January 25th 2003

Down in West Palm Beach. The weather is sunny and late 60s, but the wind is blowing, and they are all complaining that it's cold for here. Peter arrives tomorrow his girlfriend, with Cameron. But we are refreshed by three day break in St Petersburg where the weather kept fine. We are all now as brown as berries.

Samantha, my daughter, failed in two of her auditions for Drama schools, but has a recall for RADA. She is completely sanguine about the whole process, and has enjoyed auditioning and making new friends. Her father meanwhile is a complete wreck and has been probably more nervous than the daughter.

I had lunch with Victoria Hamilton whilst I was over in the UK. She's coming over to NY in February with A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. So in May we'll both be on 42nd Street. Both drank a number of toast to Sir Alan Bates! Hurrah !! We all worked together on The Master Bulder.


Oh, the joys of traveling the Aquila way. A theatre SWAT team equipped to travel light and quick. Get in swift, perform with dazzling versatility and 100% effort, and out on the road in a flash to the next venue.
Flying from Bermuda to Florida with set and costumes as luggage was a strain on the usual quicksilver Aquila feet. Security and Customs were completely bemused by the 10 actors and technicians staggering along the airport concourse with trunks, boxes and rolled up bits of fake grass. A day long journey was broken off by a stopover in cold Philadelphia en route to Tampa, Florida. The airport was engrossed in the play-off between the football teams of - coincidentally- Tampa and Philly. Our plane for Tampa took off at the beginning of the second half of the game, and the partisanship of our fellow travelers in the air changed from Philly to the eventual winners, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We were more concentrated on arriving at our destination with all our props and costumes in tact.

The next day, our transport for the majority of the tour arrived, a yellow truck and two large comfortable cars. The truck makes the get-ins and outs much easier. There is now no need to cram everything into the confines of a van. Now all our set, costumes and props, as well as all the luggage can easily be placed in the truck with room to spare. Personally I prefer the van for traveling the long distances, as the cars can become quite claustrophobic after 5 hours, even more after 10, as was the journey yesterday. I take the passenger seat in the truck when I'm able. It keeps me sane on the long journeys. However I have just started driving the cars on some of the journeys, and I find that the concentration sends me into a Zen-like state, which actually makes the journey bearable. I read somewhere that Steven Spielberg thinks up his best ideas whilst driving.

From Tampa, we traveled to St Petersburg, on the Florida Gulf coast. Fortunately the venue here had cancelled our show, which meant we had three precious days off. Even better, we were in a four star resort, with rooms that overlooked the Gulf and the beach. The weather has been unseasonably cold for this time of the year, but the upper sixties was still very pleasant, and much better than the bitter snowy treatment the rest of the Eastern seaboard of the States was receiving. Three kick-back days were spent playing tennis, swimming, reading, sunbathing and basically kicking-back. The tour was going to be a hard one come February, especially in the icy grip of a vicious winter when we travel up to Wisconsin and the Canadian border. So time now to make the most of our good fortune.

Written records about life in Florida began with the arrival of the Spanish explorer and adventurer Juan Ponce de León in 1513. Sometime between April 2 and April 8, Ponce de León waded ashore on the northeast coast of Florida, possibly near present-day St. Augustine. He called the area la Florida, in honor of Pascua florida ( feast of the flowers ), Spain’s Eastertime celebration
On another voyage in 1521, Ponce de León landed on the southwestern coast of the peninsula, accompanied by two-hundred people, fifty horses, and numerous beasts of burden. His colonization attempt quickly failed because of attacks by native people. However, Ponce de León’s activities served to identify Florida as a desirable place for explorers, missionaries, and treasure seekers.

In 1539 Hernando de Soto began another expedition in search of gold and silver, which took him on a long trek through Florida and what is now the southeastern United States. For four years, de Soto’s expedition wandered, in hopes of finding the fabled wealth of the Indian people. De Soto and his soldiers camped for five months in the area now known as Tallahassee. De Soto died near the Mississippi River in 1542. Survivors of his expedition eventually reached Mexico.

No great treasure troves awaited the Spanish conquistadores who explored Florida. However, their stories helped inform Europeans about Florida and its relationship to Cuba, Mexico, and Central and South America, from which Spain regularly shipped gold, silver, and other products. Groups of heavily-laden Spanish vessels, called plate fleets, usually sailed up the Gulf Stream through the straits that parallel Florida’s Keys. Aware of this route, pirates preyed on the fleets. Hurricanes created additional hazards, sometimes wrecking the ships on the reefs and shoals along Florida’s eastern coast.

Britain gained control of Florida in 1763 in exchange for Havana, Cuba, which the British had captured from Spain during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). Spain evacuated Florida after the exchange, leaving the province virtually empty. At that time, St. Augustine was still a garrison community with fewer than five hundred houses, and Pensacola also was a small military town.

The British had ambitious plans for Florida. First, it was split into two parts: East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine; and West Florida, with its seat at Pensacola. British surveyors mapped much of the landscape and coastline and tried to develop relations with a group of Indian people who were moving into the area from the North. The British called these people of Creek Indian descent Seminolies, or Seminoles. Britain attempted to attract white settlers by offering land on which to settle and help for those who produced products for export. Given enough time, this plan might have converted Florida into a flourishing colony, but British rule lasted only twenty years. The two Floridas remained loyal to Great Britain throughout the War for American Independence (1776–83). However, Spain—participating indirectly in the war as an ally of France—captured Pensacola from the British in 1781. When the British evacuated Florida, Spanish colonists as well as settlers from the newly formed United States came pouring in. Many of the new residents were lured by favorable Spanish terms for acquiring property, called land grants. Others who came were escaped slaves, trying to reach a place where their U.S. masters had no authority and effectively could not reach them.

West Palm Beach, the next venue, and the easy-going attitude that only a lot of money can buy you. Expensive cars, expensive clothes and expensive shops and restaurants. We were performing at the Kravis Center in the smaller theatre of two. The main space was a beautiful huge and lavish opera house which made one realize once again the amount of money there is in this country. The strains of Lucia di Lammertoor drifted through to our areas from time to time,and often we arrived to hear a singer warming up that incredible powerful voice that an opera singer has to have. I realize how lazy we really are as actors. I feel that we never pay enough attention to voice and its mechanics. Singers do. So should we.

Under a heading called Etiquette, the Kravis Center offered some tips to their patrons to maximize their enjoyment.
Please... stay and show your appreciation. A quick departure is noticed by performers on stage. You've invested considerable time and energy in getting to the theatre. Why ruin the experience for those around in an effort to save a few minutes getting to your car? Leaving early also means you'll miss any encores and curtain calls which provide the most memorable moments in many performances.

I suppose that would depend on the performance
Among Florida’s native population, the name of Osceola has remained familiar after more than a century and a half. Osceola was a Seminole war leader who refused to leave his homeland in Florida. Seminoles, already noted for their fighting abilities, won the respect of U.S. soldiers for their bravery, fortitude, and ability to adapt to changing circumstances during the Second Seminole War (1835–42). Under President Andrew Jackson, the U.S. government spent $20 million and the lives of many U.S. soldiers, Indian people, and U.S. citizens to force the removal of the Seminoles. In the end, the outcome was not as the federal government had planned. Some Indians migrated voluntarily. Some were captured and sent west under military guard; and others escaped into the Everglades, where they made a life for themselves away from contact with whites. Today, reservations occupied by Florida’s Indian people exist at Immokalee, Hollywood, Brighton (near the city of Okeechobee), and along the Big Cypress Swamp. In addition to the Seminole people, Florida also has a separate Miccosukee tribe. Florida became the twenty-seventh state in the United States on March 3, 1845.

Peter, our producer, came for another visit. This time he was here to look after the boss of the New Victory Theatre. I heard that she wields her power like Lillian Bayliss, founder of the Old Vic in London. She was here to look us over in the Dream which goes into her theatre in New York in May. Our venue here wasn't ideal. It was basically a black box which had a temporary stage and limited wing space. It also had no fly system and David had somehow worked miracles with the local crew and had basically built one. The show began well enough, but we had a couple of near disasters, when first, Gabby as Titania, and then Ryan as Demetrius, both tripped and fell as they slipped over the edge of the platform which had nothing upstage to protect us from the five feet drop behind the blacks at the back. Peter came back at the interval and said we should have checked the stage out before we started and then gave us a pep talk, like a general to his troops, to send us out into battle for the second half.
Later, in the hotel bar, I see him in deep conversation with the NYV lady. Eventually he comes over and sits down next to me.
Well? How was she? I asked.
The answer was forthright and direct... and cut to....

I went with Ryan and Guy to see The Hours, starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman. The audience were very noisy, unfocused, and tutted very loudly at every girl-on-girl kiss. The acting is great, but I had a very typical male reaction its theme. Okay, you're unhappy, but what is it you want? I thought the message was clear in the first five minutes. USA Today had an article on why men don't get this film, and women love it. Apparently it's because we're… um… different

Superbowl XXXVII timed itself nicely, starting a couple of hours after a matinee. We all drove down to the West Palm Beach waterfront to a recommended restaurant on Clematis Street. It had a large number of TV screens scattered around, which enabled us to watch the game whilst eating the local fresh seafood. The Superbowl is the world championship of American Football. Of course it suffers a little as a worldwide event because unfortunately their are no teams outside the States that are eligible or good enough to compete for the title of 'world champion'. This year the game took place between The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the LA Raiders. The final score 48-21 to the Buccaneers was something of a shock as the Florida team had never won a Superbowl and were huge underdogs. It also had the atmosphere of a Greek drama around its edges, as the Tampa coach, Jon Gruden, the youngest coach in the NFL, had been traded to Tampa by the LA Raiders the previous season. Gruden of course had trained and built a lot of the team who now were his rivals, and he brilliantly took apart his aging former charges with plays of defensive speed and strength. Youth and age... an eternal dramatic theme.

Conversation with an actor.
Richard: Are you going out tonight?
Guy: Yes mate, lots of women will be there. Why don't you come?
Richard: Too tired and too talented.
Guy: Mate, if you don't buy a ticket, you 'ain't going to win the Lottery.
Richard: The trouble is… I think I am the bloody Lottery

Since World War II, Florida’s economy also has become more diverse. Tourism, cattle, citrus, and phosphate have been joined by a host of new industries that have greatly expanded the numbers of jobs available to residents. Electronics, plastics, construction, real estate, and international banking are among the state’s more recently-developed industries. U.S. space program—with its historic launches from Cape Canaveral, lunar landings, and the development of the space shuttle program—has brought much media attention to the state. The citrus industry continues to prosper, despite occasional winter freezes, and tourism also remains important, bolstered by large capital investments. Florida attractions, such as the large theme parks in the Orlando area, bring millions of visitors to the state from across the U.S. and around the world

I saw my first armadillos by the roadside. The sun was glinting off their shiny scales. I was a little surprised as in my ignorance I thought they were native to Australia.

The size of an armadillo is about 6 inches to 4 and 1/2 feet. The armadillo is native to Central and South America. It has a bony covering to protect it from enemies and thorns from the cacti. When an armadillo is in danger, it can roll up into a tight ball and all that shows are its plates.

The armadillo's belly is the only soft spot on the exterior of the animal. It can weigh as much as 130 lbs. The armadillo's tongue is small and shaped like a worm. It has little sticky bumps all over it for catching bugs.

