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Ray Jackson Remembered

RAY AND ERIC IN CANNES + 2

Ray Jackson

Today, October 25th, 2017, is the 28th anniversary of Ray’s death. 28 years! Where has the time gone? I have no idea! All I know is that the pain and ache is still here. When I think about him, which I do every day, it is as though it happened yesterday. The hurt is still there.

I feel as though I’m Queen Victoria pining over Albert, except I haven’t got a John Brown or an Abdul Karim to help me out.                                                                          More like Macauley Culkin. “Home Alone”! That’s just the way it is. That is my lot!

I miss him so much – talking to him, his wonderful sense of humour, and the laughter and oh! So very much! So very much! But most of all, he was my friend. I trusted him with my life. Never in a million years did I think that I would live this long. On the 13th of November I shall be 88 years old. Loneliness is a terrible thing, but please, dear reader, don’t feel sorry for me. My life is wonderful and really I’m very happy and content, but alone. There is a part of me that is lost and will never come back.

I remember, going back in years, it was either in 1995 or 1996 or even 1997, I’m not really sure of the date because really at that time I was so confused. Ray’s death had hit me so badly that I wasn’t sure of anything anymore or really what was happening. Even though it was nearly 10 years since he had died, it was as though I had an open knife wound in my heart that would not heal. I was forever on the move, all the time traveling between the villa in Fuengirola in Spain and the flat in London. Not working. Just on the move. It was like going from the sublime to the ridiculous every time I left Spain, but it brought me down to earth with a bang every time I was back in London, and all this time Ray, or I should say his ashes in a very unattractive urn, traveled with me. It would be on the mantleplace in Fuengirola or on the fire surround in London. It was all somewhat a little macabre. In fact it was very macabre, and many people said so, but I could not let go. I just could not believe that I had lost him forever.

Somehow I had to have him with me at all times and either flying to Spain or driving there, the urn travelled with me and I would talk to it. I think really I was either losing it mentally or I had already lost it! In fact I was always fully expecting the customs to open it thinking I had a stash of marijuana in there.

Whenever I was in London I would meet up with Daphne who was our cleaner when we were living in Barons Keep, and we had always kept in touch whether we were in the States or later in Spain. We would go to a pub in Soho Square and get quietly pissed talking about the old days and when Ray was alive. We spent good times together. Daphne was a spiritualist and when she was cleaning Barons Keep would collect hair from a hairbrush or comb and the odd nail clippings, both Ray’s and mine, and send them off to some crazy lady living in the country who would give her mangled readings about our hair or nails. Ray and I always took the letters with a pinch of salt, but Daphne believed it and it made her happy. She was forever telling me that her husband would die soon. The woman had told her that he hadn’t long to live, and she would be free. It deemed he was a burden to her. In Barons Keep when she was cleaning we always had a coffee together before she started work. When I wasn’t there, Ray would take over, although he wasn’t too keen on it as he used to say, “she talked too much”. On one of my returns to London post Ray, I got a call from Daphne’s daughter-in-law. She told me that she had been trying to telephone me for months, and, to cut a long story short, “Daphne had died”. The first thing I asked was whether her husband was still alive and she told me he was well and very much alive. So much for the clairvoyant who read hair and nails!

Well, I decided to talk to Ray (the urn, that is!). Daphne’s daughter-in-law told me that her ashes had been scattered in the Rose Garden of Remembrance at the Mortlake Crematorium

 

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MORTLAKE CREMATORIUM

I went there to see where they had strewn Daphne’s ashes. Daphne’s daughter-in-law had given me complete instructions as to the exact spot, by a rose tree on a certain path, in the Rose Garden. It was such a beautiful day and it was so beautiful there just by the Thames, peaceful and tranquil.  Ideal for Ray. So ideal, that I thought that at long last I had found a spot for him

 

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Well, I went back to the flat and talked to Ray (the urn, that is). I knew that he must have been as sick as I was with all the travelling backwards and forwards, and I told him that it was time I let him go and that it was quite beautiful where Daphne was and at least he would have company and someone to talk to, even though she might drive him mad now and again.

 

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So the deed was done and I had his ashes spread by the rose tree, so he could talk with Daphne and have a wonderful view of the Thames. They kept the urn at the crematorium. Talk about recycling, it wasn’t even theirs. I paid for it when Ray was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium!

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So I had put Ray to rest. I wasn’t happy about it, but it had to be done, and he was in a beautiful spot and, God Bless him, he at least had Daphne to keep him company. In my mind I thought that when my time came I could have my ashes spread in the same spot (That all sounds so good and easy. Ha! Ha! Don’t believe it!). On my last visit, I am always taken there by my very good friend Shane Collins.

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SHANE COLLINS

Shane who is as famous as a Theatrical Agent as he is Theatre Producer and Director. He has received numerous awards for his brilliant productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. Too many for even me to remember. Whenever I am in London I stay with Shane and as I don’t drive any more (too old), he always takes me to the Mortlake  Crematorium.  I had asked him to spread my ashes in the same place as where Ray was when I pop my clogs. Don’t you believe it! The rose garden with all the paths had gone! In it’s place was a green field – no paths, no rose trees, nothing! With a big sign that said keep off the grass!  “Fuck it!”, I said to Shane, “When no-one was watching, go into the middle of the field and chuck my ashes towards the Thames, making sure, of course, that the wind was behind him. I didn’t want him to finish up with a mouth full of Eric Lindsay.

Do I believe in euthanasia? YES!                                                       

I have seen and read too much of the old people’s care homes, government-run or private. They are all the same, and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. There is a total loss of all dignity and privacy.

When the time comes, I would like to be able to control my own destiny and death. The only thing that I would really wish for is to die on the 25th of October, the year doesn’t matter. Then, when and if I am remembered by friends it will be linked with Ray’s name, and the toast will be to the both of us, and we will be together at last.

So rest assured dear reader that for the time being I certainly won’t be popping my clogs this year or even in the near future. It’s just that I have to plan to wait for the 25th of October to come around one year in the future. 

Meanwhile I will stay very much alive and happy.

