Old friends, and all that stuff. Mainly because everything else I can think to rant about is my health, or politics, so lets avoid those for once…
The first time Kate, and I met up in Boston, I got to fulfil one of my baseball dreams, a visit to the legendary Fenway Park, to watch a game. What you have to allow for, is that when I buy a baseball ticket for myself, its at the budget end of the range. Not the bleachers, even before my back went, but nothing very stylish either, usually an ‘up in the gods’ job. So, not really knowing Kate all that well before the trip, I was assuming much of the same.
Yes, wrong, one of the much nicer seats, and a restaurant available, where the staff cared for our needs before the game, oh wow. The next time we planned to go to the baseball together, I was therefore suspecting more of the same. Let me add, this wasnt in Boston, this was in Kansas City, but yes, the Red Sox were the opposition, so yes, there might have been some friendly rivalry between the 2 of us. Yes, and nice viewing seats too. Oh, and they got better! Kate has some health issues that make mine now look less of a concern, and though the seats were great, she couldnt get comfortable. So she asked nicely, and we quickly got moved to more suitable seats, and had attentive staff caring for us for the rest of the afternoon! It was the year the Royals lost in the World Series, but they got their reward a year later!
So far, thats the only game we’ve been together at, where there has been a friendly rivalry between us. We do tend to have a friendly tease when Kansas State (my team to follow) play Oklahoma State (her university) each year, but nothing too serious, all the same.
Now it looks like we are going to get an extra ‘tease’ next weekend in the NFL, as the Kansas City Chiefs (won last night) are set to host her New England Patriots (35-7 up, as I write) in the AFC Championship. No, I wont actually see the game, as it will start at 11.40 pm next Sunday, UK time, and thats way too late for me. I’ll have to settle for catching the highlights the next day, I guess? But I bet Kate watches it, as it will be early evening for her, and yeah, its the Patriots!
Of course my added amusement is, we could yet have a Jean Harlow Superbowl, lol, though I’m sure Kate wont want that to happen. Yes, KC, where she was born, against the Hollywood team, the Los Angeles Rams!
One of these days, Kate and I will get to another sports game together. When, and where, to be advised, lol!
OK, the video tonight has no relevance to the blog! I know, shocking stuff. But fine, in some of my short mind control story pieces, I use Clara Johnson, and get her turned temporarily into a robot. So imagine my amusement when I found a musical number, where she’s wearing a metal outfit…
And so to the second half of the year.
In truth, personal things prior to September were fairly limited. Mainly because I was at work, through the school holidays, covering for those who need the time off.
One sad thing that did happen before then, happened in August. To many, it probably seems amazing that an adult actress from the early 1930’s had survived this long, but one of them had. But eventually that tie was cut, when Mary Carlisle passed away at the grand old age of 104. She was pretty sharp to the end, if less mobile, and for a while she had been the last, and all knew the link was coming to an end, but for those of us who love that era, it was still a sad moment when it arrived.
September saw me going back to a place I hadnt visited in nearly 40 years, Inverness, taking Eric away with me for a few days of fun. Well, as much fun as two people with disability issues can have, anyway. I managed to fulfil one ambition I’d had for about that long, if not more, by travelling the Skye Line to Kyle of Lochalsh. The fact that the last time I was there, the only way to Skye was by ferry, and now a bridge has been there for decades, all a bit strange. There are still a couple of railway lines in Scotland I’d love to do (Oban line, Fort William to Mallaig), and the Cambrian Coast line in Wales to a place I could never pronounce correctly (Pwllheli) that are a challenge for another day, health permitting. There are also a couple of very long distance ones in North America too, though they may be less likely, and trickier to do.
