Revisited – Vale Joan Rivers

I’ve been asked to put up other posts from my previous blog where I acknowledge the passing of a notable person. I’ve found a couple of people most will know, plus one that you might not have known so well.

WordPress is slow today. I’m guessing millions of people are writing about the news that Joan Rivers has passed away.

Hubs told me when he heard it on the radio. I started crying straight away. Not just for Melissa and Cooper, but for me. I can tell you exactly the first time I became aware of this tour de force: The Muppet Show, her skit with Miss Piggy at the make-up counter. Sending up herself, sending up Miss Piggy, sending up show business.

For so long she’s been one of my heroines; she’s been a huge part of my life. Not just knocking on the doors of comedy, misogyny, feminism, but blasting them off their hinges. Fashion Police was one of my guiltiest pleasures, I loved that she was un-merciless about bad dresses on the red carpet. For me, it was less about the celebrities being roasted, but more that the industry was being roasted. Poking fun at how stupid it is to be promoting your work, but being asked what you’re wearing.

Today I’m in jeans by Jeans West, tucked into my favourite brown boots from Next. I’m in a simple white long sleeved t-shirt and a Sweaty Betty grey marl hoodie. My glasses are by FCUK, wedding ring is white gold, my earrings are simple silver studs. Do you see how stupid it is?

Do you see how awful it is that we continue to judge women in particular by how they dress and look, not by what they do? In the shower and getting dressed this morning I was thinking about how to write about this woman. How to explain my passion for her. How do I share with you my thoughts on her, all the while the first tweet came in saying she’d died doing what she loved, having surgery.

That got me so cross.

Did anyone stop to think that if women were allowed to grow old, grey, gently lined with love and laughter it could have been different? Because all the time, someone younger, smaller, skinnier and usually blonde is coming up right behind you. Joan Rivers was frank about the surgery she’d had, admitted she was chasing being the cute girl that she never was. Yet unlike some celebrities, she never attempted to hide it. Unlike many more celebrities in the wonderful documentary she made A Piece Of Work, she let the cameras watch her get ready, no make-up on.

I was so sad this morning, I was weeping, Peanut asked me what was wrong. I tried to explain that I wasn’t upset with him, that someone I loved had passed away. He doesn’t understand, but I needed to try to find the words for him.

Joan Rivers made history because she was saying what people were thinking, she divided people, she upset people, and yet she was so vivid, so effervescent it was hard to remember she was 81 years old.

The thing that I loved most about her? That the people who worked for her, she paid for their children’s education. She took dinners round to people who couldn’t afford them for Christmas and Thanksgiving. She took her grandson with her to show him, not everyone has enough. To show him, when you have a little bit more, you share, you give.

Darling girl, you made me cry with laughter, my sides ached. Today the world is a little dimmer without you in it.

Joan Rivers

Any posts with the prefix, Revisited, are cross-posted from a now hidden personal blog.

Is there an elephant in the room?

Or, why are you using Emily Eleanor, when your name is Maddie?

I will do a video at some point, but until then, please accept this post as an explanation.

When I wrote One Last Hundred Chances, I used Emily Eleanor as a pen name. This was to protect the people brave enough to put their deepest worries down in writing. While the stories were shared with their consent; I wanted to put as much distance as possible between me participating in forums and the book.

For people to share the one thing they wish they’d seen as the red flag it was, they needed to be supported and assured of confidentiality, which they’ve all received. We’re three years away from the publication of the book. I’ve also closed the specific account I was using on the Facebook and Reddit et al. No traces appear online that could be linked back to me OR the people who originally commented on the posts.

EE Grant has remained because Emily Eleanor are the middle names of my Grandmothers. I honour them every time I use it, I remember them long after they died because of it.

Revisited – Vale Bill Hunter, Loss of a legend

I’ve been asked to put up other posts from my previous blog where I acknowledged the passing of a notable person. I’ve found a couple of people most will know, plus one that you might not have known so well.