 

RAY JACKSON FOR NEW BLOG + 1

Ray Jackson

 

6 responses to “Ray Jackson Remembered

  1.                 Adrienne Jonas

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Eric – what a beautiful tribute to Ray and am so sorry about the rose garden. Sorry too that you feel so alone and wish you were nearer so we could get together and have a good natter now and then but at least let’s keep in touch.Love, Adrienne

  2.                  Gerry Maycock

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Ray was also much loved by Edwina and I as I am sure you know. During the 10 years I worked for you and Ray I loved the way you worked together and the way that Ray always brought a great calmness to occasional creative differing points of view.
    I have done many things in entertainment in my working life, and the time I spent with you and Ray is right at the top of my ‘ happy list ‘.
    Love Gerry. Oh and a big
    Hug! Xx

  3.                 Barrie Nathan

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I have wonderful memories of being with you and Ray at your beautiful house in Spain. Then the time six of us came up to Madrid to see your show! I particularly remember Ray (on your direction) turning me into a leopard on stage – I was there – and I still can´t believe it.
    RIP Ray
    Barrie

  4.                 Liz Long

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Hello Darling , I read your sad email earlier. It’s the price you pay for loving some one isn’t it. You write so beautifully you should make it your new career. What ever you do that helps or comforts you is OK. Ray was a charmer wasn’t he. In fact you two were the most handsome couple in town. He was fortunate to be so loved by us all and particularly by you God Bless. Miss Bettina. xx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  5.                 Angela Zablo

     

     

    October 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Oh Eric,  what a wonderful post I just read about Ray.  I miss him too, that fabulous engaging smile and a laugh that went on forever and it just had to make you smile to hear it.I always have that face in my mind – of him smiling and laughing.  What a great man he was!  But I know his star shines brightly down on you always.I hope you are doing well, we are so busy here with work – good – no complaints, just always so hectic.  Other than that, not too much to report, the dark nights of fall and winter are coming – not my favorite time of year.  I truthfully would like to just hibernate for the winter , like a squirrel !!Okay, I’m headed back to work, will be in touch again soon,  Love and miss you,sending hugs your ways, Angie Xxx

  6.                 Andrew James

     

     

    October 28, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Choked reading this Eric . . You have amazing resilience and strength my pal . Bless You !

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6 Comments

Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Eric Lindsay, Ray Jackson

 

Hurricane Ophelia

 

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When I heard that Hurricane Ophelia was due to hit the U.K. today, exactly 30 years from the great storm of October 16th, 1987, it brought back in a flash, the memory of that night. That was the start of when the shit began to hit the fan!

I had finished my contract of appearing in the Scala Show at the Melia Castilla Hotel in Madrid at the end of September that year, and even though they wanted me to sign a contract for another year, I turned it down because my mother, Rose, was very, very ill and alone.

My Father had died on June 20th, 1987 and the Scala management had refused to release me to attend his funeral. As they so rightly explained, they had built the whole show around me and I was irreplaceable. So I had to find an alternative and I asked Ray’s mother to stay with her, but she was completely indifferent, unhelpful and drunk. So I simply had to return to England to take care of her.

Apparently Rose had had a mini stroke in the flat whilst my father was alive, and he had just left her lying there in the hall for an hour before he bothered to telephone for an ambulance. That was just the way he was. Rose pampered him like a baby; he never lifted a finger to help her, he would just sit in his armchair watching T.V. and she would wait on him hand and foot.

I returned to England alone. Ray stayed in Spain to take care of some business, Scorpio  and Suki, and the house that we had built on the Costa del Sol.

I must explain that Rose was a fighter and she wasn’t going to let a mini stroke get her down. I found her pottering around and cooking a meal for me. She was so pleased to see me. She was so very frail. For a few days she was okay, then she had another stroke and was taken to the Hommerton Hospital in Hackney. I went every day and got to know a few of the families that had relatives in the ward. One, a Greek Family, explained to me that they would stay all night, as apparently 4 o’clock in the morning was around the time that most sick people die, so it was good to have someone guarding them. I have no idea where this superstition came from, but I was ready to try anything. So I changed my routine. I would go to the hospital at around 6p.m. and stay with Rose all night and leave at 8 o’clock in the morning and go and sleep. I would nod off occasionally in the hospital, but sleep! Really it just wasn’t possible and watching her either sitting in a chair or lying in the bed upset me so much. It made me very emotional. I had asked the nurse in charge whether she could be in a private room instead of the general ward, as I thought she would like it better. Really, I suppose it was more for me as well, as I would get very embarrassed if anyone saw me crying. What was I to do? A few days earlier I had spoken with her doctor about taking Rose to Spain as I thought that the weather would be good for her. I thought that once they had got her better that would be it. But she gently explained to me that she would never get better and that every time she had a stroke they would just get worse and very soon it would be fatal.

I was distraught and telephoned Ray and asked him to come to England. He phoned me back and told me that he had booked a flight to Heathrow for the 16th.

I had not read a newspaper or watched T.V. for so long that I had no idea that a storm was coming.

That night was strange. The wind was howling and it seemed to whistle through the hospital. The nurses seemed strange, maybe I was hallucinating and they never mentioned anything to me about the storm warning. Around about 3:30a.m. the matron came in the room and told me they wanted to tidy up her room and would I go into the family waiting room.

The storm was reaching its peak and what with the wind howling and windows rattling, I began to fanaticize. Somehow, I imagined that they were holding a ‘Witches Sabbath’ in Rose’s room and using  her like a rag doll, throwing her about. It seemed to go on for hours. Maybe it was because I was so tired that I imagined all these crazy things and there I was sitting in the waiting room doing nothing to help Rose. My mind was going berserk and I was so tired!

I must have fallen asleep because around 7-00a.m. a Nurse was gently shaking me to wake up and gave me a cup of tea and told me, “Go home and watch out for the damage”. I looked in on Rose she was asleep, so I left.

The streets were like a war zone: trees uprooted, windows smashed, cars damaged and the silence. Everything was so still. I waited at the bus stop and went home.

Meanwhile, Ray’s plane had been diverted either to Stanstead or Gatwick, I can’t remember. All I know that when the plane landed on the airfield all the passengers had to hold onto one another to stop being blown away as they made their way across the field through to Immigration. So when he arrived at the flat, he too was shattered.

Winds battered the South of England in what was the worst storm to hit the country since 1703. Severe weather had been predicted before the Great Storm, as it later became known, hit the South of England in the early hours of October 16th, 1987.

That is what I remember of the Great Storm of 1987. Not a very happy memory!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

How it all Began. “ericlindsay.wordpress.com.”

 This is how I met Andi Brooks and how my Blog began.

 

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MR. ANDI BROOKS

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Andi and me having coffee in Tokyo

Around the time of 1996 my Agent Jamie Phillips of Trends Management told me that an advertisement kept appearing in the Stage Newspaper looking for me, or asking maybe if I was alive or dead? No such luck, I was still alive and kicking!

As I had time to spare and no one to talk to, I telephoned to the gentleman who placed the advertisement. His name was Andi Brooks who lived in Bath. That is how we met. He came to London and interviewed me in August 1997 for his future book that he was co-author with Frank Dello Stritto called “Vampire Over London” the whole interview is somewhere on my Blog. Through that interview Andi and I became friends and kept in touch with one another even after the book was published in 2000, and what a beautiful book it is too.

