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Post No.1: Please don’t lick my face

I’m a Londoner by rights so I’m not sure how I ended up on a deserted Somerset canal path, scared shitless of the gangly youth with the ‘Ain’t-no-virus-gunna hold ME-down’ look in his eye who was steaming towards me with the intensity of a Kubrick villain.

I tried to reason with him telepathically. “Please don’t be a certified psychopath and lick my face. I may look genteel but in 1985 I wrestled a Columbian drug dealer to the ground and I do boxercise on a Thursday”

If I was still in London, I’d be in a hazmat suit by now, running the gauntlet from my tiny flat in Ladbroke Grove to Costcutters, dodging the tramp piss and dog shit cassoulet that marked the route from Providence Cars all the way to Chicken Cottage.

But I’m not. I’m here, alone in my civvies, taking my single daily exercise allowance with 2 meters between me, infected death and the idiocy that I allow to run my head. “Should we buy a gun?” “Could we eat the dog?”

“How long can I eke out my Clarins tinted moisturizer?”

Eccentric Londoner grapples with Country LivingI think I grew out of London. Of getting wasted in gay clubs and being dared a tenner to walk through Regents Park wearing nothing but a traffic cone. And I couldn’t hack being a jobbing actress. Signing on and living on Cupasoup for months on end before landing a TV ad that made me famous in Zagreb, then back to Cupasoup for 6 months. I’d never have lasted the distance. I like scented candles and frangipani hand cream too much.

So here I am. 20 years later, with husband, garden, two teens and a Ladbrador, living out the karma of my Bourgeois programming.

The first few years I avoided gardening because it felt like digging my own grave. Occasionally I’d challenge myself and scrutinise my garden searching for whatever it is that people find so replenishing about their gardens. Plants have never done it for me so I studied the birds. At least they’ve got a point of view – especially chaffinches – but their chatter sounded like football rattles which only made me pine for Chelsea matches.

Before this sodding pandemic I sought out the company of strangers but was eventually put off by what I call ‘dog talk’. I quickly learnt that in the country you can’t just stride up to someone and say “Hey! You look fun! Wanna hang out?” This isn’t Santa Monica Vegan Farmers Market. This is Somerset and if you want friendship you must go through a dog. And say things like: “A Bedoodle! And so shiny! Which conditioner do you use?” or “Ho! She’s a feisty one! It’s always the little dogs, isn’t it?” which is nuts especially since I only have a dog because two christmasses ago my 15 year old daughter put a gun to my head.

Country folk are nice and everything but I do miss the Variety Pack of London. Shivering Hipsters. Bangladeshi women in sarees. Japanese teenagers in brothel creepers. Iranian taxi drivers who remember the Shah. Yardies who smell of Paco Rabanne and Saudi princes in Knightsbridge sporting ceremonial daggers.

Look, I’m not a prisoner. In normal circumstances I can get to London whenever I want from the station in my village where you could easily imagine Jenny Agutter in soft focus running up the platform calling out “Daddy, my Daddy!” Sometimes, when I’m alone, I re-enact that scene, and it always makes me cry. Here is the scene so you can enjoy a good cry too.

 

Go on. It’s a pandemic. You’re allowed.

© Rose Wadham

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Life Fright – an evening of comedy

Hello, darlings!

Last Friday 21st June, I premiered my one-woman show Life Fright! for a packed audience at Rook Lane Arts in Frome.
It was one of the most exhilarating nights of my life and marked the beginning of my journey as a Stand Up Comedian.
Thank you to everyone who came and please come to my next show at Babington House on Sunday, 29th September.

Here are some testimonials from the Life Fright! audience….

“You were sublime and frankly brilliant. Your timing, content, and performance beyond words and haven’t laughed that much for a long time. We want more please”.
Lucinda Wallop

“Honey bask in the love, glow, and laughter that filled Rook Lane Friday night. Thanks to you we are all a little wiser, happier and have a few more laughter lines! You smashed it!”.
Liz Chandler

“Just unbelievably fabulous my darling”.
Rebecca Wordsworth

“Really, well done, Rosie; you held that audience – seemingly effortlessly – for more than an hour. So good that it was just ‘you’.
Ed Murphy

“No costumes, no props, just your incredible self and so, so many different faces! Rosie you are an inspiration! I have been chuckling to myself ever since your show, recalling many brilliant moments”.
Maria Mathews

“ It was quite brilliant. In Awe. Jaw-dropping and hilarious. You SO did it, and more. Your trusty “frantic steed” was genius. What an entrance. More please in love and adoration”.
Annie Austin

“You were amazing Rosie….. the only cure for post-show come down is…. do another!”
Angela Ward

“That was a triumph, Rosie. I was crying with laughter. You really rocked it – you’re an inspiration”.
Niamh Ferguson

“A good laugh is the best therapy and you took it to another level……keep going fantabulous Rose. I will never forget the Dr Picador character!!!”.
Candida Corcoran

“Your talent is amazing you incredible woman”.
Alexandra Kerrison

“You did so well, you absolute star. You were brilliant”.
Alex Austin

“Rosie! What an amazing star you were last night. We loved it. You were brilliant. Hats off for a fantastic performance”.
Pollyanna Murphy

“You amazing woman! I loved it. Huge congrats for doing your brilliant ’thang’”.
Nina Leijerstam

“Rosie you are a Goddess. I loved every breath. Can’t wait for the next one”.
Lucia Silver

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Epiphany in Pink

Last Saturday my friend invited me to a ’House of Honey’ rave in Shepherds Bush. The theme was pink so I decided to come as Penelope Pitstop.

