Archive | May, 2019

Janine 3

29 May

Jeremy arrived at the Club early that evening. Janine had intrigued him mightily and he was excited at the thought of meeting her again. He felt younger, eager – but even so – felt in his bones that it might be better for him if she didn’t turn up. He recognised the danger of getting involved with a young girl. His wife – though indulgent of many of his indiscretions – would never understand this one. he told himself that Janine would not turn up. She had carried off the unexpected meeting this morning with aplomb, but she might think better of meeting him again in more conventional circumstances.
He ordered himself a very large whisky, and was popping up the bar ruminatively when George Lester hove into view. George was a young director – one of the new boys up from Oxford. A real litle live wire. He had made his mark rapidly by working on highly controversial subjects and always managing to be in the right place at the right time.
‘Jeremy, you old reprobate’ he cried.
He had no respect for age and experience – something which stood him good stead in his chosen profession.
Jeremy bought him a St Clements – orange juice and bitter lemon. Young aspiring directors seldom touch alcohol before dinner. They need to keep their minds clear at all times – to stay one jump ahead of the more seasoned Bastians of the Corp..
‘Waiting for somebody?’ he said
‘Yes, as a matter of fact, I am’
George took his St Clements and had a good swallow.
‘Saw you here at lunchtime with that big blonde. What’s her name?’
‘Janine Mulhare.’
‘Trapped you, did she? I should watch out if I were you poison in tights. I can tell her sort a mile off. Out for what she can get’
Jeremy smiled
‘Is that a bad thing? It seems the norm for young people these days.’
Jeremy laughed and George looked at him sharply with narrowed eyes. One of the requirements of young aspiring directors was no sense of humour and he was never quite sure whether people were having a go at him.
Jeremy added quickly to make his point clearer.
‘Nothing personal of course.’
‘Of course not.’ George replied with a puzzled frown. then
‘Have you known her long?’
‘A fairly brief acquaintance.’ said Jeremy with a gurgling laugh.
George obviously thought he’d had too many
‘Well, take my tip. Just watch it old chap.’ he said
Jeremy ordered himself another large one, under George’s disapproving eyes. George refused another St Clements.
‘I’ve hardly started this one.’ he said.
This was obviously meant as some kind of reproof. Jeremy mentally cast his eyes to heaven, and as George showed no sign of moving on, engaged him in further conversation.
‘What brings you here?Working?’
George took Jeremy into his confidence.
‘I have a date with a blonde myself tonight. An old girlfriend from Oxford. She’s a real cracker – bright as hell. She’s in the business now – doing pretty well… working at that Club Theatre.’
The Minerva again!. He must tell Marianne about all the publicity the theatre was receiving today. She was always glad to hear it talked about.
‘The Minerva,’ he said, enunciating the word as clearly as possible, ‘It has a very good reputation.’
‘So I believe – for a little theatre. But my girl won’t be here all that long. She’s destined for bigger and better things.’
The bar was beginning to fill up. Actors were wandering in to unwind after rehearsals and to prepare for early evening recordings. Some of them were talking animatedly with their director or reading scripts or having a nap from after too heavy lunches..BBC secretaries with quiet voices and neat little suits looked lovingly at their charges – their bosses. The actors sat in little groups, some of them already in costume and makeup. Some were just sitting, gazing into space, psyching themselves up for a performance and some were talking animatedly and slightly hysterically, laughing at their own jokes.
At about 7.30 Jeremy decided that Janine was not going to turn up – but George’s girl did. She was – as George had said – a cracker, wearing a slender green dress that emphasised every curve of her voluptuous body. She strolled majestically through the bar as if totally unaware that every eye was turned in her direction. When she reached George, she tossed her long straight Scandinavian blonde hair over her shoulders and gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek.
‘Nice to see you again, darling.’ she breathed in a thrilling cultured voice.
George turned in an instant from the tough, know it all TV director into a besotted lovesick swain.
‘Laura, you look wonderful!’ he stammered.
She gave a short laugh and turned to Jeremy, silently demanding an introduction
George did the honours.
‘Jeremy, this is Laura Jensen, my friend from Oxford. Laura, this is Jeremy Fox – you must have seen some of his films’
‘Yes, of course.’ she said
She looked at him coolly, politely shook his hand and then looked away again as if he was of little significance in her life.
She flashed a dazzling smile at George, who tremulously smiled back. Neither of them spoke. Jeremy leapt into the breach.
‘Would you like a drink?’
As he spoke he felt his tongue swell and fill his mouth – this girl somehow made him feel he had too much alcohol, as he certainly had.
‘A Perrier, with ice and lemon would be divine.’ she said with a gracious nod.
Jeremy turned to the bar, to see the barman gazing awestruck at the vision Laura presented.
‘Mineral – Perrier water.’ Jeremy ordered, trying to control his tongue.
The barman handed the drink to him, and he turned to Laura with the drink in his hand. As he gave it, he was surprised to find he had to stoop a little. She was a tiny creature, but her long neck and legs gave the impression of tallness.
‘I’ve seen your work at the Minerva,’ he said, ‘Marianne Lacy is an old friend of mine. You’ve worked there a lot, haven’t you?’
‘yes,’ she said, smiling.
‘I thought you were wonderful in “View From the Bridge”‘
‘Thank you’ she said and smiled again. The conversation came to a standstill.
At this moment, Janine Mulhare entered the room.
She had changed into a lain Navy blue dress, which somehow made her seem taller than ever. Her thick blonde hair curls tumbled about her face and she had made up her already enormous eyes to look even bigger. The dress was starkly puritan plain, but somehow, nest to Laura, she looked gauche, over made up awkwardly tall.
Jeremy warmed to her.
She came over to them, her eyes shining like a child at a picnic.
‘Sorry I’m late.’ she said, ‘I couldn’t decide what to wear.’
‘You look enchanting’ said Jeremy in his best avuncular manner, aware that George Lester was regarding him with undisguised horror.
Jeremy felt a whole lot better. The curious feeling of inadequacy caused by the perfection of the ravishing Laura had disappeared. Janine of the shining face and tumbled hair really rated him.
With Janine he was an important person. It gave him a great deal of pleasure to introduce her to George Lester, who acknowledged the introduction with a nod. Jeremy introduced the two ladies. Janine gazed at Laura with undisguised admiration. Laura looked Janine ujp and down as if assessing the cost o her frock and dismissed her as someone of little importance.
‘Maybe we should go now, George. It’s awfully smokey in here.’
So saying, she picked up her purse and made her way out of the room. Again all eyes followed her -as did Lester, sweating profusely.
Jeremy and Janice watched them go, Jeremy laughing to himself.
‘He won’t get much change out of that one’ he muttered. Janine looked at him in astonishment.
‘What do you mean?, she said,’ She’s so beautiful.’
‘And you are so naive’ he looked at her, ‘and a joy to behold.’
Janine kissed him prettily on the cheek.
‘Thank you, Uncle,’ she said,’ Where are you taking me?’
‘Somewhere extremely private, where we can talk unobserved by the madding throng.’ he said.