All this time I would talk to him about various things that had happened to me and he was forever telling me that I should write about it. But I kept explaining to Andi that Ray when he was alive was the writer. I never wrote anything. Ray would write to my parents, write all our business letters, and sign important papers. He got it down to a fine art, he could even do my signature on cheques,(which I had no problem with) until one day the bank manager called me into his office to say that my signature on our joint bank account seemed to have changed. So I explained that I had sprained my wrist and found it difficult to write properly. I told Ray that when he wrote my name he had to take his time with it and that a scrawl just didn’t work. I couldn’t keep on going back to the bank manager with excuses. That was the trust we had in one another. I trusted him completely. So when Andi suggested that I should start a Blog it took a great deal of persuading  and convincing on his part over many, many  years for me to even contemplate it.

In the year of the millennium 2000 by chance I was appearing in “Aladdin” at the Theatre Royal, Brighton and had the pleasure of meeting Frank Dello Stritto and his wife, who came to a matinée of the Show, before they left for America for good and also arrange the publication of their book “Vampire Over London”. So strange because it was at the Theatre Royal, Brighton that “Dracula” opened in 1951 and the whole story started. This intrigued Frank completely, to believe that he was actually in the same Theatre.

“Vampire Over London” was an enormous success and has now gone into it’s 2nd. printing. The publication is such  excellent quality.

Well over the years Andi and I kept in touch, he told me that he had married a Japanese student named Kyoko and later they went off to live in Tokyo, Japan. All this time we kept in touch, and he was forever urging me to write a Blog about what I had done over the years. He explained that he would set it up for me with WordPress.com and do all my editing in fact the whole caboodle. In fact he has been faithful to his word and encouraged me 100% to write. I didn’t think I could do it, and I wasn’t sure that what I had to say would interest anybody. But the proof is in the pudding and “ericlindsay.wordpress.com” came into being in 2012 and by some miracle it seems to be a success. I don’t understand why because really I can’t write, at least that’s what I tell myself, so it’s all thanks to Andi Brooks. Bless him!

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Meeting up with Andi and Kyoko in the Coffee Shop in Tokyo.

On the 7th of October 2016 I flew into Tokyo and met up with Andi, who I hadn’t seen since our first meeting in London in August 1997.  Twenty years is a long time and we had plenty to talk about and we did non-stop. Later, Kyoko joined us and I had the pleasure of meeting her for the first time, and what a charming lady she is. Andi had done himself proud. To think of the young man who had interviewed me so many years back and now here he was with a full family.

 

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What an amazing place Tokyo is, and I had two whole days to be with Andi and his family and talk. They also showed me part of Korean Town which was in the area of my hotel.

 

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Yui Brooks.

During the time that Andi has been living in Tokyo he has been blessed with a handsome son called Yui who is now 14yrs.old. Yui is a budding artist, and drew a quickie for me on my visit. I look a little beaten up, but it’s a great souvenir. He travels everywhere with his pencil and pad.

The top one certainly gives me a beaten up look.

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Whilst I was there it was his birthday so I sent him a card in English.

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YUI with his Birthday Card

 

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Yui, me, Andi and Kyoko at Dinner.

Yui travels everywhere with his pencil and pad. He even took it with him when we had dinner together in a typical Japanese Restaurant.

 

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Kyoko and Yui seeing my off at my Hotel.

Whilst I was there it was Yui’s Birthday, so I managed to find a card in English. The few days that I was in Tokyo I did no sight seeing whatsoever. I was just happy to spend all my time with Andi and his family. The happiness he has given me with my little Blog is amazing.

I have so much to thank him for, he has really given me a reason for carrying on.

 

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YUI, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ONE YEAR LATER (a new photo which I have just received)

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Me and my very good friend ANDI BROOKS.

 

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Time to leave Tokyo, and goodbye to my friends.

A wonderful memory that I will treasure forever.

 

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Annie Leibovitz the Rembrant of Photography.

 

 

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If Annie Leibovitz had been given a paintbrush instead of a camera, she would have been put into the class of Rembrandt or Degas. Or otherwise if Rembrandt and Degas would have had a camera instead of a paint brush, they would have been an Annie Leibovitz.
Practically every photograph that I have seen is a work of art, in fact they are not photos, they are portraits. For example and there are many:
Firstly this is by Rembrandt.

 

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 The Stone Bridge by Rembrandt.

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Photo by Annie Leibovitz of ‘The Queen of England’ 2007

This photo of the Queen has the touch of a master, the detail in the pose, the background, the lighting, the whole, turns it into a beautiful portrait, that could have been painted by Rembrandt.
These are some of the Queen of England collection by Annie Leibovitz:

 

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Annie Leibovitz was commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar Magazine to produce a collection of photos in the style of Degas, with the wonderful American Ballerina Misty Copeland, Here is part of her collection:

 

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 Annie Leibovitz

A press release from UBS.

Annie Leibovitz Biography

Annie Leibovitz began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone in 1970, while she was still a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her pictures have appeared on magazine covers ever since. In 1983, when she joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as the foremost rock music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. For over three decades, at Vanity Fair and later at Vogue, she has been adding to a large and distinguished body of work that includes some of the most well-known portraits of our time.
Several collections of Leibovitz’s work have been published and exhibitions of her photographs have appeared at museums and galleries all over the world, from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C; the National Portrait Gallery in London; to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
She is the recipient of many honors, in 2006 she was made a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government, in 2009, she received the International Center of Photography’s Lifetime Achieverment Award, the first Creative Excellence Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and the Centenary Medal of the Royal Photographic Society in London. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts and the Wexner Prize. In2013 she received the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, Leibovitz has been designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.

 

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Josephine and Daphne recreated.

This was taken by Annie Leibovitz 36yrs. after the original film           “Some Like it Hot” which was made in 1959.

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in 1995, what a great photo.

 

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This is how they looked in the original with Marilyn Monroe.

 

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Liberace 1981

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Liberace’s Hands, just wearing something simple!

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Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain scene from “La Dolce Vita”.

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Annie Leibovitz’s version.

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A backstage look into the working of that beautiful picture.

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Another backstage look

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In 2001 she was commissioned by Vanity Fair to produce a series of photographs called “Hollywood Legends” Which she has produced periodically to the present day.

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In 2007 Annie Leibovitz was commissioned to produce a series of “Disney Dream Portraits” by Disney Studios. Here are a few:

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These are just a few of the brilliant portraits that this Master of Photography has produced. Every accolade she has received she deserved. Long may she continue.

 

My Theatrical Marathon

With all the talk of the London Marathon during the month of April, I decided in my own way to do a little marathon of my own, except mine was a Theatrical Marathon, in which I saw 9 shows in 11 days. Starting with:

1. Glenn Close in “Sunset Boulevard” at the Coliseum Theatre.

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 Glenn Close in “Sunset Boulevard” at the Coliseum Theatre.

