Lynn Ruth Miller

Commedienne - Not dead yet

Category: Blog (page 1 of 2)



Our major obligation is not to
mistake slogans for solutions.
Edward R. Murrow

David Cameron made the headlines not long ago because he refused to wear a t-shirt proclaiming: THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE.  I have no problem with his refusing to wear a slogan like that, because it is just a bunch of words that are meaningless until you act on them.


I wonder if people realize that a statement means nothing unless is indicates an action.   Wearing a sentence doesn’t make it happen.  I think we should pass a law that forces you to stand by what you say.  For example, if you are wearing a t shirt that says WELL BEHAVED WOMEN RARELY MAKE HISTORY you better get naughty or no one will believe in you anymore.

I have always loved: THE EASIEST WAY TO GET A HEALTHY BODY IS TO MARRY ONE because it gives me an excuse to have flabby arms and a sagging bum. If anyone sees me in that t-shirt, I always say, “That’s why I’m single.”

I am being an honest woman just like my mother said I should be.

Now you take the slogan: IF WOMEN WERE REALLY LIBERATED, WHO WOULD DO THE DISHES?  The only women that should wear that one are female executives who get up at 6 in the morning to pack the kids’ lunches and make a hearty breakfast for the family, rush off to the office to do important things and then, at five o’clock, slip off the high heels, don the sensible oxfords and drive to the supermarket to buy dinner.  They hurry home, run the vacuum as they rush upstairs to change into something comfortable and loose enough to handle pots and pans, dash downstairs, create a gourmet feast for everyone, light the candles rearrange the flowers on the table and call “Dinner’s ready.”  Yes sir. That is THE t- shirt for them.

Their husbands and children should bow down to these heroines of the modern world and present them with shirts that say MOTHERS ARE MIRACLE WORKERS.

If you wear a t-shirt that says: I DON’T NEED YOUR ATTITUDE, I HAVE MY OWN you better have a smart mouth on you.  Someone dressed in a shirt like that is telling everyone, “Watch out!  I don’t take garbage from anyone.”   Yet invariably, the person sporting that kind of slogan will be a skinny five-foot failed football player.  Doesn’t he realize he is wearing a lie?

I am a woman of a certain age and I am sick of people giving me t-shirts that shout things like I AM ONE HOT COOKIE because I am not, anymore (if I ever was..but that is another  story.)  And what about AGE IS JUST A NUMBER. No, it isn’t .  It is an accomplishment.

I have been shopping for a t-shirt that tells all you youngsters why I stay out late at night and don’t take good care of my liver and I finally found the perfect one: YOU CAN LIVE TO BE 100 IF YOU GIVE UP ALL THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO LIVE TO BE 100.

I bought it without even looking at the price.  I wear it when I go to the pub and I admit I flaunt it when I pass the gym and see those wild-eyed, determined people sweating it out on their stationary bikes.  “See this?”  I say as I stick out my chest and lap up my chocolate ice-cream cone. “I have discovered truth.”

















An animal’s eyes have the power
To speak a great language.
Martin Buber

A.R. Gurney created a debutante in his comedy “The Cocktail Hour” who cries, “No one understands me but my horse.”  The line got a big laugh but it wasn’t a joke. Our horses, dogs and cats catch on to our moods a lot faster than our partners or our relatives do.

Mothers, of course, are an exception. One glance from you tells them everything.  My own mother insisted she could read my entire days activities on my forehead.  It turns out that my puppy could do the same thing.

A new study confirms that animals gather information and transmit it through their eyes. This can be very unsettling….especially when sitting down to a holiday meal. There you are digging into your roast turkey and gobbling up your roast potatoes when you feel a forceful presence watching you lift your fork to your mouth and chew those brussel sprouts.  You look down at Fido, his mouth open and saliva dripping down his fuzzy little chin.  He is watching you so intently he doesn’t even blink.   You would have to have a heart of iron to ignore the longing, the unbridled desire on your puppy’s face.

Guilt overwhelms you and you slip him a bit of dark meat and then a bit more.  How can you resist?

Fluffy is even more insistent.  The minute you put your napkin in your lap, there she is, her whiskers quivering with desire. What can you do?  You were the one who rescued her from the shelter.  The other guests at the table try to ignore the fact that your cat is sitting ON the holiday table lapping up your cranberry sauce as if it were catnip.

Horses are even more capable of transmitting their needs to you with their unblinking eyes.  Last year, I had Christmas dinner in the country and as I dug into my mince pie, I froze.  There was Dobbin staring through the window with such intensity that the glass melted.  It was no use.  I picked up my plate and handed it over.

This year, I have decided to fast for the holiday.  It is a lot easier on my conscience.




The heart has its reasons
Of which reason knows nothing.
Blaise Pascal

A member of the Taliban scrawled “Throw reason to the dogs” on the walls of the Ministry of Justice in Kabul. I get that.

All too often, reason keeps us from listening to our hearts.  I think the beauty of life lies in the myths we create.  Take Santa Claus.  Everyone KNOWS he is a fictional character we created in the nineteenth century to whip children into shape and convince them that obeying us would give them marvelous rewards.

It doesn’t take huge intelligence to figure out that if Santa were as big, fat and jolly as everyone says he is, he couldn’t possibly fit into a chimney much less a standard front door what with that sleigh he drags behind him and all those reindeer defecating in the snow. (And you KNOW that’s what they must do if they nibble on the cakes and cookies Mrs. Santa gives them)  A child of four could figure out that Santa could not possibly read all the letters children send him and actually decide who gets what on Christmas morning.

And what about all those clones we see on the street, at parties and ringing bells to make us give them money?  How did Santa manage that?  Did he form some kind of club with admission requirements (weight, girth, long white beard; jolly laugh required).

The truth is that reason would erase Santa Claus and I think that would constitute a criminal offense against childhood.  Way back in 1897, Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the editor of the New York Sun because her common sense told her that St Nicholas was a fraud…a tool to force a little girl like her toe the line.  This is what the editor said: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

I don’t know about you, but I would hate to think my world was governed by logic and common sense.  I would not like a reality without the certainty that there is good karma, the power of love and the faith that life has a noble purpose.

Besides, where would I send my Christmas want list?





One that would serve fruit
Must give it a good presentation.
An anonymous Chinese philosopher

A Chinese fruit seller in Nanjing decided to dress his peaches in fancy knickers and triple the price. He labeled them fancy peach butts and charged £48 a dozen. What a great gift idea!!!

What a great solution for the person on your Christmas list who has everything.  Can you imagine a better present than a cute little peach decked out in lacy underwear?

And why stop there?  Imagine awakening on Christmas morning to discover a banana in a bow tie and a top hat doing a soft shoe just for you?  Think of the delight children would have when they opened up Santa’s gifts to find a pair of plums in tutus and lace bodices tucked into a chiffon lined box?

I cannot think of anything better to give your Nan, than a cluster of grapes laced with garlands of velvet ribbon.  After all, she has received enough lace hankies to last a lifetime.  She will thrill to the novelty of something she doesn’t have to tuck in a bureau drawer to give to someone else next year.

Christmas shopping would be so much easier for us all. No more beating our way through crowded malls trying to outspend each other, piling up mountains of colorful boxes filled with useless trinkets no one wants under the tree.    We would not have to spend hours exploring one expensive novelty shop after another in the Lanes trying to find just the right tie, or the prettiest bauble for our loved ones.  All we would need to do is run over to the green grocer and load up on produce, take it home and dress it up. On Christmas morning, the house would be filled with jolly pears in tap shoes and apples sporting feather boas.  Wow!

And don’t forget the veggies!  They tart up amazingly well. There is nothing as appealing as a mushroom in spats and every potato worth its butter and cheese, looks better in mesh stockings with a flowered garter.

What to serve for Christmas breakfast?  Problem solved.  Just put all the gifts in a large bowl, add some scones, clotted cream  and a bit of eggnog and enjoy.





There are three ingredients in the good life:
Learning, earning and yearning.
Christopher Morley

Ezekiel Emanuel is 57 years old.  He is a physician specializing in cancer and the Vice Provost professor The University of Pennsylvania. He is a very smart man. Last October, he wrote an essay saying he wanted his life to end at 75.

He is a fool.

When I was 57, I had no idea what fun I could have once I crossed the line where productivity, beauty and fame topped the list of what I needed to make my day.   When I was 57 I cared that my face was drooping, my hearing dulled and my walk slowed, step by step.  I am 81 now and I love my wrinkled face.  It gets me every perc I could possibly want.  I step into a packed car in the tube and at least 3 gorgeous men stand up so I can rest my wrinkled bum on a seat.  I board a train and take a premium seat that is labeled Priority Seating just because I have been around a long time.

When I carry packages up or down stairs, there is always someone to carry those bundles for me and usually with a smile.  I hop (yes I can still hop) on a bus and sit down without worrying about the fare.  I go to movies, plays and concerts and pay at least 25% less than everyone else including all those youngsters under 60 with low paying jobs and expensive taste.

If I am in a queue and it is taking too long I clutch my heart and gasp a little; that gets me to the head of the line before I can exhale.  I stand at a counter rummaging though endless coins I cannot recognize without my glasses and NOT ONCE has anyone said, ”Hurry up, Bitch.”  No indeed.  Invariably there will be some kind soul who will hold my packages while I search for coins I dropped in the bottom of my purse and the clerk will ALWAYS smile and say, “Take your time, darling.”

And that brings me to another point:  EVERYONE, man, woman and even toddlers, address me as “Darling” and they mean it. The very things I did at 50 that annoyed the hell out of everyone; the missteps and accidents I had in my twenties that made both husbands leave me; all are absolutely adorable now that I am in my ninth decade.

But it isn’t just the attitude of everyone around me that has made life so very sweet these days.  It is MY attitude.  I am no longer concerned with what I see in the mirror.  It never got me much when I was younger and I don’t expect it to be the 8th aesthetic wonder of the world now.  That means that all the time, money and anguish I spent in beauty shops and on countless rejuvenation creams, skin enhancers, hair boosters…all of it is now spent on more rewarding activities like eating anything I want because what the hell: by the time I am too obese for my coffin, I won’t care. I won’t have to spend the extra money for it either.  The welfare department will.

I am at the age now where I can spend as much as I want for anything I want.  If I run out, I can get benefits.  My intention is to reduce my bank balance to zero and then apply for residence in a home.   We take care of our elderly here.  I am not worried about my liver either.  It’s held up this long, hasn’t it?

When I was in my fifties, I anguished because I had not made a visible mark in the world.  No one knew who I was.  My name never made a headline.  Now I realize that it isn’t the publicity you get for what you do, it is what you do that matters.  If it makes me happy and I am involved, then hooray; getting some award or a mention in someone’s column won’t change that.  It took me this long to get that.

“But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world,” says Emanuel.

And I say, “How does he know that?  He hasn’t gotten there yet.”

Well I have and I can honestly say that my walk is slower, but I get where I want to go and I do not feel deprived.  I enjoy my life just as it is.  I do not have the same desires I had at twenty or thirty or forty because that is not the stage of life I am in right now.  My perspective has improved.  I have confidence in myself. I trust my judgment.  I don’t want to go to bars and find a hot sex pot to take me to bed.  That doesn’t interest me anymore.  I don’t want to wear uncomfortable clothes that reveal my nether parts because my nether parts are not the focus of my pleasure anymore.  My mind and my heart are the hungry organs now and I do everything I can to feed them.  It is more fun and not as sloppy.

It took me a long time to figure out that life is like a card game.  You take the hand you get and play it out the best you can. It does no good to bemoan what you didn’t get or begrudge others for what they have achieved.  You do not know what they had to do to get there.  I am happy now with the life I have but I am not content to stand still.  Not yet.