As we wandered down the Uxbridge Road people gave me funny looks. ”Do I look like a man?” I asked my friend. ”Course not,” she said. ”They just don’t have Penelope Pitstop in Mogadishu.”

Before the party, we went to a swanky bar and quaffed espresso martinis like players. Then we sashayed back up the Uxbridge Road towards the venue feeling sexier than we had for a very long time. As the thump-dee thwang-dee-diddle-dee-zoink of house music got louder, I flashed back to one of the most euphoric moments of my life; dancing on top of a float at the Sydney Mardi Gras, twenty years old and the most beautiful I’d ever be, in a chain mail minidress and killer heels, with thousands of party people cheering me on.

Would I be loved like that again tonight?!

On our arrival, we were greeted by a small bald man in a pink glittery skirt and matching nipple rings. He had the same facial architecture as Nosferatu and his breath was so fetid that I sprung backwards into two women in pink play suits with fluffy pink unicorns horns and long sparkly tails. They looked about 60. Now let me clarify that there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking 60 but not I repeat NOT when you are dressed as My Little Pony. Why no one had the heart to tell them how ridiculous they looked, their crepey flesh, perpetually tanned from too many Ibizan summers, crammed into lycra, I can not fathom.

Not knowing where to look I fled to the ladies loo which was filled with wasted revellers who had been taking drugs for so long that their entire faces had collapsed. Too jaded to bother with discretion, they snorted cocaine right off the sink from a shared plastic straw, their dessicated mouths twittering like demented chaffinches.

After politely refusing a sniff of Amyl Nitrite (Amyl Nitrite!!!) I headed for the dance floor where a throng of gurning Gollums and haggard women in flammable fabrics whooped and whirled. Here Penelope Pitstop was definitely a thing and I was kissed, pawed and photographed from every angle before being dragged towards the stage for optimal viewing. Now if this was 1988 I’d have leaped to the highest platform, pulled my micro dress over my head and jiggled my bottom for all the world to see, but as a 50-year-old housewife and mother of two teenagers, dancing on a podium felt WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS.

Suddenly wanting out, I elbowed my way through the heaving mass of white middle class ’gravers’ and felt relieved that I am no longer compelled to jiggle my bottom at a crowd of strangers in order to feel loved, but free instead to pass the ’jiggling’ baton to my beautiful teenage daughter. (This is the kind of epiphany that would normally have cost a fortune in therapy fees so at least I was quids in).

As I sat on the stairs wishing I was at home with my husband watching Blue Planet II, things suddenly started to get weird. First, my tongue went numb and then my arms felt like lead and I was convinced that my knuckles were dragging along the floor. ”Oh my God I’m having a stroke,” I said out loud until I remembered popping a tissue pouch of magic mushrooms into my mouth at the beginning of the evening.

People’s facial features began to stretch and shrink and slowly but surely my reality morphed into Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, the horrors of which have haunted me since my high school art class. I watched the carpet come alive with human ears and broken lutes and white dismembered legs all travelling to some unseen destination. One woman’s nostrils were streaming with ants and there was a man in a big hat with half an eggshell for a body who scuttled up to me enquiring as to whether I’d like to do ’a cheeky half’ with him.

Desperate to flee this nightmare, I ran to the back of the room and perched on a little pink stool. Wanting nothing more to do with Penelope Pitstop, I pulled off her helmet, goggles, wig, scarf, gloves, belt, and boots. Now I was just a 50-year-old woman in teenage clothing with blonde highlights and far too much makeup, whimpering ’heeeeeelp.’

Thankfully a man with kind eyes came to the rescue. He took my hand and led me outside but I baulked at the packed balcony. ”No more gargoyles, please” I begged. ”Don’t look at them” he said ”look at your feet” so I did, but they were four foot long! My friend tried to make me laugh by doing mad dancing. This worked for a bit but then things got dark again. ”Oh God” I moaned. ”I can hear my daughter’s voice telling me how embarrassing this whole scene is. I feel old and tragic and I don’t want to be with these deluded people all desperate to be young again” The kind man agreed but my friend wasn’t having it. ”Oh for God’s sake Rosie, you’re just tripping! See it for what it is and laugh” but there was no laughter to be had. Only my daughter’s voice begging me to grow up and be normal.

What seemed like a geological era passed before my friend finally agreed it was time to leave. As we stepped onto the Uxbridge Road I was elated to be back in multicultural Britain. Me and my friend and the kind man strolled arm in arm to Woody’s Grill, a middle eastern restaurant populated by real people acting their age. Our Armenian waitress did not approve of my request for fennel tea so I had Fanta instead. By now everything was incredibly funny and we laughed until our sides ached. Then we went home.

Later in my friend’s sofa bed, I thanked God for my not particularly exciting but grown-up husband and my relatively conservative teenage kids and our mediocre house in the country with its difficult, sloping garden. When I consider the alternative – living with addiction, bad hair and an unpublished Peter Pan called Nigel – I am the luckiest woman in Christendom.

Rose Wadham