At one point I thought that November would see me doing a Transgender Awareness Week speech in Florida, but it soon seemed that someone was all talk, and no reality, so it never happened. So instead, I headed somewhere nearly as warm for the week, to the Algarve, to give my back some heat before winter kicked in. I wont deny I might have done a little bit of apartment prospecting while there, should the chance arise, and yes, if things work out, my old age could well be spent out there. There is a financial issue (not enough money), and a political issue (post Brexit residence rules) that may stop that, but fingers crossed… A lottery jackpot win before March 29 might be very handy! But lifestyle, and health wise, I could do a lot worse.
Then we come to the old chestnut, my health issue. In recent weeks my left wrist seems to have developed issues, probably due to too much typing, and stuff, for the last 40 years or so. So now I have 2 issues leaving me wondering how much longer work is going to be possible? More amusingly, due to coming 4th in a year long Golf tipping contest on Twitter, I gained £100 for my pains, and thought I’d give some new therapies a try, rather than frittering it on clothing, and the like. So yes, I got to discover just how amazing a flotation tank (sensory deprivation tank) is, and even better, the weightless floating does seem to do my back a lot of good too. Fine, the tank hasnt tried to brainwash me yet, though I’m still hoping!
Oh, and December saw the Works Christmas dinner, in a new dress, in a casino, and my first ever bet in such a place. Yes, I lost quickly, but it was a free £5 chip, so nothing lost really!
Lastly, and sadly, the Department I work in, in their wisdom, have decided to move our section out of Finance, and into a new Collection based group. So unfortunately, just as our LGBT committee were getting ready to do something really exciting, I’m out, as from tomorrow. I cant see me going quiet on LGBT issues, but it may give me less options now, though I have applied for something for the whole Department, not just Finance, but will be over a month before I hear about that. Ah well…
Right, tomorrow I will close the trilogy, with a look at New Year happenings (and possible happenings) on the first day of 2019. But until then, let me wish all my readers, those who arent there already at least, a Happy New Year in 2019.
OK, video. Just a quickie tonight. Its hard to find anything for Mary Carlisle other than a couple of full films, and sets of pictures. But I found this, Bing Crosby singing to her, 85 years ago!
So, as promised, the review of the year starts here. It will finish tomorrow, and then at the start of the new year, I’ll take a look at what 2019 might hold, some of it very likely, some of it unlikely, but might be fun if it does.
2018 actually saw something happen, that I’d never done in my 44 years of working life, I was told not to go to work! Yes, a combination of the fragility of my back, and some very cold, and icy weather saw me put on ‘winter weather leave’ for a few days. It made sense in so many ways in truth, but was still a bit of a novelty to me. But agreed, if I’d slipped over, landed on my back, and especially my spine, well you wouldnt want to think about the potential outcome, lets face it. Pretty sure its likely to happen early in 2019 too, especially given the deterioration in my wrist too, but we will have to wait and see on that. In truth, after about a week of that, I was getting a bit of ‘jail fever’ but it was a very wise move, so kudos to my employers for letting me do it.
While on about work, I started working on an LGBT committee at work, which was definitely a fun thing to do. Yes, was, more on that over next couple of posts.
Something else that happened early in the year was also work related. One of my colleagues got notice of volunteers needed for the Blackpool Film Festival in March, and the rest, as they say, is history! I wont claim it as strictly the revival of my acting career (its more a natural performance thing, no scripts), but it was a moment that led to the return of my time performing in public.
This year, it was a flying visit, arrived in Blackpool on the Friday afternoon, left again on the Saturday morning, due to fate, and a memorable date. Yes, the night of my flapper revival was my 60th Birthday! The works celebration was done a week earlier (would have been anyway), but the ‘house’ version was delayed until the Saturday night, which was why we needed to get back as we did.
Yes, a decade or so ago, that would have been it, retirement, which in truth, the body probably needs already. Now, officially it will be March 2024, though I have my doubts my body will hold out that long, but we will see? If it does, I might plan to retire (or take holiday) from work a couple of weeks early, because as things stand, the Iditarod race will start from Anchorage on 2nd March (restart at Willow on 3rd), and that would be an amazing thing to do, and a sort of dream come true. Nome as well? Well, maybe, but all that is a long way off. More on my preferred retirement option in part 2 tomorrow night.
