John Clark Pro Se Blog Actor, Producer & Writer

Category Archives: A SPACE FOR NOSTALGIA


Radio Times now searchable

Posted in A SPACE FOR NOSTALGIA, Links to Media, Links to Showbiz sites

The BBC’s Radio Times, published from 1929 to the present, has been digitized as a database, and is now searchable up to 2009. Just remember to put titles and names in quotes, or it will come up with each word individually. You can copy-edit it, just like Wikipedia, or add information if you know it. The curators will first check out your edits before accepting them. (Genome=Genetic makeup of an organism. Thus says the BBC.)


How Will Hay began me

Posted in A SPACE FOR NOSTALGIA, My resume

A friend in England named Steve, a begetter of all things Will Hay, sent me this movie clip which is quite fun to watch.

The Telegraph ran an obit today on classical pianist and composer Peter Katin. They ran a Pathe clip about “Three boys making a name for themselves” back in 1945. The third was jazz musician Victor Feldman, who died a few years ago. As I commented at the end of the piece “Two down and one to go – yikes, that’s me!”

Sir David Attenborough, Guilty!

Posted in A SPACE FOR NOSTALGIA, COMMENTARY-Passing parade, Uncategorized

Members of the entertainment community have always marveled at the idiocy which brought about the downright willful destruction of much of the BBC’s television and radio history. It never made any sense that those old shows simply disappeared. Now we know part of the answer.

The Daily Telegraph last week reported on statements from Sir David Attenborough, who talked with Alan Yentob in front of an audience of the time he was the policy maker during the late sixties. This was the headline:

David Attenborough: my regrets over wiping Alan Bennett ‘dross’

Sir David Attenborough, the broadcaster, admits one “scar on his conscience” from his early days in broadcasting: sanctioning the wiping of priceless Alan Bennett sketches. Sir David, who was controller of the fledgling BBC Two from 1965 to 1969, said he could not “dodge” the blame for the mistake, after making an executive decision to cut costs.

“One of the scars on my conscience is that the Alan Bennett programmes, which were wonderful, are not recorded and were lost,” Sir David said. “I mustn’t dodge it. I can remember perfectly well someone coming to me and saying ‘look, we have to build another set of vaults and it’s going to cost x million pounds.
“‘We will need that if we’re going to keep everything, so can’t you please find a way to keep the jewels and get rid of the dross? It means how many episodes of What’s My Line?’ or whatever quiz do you want?’
“And of course when you’re faced with that you have to decide whether to put the money into new products, new people, or cherishing the old. I took the decision that I did take, which was to say to every department, if you’ve got a long-running series select one out of six – or whatever it was – and save that. But be strong and get rid of the rest.
“That doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t have kept some of the Alan Bennetts; we should. Why we didn’t have some of them, I don’t know.”
[Former Director General] Alan Yentob added other programmes had suffered the same fate in different periods of BBC history.
“I think we can say the same about editions of Monty Python and others which have somehow disappeared,” he told an audience.

I had to comment at the end of the article with my 2 cent’s worth. I said

Vaults do not cost millions of pounds. Choosing between products, people, and intellectual property, the property of others, does not fly or make sense. This man has no integrity whatsoever. He should be sued to the limit, class actions, for these crass decisions which he admits. No mercy! And, this cost the corporation (meaning us and the government) many millions from future sales.
I am reminded that I appeared with Eric Porter in a BBC Play of the Month. It was “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1968. It disappeared. We were told that a technician had pressed a delete button by mistake. Now we know the truth. Thanks, Mr Attenborough.

British Pathé Opens Its Vaults


I appeared in a few of Pathé Pictorial’s onscreen newsreels, seen before the feature in the old days (with perhaps a cartoon), or to pass the time while waiting for a train. Now we can watch many of these old clips again.

This is great news! With funds from the National Lottery, they have digitized their inventory.

I’m writing a play which includes my childhood actor days back in the forties (I’ve been accused of being Britain’s Justin Bieber back then!)   There’s going to be a reunion in London, and I hope to be at the Cinema Museum to join them. You can skip what follows if you wish, otherwise you might find it of interest:

Three of us young kids were chosen for this newsreel, because we were “making a name for ourselves“.

It’s fun to see, and then go fast forward to our adulthood, and see how it panned out. First there was me, no secrets here. Then there was Peter Katin, a still living and busy concert pianist.