Janine 4
In the taxi Janine chattered excitedly about her meeting with George Lester and the ravishing Laura.
‘It was really interesting to meet him. He’s one of the new boys, you know. He went to Oxford’
‘Big fucking deal’ replied Jeremy inelegantly.
‘Did you go to University?’ asked Janine.
‘No, my education was cut short@, he replied, ‘National Service’
‘What’s that?’
‘I was a soldier for two years – after the war when I was eighteen. Then I went to RADA..’
The taxi drew up outside a tiny discreet restaurant on the outskirts of Chelsea.
The waiter put them in a corner tale tucked away out of sight.
‘You don’t mind not being looked at by the rest of the customers I hope.’
‘Of course not,’ said Janine, ‘It must be awful people recognising you all the time.’
Jeremy shrugged.
‘It’s really nice of you to take me out,’ said Janine as she tucked her long legs under the tale, ‘Won’t your wife mind?’
‘She’s away at the moment in Cambridge, with my son. He wanted to show her around. I was going with her, but had to see my agent.’
‘And she doesn’t mind you picking up stray girls and taking them to posh restaurants?’
He felt a small qualm in the pit of his stomach and quickly suppressed it.
‘I wasn’t actually planning on telling her. But – no I don’t think she’d mind.’
‘I expect she’s a really nice person. She must be.’
‘To put up with me? Yes, she is – very special indeed. A lovely wife and a wonderful mother.’
‘Not much like my Mother,’ said Janine with a laugh, ‘nobody’s like my mother.’
‘She sounds so interesting. Tell me more about her.’
Janine shook her head.
‘I wouldn’t know where to start.’
The waiter arrived. Janine left the ordering to Jeremy. H ordered mushrooms a la Greque, the speciality of the house and a simple steak Diane for both of them.
‘I just love dining in posh restaurants,’ said Janine looking around her, ‘I spent so much time as a kid eating leftovers from the kitchens where my mother worked. It’s so nice to see them from the customers’ side. It’s all so clean and tidy. You should see the kitchens – Ugh, and the food was always a bit crumpled and mixed up by the time it got to us.’
‘Why did your mother work in restaurants?’
‘Oh she worked everywhere – factories, shops, kitchens, garages.’
‘And your father?’
Janine gave a little squeal as the waiter brought their first course.
‘Gosh just look at those big fat mushrooms – and the garlic – I love garlic, don’t you?’
‘Yes, I’m fond of garlic.’
‘You can’t just be fond of garlic. Either you love it or you hate it. There’s no inbetween.’ and she attacked them with relish.
‘Your father?’ prompted Jeremy.
‘Oh him. He pissed off – disappeared when we were four years old. That’s me and my brother – Jake.’
‘Your twin?’
‘Yup, He was a real loser, my dad. He just went – no message, not so much as a kiss my arse.’
‘Another woman?’
‘No one ever knew. As I said, he just went. Of course, he was a compulsive gambler. Left Mum in a whole lot of debt.’
‘How did she pay it back?’
Janine looked at him open-mouthed.
‘Pay it back? No, she just packed up everything. Including her kids me and Jake and sailed for America.’
‘Where she made her way gambling too?’
Janine laughed scornfully
‘You gotta be joking. Gambling’s a mug’s game. Mum played poker, yes, but only to win money. Dad was a dumb gambler – he bet on horses, dogs, the stock market. He was an idiot. But poker isn’t gambling. It’s scientific.’
Mm. So, having arrived in the States?’
‘She worked, did anything, cleaning, waitressing, factory work, garage mechanic, anything – and of course – played poker.’
‘She made a living then.’
‘yeah, but like I said. She played scientifically. She taught that if you’re not going to win, you don’t play.’
She watched the waiter cook their steak at the table, clapping her hands and giving a cry of “‘Flambe” as the pan burst into flame.
The waiter laughed indulgently, giving his best performance and Jeremy found himself joining in the excitement. It was like taking a kid to see a firework display.
‘So where did you go to school?’
‘All over the place. Mum taught us a lot herself but was too busy most of the time. We just went to whatever school was at whatever place we were at. We didn’t stop anywhere too long of course. Quite often we got expelled and had to leave the town quite quickly.’
‘For playing poker?’
‘Mm sometimes. but sometimes we had to leave town because of some man’s wife. Know what I mean?’
‘I think I understand.’
‘No you don’t – Oh Jeremy, this wine is like raspberries. Let me tell you about the children’s parties.’
‘The parties?’
Yes, we were never invited to private homes of course, but we used to go just the same whenever we could scramble in and more often than not we got chucked out again. Church Socials and things were really our bag – they couldn’t very well keep us out of those. We used to get a good game going with the other kids. Rummy or Hearts, you know. kid’s games. We usually managed to win all their pocket money before we got thrown out.’
