Excerpts from a Colourful Life 2: “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee …an actor’s life for me”*…or not!

Originally I’d thought of becoming a farmer – but we no longer ‘had the money’ to buy a farm.  So having been an ASM (Assistant Stage Manager – the lowest order of animal life in the theatrical food-chain!) occasional Spear Carrier and Second Murderer in the Harrow School famed Shakespeare Society… then led and taught by the incomparable – and world renowned – Shakespearian expert Ronald Watkins … and spent many happy hours with my father (mainly during the divorce with my mother partly because I don’t think he really knew what to do with his skinny, dyslexic but fascinated movie buff son!) in the great London Cinemas of the ’50’s… The Odeons Leicester Square and Kensington and…

London Pavilion cinema, 30 July 1956The London Pavilion where I saw the Beatles ‘Help’ with Groucho Marx‘s lovely daughter in the early ’60’s!)

with the support of my step-mother – a one time actress who’d been to the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art one of the top drama schools –  I decided I would train to be an actor…

Laurence Olivier starred in and directed the movie Hamlet (click to watch Olivier deliver the most famous speech in Shakespeare…’To be or not to be…”… what every aspiring young actor wanted to perform on stage at the Old Vic in London …me included!!)

Laurence Olivier in Hamlet

(image courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos)

BE024714 Richard Burton plays King Arthur and Julie Andrews plays Queen Guinevere in the Broadway hit musical Camelot, New York City. (Image courtesy of and by © Bettmann/CORBIS)

My father’s response was swift and characteristic… ” I don’t think so, son..!” he growled… (he was in fact being protective of his skinny, not-so-confident off-spring – but that’s not how I saw it for a very long time!) “You’re not Laurence Olivier or Richard Burton! …and there are 16,000 out of work actors in this country… it’s a tough world… and you’re neither pretty enough, nor tough enough to make it… don’t worry I’ll find you something else!”

So without discussion or argument I followed his direction and was apprenticed into the family textile business.  I did spend three fun years   studying and working in France, Holland and Germany and by the time I was 21 I spoke four languages fluently… but I’d missed the chance to make a first crucial psychological and strategic step for myself.

LESSON NOT LEARNED:  I did not question the main Alpha Male in my life – my father – and I didn’t stand up for something I really wanted to do.  I did not prepare a good enough case for wanting to go to Drama School and train to be an actor… whether I would’ve been successful in that was not the issue… lack of  conviction and passion, insufficient preparation – and not finding the courage to stand my ground and argue my case was the real issue!

CONSEQUENCE: This issue – which quickly became habitual –  my lack of self-belief and self confidence – particularly when relating to male authority figures, remained in my psyche for a very long time!  Instead of finding my authentic ‘voice’  and confidence earlier in my career, I compromised and failed to follow my heart.  Instead I became a career opportunist – an effective ‘seller’ of things and concepts, an able coordinator, an excellent diplomatist, a persuasive communicator and somewhat of a ‘pleaser’…but not alas… a fulfilled creator of my own destiny!

Thus, having been prevented by my father from becoming an actor, I did the next best thing and making a rather timid entrance as a novice in the role of ‘junior exec’ in one of the most fashionable professions in town: I found myself  in the wild and wily world of London’s top advertising agencies... there to take the next step in losing my innocence!

*PS…. My Title:  “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee …an actor’s life for me!” is the title and chorus of the song sung by the villainous ‘Honest John’ and his side-kick Gideon to persuade the innocent Pinocchio to follow them to become an actor – what then happens is…. well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out..! …but in the meantime here’s a clip of the song – Enjoy!

To be continued…

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