She was the main reason that I decided on the Marathon, and to say that she lived up to all the expectations that I had is an understatement. Her performance was brilliant. To my mind she was as good as Gloria Swanson who appeared in the original noir classic in 1950. In fact, Close was even better because apart from being a brilliant actress, she sang, and how she sang! Receiving rapturous applause and ovation after ovation. When I read that the production was to be semi-staged (and I had already bought my ticket), I thought, ‘semi-staged’ Ugh! What is semi-staged? Is it going to be like in concert? How wrong I was! Lonny Price’s brilliant production was spectacular and moody and very creepy, with metal staircases, walkways, and gantry’s covering the whole stage and the most gigantic chandelier ever to grace a London stage.

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Glenn Close as Norma Desmond

The English National Opera Orchestra of 48 musicians were placed across the whole back area of the stage in front of an ever changing cyclorama, and it had to be the most amazing sound that I have ever heard in a musical, something you would only hear at the Royal Albert Hall, and on top of that I had Glenn Close, the Glenn Close. The theatre was packed, that was 2359 people, and you could hear a pin drop. As the story unfolded it was as though I was watching it for the first time, which is some feat considering I have lived with “Sunset Boulevard” since 1950 and Ray Jackson had a complete collection of stills from the original film. I knew the music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but I had not seen the musical. I don’t know why, but I never got round to it. There were many who considered the Lonny Price production the best. I have no comparison, but I know that I had seen the best and if I didn’t see another show it wouldn’t matter. I came out of the theatre on a cloud of euphoria, only to find the traffic in St. Martins Lane at a standstill. There were crowds of people on the pavements and in the road all waiting for Kit Harrington, “Game of Thrones”, to come out of the Stage Door of the Duke of York Theatre opposite the Coliseum Theatre, where he was in previews of “Dr. Faustus”. (I thought that’s number 5 on my marathon list, something to look forward to). But really what were the crowds doing there? I didn’t know that he took his kit off in “Dr. Faustus”.They should all have been lined up at the Coliseum Stage Door waiting to applaud Glenn Close for her triumphant performance in Sunset Boulevard. But as they say that’s Show Business! I knew that I really couldn’t expect too much from the other 8 shows, after all I had just been lucky enough to see the best. You could not top “Sunset Boulevard”.

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Glenn Close and the Coliseum Theatre.

Since writing this Blog, I have found this great review by Johnny Fox which to my joy really confirms all that I have said about this production, and Glenn Close. But also adds a few extra points.

05 April 2016 | On Stage, Theatre & Arts | By: Johnny Fox Review:

Glenn Close Is Blinding In Sunset Boulevard  at the London Coliseum ★★★★★

The night after Imelda Staunton picked up her Olivier award for best actress in a musical in Gypsy, her successor is a rock solid certainty. With such tumultuous reception at the Coliseum, there is no doubt that Glenn Close must win for Sunset Boulevard in which, like Staunton, she plays a deluded and flawed tragic hero of the entertainment business.

That Close is a movie star with a memorable back catalogue playing a silent movie star whose back catalogue has been eclipsed is just the surrealist cherry on her richly iced cake.

Stephen Sondheim began a musical of Sunset Boulevard and it’s fortunate he abandoned it because it’s doubtful he would have orchestrated it with the swimmingly sensual depth of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s homage to the film music by which he’d been enthralled when young, and which may prove his epitaph as the woven, silken fabric of his best work.

The score is the centrepiece of this stripped-down staging in the Grade/Linnet production at the Coliseum, the only residual feature of the ENO company (once its magnificent chorus had been hired then stood down as ‘unsuitable’ to play the ensemble) is the ferociously excellent 48-piece orchestra upstage and centre.

Even if you’re completely familiar with this music, you have never heard it played better. Not only does Michael Reed restrain the tempi and coax the strings to cinematic heights when following the car chase or tenderly underscoring Close’s solos, there’s enough dirty brass to power a Cuban nightclub in support of the upbeat numbers.

Few productions have excited as much anticipatory comment on social media, and even though former Normas Patti LuPone and Elaine Paige are still singing forcibly and chewing scenery at approximately the same age, speculation was rife whether Close would be up to the vocal demands 20 years after she won the Tony.

She is perhaps fortunate that Lloyd Webber sites ‘With One Look’ so early in the proceedings: once she’d hurdled that, confidently staring down the audience with its final crescendo, she was home free.

There’s a break in her range that more experienced singers could have transitioned better, but then they wouldn’t have acted the part with more intelligence.

Close has a wonderful way of undercutting the climax of a set-piece song by almost throwing away the next line. It’s winning.

This Norma is less imperious, often playful or skittish, which sets her up for a credible loosening of her grip on reality. Some of her mood-swings are too crude, but the additional years of experience have given Close an observant perspective on ageing and delusion which she fully transmits to the audience.

You could wish they’d make Norma’s age more accurate. She’s 50. It’s in the script. Gloria Swanson was 50 when she made the film. It’s almost grotesque of the book writer and lyricist to repeatedly suggest she’s ‘ancient’ or beyond the age of sexuality because the pathos is not in her decrepitude but in her elegant reclusive withdrawal, a dethroned queen: in Close’s aching interpretation, a Wallis Simpson of the silver screen. ‬

The original London and Broadway productions both lost money because of the high initial costs including an elaborate rococo mansion set with a realistic swimming pool and gilded staircase on lifts. Here, the grand luxe is represented only by a cluster of chandeliers and the deconstruction makes you focus more on both the strengths of the 1950 Billy Wilder movie and its flawed but fascinating characters, and the weaknesses of the stage book. It enhances the ‘big’ songs and exposes the feebler comic chorus numbers for tailors and beauticians. Clever.

The search for a suitable leading man and foil to play Joe Gillis must have been tough. Someone not so starry as to steal the limelight from Close, and competent enough to carry the dramatic narrative. Not Barrowman, then. Michael Xavier, rescued from old-before-his-time roles like Captain von Trapp is an amazement and a delight. At the curtain call, the audience were on their feet for him before Close even made her bows. His elegant fluidity even as a down-at-heel and slightly desperate writer is so attractive, and he sings conversationally and with feeling, like an effortless charm.

Fully clothed, he is every inch the leading man, and stripped to skimpy Speedos emerging from the orchestra pit ‘pool’ at the top of act two with a washboard stomach and balconied pectorals, he’s hot too. Don’t be late back from the bar.

I’m also including a great write-up from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s, of Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard.

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Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis and Glenn Close as Norma Desmond, at the London Coliseum, April 2016. Photograph: Richard Hubert Smith

For all the endless dashing around for the newest, edgiest thing sometimes you just have to see the greats do the classics. We watch this eccentric, old silent movie star seduce and manipulate a younger man to feed her fading dreams and also watch him exploit her neediness. God, it’s exciting, dark, sexy and hilarious. Glenn’s first song is called Surrender; she all but floats down the stairs, with an ache in her heart and you can almost feel it in your own. She plays the naivety of a child with the gravitas of a goddess. In the final moments, I turned to look down the aisle to see rows upon rows of wet cheeks and shining eyes. We all left the theatre knowing we’d just shared something very special.