I am living in the now.  What is past is gone.  I am not that person anymore.  I don’t look good in her clothes.  I do not want to walk in her shoes.  They would pinch my bunion.  I do not want to waste the time she did on the telephone bemoaning what she didn’t have.  I love my current life and I am determined to make the most of it.  I will not waste my energy worrying about what I will do when I am ninety because I am not there yet.  When I am, I have no doubt that I will have adjusted to the difference in my motor abilities, my memory and my diminished life style.  I do not know how I will like it until it happens.

Do not get me wrong.  I do not want to waste away in a hospital bed anymore than you do.  I have reached an age where I am determined to let my body fall apart at its own pace.  I do get my flu shots but I am not sure I would allow any procedures to prolong my life if I had a terminal illness.  I am not afraid of dying.  It is after all the most dramatic event in our life other than birth.  I cannot recall being afraid when I exited my mother’s body and I have no intention of being consumed with fear about my death because I have no idea when it will happen or how.  When I am there, I will deal with it. Hopefully it will be a grand and dramatic departure.

My goal right now is to live abundantly.  I will not spend one iota of the time I have in worry because worry never accomplished anything and I have a lot I need to do.  I want to learn to fan dance. I see me shimming and swaying to the music showing off my cute bum and my shapely lets and then turning to the crowd, peeking out of the fans with a face that looks for all the world like an abandoned prune that needs ironing.  It should have an amazing effect on the crowd.

I want to play the ukulele and tap dance while I do it.  I want to explore the nooks and crannies of a Europe I have read about and I want to make a lot of strangers laugh.   Want to fall in love the right way this time…loving who he is, not how he looks, what he buys me or what he wears. The size of his wallet or his dick are not barometers of love for me anymore.  They never were but I thought they were.  I know better now.   I cannot be bothered regretting the hump on my back or the arthritis that has gnarled my fingers.  They still work and while they do, I am using them.

I have done the accepted thing.  I have prepared a directive that tells everyone not to resuscitate me and not to use any artificial means to keep me alive.  I have donated all the organs that work to anyone who needs them although who would want my ears is something I still cannot figure out.  My kidneys however are stellar and I hope the person who gets them appreciates how beautifully they have worked for me.

I do not want to lie in a hospital bed on life support with medical science keeping me alive and i know very well that is a decision I must make while i have all my faculties and can prepare the proper papers to keep an exuberant medical staff from pumping up my lungs and stimulating a heart that no longer wants to beat.  I have done that but that is all I have done.  I am ready and willing for death to happen when it is ready for me.  My mother always said I arrived two moths after I was due.  “You were always slow,” she said.”Right from the beginning.”

But I got here didn’t I?

I hope my exit will be cleaner and faster but if it isn’t well…I cannot know what it will be like until it happens.  I am determined to only die once….and that will be on the day my heart stops beating and my lungs give  me no air.  …not one minute before.

The trick is to live…live as fully, as beautifully and as daringly as you can.  Reach for every star and don’t be afraid to meet the price, do the work and pay the dues to get you there.  There is no dream that is impossible.  Wallace Stegner says we do not die from a disease.  We die because we are finished.

I am not finished.  Are you?








That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
William Shakespeare

We aren’t naming our babies George, anymore.  Evidently, parents don’t want to saddle their children with names that imply delusions of royalty.  Instead of naming our little boys nice solid names like George, William or Harry, we are turning to something more exotic like Mohammed or Ali. I think that is a huge mistake.   A very young child can manage to spell George or Harry easily enough but what is he to do when he has to remember how many em’s and where the a’s and the e’s go in a name like Mohammed?  The challenge is even greater even for the little guy if his parents go a bit more exotic and opt for Ibrahim or Omar.

Girls fare no better with the top name of the year: Sophia.  You have to be pretty mature to understand that p and h together make f.  And worse, the i in that name sounds like an e.  That is a lot of remembering to expect from a little 4-year-old maiden trying to spell her name for her teacher.

The truth is simple names sound much more solid and reliable.  You can trust a guy named Bill and you KNOW you count on a Jane or a Mary.  I have found that people often adopt the characteristics implied by their names.  If I have a friend named Lucretia, I know she is going to be all over the place with so many syllables and funny letter combinations.  …a frivolous, unreliable person who forces you to stop and think before you address an e mail to her.

I personally love the name George and I think Kate and William had the right idea when they christened their little prince.  When I envision a George, I see a no frills, honest, down-to-earth guy I can trust; just the kind of qualities women look for in a partner, and bosses want in their interns.  No doubt about it, you name your child George and everyone will believe in his integrity and look up to him before they even meet him.  A name like George reeks of authority.  It gives you a feeling of security.  A guy named George could very well end up a king.

Mohammed?  Not so much.




The way humans hunt for parking
And the way animals hunt for food
Are not as different as you might think.
Tom Vanderbilt
I thought when I learned how to manipulate a car in busy traffic without killing my passengers or myself, I had mastered the art of driving. Little did I know that the biggest challenge and the worst nightmare of the driving life is finding a place to park the car.
The problem is not just finding a space;it is getting the car into it. The first time I attempted to parallel park, I managed to smash 8 fenders in less than three minutes: All four on my car, two on the car in front and two on the car in back. It is not just that I have absolutely no spatial judgment; it is that there isn’t enough space on a city street for all the cars that want to park there.
The supply is so far below the demand that cities throughout the world are making a fortune on the fines they give for illegal parking not to mention the cost of parking legally. Whether you break the law or not, you are going to break the bank if you want to put your car anywhere near where you planned to go.
The good news is that a Korean company has managed to solve the problem for us all. They have invented a folding car they call the Armadillo –T. The vehicle is tiny to begin with and once stopped can be folded to one-third its size with a smart phone.
Think of it! You drive to the supermarket, tuck your car in a little corner and off you go to do your shopping. The car is so small that if you can bench-press 50 pounds you can fold it up and stow it in the garage when you get home, with plenty of room left over to keep spare furniture, appliances and naughty children.
The advantages of such a tiny little automobile boggle the mind. When it snows, you can lift the vehicle out of that snowdrift without bothering to hire a tow truck and if the roads are too icy, strap the car to your back and walk it home.
Packing passengers and parcels into a tiny car does present problem but if you have a basket on the roof and a few strategically placed bungee cords you can manage quite nicely.
There is a downside to all this. Cities will lose thousands of pounds in traffic tickets and meter fees if three cars can fit into one parking space. There go all the money used to pay meter maids and city workers. There go all the money our cities took from its drivers to pay for all their civic dinners.
The other challenge the tiny car presents is cramming a tall human being behind its wheel. The Armadillo-T is so small that anyone over 6 feet would be better served to pay a pound and rent a bicycle.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, isn’t it? Now that we have a folding car, what next? Perhaps a highway we can roll up and put in the boot if it gets too crowded or even more efficient, motorized boots so we can speed to our destination on our own two feet.


When did creating a flawless façade become
A more vital goal than learning to love
The person who lives inside our skin?
Ellen Hopkins
Let me take you back to the mid-thirties when I was old enough to realize that my mother was imprisoned by her appearance and her weight. I saw her cook lavish meals and watch hungrily as we devoured her beautiful creations. I grew up hearing how important it was to dress correctly and to look “good.” “A man can be uglier than the devil,” my mother told me. “But a woman must be beautiful. And YOU…You simply do not know how to wear clothes.”
And so it was that I grew up believing that to succeed in life (by my mother’s definition) was to buy beautiful clothes and have the body to show them off. My mother spoke constantly of my big feet, my funny walk, my stringy hair, my disgusting posture and I bought into her opinions because …well, because she was my mother and mothers in those days were always right.
When I didn’t get invited to a party, when I didn’t make the team, when I wasn’t asked to anyone’s home for lunch and, as I got older, when I didn’t get invited to the prom, or the boy I loved didn’t notice me, I knew it was because my clothes hung on me and I was awkward.
It didn’t take long before I began to believe that this was also the reason why I didn’t get a good grade on a test, why I never had anything to say to the other girls in my class and why I wasn’t as popular as I wanted to be. As I grew older, I grew more convinced that my appearance was the reason that I failed at anything at all even my inability to ride a two wheeled bicycle, swim or drive a car. It was all because I was a physical mess.
It was in high school that I realized that I could punish my mother by not eating her food. My mother created huge meals for us that she served promptly at 6 (NOT 6:01) and since my father had ulcers, my mother was on a diet (always) and my sister was obese, I was the only one who could eat her food without guilt or pain.
It was also in high school that my body didn’t function the way other girls’ did. I menstruated when I was 13 for eleven days and never again had a period unless it was artificially induced. I believed I was not a normal girl.
My mother and I did not get along. She made it very plain that I did not live up to her expectations of what a good person, a good daughter or a successful woman should be. I was a failure and I was a mess not because of my brain or my intentions. I was a disaster because of the way I looked and the way I wore clothes. I have to say I never really got what she meant by that. If you put on a dress, button the buttons and don’t let your slip show, why aren’t you wearing it properly? My mother would expand on my inability to put on a garment the way it should be worn by pointing to my sister, who was always at least 20 pounds overweight, and say, “Now, Marsha Dee has style. She can put on a rag and make it look like a Dior creation.”
When I got to college, I began to use food as a reward when things went well and a consolation when I failed a test, didn’t get a date, had a fight with a sorority sister. Now food stopped being a means to satisfy hunger. It was a weapon I could use to punish my mother; it was a reward and a consolation; it was the one thing that I could love and not have to worry about it loving me back.
My sophomore year in college, my roommate was a girl named Ginger Livingston from Ashtabula, Ohio. She was an exquisite redhead, with a sophisticated sense of style, a healthy ego and limited intelligence. It was she who took my wardrobe in hand and taught me essentials like color combinations, proper skirt length and what size sweater showed off just enough of my figure to be an incentive instead of a turn off. I became very conscious of my body and I realized that my body was not passing muster. My mother hated it; my roommate objected to the slump, the bulging belly and the big feet; men were not particularly excited by it. That was when the dieting began.
At first, I was just careful. If I demolished an entire chocolate cake because I was sad on Monday, I wouldn’t eat dessert or bread for the rest of the week. BUT as the years went on and the conflicts and challenges of college life became more intense, I started skipping meals or going for a period of time eating very small bits of food. By this time I had no idea of whether I was hungry or not. My intake was governed by my mind and my fears. My weight fluctuated between 97-103 when I weighted myself, which was only occasionally because there was no scale in the sorority house and I was home only for vacations. I took pride in being able to eat rich desserts and still stay thin. My mother and my sister couldn’t do that…it was the one ability I had that they didn’t.
When I was nineteen my mother and her doctor decided to do something about my not menstruating and I underwent a surgery called a Stein Leventhal Resection. I began having periods then for the remainder of my college life and felt very feminine. I even had cramps and could complain with the other girls.
I graduated college without any hope of marriage (and in those days, most women went to college to find a guy) and went to teach in Cleveland. At that point, my eating became even more erratic. It was exacerbated when I met Jerry, a gorgeous guy who owned a candy shop and a standard poodle…I couldn’t decide which of the three things about him I loved best: his looks, his fudge bars or his dog. I indulged in all three.
And then came my epiphany. I want out to buy a dress and could no longer fit into a size 7, or 9 or even an 11. I finally crammed my bulging belly and flabby hips into a size 12, bought the dress, went home, weighed myself and realized that I no longer weighed 97 pounds…I tipped the scale at 127 and I was horrified.
I would have to diet like my mother! Worse I would be fat like my sister! No! No! No! It MUST not happen to me.
I stopped eating. I dieted; I limited myself to an apple, a single lettuce leaf, and I was so tired I could come home from my job and sleep the rest of the day away. After two or three weeks of semi starvation, I would suddenly eat everything in the refrigerator, on the shelf and in the freezer. Overwhelmed with guilt and feat, I would then starve myself for another two weeks. I also stopped menstruating and a doctor put me on estrogen. This did nothing to help the menstruation but it did make me retain water. This water retention is a battle I still fight to this day and still limit sodium and sodium foods to keep my ankles down to a reasonable size so I can wear shoes.
It was this water retention that kept me from losing weight no matter how much I restricted food…but I did not know it then. I was convinced that I was not like other human beings. I gained weight on air.
While this ritual was accelerating, I managed to trap a young man into proposing to me on his way home from Korea to New York in April. We planned a wedding for September. During that time, my mother was in heaven. She took me shopping for my trousseau, my wedding dress and the things I would need to set a beautiful table and run a household.
Now it was really vital that I become beautiful or I would lose my chance to marry. I dieted a bit more, I binged a bit more and I managed to hide all this from my family and from my bridegroom until after the wedding. It was then that my eating disorder bloomed. I knew something was wrong but had no idea what it was. No one in 1957 knew what an eating disorder was. I thought I was crazy…No. I KNEW I was crazy.
The years went on. I dieted, I binged, I divorced , I dieted, I binged and then when I was 36 my body stopped functioning. I stopped digesting food and had continual diarrhea. At first, I was thrilled. I would lose weight!!! But then I realized I was actually dying.
In 1969 I was admitted to The National Institutes of Health because I had severe osteoporosis. No one discussed my eating habits which were erratic and very controlled. I was in and out of that hospital for the next year and then I realized that if I ever wanted to live any kind of life at all, I needed to stop obsessing about my body and about food. I needed to make a happy life.
This process took me well over ten years and gradually my eating though still controlled was enough to keep my weight stable and I was able to find a job that took me away from Toledo, Ohio where I was born, first to Oklahoma, then to California. I still had body image problems and still had binges if I did not control my eating. At first ,I only ate one meal a day because I simply could not face the agony and conflict of dealing with food more than once a day. I ate huge quantities of non-fattening food and swore I was not dieting. I now eat two meals a day and I understand that no matter what I weigh I will think I am fat. I eat a wide variety of food and I have not binged in a very long time…BUT I hate my body and constantly battle the impulse to stop eating or to over-exercise.
I know that I am an addict I know that only I can control that addiction. Only I can make a happy life. I have done that. I did it without therapy and without any support from my family or my friends. I did it because I wanted to enjoy my life. After all it is the only one I have.


July 2-9, 2013
This is one race of people for whom
Psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.
Sigmund Freud
I have been coming to Ireland, usually to visit Paul and Marie Woods for five years now not counting the time in the late sixties when I painted in Ireland and the visit I made for Columba Corbett’s art exhibit with Annie Kelley. When I stay with the Woods, I am at home. I know my room, I know the block and I know Percy, their 13 year old Corgi who lost his tail. The only thing I do NOT know is how to use public transportation.
I have done comedy every time I come here and am actually a bit of a regular at Anseo, Aidan Killian’s lovely little room on Camden Street and The Bad Ass Café in Temple Bar which folded this year, very sad to say. I have done Tony Ferns’ room three times and he always welcomes me as well. Marie and Paul know me and know my idiosyncrasies. We all get along.
Marie started photography the year I met her and now she is an accomplished photographer who exhibits regularly and wins prizes for her work. She is the kind of woman who masters every project she undertakes. A year ago she started painting and now she is working in pastels and does really amazingly good likenesses of her grandchildren. Paul is the humorist, the singer, her very special other half. They get on so well together and have for 50 years. Their relationship convinces me that marriage CAN work…but I still believe I escaped. I do not have a co-operative personality. My plan is to return to Dublin for their golden anniversary November 9 and stay the week if I can to do a bit of comedy.
I did not stay with the Woods in January when I was here because THEY were in Naples, Florida that month. This time, Marie and I saw each other in Brighton two weeks before I was to fly to Dublin. The two of them were visiting their Brighton friends Jo and John (?). Jo is not doing well. She has heart problems as does Paul, but hers are slowing her down and depressing her. Marie and Paul go with them to their property in Italy once a year to clean it up and get it in shape. This year, the Woods were in Lake Coma for a week or so in the north of Italy and then they went south to Jo’s property and did some really rigorous work cleaning the place up. They returned the afternoon of the evening that I arrived from Brighton.
That day was a wild one for me as well. Bill had put off our viewing my cabaret show that I am taking to Edinburgh and finally decided he would view the film that morning. He told me he would pick me up at 11:45 and I rushed to pack, finish up the e-mails, do laundry and be downstairs for him. He was a half hour late. We had to stop to pick up Val because the video was on her laptop. It turned out that she did not have the film William took of the performance at The Latest with audience reaction (which is so important when you are evaluating the quality of what you are doing). Instead, Val only had a copy of the TV filming which was disjointed and very hard to follow. It was done at 11 in the morning with no audience and is absolutely no indication of the quality or flow of the production.
We all sat in the downstairs sitting room at Bill’s house and while I watched, the two of them chattered away about this and that and the other thing. Whenever I gave an opinion about the filming, they ignored it. Bill did call Karen Rosie however and the two of them actually had a decent conversation about what to do to shorten the production to 45 minutes.
Bill drove me to the station and when I got there, he told me that he was not willing to pay my expenses because it was too much money. He said he never wanted to go to Edinburgh in the first place and was doing it for me. Furthermore, he thought paying a pianist was too expensive as was paying a technician. He said that he simply could not do this project if he was going lose money. I had been telling him since last February when he contracted with C venues to do the show that it was a risky proposition and he always said, ”It’s too early to worry about this now.” I kept reminding him that C Venues has lots of charges and unexpected demands that he would have to deal with but he either ignored me or said, ”I will call_____ tomorrow (pianist, technician, Hartley at C, Richard).
There we were at the Brighton Train Station. I had to buy my ticket and get some lunch. He suddenly was arguing me about all the issues he had said he would handle. The conversation escalated and then, he said, ”Maybe we should just cancel,” and I said ”That is fine with me but I will NOT go to Edinburgh, do YOUR show and not have my expenses covered.”
He said, “It is YOUR show and I did this for you,” and I said, “No. It is the show YOU put together. If I were going to Edinburgh on my own, I would have done a different show, gotten a venue to give me a split and not risked losing £3000 of anyone’s money.”
He said “I will talk to Angi (as if she had the last word…Bill is the owner of the entire enterprise) when you get back.”
Then he told me that I get back on the 9th, he leaves with Val and Angi on the 10 and 11 and we would meet on the weekend. I am going to Kate’s wedding on the 13 and hoped to go to London on the 12. The 14 I am in London all day.
As I negotiated my way through buying a ticket, getting a lunch and getting on the train all I could think of was how I would manage to stay in London until my departure September 5 or how I could stay in Edinburgh and do my show without Bill. I was close to tears of frustration when I saw my train station angel, Ros helping another poor soul get on the train. Sure enough, she got me sorted and I managed to eat my lunch calm down and get to Gatwick in one highly emotional piece. As soon as I settled in the waiting room, I called Karen Rosie and left a message and then I called Richard. Richard said “No worries. We will handle this. If Bill won’t pay for Alison (the pianist), I will stay in the room at Margaret’s that was supposed to be Alison’s. I can sort out the technical stuff myself and get you launched. I will drive you up to Edinburgh in my car.”
Great!!! BUT no one can get Bill to call back or respond…so at this point (three days and several e mails later) nothing is resolved.
The minute I got to Dublin, my little black cloud lifted. Paul came to the airport to pick me up and we joked and chatted all the way to the house. We tried to arrange a ride to the Wicked Wolf comedy club. Maxine Jones had contacted me and wanted me to do a set for her that night. However, it turned out that she didn’t get enough people to pay for a cab to get me home so that gig never happened. Instead, I had a good dinner and marvelous discussion with Marie, Paul and their eldest son Caoimhin. Caoimhin started an eco-village 14 years ago that, while not flourishing, is coming along and is solidly entrenched in Tipperary. It is a group of people on land purchased from the government but each family had to contribute their own money to pay for their property. Caoimhin has built his own home and designed it. The organization is considered a charity and has a non-profit status. The families there govern their commune; have classes there, a farm and a forest. The children go to government schools. The problem is that the established community are suddenly afraid of diversity and do not want to allow anyone to participate that has not bought property in the village. Caoimhin objects because he believes diversity will strengthen the community. The four of us talked a great deal about the future of the world and the danger that in 50 years there will not be enough water, food or resources for the ever- burgeoning population.
The next day, Marie and I drove into the country to Daindean in County Offlly to pick up Percy. He was boarded with a Tom Ivers, who had lost a brother, and whose wife divorced him. He is lonely and unhappy and Percy has become his best friend. We picked up the dog, checked Marie and Paul’s country home in that little village and had a lovely lunch at the golf course. And home we went.
On the way we saw a new-born foal and his mother and it was truly delightful. Also fields of peat bundled to be sold. Ireland is in a severe depression now and peat is good for heating homes when you cannot afford more eco-friendly food.
Than night Aidan Kllian picked me up at 7 to take me to dinner at a lovely restaurant Green Nineteen next door to Anseo where I would perform that night. I ended the first half and as usual at Anseo the comedians were so-so, the audience not great and the laughter out of proportion to the quality. I did very well but I suspect it was more that I had jokes and the others did not.
Aidan is compiling his crank letters into a book and read some of them to the audience in between comedians which killed the room each time. Aidan is evidently from a very wealthy family. His family owned Lafayette Photography and Marie’s grandparents used that company for their wedding picture and for a visit to Dublin. When Aidan saw the picture on the library wall he said, ”That was taken by my grandfather!” Small World.
He came to get me in his motorcycle and I actually rode behind him to the comedy club. I am still in a state of amazement that I did not fall off the cycle and that I got there in one piece. Jonathan was there and he was as delighted to see me as I was to see him. He is truly a lovely man. One of the comedians was a boy named Brian who just began doing comedy and is dreadful. BUT he had a very interesting story to tell: His wife had nerve damage when she had their son 7 years ago and is in a wheelchair still. The two have been trying to adopt another baby to no avail and Brian says that no one can adopt in Ireland anymore because of the restrictions that limit local and international adoptions. Hard to believe, but he says it is true. He says there is only one organization that processed Irish adoptions and they only approve 11 adoptions a year. He says that the children have to be at least 2½ years old so they all need extensive psychological services available.
When the evening ended, I climbed on the motorcycle with the help of another comedian pulling my leg up and over. Helmet on, and off we went to Marie and Paul’s house on Healthfield Road. To say I was rigid with fear is an understatement. I can honestly say I have never been as quiet as I was on the back of that motorcycle. I was determined to arrive in one piece.
The next day was the 4th of July. We all went to see the exhibit put on my Marie’s photography club at the library where she had her own exhibit. It was spectacular. Hard to believe these photographers were amateur. That night Caoimhin drove me to The Black Sheep for Gary Lynch’s Ha-Ha Black Sheep show and after that we went to Tony Ferns’ Battle of the Ax . I did really well in both places but what I was proudest of was that I did different material each time. That night Andy and Eire came to film me for her documentary that she is doing on what makes happy people It was great to know that such a successful set was actually captured on film.
Friday was quiet. We all went to the Royal Art Academy exhibit and it was immense with a lot of photography and portraits. I was not that impressed with most of the paintings there except for two large landscapes that were spectacular. That night Maria Halpin met us at 7 and we all walked to a lovely Indian Restaurant in Terinure. The Woods brought the wine and this one was my treat.
Saturday, Declan, Marie and Paul’s son came over along with Tony the bachelor Marie always has over on Saturdays and her friend Francis who is an artist and has a disabled son and an alcoholic daughter. Tony also has a daughter with M.E. that Marie thinks is 90% psychological. I think she is trying to get something going with the two of them but they do not seem to connect. Declan ahs two delightful children, Maya about 4 and Ethan barely two years old. The day was sunny and hot and the children played in the yard with Percy the dog…very idyllic while we drank wine…very Irish. Tony is one of the sourest, most unhappy men I have ever met. On the other hand Francis who has the worst kind of life you an imagine since she is a full time caregiver for the son and has to deal with the daughter AFTER she spent years nursing the husband who died of some kind of cancer., is the most positive delightful lady. Go figure.
Marie and I left Paul to finish off the evening with wine, coffee and chocolate while we went to The International. I did really well there and met a delightful comedian David Doherty whom I intend to find in Edinburgh and review. His comedy was charming and very funny.
The next day was Sunday and Maria came by at 10 and off we went to Glendalough. I need to say this was a highlight of the Dublin trip. We hiked around two lakes, I got bitten alive by the midges, we had a delightful talk and a lovely lunch at the hotel there. Maria is a primary schoolteacher who discovered me at the workshop I did with Tracey in January. She followed up and we have become really good friends. She is delightful, interesting, has a daughter Rose, a collie Holly and an adventuresome spirit. She has traveled around the world 3 times and the last time she took her then 11-year-old daughter Rose with her.
We got home in time to eat dinner (and Marie always makes the most marvelous meals) meet Caoimhin and Aine and go to the International. That night 7 people Came to see me!!! Maria and her friend, Tim O’Connell, Mary Dunne who is especially lovely, Caoimhin and Aine of course and Pauline Curtin who has been supportive and so very kind…and we were practically the entire audience. The comedians were so, so terrible and I was sad that I could not offer the people who paid to see me a better show But so goes life. The hope is that next time I come to Dublin, I can get into the International again and get paid.
Monday morning Maria met me at 11 and I walked into town. It is about 3 miles and a lovely walk. I went to the Doorway Gallery on South Frederick Street. It was featuring Padraig McCaul and his exquisite landscapes Denise Donnelly was there. She manages the gallery She has a 3-year- old child and is becoming a real friend. Maria and I wandered through the gallery…every painting there is superb and McCaul runs painting workshops that I just might try to find him.
Maria took me to Peaches for lunch and then left to do her own chores and I met Danielle, a yoga instructor who chatted with me for a while. Then back to the to her galleries on Frederick Street and the Duke Street Gallery where I saw the spectacular works of Tom Byrne and Clare Hartiganå. All this art makes me want to rush home and start painting again. Met Tim O’Connell for a drink and while I was there and lovely, lovely girl was wearing a head scarf that I thought was adorable and she gave it to me and bought me a drink as well!! She was having several drinks with her ex-mother-in-law and the two were delightful. Tim was his usual scattered self but he did get me back to Marie’s and Pauls where I spent the evening with them and Caoimhin and Aine. As we talked it was decided that when I come back in November I will spend some time at his eco village and come back to Dublin with them for the anniversary gala. Pauline has said I could stay with her for that next week and I can also stay with Maria so I might make it a good two seek trip and do more comedy here as well as a workshop. Life opens up so many opportunities!!!
The next morning, we treated the midge bites, Marie took me to the airport and off I flew to Gatwick and the Bill problem. I stopped at Ella’s for lunch and a beautiful women came into the shop recognized me and made a huge fuss which I ate up of course.
When I got back to Clare’s, I showered, did the laundry and went over to Emma Gill’s for a yummy dinner. I met Anouchka first who is fast becoming a very dear friend. It will be very sad to leave all the contacts I have made here and if the Bill thing comes to nothing that is what will have to happen.