Finally, Victor Feldman, and if you are a jazz enthusiast, you know who he is, or was. Sadly, he died a few years ago. I ran into him at a club in North Hollywood one evening, asked him if he remembered when we last met, and he said he couldn’t remember anything that far back! He was considered the young Gene Krupa on the British scene, but then went on to other instruments. An all around musician.

Here are some others:

This is the only remnant of the radio Will Hay Programme that I can find. That the BBC didn’t preserve those shows for the record is shocking.
My transition from Will Hay to Just William.
Here were the actors of yesterday, now living at Denville Hall, London, followed by the promising stars of tomorrow.

My play will be attempt at an autobiography as told from the stage, hopefully entertaining. I plan to use some frames as stage projections.

And if you got this far, thanks for indulging me.

Just William Society Magazine interview


John, I see you were born in London in 1932 and attended Watford Grammar School. Given that you started working for the BBC in 1944 you must have planned to be an actor from a very early age. Was that always your ambition? Did you have early training?

Three nos. I had no plan to be an actor, no ambition, and no training. When I went to Kings Langley’s Rudolph Steiner school (locally known as the “do as you like” school), at the age of ten, I was cast in the annual school play, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed outdoors in the garden. But that was it, and I hated doing it, it seemed kind of gay; I was not turned on to acting, and had no thoughts along those lines. 

Your first show on BBC radio was The Will Hay Programme in 1944 where you acted as D’Arcy Minor, the swot of St. Michael’s. How did that come about? And was it fun working with Will Hay?

My family lived in Chipperfield, Herts, in those days, and I was coming home on the bus after school one day in August, when a man came up to me who I recognized, for he lived down the road. His name was Alick Hayes, and he asked me if I was a good reader. I told him yes, and he said could I come over later, meet his wife Zillah, have a cup of tea, and read him something out of the Evening Standard, so after supper I did. He tested me for fluency, to see if I could read without stumbling, and he was pleased that I could. He then explained that he was a BBC producer, and was about to start a new BBC radio comedy series, but the young actor he was going to use had just got sick, and he had an emergency, and maybe I could help out.

The show was The Will Hay Programme (The Diary of a Schoolmaster) and the part was that of a very clever young swot who said very long multi-syllabic words instead of shorter ones whenever he answered the schoolmaster’s questions. Mr Hayes wanted me to play it, just the first show, and he said it would save him from having to find another actor quickly from an acting academy. It was going out live in front of an audience from the Paris Cinema, a basement BBC studio off Piccadilly Circus, in just three days’ time.

I raced home, told my parents, said please let me do it, it sounds like fun, and it pays money. So my mother took me up to London next day, and that is where I met Will Hay and the rest of the cast – one schoolmaster and three students, so-called. Smart was the cheeky one (played by the very professional actor Charles Hawtrey), Beckett the dumb one (Billy Nicholls, on his day off from the RAF), and D’Arcy Minor, the studious swot (me). The joke was that I was the only real schoolboy (eleven years old). Will Hay was repeating the same schoolmaster act he had done in several of his films (Good Morning Boys, 1937, etc). It will be remembered that the comedy came out of the fact that he was a hopeless teacher, and the students took over.

That first day I remember well. Continue Reading


Posted in A SPACE FOR NOSTALGIA, A SPACE FOR REFLECTION, COMMENTARY-Passing parade, Links to medical sites, My FaceBook page

JULY 12, 2013

This is all about the colon. First there were lawyers. Then there were doctors…

Keeping fingers crossed. This ACTORVIST patient ain’t finished yet! Wife nearby.


JULY 16, 2013

Well, I’m still alive. Still in what’s called “recovery”.

Interesting people, doctors. They are pretty well all specialists today. They have their own turfs. And I find they don’t talk to each other a whole lot. I have to think about heart, lung, blood, liver, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and now my gut. I get back a mixture of good news and bad news. I think the key is having a good, open primary physician to be able to talk to. But they’re very very busy these days, there’s not enough of them, and they seem to be very hard to get ahold of. I’ll know more next week, I guess.

Nevertheless, I go home tomorrow.


