Sunday 22nd April 2012
FATE isn’t a word I use very often, not believing in pre-ordained destiny or ‘this was meant to happen’ nonsense. It’s bad enough waiting for buses in the pouring rain. Why complicate matters by suggesting the 51 was scripted to be late, today of all days?
Happenstance is much more fun.
Jo and I were both born in 1950. She arrived in Stroud the year I became head of sixth form at the local comp.
“South West Arts said go to Gloucestershire. We hitched up the motorway. The vicar of Nailsworth let us pitch a tent on his lawn… ended up in a cottage on a country estate, where they train polo ponies… lived on cauliflower cheese and potatoes. First shows we did were booked from public phone boxes, pumping 10ps in.”
Everyone loved Dr Foster’s Travelling Theatre. They toured village halls with devised pieces, each actor playing many parts, creating instant sets with chairs. I wanted to be them; maybe would have, had I not gone into teaching.
Still Kicking’s shape took an unexpected turn when we began to discuss might-have-been’s.
JO: My Dad had a friend at ITN. He said he’d get me a part in a new drama which had children in it. After Dad presented the idea, I went upstairs and cried on my bed. He came up, asked why I was crying and I told him I wanted to be ordinary and didn’t want to do it. And he said, “That’s all right, darling. We’ll never mention it again.”
MARCUS: I remember a teacher coming into the staff room… overjoyed because her class were seeing the nit nurse. I thought… given the choice, everyone would prefer not to be in school. Including me. So, should I apply for a deputy headship and keep climbing the ladder… or what? Later that term I handed in my resignation.
What if we had led – and met in – alternative lives, where Jo had become a West End star and I a high-flying educationalist?
And thus were created Dame Josephine and Sir John, married and living in a Suffolk mansion with a charming summer-house, where the curtain would rise on Jo arranging flowers…