Janine caught his quizzical look. Was this another fabrication?
‘I know what you’re thinking. I promised to tell the truth.’
I believe you.’
‘People are so funny. They don’t complain when they are winning do they? They object when they start to lose. Then we got called all sorts of names. We always let them win a bit at the beginning of course.’
‘to get them hooked?’
Janine laughed
‘You understand.’
‘Your mother. she never remarried?’
‘No bloody fear. She’d had enough the first time. She used to say women were exploited long enough – and it was her turn to do the exploiting. She had a lot of gentleman friends of course. I had a regular gang of uncles. They stalked us everywhere we went.’
Jemermy sipped his wine reflectively.
‘So I’m not the first?’
Janine snapped at him
‘Don’t get me wrong. She wasn;’t a whore you understand. She was a survivor.’
Jeremy cleared his throat.
Do you think you resemble her in anyway?’
‘Don’t know. I’m proud of her of course. She had a lot of the right ideas, but I don’t think I could be as single-minded as that. I’m a bit of a softie sometimes. Jake is more like her really.’
‘He shares the flat with you in Hammersmith?’
Janine considered before answering.
‘Occasionally, sometimes he is working n France. He has a friend there – a Marquis no less with a real live chateau. Jake is an artist, he went to St Martin’s. He’s very talented.’
‘Did you go there?’
‘No I went to the Webber D.’
‘But how did you get in? Didn’t you need a Matriculation? or some thing?’
‘I lied,’ she said ,’I said I’d got Australian A levels. Jake did the same. They didn’t check. I guess our talent carried us through.’
She stopped and looked at him.
‘That sounds big headed maybe. But I am talented. I do know that.’
‘But why Australia?’
‘It’s true. We did go to Australia. They like gambling over there, but not playing with women, so we didn’t do too well. We came back here.’
‘And she worked as a waitress over here to help you with your studies?’
‘No. All the girls at Drama school were really rich. They felt sorry for me – gave me all their old clothes. I cleaned up! Jake used to sell them to the girls at St Martin’s. And Mum bought a market stall in the Portobello Road. We used to sell the leftovers. Then the dressmaking students at St Martin’s made crazy frocks for the drama students. They’d wear anything a bit peculiar. We copped the commission.’
Jeremy had begun to feel that his own life had passed by without incident. A thought struck him.
‘Tell me, if it’s not a rude question,’ he said, ‘ That dress you are wearing. Is it a Webber D cast off or a St Martins number?’
‘Selfridges. I got it this afternoon. That is why I was late.’
Jeremy gave a sigh of relief. But his relief was shortlived.
‘I promise I’ll take it back tomorrow. I only borrowed it.’
He had to laugh. ‘You are incorrigible.’
She looked at him with her innocent blue eyes.
‘You wanted the truth. I’ve never been so honest with anybody in my life.’
And Janine attacked her profiteroles with gusto.
‘Janine, will you promise me something?’
She looked at him with trust in her eyes and chocolate on her chin. He laughed and gently wiped it off.
‘I know I asked you to tell me the truth. but for Christ’s sake, don’t make a habit of it. Don’t do it with anybody else. Promise?’
‘Of course, I wouldn’t dream of it. I’m old poker face, remember.’
He groaned, what had he got into?.
‘Well have you finished your enormous meal or would you like something else?’
‘Oh sorry. Have I cost you too much money?’
‘Of course not. But I think its time I took you home.’
‘ I thought you’d never ask.’ she said with a suggestive grin.
He realised with sick horror that she had misunderstood him, but he didn’t want to carry on the conversation any further. He asked the Maitre D to call a cab. It came as soon as he settled the bill. They climbed in and he gave Janine’s address to the driver.
On the drive back they w ere quiet – each occupied with their own private thoughts. Janine was trying to remember whether her sheets were clean, and Jeremy working out how he was going to get away without hurting her feelings.
They arrived at Janine’s flat and he told the cabby to wait.
Janine turned to him, sincerely astonished.
‘Don’t you want coffee?’ she asked
‘I don’t drink coffee late at night. Keeps me awake. And I have a rehearsal in the morning.’
‘That’s not true. They don’t need you till Wednesday. There’s nobody here; Jake is away. Mum’s in Brighton. It’s perfectly all right.’
Jeremy sighed
‘You don’t understand. I’m an old man. I need my sleep.’
She bowed her head.
‘Don’t you like me?’
‘Yes I do, very much. Why don’t you give me your number. I’ll telephone you very soon.’
She brightened slightly
‘I’ll come and meet you at the Club’
‘No’ he said hastily, ‘I absolutely forbid it.’
He took out his pen and wrote her number on his cuff.
‘You are sure?’ she asked once more.
‘Positive,’ he kissed her on the cheek, ‘Sleep well, Niece.’