 

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Watch GLENN CLOSE on YOU TUBE.

Glenn Close Preparing for the role Sunset Boulevard at ENO – YouTube

2. “Mrs. Henderson Presents” at the Noel Coward Theatre.

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I should have known after seeing the brilliant “Sunset Boulevard” that I was going from the sublime to the ridiculous. I only wanted to see this show because of my past history. I owned with my partner Ray Jackson the ‘Casino de Paris Striptease Club’ in Denman Street, W.1., the adjoining street to the Windmill Theatre, and it was during the run and the demise of the Windmill. For me they were such happy days, with such wonderful memories. This show did nothing to change my opinion of what the Windmill was and stood for. The corruption with the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, it was all there in the show. The Windmill was tacky, and it came across in the production, perhaps it was meant to show that. But striptease and nudity was my business, and I have to say that at the Casino de Paris we did it with finesse and class

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The obligatory Fan Dance.

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 Jamie Foreman as Arthur (The Comic)

The cast of Mrs. Henderson Presents were good in their own way, and they did the best of what was expected of them, but story-wise there was so much that was missed out, and the music? Forgettable! Maybe I am biased, (I am, I really am!), but when they cast an actor in the role of a comic (which is a breed unto itself) it doesn’t work. The continuity and plot was put into this poor guys’ hands and it really needed a seasoned comic to be able to handle it, and manipulate the audience. But the poor bugger he did his best. Enough said! The sooner I forget about it the better.

3. Sheridan Smith in “Funny Girl” at the Savoy Theatre.

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I was so pleased to be able to get a seat, they were like gold dust, so my expectations were high. Let me first say that I consider Sheridan Smith a brilliantly multi-talented actress whose portrayal of Cilla Black in the TV mini series was superb, and also she sings beautifully, but does she look Jewish? Never in a million years! I blame the miscasting of this lovely actress, on the producers and the director and choreographer.

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Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice

They made her look and act like an American Hilda Baker, and as for her love interest (it was Cynthia, “She knows you know!”), he was so tall that when they embraced she came up to just below his chest. Which could have been interesting, if it wasn’t “Funny Girl”! “Let My People Come” or “Hair”, yes! But not “Funny Girl”. And he sounded like Vincent Price! So there I am watching “Funny Girl” with a Hilda Baker with an American accent and (Cynthia) Vincent Price. I think that the choreographer must have watched every film and TV that Hilda Baker made, because he gave poor Sheridan Smith all her moves. Didn’t anyone tell them that Fanny Brice, although she could be gross and funny, she had class. And the clothes they gave her! Ugh! The sort of clothes that I imagine Hilda Baker would have chosen. Having to wear them was enough for anyone to take to drink!

11-Funny-Girl-Sheridan-Smith(Cynthia) Darius Campbell, (Hilda Baker) Sheridan Smith, (Mrs.Brice) Marilyn Cutts.

An open letter to Sheridan Smith:

Dear Sheridan Smith,
Write it off as a bad experience. They need you, more than you need them.
You are a truly beautiful, talented and brilliant actress.
Blame the Director, Producers and Choreographer, who trying to ride on the back of your
extraordinary current success, mistakenly cast you into “Funny Girl”
By the way, if they ever decide to make a Musical on the life of Hilda Baker you
Would be a dead ringer!
Yours sincerely,
Eric Lindsay

Behind the Scenes: Funny Girl Fit-Up (Savoy Theatre) – YouTube

That’s 3 down 6 more to go.

4. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” at the Lyttelton Theatre.

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This is the first time that I have been to this theatre and what a beautiful modern theatre it is. I had no idea what the play was about, but the Black Bottom was a dance I knew so I thought I’d give it a go and I’m so pleased that I did. Nothing like what I expected, this play with music is so moving that in one part I was nearly moved to tears and choked up. The whole cast was brilliant, except I found that Sharon D. Clarke in her quieter moments difficult to hear. The really outstanding performance was to my mind O-T Fagbenle a wonderful ‘tour de force’, so moving and heartfelt.

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The review by Quentin Letts published in the Daily Mail on the 3rd.February, 2016 says it all far better than I can.

Long-suffering jazz band hits all the right notes: QUENTIN LETTS’ first night review of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
By Quentin Letts for the Daily Mail

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
August Wilson, Royal National Theatre
Rating:
Good play, good jazz, great acting: the Royal National’s new production of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ hits lots of right notes.
August Wilson’s 1984 play is set in a recording studio in 1920s Chicago. Ma Rainey is a black jazz singer and a frightful prima donna. Her white manager Irvin (Finbar Lynch) spends much of his life saying ‘let me handle this’ as he soothes her tantrums.
Ma is played here by Sharon D Clarke, who could almost have been made for the part. Ma is by turns impossible, brilliant at the microphone and – when she needs to be – sweetly encouraging to her stuttering nephew (Tunji Lucas).

The 1984 play by August Wilson  is set in a recording studio in 1920s Chicago
Miss Clarke sings with her usual smoky power. But the story is not really about Ma, or studio boss Mr Sturdyvant (Stuart McQuarrie).
It is about Ma’s long-suffering band members, one of whom, young-buck trumpeter Levee, refuses to be cowed by her or by convention. All Levee’s cockiness and sex appeal and rage is caught fizzingly by OT Fagbenle.
Mr Fagbenle knows how to play a horn. He can act, too. The tale of Levee’s family left last night’s audience in sudden silence. ( Me too. He is quite brilliant. E.L.)
He is supported by Lucian Msamati as cerebral pianist Toledo, lecturing his colleagues in the duty of all black people to aspire. Toledo talks and talks.
Levee is more a man of action – and makes moves on Ma Rainey’s pretty girlfriend Dussie Mae (Tamara Lawrance). Giles Terera and Clint Dyer are also excellent as the other band members.
A slightly odd set, designed by our old friend Ultz (a railway station in Austria?), has the band’s practice room a long oblong basement, terribly narrow. The studio producers are upstairs in a metal Portakabin-style box which swings on chains.
Does the play have an unsatisfactory sense of justice? Well, that reflects the injustice against black Americans in the 1920s but it arguably leaves the evening less than cathartic.
Director Dominic Cooke extracts such good performances from his cast, however, that you still leave richly satisfied.

National Theatre Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom trailer – YouTube

5. Kit Harington in “Dr. Faustus” at the Duke of York’s Theatre

KIT HARRINGTON DR.FAUSTUS

Well now I was going to see what it was all about. I have to hand to Mr. Jamie Lloyd he is a visionary and a great director. The production of the Christopher Marlowe Play was brought up to the present day with an adaption by Colin Teevan. Kit Harington spends the whole of the second act in his underpants, which is sure to bring in thousands of his fans from “Game of Thrones” and also quite a lot of the gay community who will be fighting with the fans for front row seats. My admiration to Jamie Lloyd exceeds no bounds. He is astute, clever, commercial and artistic, what more can one have in a director. He rightly deserves his position as Artistic Director of the Jamie Lloyd Company.