When the armadillo is pregnant, it can have 2-12 babies, and the babies are in the same egg and are all of the same sex.
The armadillo has very poor eyesight, but it can use the rest of its senses such as hearing and feeling to protect itself and find food. Its most powerful sense is the sense of smell. With its tiny arms, the armadillo is able to bury itself completely in a matter of minutes. It can also swallow a big gulp of air in the water and make itself buoyant.

Some of the armadillo's relatives are the sloth and the anteater. The armadillo's relatives also eat the same things it eats such as ants, worms, spiders, and just about any kind of insects.

Leesburg, in deepest rural Florida, was tiny and unimpressive, except for a sign in the dressing-room toilet which said: Please flush during noisy parts of the performance, as our architect ran the water pipes right across the proscenium arch.
In the Shakespeare Masterclass, a question came out of left field. What one piece of advice would you give a young person here today?
My response, surprising even me, was immediate. Be and live fully in the moment - on stage and in life. Looking forward and back are moments for fear, regret and perhaps uncertainty.
It's a little startling to find you're being asked for pieces of life's wisdom to hand down. I suddenly feel ancient

Lindsay Rae's grandfather died. Because of our schedule, there was no way for her to return home for the funeral. It had been nearly a year to the day when her grandmother died during our last tour. My stepmother rang to say my father had suffered another stroke and had been hospitalized for five days, but was now thankfully back at home and seemed none the worse… except for a bad back that resulted from having to lie on a trolley in a hospital corridor for 14 hours

Our next stop was one we had all been eagerly anticipating- the southern most tip of the States - Key West.

In 1513, our old friend, Ponce De Leon discovered and claimed Key West for Spain. The Spaniards name for the island, Cayo Hueso (meaning Bone Key), was based on the large amounts of bones left by warring Indian tribes who, either for religious reasons or because of the very hard limestone ground, did not bury their dead. Over the years Cayo Hueso continued under Spanish rule and in 1815 the Spanish Governor of Florida granted Cayo Hueso to Juan Pablo Salas.
John Simonton, an Alabama Businessman, bought the island sight unseen in 1821. It most likely was his misinterpretation of the Spanish name that created Key West. During this same year Florida became a U.S. Territory. The wrecking (salvage) industry started to flourish and Key West grew rich on the salvage of ships that ran aground on the reefs. Key West was declared a Port of Entry and the Navy was brought in to protect the merchant ships though it wasn't until 1921 that the wrecking era officially ended. The new industries of salt making, sponge collecting and cigar making took over as the moneymakers for Key West.
The turn of the century brought Key West into its heyday. Henry Flagler completed his ambitious Overseas Railway in 1912. Tracks were laid from the tip of the mainland to Old Town Key West with a remarkable total over water span of 28 miles. To ensure that travelers enjoyed quality accommodations he erected the Casa Marina. The First International Air Route was established in Key West in 1920 and in 1927 the Key West airport was designated First Airport of Entry in the U.S. the following year the City of Key West was incorporated.

The 1940s brought the visits of President Truman, who stayed at the Little White House in what is now known as Truman Annex. He once wrote his wife I've a notion to move the Capital to Key West and just stay. Another notable achievement, which occurred in the 1940's, was the completion of the water line from the mainland. The 1950's and 1960's saw an influx of writers and artists, not only visiting, but staying in Key West. The most famous of them, Ernest Hemmingway, made his home here for many years. They found in Key West a haven from the outside world, which was both cosmopolitan in its acceptance of other people, and charming in the small town attitude and friendliness.

The Conch Republic was born in 1982. The new seven-mile bridge had recently been completed. In an effort to stem the flow of illegal aliens and drug trafficking the U.S. Government erected a roadblock at the beginning of the Keys. The results were 4-mile traffic jams that put a strain on the tourist-based industries. The Mayor, with city commissioners' approval, took 4 steps to correct the problem.

Key West seceded from the U.S.
Key West declared war on the U.S.
Key West surrendered.
Key West demanded foreign aid.
In one day the island managed to get more attention than in a whole year. The strategy also worked.
The roadblock was removed.