May saw my return to Seattle for the first time in a few years. A few firsts there. Another state bagged, as I flew in via Las Vegas, so getting Nevada as my 24th state. Hopefully get 25 ‘somewhere’ next September, maybe? Ask Kate on that one, lol. She knows the one I’d love it to be, but its not renowned as the most friendly LGBT state in the US, so maybe not? There are a couple of New England options for that title too, so we will see.
The other big first on that trip, was my first Mariners game. It was memorable for more reasons than one, good, and bad. Good, they won. Bad, disability related issues. To be fair to the club, I complained, got a free ticket in the disabled area later in the week, and a few souvenirs as well, they handled it all very well.
Lastly, in the first half of the year, was a return to Blackpool, for World Pier Day. Again I have to thank a colleague for covering my Saturday shift to enable me to do this. Went back even further in time, as an Edwardian Lady, though I never got tightly corseted, cant have everything, lol. Amusingly, it was also Blackpool Pride day, and though I heard a lot of that, didnt get to see it at all. 2 trips already planned for Blackpool in New Year, but more on that on Tuesday, one of which you may not want to miss!
Well, the year certainly hasnt been a drag, but when this came up in my You Tube suggestions tonight, I couldnt resist this 1930 offering. And yes, a certain ‘fluffy haired’ blonde definitely looks like it could be Clara Johnson!
For once, the title of the blog has absolutely zero to do with the video, so dont try to stress your brain cells, lol.
Today was flotation tank day, and in truth, my back really needed it this time around. Sunday, the 4 of us went off up to Skipton, and had one of those canal boat, Christmas Dinner meals. The meal was very good, the service speed a little, err, entertaining, but the seats we were sitting on had all the back support of a brick wall. And yes, when your back is as damaged as mine… The only other entertaining moment was the Sat-Nav system, which insisted on calling Keighley (pronounced Keith-Lee), as ‘Key-Lee’, which of course had me in a total fit of giggles. I think its safe to say that it would probably call Slaithwaite, as spelt, and not Sla-wit, as its pronounced too.
Anyway, with a back that was already ‘grumpy’, I went to work yesterday in the cold, and the rain, and the inevitable happened, it flared up badly. So, halfway through the day, came home, a journey which should take about 75-80 minutes at that time of day. It took 140, and only that short as I gave up on First Buses, and got a taxi home from town!
Thankfully, today, I had the ‘miracle treatment’ booked, the flotation tank. Lets just say back pain wise, if last night was a 10, and this morning about a 7, its now about a 2.5! Yes, that, lack of pressure on the spine is just amazing.
This time around, Donna showed me how to seal the pod properly (assumed I would spot handle first time, and didnt, and someone else showed me through last time), which was simple when shown, but anyway…So, lights out, and yes, that pod really is sound proofed, among other things, never heard a thing once the music stopped, before it started up again.
So, I cleared my mind completely of thought, and imagined being transformed into a ‘beautiful swan’ when I got out again, but no, that never happened. Nor was I turned into an alien, which might have been fun, but anyway… What I did this time, when nice and tranquil, and safe in the womb of the pod, was leave space for Clara to come through in time, but only if she wanted to, under the circumstances. Yes, she took up the offer!
I know it was her, as the second comment she made was about someone fetching her a cigarette, and I’ve never smoked! Well, there was also the fact that she was talking with a very cool, mid west accent, but distinctly noticeable, which is maybe why she never got too many lines in movies, just stuck to dancing. She hung around, saying things about the crazy things that Mr Mayer (of MGM), and Buzby Berkeley got her to do, in the cause of dancing. Lots of toe splashing, and giggling too, but then (I guess after about 15 minutes or so, its hard to tell time in a place like that), the music started back up, and as I told her beforehand, that meant it was time to go. