Chapter 9

A Letter From Home

1st July 1984

Darling M,

How is Woolacombe?

Thank you for your postcard of that beautiful beach. As you know, Dad and I had a week on the seafront when I was carrying you. Is Gus Honeybun still on television? He’s a little rabbit (puppet) who does ‘bunny hops’ for children’s birthdays. We talked about returning for one of our future children’s birthdays. But of course you all turned out to be autumn/winter babies.

My heart was in my mouth when I read about your tyre blow out on Porlock Hill. It is a horrendous road. All those hairpin bends! You should avoid it coming back. There’s a toll road instead that goes from Lynmouth to Porlock. I do worry about you in that Yugo. It resembles Fred Flintstone’s car. I hope that cyclist will be OK. Well if he recognised you from the advert, I suppose he can’t have been too concussed. How kind of the farmer’s wife to call the AA for you.

Have you any more auditions in the offing? It’s lovely of Melvyn to invite you along on his summer season, but you mustn’t neglect your own aspirations. That sitcom – Lock & Quay, is it? That sounds right up your street (or canal in this case), as you say. We’ll watch it, of course, even if it is on Channel 4. When is the audition again? Will you have to travel back?

You say your only alternative at the moment is an ST commercial? It’s a job, as you quite rightly say, though do you really want that blazoned across your CV? And why do they always have such silly plots? Dreamed up by men, no doubt. Ice skating in white trousers is hardly what you feel like doing at that time of the month. Mind you, at least things have changed since I was a girl and we had to wear those mattresses with belts.

People keep asking me what your next role is going to be. We feel so proud every time your advert shows, even if your character is a little uncouth, darling. I’m certainly glad you don’t resemble her in real life.

I saw that girl you were telling me about dancing on Kenny Everett. And I heard Lydia Goode – wasn’t she another of your classmates? – on WM in my car going to Kwik Save. Apparently she’s landed the job as the new singer on The Mo & Bo Show. That children’s programme with the panda and rabbit. Our Sophie and her mates have all got satchels with the characters on. I told her they’re for four-year-olds, but she reckons they’ve got a cult following. Says she’s being ‘ironic.’ Lydia Goode is ‘cool,’ according to Soph. When her friends leave the house, they keep repeating Rod Rudge’s catchphrase ‘Cheerio now’ over and over at each other until they can’t speak for laughing hysterically. I feel I’m missing the joke of it all. I preferred Sooty. Or Gus Honeybun.

I saw that Tim (Bellows? Burrows?) on Blankety Blank the other night. He seems to be doing well for a big lad. Couldn’t you get a part in that sitcom he does that’s like On the Buses but with postmen? It’s dismal but it’s popular. Harry Hooper’s looking decrepit these days, and he slurs his lines dreadfully. I remember going to watch his films when I was a kid. Saturday mornings at the local fleapit. Tame stuff, but it tickled me at the time.

Yes, Tesco is behaving himself. He is such an enchanting little chap. Yes, we are keeping him in and not broadcasting his presence, to deter what you call ‘pawtograph’ hunters (very good that). It’s lovely that he’s got these adverts, and as you say the money must be a boon, but you need your own earnings too. Nobody ever lived off their cat!

I appreciate you’re treating Devon as a well-deserved holiday, but is there no scope for you to get a bit of paid work? Sell a few ice creams or empty the bins on the esplanade?

I know what you can be like when you’re bored. We don’t want any more episodes, and you know who makes work for idle hands.

I’ve defrosted some Arctic Roll for your dad and me. Our Spencer didn’t want any. He’s swotting in his room. He says he’d like to do Computer Science at university. Reckons computers are the future! I’m not sure I can see them catching on, but I expect the same was said about telephones back in the days. I’m sure I could barely fathom the on switch.

Sophie’s gone to see that new Bond one at the pictures – Chopper to Mombassa (or, as naughty Dad calls it, ‘Roger Gets Rogered Again’). Glinda Spitfire have done the theme song, haven’t they? Your Gareth is looking ropey these days. His lifestyle of hard drinking and hard women taking its toll, no doubt. I think you had a lucky escape there, my darling.

What else can I tell you? Oh, Andrea Clamp has had another baby. That’s three now. A boy this time – Vyvyan! Isn’t he the punk in that awful comedy programme with Neil(?) and Rick(?) I only know that because I was looking out for your friend Linda in the background a couple of weeks ago. I think I spotted her. What was it she played – Third Student from the Left? Blink and you’d miss it. We’re not too sure about that girl, as you know. Something about her. Sly, your dad says.

Now Tesco has come by me for a cuddle and to watch That’s Life with us. He seems to like Esther Rantzen. If my writing has started to look wobbly, it’s because he’s pushing the pen with his paw! It’s as though he knows it’s you I’m writing to and wants to make his own contribution. He’s fascinated by it, bless him, prodding the end of it the way he does at the tap water.

Write soon, or phone. Take care. Keep warm. Make sure you keep enough coins for the meter – I know it’s June, but those chalets get ever so chilly.

All our love, Mom, Dad, Sophie & Spencer xxxx (& Tesco x)


Chapter 10: