She drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra

Carrie Fisher to me was far more than Princess Leia. Never forgetting that Leia was a strong female role model who took no sh!t from anyone, I fell in love with her words in my late teens and have never fallen out of them.

I started with Postcards From the Edge, after watching an interview with Meryl Streep on Oprah publicising the film, rapidly worked through Delusions of Grandma, Surrender the Pink and when it was released, The Best Awful. Wishful Drinking was added, and I took Hubs to see Carrie Fisher in it when she brought it to Melbourne (pre-Peanut).

I still use one-liners from her now. I retain water on behalf of people, although not Whitney Houston as originally written in the book. I actually do have car-parking-karma. I don’t answer my phone while I’m driving until the third or fourth ring, in case I’m doing something more important.

Douglas Adams, yes him, was the top quote on one book “I kept ringing people up to read them bits of this book” I’m paraphrasing, as I can’t find the quote now, but that is high praise indeed.

Carrie Fisher’s words, her life, as she mined it so gloriously, resonated so strongly with me through my late teens and early twenties, she’s truly part of the fabric of my being. When Hubs told me today that she had passed away, my heart broke. For Debbie, for Todd, but most of all for Billie, her extraordinary daughter with Bryan Lourd, of whom she was so proud.

We get so proprietorial over celebrities, we feel like they ‘belong’ to us. [There’s another blog about this rumbling around]. This sweet, generous, sassy, firecracker of a woman has been public property since birth. Like many around the world, I’m devastated she’s gone, but no one should bury a child, no matter how old they are.

Debbie Reynolds with daughter Carrie Fisher and granddaughter Billie Lourd in Beverly Hills

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Down time

We’ve had a relaxing few days, and have spent today pottering about the house while Hubs and Hanno went to the Test at the MCG. Hubs has a couple of weeks off, the longest time he’s had in ages. Plans are afoot for the beach, Healesville Sanctuary and walks in the woods with Peanut, who’s also been taken out of Kinder for a couple of weeks before he starts school at the end of January.

We’d be sleeping later if we could work out what app sets off an alarm on Hubs’ phone at 5:30 each morning. It’s being firmly switched off tonight.

Australia has been hit by a heatwave the past few days, the weather is FUBARd I can tell you. Adelaide had it’s hottest Christmas Day for decades, the Boxing Day test was rained off and Uluru is closed due to rain. On Christmas Day we were in a park at 8am to beat the heat, then back home with the aircon on for the rest of the day. Today the weather broke, with the temperature dropping easily 20c in an hour, bringing big fat heavy rain.

Peanut and I were going to go to the zoo today, however he required a minor attitude adjustment, so we spent the day at home instead. We’ve worked on the three strikes and you’re out rule of parenting since he was old enough to understand it. Normally it only needs “I’m not going to ask you again” and he’s checked back into his normal happy self. Today he was in full little turd mode, culminating with “I hate Mama” whereupon Hubs sent him to his room. We then had a conversation about words and how they can aso hurt you, reminded him that we’d asked him to behave three times across varying things (from getting out the bathroom so Hanno could have a shower, to listening to what we’d asked him to do), therefore we weren’t going to the zoo. Cue more tantrums and tiaras, which sealed the deal completely.

I should now say, that he’s actually been great all day. We’ve been playing with his water bombs, his paddling pool, hot wheels sets he was given for Christmas, and have also read loads of books. I don’t think a day at home, considering how busy it’s been the past few weeks, did him any harm. He was climbing the walls a little by the end of the day, but I did ask him every hour or so if he wanted to go out to a park or for a walk; but he kept saying no, first it was too hot, then it was raining, then he was happy at home.

Peanut’s had an enormous growth spurt, he’s all legs and arms, gangly and uncoordinated. Also eating huge amounts, and hungry ten minutes after each meal; heaven alone knows what he’s going to be like when he’s a teenager.

I hope you’re having a good time with friends and family, although 2016’s Grim Reaper carries on apace – hang in there Your Majesty! I was devastated to hear about George Michael passing today. He was one of my first crushes. I can remember cutting out his picture from my cassette version of Make It Big and sticking it on my wall, (apologies for the crappy picture, it’s a screen shot of a listing from eBay).

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I’ve got one more day off, then three days at work, three days off, three days at work, three days off and then back to normal on 9 January. Easing back into work after what has been a crazy few months. Hence the lack of blogging, I’ve not had the head-space or the time, but heck I’ve missed you all. Not that I make resolutions, but I’m determined to write more, mostly for my sanity.

Vale Sir Terry Wogan

This post may not fly well outside the UK, so for any international readers, you might just have to bear with me on this one.

I was thinking of Terry Wogan on Sunday, we were driving down to our nephew’s birthday party. The radio was on, a Queen song was playing, until it was abruptly cut off when the news pips started – I got the giggles thinking about Terry Wogan crashing the pips for the 8am news on the radio.

This morning, Monday, I woke up to the news that he’d passed away. Leaving a lot of people bereft, as Simon Mayo put it, “The staple of all great radio is the friend behind the microphone and he was the ultimate friend behind the microphone.” For those of you who don’t know him; or do know him and didn’t listen to his breakfast show on Radio 2, Wake up to Wogan; or those who do know him, didn’t listen and he didn’t touch your life other than him popping up on your telly-box every so often: you really did miss a treat.