22 May
Two people meet for the first time. They do not know each other, but they have a strong bond in the man Vincent River – a victim of a hate crime.
This play was at the Park Theatre last year and I decided then that this was probably one of the best plays ever written.
This winning team is reproduced at the Trafalgar Studios along with two stunning actors – the famous award-winning Louise Jameson and comparative newcomer, Thomas Mahy, discovered by the director after auditioning around sixty young men of all shapes and sizes. 
These two actors, disparate in so many ways, fight, mistrust, hate and love each other during the seventy tense minutes. Louise plays Anita, the suffering mother of Vincent River a victim of hate crime.  Davy, is the young man who found the body in a disused railway station.
The director, Robert Chevara one of the most respected directors in Europe has a wonderful way of getting into the hearts of the characters and creating startling stage pictures for the audience to take home in their minds and remember.
Every minute is riveting, there is not a wasted word in this poetic, violent, beautifully written and sometimes humorous piece. It takes place in real time in Anita’s new flat where she has fled from the hatred and disrespect of the neighbours. A bright, intelligent and beautiful person, she has been a victim of hatred and bullying all her life, the boy was her one happiness and he has been uselessly murdered.
Now, the production also has the presence of our most successful and exciting producer Danielle Tarento. She has a perfect theatrical taste as can be further proved by her other production at Charing Cross Theatre, the wonderful ‘Amour’. Nothing Danielle does will ever be ordinary. Even to the wine at the after show party was excellent.
Nicolai  Hart Hansen’s set colours are effective in shades of white and beige, the oatmilk coloured walls putting into relief the colours of the actors’ clothes. Anita in white tights and dark red jumper and the boy in black. Still further enhanced by the eccentric lighting of Marty Langthorne  Lights scattered in prime positions on the set coming on and off at specific times to highlight the action. Most especially the window at the back which starts streaked with dirty snow and changes to yellow, orange or red according to whatever other lighting is being used.
This production is a perfect theatrical experience as the characters go from comedy to tragedy from tenderness to fury or heartbreak with just about every human emotion displayed in front of us. Every word rings true. The performances cannot be faulted.