But the legend of Key West, The Conch Republic was born.

It was a long drive down to Key West. The highway slims down to two lanes and there are the 42 bridges across all the Keys to navigate. Our accommodation was top class - The Grand Key Resort Hotel, complete with pool, gym, and all the amenities you could wish for. We arrived late afternoon, and I unpacked quickly and then caught the hotel shuttle with Gabby and Ryan to Key West Bight, the main harbor and nightlife area of Key West. Our aim was to see the sunset over the Gulf. As we made our way to the harbor wall, we found the place heaving with people. The area around the harbor had become a street theatre jamboree, and all sorts of performers, market stalls, and drop-outs or kick-backers as they're called down here, were out in force trying to earn a few dollars. Think of a Mad Max Movie or a frontier town in the Wild West. Two leather-clad street performers, were hanging upside down from winches wrapped in chains, attempting to escape. Another man of dubious looks had a sign around his neck which proclaimed Dirty Jokes Here. As we walked by, he winked at us and said:
Hey, wanna hear a dirty joke. It's a good one. C'mon, come and hear a dirty fuckin' joke.
Another man was getting a group of cats to do handshakes, stand up on their hindlegs, but not much else.
Sorry, that's all they do… but ain't it great? C'mon worth a dollar, just a dollar. Hey lady, don't feed the fuckin' seagulls They're vicious bastards and they frighten my cats
Overheard an old bi-plane swooped low dragging behind a banner which proclaimed a local bar's Happy Hour times. The place was one big desperate dollar-grabbing jamboree, a dangerous, manic and exhilarating atmosphere around a pagan ritual of seeing the sun disappear into the sea. We decided that Magaritas were in order to calm us down amid the chaos, and with them in hand we pushed our way through the crowds and down on to a jetty that gave us a front seat view of the sunset. It was predictably beautiful, but slightly marred by the hundreds of people who were screaming, laughing or cursing as a person, or some ship, prevented them from taking the film or snapshots. Afterwards we looked around the shops on Eaton Street and Duval that reminded me a lot of Bourbon Street, New Orleans, with its air of hedonism, music, money and sex. Later that night, all our company met up at one of the best fish restaurants in town called The A&B Lobster House. We had all decided that we were going to enjoy ourselves and not worry about money. So, many courses of crab, lobster and various fish were consumed, followed by the local sweet, the ubiquitous Key Lime Pie, all washed down by a lot of wine. A few hours later and feeling very merry, we tottered to the shuttle. Guy crossed the street and waved at me with a smile.
I'm off to seek some adventures, check out the music and, you know, be a bad boy. Do you want to come?
I did, but I felt that my day had been already been pretty wonderful, and better to leave whilst ahead… and still standing.

Outside the stage door of The Tennessee Williams Theatre, one could look out over the sea. A Torei Gate had been built. It is a Japanese symbol for reflection and meditation. It was not a bad way to prepare for the shows, staring at the water, and see the sun set and the colors change and the Torei gate powerful in silhouette, seemingly demanding that you pay attention to the natural performance.

The first night at the Tennessee Williams we performed Earnest. I wonder what Wilde and Williams would have made of each other if they had met? Earnest proved a great success here. At the lavish reception following the show, an old distinguished-looking gentleman came over to me and announced that he had seen John Guilgud play my part in London in 1933. I say he then must have seen Dame Edith Evans in one of the most legendary performances given in the theatre.
Oh yes. She was quite wonderful. I enjoyed your version very much though, young man… it was very different, but great fun and wonderful because it's so modern.