Becoming a Bit British

It is difficult to pin this experience to specifics and draw a greater meaning from it. I think it begins with my own self-image. I have always believed that I am a little below average in ability and certainly nothing special in either talent or originality. I doubt my ability to cope with anything unexpected.
Yet, surprisingly, I have coped with a great deal and am still happy with myself, my life’s journey, and where it is taking me. Yet, still, the minute I run into a block, I feel overwhelmed and afraid; however, after the tears are shed and the heart stops beating like a hammer in my chest, I never ever doubt that I can surmount the problem. Witness the heel…. I can honestly say that experience was both the lowest and highest learning event in my life.
I learned then that no one can forecast my ability to surmount a setback, or a physical illness. (Sadly it also dulled my compassion for others who succumb to pain and perceived disability) I also learned that I cannot ever count on help from others; I have to take care of myself. We all do. After all, the bottom line is that if we don’t watch out for ourselves, no one will. We all have our own lives to live. Going to Pattie and Casey’s was a huge mistake. I forgot (and I never will again) that I am the only one who can save myself. People on both sides of the pond are willing anxious and happy to help others, but the priority for each of us is our own well-being. I will never put the responsibility for my survival in anyone’s hands again, if I can have a choice. It goes without saying that my greatest fear is NOT having that choice.
I also am well aware that no one and nothing can be accomplished alone. We live in a society and we are all interrelated. We help one another as best we can but never, ever at our own cost. That is a truth that one hates to admit…but I assure you, it is a truth for me. I see it in my own reactions. I am more than willing to put myself out for someone else but my best intentions often go awry because of the projects and goals I have for myself. I recognize the star I am chasing and I am determined to get to it.
This uncertainty and self-doubt is reinforced always when I am in the States except when I was in Oregon and did so well at all four gigs and then Sacramento at the Punchline this time. I really felt I was in my stride and as Alan always says, “the top of my game.” Paul Mercurio has no idea how much he did for me and how valuable my time with him was. He gave me room to be a star, generous sweet and talented man that he is.
Bill Smith has decided that I am a new Joan Rivers and a little bit more. Both during this trip and the next one, he has been devoting time and money in helping me create what he believes is the “best” of Lynn Ruth Miller. I need to say I do not always agree with what he believes is “best” and I often think that I am pushing the boundaries just a bit too far to be digestible but if our opening night (the culmination of all we have worked on) is any indication, he is right. The second night we managed to get about 40 people, which is amazing. The truth is I seem to have a loyal following in Brighton.
I got a call from Lynne Parker in the early fall asking me if I would like to participate in the WOW festival and take part in Funny Women’s comedy events that weekend. She said there would be funding for the airfare. Since I had planned to go to the UK to work with Bill Smith on my show and do gigs in Manchester, Dublin and most important, The Stand in Newcastle, I agreed to extend my trip. I said I would help her out that weekend and go home instead the following Tuesday, March 13. That was why I extended my stay an extra 3 weeks.
I arrived in London January 24 and spent the night with my darling friend and mentor, Sarah Louise Young. That night, I attended her posh cabaret and sat next to a lovely, quiet, conservative, older (but not as old as I) lady who was in the audience because her daughter was one of the most risqué, avant-garde strippers on the program We chatted a bit and I was very jet lagged so I suspect I babbled a great deal. When she asked what I was doing during this trip, I rattled off Manchester, Newcastle, Dublin, London and Brighton. She paused and smiled at me and said, “I live a very quiet life.”
I said, ” Do you enjoy it?” and that, my friends, was the key question. “Yes,” she said. “I do. On Wednesdays, I sing for Alzheimer patients.”
I replied, “My dear, you do more on Wednesdays than I do all year.”
And that was how that trip began. I left the next day for Manchester and performed two shows for Hazel O’Keefe and her “Laughing Cows ” comedy shows. It was a gorgeous experience. Hazel picked me up at the train station and we went home to her partner Kerry and Kerry’s two children. We had a lovely gig that night and the next. I actually headlined in the second one and did a very long set that went over very well. The thing I love about doing Hazel’s shows is that she is such a warm, loving hostess. She and Kerry made me part of the family. I have found since that Lynne Parker and her group, Funny Women are even more welcoming and caring. It is unfortunate that the two do not join forces, but I suspect that will happen eventually. Both women are empowering other women and doing their part to give us self-confidence and the courage to become the best we can be. Hazel drove me to the airport and off I went to Dublin where Timothy O’Connell met me at the plane.
I met Timothy at Channel 26 in Pacifica. His is an intense, if scattered personality and he is difficult to be with. His is a very sensitive ego and he always feels unappreciated; yet, he is one of the kindest men in the world and will go out of his way for anyone at any time. He met me at the airport and was almost an hour late. I treated him to a meal, since I was starving and he promised to get me a phone so I could wander independently. This by the way never happened until my last day there when he put a sim card into a phone that was stolen at the Wynn Hotel ……but more about that later.
We got in his new Volvo and he told me had had just begun driving about a month before and was very uncertain. He had to pick up a Polish friend Wojciech Musiał who had a video job in the country and take him there. Did I mind? The weather was freezing, windy and wet and obviously I had no choice. The truth is that I would have loved some place warm and to settle in. It turned out that Tim spent an hour at Wojciech’s house, while I waited in the car. Wojciech was newly arrived in Dublin and murdered the English language but was very nice. The trip to his job however took about 2 hours and when we got to this very nice country hotel, it was dark, still freezing and wet and windy. I bought Tim a glass of wine and we waited for Wojciech to finish his job for about an hour. When Tim realized that the job would take another 4 or 5 hours, he decided we could leave. We drove another two hours back to Tim’s flat.
I was thinking how the hell can I get out of this mess living with a total maniac who cannot drive and doesn’t seem to have any wits about him. He had no sense of time at all. It was after midnight when we got to his place and to my surprise, even in my numbed state, I was charmed. It was a clean spacious flat with a balcony and lovely large windows plenty of light even though I did not see the sun the entire week I was in Ireland. Tim had prepared his own room for me. He changed the sheets and made the bed when we arrived of course. I was right across from the bathroom, had wi-fi and Tim set me up with all the extra ports and tables I needed to operate my computer comfortably in his room. His roommate Mark Kennedy worked nights so he was away. I met him the next afternoon and he was/is a prince. It was 2 am when Tim made me supper and then I had a hot bath and went to bed hoping that the next day I could walk somewhere and see something of Dublin.
It did not happen.
I slept until noon exhausted and discouraged by the weather. When I awoke there was a young man there, Trevor Lee Dumbrell, who wanted Tim to film him for a video audition to get on a TV show. He was an interesting person: Very good looking, very intense and determined to make this his “big chance”. His family was filled with convicted criminals and he was the only one who was straight, but in his own way, he too is a criminal, a user, manipulator and a liar. Yet, at the same time, he is delightful company, a talented conversationalist …your typical con man. He actually ran a successful cafe in town. Tim maintained he actually did NOTHING but got his employees to do everything for him. I thought him personable, but too pushy to be comfortable company. He made me nervous. He wanted to get on a prominent TV show that picked one winner to be featured for a year as an interesting person. He had this idea that if he wrote each sentence of his script on separate papers and pinned each one in sequence on a clothesline, it would be unique and attract attention. We spent hours talking about this and before we knew it, it was time to go to my first Dublin gig. Tim took me to it and took videos of my act. He was lovely about transporting me hither and yon and very caring. This one was with Tony Ferns and called Battle of the Ax. The idea was that every comedian did a set and the audience clapped its approval. One act won a rubber ducky and a certificate. Believe it or not, I won that certificate and that adorable rubber ducky. After the show, Tim and I went out for dinner and we shared the cost.
My hope was that the next day we would get out early enough for me to explore Dublin, but no such luck. The weather was horrid and Trevor came over to get Tim to film him doing his video for the TV program. He wanted us to go outside to a park across from Tim’s flat and put up the clothesline in the wind and rain and do the filming. This took forever. I was freezing and hungry and very restless because it seemed we were getting nothing done.
Before I knew it, it was time to go to my Aging is Amazing Workshop organized by Tracey O Neill. It was at a hotel and somehow,someway Tracey got at least 40 people eager to find out how to age happily. I wanted to film the workshop but she would not let Tim do so. Tim asked her why and she said it was the hotel that would not allow filming, which is not true.
She was a very difficult woman and very strange. She would only pay me in private in a separate room and when she introduced me she took a very long time telling about herself as if this were HER workshop instead of mine. She had also booked the event for Tuesday and moved it to Wednesday giving me very little notice. She cancelled the Saturday gig after I had changed my plane reservations to accommodate her. After the success of the Wednesday workshop however she re-instated it. Despite her paying me excellent money, I did not contact her for this time around(July 2-9). She is too unstable to work with.
That said, the actual workshop was an amazing success. We started at 6; there were plenty of people; they all enjoyed themselves and wanted to stay and talk more. Tracey not only paid me 100 Euros, but got most of those people to come to a comedy show at The Black Cat for that Saturday that she had cancelled.
It was a joy for me to know I was inspiring so many people when I feel so inadequate when it comes to living a my own life. I certainly do not feel I have sufficient wisdom to guide anyone else. I have found answers for myself but I am me and the rest of them are they. The truth is that other people always seem far more together to me than I am. I am so uncertain about so many things. I think it must be that vulnerability that people respond to because I do indeed get lovely audience reaction. (That I never ever take for granted)
Tim and I could not linger at the workshop however because I had to get to Anseo with Jonathan (Aidan, the booker and love of my life was out of town) by 9 pm. We just made it but sadly Anseo had no audience and instead, Tim and I sat with Jonathan and had one of the best evenings I had in Dublin that trip.
With Timothy stalling and never actually managing to get out of the house I was beginning to feel nothing was real. Even now several months later, I cannot pin down the problem with Tim because he was a hero when I got into the trouble I did on that Saturday. He is obsessive; he is determined to be a good guy to everyone and yet very resentful because he believes he is being used. He never seems to manage to get anywhere because he is always preparing to go …for example he will spend an hour gathering his equipment to do photographs and worrying about batteries and chargers and he won’t start the preparation till about 5 minutes before he says he intends to leave. Then he will remember something he has to collect, something he has to drop off and something he must pick up on the way.
The next day, I slept in because we got home once more about two in the morning. Tim had not gone shopping, so we ate some strange concoction he made from what was in the fridge and once again I hoped to get out and do a bit of a walk the next day. The weather was disgusting and cold and Trevor insisted we film him outside and then in the parking garage. Tim did that and then we went to Tony Ferns Battle of the Ax again to do my strip. The audience was shocked and amazed. Again it was successful and fun and we managed to get home very late and eat a concocted dinner out of leftover leftovers.
I had another one of those strange do nothing accomplish nothing afternoons for Friday. However, I was in a warm house, not eating well but getting work done and that was a plus. We went to the Bad Ass Café that night and ate a lovely dinner there thank God. I did well on the performance but not smashing. I met the guy who now impersonates Father John ….that funny priest comedian everyone adores in Dublin. He was amazingly funny and very political which surprised me a bit. And then it was Saturday when the bottom fell out of my world.