Today’s news reports have been covering the passing of Bill Hunter. At 71, he released via a statement a short while ago that he had cancer; unfortunately some media coverage had been staking out the hospice he passed his final days in. Which is nothing short of reprehensible. People do not move into hospices for fun. Covering the passing of anyone famous for news coverage, while ignoring or just trampling over the feelings of the other families who are also travelling to and fro that same hospice to row their loved one out on their final journey, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

I was lucky enough to meet Bill Hunter in Chloe’s Bar last year. Meeting Hubs and Hanno in the CBD, we arranged to meet there as it was central. I was early, grabbed a couch, and while nursing a red wine and my book, one of my most favourite people walked in. Thrilled just to be in the same room as him, I squeaked excitedly, and ignored the boys I was meeting, happy to try not to stare at someone who’s career I’ve loved for years. When we were ready to go onto our restaurant for dinner, I took a deep breath and walked to his table. I apologised for interrupting him and said that I just wanted to thank him, because so much of his work features in my favourite films. He stood up, shook my hand, engulfing my right hand with both of his, asked my name and said ‘I’m Bill, thank you for your kind words.’

I didn’t walk out of Chloe’s, I floated. Every time I go to Fed Square, I look at the window it happened and smile. You don’t get a chance to bump into one of your heroes every so often. I took the opportunity with both hands, and this morning when Hubs told me that Mr. Hunter had passed, I was grateful all over again I made myself do it. From Strictly Ballroom, to Gallipoli, to Finding Nemo, to Muriel’s Wedding and of course, Priscilla. Those five films hardly touch a stella career.

And I simply cannot find the words to close this blog post.

Picture credit

Any posts with the prefix, Revisited, are cross-posted from a now hidden personal blog.

Revisited – Vale L’Wren Scott

I’ve been asked to put up other posts from my previous blog where I acknowledged the passing of a notable person. I’ve found a couple of people most will know, plus one that you might not have known so well.

This whole tragic event being raked over in the press, the reprehensible actions of which are best described in this thoughtful article in the Guardian today, is so sad. I watched the coverage on the ABC last night where voxpops were taken from two men on the Perth concert being postponed, (before it was announced the whole tour had been postponed), one man said ‘People need to look at the bigger picture’ the other “The Rolling Stones owe their fans to reschedule”. Needless to say I shouted at the TV at the latter, the Rolling Stones actually owe you nothing in this situation, get over yourself. Losing someone close to you is hard, losing your partner is awful.

The salacious reports describing the ‘swanky’, ‘classy’ Manhattan apartment building have both really annoyed and upset me. Does that matter? But if she lived in a brownstone, Californian bungalow or motel room, it would still be described in the same way. Because of who Ms Scott was and who she was dating.

When do you stop being a girlfriend and become a partner? Mick Jagger and L’Wren Scott were together for thirteen years. Yet gleefully the papers reported on Bianca Jagger’s tweet sending her condolences, and are now busy door-stopping all and sundry to get a story. When there is no story other than a talented, successful business woman, who happened to be stunningly beautiful, who happened to be dating someone who’s been famous for nearly 50 years, has taken her own life. But let us not cover it simply, with decorum and gently, no, let us be ar$eholes and muck-rake instead.

Grief is an awful situation in itself, but I simply cannot imagine what the friends and family, including Mick Jagger are going through. Suicide is an awful, terrible, horrible situation, often leaving more questions than answers. But all the press are concerned about is getting a picture of Mick Jagger’s grief to splash all over their pages.

It has been a while since someone close to me passed away. But that hollow feeling never really goes, you just get used to living with it, as HRH Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother famously said about the death of her beloved husband. There are days when I look at my son and wish people I knew that had passed got a chance to meet him, but wishing doesn’t do anything except make me sad. However, I can be sad on my own terms, in my own house, but for the foreseeable future, Mick Jagger will have cameras pointing at him, pointing out his grief – and woe betide the first time he has a drink, dinner or anything with someone female the press don’t recognise, he’ll be usurping L’Wren Scott ad infinitum.

Instead of looking at her life, remembering the talent, drive and sheer bloody mindedness that took L’Wren Scott from an Mormon upbringing to being someone recognised by a single name; someone who’s designs have won recognition all over the world for their beauty and structure; people will just look at this coverage and think she was nothing but something pretty on someone’s arm. Ms Scott deserves more than that. Whatever the situation she found herself in that lead to her taking her own life, be gentle.

Picture credit

Any posts with the prefix, Revisited, are cross-posted from a now hidden personal blog.

Revisited – Vale Sir Terry Wogan

I’ve been asked to put up other posts from my previous blog where I acknowledge the passing of a notable person. I’ve found a couple of people most will know, plus one that you might not have known so well.

This post may not fly well outside the UK, so for any international readers, you might just have to bear with me on this one.

