Anna's Progress through Life

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Birth / Moments that shaped my life / People who impacted / My passage through life / Je ne regret rien

Fact 00001 - I was born in the 20th Century in 1952 in my parents home across the road from a cemetery (and importantly a lido) in Carrington. It was a dark and stormy Sunday when I arrived and my sister had been banished to Wollaton Hall! My birth was a life-changing experience for my sister, not me though, I hadn't known anything different and so my family was always made up of those three most important people.

Nottingham Castle Poster

Very atmospheric poster of Nottingham Castle which has caught my fancy

Nottinghamshire Robin Hood BR by Frank Newbould 1953

Nottinghamshire Robin Hood BR by Frank Newbould. British Railways travel poster dated 1953 (that's near enough!)

Poster BR Nottingham - Travel There In Rail Comfort by Kerry Lee

Wasn't I lucky that my parents decided to allow me to start my life in the lovely and historical city of Nottingham beautifully represented here in a poster by Kerry Lee known as a pictorial map artist. (Provenance : Poster BR 'Nottingham - Travel There In Rail Comfort' by Kerry Lee D/R size. A collage of famous buildings and local amenities/activities. Published by British Railways London Midland Region and printed by Waterlow & Sons.)

Fact 00002 - I was born into a a loving Polish family and didn't speak English for the first few of my formative years. I was baptised and raised in the Catholic faith and was educated in two English Convent Schools until my 16th birthday. I also attended Polish School on Saturdays, was a Polish Brownie and eventually Girl Guide. Living in two cultures, which were honoured, fêted and given the same value, but nevertheless kept strictly apart was preparation-in-waiting (little did we know it) for the purest kind of 'political correctness'.

Fact 00003 - I know exactly the moment I discovered and fell madly in love with Ballet. IT was a pivotal moment in the late 1950s/early 1960s at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham where the Bolshoi was gracing us with a rare post-war visit. A love that would carry me through Sandy Wilson's adventures in 'The Secret Ballet School' in the comic Judy, through copious visits to see live performances of Coppélia and Giselle, (the other great classics I watched on television) until today. But it was in that very first moment that I knew I had come across something very special, with the very special person who had taken me, when the curtain went up and out of the dark leapt a ballerina, dressed all in red, moving faster than a flame! The image below is what I remember distinctly, a solo ballerina, entering the stage (from right to left looking at the stage) at speed performing a series of grand jetés across its at the speed of lightning - she was in a classic tutu but I could not find the right image to fully illustrate the grandeur and beauty of the movement! The image below shows an image from the Royal Opera House of a more classic view of the same ballet.

Solo from The Firebird

American Ballet Theatre - Natalia Osipova in Firebird. Photo:Gene Schiavone. © Copyright 2017 Ballet Theatre Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

Duet from The Firebird

Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson in The Firebird. © Dave Morgan, by kind permission of the Royal Opera House

So who was the very special person who took me to see this ballet? I can only have been about 8 or 9 at the time. It was our lodger, Pani (Mrs) Pieńkowska who lived in the 'granny flat' on the second floor of the terraced house we lived in at the time. There were two decent sized rooms up there, a box room and kitchenette and a storage area (behind a curtain). I never saw her use the bathroom, but, of course she must have done. I can't remember there ever not being a Pani Pieńkowska living with us and her son Jan(usz) who visited about six times a year, he was very charming (I seem to remember) and an illustrator who lived in London. Pani Pieńkowska was someone I always felt comfortable with, she always wore black but that didn't bother me because she embellished it with wonderful strings of beads and bangles, there were always bangles which held down long sleeves. If ever a sleeve freed itself she became agitated until she had clamped it down again, it was the only time I ever saw her agitated and once I saw what it was she wanted, not so much to hide, but rather not to be seen - it was an ugly tattoo of a number. Pani Pieńkowska was a wartime heroine, a patriot, a freedom fighter - she survived the Warsaw Uprising but did not escape its consequences, she was sent to Oświęcim (more familiarly known as Auschwitz) where she received her tattoo and suffered unimaginable horrors of which she never spoke. She survived that place and made a new home for herself with us. Thankfully she did not forget kindness and beauty both of which she shared with me and especially in that instant that she shared the ballet with me for the first time.

Fact 00004 - Returning to the illustrator Jan Pieńkowski who, as stated in the previous fact, was charming and easy going (often reflected in his 1960s work) and very conscious of paying deference to the females in his life, his mother, obviously being paramount. Because of that I always remember his visits with fondness and on particular occasion I think he became my knight in shining armour for EVER! I was in a four year olds strop, mega strop not to put too fine a point on it! I had discovered that I had this amazing first name that wasn't being used! I think I was particularly incensed because I had just begun learning Polish history and the name belonged to a Queen of Poland, a very important one at that! As far as I knew, the British Royal family only had a princess with a similar sounding name to the one I was known as (with apologies in my more mature understanding of the situation to the Princess Royal) and she hadn't achieved anything yet being only a year or so older than me. I therefore devised a plan (as any bright four year old would do) and announced to the world that henceforward I would be known as and only answer to 'Panna Jadwiga'. The family occasionally remembered to humour me but it wasn't that convincing let me tell you! Then, Jan came for a visit and on being apprised of my newfound situation, made a great point of greeting me by taking my hand, kissing it, bowing to me and calling me Panna Jadwiga - you can see why he was so likeable! Mama (my mother) not to be outdone, dished out her own form of lesson and retaliated by referring to me as 'Anna Jagiellonka' (a lesser queen in the Jagiellonian dynasty of which Jadwiga was the first and only queen regnant). However, Anna Jagiellonka was obviously a true patriot and loyal servant of Poland as well as being a good seamstress - the Polish national symbol is a white eagle on a read background and Anna Jagiellonka produced a wonderfully rich variation pictured below.