I had planned to meet my dear friend Pat McCormick for a drink at The Wynn Hotel because it was near the gig I was to do that night for Tracey at The Black Cat Comedy Club. It was a lovely hotel in the center of town and I met Pat in the bar about 5. I put my purse on the floor because the chairs were too high and the other chair at the table was filled with his coat and packages. We had a lovely, lovely chat and then Tim joined us and Pat went on to his appointment. I put on my coat to leave and looked for my purse. It was gone. Vanished.
Tim ran to the car to see if I had left it there but I knew I had not because I had told Pat about my business cards and said I would give him one when I picked up the bag from the floor. At that time, I looked down at the purse and saw it there.
We went to the manager and he replayed the security film of the two hours we had been in the bar and spotted the young man who took the bag. Tim drove me to the police station and I made a report. He went back to his apartment to get the copy I had made of my passport and brought it to me. Meanwhile, Tracey had a full house at The Black Cat and no headliner. She called and said I had to appear because she had 30 people waiting for me and so I did. I did about 30 minutes of comedy and I cannot say I was brilliant. When the people there said goodbye, they all said how sorry they were that this had happened and two women pressed bills into my hand. When I looked later I had received two 50 Euro notes. Tracey paid me another 50 for the gig. That was, at that point, all the money I could access. As soon as I finished the comedy gig, Tim and I ran back to the police station with my passport copy to finish the report.
When we got home, I cancelled my credit cards. Bank of Scotland was easy but Schwab gave me every kind of resistance and it took over an hour to get through to them. I hate to think of the cost to Tim because we had to use his phone for a transatlantic call.
The immensity of what I had lost did not hit me until a week later. My bag had contained the money I earned in Manchester, the Euros from my first gig in Dublin, American cash in a lovely leather wallet I had always loved because it was compact and pretty as well. I had my hearing aid in there, all my American ID cards…including the first social security card I ever had, a tiny battered cardboard card I got when I was 14 years old. I lost two pair of prescription glasses as well as the diary I kept of the Russian adventure …the list went on and on but the worst, of course, was the passport loss and the drivers license both such important photo IDs necessary for travel and for getting funds.
I was to fly out the next day to Brighton to work on the show I was to do both at The Latest and at Leicester Square Theater…and I was nervous about it because I wasn’t sure Bill would really be there for me as he had promised on the telephone. He was to be the producer and fund the improvements on the show, which was to be a compilation of the best of all the shows I have done before.
Everything closes on Sunday in Ireland so there was no way I could go to the American Embassy that day and get help. Instead, we went to the airport to see if I could bluff my way onto the plane.
No luck.
Aer Lingus would not let me fly without a passport. They said it wasn’t their rules; it was Gatwick’s. I could not get into London if I did not have valid papers. This was not true. If you fly from Ireland to the UK you do not go through passport control. Just one more unnecessary and frustrating delay in the process I went though to get out of Ireland. However, the good-ish news was that Aer Lingus felt sufficiently guilty to promise that as soon as I got a valid passport, they would put me on the next plane out.
Pat McCormick called to find out how everything was going and insisted on giving me 150 Euros to use until I managed to get money. (No credit cards and no cash) We met him on our way to the airport.
Tim and I then went to the customer service help desk at the police station and met Christine Walsh who was totally lovely and kind. She explained how to get to the American Embassy and said we needed to get there REALLY early in the morning because the line up was unbelievable.
She was right. Tim and I got to the embassy at about 8 that morning. The people in the front kiosk were caring and kind. I had to leave your phone with them and go through the front building to a much larger building and up to an office on the second floor that was filled with people wanting to get out of Ireland for one reason or another. I finally got to the window after a good hour’s wait and the lady explained that I could not get a passport unless I could pay them $135.00. I was not sure if Euros were worth more or less than dollars and I knew I had to buy a bus ticket from Gatwick to Brighton so I tried to get her to waive the fee.
The first woman called the new supervisor; she was a black woman and very full of herself. She listened to my explanation that I had no money at all but she would not budge. No money, no passport. That is the American way. It saddened me that the IRISH people working at the office were delightful. The AMERICAN woman was horrid, cold, cruel and abrupt…She was hateful and unsympathetic. It is frightening to know that my own country will not protect me, when I am in trouble. When you are in the embassy there is now way you can contact anyone outside to help you so you are trapped with people who are not the least bit interested in protecting American citizens. Their obvious goal is to reap a profit in excessive fees from the Irish who want to visit the USA and the poor American idiots who are in trouble and think that their embassy will help them out.
I was told the whole procedure would take an hour but instead it took four. To my immense relief the Euros I had more than covered the cost of the passport and the transportation to Brighton, but there were more disappointments to come.
The passport with the worst picture of me ever and expired in the middle of May. That meant that in the 6 weeks I was back in the USA I would have to pay for expedited service for a passport I had already paid for because 6 weeks is not enough time to be sure of getting a new passport. I tried to get the new one at the embassy in London but they told us (at a pound fifty a minute) that it would take even longer to get it there so I was better off waiting until I got home. However my entertainment visa was not included and there would not be enough time either in the UK or in London to reinstate that.
I arrived in Brighton late Monday night and Bill informed me he had meetings to attend out of town on Tuesday but we could meet on Wednesday. He was lovely about money and asked if I need some. Annie came to pick me up at Poole Valley; I unpacked and got settled in and of course Annie was her lovely, kind and giving self. We had dinner together that night. Money turned out to be no problem at all. The Bank of Scotland was accommodating and concerned for me. Despite my needing two picture IDs to access money, they accepted that I knew my password and answers to the proper secret questions and took my temporary passport as sufficient ID. I actually needed that Tuesday to get everything reorganized so it wouldn’t have done any good to meet with Bill anyway.
However, we had the show to rehearse and I was planning on doing it Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday, I had to get all my money and re-contact all the places I needed to contact for my ID re-identification. I contacted Beth who was amazing and sent me a drop box with copies of the music I needed. Richard also sent me some music and it was Ian in Newcastle who put them on CD’s for me. Beth was a great help and went to a lot of trouble to find the music I needed.
Wednesday, I met with Bill. We decided the best thing would be to do APPROACHING 80 because I was going to Newcastle to perform at The Stand on Thursday and not coming back until Tuesday. Bill promised to come to that show and take notes on what he thought might be valuable in the GRANNY’S GONE WILD show we were planning to put together for Leicester Square. We had planned on doing a preview of that show on Wednesday but Jeff Hemmings in his inimitable, charming way messed up the scheduling and we had to move it to Tuesday, the night of the day I returned from Newcastle. So goes show business.
Wednesday, I managed to get all the costumes and props ready for the show. Sue Kim made me the bits and pieces I needed and she was lovely about it. I took her out for lunch to say thank you and it was a double pleasure. She is always a joy. Ruth found me another purse and a wallet so I was ready once more to carry things around. I was terribly shaken however and it took me quite a while to come to terms with the immensity of the loss. I believe it was all this frantic favor asking I had to do that lost me Ruth and Sue. They are gracious and kind to me still but I feel sure they feel I am too much work and have stayed clear of me since then. They no longer ask me to come to dinner or want to spend time with me.
I cannot blame myself for this because I was in dire straits …however it has taught me another lesson. I am now very aware of the risk I take when I ask favors… It was the very same imposition on others that lost Casey and almost lost Pattie. I look back on both incidents and cannot think how, knowing only what I knew then, feeling what I felt and suffering the loss I suffered, that I could have handled it differently. I see clearly what I did wrong with Casey and Pattie and I did learn from that. I will never ever accept an offer for someone to care for me…it is always more work than they anticipate… but Ruth and Sue are another story. I was not asking that much and I was not insisting on anything. However, what is done is done and although they are always kind to me they are done with me as a friend. I must remind myself that we had fun and enjoyed one another and one cannot expect these things to be forever. The truth was that I have repaid both of them now. Ruth was paid generously to take me to Leicester Square and Sue got an outrageous amount of money for the costume she made me on the second trip…but more about that in the next blog.
I left the next day for Newcastle and this had to be THE weekend of my life. The Stand booked me at the Holiday Inn and the manager was amazing to me. He got me a special plug for my computer and made sure I had coffee and a croissant every morning even though I did not get downstairs in the lobby until after the free breakfast was over. He even came to see the show and it was one of the best I have ever been in.
The line up at the Newcastle Stand was amazing. Jonathan Mayer was the com-pere and he is truly professional: funny and a delight on every level. The other two comedians were Michael Frabbri and Romesh Ranganathian and all three are funny, funny men. Jonathan was not just a joker, he is a prince of a man and stayed late to walk me home before he went out and partied after the gig. The other two took longer to warm up to me but by that Sunday we were fast friends and because of that warmth and feeling of acceptance, I made another big, big mistake. I booked them for Mother’s Day, March 10 at The Latest, cleared the date with Jeff and we all agreed to meet and do a smash show for Brighton.
The weather in Newcastle was miserable, snowy and very cold, but I loved the place from the moment I arrived. Ian met me at the station and took me to the hotel. He and Katie came to the Friday show and I sat with them. The women in Newcastle are something else. It as almost zero weather and they wear THE scantiest dresses I have ever seen on anyone not intending to sell their wares on the street. On Sunday night, it was the worst weather of all, almost a blizzard and one young girl came in wearing what looked like a bikini. I asked her what she wore in the SUMMER. Everyone was very accepting and lovely to me and the managers all told me they wanted me back. I have to say I was in heaven and the best was about to happen on Monday. I also have to say that although I did well I was not as consistently good as I like to be. Friday night was a bit rough; the rest of the time I did well but the only night I smashed it was Saturday night. Sunday was problematic because it was a different kind of show.
Then came the real highlight of the trip: Monday night. I did the gig with Ian and I stayed with Ian and Katie Sunday night and Monday night. Katie and Ian are married now and I got to see pictures of the wedding, which was exciting for me. The sad thing is that the hamster died and Ian so loved that little guy. The fish were still swimming happily, however. Ian made dinner, which is always special. He is a wonderful cook and he told me the story of how when he was a child he would watch all the cooking shows on TV and make gourmet dinners for his family. I think he did something with a salad and eggs this time. I remember we all ate different things this time. Last time, he did boiled potatoes and a chicken salad. All yummy.
Ian made me copies of many of the CD’s I had lost so I have them now and carry them around to my gigs. We all get along really well and I am looking forward to doing a festival preview with Ian in July. His gig was not well attending but I have to say it was the most fun of all. It was at The Millstone on Haddaraicks Mill Road. The audience was by far the most appreciative of any I had thus far and that was very, very enthusistic.