ReplyForward11.14 GB (74%) of 15 GB usedManageTerms · Privacy · Programme Policies Last account activity: 6 minutes agoDetails

Send ‪(Ctrl-Enter)‬


14 May

Ricky Riddlegang and the Riddlegang
by Ben Alborough and Harry Williams
at the Wimbledon Studio Theatre

OK WE’LL start by facing facts
Mr Alborough is proably the most anarchic, idiotic, lunatic writer and creator of comedy since the days of Spike and Sellers. This is the goon show for the twenty first century. It references Computer games, Enid Blyton, Politics, Religion, Scooby Doo, theh family Addams and has the most alarming choreography ever seen on any stage – devised by Sophia Priolo and perfectly and accurately performed by the five extraordinary characters. One imagines hours and hours of rehearsals.
Ben Alborough plays the Leader like a kind of junior Bertie Wooster – one imagines him organising a not very successful amateur cricket club in the outskirts of Ludlow. But the real star, apart of course from Mr Alborough hinmself, is the dog designed in cardboard like all the props including guns, a cutlass, glasses of pop etc by Fenella Corrin. I presume the dog is a near relation to Scooby Do and who appears to help out at useful moments, zooming along the floor when needed.
The characters are like no others as they are like everybody. There is a terminally stupid cowboy called Johnny Screwdriver vibrantly performed by Will Beynon. Frieda, (Lottie Davies) a crazy scientist who seems permanentlyh attached to her laptop as she discovers more and more scientific facts that nobody ever really wants to know. Aurora is a beautiful visionary and medium who, despite her elegant appearance, is not averse to entering into fiisticuffs with Madame Science. Pippa Caddick plays her like a near relation to Mortician Addams .
The fifth member of the cast Bobby Cluecrew, played by Tom Myles, is one of those people who appear to know everything and everybody. Not surprising when he pops up as so many different characters during the course of the play. Uncle Eustace, the gardener, a ghost and a well known movie star.
Despite the general idiocy of the piece, it is cleverly worked out and some hysterically funny scenes well focussed by Chris McDonnell’s lighting.
The director is Olivia Rose Deane and Matthew Farrugia provides music and chorus songs delivered by the entire cast.
Producers: Lauren King and Jason Fité for Peracals Productions
A riproaring and extra jolly evening designed to cheer everybody up. It will be at the Brighton Festival from the end of May and from thence there are plans for the Edinburgh Festival. Definitely worth the trip!


