written on the bills in front of the Palace Theatre even though it was nearly misspelt yet again. Jeanette Millar! Fortunately I caught the sign writer, but I should not have cared. It was there, photo too. I felt I had arrived and fulfilled my mother's ambition to star in a West End Musical!
My cup of happiness overflowed when I discovered I had My OWN Dressing room just for me, Bliss! and my own dresser, not so good as I found out I had to pay her myself. All theatrical clothes are done up with hooks and eyes for safety, no zips, but one cannot do this oneself you need help. Mrs Marsh (Marshee) and friend, ruled the roost on my floor. They looked after the chorus singers and me! Mrs. Mash is worthy of her own page in my blog for she was the mother of Jean Marsh who wrote and starred in Upstairs Downstairs  and had based Rose the ladies maid on her mothe. I had a  real Rose for a year. I loved it.
Actually I only had my OWN dressing room because of the liaison between the former inhabitant and The Red Shadow but it could not be taken away without loss of face. Ill winds and all that.

The Queen's visit

Two weeks after I joined we were told to prepare for a Royal performance. The Queen Mother had been to The Desert Song at Drury Lane on the night of her engagement to then Duke of York, later King George VI. The whole family came including Princess Margaret as a treat for The Queen Mum's 64th birthday.
What a night! I remember all the men and most of the cast got an attack of nerves. Pat and I both had nervous partners to carry. The girl who gave me my first line forgot it completely and my partner dropped me at the end. I thought then poor Queen if everyone is like this when they perform for her.
Usually one cannot see one's audience as the spotlight is in your eyes but on that night I could see the diamonds glittering from the Royal Box. One cannot look at them but I did glance as they played 'God Save the Queen' at the curtain calls. When the Queen is there the full version is played twice, before and after. Other Royals get only half at the end!
I did see the infamous Ken Russell sitting in the front row. I cringed when I saw him. I admire him so much as a director and would have loved to have been cast in one of his films.
I thought just my luck to perform for the Head of State and Ken Russell in a less than perfect tatty dress and in The Desert Song. Why not when I was at Aldeburgh but on that occasion Princess Alexandra had a headache and excused herself.

The Long Run.

I can honestly say I enjoyed every second of The Desert Song at the Palace. I did not enjoy the experience at the Cambridge where we were transferred. My dressing room was up 72 steps with no lift and I reckoned I did the Post Office Tower twice a day on matinees days. I was exhausted. I also did not want to be in The Student Prince, the next show as Gretchen. I had played Kathie and hated it and I just cannot abide the plot. As it mirrors the Tale of Princess Diana this show must now be off limits as it is too close for comfort. Un hindsight I don't think any producer would do The Desert Song either for rather obvious reasons.
Ends of shows are always horrible. Theatrical lives are little lives and little deaths some of the cast were retained but I chose to leave. John Hanson had written me a number but even that did not tempt me. I had had enough of The Red Shadow and wanted to move on away from acting and into production. This type of Musical Theatre is very shallow and uninspiring. Fun to do once and there is no saying that a part like this would ever come up again. I am so pleased that my time in London Musicals came to an end and I was able return to serious opera and ballet.
But I know how it feels to be a sort of star in the West End even if only a minor star. Later I met Shirley Russell, Ken's wife and she told me that 'Ken had thought I was the best thing in London'. She may have exaggerated but when I saw Russell's version of 'Salome' by Oscar Wilde 'The Seven Veils' . His 'Salome' looked a lot like me!

If you can bare to listen to it here is my dance off the Tanoy. The London arrangement is terrific. I got one line but wow what a dance. You may have to wait a minute or two for it to load.

Denby Ware Stoneware China Find in Hospice Shop

Lucky find, lucky day, 

In 1964 I went to Stratford On Avon with a boyfriend to see Love's Labours Lost  which featured a young Glenda Jackson  as The Princess of France. We drove from London in a white open topped Triumph Herald as it was a heavenly day. I had met Tony Brookes when touring in Stop the World I Want to Get Off  and at 18 although not rich was well off for my age. I was now in the West End and my star was rising.

We were early and so decided to explore the shops of the home of William Shakespeare as one does when one has discretionary income and I saw a set of six beautiful soup bowls. I had been introduced to these soup bowls by Pat Lancaster, one of London's Leading ladies whom I had met in Panto. She and her husband had a delightful but small terraced Georgian house in Flask Walk Hampstead which was just about as big as a small WC. Goodness knows how many million it is worth today. At lunch the soup bowls with lids enchanted me.

There  in a china shop was the set of Denby Ware soup bowls which I knew my mother would adore. The six bowls were very expensive £64. That was a fortune in those days. Every time I use them now for although I gave them to my mother she left them to me I think of that perfect day.  

This Wednesday I had to go to the District Court. I had had an altercation with my Bank and the only way to get something resolved these days is to gird one's loins and go to court.  The Court House was new and like a mausoleum. Nobody there at all and like a huge marble tomb. The BBC atrium used to scare me stiff so much so I used to avoid it. These places are designed to make one feel insignificant and it works on me. 

Being early and anxious I took myself off to the Hospice Shop and what did I see? A Denby Ware Coffee pot and 2 mugs that matched my soup bowls. I had left my purse in the car but I promised myself if I won my case I'd treat myself. Obviously they were an omen.

The Bank settled. I knew it would. I do not go to court if I know I can't win but you never know. They caved in immediately it got to their turn but I am not so young and I found it stressful. I never did when I was 18.

They cost NZ $35! In 1964 you'd have no change out of £100. Times change but I still love them. Makes a can of Campbell's look amazing and French Coffee warm and delicious. Nothing like a stoneware coffee pot.