Saturday, 2 April 2011

Middle Class Helpline

Is there a crisis line for the terminally middle-class and middle-aged? I imagine such a helpline number could be flashed up after programmes like Gardeners' World or Midsummer Murders.  Or even Tena Lady sponsored Rosemary and Thyme.  

'If you have been affected by the issues raised in this episode of Location Location Location, or if you want to know where Kirstie Allsop bought her wedge espadrilles then please call . . '

Two incidents today could have instigated a fraught call to such a helpline.

1. I was in The Body Shop. I don't usually shop there, I am irritated by the aroma of Dewberry and worthy sanctimony, but Madam Noir dragged me in.  I was approached by a 14 year old Saturday girl. She caught me at a vulnerable moment.  I was fretting over my, frankly, WH Auden skin.

SG:  Can I help you?

Miss Underscore:  Which is your most potent eye-cream?

SG:  What do you mean 'potent'?

Miss Underscore:  Well, I want something lifting, tightening, hydrating. . .

SG:  (pointing to shelves).  Well this one was designed for women in their 40s and this one is for women in their 50s and above. (smugly) They're all organic and fair trade.

Miss Underscore: Organic?  I couldn't give a badger's chuff whether they're organic OR fair trade.  I want chemicals.  I want SCIENCE. 

I left the shop feeling very despondent.  Did she really think I was in need of the 50+ eye cream?  What could that lanky, doe-eyed flibbertygibbet know of the angst of aging?  Wouldn't the very best customer service have been a response of,

'Well, you really don't need ANY eye-cream, you have the creamy and ethereal skin of Aphrodite, after all.  However, just as a precaution why don't you try this?' 

2.  Earlier I found myself admiring Cath Kidson butter dishes and egg cups.  'What the fuck has happened to me?' I wondered.  At what precise point did the trajectory of my life shift?  When exactly did Saturday afternoon shopping evolve from gleefully buying gin, glittery eyeshadows and shagging knickers to drooling over floral crockery and tea towels?  

I picked up some Cath Kidston bandanas.

'Oooh, Madam Noir, what do you think?  For the dogs?'

See?  Do you see my problem? Dear God.  I need an intervention. Help me. Someone help me.  Please.

Later, over scones and tea, Madam Noir and I discussed 

Parma Violet Tea:  The Movie 
nothing happens . . . twice 

We did have great fun debating casting. Who would play the main parts.  (For a Dramatis Personae of the blog click here.) 

My thoughts.

In moments of piercing sexual longing I would suggest Javier Bardem. He has the requisite brooding swarthiness.  Although, whether the Spaniard would be able to adopt a mumbling Geordie accent is debatable.  I fear Rochester's ubiquitous 'Aye petal' would sound more like 'Aye pethal'.  

In more uncharitable moments, when remembering the rogue's eternal sardonic flakiness, I think Walter Matthau would be a great choice.  He has a certain ramshackle charm, brown eyes and eyebrows like overfed stoats. 

Then again, Ted Hughes would have been a rather good match. Scowling Rochester does like to stride across barren moorlands in chunky woolen jumpers while chain-smoking roll-ups and drawing obtuse analogies between the bleakness of life and the cawing of rooks.  An argument could also be made for Sid James and Tommy Cooper.

I debated the options with Madam Noir.  

'We need someone more Geordie,' I lamented 'and someone alive.'

We paused to contemplate the thorny issue.  Then it came to us.  Of course. Twatting obvious. 

'Jimmy Nail!'

Madam Noir
There is only one choice, I feel, for the 'best friend' role, that of newly 'lezza' Madam Noir.  She simply must be played by Doris Day.  Doris Day as she was in Calamity Jane, of course.  That surely is the most lesbian film ever produced. Even the songs are lezza; Secret Love and the duet between Katie and Calamity, A Woman's Touch?  

'A woman's touch
Can do so much
One smile from her and boom
Little buds begin to bloom'

Anyway, that is as far as our casting discussions have got, thus far. Of course, I need an overweight, shaven-headed Yorkshire twat to play my Headteacher, Pompous Pilate.  And who on earth could play Doreen,  my cackling, toothless crone of a teaching assistant?  Senor Boldon (my ex, and Rochester's odd-bod brother) is another crucial role. I must give this project some serious thought. 

The most perplexing question, of course, is who on earth could play Miss Underscore. Suggestions? 


  1. I can imagine the late Brian Glover as Pompous Pilate. He almost ran me over on a zebra crossing in Bradford (Glover not Pilate) and whilst he was probably a nice man, albeit a bad driver in real life, he could play "Balding Yorkshire twat" convincingly.

    I'm not sure why, but I imagine Doreen to look like Lorraine Cheshire, who was in Early Doors (Joan) and Waterloo Road (Fleur Budgen). If she could do a mackem accent I can picture her sneak-eating Greggs pasties in the supply cupboard.

    I'm stumped for ideas for Senor Boldon and yourself.

  2. By the way I'm so glad you're blogging again. I missed you!

  3. Lesley!

    DEAR GOD! Brian Glover is GENIUS! As is Lorraine Cheshire. Perfect. You must join our imaginary project as casting director!

    Senor Boldon needs to be bald, scowling and intense. He is also a jogger, so must be quite fit.

    Only suggestion for Miss Underscore so far is Kirsten Scott Thomas (she plays nutjobs very well), but Kirsten would need to be:

    a. force fed a lot of Galaxy Bubbles.
    b. less posh

  4. I imagine David Morrissey as Rochester - well, the brooding bit anyway. As you see him in those period drama type things. No idea if he can do the accent but I don't hear those when I read your blogs. Perhaps hard to cast, but I imagine Pompous as more like Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons. Doreen, well, surely Mrs Doyle from Father Ted. Senor Boldon has to be a moustache-twirling pantomime villain type, but good-looking - perhaps him who plays Luc in 'Brothers and Sisters' with a stick-on moustache if necessary. And as for Miss Underscore - hmm... A Carrie from Sex and the City type but not blonde - but that's mostly because I hear her as the narrator of the story.

  5. I'm too new here to make casting suggestions.

    I did spend two weeks working at the Body Shop (I was supposed to blog about it years ago). I was older than the average employee (30 at the time) ... and was shocked how customers came to ask advice of me ... as if they thought we'd actually been trained in cosmetology or anything related. I still remember how ecstatic a young girl was when we had run out of a lipstick, but I suggested she just get the equivalent lip-liner colour and then mix it with a clear lip balm. I just made that shit up!

  6. Two thoughts for Senor Boldon, although I feel both of them are too pretty to play Jimmy Nail's brother. Jason Statham because he's an English actor and about the right age, but very southern and possibly unable to act. Although the "Boldon burger baron" doesn't seem the emotional type so maybe that wouldn't be a problem. Stanley Tucci is my other suggestion. Mostly because I have a big crush on him.
    By the way can you tell that my Saturday night is somewhat lacking in other distractions?

  7. I am thinking accents here.

    Why not start by studying old Catherine Cookson TV adaptations? An acquaintance of mine starred in one of them (age- and gender-wise she is in the right category to play you, but I cannot recommend her as by all accounts she is a rotten awful bitch).

    Also, other local classics like Auf Weidersehen Pet, Byker Grove and When the Boat Comes In (am scraping the barrel here). And how can we forget Robson Green and Ant/Dec?

    Michael from the Alan Partridge series was not from round here (he is from Cumbria as it happens, and he also does the voice for the meerkat on the ads) but he did a very good imitation.

  8. I have to say, I am LOVING these casting suggestions.

    And Margot, I am sure that an actor who can play a meerkat could give a masterly, BAFTA winning performance as a fanny rat!