White Eagle, Polish national emblem as created by Queen Anna Jagiellonka

Provenance of the White Eagle

Sixteenth century book cover embroidered in gold and silver thread and seed pearls by Queen Anna Jagiellonka and held at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków - image courtesy of interia.pl

Fact 00005 - Theatre and spectacle were ever in my blood from an early age, not necessarily from choice, but at school and in the Polish community we always had Nativity tableaux every Christmas and in the Polish community, sometime in the Autumn we always had a fancy dress ball for which my mother always made the most exotic costumes for my sister Marysia and I. One year I represented 'Autumn' herself, at another I was a embodiment of Królowa Jadwiga (after whom I am named) and Marysia was an exotic escapee from a harem one year complete with wonderful pantaloons and anklets - quite risqué all in all! But I wonder what it was that led me to shield myself from the limelight and seek to work 'backstage'? Last year (end of December 2016) I found a picture of a 1950s production of children in Shirebrook performing some sort of Nativity play and was struck by the 'resemblance' to Wilson, Keppel and Betty and reminded of my own personal memory of a special moment in my life.

The Magi School Play Image

Children perform a Nativity Play, Shirebrook - The Three kings pointing at the star of Bethlehem" - Image courtesy and © of Picture the Past

I placed the picture on Fb with a comment about them not being quite WKB which Alan Stafford quickly picked up on and my response (verbatim) was as follow - "Now, funny you should notice that Alan - reminds me of one of those piercing memories from my infant school days. It was the very first time I was directly involved in an English School Nativity play and was the understudy for Caspar (very progressive really if you think of the time, early 1960s - probably Christmas 1962 as I started at Loreto in 1963) although the original casting of the Magi was all boys. Without warning or even a rehearsal the original Caspar withdrew and I was ON! (See it doesn't just happen in Hollywood) anyway I knew the lines and the moves and being a kid was, I suppose, fearless to a degree. All went well until the Magi's big scene, we are travelling and using the stars to guide us, we stop atop a mountain and each of us has to pronounce some planetary configuration that will help us, of course each had a different course of action or direction and my line would have been something (meant to raise a laugh) like 'my word the stars/planets are very restless tonight' but that was the moment I froze. Luckily Alec (first real ginger copperhead I'd ever come across) came to the rescue said my line, had to then follow with his own so seemed to be a genuine lead and the rest must have gone down ok. So, maybe these three were doing the same play?" Could it have been the suddenness of being thrust into the limelight that made me determine never to go through the experience again? It's a possibility I suppose, but more likely the fact that I loved to 'create' art. It was nice to remember some of my (then) peers - I always got on well with Alec and there was also a pair of mixed-gender twins and I remember Jamie because he had wonderfully Byron-esque curly hair. Our form master that year was Mr. Ball who used to throw the blackboard (oh nuts to political correctness, that was what it was called then) eraser at us if he felt we warranted it - he also scared us into passing the 11+!

Fact 00006 - Friday, 22nd November 1963 - the assassination of President Kennedy; and yes, I do remember that whole evening. It was a Friday night and I was washing my hair between 7.30-8.00pm because I was forbidden to watch 'Emergency Ward 10' as it was deemed too adult. I can say, hand on heart, that I have never to this day seen an episode although my sister loved it and 'Dr. Kildare'. 'Bonanza'** was to follow at 8.00pm which I was permitted to watch, because together with the rest of the world inhabited by girls of my own age I was, of course, in love with 'Little Joe' and his Palomino pony. Not this night however. As I was in the process of lathering up my hair in our spacious bathroom I heard my mother shouting up to me from the ground floor - all I heard was 'President Kennedy is dead'. Not really sure what I should do - finish washing my hair (I was old enough to do that on my own but not yet to make decisions that fell out the norm for a Friday night) or go downstairs and ask what I should do? I ended up completing my hair and personal ablutions and descended to await the next step. As I entered the room, the television screen was black - not switched off, just black. In deference to the terrible news which had come via a 'Newsflash' all programmes for the evening had been cancelled. I cannot remember what followed, but I do know exactly where I was when I heard the news! **Update - I have now had the great pleasure of reading the biography of Chester Nez (a Navajo Code Talker) where he mentions towards the end of his story the existence of and his love for the 'Ponderosa' Pine. As soon as I read that my mind flew to 'Bonanza' and that momentous Friday .... how curiously things link up.

Fact 00007 - In 1966 I had a fantastic year travelling to Rome as part of the Millennium celebrations where I represented 'Poland' in the tableaux, celebrating 1,000 years of Polish Christianity, that was put on for our hosts. I met Erwin (a Frenchman) who was considerably older than my 14 years and who treated me like a princess and kept me out after curfew. I returned to England a virgin. In the summer I attended a Jamboree at Lilford where I met Rysiek from Cardiff, re-acquainted myself with two Brummy twins (who had also been in Rome) Eddie and Stan and came across a couple of guys from Manchester who were quite cute - there were plenty to choose from! We spent quite a lot of time dodging Rafał's night patrols to meet up - I returned from Lilford a virgin, but I had had an accident whilst there - I fainted. It was ignored.

Me and Mrs Kaczorowska

Lilford Park 1966 - 'Poland' being fêted by the wife of the Polish PM in exile - Mrs. Kaczorowska

In September of 1966, just as I was becoming aware of my sexuality I became a victim of bone cancer - this event was the first great shaping in my life. I would never be the same again, I would never again be normal. A bitter pill for a 14 year old to swallow.