His breakfast show was hilarious, full of in-jokes and vernacular:

  • I loved the rev up to the 8am pips every morning. He’d aim to stop the song the second before the time pips started to announce the hour. Sometime gloriously, he’d cheer with success, other times he’d crash them so badly, he’d just go ‘whoops’ and carry on.
  • I loved when he’d play James Blunt, You’re Beautiful, and say ‘Phew! every time it was the radio edit from the album, not the one with the eff-bomb in it.
  • I loved producer Paulie, very sadly missed. Mostly remembered for leaning forward in his chair and farting on air, much to everyone’s hilarity.
  • I loved Deadly, Boggy and Fran, all news readers, respected news readers but allowed and given room to interact and get the giggles in the program. Boggy, John Marsh who is married to Janet, inspired a whole spin off of Janet and John books, which were as much as innuendo laden as Round the Horne.
  • I loved Chuffer Dandridge, the retired Shakespearean actor. His exploits and adventures trying to get a decent working job, had everyone in the studio in fits of laughter. Not least for the obscure village names that pepper the UK countryside, Chuffer would riff of travel reports, complaining about working in Middle Wallop, waiting to be good enough to get to Upper Wallop. This little clip gives you a hint of the silliness. Yes, this was live radio.
  • I loved the silent fireworks they ‘set off’ each year so children and animals didn’t get scared.
  • I loved that he referred to his wife as the Present Mrs Wogan, then when he was knighted, the Present Lady Wogan.
  • I loved that while on the BBC, he was never ‘of’ the BBC. He was freelance, working when he wanted, easing down to one weekly show a week, where the silliness continued. Supported by his TOGs and TYGs, Terry’s Old Geezers and Terry’s Young Geezers. The most regular of contributors gathered together for TOGs conventions, raising money for charity and having a riotous time with Pinot Grigio.
  • I love that he commented on the Eurovision Song Contest, reading what had been written by the PR for the countries, but with an arch and a giggle in his voice. Helped along by sips of sherry in the booth, the longer the evening, the more raucous he was.
  • I love that he played a song for my mum, she slept through it, but people told her about it. He told her off, played it again, she missed it again and he played it again for her. She still missed it.

His voice was the voice of long drives and train rides to work. The chat show on in the early evenings was what we watched after dinner and before swimming training.

He also set a world record with this golf putt, the longest televised live.

To achieve the mammoth listening figures, year in, year out, having fun and brightening every morning for those starting their day is difficult. Breakfast radio gets fiddled with a lot over here in Australia, which is a big reason about why I can’t listen to it, (the standard format here of two men, one sycophantic woman laughing at the two men is unbearable), no matter who you put into the slot. Terry Wogan’s show was simple, music was played, he chatted, read letters, linked to things that had happened before and we were all one big family.

I chose to link to Simon Mayo’s quote, because the closest I can get to Wake up to Wogan’s ‘family’ is Wittertainment, of which Simon is one half. The other is Mark Kermode, movie critic. I listen to lots of podcasts, where they ask for audience participation, but don’t follow it up by including any!

Genius is often bandied around, but coming into a studio, opening the microphone, playing music and entertaining people for two hours, while not having a script is bloody hard work. Terry Wogan used a script to bid everyone farewell at the end of 2009, his voice broke audibly as he said goodbye to us.

Thank you BBC Radio 2 for cutting the best bits of his shows together in a podcast so I could continue to listen from Australia. Thank you to Lady Helen Wogan, your children and grandchildren for sharing Sir Terry with us for so long.

terry wogan

Vale Lynda Bellingham

For someone who has passed away at only 66 years old, Lynda Bellingham was a formative part of my childhood. Instantly recognisable as the mum in the Oxo adverts; my favourite one – ‘How’s your pulse Alison?’ and as James Herriot’s wife in the BBC All Creature’s Great and Small dramatisation, reading the tributes online to her, there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the UK show business industry who has a bad word to say about her.

Everyone has written that she was lovely, gracious, kind, generous, that she walked into a room and it would light up, and all talk about her proper bath-water gurgle of a laugh. The interview that Ms Bellingham gave to Woman’s Hour just eleven days ago where she talked frankly about her colon cancer and her wish to make one last Christmas with her boys and husband reduced me to tears.

A survivor triumphant of domestic abuse, she wrote that it was hard being seen as the model of domesticity on the television to go home and be assaulted. Ashamed, she hid the abuse for a long time, finally finding happiness with her husband Michael, in who’s arms she died. Earlier than she’d hoped, I hope that it was the calm dignified exit that she’d wanted.

This picture of her in 1972 shows her incandescent beauty. Despite being very poorly and fragile, the twinkle in her eye and wide, stunning smile were still there when I was watching clips of her online from the last of her TV appearances in the UK last week. Life is too short, by sharing her story, Lynda Bellingham asked us all to talk to our family and friends tell them that you love them.

Lynda Bellingham

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