10 May

Amour is something quite extraordinary.  The creative team are quite right to place it in the ‘In the Round’   situation. A Normal theatre pros arch would be too confining. This is a show that shouts freedom. The actors ride bikes around a moveable lamp post They move chairs around to create rooms and furniture without a shade of self-consciousness and they sing and dance as if they are real people – oddly difficult for actors – which must have been hell at rehearsals though I’m told they had a great time doing it.  

And yet it is fantasy – an explanation of how a man got stuck in a wall in the 18th arrondissement in Paris in 1950. A simple plot of a pair of lovers – an overworked and underloved clerk and an unhappy imprisoned wife. The unconditional love of real people made victims by the harsh treatment from the unhappy unloved and unloving. 
 I cannot actually speak too highly of this witty, funny wonderful show which is a pure delight from start to finish. No actual dialogue. It is sung and danced through, but it is not opera nor ballet. These are real people dancing and singing as if they cannot help it. It is the reality, the earthiness of the characters that is so Parisienne, crazy and witty.

The wit of the setting by Adrian Gee, of the music by the great Michel Legrand, the translation into English full of hysterically funny rhymes by Jermy Sams,  the original libretto by Didier Van Cauwelaert, adapted from the story ‘Le Passe Muraille by Marcel Ayme, Lighting by Rob Halliday, Sound by Andrew Johnson and the amazingly exciting and eccentric choreography by Mart Cole and what we used to call at the BBC ‘Rough Singing’ directed by Jordon Li-Smith. All added to the perfection of direction by Hannah Chissick.

It is unusual to praise the casting director, but she is also the producer, the very beautiful  Danielle Tarento who has spent many hours of torment casting exactly the correct actor for the job. Outstanding of course are Gary Trushaw who plays the unfortunate and hardworking clerk who becomes the notorious Robin Hood character known as Passe Partout because he could enter any establishment without a key. Anna O’Byrne with her exquisite soprano plays the unhappy imprisoned wife and sings the wistful number ‘Other peoples’ Stories’  The other characters include some prostitutes, gendarmerie, lawyers, clerks, an artist, a newsboy and every single actor has at least one strong solo number.  Claire Machin almost stopped the show in her persona as the whore who is the first benefactor of Dusoleil’s newfound talent.

Due to some computer problems, I am late with my review and have seen that other reviewers have not been sparing in their five stars. I look forward to reading their work. The show is worth every one of those stars.  – wish we could give more.

Jeremy Sams describes the show as. Modest in scope but huge in heart. 

Attachments area

Telephone problems

2 May


I have spent my life trying to get through it without being a bore. That was always my greatest fear.

Now I realise that to be boring, annoying, getting on peoples nerves is something that helps other people so I’ll give it a go.

Judge Rinder says one should write everything down so hear we go.


I had been to the UCH hospital and I had a need to go to Boots to pick something up but found that the whole of Tottenham Court Road was blocked and I couldn’t get across the road. So instead I went into PC World – the biggest mistake of my life.

I bought a new phone – which I needed but something else happened. I met a young man called ICE.

I was having a good time chatting to Michelle who sold me the phone and this young man…

View original post 1,479 more words

Telephone problems

2 May

I have spent my life trying to get through it without being a bore. That was always my greatest fear.

Now I realise that to be boring, annoying, getting on peoples nerves is something that helps other people so I’ll give it a go.