Early next morning, I set off in the shuttle with Ryan and Gabby, and Guy to for a morning snorkel on the reef. Guy was the little the worse for wear as he was still drunk from the night before when he had taken off into town with a very forward 19 year old girl. The first thing we did was to search for a Burger King for a ravenous Guy. I took on the task of looking after him before we set sail. Guy bouncing down the road like Tigger, smiling at everyone we passed was a handful. Eventually we boarded The Fury, the catamaran, that was to be our vessel for the morning, and in no time at all we skipping out of the harbor and across a calm sea towards the third biggest coral reef in the world. Equipped with snorkels, masks and flippers, we were given last minute safety instructions - avoid the jelly-fish, try not to disturb the sharks, and stay off the coral. With a deep breath, three of us jumped over the side and plunged into the sea, Guy however, still smiling, gently eased himself in from the steps of the boat. After a short swim, we came upon the reef and were immediately surrounded by wonderful color from the coral and the tropical fish. In the space of a minute I had swum along with a turtle, great barracuda and a rather ominous nurse shark. On our return trip, a school of Dolphins and flying fish dove in and out of the blue. I started to take photographs, and then stopped. The memory is sometimes better left with the images indelibly burned there, along with all the awestruck sensations that the beauty of nature can induce.

Once back on land we went to look for a restaurant that had been recommended by Ryan's friend, David. The Blue Heaven was tucked away in the old and serene part of Old Key West. Behind a lovely old blue and white wooden house, we found an outdoor courtyard paved with the slate pool table tops from the days the downstairs operated as a billiard hall and ice cream parlor. There were old tables and chairs under the welcome shade of tropical almond trees. A bar stood at one side. In another area paintings were exhibited and there was a stall wherein a man was making jewelry. Roosters, chickens and chicks strutted about as if they owned the place… which actually they did. On our arrival an old gentleman spotted me.
I'm so glad you found us. I was going to give you our card, but I didn't want to seem forward.
I remembered seeing him at the previous night's reception. It transpired that he was founder of the Blue Heaven, which had now been passed on to his son.
Yep, wasn't too much when we started. Hemingway used to referee boxing matches here in the yard, and upstairs was a Bordello. They still have the peep-holes that let you see into the rooms.
He then told us that the current business saga began with no money down, some gardening tools and Mom's church cookbook. Seas permitting, his son Richard, Suanne and baby motored in daily to their Key West restaurant from their houseboat home on the far side of Christmas Tree Island. The duo slowly built up their lunch counter business. With the addition of breakfast and a $2 special they eventually hit the $100 gross sales a day plateau, sometimes. Rain played havoc with their dinghy and the outdoor business.

One and a half years later Richard lured his brother Dan down from his chef's position at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C. A formally educated chef, who started in the restaurant business at age 14, Dan wasted no time taking over dinner at the Key West restaurants. The fish plate turned into Black Grouper seared with dried herbs and served with a key lime honey glaze and a warm cucumber and red onion salad.
Yeah, and we're all doing okay. A journalist said Dan's scallop sauce would make cardboard taste good.
Suddenly there was a scream from a nearby table as a rooster flew down from a tree and landed amongst the startled diners, flapping furiously.
Those roosters are being a pain today. The Food and Safety people say we should get rid of them, and we just tell 'em, they're not ours, you get rid of 'em… but you know, people kind of like 'em.
And indeed the diners were now all laughing and seemed not unduly worried. I thought of my mother who can cope with spiders, insects of any kind, but put her near a bird and she'll run a mile. When I was a baby, a bird flew into the bedroom and my mother ran out screaming, leaving me there.
The food was once gain fresh fish served with black beans, brown basmati rice, vegetable and corn bread. It was absolutely delicious. The old gentleman came over to us again to see if all was well and gave us a generous discount. We reciprocated aside putting by four complementary tickets for that night's Dream performance.

Conversation with an actor:

Ryan: My grandmother, who is 74, had a tummy tuck.
Gabby: No…
Ryan: Yeah, she didn't really need it, but she had one. They fold the fat over…
Renata: Yuuch
Ryan: But you know what they do? They take off the belly button and then put it back again after they've finished.
Gabby: You're kidding.
Ryan: No, it's true, but she had some sort of complication or something… anyway she told them not to put it back on.
Renata: What? She has no belly button?
Ryan: She said: Oh why bother, I don't need it anyhow.
Richard: But how is she going to contemplate without her navel?
Renata: Navel? I've never called my belly button, a navel.