Fact 00008 - I discovered the duplicity that existed in the world and came across my first conscious experience of discrimination and prejudice in British society. My family GP was Polish and a dermatologist by specialism. I believe he had a vocation despite a somewhat (occasionally) brusque bedside manner; nevertheless I hold his memory in the highest possible esteem. On returning from summer camp in 1966 he took one look at my leg which was beginning to exhibit specific deformities and without hesitation arranged for me to be seen by a bone specialist at the Nottingham General Hospital. As 'luck' would have it, I got the 'main man' - well, 'luck' is maybe an irony too far. It was fairly apparent that although I looked the part of a nice white English child and spoke fluently in his language, he obviously had misgivings about my origins and gender, it boils down to the fact that he discriminated against non-British and was a misogynist - needless to say, I didn't see him in this light as a 14-year old but I did form an opinion of immense dislike of this individual and how he treated me. I remember his appearance to this day, he was balding, had slicked down hair, dark rimmed glasses, very ruddy cheeks and always wore a white coat which, of course, made him look large, looming and wide. He confirmed what the x-rays showed and despatched me to Harlow Wood Hospital. After a biopsy which identified my particular ailment as a giant cell tumour he calmly informed my parents that amputation was the solution. My parents refused to accept this pronouncement and contacted the surgeon who had operated on my father during the war and who happened to be working in Leeds. He in turn, and much to my consultants 'incandescent' anger had me referred to Professor Smithers at the Royal Marsden. After my visit to the Marsden I was returned to the 'care' of the Nottingham consultant who was to make no further independent decisions on my treatment and would remain under direction of the Professor. Unbeknown to my parents or sister, I had read my hospital notes and knew about the potential amputation so it was somewhat of a relief when the pronouncement given to me by the consultant was that I would have (he then paused for an interminably long time) to stay in hospital for at least 12 weeks. That then started my next period of hell on earth! For four weeks, I received deep irradiation treatment on a daily basis, being transported by ambulance from Harlow Wood to the General. By the end of the 4th week I was semi-conscious and bleeding from every orifice imaginable in the female body. I don't remember being seen by the consultant until after the treatment, I can't remember whether or not he told me the tumour had been successfully dealt with, I know for a fact that he didn't tell me that the bone as well as the tumour were dead! I discovered that years later in 1984. X-rays confirmed that the hole left by the tumour in the base of my femur (just above the kneed cap) was slowly filling in. And so it was decided that I would be returned home in time for Christmas. I was placed into a non-weight bearing caliper and given wooden crutches with butterfly screws for balance. The caliper would be taken off at night and my leg placed in a cradle to keep it straight and stiff. I was therefore returned to the 'real' world and with that came a return to school. I was a freak! I was 4 inches taller than I had been as the non-weight bearing caliper meant that my shoe had to be built up on my right leg so the left would be left 'dangling. I used crutches and most mortifying I was ferried to school by taxi where I had to lie across the back seat to accommodate the added length. After six months the non-weight bearing caliper became a weight-bearing version, the stilts were taken off my right shoe and the caliper drilled through the heel of my left shoe and the crutches shortened by reducing the notches held in place by the butterfly screws. A year later my consultant decided I should try to walk without the aid of the caliper - as I was stealing myself for the 'leap (or rather step) of faith' he pushed me forward. It's a miracle I didn't fall over and break something - it was brutal, thank goodness my mother was waiting for me to reach her and somehow between us we kept me upright. Satisfied with his actions and obviously itching to get back to his more lucrative work, he was after all the consultant to the more important football team in the city, he told me that as the leg had healed I would now need to attend physiotherapy to start building up the strength in my muscles to reach full weight-bearing in due time. He also told me as a parting shot not to try to claim any disability benefits as he would not endorse my application. With that ringing in my ears, knowing my mother had not understood a word, he departed. The first time I told anyone about his final words to me at that time, were to my sister a week ago (November 2016). At the time however, I told my mother how the remainder of my treatment would look as he, the consultant, had outlined to me.

Fact 0009 - This then constituted the start of the rest of my life and in celebration of being freed from the constraints of this appalling consultant, in 1968 I travelled to Poland to stay with my family, to experience the fleeting friendship of a remarkable woman, see the mother of all storms which caused a total electrical black-out in Zakopane whilst watching Angélique Part II, to have a truly narrow escape and to experience the greatest potatoes ever!

Fact 0010 - June 1970 - Hooray, the end of 'A'-levels, Clarendon College of FE and the 'deflowering'! Cry 'shameless hussy' if you like but hey, it's a rite of passage and this page is all about influences on and how they shaped me. So here goes. The nuns wouldn't let me progress to 6th form at Loreto, until I had repeated the 5th because I had missed so much schooling during the cancer years. Luckily, Clarendon accepted my application with the proviso that I would re-sit any 'O'-levels in my first term of studying for A-levels. Because of the extra curriculum impacting on my A-levels I was only allowed to take two subjects, English Literature and Art (non-academic). On passing the lower level examinations, I was upgraded to Art (Academic) and had History of Art 'A'-level added, thus giving me three potential academic qualifications. I was also advised to take typing classes to boost up my hours. By the end of the first year I had licked the Art 'A'-level and was ready to take it early and gone through all the levels of typing I would ever need, leaving me with plenty of time to complete my two remaining 'A'-Levels. Just as well really as our half of the English Literature class were given an new lecturer from the second year. As with all change, it was unsettling, especially as my curriculum had already changed three times and now someone new whose style, would of necessity, differ from our dear old 'Clarkie'. The new guy didn't help matters by being a bit of a hippy, obviously gorgeous and if I didn't know better I'd say Johnny Depp styled himself on PL in the 'Ninth Gate'. Mind you, having just found some student ID cards of myself, I was pretty gorgeous too!

Me at about 18

Me when I was with the Johnny Depp lookalike - pretty gorgeous eh?

Johnny Depp in the Ninth Gate

Johnny Depp (without round horn rimmed glasses) in the 'Ninth Gate' - image Celebrityorcelebrities

Me at 19 or 20

And me after I got dumped - blonder and even more gorgeous and looking a lot happier - eat your heart out PL!

Yes, he really looked like that although the hair was a bit longer and flopped more, he also wore boots which invariably caught the hem of his trousers (never jeans). It never dawned on me that I might have caught this man's eye. In the second year, there were so many things going on. Having become accustomed (now) to the mature students I wasn't in awe of them any more. I became close friends with David, who incredibly asked me to be a bridesmaid at his wedding, in actual fact he chose both of the bridesmaids and I hadn't even yet met his fiancée at this time. I celebrated my 18th birthday in April and was taken, legally, to the pub by my classmates and it was David who looked after me as I got drunk as a skunk for the first time! Two of our group, the real movers and shakers had decided that they would get engaged on her 21st birthday and invited me to the do at a very posh out of town restaurant. I remember them well, Carolyn wore a great big silver ring on each finger and as she had large hands they looked very well, Phil was always a bit of a beatnik and had an impressive moustache. Caroline (and I) had always been the babes of the group. My other close friend, Linda, was in the other English group and we kept close because my mother was tailoring her wedding dress (I was to be a bridesmaid at that wedding too!) for her. She went on to work at Debenhams between end of college and her wedding and I bought my 'mosaic' cutlery there which I still possess today - beautifully made and still as fresh as it was then. Towards the end of the second year and after the exams, 'Clarkie' asked me to baby sit for him one night. Weird or what? But as he had asked and was a lecturer I couldn't very well say no could I? I think he must have picked me up as he lived on the other side of town. Anyway, they showed me where the tv was and obligingly provided a Radio Times, the kitchen and the slumbering babes. I had no idea he had young children. I was beginning to get bored as the music selection wasn't great and the kids were fast asleep every time I looked in and I was on about my 4th coffee when the doorbell rang. OK, we hear a lot about 'grooming' these days, and I certainly would not append that to this incident but it was a classic 'set-up.' In all honesty when I realised who was at the door I had no intention of letting him in, this was not my house, the children were entrusted to me and I dreaded what the Clarks would think on their return. But PL was not about to give up and nearly gave me the proverbial 'foot in door' treatment and I relented but told him I had a duty to the children. When the Clarks returned, there was no hint of a surprise on 'Clarkies' face and he immediately offered both of us a lift home. So anyway, that was it, the start of the pursuit and I was quite happy to be caught, being a naive but sensible 18 year old. We did the social rounds so that people got accustomed to us as a couple, he took me to see M*A*S*H which despite everything has always been one of my favourite films; the only fly in the ointment was the divorcée PL threw over in his pursuit of me. He had to get out of her house quickly and found a nice little flat behind some shops not that far away from where we lived. There were scenes and unpleasantness but I didn't really appreciate the trauma - but even today I wince a bit when I hear Rod Stewart's 'Maggie May'. And so, having waited an appropriate time, we sealed the deal in his new flat on a mattress on the floor. As I was completely naive about the sex act I looked to him to be my teacher, all I remember him saying was that he was only 'a once a night man' whatever that meant! Later he criticised my technique ....... anyway, I went away to Lancaster and although we wrote and I saw him on the weekends I came home, by the following summer it was all over and I had had my 'Dear John' letter.

Fact 0011 - 1973 the first (and only time) I was sacked from a job (redundancy doesn't count and that only happened to me in 1984 when, as a result of my leg breaking and my being absent from work, I was made redundant by Fluidrive - hope they are eternally proud of themselves!) and it was from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). So what can I tell you? I was doing a good job as the East Midlands News Clerk - my duties were primarily to accept calls through our small switchboard which sat on the desk beside me and the reception window, filter the calls accordingly, cover a lunch break for the education secretary, make teas, lark around with the sound recordist and camera man (a two man team) and type up the script for live output. There was only one thorn in my side; without exception everyone in the place was friendly and approachable except the sound and recording technician a right 'likely lad' if ever there was one - your can choose if his name was Terry or Bob. We had the same bosses and the same colleagues - the bosses all had their own kudos and pecking order for me it was the permanent reporter Bruce Myles first, the Education Manager (can't remember his name) next, then Dennis McCarthy our itinerant reporter who like every freelance was always in a hurry to sell his story! I had more to do with the Education Secretary and the Camera Team than I did the Technician whom I really only ever saw if we happened to meet in the kitchen which led to the ladies loo or if I came up the back stairs and dared to cross the threshold of his inner sanctum. I'm guessing the nasty little oik didn't like me because of my disability or my name which pointed at my origins or he was just a misogynist - as you can see, he still evokes certain negative emotions in me. Well anyway, after I had worked there (better mention I was there as a temp - not so much covering a vacancy but a 'need') for around a year or so, the BBC decided to start streamlining and rumours of redundancies or re-locations (not something I knew much about then but found out a lot about after starting to work for the Police) started circulating. Someone from London was to lose her job and wanted to come home to Nottingham so I got the order of the boot. I have to say though, I did get a nice send off from everyone except the Likely Lad although I'm sure he was delighted I was going and Bruce Myles gave me a couple of Albert Camus short stories to read ....... what? Anyway, so I left, sacked, unwanted. But, I got my revenge - about two weeks later I received a telegram from Pebble Mill asking me to ring them (and reverse the charge). We didn't have a phone yet so I toddled off the the red telephone kiosk just beyond the Carrington Lido entrance gates. It was well after 6pm and Michael (?) was waiting for my call. He offered me the job permanently at a starting salary of £1116.00 per annum and a proviso that I did not attempt to seek employment elsewhere in the BBC for at least 12 months. I said ok, took the money and fled after three months, I owed them no loyalty, I was beginning to learn fast. I was sorry to leave Bruce and the camera team, the Likely lad actually behaved when I came back but I didn't care, I applied for the job in London bypassing Birmingham knowing that it would be logged in London and then sent back to them. That, is exactly what happened and by the end of June of the same year Caroline and I were ensconced in our little flat in Isleworth just behind Kew Gardens.

Fact 0012 - 5th July, 1975 Arthur Ashe wins Wimbledon Mens Singles title. Link Well yes, I did predict the win!

Fact 0013 - July/August 1977 (TX date 22nd December - in production in the summer) - Meeting Louis Jordan at the Acton Rehearsal Rooms

Caricature of Louis Jordan

Image courtesy & © of Tom Richmond and Richmond Illustration Inc.