Tuesday late morning I took the train back to Brighton and all hell broke loose. I had to get my costume together do a quick tech rehearsal, send out invitations and do my show. Mike Powell and Emma Magill came to the preview and we had a mediocre house, which is just as well. I did APPROACHING 80 and this time for the very first time, it was received well but not enthusiastically. No one stood up and cheered as they always did when I did the show at Agesong. I am not sure what was missing, but I know the magic wasn’t there for most of the people. It WAS there for Emma though; she just loved the show and I was thrilled because she got what I was trying to say and it resonated for her.
Bill and Val came and watched the show very carefully which was both kind and a compliment to me that they would take the time to do this. However, Bill hated the show and this was his reason: the show makes me look old. The problem is that I AM old and this show was supposed to be about how much I am enjoying what I am doing and the life I have created for myself.
In any case, we made the decision to put together an approximation of what we wanted to do for Edinburgh for the Leicester Square shows that weekend and see how it worked. We worked out a proper order using the songs and routines that Bill liked best and added his own Granny’s Gone Wild song, which I love. We spent the next two days rehearsing and refining what we were going to do, gathering whatever costumes and props we needed. That Thursday, I went over to The Verdict on Edwards Street for an 8 pm show of Jazz and comedy. Ivor Dembina was running that show and he has been lovely about booking me for his shows. I was beginning to feel so disjointed because the “marvelous” show I was supposed to be creating simply wasn’t happening and then Wham!!! I absolutely wiped up the room and the singer who was performing that night became a truly good friend afterwards. Her name is Sara Oschlag and she is originally from Denmark. We meet several times after that, once for dinner at the Outback and another time for dinner at The Verdict. I am learning that friendships never last forever. I contacted her when I returned this time but she is unavailable.
The next day, Ruth and I left early for a 2 pm tech rehearsal. We get along well together and she was considerate and caring. I have no complaints at all. My only sadness is that our friendship was tarnished…although she gave no hint of it those two nights that she cared for me. I had to keep reminding myself that she was being paid and that was why she was so nice. Richard met us at the theatre and created a proper CD for us and we did the show to a tiny, tiny audience that night. Bill hired Ruth to take me to the show, buy me dinner and watch over me. He came to the show that first night with one of his girlfriends.
Bill talks like he is a letch…a dirty old man….. but in reality he is very, very kind and has true compassion for us all. His sensitivity costs him a lot of money because he is a lousy businessman and has no concept of the relativity of cost. Still he manages to follow up on everything and is very, very reliable in his dealings with me. He often delays appointments but always for good reasons. I think he is a lonely man and I think he is still in love with Angi…but perhaps I am being a silly romantic
And a word here about Richard: It has been 5 years now that we have been “together”. It is a friendship in the most beautiful sense of the word. We each think the other is wonderful and I suspect he sees me more clearly…as someone who needs his help and his wisdom. I see him as an angel who is always there when I need him but never around so much that we tire of each other. We never run out things t talk about (a real problem for me with everyone else) and when I am with him time vanishes. An hour becomes a minute…..and always far too short. Richard has a wife, Anne, whom he loves, a glorious daughter Ellie who has just made him a grandfather (a little girl: Willow) and a very busy involved life of his own. It is a miracle to me that he ever finds a moment for me…but he always does when I need him. I cannot take him for granted…he is that wonderful to me.
The show was a huge success thanks to Richard, Ruth and an appreciative loving audience. I am amazed it went over that well despite the patchwork quilt approach we used. Sarah Louise was there and she spoke to Bill after the show was over about Edinburgh. I was, at that time, unsure that he would put it on for me, there. Sarah-Louise was convinced that he had no idea what Edinburgh was about or the immense value it has for a performer. There is no doubt that doing the same show 30 times is invaluable training. However, the entire operation is very expensive and you have to be willing to risk financial loss for the experience. Most performers ARE wiling but most producers are not.
We repeated the show the next day to a wonderful audience. Hilary Palmer brought at least a dozen people and the theatre is so small it felt like I was performing to a full house. There was one woman there, Andrea who was celebrating her birthday and she was smitten. She planned to come to my final performance of the trip in Edinburgh. I was flattered and delighted. I was hoping I would see them at the St James Theatre for the panel and the WOW festival performance for Funny Women March 7…she tried but it simply did not work out. We also planned to do a performance of the Granny’s Gone Wild we wanted to do for the Brighton Festival and then Edinburgh.
Bill and I worked every day on adding songs and tightening up the script. By the end of that month, we had added two of his songs NOTHING LIKE LOVE and SOME LIKE IT HOT and found Tom Phelan, a pianist that we love and have used for all our Brighton performances. We used Bill’s instrumental for the opening. The name was changed to THE LYNN RUTH MILLER SHOW but we have kept the Granny’s Gone Wild title for Brighton and Edinburgh.
The 18th I was with The Adsetts whom I always love on every level and Matthew Locke was there. He and I get along famously and we stayed up, drank too much, ate too much and enjoyed each other. The next afternoon I was on Sara Ellis’s radio show and we have become very good friends because of the bonding we did on the telephone at that show.
That night I meet Penny Young for dinner.
Penny is the woman who interviewed me extensively for her book MAGNIFICENT AGING. She is a delight of a woman who came from New Zealand and stopped off in San Francisco to visit me and have a bit of a vacation. We went out for dinner a couple times there and I picked her up at the airport. She was appalled and insulted by the rude, callous way the customs inspectors interrogated her and humiliated her and my heart broke for her that afternoon. She also came to a couple of my comedy shows and she interviewed me as well. When I was in Brighton the time before she came to my storytelling workshops. We were good friends and I enjoyed her company.
That night, we met for dinner at The Cote across from the Pavilion. I had never seen her looking so lovely. Her hair was done up in a chignon, she had proper make up on, not too much or too little, and we had a wonderful evening. Since she had treated me so many times in San Francisco, I treated her to that meal. She was telling me how she had finally gotten her life together and was ready to move forward on her book. We walked home together and promised each other we would call and meet once more before I left England on March 12.
That was the last time I saw her alive. On March 10, Mothers Day, she was all dressed to meet her children for a gala lunch when Jane, her daughter got a call. “I don’t feel right,” she said over the phone and Jane knew immediately something serious was wrong. She called 999 and she, Katy (the other daughter) and Tom, the son arrived at Penny’s flat at the same time the ambulance did. Penny had suffered a massive stroke. They managed to get her to the hospital, but she died within a few hours.
I know it was the way she would have wanted to go. None of us want to linger; nor do we want to suffer or force our loved ones to become caregivers. Those are the nightmares of aging. Still, the horrible waste of human potential stuns me. Here was a woman who seemed in her prime, ready to give back to the world all the wisdom she had accumulated and now she is gone.
That was the 19 of February. The next several days I met with Bill in the daytime and we decided to cut out Music, Music, Music. We decided to see if we could get an instrumental backing for some of the parodies Bill liked. On the 20th I meet Shelly Bridgman at Victoria and we had dinner and on the 21st I met Sara Oschlag for dinner at The Outback on St. George Street. Shelly has been a wonderful friend and it is interesting how pessimistic she is about her house and her career when in reality both are going very well indeed. She won a Senior comedy competition last year and now she gets lots and lots of paid gigs. Her counseling practice is going very well and the house? Well, her situation is a bit worse than mine. Only time will help her on that one.
Sara is another interesting person. She is beautiful and a fine, fine singer. She works the streets of Brighton during nicer weather and makes her living that way even though with a voice as fine as hers, she should be booked in the larger clubs. She and her partner who is a bass player just moved into houseboat and she loves it. In fact she is very much in love, which I find delightful. The Adsetts and I went to hear her the next Sunday at the Hand in Hand…a marvelous bar with neckties hanging from the rafters. They are known for brewing their own beer on the premises but to me their best feature is every Sunday they have an open Jazz mike night and Sara, her boyfriend and several others play there. I managed to get there twice during this stay and once Bill and Val met me. That was a night someone picked me up and bought me a glass of wine just so I would listen to his stories about his famous father.
The next day Annabelle Heath picked me up and took me to a place just out of town for lunch. We went to a tiny little tearoom and lunch was delightful. Afterwards we two went over to a tiny novelty shop and Annabelle bought herself some jewelry and me a tiny teddy bear. It did not ease my loneliness for my dogs and for my own kitchen and my own little toilet that I KNOW flushes. Sometimes I think I want to just curl up and stow away on the next plane home…but I know that in this trip and in the next, these are the things I must do for what I will become. Interestingly, on this trip I was not as bound up as I am now in the summer trip but more about those laxative nightmares and adventures in the next blog. (Stay tuned if you can stand it.)
I met Annabelle on the corner of St James and the Old Steine LAST May. I told her that if she ever came to San Francisco,she should call me. Most people ignore that offer and I make it whenever anyone says they are coming to The City. However, Annabelle didn’t. She called me from Brighton last September and that was when my foot was in a cast. We spoke several times on the phone but there was no way I could drive to her or she could get to Pacifica. She promised to contact me when I got to Brighton. As you can see, it took us over a month to make any kind of arrangement, but we did at last. She is a delightful woman, an amateur actress, very active in her church and very devout. Evidently, the church saved her after her divorce when she was faced with bringing up her son all alone. I am getting more and more stories like that by the way and I am beginning to wonder if the definition of faith is getting someone to help out and if the purpose of religion is community instead of belief or salvation.
The next night was truly a turning point. I did FUNNY WOMEN AT KOMEDIA and met Rosie Farrar. She just started a new relationship with a delightful South African man, Andrew and the two make an interesting pair. She is 50 times as gorgeous as he is good looking (he is not) and a good head taller. He has recovered from Leukemia and is apparently sterile. They both want children and this threat of inability is not deterring them. They are both delightful, interesting company…I cannot speak to the romantic side of their relationship, but they are both truly nice people. You cannot help but like them
Rosie and I bonded instantly and we all went out for a drink after a very successful show. I closed the first act and I did well. Since I had to get to the Mesmerist that night to walk down the stairs, I had to eat something. Rosie must have wandered all over Brighton to get me something to eat and she managed to find a chicken kabob that I gobbled down before she and Andrew walked me to the Mesmerist, sat through the show which was totally amazing. I will never understand why a little old lady coming down a flight of stairs and singing “Take it Off” and “Do you like my Body” excites such a young crowd, but it always does.
We three had a drink afterwards and then Rosie put me in a cab to go home. Ordinarily, I would refuse a cab because of the expense for a relatively short walk but the weather was freezing, cold wet and windy and I had my hands full of costumes.
I am not sure what I did that Monday, I know I met Bill and we worked on the show and probably Val to discuss the videos that were never made. One of the things I have adjusted to is that promises are made but rarely kept…however it really isn’t that important because we are layering our opinions and our plans and gradually a show is emerging. THAT is why I was in Brighton.
Tuesday was the Brighton Launch. I went there and it was noisy beyond imagination. I did manage to meet Chris Cresswell in the crowd there and talk to Mark from The Treason Show. Chris and I had a coffee afterwards and we made plans for a wonderful show that still has not materialized. If it ever does, it will be superb. It was my cooking a traditional Jewish dinner and he pantomiming as my son and getting substitute ingredients for everything not in the fridge.
