Veteran performer Matthew Kelly waxed lyrical about Aberdeen and Aberdonians in the EE last week, during his run at His Majesty’s in that superb comedy Noises Off.
Losh, that made me titter, given he was responsible for the most embarrassing episode I’ve experienced in my beloved theatre.
HMT has been part of my life since I was a wee yin in Babs Wilson’s dance school, when we graduated up from The Tivoli to stage our annual Easter shows, Revels in Rhythm – no, dinna think onybody but Babs and her sister Lexy understood that title.
How thrilled was I to get my first fit we ca’ed “principal part”, playing Fred Astaire to Kathleen Marsh’s Judy Garland in We’re A Couple Of Swells? We got rave reviews in the EE. Dad booked a front seat for every performance, knowing exactly when to leave the bar when his Mo-Mo was on stage. Aww.
Later, as a young reporter, my favourite job was Monday mornings in The Circle Bar, when all the stars of that week’s show gathered for interviews and pictures. My highlight was sitting down with the young, gorgeous Ian McKellen in the early 1970s, when he was playing Hamlet.
My then boss, the women’s editor, wanted me to interview actress Faith Brook, playing Gertrude. I protested that McKellen was the upcoming actor of the moment. Wisely, she relented.
As we spoke, he declared he was heartbroken, having just heard Judi Dench had married Michael Williams. Little did I know, that was a bit of a ruse…
I regularly reviewed various shows, cannoning home after the final curtain to write, then phone over my piece before midnight. As it happens, the wonderful Helen, who’s drawn my cartoons for more than 30 years, used to be one of those late-night copy-takers.
Excruciating humiliation all round
Then came the review I was doing for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a Matthew Kelly show in 1988, to which I took my bairns, given it was a reportedly hugely successful, offbeat comedy for all ages. One of those productions that, when you went into the bar for your pre-show drink, the stars were a’ millin’ aboot in costume, chattin’ to a’body. That should have been a warning sign.
Little did I know we had front-row seats when my quine announced she’d to go to the lavvie. So, the three of us were, admittedly conspicuous, late arrivals.
All was pin-droppingly silent as we three crept to oor seats, heidies bowed to look less obvious, me at the back. Then, I felt this touch on my elbow and a whisper: “What’s your name?”
I looked behind, and it was the Kelly mannie, dressed as a monk. Taken aback, I blathered: “Moreen.” He whispered back: “Moreen what?” So, yes, idiot supremo, I gave my full name.
Suddenly, this spotlight exploded on us, and he announced to the audience: “Well, look who’s here tonight, everybody! It’s none other than Moreen Simpson! Let’s all give her a huge round of applause!”
Dear readers, imagine the excruciating humiliation. Not just for me, but for my peer loon and quine, who looked like they wanted to disappear doon the backs of the folding seats.
Only later did I discover he chose a different “victim” every night. So, tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be the wifie you embarrassed to within a piddle of her bladder!
Community lost out due to secondary school shambles
Great to see the new Hazlehead Academy, and Aberdeen’s first “green” school, may be finally on track for getting into the budget books next year, even though there are still question marks over cash.
Which Aberdeen council bampot entered into a deal with the now-in-administration Countesswells developers to build a secondary in the area? How many aeons before that could have been filled with local teenagers? Sadly, it now seems contributions from the housebuilders from it can’t be used for the new Hazlehead. Shambles.
And, pleeeease, planners – include a pool in the design. Surely a no-brainer for pupils and the community? Except for shameful councillors who consider swimming pools, like Bucksburn, dispensable.
Moreen Simpson is a former assistant editor of the Evening Express and The Press and Journal, and started her journalism career in 1970