The end of an era.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 2 September 2008

I used my gymstick this morning.

A stick about so long, with two rubber foot stirrups. Rubber tubes that can be curled round the stick makes the length longer or shorter. The aim, by working against the stick, is to strengthen muscle groups by maiming yourself in the process.

10 lots of bicep curls three times.

10 lots of tricep curls three imes.

Sit ups, sit downs and a 12 minute run.

The old git turned right to go home, me left and then a gentle run - 6 minutes to Battersea Bridge and 6 minutes back.

On the way there I spied a lone trainer under the honeysuckle bush by the seagulls. Somebody must have lost it out of their bag, tripped out of it, or discarded it so that I could meditate on its presence. It occurred to me that one trainer on its own was absolutely useless, unless of course, you were Long John Silver.

One trainer is possibly the most exasperating thing on earth. The poor cyclist who had dropped it out of their saddle bag? The shopper out of their basket? The runner out of their ruck sack? Then the endless wondering where they had left it, dropped it, hidden it. Looking for it in all the nooks and crannies, wondering whether they had left it in the kitchen, the bedroom, the cupboard under the stairs. Then the realisation that perhaps they had probably dropped it somewhere on the way to work, but where?

I pondered, for a split second, wondering whether I should put it on the ledge by the 'flooding' sign but decided against it.

Then I felt overwhelming compassion for the owner of the one perfectly heeled trainer. They would have to buy a whole new set, for a big pile of money, as nobody, to my knowledge,sellls one trainer at a time....

By the time I got home I was all hot and flustered.

So I unpeeled myself from my running attire,put the washing in, filled a bowl with cereal, covered it in milk and settled down in front of the computer.

I read the newspapers on line.
I dribbled me soya milk over my naked torso when I got to the entertainment section.

KEN CAMPBELL, an important element in my life, had gone and got himself deaded at the age of 66.

He was responsible for teaching me, and a whole pile of other actors, how to be. How to exist, willingly, on stage. How to have fun. How to fill a space and not panic. How to pretend professionally.

I burst into tears and called Sweden, Devon, Sussex, The Isle of Dogs and my mother.

I was directed by him, toured with him, slept on the canals of Frankfurt in an old VW van, for him. Toured Israel and exploded fireworks on Sylvester McCoys chest in Jerusalem. Put ferrretts down the said McCoys trousers in Edinburgh. Hammered nails up my nose in Holland, all for Mr. Campbell.

Got arrested for impersonating a police officer in York, sung in Liverpool, played the piano in Leith, recited verse in Bavaria, let off balloons in Munich and made a complete tit of myself in Barnstable. I shone a torch through the window of a motorbike side car in Chelsea. I was the lighting designer for the Smallest Theatre on Earth. The motorcycle and side car was parked in the courtyard of the Royal Court in London.

Monsieur Samuel Beckett enjoyed being the only audience member as Eugene Geesley, a small man from Dublin who had one ear and a voice to die for, performed Hamlet for him. Becket sat in the seat. Geesley stood. The back drop was changed by Marcel Steiner, a huge man with a lot of facial hair and a heart of gold.

Marcel drove me from the hook of Holland to Amsterdam on that bike. By the time I dismounted in the Dam Square I couldn't walk on account of all the cobbles and my legs having been astride a very hot motorbike body for two and a half hours.

Eugene, Marcel, Samuel and Ken are all dead now.

It was Ken Campbell, who made us sit and watch all the Abbott and Costello films in Hampstead whilst ice-cream sculptures were being fashioned in the shed in a flat on Haverstock Hill.

Mr. Campbell, it was, who wrote the longest play that went into the Guinness Book of Records. The wonderful Campbell who encouraged little Geesely, to sing like Frank Sinatra and the, plump women, yours truly, to wear low cut dresses whilst eyeing up Ukranian Australians in the audience to give us a bed for the night as we didn't have enough money to pay our hotel bill.

We did runners, moonlight flits, daytime blunders and any number of naughty things in the Black Forest, some of which included gateaux. . The man was a genius. He was 66 when he died. His daughter found him asleep in the middle of big cushions on the floor of his home in Epping, Essex.

MR. KEN CAMPBELL changed my life as well as the lives of several others.

When the funeral happens, and I'm not full of 'Blue Lagoons' and other sordid cocktails from the Thai restaurant I will tell you more.

I last saw him at the tribute for Jeremy Beadle. His hair was white, but he looked merry, I asked him to write me a one woman show and he agreed. I shall now have to do it alone, although if he thinks he's going to get away with remaining silent flying around with the angels he has another think coming. I, along with hundreds of others, will be bombarding his airspace with questions.

He'll like that.

I can hear him giggling now. I met him in 1972. He never stopped writing, inventing, entertaining and growing. Watch out St, Peter, he'll take all your best gags, develop them, and then tell 'em better than you.

Goodbye Ken, it was good to know you.

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