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Subject: Re: 'I'm not a dreary cow' - Sheila Hancock

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Date Posted: Saturday, December 06, 03:25:36pm
In reply to: Leila 's message, "'I'm not a dreary cow' - Sheila Hancock" on Saturday, November 29, 09:55:38am

heys all,

thanks leila for the article; as always, lots of fun to read anything Sheila has written. had to laugh all the way!
there is even more to her than meets the eye. (and she already looks interesting enough!)
love her new book, like you all. read it twice. (at the moment I'm carried away by the books of cj sansom; wauw, great! sort of an inspector morse during the reign of henry the 8th.)
wish I could write english as well as I can read it...

at this moment I'm in the middle of the birthdayparty of my 11 years old daughter; an ABBA disco party.
great fun! but I'm already exhausted... escaped to my laptop with an espresso.
don't laugh at me: there is more to come: they're all staying the night: all 8 of them...
my two sons (13 and 9) are taking care of the food and drinks; great!
right now they're singing along with the new ABBA singstar on the playstation. which is in the basement; thank god...

well, do hope you're all doing fine!

>Hiya All
>I have just found this aritcle on the The Guardian,
>website, basicly the took Sheila into a room filled
>with clippings of her life and asked her to write an
>article. there is a film on the website for people who
>can access it.
>'I'm not a dreary cow'
>How does it feel to look back at your life through the
>eyes of others? We invited the actor Sheila Hancock -
>who never reads her own press - to look through the
>newspaper cuttings of her life and gave her the chance
>to set the record straight
>I always made it my business not to look at my
>newspaper cuttings, so it's a bit of a shock walking
>into a room full of them. On the whole, I think
>journalists have been kind about me, but they do make
>me sound a bit of a dreary cow. There seems to be so
>much suffering in my life. Right from the start, the
>focus is all death.
>In 1971, my mother died of cancer and within a year my
>first husband Alec Ross died, also from cancer. Of
>course, it was a terrible time for me, and it did
>change me. I lost my religion, for one thing. As a
>child, I was deeply religious and went to church every
>Sunday. But after mum and Alec died, I got really
>bored with talking about the love of God and I
>thought, I can't be bothered. I was no longer
>interested in who caused it and why did it happen, I
>just thought, if somebody's suffering, let's do
>something about it, and if I'm suffering I should pull
>myself together rather than thinking somebody up there
>is going to help me. So I became a humanist and later
>on I became a Quaker.
>In 2002, my second husband John Thaw died of cancer of
>the oesophagus, just as Alec had done, and there I was
>on the suffering treadmill again. Poor Old Sheila,
>Tragic Widow, that kind of thing. Some of the
>headlines right from the start are so sober and pious.
>And yes, I felt awful, and I felt sorry for myself and
>I missed John terribly, but that is certainly not all
>of me. All the time, I've been working and doing shows
>- and having fun a lot of the time. I suppose I have
>always had a sense of duty, and wanted to help people,
>but I'm much larkier in real life than my cuts
>suggest. There's a dreadful headline from one
>interview - "She tells the desolate that all things
>are possible; that things might become better." I
>sound like Mother Teresa. I've never been as nice or
>as selfless as that.
>In lot of ways, I've been selfish. There's a Relative
>Values I did with my daughter Ellie-Jane in the Sunday
>Times, and she gets it just about right. She says,
>"Because she's such an old cow she wants to interfere
>with everything; if there's something going on she
>wants to do it. Like writing. So now she's writing and
>she hasn't just stopped with writing a book; now she's
>decided she wants to write for television so she goes
>on a course for television writers." It's true, and my
>children suffered for that. I was always going off on
>something, and they were neglected. It's not that I
>actually left them, but I did do my own thing a lot.
>Then again, I had to make a living. John started to
>make money eventually, but at the beginning of The
>Sweeney I was still earning a great deal more than him
>through musicals such as Annie, but the children were
>battered around a lot by our relationship and careers
>- metaphorically, that is. There's another headline
>from Ellie-Jane saying, "I despised my mum when I was
>a teenager." And we certainly did have our problems. I
>remember telling her that I loved her but didn't like
>her. But that's the past. These days I get on great
>with all three girls.
>When John and I married, it was before The Sweeney and
>he wasn't very well known. We got a copy of Who's Who
>and John looked up Sheila Hancock and there was a bit
>about me and then he looked himself up and it said:
>"John Thaw, see Sheila Hancock." He was so furious.
>But I always knew he would be successful, and that was
>important to me. My first husband Alec was a very
>good-looking man, but by the time he came out of the
>war, his sort of acting was no longer in demand -
>although he was a working-class boy, he was actually
>very good at suave handsome-men parts. I began to get
>successful when he was out of fashion; it was agony to
>watch him. He never said anything about it, and he
>wasn't jealous, but I couldn't really enjoy my success
>because I would say, "No, I'm sorry, I've got to go
>and see my husband," because I didn't want to be out
>drinking champagne when he was at home.
>There's a quote from John that I had never seen until