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Kit Harington as Dr. Faustus.

DR.FAUSTUS

The whole production had the feel of a Jean Genet play, and I expected to see Lindsey Kemp appear from “Flowers”, which was another Jean Genet play, floating about the stage. Kit Harington gives a fine performance as Dr. Faustus, but I felt that there was something lacking in his vocal range of the Marlowe text. But I’m sure this will improve with more classical work. You have to hand it to him, he is star quality as you can see.

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Kit Harington before his shower scene in blood.

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Kit Harington post shower.

Kit Harington Doctor faustus . unchain my heart – YouTube

6. “Kinky Boots” at the Adelphi Theatre.

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I never got to see it when I was in New York last year, so I was very happy that I included it in my Marathon. The film I loved and this musical sticks closely to the plot. The cast are brilliant, the staging unbelievable, it has all the glitz and glamour that you would expect from an American musical with an English plot. If you haven’t seen it, go! go! go!  You will love it.

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Killian Donnelly, Amy Lennox and Matt Henry “Kinky Boots”.

UK – Kinky Boots the Musical – Trailer 2015 – Adelphi Theatre – YouTube

7.  Uzo Aduba, Zawe Ashton in “The Maids” at the Trafalgar Studios.

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Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!

THE MAIDS PLOT

By now you must gather that I think that Jamie Lloyd is the bees knees, and you are right! What a brilliant director he is. To be able to invoke such terror and excitement into a play is something I have never in all my years’ experience in the theatre seen before. This play is so powerful and the performances of both Uzo Aduba and Zawe Ashton so exceptional, that I doubt that I will ever see such class acting again in my lifetime. To ask me to say which was the stronger performance, I am at a loss because the magnetism between them both was equal and if awards were to be given and there was only one, split it in half, equal, equal. Or go to the extra expense and have another made, like an Olivier. They deserve it.

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Zawe Ashton and Uzo Aduba

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Uzo Aduba

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Laura Carmichael, Uzo Aduba and Zawe Ashton

The stage set was an open ended 4 poster bed, so that you had a mirror image of another audience sitting watching the play unfold on the other side of the stage. But, they were for real. It is important that I explain this, as it is integral to what I have to say. So that although the theatre is so versatile it can be in the round, or 4 sided. This time it was 2 sided facing one another, with the stage in the centre. Maybe I haven’t explained it too well but the following photos may explain it better. At first I couldn’t believe that the people sitting facing me were real, until I saw a rather large fat lady who was sitting front row in the centre isle with a gentleman friend, drinking what I took to be wine from a very large plastic glass. So the play has started and the drama unfolds, it ran, I think, for 90 minutes with no interval. At odd times I would see the lady sipping the wine, but I was so caught up in the play that it did not really distract. After about half an hour into the play, I caught sight of her refilling the glass from a bottle in her bag, and by this time the wine was beginning to take effect. She was slowly sliding down in her seat and her head was beginning to loll. It finally finished up on her gentleman friend’s shoulder and she must have fallen asleep. Meanwhile the drama is unfolding and being in C Row centre, I was literally in the play and enjoying every moment of it. Much later I caught sight of her fidgeting and moving around in her chair and of all things she takes her phone out, and starts texting and the light from the phone is going on the stage. We are reaching the pinnacle of the play, High Drama! She has meanwhile fallen asleep again with the phone still switched on in her lap and the light still on. No-one on her side of the theatre said a word. What was the matter with them? Were they all asleep or just dummies? No usherette or management came to scold her and take the phone away. Meanwhile Uzo Aduba and Zawe Ashton are acting their tits off, and that stupid bitch was allowed to sit there and no-one admonished her. I just cannot believe that people can be so rude. But then with all that was happening, and the high drama on stage, it made a very memorable night for me in the Theatre, and every time I think about it, I see the funny side of the whole situation.  She was a light relief with such high drama.Thank you Drunken Fat Lady!

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This is what it looked like, before the play started, so I had no idea that there was another audience facing me.

THE MAIDS PHOTO TO PRINT

If you look closely, to the back of this photo.  This it what I saw from my seat in C Row Centre and the drunken fat lady was siting facing me, front row centre isle at the back of the stage.

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Uzo Aduba, Laura Carmichael, Zawe Ashton.

The Maids Vox Pops – Trafalgar Studios – ATG Tickets – YouTube

 

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Uzo Aduba

Here is another interview with the fabulous actress       Uzo Aduba.

Our Interview with Uzo Abuda from The Maids – YouTube

Here is an interview with the brilliant Jamie Lloyd, about “The Maids”.

Interview with director Jamie Lloyd about The Maids – YouTube

8. “Nell Gwynn” at the Apollo Theatre

NELL GWYNN

This was one glorious romp from beginning to end. Such wonderful Theatre, in such a beautiful theatre.

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APOLLO THEATRE INTERIOR

Nell Gwynn at the Apollo Theatre – YouTube

9. Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon in “The Painkiller” at the Garrick Theatre.

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“THE PAINKILLER” with Kenneth Branagh and Rob Rydon

A Farce by Francis Veber and adapted by Sean Foley. Why is it that the French are Masters at writing Farce?  For example, Feydeau, Moliere and Labiche and now we have Francis Veber. Well first you need a simple but clever plot of mistaken identities, and lost virtues, a split stage showing maybe 2 or 3 rooms. Plenty of very solid doors for running in and out and slamming. Windows for climbing out and maybe coming in, and a cast of master actors. Well, with “The Painkiller” you have just that. It was a laugh from beginning to end.

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Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon.

Painkiller

Rob Brydon, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Hadfield.

Well that is the end of my Theatrical Marathon, and it was so varied, and great fun. I thoroughly enjoyed every one. Okay, there were a few that I didn’t think came up to standard, but all in all the Theatre in England is wonderful. Remember that the criticism’s are mine alone, maybe you don’t agree with me, but I have tried to be fair. Stay happy. E.L.

 

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Video

Dr. Murray Banks, Psychologist and Comic

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Dr. Murray Banks

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Wandering around New York, when I was there last year, and walking through Central Park I found myself in the Upper East Side, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Manhattan, and recalled the wonderful brownstone town house that was owned by the late Dr. Murray Banks, who happened to be one of the most sought after speakers in America during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr. Murray Banks was a clinical psychologist and was formerly a full professor of psychology at Long Island University and at Pace College, NYC, where he headed the psychology department for over five years. He was also a visiting professor and special lecturer on various subjects at the University at North Carolina, New York University, Temple University, New Jersey State Teachers College, University of Pittsburgh, and Brooklyn College. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

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A typical brownstone in Upper East Side, Manhattan

The house on Upper East Side was beautiful both inside and out. The furnishings, both antique and modern, were exquisite. It had the most fantastic staircase that was made with balusters of Antique Venetian glass walking sticks. I have never seen anything quite as stunning ever. The man was a millionaire with an odd quirk, as we were soon to find out as we got to know him. He was mean, generous in many ways, but as far as money went “as tight as a ducks arse in water!” Maybe that’s how he became a millionaire, who knows? But I go ahead of myself.

