Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Getting Ready to Go On

One thing about my family: we definitely do quirky.

In preparation for the dreaded op on Friday, we all seem to be running around like headless chickens, making as many plans as it is possible to make for someone with a life-threatening illness, with as much aplomb as is possible for a bunch of headless chickens.

I guess we need to feel busy. I've noticed that myself, my brother and my sister have all come up with ingenious little plans to ease my mother's passage into hospital, through the operation, and out the other side. It makes us feel better. As I mentioned, there is great comfort to be found in attention to detail at such a time.

The best plan, though, is Esme's own.

Once the operation is over, and we've managed to wean her off the morphine and outwit the various superbugs waiting to get her if the cancer doesn't, she will be going for two weeks' early convalescence to Denville Hall, which is - wait for it - a Home for Retired Actors.

This must be the only place in the country where admission is on grounds both medical and theatrical. A Committee of Actors meet in confidence to assess the luvviebility of the applicants. Needless to say, my Ma passed with flying colours.

Esme has been in the business more than 50 years. She remembers Morecambe and Wise when they were the Brokers Men in panto - her landlady threatened to chuck her out for having them to tea. She went to drama school with Harold Pinter. As a teenager she paid a penny to watch Richardson, Gielgud and Olivier from the gods at the Old Vic, then followed them herself, many years later, to perform at the National Theatre down the road. Her theatrical credentials are impeccable, and as long as my arm.

It's a whacky idea, to go off and convalesce with a bunch of fellow thespians, but I must admit it sounds fantastic. It sounds like another world. It sounds... civilised.

The Hall is set in several lovely acres of land. It has a Rose Garden and - vital to a recovering thesp's guests - a bar called The Green Room. There is a conservatory, and numerous upstairs sitting-rooms apparently 'perfect for when you are entertaining visitors'. The Dining Room has small tables so that 'meals can be a time for conversation and friendship'. Residents play Scrabble - oh, and Bridge. Hairdressing and aromatherapy come free. And of course the Hall takes several magazines and newspapers each day. Special days are celebrated, outings arranged, and actors frequently attend interviews and go off to work from the Hall, returning for a quick snifter in the Green Room of an evening.

I think I'll get my name down now.


Debbie said...

Denville Hall sounds wonderful! What a great place to heal and have some fun, too! I'll be thinking of you all Friday.

Sue said...

Hope it all goes okay. It's hard to know how to react in these situations isn't it?

It sound a wonderful place and your mom sounds a fabulous lady. She'll probably be leading the entertainment.

Sending warm wishes.

Sue xx

Richard said...

Thinking of you all.
Wishing your lovely mother a speedy recovery. Put my name down for Denville Hall whilst you're there! love and hugs Richard x