Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chocolate Cake And Alcohol

Back into Marylebone this afternoon. After one last delay caused by schedule clashes, I finally sat down with the Actress to discuss putting together her autobiography.

We met up at her agent’s apartment. Planned for just the two of us, the agent was feeling a bit under the weather and was working from home. Instead of heading straight there I made a detour to the Patisserie Valerie on Marylebone High Street.

When I got there the Actress was finishing up a telephone interview with an American magazine. On the table was the photograph she was submitting for the new version of Spotlight. For someone who was devastatingly beautiful in her youth and certainly still has it, the picture was remarkably shorn of all hints of vanity.

The gateaux brought a smile to their faces. Even the agent’s cat, which usually steered clear of strangers, came over to say hello and jumped up on the counter to let me scratch it behind the ears.

Over coffee and cake we talked about the Actress’ life and career. I already had a fair amount of information collated but it goes without saying that it was just the tip of the iceberg.

The conversation bounced about before we got down to specific areas. In those instances I got her to paint a portrait of her life then. Here was someone who started out in the last dying gasps of the studio contract days and lived and worked through seismic changes in the industry in America, the UK and Europe.

Some of the stories were either absolutely hilarious or simply jaw-dropping. Still trying to figure out where to draw the line when it comes down to how much to reveal about her past, when her agent looked up from her laptop and started to mention one topic that would certainly be borderline I reached forward and turned off the tape recorder.

The first three hours together went well. Next there are all the scrapbooks to go through and put the proposal together for the agent to shop around.

From the apartment I walked to Covent Garden to catch up with a pal working at a publishers in the area. With his birthday next week, and eschewing the usual haunts, he was looking for a place for everyone to meet up. Having spent three years there when I was at The Esteemed School of Art, I had got to know a fair number of the local watering holes quite intimately.

Twenty years on, a lot of them were very different now. They weren’t full of grubby little students for a start. The pub that we had all been thrown out of for “using the place like a common room” wasn’t there anymore. It had always looked very empty once we took our custom elsewhere. I suppose me sicking up on the landlord one night hadn’t helped matters.

Another pub, which had a marvellous back room we used to rest our weary bones in still had the marvellous back room, except they had turned it into a restaurant. We put our heads around the doors of two others but neither were the size he required.

The third was big enough. It turned out to be the second pub we had been barred from back in the day. In that instance the exclusion had come about from me leaving black-paint handprints on the rather pendulous breasts of one of my fellow students which in turn led to her shoving me backwards onto a table filled with glasses. The only problem now was that the size and shape of the interior played merry hell with the acoustics and it sounded like everyone was shouting her heads off, over the noise of the ramped up jukebox.

The next pub was just right, with a quiet upstairs bar that stayed quiet until the volume of the television was turned up and we found ourselves surrounded by footballs supporters cheering on their team. Thank you Sky Sports.

The staff assured him there wasn’t a game scheduled for next week.

As a post script, I should make it clear that we didn't get barred from the first pub until sometime into our third year. By then I had had more than enough of the course and my fellow students and just wanted out.

For a long time then, and a long time since, I've avoided the Friday evening drink like the plague. All people seemed to do there, whether they were art students or - later on - animators, was talk about the events of the week and little more. When they did chew over the past five days I'd nod my head and reply, "I know, I was there!"


At 10:55 am, Blogger potdoll said...

how famous is this actress and what age bracket, please!

i need to have an impression of her in my head.

At 4:44 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Age bracket, about a decade on me.

You'd certainly recognize the name.

At 5:57 pm, Blogger Lara said...

"...someone who started out in the last dying gasps of the studio contract days..."

GD, you amaze me - what skin care routine do you have? You look fantastic for being a decade less than Norma Desmond... ;0P

At 6:03 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Ah, that's sweet of you (I think!), but young actors were still finding themselves under contract right up to the late 1960s.

At 3:17 am, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

Good luck! I spent five-years-going-on-eternity trying to write Peter Jackson's biography and he's not even an actress!!

Seriously, make sure, if it happens, your identity and earning potential aren't LOST!

At 3:45 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Brian, thanks very much for the advice. I'm going to make sure the agent sorts out a good deal with a publisher first.

This initial sit down was the get information for the proposal and a sample. I don't want to find myself in a situation where I would make more money working at a McDs.

At 5:32 pm, Blogger Lara said...

Aha, so she's a sixties kitten then? The plot thickens.

Definitely loads of good luck, GD. Sounds like a great project. Don't forget to keep up the skin care routine. ;0)

At 6:18 am, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

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