Louis Jordan the great on-screen French heart-throb and lover who had felled my sister Marysia many decades previously especially in 'Gigi'. At that time in the mid-1970s in London he didn't do anything for me. In fact if anything I was slightly alienated towards him because I knew that he was the reason our preferred director for 'The Lost Boys', Philip Saville had been 'poached' to direct the great 'star.' Philip knew that he had disappointed my Louis (Marks) who was still quite new to producing and I felt Louis' disappointment keenly. Interestingly enough (it's all about coincidence isn't it?) my former boss Gerald Savory of 'Churchill's People' infamy had adapted the original story for this version of 'Dracula' but then Gerald was accustomed to being covered in glory and basked in his historical reputation - what Gerald wanted, Gerald got! Anyway, Louis and I were busy with 'The Lost Boys'; I had finally asked him to get Irene (Shubik) off my back (she was still phoning me to do her 'little favours' - I think I was the only one at the BBC speaking to her by then) and was ready to enjoy my final drama plays experience with the nicest man in television, a fantastic story, great cast (Ian Holm [pre-Hobbit fame] made a great Barrie although I had wanted and we nearly got Anthony Hopkins), great script (eventually), notoriety in the form of Andrew (yes brother of Jane) Birkin and the most fabulous and friendly production team you could wish for. Because the Acton Rehearsal Rooms are where you will meet anyone on any given day it was inevitable that some of our rehearsals (as a trilogy we commanded more space than a single production) would clash with the highly publicised 'Dracula'. I can't remember why Louis sent me up there, it may have been some script changes (Andrew needed a lot of help with his enthusiastic scribblings and Louis, of course had years of Script writing and editing experience behind him) and inevitably I walked into Philip Saville who asked me if I was still feeling a little grumpy towards him? I acknowledged that yes, I was disappointed that he had withdrawn as I'd enjoyed working with him on 'Churchill's People' and thought that we'd come to respect each other, he was always charming and kind, which in the main, many BBC people were not. Whether joking or not he said 'Come on let me make amends, would you like to meet Louis Jordan?' would I heck as like - whatever for? A decaying old Frenchman who must have been as desperate as hell to take a part in a BBC Drama production? But there was not much I could do, the corridors in the block were a bit like in a train, you had to keep going forward to your destination and our rehearsal room was at the end, the Dracula one was closer to and people were milling around making it busier than a tube in rush hour added to which I seem to remember that I was clutching the scripts or re-writes or whatever they were to my bosom - I was trapped! Then the parting of the red sea (or so it felt) and Philip steered me towards the light - it was extraordinary! Louis Jordan was ethereal, he was tiny, compact, oh so elegant in his pale blue v-neck and black slacks which matched his eyes, brows and hair and a luminosity in his eyes such as I had never seen in anyone, with the exception from a distance of Pope Paul VI, so close up. I was paralysed, rooted to the spot, describe it any way you like, it was a phenomenal experience the charisma positively oozed out of this being - he was surely not human and it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he was playing 'Dracula'! I can still remember that feeling today, 40 years on. He must have been told thousands of times the effect he had on people so he was prepared to help me, remember I'm standing in a corridor, frozen to the spot with my arms clutching swathes of paper, I'm paralysed. He kept looking me in the eyes, somehow extricated one of my hands from its paralysis, kissed it in the French way never moving his eyes away from mine, smiled (meltingly of course) uttered 'Enchanté' even as I heard Philip introduce me and mention something about having been stolen from our production. I have no idea how I didn't fall down, scream, have hysterics or whatever else my body was feeling - I had just experienced real charisma and it's an experience I never want to forget. The man still doesn't do it for me on screen - but he gave me a wonderful legacy and experience for which I shall be forever grateful. I never saw him, Philip or Gerald again and was more than glad to return to my cosy existence with Louis Marks until I ended my career at the BBC on my way to start a new job and way of life at Derby Playhouse. IMDB | Blog

Fact 0014 - 1st March 1980 - My first marriage to David (note the date - St. David's Day - he was no saint but it was definitely his day) and an exercise in 'no regrets' at the end of 13 years - but I think we both would probably have agreed we had rather it had not happened - but there's always benefit with hindsight isn't there, oh isn't there just?

Fact 0015 September 1980 - Forming of Solidarity

Fact 0016 - 13th October 1984 - Honestly, fancy this not being at the top of my list! I'm remembering it today because I've just done some work on my '6 Degrees / Coincidences are Signposts' page which is still under construction as is this one! Anyway, having lived with the aftermath of the 1966 diagnosis of a 'giant cell tumour' this day (Saturday) and date really started shaping the remainder of my life. My first husband and I were both actually at home on this day, he had not travelled to a home match in Sheffield and as he was not employed in the theatre at the time actually had time off that the weekend. I had just changed my car from the ever faithful Teal Blue 'Thibault Charlie Brown' (named after Charles M Schultz's characters) to new boy Opaline 'Brucie Baby' (named after Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys). The number plate also influenced the choice of name. Brucie had come with a factory fitted alarm which was ultra sensitive and for the umpteenth time that day had decided to go off - I went to switch it off (again) and as I stepped off the pavement my leg gave way and I must have fainted. I knew instantly that something was very wrong even though I wasn't in any pain that I remember - as a Supracondylar femur fracture there was no trauma associated with it, not that I knew that at the time. A neighbour noticed me, raised the alarm with David and they carried me into the house. The doctor duly arrived, I refused to have my jeans cut off and he was astonished that a) I was able to wriggle out of them without passing out and b) that Taree was able to bounce around the bed, again without me screaming in agony. She had been asleep at the top of the wardrobe and as was her wont dropped down from on high using the bed as a landing pad. Once the trousers were off I could see the egg was at a peculiar angle, well at least more peculiar than usual. The ambulance men arrived, both were enormous and filled the room with their presence and a very orange splint - I was informed that it was a new invention used for the first time the preceding day in the aftermath of the Brighton Bomb attack on the Conservative Party conference. Once in hospital and on the ward, my Registrar and SHO (Tweedle dum and Tweedle dee) showed me the x-ray of my leg) the morphine and shock of the day's events precluded my registering what I was looking at - I could identify my bone (very distorted since the treatment in 1966) but I told them it couldn't be mine because it was broken - I had never seen my femur other than intact.