  9. You said 'flibbertygibbet'. As such you have my un-ironic eternal respect. That is all.

  10. Thank you Tired Dad. I do like you short, clipped sentences. They are sardonically economic. That is also all.

  11. How about Mark Strong for Señor Boldon. I love him. Mark Strong, that is, not Señor Boldon...

  12. Ooh yes Mark Strong I love him too. He could play Jimmy Nail's brother.
    Just started reading Tired Dad via Waffle - the same way I found you. Both blogs have proved to be excellent recommendations.

  13. I cast Tired Dad.

    Oh and Middle Class & Age line? I need your help. I went into Cath Kidson specifically to buy a bandana for my greyhound (/help economy etc) and found none such garment so please divulge the where.

  14. Mmmm....Mark Strong...

    I see you as played by Shirley Henderson: adorable, underrated and looks great in a bob.

    This imaginary casting game is great for whiling away the time on long train journeys. It works brilliantly for books as well. Eventually you find yourself choosing a director and a filming location, then imagining pivotal scenes in detail, and seriously considering writing a screenplay. That way madness lies, though.

  15. Oh, your comments are making me smile. You've all cheered me up immensely. Thank you. xxx

    It is agreed, Mark Strong for Senor Boldon. I am not sure the casting is perfect, I am struggling to picture Senor Strong sat morosely in front of Top Gear with a plate of stir fry. However, the casting works on a much deeper level. Namely, that Mark Strong is MUCH better looking than Jimmy Nail, and that will irritate Rochester greatly.

    I once asked R. if he talked about me to his brother,

    'No. It was awkward, we both knew that I was the better catch.'

    FFD: I found the bandanas in a wicker basket next to the purses. They are actually sold as hankies, but they're bandana size. Certainly big enough for a greyhound's delicate neck.

    I feel I may write the first scene of the movie today. I have 28 reports to write, and next week's lessons on Anne Frank's diary, but what the fuck . . . priorities.

  16. How about Keeley Hawes as Miss Underscore? Bet she could hold her own against the likes of Rochester. And she has the overwhelming advantage of being alive. My other suggestions for dark-haired alabaster-skinned heroines were Louise Brooks, Vivien Leigh or a young Elizabeth Taylor.

  17. Pwoar Claire!

    Your suggestions are all terribly glamorous. ***sheepishly looks down at chipped nail varnish, mismatched socks and flannel pyjama bottoms***

  18. I imagine you as Sharon Small, in her dark-haired phase. I hope you think that's positive, I love her tough-but-soft-centered Northern persona

  19. How about Ricky Gervais for Pompous Pilate? I'm sure he could rustle up a suitable Yorkshire accent and he has the 'pompous idiot' thing down.

    Anne-Marie Duff for Miss Underscore? Small, pretty, and funny. Plus she was a convincing brunette in the Magdalen Sisters.

  20. Good suggestions! I like Sharon Small & Anne Marie Duff.

    And yes, Ricky Gervais, if he was force fed pies and lard (and could do a Yorkshire accent) would work.

  21. Is there no place in your film for the eternally Geordie Robson Green? Is there need for a wild swimmer or a catcher of large fish by any chance? I've seen him in his underwear you know....

  22. Oh dear Wylye Girl. I am sorry to hear of your traumatic experience, viewing Robson Green in his greying, baggy Y fronts. Was he tickling his trout at the time as well? Why did I not read of this in the Daily Mail?

    I feel there may be a part for RG, but not a leading role. (Let's face it, he hasn't had one of those for many a year). I think he could possibly play one of my interweb dating scoundrels. I think maybe the Forensic Psychologist who, in the course of our 1st (and only date);

    1. described his oral sex technique
    2. claimed NOT to be looking at my breasts, as breasts did nothing for him.
    3. walked me back to my car and called it a 'piece of shit.'
    4. emailed me straight after the date to say he'd had a lovely evening and couldn't wait to see me again.