>today. "The best thing I ever bought for five quid."
>He's talking about me. Well, the marriage certificate.
>Cheeky sod. He could be fierce, but on the whole he
>was a gentle soul.
>So much has been written about our relationship. A
>fair bit of it by me. The only reason I wrote the book
>The Two of Us was because I received a letter from
>somebody saying they were going to write a
>warts-and-all biography exposing him as an alcoholic.
>I thought if I wrote an honest book about him and me,
>nobody would want to publish a hatchet job from an
>outsider. And it turned out that way.
>In the late 1980s I got cancer, and thankfully
>recovered. We were in the news again. The thing is, I
>can't keep my trap shut. If somebody interviews me I
>tell the truth. I'm not very good at dissembling.
>There was a tabloid headline from 1995, "John and I
>split up when I had cancer - now we know we could
>never live apart ..." At that period, John was
>drinking quite heavily and our marriage was very dodgy
>and we were constantly splitting up and then coming
>back together again. I tried to pretend that things
>were fine, but didn't make much of a job of it. We
>gave interviews pretending that we were together and
>the minute the journalists left I probably said: "I'm
>off, I'm off, I'm leaving you and I'm not coming
>back." It was a very tempestuous relationship. And I
>really miss that.
>My career started off in revues and theatre, and on
>the whole the critics were kind. Funnily enough, the
>nastiest review I ever received was when I was in a
>play with John before we got together called So What
>About love? It was the worst he received, too. There
>was a famous critic called Harold Hobson and he came
>to see it and the review for me was, "She is
>unbearable to the eye and unendurable to the ear," and
>John's review was, "I dreaded his every entrance." We
>used to quote it to one another if ever we got a bit
>uppity; I'd say, I dread your every entrance.
>Looking through my cuts, one thing is pretty obvious -
>journalists are more interested in my life than in my
>work. Maybe that's a bit sad, but then again it does
>get boring when actors go on and on about their method
>and motives.
>What amazes me is that, at 75, I'm still working
>regularly. Last year I was in Cabaret, and I recently
>played the batty seaside landlady in Harold Pinter's
>The Birthday Party. Early in my career I did a lot of
>comedy, and that was great. Then the roles became a
>bit serious. Perhaps that is to do with how I was
>perceived - tragic, serious Sheila again. I loved
>being the sister of Catherine Tate's foul-mouthed Gran
>in her TV sketch show.
>These days, I rarely survive a play. I always play old
>ladies, most of them on their last legs. It pisses me
>off a bit. On stage, I could get away with playing
>quite a bit younger with makeup and good lighting.
>But there's always been one rule for men and another
>for women in the acting world. In sitcoms
>particularly, wives are always much younger than the
>actors who play the husbands. At one point I was told
>I was too old to play John's wife in A Year In
>Provence. True, I was 10 years older than him, but I
>didn't look it.
>Looking back through the decades, I find the old
>pictures of me interesting. I never watch myself in
>things because I always think I look so hideous - I've
>never ever seen myself on TV or in movies. But now I
>think, what a shame because I wasn't that bad looking,
>I was quite nice, and yet like all women I was hung up
>about my appearance. I really did have quite a good
>I think I was always a great appreciator of female
>beauty - if not my own. In one of the newspaper
>cuttings, I said, "Apart from John, I would rather
>spend time with another woman than a man. Apart from
>the fact that I need men for sex, I could easily have
>been a lesbian." I think that's true, I do very much
>like women. But it is a rather unfortunate way of
>saying it - as if men were walking dildos. Maybe I
>didn't say it quite like that at the time, but I
>probably did. It comes across as rather ruthless.
>Personality wise, I don't think I'm much changed over
>the years. I'm still as curious and willing to change
>my mind as ever. That's why I find all the old
>interviews with me a bit disturbing, because I read an
>article where I've said something and think, "What? I
>don't think that! What the hell did I say that for?"
>Women of my mother's generation grew old quietly and
>uncomplainingly. But I do think this is changing. The
>generation that are going to be old now are going to
>remain narky and campaigning. They're not going to be
>prepared to sit around a television in a nasty chair
>and be drugged and behave themselves.
>That's become something of a recurring theme in my
>more recent interviews - that we can be old and lively
>and good fun. Women are still expected to behave in a
>certain way as they get older - you're allowed to be
>maverick and different when you're young, but when
>you're older you're expected to be wise, to be a
>granny, to be a widow. That's all bollocks. We still
>have our appetites, our humour, our ambitions. The
>other day I was on Paul O'Grady's television show and
>some of the Olympic team were there and there were two
>gorgeous guys on and there was Paul and I both
>drooling. There was a picture of one in the nude - a
>very carefully taken picture - and he was beautiful.
>What a piece of work is man!
>The thing that has always surprised people most about
>me is that I love fast cars - and I still do. Why
>should things change just because I'm getting old? Of
>course, there's plenty to be sad about in life, but
>there's still all the good stuff - fast cars, lust and
>Article from >href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2008/nov/26/she


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