I was thinking of Terry Wogan on Sunday, we were driving down to our nephew’s birthday party. The radio was on, a Queen song was playing, until it was abruptly cut off when the news pips started – I got the giggles thinking about Terry Wogan crashing the pips for the 8am news on the radio.

This morning, Monday, I woke up to the news that he’d passed away. Leaving a lot of people bereft, as Simon Mayo put it, “The staple of all great radio is the friend behind the microphone and he was the ultimate friend behind the microphone.” For those of you who don’t know him; or do know him and didn’t listen to his breakfast show on Radio 2, Wake up to Wogan; or those who do know him, didn’t listen and he didn’t touch your life other than him popping up on your telly-box every so often: you really did miss a treat.

His breakfast show was hilarious, full of in-jokes and vernacular:

  • I loved the rev up to the 8am pips every morning. He’d aim to stop the song the second before the time pips started to announce the hour. Sometime gloriously, he’d cheer with success, other times he’d crash them so badly, he’d just go ‘whoops’ and carry on.
  • I loved when he’d play James Blunt, You’re Beautiful, and say ‘Phew! every time it was the radio edit from the album, not the one with the eff-bomb in it.
  • I loved producer Paulie, very sadly missed. Mostly remembered for leaning forward in his chair and farting on air, much to everyone’s hilarity.
  • I loved Deadly, Boggy and Fran, all news readers, respected news readers but allowed and given room to interact and get the giggles in the program. Boggy, John Marsh who is married to Janet, inspired a whole spin off of Janet and John books, which were as much as innuendo laden as Round the Horne.
  • I loved Chuffer Dandridge, the retired Shakespearean actor. His exploits and adventures trying to get a decent working job, had everyone in the studio in fits of laughter. Not least for the obscure village names that pepper the UK countryside, Chuffer would riff of travel reports, complaining about working in Middle Wallop, waiting to be good enough to get to Upper Wallop. This little clip gives you a hint of the silliness. Yes, this was live radio.
  • I loved the silent fireworks they ‘set off’ each year so children and animals didn’t get scared.
  • I loved that he referred to his wife as the Present Mrs Wogan, then when he was knighted, the Present Lady Wogan.
  • I loved that while on the BBC, he was never ‘of’ the BBC. He was freelance, working when he wanted, easing down to one weekly show a week, where the silliness continued. Supported by his TOGs and TYGs, Terry’s Old Geezers and Terry’s Young Geezers. The most regular of contributors gathered together for TOGs conventions, raising money for charity and having a riotous time with Pinot Grigio.
  • I love that he commented on the Eurovision Song Contest, reading what had been written by the PR for the countries, but with an arch and a giggle in his voice. Helped along by sips of sherry in the booth, the longer the evening, the more raucous he was.
  • I love that he played a song for my mum, she slept through it, but people told her about it. He told her off, played it again, she missed it again and he played it again for her. She still missed it.

His voice was the voice of long drives and train rides to work. The chat show on in the early evenings was what we watched after dinner and before swimming training.

He also set a world record with this golf putt, the longest televised live.

To achieve the mammoth listening figures, year in, year out, having fun and brightening every morning for those starting their day is difficult. Breakfast radio gets fiddled with a lot over here in Australia, which is a big reason about why I can’t listen to it, (the standard format here of two men, one sycophantic woman laughing at the two men is unbearable), no matter who you put into the slot. Terry Wogan’s show was simple, music was played, he chatted, read letters, linked to things that had happened before and we were all one big family.

I chose to link to Simon Mayo’s quote, because the closest I can get to Wake up to Wogan’s ‘family’ is Wittertainment, of which Simon is one half. The other is Mark Kermode, movie critic. I listen to lots of podcasts, where they ask for audience participation, but don’t follow it up by including any!

Genius is often bandied around, but coming into a studio, opening the microphone, playing music and entertaining people for two hours, while not having a script is bloody hard work. Terry Wogan used a script to bid everyone farewell at the end of 2009, his voice broke audibly as he said goodbye to us.

Thank you BBC Radio 2 for cutting the best bits of his shows together in a podcast so I could continue to listen from Australia. Thank you to Lady Helen Wogan, your children and grandchildren for sharing Sir Terry with us for so long.

terry wogan

Any posts with the prefix, Revisited, are cross-posted from a now hidden personal blog.