Fact 0017 - 31st August 1997, another senseless death, that of Diana, Princess of Wales at the Pont d'Alma in Paris. That's the métro station that as you emerge your get a fantastic and instant view of the Eiffel Tower. It was also the stop my late friend Anna emerged from on her way to work. She told me she always gave me a thought when that image came into her eye line (not on a foggy day though!)

Pont Alma and Memorial and Eiffel Tower

Image courtesy and © of 'Out and About in Paris', IG and the Daily Express

So on that fateful night in 1997 - although still relatively newly married and active sexually, the thought of missing the US Open tennis now that it was available via 'cable tv' was too great a sin to miss. Unfortunately, being a commercial station any show, live or not was prone to commercial breaks. In the dead of night, as it was here, I tended to flip to the news channel (another innovation) even though by now I'd grown accustomed 'looped' news stories. Somehow despite my diverse interests and work experiences (good or bad) over the year, I always gravitate to the news to fill in time, or now as a diversion from the commercials. I had just watched a thrilling and very close women's match between Jana Novotná and Mary Jo Fernandez (one of my favourite players) and had been quite enthralled throughout. I knew that there would be a bit of a wait before the next match and that it would be loaded with European commercials which were incredibly boring - now 'chat on the sofa' by commentators and tennis pundits like we get these days. During the women's match I had occasionally flipped over to the news but as the match itself was so absorbing, although I had noticed blue lights on the screen I hadn't read the rolling news ribbon. It was a little after midnight when the ladies match ended and I stayed with the obligatory post-match interview, made a coffee and changed to the news. By now it was approaching 1am (UK) and 2 am (Paris) and as the blue lights were still on the screen I decided to put the sound on to see if I could find out what was happening. Even as I read the news ribbon and saw the same pictures I had seen earlier, lights at the tunnel and one angle with quite a few police motor cycles on the scene I had the most incredible difficulty in digesting what I was hearing - car crash, Alma tunnel, Paris, Diana, Dodi Fayed, fatality - all familiar words but what did they mean all grouped together. For respite I returned to the tennis, some considerable time must have passed as the match was already in a second or third set, I had no concept of time and realised I needed to talk to someone. I could hardly wake Andrew or ring my sister (late calls always mean bad news), what I really needed to do was to speak to Anna in Paris. I looked at the time it was 2.30 or thereabouts, I had no interest in the tennis, I returned to the looped images and tried to listen to the commentary but it was on so low it was a draining exercise. Everywhere around me felt empty and deathly quiet. Anna told me she regularly woke around 4pm to go to the loo, I decided to change a call at what would be her 3.45am - it took forever for her to answer the phone, apparently just for a change she was in a deep sleep. French TV had not yet picked up the story (or not the channels she had access to at the time) and so we tried to make sense of what I was hearing. We tried to console each other for the best part of an hour and then decided we'd call each other again later on after she'd had a chance to see what French TV were offering. Little did either of us know that just a few mere minutes after we had put the receivers down and I had switched off the television just before 4.00am that the death of the princess was announced. I woke about 9am and put the radio on - no commentary just continuous music with a break for news headlines on the hour, there was only one item .... later Anna rang me and we talked for another couple of hours until we found out a bit more, listened to Tony Blairs speech, heard about the protocols that may be or should be put into place etc. etc. So yes, I do remember clearly what I was doing on the day the news broke, together with JFK and 9/11 those really are the pivotal dates. It's interesting that the Guardian timeline mirrors everything as I remember it. As a postscript to this sad event, Anna and I decided that when the funeral was televised we would be linked by telephone from the start and that is how it was, and how our strong friendship always prevailed. As usual I travelled to Paris that October for my annual visit and we went down to the Pont Alma where tributes were still visible at the 'Flamme de la liberté' (now called the Princess Diana Memorial)

Liberty Flame in Oaris

Image courtesy & © of travelfranceonline

"In 1989 the U.S.A. gave a sculpture of the Flame of Liberty to France in gratitude for the restoration work done on the Statue of Liberty on the occasion of its centennial. The 3.5 m tall Flame of Liberty of the Place de l'Alma is a full-sized gilded copper replica of the torch of the Statue of Liberty guarding the entrance of New-York Harbour. It stands on a grey-and-black marble pedestal placed just above the exit of the tunnel. The cast was funded with the donations raised by the International Herald Tribune readers from all around the world on the occasion of  the centennial of the newspaper's publication in Paris. The International Herald Tribune unveiled the monument in 1989. The commemorative plaque placed at the foot of the Flame reads as follows:

"The Flame of Liberty. An exact replica of the Statue of Liberty's flame offered to the people of France by donors throughout the world as a symbol of the Franco-American friendship. On the occasion of the centennial of the International Herald Tribune. Paris 1887-1987." Source : travelfranceonline

Fact 0018 - 14th May, 1998 New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America - during our second visit to the city we had both instantly fallen in love with, staying in a hotel close by the Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong Park, enjoying the daily trek down to the Café du Monde for Beignets and listening to the sounds of Jazz and Blues which surrounded us as did the the NOLA colours - green, purple and gold, we heard the announcement that Francis Albert Sinatra had died. I have adored Frank Sinatra and many of his contemporaries such as Dean Martin, Judy Garland and in time their daughters Nancy and Liza most of my adult life. Sinatra was special however - born the same year as my father and in their prime both men shared specific characteristics.

Frank Sinatra

For me - this is Francis Albert in his prime.

