Calendar Girls Rehearsals

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 1st November 2009


Joined the cast for rehearsals on Monday.  They are a delightful crowd and made me feel very welcome.  We have the most divine Director - Hamish McColl.  He is an actor, as well as a writer and director and his approach is one of building you up and getting the best out of you - as opposed the some of the directors with whom I worked in my dim and distant Thespian days.

I've seen the film several times and saw the Stage Show in July which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Haven't met the writer - Tim Firth - but what an incredibly writer he is.  He's made the transition from the film to the Stage and given an even funnier and more moving piece. 

There's a rolling cast - changing every three months.  I would say this cast is finding even more humour in the lines but the contrast between the humour and the sadness is all the more telling.  I've now watched the show many times and have not stopped laughing nor crying.  In fact, yesterday in the rehearsal rooms, when I could see the scene preceeding my entrance, it moved me so much, I had to clear the lump in my throat before I went on.

I've only got a few lines, but I'm delighted to be part of such a successful and well received show - and if I never work again, I can say that I ended my career on the West End Stage - does it matter that if you blinked you'd miss me!!!

I must add that all the money from the Booking Fee and the profit from the merchandise is being donated to Leukaemia Research and since the show opened in the West End over £150,000 has been donated.  That is, of course, in addition to over £2 million which has been raised so far from the original Calendar and the Film and Stage Rights.  So a wonderful night out at the Theatre and a good way to help the most worthwhile of Charities.  

The only downside for me  is all the commuting.  There's no way round it.  It would be prohibitively expensive to drive in, pay the congestion charge and in excess of £30 for parking so I'm afraid I have to commute - something I've not done since I was in my teens.  We are not in the best part of the country for commuting even despite the advent of the High Speed Train to Dover which won't affect - other than adversely - a commute from Deal.  So it's knuckling under to approximately 5 hours on a train from Tuesday to Saturday and there's a limit to how much reading one can do in poor light. 

 The facilities on the train are abysmal and as for the Toilets - they are excrable.   Predominantly the young put their dirty feet on the seats and as for the amount of unwanted information one cannot but overhear on mobile phone conversations - Well - enough said.  The Guards, Trolley staff and Station Staff couldn't be nicer.

It is over 50 years since I commuted in to work as a Secretary in the BBC, and things have changed phenomenally - not for the better.

I couldn't believe how crowded the Tubes and Trains were right into the 9.00 pm Time Zone - what are people doing staying in London so late!

We used to criticize the lumbering dinosaur of British Rail but at least the trains were run for the good of the public - now they appear to be run for the good of the shareholder and one has to spend ages on the Internet looking for the best 'deal'.  Gone are the days when a ticket from A to B had a price and that is what you paid.  (Personally I do not think Utilities which serve the Public should be privatised but it's a done deed now)

I was totally taken aback the other day attending a rehearsal in Southwark.  Having paid for a ticket to Charing Cross although I got off a station early at Waterloo East, and also having purchased an Oyster Card at the behest of my son, I found that I couldn't use either to walk between the Station and the Southwark exit - it required a Platform Ticket at the cost of £1.  It wasn't the money that so incensed me as the fact that I held two perfectly good paid up tickets and yet still had to pay again.  Many many thanks to the two lovely young Staff who helped me through the Financial Maze.  Out of sheer bloodymindedness, I took the long way round after that - coming out of Waterloo East Station and walking to the Rehearsal Rooms.

In the past, when I lived in Buckinghamshire,  I used to wonder why people got up and left before the end of a Theatre Show - now I know - they had to catch trains which aren't there for the passengers' benefit but exist to make a profit and late trains are not profitable.  I know this to my cost.  Curtain Call for the Show is too late for me to catch the last train to my home station so I have to drive to one of three stations which make a Late Stop and then onward from there.  Am not looking forward to being on trains late at night but hope I'll be OK.

P.S.  I heard that Southeastern Trains lose a huge amount through Fare dodging.  What do they expect when the smaller stations are only open for a few hours and in the case of my local station - it didn't even bother to open the other day.  The hours firmly stated 6.00 - 11.00 am - but the doors were firmly shut and I drove to the nearby larger station to get a ticket  and met someone else who'd made two trips to the Station only to find it shut - no excuse, no 'Sorry for sickness' - Nothing.   Yes there is a machine there but I loathe using them and so often they malfunction.

When I boarded the train, a young person (with feet on seat of course) paid the guard for a ticket - and it was quite obvious that  they had been ensconced on the train well before the station requested.

Perhaps Southeastern would lose less money if they actually staffed their stations for a full day, thus giving employment to a person and a service to the passenger.  Not only is the local station shut before noon, but so are the facilities like the waiting room and the Loo.

I'm coming back to my pet theme of 'Common Sense' which seems to be in incredibly short supply these days.

I am fast becoming a 'Grumpy Old Woman'!!! 

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