Judge Rinder says one should write everything down so hear we go.


I had been to the UCH hospital and I had a need to go to Boots to pick something up but found that the whole of Tottenham Court Road was blocked and I couldn’t get across the road. So instead I went into PC World – the biggest mistake of my life.

I bought a new phone – which I needed but something else happened. I met a young man called ICE.

I was having a good time chatting to Michelle who sold me the phone and this young man called ICE asked me – out of the blue I thought – what I was paying monthly for my internet. Who was the supplier?

I gave him the name and they called Time Talk. They had patience – they knew how long it took to get in touch with any supplier, but eventually they discovered that I was paying £48 a month. I had a deal but that finished a year ago and I was unaware of this.

The young man called ICE gave me the name of a company that recommended suppliers that would do me a good deal

When I got home I rang that company and they put me in touch with TalkTalk. They warned me that most suppliers expect to change one’s landline number, Talk Talk would not do that. I replied that I had previously been with Talk Talk so they already knew my number. It was the number I had originally got in 1964 – it was the number known by many people including all the audiences I had had at the Pindar so it was very important to me

I gave TalkTalk a call they gave me a splendid deal and said of course they wouldn’t change my number.

The engineer – called Chris – came to fix my new router. Afterwards he said triumphantly ‘And this is your new telephone number’ and waited for me to be delighted. I said ‘No, my number is 02077225395 and he said ‘You have to change your number when you change your supplier and I said ‘When I left TalkTalk a few years ago IO kept the same number’ He told me that was impossible – I must have forgotten.

I spent the rest of that day – it was a Thursday – on the phone to Talktalk trying to get someone to talk to about the change of number – which I didn’t want. I had proof of having my number many years ago. It used to be Primrose 5395 and when I was at the BBC I was ex directory. I have headed paper from that time with the telephone number 722 5395.

But – there is a big problem with Talktalk and I remembered why I left. The calls – once one had got through to a speaking person (another problem – explain later) it turns out to be a young woman who gabbles in a strange accent from a script she has learned. She is incapable of understanding anything I was saying. and I can’t decipher what she is saying. Eventually I give a sigh of relief when she said she didn’t understand and would have to speak to somebody else.. She would put me on hold for three minutes. That is when I found out to my cost that three minutes could last up to half an hour. Eventually I gave up and tried later.

The difficulty getting in touch with any speaking person is the mechanical voice. He asks first of all a question. ‘Are you calling about your broadband press one – for pricing press two etc . When you have pressed one, he comes back saying ‘if you are a new customer press one – or two – or three – usually about five options. When you have pressed one of them, there is yet another question – and so on – may I have your post code, then The first line of your address, so on – ‘date of birth’ – ‘are you the main line holder’ and so on until you have given your life story and they ask for your TalkTalk telephone number which of course I replied 0207722 5395. They say they have no record of this number and eventually say they will put me in touch with an operator. This is when I get another South African/Indian maiden who has the same script and lack of knowledge of the one before. Again I say I need to get back my original number I have had since 1964. Again they say hold the line for three minutes. I hang up and try again. Exactly the same rigmarole, yet another South African/Indian young woman who told me to hold on for three minutes. (The music they put on is horrible and very loud)

I rang a friend who said ‘These people are not good’ and suggested I try PlusNet who are based in Hull. I rang them – there was a mechanical voice again but with only two options. Did I want to join them or was it about pricing – number one or number two. I pressed one . They answered immediately in English and said if I joined them they would try to get my number back.

I got a call from Talktalk saying I had been in touch with another supplier and they had been making enquiries about me. I said that was true, and they had said they couldn’t guarantee the number problem. The Talktalk man told me my number had been discontinued when IK left Talktalk the last time several years ago. I told him IK had been using the number with Time Talk and again he told me I was lying and it was impossible that I should have kept the number as the number did not exist. Friends told me they had tried it and it was on voice mail. People were desperately trying to get hold of me and the voice mail made them think they were leaving me messages which of course I didn’t get.

I called PlusNet

I rang my number. It was on voice mail and the name that popped up on my screen was TalkTalk.