The Proof for Wikipedia

Posted in A SPACE FOR NOSTALGIA, Wikipedia

Monica Thapar of the BBC’s archives, has responded with the request from the Just Willliam Society to come up with a full cast list of the Nov. 6, 1946  radio broadcast, the details of which were questioned and contested by the editing folks at Wikipedia. I cannot upload it to Wikipedia, so I need to do it here. We will see if they will apologize to me. Meanwhile, I forgive the BBC for destroying the old wax records of post wartime period favorite radio shows, and making amends by going the extra mile for us researchers.

I’m glad to be closing the books on this subject. Now on to more important things.


Wikipedia, the Lying Encyclopedia

Posted in A SPACE FOR NOSTALGIA, Wikipedia

The storm in a teacup I inadvertently started has now become a veritable Mt. Etna. I do this for Notable People everywhere, of which I am deemed to be one.

As I’ve said, notable people are discouraged from editing pieces written about them by others. References from published sources are provided by WP contributors, and I have maintained that the choice of these references are biased, and contravene their own set of rules all the time. These editors cross the boundaries of “Maintaining a neutral point of view”, of “Never claiming ownership of an article”, and “Avoiding conflict of interest.” It is clear that the subject of an article on a living person, or a dead person, lies in the area of “Biographies.” Such was the featured article on my old friend, John Le Mesurier, best known from the “Dad’s Army” British TV series, repeated I believe on BBC in America.

I was accused of manipulation, making threats, advertising, lying, and making vain claims. They tried to expose me by ridicule and insult, and have blocked me from editing, which I’ve been happily doing for three or four years, creating harmless other type articles. I can still, however, express myself on my talk page, where I am linking to this. This is what SchroCat (a pseudonym hiding an identity) said to prove I was guilty of all of the above sins. He published as follows:

Having spent a chunk of my own personal time traipsing up to the British Library because of the ridiculous questioning of whether a respected and proven biographer is reliable or not, I am very happy to say that I found in back issues of the Radio Times the information that at 20:15 on 26 November 1946 Episode 10 of Just William was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme, ending at 20:35. It was subsequently repeated on the same wavelength at 16:30 on 1 December 1946.

Clark, There is no hearsay, so stop trolling. I have provided sufficient information. If you want to see it in black and white, buy the McCann book. Scans are not possible for microfiche records at the BL: I asked and was told that I would have to get it transferred to the rare book section for electronic processing. You want to do that, then you can foot the bill. If you are too parsimonious to do that, then look elsewhere. I have contacted the author to ask him: he has provided an answer. If you also want to hear it directly from him, I suggest you contact him directly. If not, then you will have to [[WP:AGF]]. If that is beyond you, then go to the reliable sources people and ask them to make a decision on the matter. I care not what you want to believe or not believe, your pointless trolling on this matter has gone far and beyond any normal or natural behaviour. – [[User:SchroCat|SchroCat]] ([[User talk:SchroCat|talk]]) 09:03, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

I then contacted Graham McCann, the author of the book from which the information came and asked about the connection between Just William and Le Mez. He confirmed to me that “the information came from the BBC’s written archive records and Le Mesurier’s personal files.”

Consequently I am more than happy that what we have in this article is an accurate reflection of what is available in the reliable sources, and that those sources have provided archival information from unimpeachable sources.

Fortunately, I am a member of the Just William Society, deemed by these fellows not to be a reliable source, and one of their volunteer historians by the name of Robert Kirkpatrick went down to the library to find out if Wikipedia was telling the truth, or allowing a lie. I cannot download this to Wikipedia, because I am blocked. So I am downloading it here, on my website, to prove that lies about people are permitted at Wikipedia. He had this to say to me, before supplying proof that lies are to be found on Wikipedia. He said

 Herewith a copy of the page from the Radio Times showing episode 10 of Just William broadcast on 26 November 1946.  As you can see, there is no mention of John le Mesurier.

The episode was repeated on Sunday 1 December 1946  –  cast list wasn’t given.

So, we all agree that this Wikipedia chap is correct, in that there WAS an episode on JW on that date (which was never in doubt anyway), but if he’s saying that John le Mesurier was in it and that Radio Times proves it then he’s 100% in the wrong.

As I said, my own suspicion is that le Mesurier’s biographer got it wrong (after all, we all make mistakes  –  and in any case perhaps it was le Mesurier himself who got mixed up) and that the reference should have been to the live broadcast of the stage play from the Granville Theatre on 23 December 1946.

PS  I should add, for accuracy’s sake, that I wasn’t allowed to photocopy the page from the Radio Times at the British Library, as it was too large (i.e larger than A4).  I could have paid for it to be scanned and copied, but that would have taken 24 hours. So I went to Westminster Reference Library and was able to take the photocopy from their bound volumes of the Radio Times.

I can, of course, assure you that both copies were identical! I hope this helps and you can get your life back!!!!!”


Here’s the visible scan of the Radio Times entry:


I hope Jimbo Wales acts on this information, and takes steps to free up a notable’s ability to edit freely, alongside other contributors. And there are at least 3 of these lying pseudos who should be banned forever from contributing to what is otherwise a fine encyclopedia.






The Queen’s Speech 2012


It was 1945, Princess Elizabeth was 18 and I was a small impressionable boy of 12 when I met her. It was just before the end of the war. I’ve been dazzled ever since, so be kind.

The speech is an annual affair, and this year the message was particularly worth watching and reading because Britain had a mind-spinning time of it in 2012. Here she made a speech to start off her Diamond Jubilee year.

June 3. Marked the beginning of her Jubilee celebrations (that’s 60 years on the throne), catching up fast with Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years and 7 months. We followed the procession of ships on the Thames on a rather watery day.

July 23. She sent a message of congratulations to cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who had just won the Tour de France, the first Brit to ever do so, and was later to win the most golds at the Olympics.

July 27. She opened the Summer Olympics, hosted in London, and

August 29. Opened the London Paralympics.

September 10. Andy Murray became the first Brit (ok, Scot), to win a Grand Slam event (US Open) since Fred Perry in the thirties. He’d also won gold at the Olympics, first to do so in 100 years.

Now it’s the end of the year, and with 2013 upon us, it remains to be seen what’s in store for an encore.

Makes me proud to remember the land of my birth, although I gave up citizenship long ago for silly reasons (unbelievably, I was protesting my country’s intervention in Biafra!)

God Save the Queen still rings in my ears. Happy and Glorious. Can’t help it.


HMS Bounty Needed Another Mutiny!


Such irony!!!
The crew should have refused Captain’s orders to go out with a hurricane over the horizon. I’m sure Cap’n Bligh would not have, he was too good of a sailor.

The tall ship had left Connecticut last week en route for St. Petersburg, Fla., heading South and keeping near to the coast. It’s reported that the owners were seeking a buyer somewhere down in the Gulf.

Continue Reading

Tooting My Horn as JUST WILLIAM


Hey folks, this is quite exciting! Terry Taylor, the editor of a magazine which is put out twice a year for the Just William Society in the U.K., had been in touch with me a few weeks ago to ask if we could put together the story of my life. Daunting!

Not quite the whole story but a lot of it, starting with my being “discovered” as they used to say, on a bus in Chipperfield, and my beginnings as a child actor in wartime London with comedian Will Hay on BBC radio.

We performed the act for the King, Queen, and Princesses 4 days before the war ended. What followed was my being cast as “Just William”, and the downward spiral of my life as an actor to the present day. That’s 69 years! Here’s what he had to say:

Continue Reading

Life in these United States (and outside too)


Showbusiness meets not just the law, but government too. And what a great story this is!

Feminism, Motherhood, Politics, Security, Family Values, Children, Patriotism, White House, Whore House, Beer, all coming together, if you know what I mean.  Ah…America!  Brings it all back for me, sixty-two years ago it is. Now I remember why I emigrated from gloomy old England. THIS is why I came to live here!






To Fly Again…


Denied to me now, I’m afraid;  Judge Gold caused me to lose my Piper Cherokee 6.

However, that didn’t stop me from encouraging my son Ben to learn to fly it, and later – to keep him out of trouble and stop being a waiter – to consider a career in aviation.  That he did, became an instructor, married one of his students, and now flies international for Delta with four stripes.  We don’t connect any more, but I hope he’s taking care of his crews and minding his Ps and Qs.

Continue Reading

When you’re old enough, friends pop up in the oddest way


Celebrities are full of stories about their exploits, their famous friends, who they mix with, who they work with.  It’s often to do with the size of their billing, or their latest agent’s gaffes.   Then there are the less famous.  People like me, with stories more down to earth, but, I think, more interesting, unless you’re a fan follower.

