Tuesday, October 11, 2011

1990: The sky is still blue

Through my flatmate at the time I knew quite a few people, locally. Her old schoolfriends were dotted all over the place, with a bit of a concentration nearby.

One favourite - but for all the wrong reasons, was a girl let's call Marshy. Big, tall, blonde, loud, super-posh, a hoot and a bore by turns, she was a would-be actress who was forever disappointed. She'd often call in floods of tears because the part she was after had gone to someone else and how there was simply no justice in the world. Other times she'd be hysterically happy because she had landed a coveted role.

My mum was there for one of these phonecalls, and thought it was the most exciting thing to have an actress call to tell you she'd got the part, and wasn't it fun living in London, etc., like she was in an episode of Man About The House when mother visits. If only she knew. One tried to be sympathetic when it all went tits up but couldn't help but giggle at the high drama. The highs were as exhausting as the lows. She was born to go on the stage.

Thing is though, her career wasn't really happening. She'd do the odd play upstairs in a pub but Sir Trevor Nunn was nowhere to be seen, Hollywood was not knocking her door down and even The Bill was full-up. As many actresses can be, she was a terrible attention seeker, at any party she'd have to be the centre of attention. I recall cringing until I was nearly dead when she made someone turn off the music so she could sing Roxanne acappella with her eyes shut, really feeling it. She only knew a couple of lines and she made them go a long way.

She started dating my brother, who was my other flatmate, and the two of them were a sight to see. He was smaller and slighter in those days, and they brought to mind Dudley Moore and wife - her towering above him. It didn't last long. She was too high-maintenance. He dreaded answering the phone.

She once had a party at her place, but instead of just being allowed to mingle and chat and enjoy yourself she made everyone sit down on the floor then move two people along to talk to someone they'd not yet talked to. When everyone refused she bolted the front door, stood on a chair and burst into tears about what a disaster it wall was and would everyone just do as they're told! She had to be practically wrestled to the ground so everyone could make a dash for it. I've heard of living theatre, but really...

One day in our kitchen, gazing out the window as the sun set low on a hazy November afternoon, this song playing on the radio, Twin Peaks all the rage, I remarked to her that I just knew she was going to be a huge, huge star.

She's not.


  1. I have a feeling I've met this woman. Did she by any chance have a very very long answerphone message, with her talking in a bad American accent over the Mission Impossible theme and ending with her suddenly screaming "THIS PHONE WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN FIVE SECONDS!!" ?

  2. Do you know what she's doing now? I'm intrigued.

  3. Ah, this is classic Peake anecdotage in action, especially her sitcom-esque failed party. And for some reason the line "Sir Trevor Nunn was nowhere to be seen" made me giggle for ages.

    "Falling" reminds me of being a student during a very cold Cambridge winter, and seeing a girl wearing one of those wraparound blanket skirts that were fashionable for about five minutes then, trying to ride a bike. Pedal once, get skirt caught in chain, nearly fall off, untangle skirt and chain, get back on again, repeat - all the way down the road.

  4. I looked her up on IMDB and she's done a couple of TVs over the past few years. I would imagine she's a regional theatre mainstay now.

    I feel a bit mean really as she was very sweet, but very tiring to be around.

  5. There's no off button with these types, that's why they're so wearing. I used to dread being stuck next to the drama lot in the college canteen. Always two notches louder than everyone else - there would always be one in (usually pastel coloured) dungarees and another doing warm up stretches. For what? They were only buying a cheese roll!

    I'm amazed she's still at it. I'd pictured her bagging a broker husband and backing out of 'the theatre'

  6. Yes, appalling show-offs in the main. That's why they choose that career I suppose.

  7. "...even The Bill was full up!" Ouch!

    This is one of the best stories you've ever told.

    I never watched Twin Peaks. Was it any good? All I remember is Josie Lawrence and Mike McShane taking the piss out of it on Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

  8. I LOVED Twin Peaks. It was so surreal, moved a less than leisurely pace but was top notch viewing. Series 2, however, was a bomb.

    Of its time.