I had made a date to meet Tony Snell and see his flat. Tony is 91 years old. The idea was that I would ring his doorbell when I finished at The Launch. Chris walked me to his place, I could see a light in his living room but when I rang he didn’t answer. That was when I remembered how very deaf he is. Chris is very tall so he climbed into the yard and banged on the window. That did it and Tony opened the door.
I walked into a modern, spacious flat with a huge living room, nice Pullman kitchen and a huge bedroom beyond. Tony gave me a drink and then asked if I wanted dinner. I said “yes” …and after all why not? And then it happened:
Suddenly, I did not exist. Tony began singing to himself as he baked chicken, made a sauce, prepared and boiled asparagus, boiled potatoes and got the dinner organized. He lit some candles and put placemats on the tiny table near the window so we would have a nice view of the sea front while we dined.
He filled the plates and I helped him carry our dinners to the table. We each sat down, put the serviettes in our laps, smiled at one another and then he fell fast asleep.
I picked his face out of the chicken mopped him up and we ate our meal. (Not really…he woke up and began to eat after a tiny little nap) After dinner, we sat at the piano, which is a grand with a gorgeous sound even deaf me could hear and understand how beautiful it was. He played the piano and I tried but, ah, old age…. No glasses and I could not read the music. Then, Tony took me downstairs to his OTHER flat that he is GIVING to a homeless guy and showed me his toys: a lot of guitars, electric pianos and harmonicas. I walked home because that is what you do when your “date” is over 90 doesn’t see well and cannot hear a fucking thing.
On Wednesday the 28, Richard met me at Victoria, and he got me to The Comedy Café booked by Neale Welch. It is always a joy to me when I am with Richard and as always because he makes me so happy, happy things happen. Amanda Nichols came to see me but we did not have time to talk. She has come such a long way…she had cancer and managed to push herself into remission. She couldn’t be more than in her mid-thirties and that is very young to have such a serious illness. She seems fine now and has gotten very glamorous. I did really well at the café, met the owner who told me that he thought my jokes were limiting because they are about being old…which is what I am. Neale told me he would book me whenever I was in town which was nice but not THAT nice when you realize that the spots he gives me are free open mike spots. (We do our best….and evidently audience reaction is only a tiny part of the picture). Richard being the prince he is took me back to Victoria, we had something to eat and I went home on the train to cold, windy Brighton.
The next day Sue and I worked on the costumes and I took her out for a very long lunch. It was a joy to talk to her and she helped me get Vladimir into perspective. I am still (even now several months later) sad at the rift between us, but as Sue said, he manipulates people and he saps my energy and my confidence. If I encourage him, he will only hurt me again and the truth is I do not need him. I believe in his project and so wanted to be part of it…but I sense that isn’t to be. I explained that I had invested 2 years in developing the relationship and I hated to toss it out but as she said the two years taught me a great deal and was no loss in anyway. I sharpened my writing skills, and I got to see Moscow. All huge plusses in my greater plan to expand my horizons and see, learn and absorb more of the world I live in.
That night I am pretty sure I saw Mike Powell and Emma. That might have been the night Mike cooked us dinner …not sure though. It was definitely the night Emma walked me home because she didn’t want me walking alone at night…at first that is truly a lovely gesture and I appreciate it, but after a while I feel smothered. I think I have taken care of myself far too long to allow myself to be dependent.
March 1st was a stellar day. I met Tom Allen at Victoria Station. I at lunch at the bar right at the entrance to the train station and he came along to take me to London Comedy. London Comedy is Inky Jones’s place. Inky has an unusual kind of comedy …..very successful and one I would like to emulate. He talks TO the audience and pulls humor out of that. Many of his jokes are racist and sexist but the audience (mostly tourists from other countries) love it. I met Inky the first year I did comedy and I truly love him. He has ALWAYS been kind to me and I cannot say I have done that well at any of his clubs. (Several years ago I did his thistle comedy series and I was very so-so).
The first show I did there was horrid. The audience literally slept through it. The second show was marvelous and I wiped up the room. However I am not sure I learned that much from it. The next time I got there (in my next trip) I did learn a bit….and I am hoping that it will pay off the next time I am there. To my delight, Richard and Anne met me there. The guy at the door made them BUY tickets to see me (no perks at this club no drinks, no hearty welcome…but nice long comedy sets and that is what we all need and want.)
That night I stayed at Richard’s and I got to see Ellie and the baby . Willow is lovely and Ellie is a princess…just a delight of a girl. She is a daddy’s girl and who can blame her. Richard has a depth of understanding rare in any human being. One of the things I adore about him is that he knows what I am thinking before I say it. If he does that with me, he must do that as well with anyone he cares about and Ellis is his darling….much, more I think than the boys. That night I slept in his bed with a hot water bottle (not Richard…. He was in the next room with Anne) and Richard brought me coffee to wake me up. It is a luxury that is rare for me and thus an exquisite pleasure. Richard drove me to Victoria and off I went to tell stories at The Adsetts.
This time, the audience was tiny…maybe 5 people altogether and I told the stories just the way I wanted to…chatting around the kitchen table over one of Ashley’s amazing lunches. I have to say it was the best afternoon I have ever had….and I even got a bit of money from it although I didn’t want to take it. The pleasure of sharing experiences with such a caring audience more than paid for the effort I gave the performance. That afternoon became the pattern for the stories I did in May and it worked beautifully.
That Sunday was the performance of Granny’s Gone Wild that we had been rehearsing. We managed to fill the house and it went very well. The costumes worked but need a bit of readjusting, the changing behind a screen worked well and the flow was good. The plan is to add videos and orchestrations when I return end of April. It is still not where we want it to be but it definitely works.
Monday was spent with the Adsetts at a bar and Tuesday I met Rosie Farrar for dinner. Rosie is most definitely on my wavelength and our dinner was a delight. Andrew met us later around dessert time and we had a wonderful time exchanging ideas and just being together. I learned more about Andrew…..he is a deep thinking, sensitive man and I can understand why Rosie is attracted to him. The problem (and there is always a problem isn’t there?) is that he has a very overbearing, needy mother and she demands much of his time. Rosie is not really all right with that so it will be interesting to see this relationship develop. It was Rosie who insisted I write Lynne Parker about the upcoming WOW festival and ask her what happened to the airfare she was going to pay me and the weekend I set aside for her that I evidently was not part of. I did that and to my amazement Lynne telephoned immediately. She explained that she did not get the funding she had hoped to get but would give me £100 + £50 for the show at St James Theater that Thursday. She did indeed want me at the Funny Women booth and needed me to help with a panel she was doing Friday afternoon.
Sara Ellis had heard of my weekend on the South Bank and offered her home for me to stay overnight wither and Glenn her gorgeous dog. She has been an amazing friend, ever since. She met me at Victoria that Thursday and took me to The St James Theatre where I was on a panel with several very interesting women including Amisha Ghadiali, an Indian girl who shaved her head and gave her hair to cancer victims. She is part of a movement to recycle fashion and is very involved in environmental concerns. I also met her mother who is a psychiatrist and a wonderful human being. I think her name is an Indian variation of Emma. Andrea Mann edits and writes comedy for the London based Huffington Post. A woman named Viv Groskop who is wonderfully marvelous and has written a book about combining mothering and comedy hosted it. The house as filled for this event and the response was everything we could have hoped to have. The comedy show that followed was excellent and I was proud to be part of the show. James Albrecht, the manager, came up to me afterwards and asked if I would be interested in appearing at the theater. Of course, I said yes but as of this writing (mid-June) we have not been able to put anything together.
Sara and I went home together and Sara made me a lovely pasta supper. Glenn of course stole my heart. He is a huge collie, black and white and love all over . I slept well and felt very loved and safe.
The next day, I went to the south bank and I met George Baddley . This is a man who sponsors Silver comedy, the contest Shelley Bridgman won. He also takes comedy to senior homes and it is actually frightening…it is so condescending and such horrid comedy. This is the very thing I fight again. Treating old people like idiots and talking to them like stupid children. George is an interesting man as well…he is not well. He has fibromyalgia and is fighting it but again that is one of those amorphous diseases that trouble me because I believe they are at least 95% emotional. I think that when you cannot cope with who you are and what obstacles life sends your way, it goes physical…but then I am projecting my own experience on someone else.
At three, I went upstairs and Lynne Parker and I did a marvelous workshop with a lot of women on how and why to become a comedian. It was exhilarating and wonderful to see how many women ache to expand their horizons. I am not sure comedy is right for all of them; but I know it is healthy and important to explore outlets that you never dreamed possible and see how they feel.
After we finished the workshop I sat at the Funny Women booth and got to know some of the girls. They are lovely and fun people. I met Susie Lochiel for dinner with Laura Healy. These are two of my favorite human beings in the whole world. I met Susie back in 2008 when I was doing stories and Aging is Amazing. We fell in love in the best sense ever and that year I stopped in London to meet her at Capital Radio in Leicester Square with Laura. Laura made a wonderful 3-minute video of me that has yet to be surpassed. It is sharp, beautifully edited and captures all that I am and am trying to be. We three manage to see one another every year somehow, some way and last summer while my foot was in a cast, the two of them came to San Francisco and visited me at my house. They took a bus from the BART station and Susie was appalled at the filthy, the loud, bad smelling humans on our public transit lines. “People who ride busses in London are NICE,” she said.
It was unbelievably cheering and touching to have these two girls in my home when I was crippled. The brought over a lunch since I could not cook and we visited as we always do…with never enough time to say all the things we need to say to one another.
I e-mailed Susie that I would be in London end of March and we arranged to meet. She and Laura picked me up at the South Bank and we went to dinner in town. We went to a small Italian restaurant and met an interesting Brazilian guitarist who plays music every Friday night in Camden Town. I have yet to get there but it is in my diary and I am trying.
The girls got me to The Soho Theatre to meet Sara because we had tickets for Will Franken’s one-man show. It was a wonderful show because he is a comic genius. We went home together, I crawled into bed and Glen came up to visit me: Very lovely for a dog person…because I seem to need a canine presence in my life as often and as constantly as possible.
The next day Sara got me back to The South Bank. Richard picked me up, we had dinner and I got back to Brighton that night. The truth is that when ever I am with Richard magic happens….and I still cannot figure out why. Perhaps it is because we expect nothing of each other.
When I got home to Brighton, I went over to The Verdict and met Sara Oschlag for a delightful dinner. Sara brightens any room always. While we were there, Val came to tighten up plans for Sunday when I was to help her with her show (always a pleasure to help her…but this time was to be quite different)
Sunday was Mothers Day in the UK and one of the worst days of my life. The weather, which had been disgusting for most of this trip, was even more horrid…blowing and cold and miserable. Val Aviv wanted me to be interviewed and do my strip for her TV program DEEPER MEANING, is a discussion of what is below the surface in our dealings with each other.
