May The 4th Be With You
Happy Star Wars Day
I know I should have grown out of my fixation with the best science fiction film of all time by now, but it is a little difficult to walk away from the longest relationship of my life.
At this time of year, I always reflect on the times I've come into contact with the film industry. Sadly, I have a face for radio and a voice best not heard, so a career in front of the camera was never an option. Add in turning on my laptop is about as far as my technological expertise reaches and a career in film was never going to be a viable option. It doesn't mean I can't enjoy the magic.
It also hasn't stopped me from having more than my fair share of fun interacting with the industry. It started as a small child living in Watford. Mum owned a shop and rented the apartment above to a wonderful lady who both played and wrote music on The Muppet Show. She very kindly took me to the studios to meet the late, great Jim Henson and watch some filming. I was transfixed. Two moments stood out for me. We were in the viewing gallery watching filming when someone turned off the loudspeaker picking up the chat from the stage. It was felt best a very young, impressionable child shouldn't hear the language Mr. Henson was using. My Grandmother would have told him to wash his mouth out with soap and water. Thankfully I had no idea what he was saying. The second moment involved going backstage where all the Muppets were kept. We walked straight into the biggest white rabbits I've ever seen. They looked so small on the TV screen, but they were huge and terrified me. Thankfully smiles quickly returned when Jim Henson came over, put his arm around my shoulders and presented me with my very own Kermit the Frog hand puppet.
There's a reason I lead with this particular anecdote. It happened in the same year Star Wars hit the world's cinema screens.
A few years later we moved to a smaller village just outside Watford with the immortal name Elstree. Yup, it's the place the film studios are named after. An important point. The film studios aren't in Elstree. They're next door in Borehamwood across the road from a set of BBC studios containing the EastEnders set. The British film industry was struggling at the time and there was justified concern Elstree Studios would have to close forever. The place where Star Wars and Indiana Jones were filmed came very close to disappearing. If it hadn't been for the efforts of the 'Save Our Studios' group and Hertsmere Borough Council they probably would have done. As it is you can go shopping in a major supermarket and be walking on the very ground so many great movies were made. The future is bright for these historic studios with a multi-million-pound development now underway.
One of our neighbours in Elstree worked at the film studios and arranged a tour for myself and my best friend, who happens to now be a film producer. We saw everything from the Star Wars stages to the pool used for various water scenes in Indiana Jones and other films. The best treat was being allowed into the special effects workshop for a little film called "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" We were shown so many tricks of the trade long before CGI took over. The work that went into creating a cigar-smoking baby in a pram was incredible.
There have been many more episodes where my life has collided with the film industry ranging from meeting James Bond producer Michael G. Wilson at a hotel bar in Watford for a chat just before filming started on Goldeneye at Leavesden Studios (it wasn't always Harry Potter World and wouldn't even exist if Pinewood hadn't been full when the Bond franchise came out of a hiatus), to being on stage with a very famous boyband at the end of Children In Need one year. Each time I feel the same excitement as that day I met Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear face-to-face.
I'm sure my run-ins with the film industry aren't over. After all, I'm an author and can always dream one day my books will make the transition to the big screen. It's as good a dream as any and stranger things have happened. I'm not sure what stranger things, but I'm sure they must have.
A Stray Update
Smokey now has a designated route to my balcony by climbing up a tree so spends every night asleep in her new cat bed outside my bedroom door. It's cool and dry so she's happy. She's incredibly loyal and I'm lucky she chose us as her friends. Lucky is being as cheeky as ever. She's never content with her own dinner. She has to check what everyone else is having before she settles down to hers even though it is almost always the same thing.
Princess is taking life at her own pace. She goes for a walk when she feels like it and sleeps in her tent to escape both hot and cold weather. She's an amazing old girl with a life filled with love.
Congratulations Are In Order
As those that know me are aware, I'm a big rugby fan. As such, I can't let this blog pass without saying a huge congratulations to England's Red Roses on a 4th Six Nations title in a row, another Grand Slam and a winning streak better than any other England team in history. It's a roll of honour every team would be proud of.
Also big congratulations to Esher Rugby on winning English National Division 2 South and returning to Division 1 next season. A great club that's well worth a visit if you're in the area of Molesey Road
That's it for this time.
Happy Star Wars Day. Stay away from the dark side.
MaxS and The Strays.