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December 21st 2009

It is a matter of absolute astonishment to me that we are reaching the end of 2009 and the nearly the end first decade of a a new millennium. I feel tempted to say that I want to live forever, time is passing by far too quickly and there is still so much to see and do.

I am back in the US and specifically Idaho, where the weather has not been kind. Snow and freezing cold are the orders of the day, but now my friends tell me that the UK is suffering the same and back East here is a nightmare. many flights have been cancelled and people are just hanging out at airports, trying to go somewhere, anywhere! I gather that the potential BA strikes have been averted for the Holiday, but if the planes are coming this way, they may not be able to fly!

For some reason Christmas is a time of great stress for many and for others, much unhappiness, that is a shame. I think sometimes the expectations are just too high and people push themselves to the edge, to just have a great time and be happy. Happiness cannot be bought or forced, you either are or you aren’t. We should learn this from our children when they are young. They cannot be made to act or feel what we want them to be or do, just because we want them, it just doesn’t happen and I do believe we should not try to push our learned behaviour and values on them, as often they are wrong or misguided. I am here with my grandchildren, so you can imagine where a lot of this is coming from. We can learn or at least remember real and felt behaviour from our young ones.

I was very sad to hear of the death of Edward Woodward, what a great actor and lovely man. I did a film with him, “The Appointment”, playing his wife. I have to be honest it was a pretty bad story, but of course we were great in it. It was funded by of all organisations The British Coal Board. Dont know how that came about, they must have had a lot of cash to spare.

Anyway as I recall we were being chased through the film by a seriously nasty dog (or was it dogs) who had formed an attachment to our ‘daughter’. Still Edward and his sweet wife Michelle were fun and full of fascinating stories about the ‘Biz’. Actors are generally very entertaining when they get together as we are natural show offs and good stories help to pass the time, when filming which can be very slow.

We had lovely Martin Jarvis in our recent film, who seems to spend his time hopping between London and LA and non stop work. He is a truly lovely person and adapted to our low budget and fast working pace without a blink. He is the sort of actor and person, that I truly admire. He understands the entertainment business very well, never moans or complains and offers nothing but useful comments about the work in the most charming way. We knew each other way back at the National Youth Theatre days, when it was first starting and worked together in ‘Julius Caesar’. It had a cast of future luminaries in it - Martin, Michael York, Simon Ward, Ian McShane, David Weston, me and Patricia Doyle, who directed “Beware of What You Wish For”.

I do hope you all like “Beware of What You Wish For”, which is based on ‘The Monkeys Paw” - some of you will know it and some you won't. It is a great story and yours truly wrote the screenplay, produced it and acted in it. Well I am getting too old to be humble, so it’s time to toot my own horn.

I love writing, Patricia and I have written four further scripts for what we hope will be a series of short scary tales. And I am working on another contemporary film, planned as a short, but may be good enough to be full length. I see my old Rada classmate and on and off friend Sarah Miles likes writing too. Though I wished she hadn’t written the stories of her past love life, I do think we should keep mouths firmly shut about certain liaisons and affairs. Who cares anyway. However Sarah is a true character and very talented. I knew her when she was married first time around to Robert Bolt and used to go to their country estate to ride her horse Daisy and play croquet on their lawn, very Alice in Wonderland.

I worked with Robert for a while when he was not married to Sarah, but to a lovely woman Ann Queensberry, (yes that Queensberry family) and I was doing research on stroke victims. I was doing “The Patricial Neal Story”, playing the therapist who got Patricia Neal functioning again. Robert was such a brilliant and extraordinary man and the effects of his own stroke were very frustrating for him. We talked a lot about it. He was one of our great writers and, having just read the brilliant book "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantell, I wonder if Robert was too kind to Sir Thomas More. But who cares, it’s all the views of individual writers and maybe Ms Mantell has it wrong. I am thriller fan and have just discovered Dennis Lehane who wrote “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone”, which became a favourite film of mine.

Jane Well that’s about it dear friends. Have a wonderful Holiday and dont forget what it’s really all about.
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