This is by way of saying that I went to a play the other evening, at the East-West Theatre downtown, a play called “Wrinkles”.  Couldn’t believe what I saw, for there, playing the lead, was my old fellow worker at, of all places, First National City Bank, Park Avenue, N.Y.  5th floor. The year was 1963, the place the computer room, midnight to 8 am shift, Burroughs check sorting machine.  His name – Sab Shimono.  I remember him as a delicate, shy, self-effacing youngster,  wrestling with the machine just as I was.

I met him after the curtain came down, and we swapped a few stories in the car-park.  He has developed into a splendid actor, and reached an age of maturity reflected in his command of the stage.

I plan to see more of Sab.



Christmas present from a shipmate


My best Christmas present was from my fellow cadet shipmate of 57 years ago, I’ll just call him Nick, who contacted me from Vancouver as a result of reading the article I wrote in Wikipedia about the Silver Line.  Together, there were 4 of us, we tramped around the world very slowly, (to and from Hull, England)  on a creaky old Liberty type tub of a ship called the Silvertarn, and there she is.. That was during the Korean War, and we wove around the US/Chinese combatants with the Red Duster prominently displayed.  What he sent me for Christmas was a scan of the ship’s logbook. There I’m listed as I.J. Clark, and it seems I was well behaved (pity). Here’s a pdf of the logbook.

Silvertarn log

Those were the days when a youngster, just emerging from the Second World War in England, could venture out to see the world, much of it in disarray. The sense of wonder was overwhelming; the realization that there were other cultures and ethnically based political systems (we were the first ship to put into the new Communist Republic of China) to think about, and that the world’s makeup of humanity is and always will be essentially tribal.  Which has led me to view each country’s approach with a healthy cynicism.  There is no one answer, except live and let live (with appropriate controls of course, now that we have those unhealthy WMDs.)

Jack Kramer remembered


My tennis days are over, thanks to Judge Arnold Gold. I often think of Jack Kramer, and miss his restrained BBC television commentary, before they banned him. He won Wimbledon in 1947, the first of two years I played there as a junior.

I built Topanga’s only Kramer tennis court, a company run by his sons, with the faux grass surface, and electric lights for nightime playing.

I wonder if my fellow DGA director member, one Michael Katleman who somehow acquired my property at a depressed price immediately after 9/11, is enjoying it? I think so.  Last time I looked over my old neighbor’s fence, he’d installed a basket ball hoop at the practice board end, and having family picnics on the "lawn". Strawberries and cream I hope. Of the net, no sign.

Michael Jackson, R.I.P


Sad news today.  I think he died of heart failure caused by stress. The stress he was put through by countless critics of his life style. He was forced to leave this country by media hounds baying at his heels.  Now these same people, are wringing their hands, hearts breaking with the love they profess to have for him.  I wrote about my thoughts on this during his trial. Read it here.

Back in 1967, I was working as a photographer, and took pictures of the little tyke, singing with his siblings doing their act at the Hollywood Palace. Petula Clark was hosting, and Lynn appeared in some sketch work.


George Melly dies


July 4, 2007

My morbid self finds regular amusement in the obit columns of the London Daily Telegraph. Always enlightening, my favorites are learning of the exploits of newly deceased members of HM forces from the Second World War, and dead members of the theatrical profession.

George Melly I vaguely met from the side-lines during the filming of Smashing Time which he wrote, the first year of my brand new marriage to Lynn, and my return to living in London.

His life-style was hilarious and refreshing, as you can read about HERE.