I started listening to Sinatra on vinyl and black and white tv (films and Christmas Specials only then), then graduated to CDs and televised concerts. Only recently did I discover that Sinatra and Wilson Keppel and Betty shared a playbill at one time! So it was fitting that I should be in the City of Music when this great man shed his mortal coils. We spent the day wandering about the City seeing images of him with the Rat Pack or from his films on all the obligatory screens in the bars that litter the city.

The Blacksmiths Arms NOLA

Exterior of the Blacksmiths Arms - image courtesy and © of Ideal Magazine

Interior of the Blacksmiths Arms

Current pictures show the interior as a lot more upmarket but this was our favourite seating area - no frills, the jukebox was further back on the left hand side wall.

When we decided to return to out hotel, we stopped off at our 'local', The Blacksmith's Arms (frequented by Charles the Vampire) which claims to be the oldest public house in the United States and I played every Sinatra record on their Juke Box. We were lucky enough to visit NOLA again in May 2000 before 9/11 but did not travel again before or after 'Katrina' hit the city with such devastation. That too was a turning point and we support New Orleans by whatever means we can. I should have loved to visit again - but the circumstances of my disability have long made that a dream. I do, however, keep up via Virtual NO on Fb.

Fact 0019 - Meeting Anne Golon for the first time - 19th October 1999

Fact 0020 - Dated, 11th September, 2001 - forever 9/11 in our minds.

Fact 0021 - Dated, 17th January 2015 - forever Je suis Charlie minds. It was just one of those mornings wasn't it, like 9/11 - there was a whisper there was something unclear for on goes the tv searching for the 24 hour news channel to find out what was happening - another tragedy in Paris, the last time (when Diana, Princess of Wales was involved in a fatal car crash) I had rung my friend Anna at 3am or thereabouts as I needed to speak to another human being as events unrolled. I'd have really wanted to talk to her while this was unfolding at a less unforgiving time of day but I knew she was in hospital, what I didn't know is that she would die two days later. What I did know was that she would have hated knowing what was happening in her beloved Paris and in particular who it was being perpetrated by. In the meantime I still had friends there who could well have been in the thick of it - a journalist with young children and married to a man who practises the Muslim faith, a web designer who lives alone and is, like me, suffering from mobility restriction and a 90+ mother and her daughter with Jewish blood in their veins - all at risk, all vulnerable .....

Charlie Brown evoking despair

Because I think this is so fitting and a cartoon character I have empathised with and loved for several decades.

The Charlie Hebdo car attack

Mirroring images to come in London two years later!

Crowd holding Je Suis Charlie posters

What a shot - you couldn't have staged it - Solidarity is such a unifying word!

Monday, 30th January 2017 - Today's fact (not yet numbered as it will be way after anything else I remember and add). I am working on my parent's tribute page and at this very time am working on my father's medal collection. He has always been our very own hero and the world will know him as a hero of Monte Cassino. I was hoping my sister, who is a repository of knowledge about my parents, having had them to herself for 6 long years before I came along, would make it simple and provide the facts - instead she gave me a photograph of his medals - better that than nothing at all! As I was painstakingly attempting to identify them I came across an anomaly. Why is father in possession of the France & Germany Star - is there a part of his history hidden from us?

My Fathers life medals

Take a look at the third row and emerging from the left is the United Kingdom: Italy Star | Ribbon: White with green central stripe and red edges. | Awarded: For service in Italy, Sicily, Greece, Yugoslavia, Corsica, Sardinia and area between 11 June 1943 and 8 May 1945. This is followed by the United Kingdom: France and Germany Star | Ribbon: White with red central stripe and blue edges. Awarded: For service in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany between 6 June 1944 and 8 May 1945. (Should this have been the 39-45 Medal?) As I progressed in my research I discovered that many a Pole awarded with the Italy Star and UK Medals had also been awarded the 39-45 Medal whose ribbon is Pale Blue, Red and Navy (the colours adopted by the 'Help for Heroes' campaign) in three vertical stripes of equal width so where was Dad's? Then the penny dropped but I had to check in with my sister. I phoned her and went on and on about how much work I had already achieved (I could hear her yawning) and took her through what I had found and then asked her what she remembered about the British medals - so she started reeling them off and got three out of four right. I asked her if she had missed the 39-45 medal, she said she might have, then mentioned the Africa Star - but although Dad was there, it was more as a patient than in active combat to which she concurred. Then I dropped the bombshell (pun intended) - had Dad had a secret life in France and Germany as well as Poland, Russia, Siberia, Afghanistan and Monte Cassino? She was dumbstruck, then I asked her if she had any recollection at all of his mentioning that at one distribution ceremony of medals, they had run out and been handed an alternative. Yes, she remembered that (we had a habit of listening at keyholes if there was nothing better to do) she had heard that too - so, after laughing heartily at our earlier 'naughtiness' we decided that the reason our father had been awarded the France and Germany Star is because the powers that be had run out of the 39-45 medals and probably reasoned that no-one would ever know the difference - well we do now!

Friday, 10th March 2017 - I'm not sure how this is going to shape me, but apparently I have been declared dead. Do I go on?

Sympathy Card

Dated 7th March 2017 - "Andrew, I shall toast Anna with a Mermaid's Kiss cocktail in the Palm Court tonight. I had no idea she'd gone. Gary Cole was in the Pilchard yesterday and told me. A few endearing stories were told - some of which I knew - over a pint of Eddystone (ABV 4.8). I got your card at Xmas but it didn't click as your signatures (like mine) were always unintelligible.
So sad that she's gone. Many a night was spent in the Palm Court, wearing her Biba dresses; the time she came with her sisters; the beery summer days with Denzil down at the Pilchard; we even met in Tavistock once - all before the defection to the Midland at Morecambe!
She will not be forgotten. Hope you are well. I am still on the Island. I shall put a stone on my cairn for her up near the Hewer's Hut. Give me three more years and then I shall be retired. Another phase beckons. There was always more to life than Burgh!
All best and many happy memories. Gary McBar"

I'm happy to say Gary McBar and I caught up with each other last Sunday (12th March 2017) had a long chat and laugh, reminisced a bit, nearly cried and parted, as always, the best of friends. The person who 'misled' Gary shall remain nameless, although I did name and shame him on my FB profile, is a former colleague of mine of whom I have no particular good thoughts and I trust our paths won't cross again. However, on the positive side, not many people get to hear what others think of them once they've shed their mortal coils, I did!

