I didn’t jump off Beachy Head so don’t get excited. I went up there as promised, reined myself in, then came back and stayed the night here…
The Grand Hotel Eastbourne – “A Palace by the Sea.”
This was where the ITV story event was held, for over 100 eager delegates. I might write more on this in subsequent posts, but just to say for now that it was a very successful and enjoyable day. Not least because I met Ian Kelsey.
I’d always admired this brilliant actor, but that day I learned he’s also a brilliant man, intelligent, interesting, friendly and a damn good laugh. We had lots in common, notably: a) he once worked on the railways, b) he has a dog and thinks I should get one too, and c) he’s a camper-vanner!
Naturally and genuinely, he was interested in my off-grid life and travels and how I’ve tried to come to terms with a career that’s careered, as it were, over the cliff. We really hit it off and vowed to keep in touch; he even said that if I’m ever down his way I should call in and he’d run me a bath – he’s not the first to offer me this service and it always makes me chuckle because the inference is that I pong a bit! I am, after all, one of the great homeless unwashed.
Yet here I was briefly turning rags to riches in palatial surroundings where men in top hats opened doors for me and called me Sir (which makes a pleasant change from “Gyppo”). And I confess it felt rather odd, and not altogether comfortable, because I couldn’t tip the man who showed me to my room and demonstrated how to switch the lights on; I couldn’t afford to buy myself a nice glass of wine with olives; I couldn’t stretch to anything from the mini-bar, and I couldn’t offer a few shillings to the waiter…
Like actors, writers have their professional ups and downs and I’ve written before about feast versus famine. So while it’s nice to spend a night in such a beautiful hotel, it’s also a teasing reminder of how wonderfully the feast compares and I couldn’t stop thinking, not for the first time in my life, when am I going to get a few quid again?
On the plus side, being minus money reminded me of a little anecdote I’d like to share with you…
Some twenty-seven years ago, my favourite Uncle Arnold popped in to see my beautiful daughter Gabriel, who’d be five, and gave her some money.
“Put it safe,” said Uncle Arnold, avuncularly.
“I will,” said Gabriel.
“Have you got a money box?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“And does your dad ever put money in it for you?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said, “with a knife.”