July 17, 2006
I read today in a health report in the LA Times, that if 70 is in the rear-view mirror, which it is, I shouldn’t feel guilty if I’m skipping the gym, the daily workout on the tennis court, the few laps in the swimming pool, practice drives at my home-built driving range, or the jog in the park.
Well that’s a relief to know. Since Judge Gold took away my dream mortgage-free home nearly five years ago in order to pay his cronies in family court out of the escrow, keep a celebrity happy (Lynn Redgrave, my wife) to help grease his way to becoming a celebrity private judge specializing in celebrity divorces, I have been unable to do any of those things any more.
Uninvited, unwelcome and unbearable pictures spring to my mind. My lighted tennis court (built with fake Wimbledon grass by Jack Kramer’s son), my designer solar-heated swimming pool with a diving board, a jacuzzi, a slide and rocky waterfalls, and, yes, my English snooker table, where the exercise was admittedly less robust.
I played at Junior Wimbledon in 1947 and 1948, an admirer of the recently departed Ted Schroeder, who introduced the tee-shirt to center court, and Jaroslav Drobny, the left-handed googly server, whom I tried to emulate.
My billiards background was revived with the gift of my antique Burroughs and Watts 12 foot table from my wife. Back in my Just William touring days, when I’d practice alone at local YMCA’s, I got my birthday wish to speak to Joe Davis on the radio when I was interviewed by Ronnie Waldman, as the guest du jour on the BBC’s Monday Night at Eight, and to pose playing billiards with Sir Harry Lauder for the newspapers in Glasgow. I also played in the boys billiards championships at Leicester Square Hall, and my golfing life included rounds at Hoylake, only ten miles from Liverpool, while we performed at the Empire.
Now the Health section tells me I am doing just fine walking down the outside steps to my office, doing the dishes by hand, sweeping the leaves, washing the car, collecting the mail. Thus “Puttering my way to a Ripe Old Age”.
Nice to know. Thanks.
Meanwhile, I’m sure that the much younger Michael Katleman, fellow DGA member, who took my home away from me, is enjoying himself. He paid just one and a quarter million dollars, which is what the Family Court sold my home for just after 9/11, and kept some of my possessions left behind. He should be in great health, and will maintain the “smile of victory” on his face for a long long time.

Rose Tree Cottage


I wonder how many English immigrants to these shores have bought English and Irish products from Pasadena’s Rose Tree Cottage, either by mail-order, or with a visit accompanied by a spot of afternoon tea, served with traditional elegance by my friend Edmund Fry, looking for all the world like a properly dressed movie butler (think John Gielgud in Arthur).
He and his wife became a landmark on this West Coast, always waving the Union Jack, and even helping to organize the annual Birthday festivities of Queen Elizabeth in June, held this year at the luxurious Ritz Carlton Hotel. My wife and I attended View image, welcomed aboard by a bagpipe playing Scotsman in full military regalia. And Edmund part of the floor show, showing off his talents at the fox-trot and other favorite ballroom dancing. So imagine my horror when I just learned that their lease had been terminated, due to the land being sold to a developer, who’s going to raze the cottage, their home and shop for the last twenty-five years.
The Fry’s deserve better than this, and I hope others will join me in a letter-writing campaign to Pasadena’s mayor. They are under no legal obligation of course, but one would like to think that they will find a way to get them other premises in the neighborhood, a stone’s throw from the Huntington Library. We will all benefit from this if they do.
Here’s what I just mailed off:
Mayor Bill Bogaard,
City of Pasadena,
117 E. Colorado Blvd.,
CA 91105
Re: Closing Down Rose Tree Cottage
Dear Mayor Bogaard,
I am an expatriated Brit these forty-five years, and an American citizen, and I have always thought of Rose Tree Cottage as a small but cherished haven, not just for us Englishmen, but also for the many well traveled Americans who are Anglophiles.
On my last trip there for a cup of tea with my old friends Edmund and Mary Fry, I was horrified to learn that the place will soon be closed down!
The circumstances were explained to me, sadly I may say, and I suppose one can understand that the city cannot interfere with what must be a private transaction.
However, please may I join in with multitudes of other voices to urge the City of Pasadena to make other arrangements for these good people. I understand that their dearest wish is to remain within your boundaries, and they will need help to make this happen.
Setting up shop again at their age must be a huge undertaking, and they need all the encouragement they can get.
Otherwise, and I could not blame them if they do, they may well move away, which would be Pasadena’s huge loss.
So please muster support among your city officials, and see what you can do. You will earn the gratitude of many Pasadena citizens (and voters!) Yes?
Yours most sincerely,
[signed] John Clark
This site will give the reader a better understanding of Rose Tree Cottage
Afterthought: Back in February, I posted a comment about a British supermarket chain’s plan to enter the California market in a new and surprising way. I’m talking about TESCO. Could they come to the rescue? I also posted a comment about our general frustration in efforts to keep alive our memories of homeland comforts, unlike most other ethnic groups.

For British Expatriates


Hello fellow ex Brits, want to see a really excellent website of a splendid little ancient farmland village where I was brought up, just Northwest of London and not far from Hemel Hempstead, the scene of the recent explosions?
Here my first impressions of life were formed, during the War (which one, you say, the Great War, WWII, or something more recent?). World War Two, of course. I’m sure World War Three, if it happens, will not be a path towards World War Four.
Anyway, it was here that I also got my first impressions of the “Yanks” from the nearby Bovingdon Airbase. Yes, those “over-sexed and over-here” guys. All of whom I greatly admired, and decided that over-there was where I wanted to be, one day! And here I still am, 62 years later.
Chipperfield Village website [Stored in “a space for nostalgia”]
This site will give you a history, which goes back to the 13th century, and a geography of the area. I’m not so sure it is still sleepy, though.
Enjoy it, and let your nostalgia run wild.

VE Day, Memories of Long Ago


It was the night of May 4, 1945. I was twelve years old.
I’d recently ended a run at London’s Victoria Palace as one of Will Hay’s 3 schoolboy stooges in his famous classroom sketch (for those Americans who never heard of Will Hay, he was, perhaps, England’s equivalent of Jack Benny, only funnier, to the English anyway). The other pupils were grown up actors pretending to be kids.
V1 and V2 enemy missiles were about to be replaced by the allies’ version, the VE missile of peace.
London, all of England, was alive with the excitement of impending victory, and celebrations were being prepared all over the land.
The Royal Life Guards decided to hold a party at their barracks at Windsor. It would start at 8pm with entertainment provided by the top comedians and singers of the day, names still affectionately remembered, Arthur Askey, Tommy Trinder, Old Mother Riley, Stainless Stephen, Vera Lynn, Max Miller, Tommy Handley, and a host of others. Oh, and then there was me.
8 o’clock came and went, while we waited nervously in the wings of their small stage for the arrival of the honored guests, who happened to be King George, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary, and the children, Elizabeth 19, and Margaret 13.
It was the longest wait I’d ever experienced, and finally around midnight they came. The little curtain was pulled aside, and a head-spinningly funny and joyful show it was.
After it was over, with my mother ready to take me home, I heard there would be a private reception for the cast. I was deemed to be too young to attend, but guess what, somebody thought I might amuse the Royals, being so young, and they let me in. I joined the line filing past generals and other officers and leading up to the head of the group. There, for some reason, the king and queen decided to spend time with me, asking all sorts of questions, capped with what was it like to be up so late! I must have stood out like a sore thumb.
My mother was sitting out in the corridor and didn’t get to see this shining moment of my life. Only child actors with a stage mother will understand this. I made sure she stayed out there too, I didn’t want to spoil the moment, if it came. And I must admit I’ve always felt ashamed when recalling that fact!
Head still spinning, I left, with a sense that the peak of my career as an actor had come and gone in a single evening.
4 days later, the lights came on again all over England and Europe.



It was early 1960. First England, then Canada, and now an attempt to make a new beginning in America.
A member of American Actors Equity, I planned to attend my first Annual General Meeting which was being held in the Grand Ballroom of the Astor Hotel on West 45th Street.
A free-for-all shouting match it became, the hot issue at that time being whether actors should perform before segregated audiences in the South.
But meanwhile, in the union constitution, was a provision that permitted actors to refuse to perform alongside their fellow actors if such a person appeared to be tainted by association with a “Communist Front” organization, which was not clearly defined.
Time, this green fellow felt, to improvise a maiden speech followed by a Motion, along the lines of “First Things First”.
It seemed to him that there was something wrong about a noisy bunch of actors who seemed to care more about who they would not perform before, while not seeming to care about the rights of those fellow actors next to whom they would not perform, if they felt like it. No unity here.
Speech made, hushed silence, then a scream of wrath from the assembled membership. Motion denied. Who, they wanted to know, was this guy?
Meeting over, and somewhat bloodied but unbowed, this guy made his way out, to be confronted by a little old character actor with a pronounced British accent.
“My boy”, he asked politely, “are you a recent arrival?”
On being assured that this was so, he went on to say in measured tones “Take it from this old-timer, many years from the old country, and never forget what I am about to tell you.”
He looked right, then left, before continuing in a lowered voice.
“They look like us, they talk like us, but never forget, they are all foreigners.”
And with this bit of advice, he turned and went on his way.
And now, forty-five years on and still here, this guy has many occasions on which to remember his words.