Meanwhile a war with Iraq looms. One shouldn't overestimate the trauma that the USA had with September 11th. A loss of innocence. Now the American heart is fearful. Bush will be able to do exactly as he wants for a while yet in this country. A lot of people here are just wanting a strong father-figure to tell them that it's going to be okay.
Oscar Wilde said: As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascinations. When it is looked on as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.

10 and a half hours traveling in a van is an exercise in mind control and patience. We had two of these in the space of five days. We traveled north into the Carolinas. Last night, in Clemson, during our warm-up, Allegra, who operates our sound and is in charge of mothering the company, ventured out into the rain to collect something from one of the cars. She found one of them with it's back wheels attached to a police tow truck.
Whoa… what are you doing?
Sorry, this is towing area. We have an event on here tonight.
I know. We are the event. You can't tow us away.
The officer was unmoved. Regulations are regulations. A call to David, our company manager quickly followed, and he rushed outside with the Clemson presenter. It ended up with David physically standing in the rain between the cars and the tow-truck, and insisting that he wouldn't move until he had a guarantee that the cars wouldn't be towed.
Sir, that is not a helpful attitude.
Sir, I don't care. We are performing at this venue, and if you tow these cars away… well, they're isn't going to be any show.
Eventually a compromise was reached, with the presenter, by this time looking extremely worried, stepping forward into the negotiations. A fine was paid and the show went ahead.
I spoke to my daughter Sam about her Rada recall.. She said it went well. She was the first one to arrive and was told to go right in. She was given more time to change her shoes, but was early … so it was okay. The audition was in front of the principle and other directors and teachers in one of the studios in Gower Street. My female Billy Elliot The speeches went well. She got through them with no mistakes, and then she sat down to chat. She said they were very nice and they laughed a lot. They asked her about the experiences that she had, because she had put down that she had worked backstage on The Tempest for Shared Experience and The Sound of Music in Leicester…which she did of course, when she came to see me… for a couple of nights. They asked her what had she learnt from watching me on stage and she said that she had learnt that acting was a really hard job with hard work involved, (true) but she was willing to work as hard as it took to be an actress. (clever, possibly too clever?) They then asked where she saw herself in five years. She said on the stage. (That's my girl ) They asked where… she said anywhere… as long as it was on a stage. (Brilliant ) The song was okay, and she said they really had 'a laugh' with her. Asked about her writing, as she had put that down as an interest, she said she thought they'd laugh, but it had all started when she went down to visit her Grannie Annie and would start telling her plots of plays that she was making up in her head, and Grannie Annie would stop her and send her away to write it down and then come out and perform them. They all laughed. Apparently they thought that was brilliant
And that was it. She should know in three to four weeks time whether she has a third recall. I live on tenterhooks as far as my children are concerned. Both left school at 13, and defied all establishment efforts to force them to return.
Charley meanwhile started his job this week. He's working at a Carpet Warehouse. His mother, June, bought him a second-hand bike, so he can cycle to work, as it's not easy to get to by public transport. He's just started this week, but is loving it. A mate of his works there also and yesterday he got to drive - God save us - a forklift truck Yes, when it comes to my children, I live on tenterhooks.

A week ago we were sunbathing in the sunshine of Key West. Now we are shivering in the snowy cold of Asheville, North Carolina deep in the Smokey Mountains. It seems we have been touring forever, but it has been less than a month on this leg and we have only covered 2000 miles so far. Ahead lies Ohio, and then next week to the bitter cold of Michigan and Minnesota. Then we work our way down south to Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico… we arrive in Palm Springs around 11th March and then Pasadena and Davis in California. Morale is good. Energies and moods shift but we are learning how to shift with each other, and so far all has gone smoothly. What larks, Pip, Old Chap