How Ray and I first met him is rather strange. It was in London in the early 60s. A friend who knew Dr.Banks well invited us to one of the lectures that he was giving at Woolwich Town Hall, which had a very large auditorium. Both Ray and I were really not into lectures per se, but our friend convinced us that we had never heard a lecture like one from Dr. Murray Banks, and he was right. It was laughter all the way.

Before the lecture we were introduced to Dr. Murray Banks, a rather short, stocky man, with a wonderful welcoming smile, and a very strong Jewish Brooklyn accent. He had a rather ill-fitting toupee that seemed to have a life of its own. He was standing by a table surrounded by dozens and dozens of books and records, all for sale (of course!). After introductions he grabbed me and said, “Hey Eric, when I ask for questions from the audience, I want you to ask me, ‘Doctor, what do I do for a persistent cough?’” So of course I agreed.

 The lecture hall was packed and we were seated in the dress circle center. The lights dimmed and after an off stage introduction Dr. Murray Banks made his entrance and the lecture proceeded. This dapper man with the ill-fitting toupee held the audience in raptures. They laughed continuously. Question time came and after a few questions from the stalls, Murray looked up to the dress circle and asked, “Has anyone there a question?” My cue! I put my hand up and shouted, “Dr. Banks, what can I do for a persistent cough?”          

 Murray looked up at me and said slowly, “You ask, young man, my remedy for a persistent cough? ” He paused, then said. “Take plenty of laxatives, and then you’ll be too scared to cough!” The audience was in hysterics and that is the way the rest of his lecture continued. For a psychologist he was a brilliant comic. He knew the way the mind worked, after all he was a Psychologist! He was on the ball the whole time.

 After the show we went downstairs by the entrance where Murray had his table full of wears and he was surrounded by people buying books, records, autographs, etc., and the money was changing hands fast. In fact they laid the table bare. We asked him whether he would like to go out for dinner, but he said that he was tired and just wanted to go back to the Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch where he was staying. I thought maybe he wanted to go back to count his money! So we gave him a lift in the Rolls. He had no luggage, he’d sold everything! As he was staying in London for a few days before he did his lecture tour around the whole of England, we arranged to take him for dinner to April Ashley’s Restaurant, April and Desmond’s the following night.

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The lovely April Ashley

We collected Murray at 8p.m. and drove to Knightsbridge. He was intrigued with April and thought she was so beautiful. He was ‘au fait’ with her past history and told us that he was very friendly in the States with Christine Jorgensen, who was the first Trans Gender American, whom he had given counseling to many times. Well, we had a fine old time. Unfortunately Murray didn’t drink, only cordial (ugh!), but Ray and I made up for that! After a very enjoyable evening we took him back to the Cumberland Hotel and left him with the promise that the next time we were in New York we would see him there. As it turned out he came back to London for a few days at the end of his tour and this time we took him to ‘Joe Allen’s’, which he also knew from New York.

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A normal evening at Joe Allen’s in London.

The next time that Ray and I were in New York we rang Murray and he invited us over to his house, which I have already described. For someone with such exquisite taste, he dressed so badly, but that was none of our business. He offered us a drink of either cordial or Coca Cola or coffee. There was no alcohol in the house. So we settled for a coffee, which he got someone else to make. Later we all went off to Ted Hook’s Restaurant called ‘Backstage’ a great fun place, for dinner, our treat. Murray stuck to his cordial, but he was still great fun.

TED HOOKS BACKSTAGE BAR 1A

 As we were only in New York for a short time and Murray was busy for a week with lectures, it was left that he would take us to his favorite Chinese restaurant in China Town the next time we were in New York. Two months later we were back in New York and Murray collected us from the Waldorf Astoria in his chauffeur driven limousine and we were off to China Town.

The limousine stopped at the tattiest looking restaurant on the block. The owner greeted Murray as a regular and we were ushered to a table with a torn table cloth. Murray told us that the restaurant didn’t serve drinks, ( if we would have known, we could have brought a bottle), so Murray ordered 3 glasses of water, which came three quarters filled (they knew Murray from old). He then took out of a carrier bag a baster which one usually uses for the turkey. This time it was filled with cordial and he preceded to fill up our glasses. I didn’t dare look at Ray and he didn’t look at me. It took us both all our effort to keep a straight face. Meanwhile Murray didn’t turn a hair, and just behaved as though it was his norm. Well it certainly wasn’t ours, and the meal really was awful! Next time we knew not to accept a dinner invitation from Murray. Still it was his only quirk and I have never met a psychologist or psychoanalyst who was normal.

He told us that he would be away lecturing on a world cruise, so he was renting the house to Judy Garland as she was appearing in New York. It all sounded very jolly. Judy Garland! My, oh, my!

Next time Ray and I were in New York we rang Murray to invite him out for dinner, we weren’t going to chance an invite from him again! But he declined and told us to come over to the house instead, as he’d just returned from another world cruise. When he answered the door he seemed very down, and when we asked him why, he just pointed round the room and said, “Look!” Half of the antique Venetian glass walking sticks on the staircase were smashed. Apparently Madame (Judy) in a fit of pique had taken a stick and smashed them. He said that there was more damage upstairs, which we didn’t see. Litigation was in process.  Poor Murray! It seemed that his rental to Judy Garland had been a dead loss.

The last time we saw Murray was when Zee and Co. was staring at the Sheraton Bal Harbor Hotel in Miami and we went to see him at Fort Lauderdale where he was getting ready for another cruise lecture.

 I have downloaded 3 L.P.s from YouTube of Murray Banks for you to listen to. I’m sure you will agree with me that he was a wonderful comic with an ingenious mind.

 

DR.MURRAY BANKS CD 3A

Anyone Who Goes To A Psychiatrist Should Have His Head Examined

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOTO1ElLwEc
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5P3TG6mIs8
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd0oTyd_gCs
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3PF2M9-APw
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AKLIHeEoXc
Part 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GzmbS5ReGI

DR.MURRAY BANKS CD 1A

How To Quit Smoking In Six Days Or Drop Dead In Seven!

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzATEJ9NtpY
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwsKM0qPL18
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXGYwGs_gsk
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS7URfiFC9k
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcW6fXYq5Zc
Part 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFtN_kf24yo

DR.MURRAY BANKS CD 2A

Just In Case You Think You’re Normal

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSD1gBdMksc
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCD_fodHvyc
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u-XxELZ5No
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgopbtH4qEs
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtBPBkazW8I

 

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Paris, A Gourmet’s Delight

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PARIS, A GOURMET’S DELIGHT.

