Whimsies, Variety in the 60s and computer madness!



If you are reading this post in the library, stay there!  Don’t buy a computer,  you could risk  premature insanity.

Which is why I have ditched all my projects for five minutes and am  drinking my tea. But this has got me wondering yet again, which of the many bits and bobs I might take with me to an old people’s home should technology push me over the brink!

Afterall I can’t take the kindness I am often shown, a hug, the tea Josh brought me back from his holiday in Hong Kong last week, or wrap up my partner’s patience when I scream that nothing works!

Computers often drive me to these morbid thoughts especially when I have spent four hours unsuccessfully trying to convert an avi file into a wav file to make a CD for a friend.   Or if I am trying to convert videos to DVD’s on a very expensive machine that promises to do everything including making my breakfast, but in reality comes up with a file name that no one has ever heard of!

Likewise with a machine that converts tapes to CD’s.“Oh no it doesn’t!”   Or if I am trying to print a design on a CD from an old computer with an updated Epson printer that claims it wasn’t born yesterday and I am trying to do the impossible!

So back to what makes a home a home, what would you rescue if God forbid the house was on fire?

Me? Well maybe one of my photograph albums but which one? But more than likely my tiny china victorian doll,  dressed  in a lace,  the one  that my Gran gave me. She even lovingly  crocheted a change of clothes in the very  finest of thread.  That doll sums my Gran up, generous,  a survivor, pretty, fragile and with a liking for beautiful fabrics.

I know I have already mentioned that I used to travel in Variety when I was younger, a different theatre every week. We all had a habit of using little keepsakes to make our  dressing rooms a ‘home from home’ so I have plenty of experience of the value of home making in difficult circumstances.

Although Hylda Baker felt at home as long as three crates of Guinness arrived at the stage door on Monday morning!  I’m not sure that Max Miller or Graham Stark, (both of whom I have worked with) bothered with trifles, but most of us put up photographs and had good luck charms in front of our make-up mirrors.

If we did a summer season we often gave each other a tiny momento at the end of it.   It was the time of ‘whimsies’, those little china animals, so I received several of these.

I once went to Janette Scott’s 21st birthday party (the late Thora Hird’s daughter) and we were given tiny china dutch clogs, so off they went on tour too.

I had never met Thora Hird but wrote to her once asking about the party. She was on the phone to me the next day cheerful and chatty as a cricket.

So technology may have defeated me yet again and my friend will get a her relaxation tape as a DVD because the CD was impossible and  my Dads show from the 50’s may never be transfered to a DVD. But does it really matter? Will posterity or my grandchildren really care?

And as for the old people’s home thing –   I’ll take my tiny laptop, after all I’ll need to write letters of complaint to my MP,  but no film making, no clever stuff. My tiny victorian doll of course, my poetry books and a few things to sell on ebay in case I am in need a few luxuries…sorted!

Now where was I…Save draft…Publish! Umm…. at least my blog still works!

Oh and on good days I’ve made loads of films – click on this very long link


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