Before I was to try to find her little pied-à-terre, I met Mike Powell and his delightful, wonderful sisiter for lunch. A word here about Mike Powell: He and I fell in love in 2009 and I adore him out of my mind. He is not well. He suffers from bi-polar problems kindled by a touch alocholism . He is however totally lovely and lately has been having great luck with women. During this trip, I saw him often with his newest girlfriend Emma Magill whom I am seeing now (May-September trip) on a fairly regular basis. She is delightful, intelligent and sensitive to all human dreams and desires. However, evidently Mike had become out of tune with her and that day was the day he decided she was a viper, a predator and a witch. (she is none of these things). That is why she did not join us for coffee and did not come to my show that night. Mike’s sister is down to earth, works at NHS and a fine, solid human being. It is obvious Mike loves and respect her. The three of us met at Red Roasters on St. James Street and then walked over to Val’s stuidio which was way down on the sea front almost to the Marina.
Unfortunately, DEEPER MEANING is not very deep at all. Val’s ideas of how to explore this very meaningful topic are shallow and overdone and predictable. She even did an interview with a teddy bear. She was filming the segment in an inexplicably small space with Andy and Sara attempting to create something presentable. The room Val uses in VERY tiny. The word tiny is an understatement. The room is barely big enough for an anorexic midget and is in the back of another art studio on the second floor of an unheated building on the sea front: No toilet, rickety winding staircase, cluttered with furniture and filthy cups and saucers. We all crammed into the room, I changed into my strip costume, we did the interview three times to get it right and then it took all of us to get me back own the stairs and into Val’s car.
Val took all of us to Churchill’s on St James Street fro a yummy, very filling Sunday roast with wine and every kind of goodie you can imagine. Then I hurried home to get dressed for the comedy show I had arranged with Michael Fabbri, Jonathan Mayer, Will Franken and myself. We sold all of two tickets and nothing at the door…We actually did the show for four people, one being Annie Robinson, my darling, wonderful landlady’s daughter Katie Scott and all the comedians were absolutely super. Sadly, I had no money to pay them so I took the money I had earned from the shows I did at The Latest and divided that among the three of them.
It is important to know that as I wandered through the day, tortured by the weather and the waste of time and energy, stuffed but not fortified with wine and chicken, I keep reminding myself that I had not called Penelope Young…just one more failure on a day riddled with disappointments and shattered dreams.
The next day, cold, miserable and defeated, humiliated beyond words because I made darling Jonathan come all the way from Manchester for literally nothing, I met Sarah Louise at the train station and she who has been more of a mother to me than my own mother shepherded me to her place where she cooked a magnificent dinner for Daniel Cainer and I. We dined, we wined, we shivered, we laughed and I felt much better and ready to take the trip home.
We decided then that it was wiser to stay in Brighton June and July because when I returned in May for the Brighton Fringe. I was doing the Edinburgh Festival and Bill had already paid for it and it seemed silly to fly back and forth with barely six weeks at home. I knew I had to be in Brighton for the Awards ceremony June 3 and I had already promised Hazel I would do Manchester Laughing Cows July 27. Edinburgh begins July 30 and is all of August. Annie told me then that 3 months was too long to stay at her place since she needed the room for family visits during the summer. I went home burdened with the worry of where I would stay after June 3. Rosie Farrar who books Funny Women in Brighton said she would help me look for something and I should leave it to the universe. I did that, but also spent a great deal of energy and worry during the next two months worrying about where I would stay that I could afford.
Because I am one lousy planner, as soon as I got home I had to unpack, repack and leave for Oregon for a series of four gigs and a play in Ashland to finish the week. I still do not know how I did it. Leo picked me up at the airport, I put away what I could, drank a lot of coffee, kissed the dogs, who kissed me back trying to figure out who the hell I was. They knew the smell but was only vaguely aware that I was their mommy and had been caring for them for over 14 years.
Beth was not ready. I am still in a state of shock that she had absolutely no sense of the jet lag and time warp I was in. I drove over to the wine bar, at a strange kind of supper and then over to her home to get her things. We did not leave until after ten that night to go to Redding where we were to spend the night with her parents. We stopped to fill the gas tank and left Pacifica a full 3 hours after we should have. Beth had expected to do all the driving but once my head got back together, we shared which was much better for us both. My big worry was if we got stopped because my driver’s license was gone (remember?)
Beth’s parents are absolute dolls and they were ready for us. I slept on a couch all made up and ready for me and Beth across from me on another rollaway bed. We left earlier than she wanted to leave for Florence. I was determined to get a bit of rest before I did my set there because that is not always a successful gig for me. Beth was resistant (after all she wanted to spend time with her wonderful parents and who can blame her?) but because I had the keys to the car, she got in and off we went. When we got to Florence (which is a beautiful drive) Beth wanted to go to 1285 Resto Bar, a restaurant owned by Grace Makeritch’s (from Pacifica a very good friend and lovely brave human being) cousin, Marianne. The lunch was lovely and expensive and I was beginning to understand Beth’s way of being. She is a shopper, a consumer, a buyer of unnecessary things. In short, she is American. That also makes her loveable, generous, ready for fun and all the good things I love about her…we accept people for ALL that they are because the quirks and hang ups are the foundation of the wonderful charisma each of us have.
That night, I did my Florence show and to my amazement Steve Mazan, whom I had opened for in Sacramento last year and was very mediocre about me, was the headliner. This meant that he would also headline at the remaining three shows because Entertainment Max sends out one team for a series of shows within driving distance of one another. Steve has an incurable illness and managed to get on The David Letterman Show by telling them he needed to get there before he died. He is a very average comedian and yet has ascended far beyond what I think his talent merits.
This was my third time in Florence and I am remembered and loved. I did my thirty minutes and I did very well…much better than the last time and the last time I was a hit. I was proud of myself considering the circumstances of my trip up there and knowing I was still jet lagged. However I KNEW I could do better and determined to improve as the weekend progressed
Steve got up on stage in Florence and surveyed the audience. The average age of the people in Florence is about 80. They are old, conservative, a bit drunk and gamblers because the gig in Florence is at Three Rivers Casino. Steve began his routine when an old man with a young date interrupted him to ask a question and Steve exploded. He yelled at the guy, humiliated the date, yelled at the audience and then resumed his set to a cold, angry audience. When we finished, I invited him to join Beth and me for dinner and he said he had work to do and went up to his room. The good news is that Beth and I both got a free dinner that night and I was delighted. After all, I do not think the trip would have been half as lovely as it was with Beth. We had fun, we learned to adapt to each others rhythms and we learned to let each other go his own way as much as possible…..the whole trip was very successful….and heartening for me because I usually end up hating anyone I am with after 2 hours. The two of us did not always agree, but we acquiesced to one another easily and often. It was a lovely week.
The next day, we got ready to leave for Medford to do my gig at The Ronky Tonk there. I had a gift certificate and gave it to Beth to spend on gifts for Olivia who has to be THE most adorable child in the universe and Beth’s niece and Brett her partner …Brett and Beth have just begun living together. He is a former policeman and a lovely boy but he had been doing a bit of hanky-panky that Beth could not handle right before we left on our trip. This was part of the reason she was very restless and upset and also a major reason that the trip was good for her. Getting away from him gave her a bit of perspective….also a bit more fun than she expected.
We settled into our motel and had to change rooms to get on the wi-fi with my fancy Mac…her PC was fine. Obviously a PC is a humble computer who knows its place and adapts to funny connections. Macs are the spoiled children of the computer world and demand the best of the best or else. Beth went to the gym and when she came back wanted to shower but it was 15 minutes til I had to get to the bar and after a bit of a tiff, I got bathed, changed and departed for the next phase of my comedy weekend. Beth came in much later after she had caught up with e mails, calls and had changed.
That was the day I went to the computer after I bathed and got an e mail that Penny Young had her stroke on other’s day. I was shocked. I had been thinking about her that day because she had told me that whenever she bathed, she put lotion on herself ALL OVER and told herself she was beautiful and desirable. Since I had just bathed and lotioned not QUITE all over, I had reminded myself that I must write her. I have to say I didn’t bother telling myself lies about my desirability.
The Ronky Tonk has the best food in Medford. Medford!!!! I did my set and Beth walked in, just as I finished. Poor girl. She had to listen to the same jokes 4 times which I thought was both brave and loyal! This time, Steve actually noticed her and I could almost hear the zing when he realized he would be seeing her three more nights and she is gorgeous. She is also delightful company. So it was that Steve stayed and ate dinner with us after the show.
However, first he did his set and this time, a doctor in the audience asked him an innocent question and he exploded again. I was amazed that he actually got away with yelling at the audience and also amazed that he had such an immense ego that he was unafraid of saying what he meant and letting the audience know he was offended. Brave, brave boy.
When the night was over, we went back to the motel. I am not sure if Beth joined Steve then for a nightcap, because I went straight to bed. However, the next day we drove through a lot of snow and ice to Bend, Oregon for our next gig at Kao’s. I love Kao’s because it is so my kind of audience. But even more I love the lady who runs the motel. She is a born comedian and we always banter a lot. I gave her one of my books the last time I was there and gave her another this time.
By now, it was obvious to me that Steve had some ideas about Beth. We both did our sets and to my total amazement, Steve not only got furious(again!!!) at the audience, he walked off the stage and told a lady who was texting to stop what she was doing. Then, he almost came to blows with a heckler (who never bothered me, Thank God). While he did, this several people walked out of the bar. I intercepted one couple but could not keep them there. However, many, many of the people there complimented Steve and told him he was absolutely right to let the heckler know he was out of line.
That night we all ate dinner and had lots to drink with Ryan Traughber, the guy who runs the comedy night at Kao’s. Ryan is delightful, funny and fun and he made arrangements for us to do a pod-cast with him the next day. However, the night was far from over. After we finished dinner, we all went into town and went to one of the bars still opening bend. Steve and Beth were obviously getting on very well there and I had had all I could drink. They were not tired, so I drove them to another all night bar with a couple people we picked up in that first bar and drove myself home.
Beth came in at about 4 or 5 that morning, she says. I was sound asleep. That day, I went down to the center of town and wandered through art galleries which is my busman’s holiday wherever I go. Beth met me downtown and we had a marvelous lunch in a super bar, Brother Johns, that is a Bend Institution tucked away in a side street and yummy food. Beth had a Bloody Mary because she was still hung over. We did some gallery exploring and shopping and than back to the motel for the pod-cast with Ryan.
We met in Steve’s room, and we talked about comedy. It was inevitable that we talked about Steve’s belligerence with the audience. He pointed out that in a proper comedy club, the bouncer would have removed the heckler. However I doubt if anyone would have objected to the poor patron trying to text under the table. Steve also said he felt he had an obligation to cut out excess conversation so the rest of the audience could enjoy his part of the show. (?) That night, we both did really well at Kao’s and Beth had another night with Steve.
The interesting thing to note is that with each performance my set got better. I really did my very best ever that Saturday night at Kao’s.
The next day we drove to Ashland and saw a beautiful performance of MY FAIR LAADY and drove home with a stop in Redding to see Beth’s lovely family and meet Olivia who has to be even more precious than Beth says she is. Home after midnight, exhausted and ready to deal with lost passports lost drivers, license and the reality of life.
And so ends my first United Kingdom Adventure. But there was lots more to come.

Always remember you never are doing nothing. You are always growing and preparing for the next thing

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