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PARIS, THE HEART 

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PARIS THE BEAUTIFUL

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OH! HOW  I WISH I WAS THERE NOW!  (Photo by David Schiffman)

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PARIS,  ARC DE TRIOMPHE AT NIGHT

Skipping through ‘Google’ recently, this site is so amazing! It’s like having your own personal reference library.
I came across a photo of Hugh Heffner, the Playboy magnate, dining at “Au Mouton de Panurge” in Paris in 1970. It reminded me of the many times that Ray and I dined there and set me thinking about those times

 

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The Hotel Scribe in Paris.

During the 60’s and the 70’s, Ray and I always stayed at the Hotel Scribe whenever we were in Paris. It was so central and we could walk practically everywhere. It was just around the corner from the “Olympia Theatre where I saw the wonderful Josephine Baker four times in “Paris Mes Amours.” We would also eat at least once on each visit at the Restaurant,“AU MOUTON DE PANURGE,” which was only a short walk from the Hotel Scribe.

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The Hotel Scribe at Night

The history that surrounded this hotel is quite amazing, but in those days I had no idea, and until recently I wasn’t really interested.
The Hotel Scribe isn’t just an ordinary luxury hotel like its neighbor, the illustrious Opéra Garnier, which happens to be the most famous Opera House in the World.

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The Opera Garnier, the most famous opera house in the world.

Remember, Opera Garnier was the scene for the Gaston Leroux novel “Phantom of the Opera”, which was also made into a musical, a play and a film four times.

The hotel was built in 1861. Since then, it’s served as the cradle of cinema and housed some of the most famous artistic names of all time. The hotel’s history and ties to the dramatic arts are still strong. On the fourth floor, there is a tribute to former resident Serge Diaghilev, founder of Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, who appeared regularly at the Opera House. ( If I would have known it, I would have insisted on a room on the fourth floor )    

There’s a story around every corner of the Scribe. The first public presentation of the Lumière brothers’ revolutionary invention, the Cinematograph, took place at the Hotel Scribes in 1895.
The Scribe Hotel was, and still is, an icon of Parisian luxury. Thinking about it now, there is no way that I could possibly afford to stay at the Scribe at today’s prices, much as I would love to do so. But I digress.

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE IN PARIS.
The Temple of Good Eating
17 rue de Choiseul, 2nd arrondissement Paris.

Au Mouton de Panurg

Pour les gourmands, les gourmets, et les goinfres.
Translation:
(For connoiseurs of fine food, for the greedy and also for gluttons).

The Decor and Menu were designed by Albert DuBout (1905-1976), the famous Rabelais Illustrator. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what the word Rabelais means, I didn’t know either until I Googled it!)
The colourful and humorous souvenir menu had bawdy illustrations by DuBout. It had the same bawdy humour as one would find in the old naughty seaside postcards.

PANURGE-2001

PANURGE-2003

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE.

On entering the restaurant we were confronted by a large bell,

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE PHALLIC BELL3

The clapper of the bell was in the shape of an erect phallus complete with balls, which the ladies were requested by the waiters to stroke and then ring. You can see where I’m going! Some were shocked and some mildly protested, although those who protested too much always seemed to hold onto the clapper longer than the others, but finally they all rang the bell! So once the bell was rung the evening started, and the bell seemed to be ringing continually. The food and wine were excellent and there was plenty to choose from in the gourmet menu. As you can see the bread rolls which were in the same shape as the clapper in the bell, left nothing to the imagination.

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE BREAD ROLL

Do you think she measured it?

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE BREAD ROLL.EATEN

Hugh Heffner and his ladyf riend.who just couldn’t decide whether she should just nibble at it, or eat it whole!

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE BEATLES

The Beatles, Brian Epstein (with a chamber pot on  his head) and George Martin.

A Press Quote

“THE RIOTOUS MOUTON”

Well, here’s the damnedest place you ever got into. It is a prime favorite with many serious gourmets. Both male and female; food’s excellent , wine list is good, mirth runs riot, and prices are fair.

CHARLES H. BAKER JR.  (ESQUIRE)

The Au Mouton de Panurge, was a Parisian restaurant named for the French expression that refers to a person who blindly follows others, like sheep, without regard to the consequences. “The Sheep of Panurge,” was at 17 rue de Choiseul. 2nd. Arrondissment Paris.

RAY, ROSE & ERIC TRY PRINTING

Ray and Rose (my mother) and me spending an enjoyable evening at “Au Mouton de Panurge”

Later in the evening between the first and second courses, when the wine was flowing and everyone was enjoying themselves, the waiter would request the lady to stand on the table, and he would place a garter on her leg, just above the line of decency. The whole evening was hilarious, and great fun was had by all.

2013-01-30 LYDIA AT AU MOUTON DE PANURGE

Our good friend Lydia Lova joining in the fun.

2013-01-30 LYDIA MARK RAY AND ME.

Ray Jackson and Mark Canter (the costume designer) with Lydia Lova and me.

Having a great evening at “Au Mouton de Panurge.

A Press Quote

“PARIS AFTER DARK”

A Paris Restaurant that would never get by the Boston censors. Based on the Rabelais theory that laughter is the right of man,      “AU MOUTON DE PANURGE”  is jammed seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

ART BUCHWALD  (The New York Herald Tribune)    

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE GARTER 1970

Another young lady receiving the garter

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE-TIT TOUCHER

 

PANURGE-2008_002

The menu has a variety of famous signatures reproduced on it. The elite celebrity patrons included such famous names as Jean Cocyeau, Jean Marais, Martine Carol, Albert Schweitzer, Clarke Gable, Marcel Pagnol, Ali Khan, Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Errol Flynn, Mistinguette, Edith Piaf, the Beatles and Hugh Heffner. They were just a few among many others who dined at “Au Mouton De Panurge”.

TRATTORIA DELL’ARTE NEW YORK

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE TRATTORIA DELL'ARTE FRONT PAVEMENT

Digital Camera

The closest I have come across to the wonderful “Au Mouton de Panurge” was this year when I was in New York in June and went along on my first night for dinner with Angie and her family at the Trattoria Dell’Arte on 7th.Avenue, opposite Carnegie Hall.

 AU MOUTON DE PANURGE TRATTORIA DELL'ARTE 1

This bustling Tuscan restaurant has boobs, buns, lips and other body parts on it’s wall, even noses, but it was not quite Rabelais

Digital Camera

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE TRATTORIA DELL'ARTE 99

The food was excellent, with a wonderful choice, as was the wine, and the atmosphere was electric.

AU MOUTON DE PANURGE TRATTORIA DELL'ARTE 5

Digital Camera

So what more could one ask for? Well, maybe it would have been nice if some of the ladies were nibbling at a bread roll and a few of them stroking and ringing the bell!!!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2015 in Uncategorized