Dated 22nd March 2017 - one year on from an atrocity on mainland Europe and London is subject to a vile attack by a 'lone' wolf rather in the style of Cannes a few months ago, only this one didn't stop at killing and maiming people by driving into them, he then launched personal attacks on Police personnel with long bladed knives. The carnage was appalling! Daesh have finally claimed responsibility, maybe they were hoping for greater numbers? The images of the car against the Westminster railings is so reminiscent of the morning of 'Je Suis Charlie.'

Car driven into gated wall at Westminster

Newspaper headlines following Westminster attack

27th May, 2017 - When I heard that Harper Lee was going to write a sequel/prequel of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (in 2015) I decided it was time that I caught up with my lack of previous education and even more to the point time I read this most famous of novels to fill in my 'learning gap.' I managed to get a cheap version of the new book and then Andrew found a very good second hand copy of the original in our favourite bookshop in Morecambe. As usual I prevaricated so didn't get round to reading it until last month. I was astonished at how compelling this book was, and after the first page (too many characters thrown into the mix all at once) how easy to read. It was easy, also, to picture Gregory Peck as 'Atticus' it sort of fitted him - no, I hadn't seen the film, but of course it is just as famous as the book!

Film To Kill a Mockingbird Radio Times entry

No sooner than I had closed the book on completion that I opened the newspaper to be confronted with an article whose headlines screamed 'To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee 'set fire to second secret novel during a drunken night in New York'' - then to my great amusement, reading (in retrospect) a used copy of The Radio Times, I found I had missed a showing of the film! Luckily I found another viewing and was happy to watch it a few weeks after I had completed the book. The film was very true to the book, but a couple of characters had been edited out and they were missed. There's no great significance to this 'coincidence' and it isn't earth-shattering enough to add to my 6 degrees page - but it's just another example of the sort of things that I enjoy encountering in my life!

14th July, 2017 - Bastille Day and our (23rd) Wedding Anniversary. Whereas we would normally be at Burgh Island, or the Midland Hotel or some other Art Deco establishment, the intervening years haven't been kind and travelling is now a chore rather than a pleasure, so we were 'at home' with no particular plans although, Andrew's condition allowing, we had planned to treat ourselves to a takeaway! So, I was ill-prepared for what else the day would bring. I decided that I should honour my little 'Friday Computer' job and not do much more. This job is repetitive and boring and so I stray to sorting my internet banking and looking into Fb to alleviate the 'sameness' of the task. I notice there was a message on Fb and eventually opened it, to discover that a close friend of the Goloubinoffs' had advised me that Anne Golon had died in the early hours of the morning. That woke me up and shook me out of my reverie of boredom in an instant. To be able to give my full attention to the news I was absorbing I finished my menial task and went into overdrive as usual! I thanked Miriam for letting me know and she asked me not to announce anything as the family didn't want the news being made public yet. So here I was, on my, so far, nondescript wedding anniversary sitting on one of the biggest events in my life not to mention the literary world! I'm guessing I must have been the only one in the UK (at the very least and more likely in the whole of the English speaking world) who had this news and I couldn't do anything about it! As it was so completely momentous, I did send a message to my 'Friends of Angélique' US boss, Joyce Murphy as a courtesy and in the certain knowledge that she would keep the information to herself if I asked her to. It alleviated my stress a little. When Andrew came back up to the house I also told him as I could feel the walls closing in on me, he asked if I had mentioned this to Marysia (my sister) and I told him 'no' as she was joining us later and I would prefer to tell her face to face. Eventually, after I thought an appropriate amount of time had passed, I rang Nadia (Anne's daughter and my friend) to offer my condolences and we had a brief conversation. She told me that they were still at the hospital and to please not make any announcements. I assured her that I would not and would await any further news from her before going 'public'. It has to be said that our meal that evening was one of the most surreal moments of my life, sitting there munching on a Chinese takeaway, we were three people, sitting in the same room, on a gigantic secret that the world would still not learn about for another 36 hours or so and we didn't say a word to each other - maybe this was our very own 'Bletchley' moment? On Sunday, 16th July once the news broke via the internet, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief!

18th July, 2017 - still stunned by the news and events of the 14th and total lack of interest in the English speaking world the following dropped into Andrew's CAMRA e-mail account

"From: James Owen | Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 10:21 AM | To: Andrew Ludlow | Subject: Daily Telegraph, Obituary of Anne Golon 
Dear Mr Ludlow, I am writing an obituary for The Daily Telegraph of Anne Golon and wondered if you and your wife were able to put me in touch with her daughter Nadine. I'd also be happy to speak to either of you if you thought that you could help me with the article and with details that I need to check. My hope is to write it in the next day or so.  
Kind regards, James Owen"

I rang James, who it transpires is a freelance and was in Venice at the time of contacting us. The means of contacting us is more fittingly placed in the 6 degrees/'My Brush with ...' page as it is full of the coincidences that make life so interesting. I was happy to assist him and put him in contact with Nadia which resulted in a near perfect objective obituary. I would have awarded the piece a perfect 10 had James not sensationalised the series in his description or reverted to comparing them to books of the time that have long been out of the public sphere instead of using the very current and contemporary suggestion I gave him which, today, is all the rage in the historical romance genre.

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Page updated : 20th September 2017 (G)

Background image : The Anemone range by Lalique the only design-house to regularly use an anemone in its original creations. The anemone is my favourite flower. The colours used here which are red, white and blue reflect my joint Polish (red and white) and British (red, white and blue) heritage.