Eventually I got a male person who kept saying ‘I understand’ over and over again when he obviously didn’t. He said how he felt for me, because when he was in South Africa he found it impossible to understand what English people were saying. He said ‘Hold the line and I’ll put you through to the supervisor.’ I said ‘How long would I have to hold?’ He of course said ‘Three minutes.’ I said I don’t have time to wait that long. Please call me back.’

Unexpectedly I get a call back – from a lady with a different accent. She really couldn’t understand what I was talking about. She seemed to think I wanted to change my mobile number. She repeated it over and over again, obviously paying no attention at all to what I was saying. ‘No I don’t want to lose my LANDLINE NUMBER -WHICH I HAVE HAD SINCE 1964. ‘ She didn’t even bother to tell me that that was impossible which is what everyone else said. We parted on not too friendly terms. I had a visit from a very important person during this call – he left.

Then I had a call from a salesman – oddly enough they were quite good at talking. He wanted to know if I had definitely cut myself off from TimeTalk. I said I would call them to check. Oddly enough I got another list of questions from the mechanical voice at Time Talk. I used to have a number for the tech department that I could get straight through to. Now I am told that number does not exist.

I spoke to the salesman at Time Talk and said I would stay with them if I could keep my number. They said that was impossible as Talktalk would have my number and Time Talk would have to rejoin me and that would take at least two weeks and they couldn’t guarantee anything about the number.

I called Plus net again. Again I got through straight away. I got another man who had actually looked me up on Wikipedia and was sympathetic about the telephone number. He promised he would try his bet to retrieve the number.

I called Talktalk – again the long rigmarole with all the numbers. I asked for the s ales department and told them I had joined up with PlusNet and told them I had joined up with Plusnet. I was told that as a special favour they would waive the hundred pounds or so cancellation fee. I said I had cancelled during the cooling off time so there would not be a cancellation fee. They said I would have to stay with them until Plus net became active – May 13th.

I then said – so as its I not a deal I shall have to pay for everything I do on broadband etc. They did not deny it.

Later I got a letter saying that I owed them over a hundred pounds for cancelling but they would waive the fee because I had cancelled during the cooling off time.

I will have to wait and see what happens.


1 May


Miss Julie /Creditors. ****

by August Strindberg adapted by Howard Brenton.

at Jermy Street Theatre.

Here are two naturalistic plays both written in 1888 so it is interesting to see them on the same day. Creditors in the afternoon and Miss Julie in the evening. Howard Brenton has done new versions of the originals and they are to cut down to the essential dramatic situations. Miss Julie is very well known, set on a Midsummer Eve celebration and shows how a flirtation can turn into madness. Miss Julie is an upper-class young woman who has been trained by her mother both to hate men and to take over all their advantages So when she develops an interest in her father’s valet, Jean, she orders him to dance with her and he has to dump his loving fiance, Kristin, and obey her. Jean is intelligent, well travelled, well read and very polite. He wants to be upwardly mobile, he hates the ringing of the bell by his master, reminding him that he is a servant. He longs to run away and start a business and he believes Miss Julie will help him achieve his ambitions by providing finance. Charlotte Hamblin does a good job as Julie – starting as the dominant mistress and we see clearly how her sexiness can betray her. Equally fascinating is the ambitious Jean (James Sheldon)who is never less than elegant even when the drama between them escalates into violence. Dorothea Mayer-Bennett plays the betrayed Kristin. She spends the first five minutes without any dialogue as she cooks and later keeps all her composure throughout the drama that surrounds her. Ms Myer-Bennett also plays Tekla, the wife in Creditors. but here the emphasis is n the two men involved. James Sheldon as the over-loving Adolf who is missing his wife when she goes away on business and is easy prey to the Evil Gustaf (David Sturzaker) who sets about undermining his confidence; making him think his wife does not love him and that she has a string of young lovers.

. Louie Whitemore designed a couple of stunning settings for the play, the practical kitchen black and white with an actual hob and sink. and the Creditors set, a living room in a seaside resort – cream, cool and relaxing which works to the advantage of Gustaf’s destructive “assistance” Tom Littler is a first-rate director and his work with Brenton is superb.