And indeed, some years ago, I did jot down a few ideas, which I then attempted to develop into a couple of chapters. I was unhappy with the result. These scenes, so clear and vivid in my head and in my memory, so present in my imagination, simply refused to come alive on paper. My prose seemed to me to be flat and lifeless for the most part. Only a few phrases struck me as evocative and 'true'. I put the project aside, never expecting to return to it.
I was aware that my former colleague, Patrick, had, back in the 1980s, produced something called 'One Little Maid', a spoof autobiography of the character he created onstage. I had never read it, and it was only when an audiobook version was produced by the indefatigable Mr Paul Dunford, doyen of the Hinge and Bracket fan group, that I became acquainted with it.
And was astonished to discover how poor it was. A friend, a great enthusiast of Hinge and Bracket, and particularly of Dame Hilda, described it as 'anodyne'. That is, if anything, over generous. It's utterly dull and inoffensive - tedious, harmless, bland. Totally devoid of the wit and inventiveness that Patrick, in the character of Dame Hilda, was renowned for.
My reaction was "I think I can do better than that". The result – 'The Naked Doctor'. I followed my former colleague's example, and penned an intimate portrait of the youth of my imaginary alter ego, Dr Evadne Hinge. No-one knows that lady better than I – after all I invented her. It is not for me to say how good or bad the result was, but the book has received a gratifyingly positive reaction from those who have read it.
I was generally satisfied with the 'The Naked Doctor'. And in the course of producing it, I came to appreciate that the process of writing is as much a matter of routine, habit and practice as it is of inspiration and talent. I dug out the two original chapters of my own story and set to work, to see if I was now able to make anything of them. The result is my latest book, 'A Boy Called Audrey'. Which is something very different.
I'm afraid sequels to both are already 'in the works.' I've got the bug, it appears.
From my childhood up to the present I was rarely without a book in my hand. But I never expected to swap the input for the output side.
Many writers who, like me, come to it in their later years have apparently nursed lifelong authorial ambitions. Not in my case. My interests when I was growing up were quite other. Music and theatre were my passion from as far back as I can remember, and were the foundation of my career from the time I was able to claim to have one. I was lucky enough to occupy a position of some note in the entertainment industry for thirty years, appearing with my colleague Mr Patrick Fyffe as 'Hinge and Bracket'. He as the outgoing and effervescent Dame Hilda Bracket, and myself as the acerbic but demure and retiring Doctor Evadne Hinge. On the death of my stage partner in 2002, I retired to France. At that time, writing a book was about the last thing I had in mind.
Oh, once in a while, in the company of old friends, memory and nostalgia stimulated by a glass or two, I have invoked some of the hilarious and less than savoury scenes of our shared youth. On these occasions I have now and then heard, "Such a funny story. You ought to write a book." To which I remember replying, "Yes, you're right. Maybe I will, one of these days."
An accidental author