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25th May 2010

Day 36 of the terrible Oil Spill, with blame being hurled in all directions. But BP is in the front line and getting the worst of the rage. People feel frustrated, angry and helpless. However some better changes may come out of this, after the banks, now the oil companies are the focus of people's outrage. Things may change, we hope.

You may have gathered that I am still in the US and getting my information from the news and news shows here. I will be back in a couple of weeks and get the other side of things. My guess is that the BP oil spill comes lower down in the scheme of things as it's "over there" and not in my back yard. Of course conversely the only real UK news we are getting here is the Duchess of York's latest gaffe. Oh well nothing changes and people don't, but it makes a good gossip story. Our poor Queen, but no doubt she will take it in her stride, I sense there are more important issues that anger her.

The wobbly economic situation continues to wobble, it's quite nerve wracking really.

I had a good trip to Los Angeles and remembered my way around again quickly. I was staying in Santa Monica, in a period bungalow, typical of that era in the LA area. It had no phone, no loss, we all have mobiles - no television, no loss for a few days, no broadband - well - Starbucks became my new best friend. Getting online was quite a challenge at Starbucks, but a very nice young Hispanic lady suddenly transformed from coffee server to IT whiz and got me on - thank you. Every waiter, coffee shop server, taxi driver, is not what they seem in LA, they've all just had an audition for a series or written the next best screenplay. The only thing I cant deal with any more is the traffic. It takes hours to get anywhere - a rich partner, husband who could provide car and driver, would be the answer if I lived there again. At the moment "the revolving door" thing works, get in and get out.

The trip was quite hectic but productive. I met Martin Jarvis and his lovely wife Ros and we reminisced a lot about our recent venture together and people dead or alive from the National Youth Theatre, where we both started. It's curious how one's earliest roots in this business are often the deepest. We were in "Julius Caesar" together, which included other luminaries: Simon Ward, Ian McShane, Michael York, Neil Stacey, Hywel Bennett, David Weston et al.

I also had lunch with Marvin Paige a famous Hollywood casting director (Star Trek, Planet of the Apes), who has always been good to me. I got a number of parts through Marvin over the years, including the one woman play "Vivien Leigh", which I did in Atlanta for the 50th anniversary of the publication of "Gone With the Wind". That was quite a challenge, an hour on stage alone, in the prestigious Alliance Theatre. It was very well written, which made it easier to learn. But playing a legend is not a doddle in the park, I went for impression rather than impersonation, which is what most sensible actors do I think.

I was asked to repeat some bits of a staged reading for the Director, Silvio Narrizano, who was thinking of doing the play in Los Angeles. He told me in no uncertain terms to stick to sailing and the play was never done. I was devastated at the time, but I learned a couple of useful lessons, try never to go back to a reading after you've done the play, your performance will always slip through and it may not be appropriate to the occasion and whatever anyone ever says to you, keep the faith in your own ability, dont be side tracked. You cant please everyone. Goodness knows Peter O'Toole received some of the worst reviews ever for his Macbeth, but he is still one of the greatest actors of our time. You have to take chances and be brave in acting and sometimes it will work and sometimes it wont. But you cant please everyone.

I am in that waiting mode, waiting for a decision on the series from a couple of people; as usual waiting for a job to come along, it's frustrating, but you have to keep busy doing other things - gardening, grandchildren and lovely day to play golf!

Thats all folks, next one maybe from the UK, maybe not.
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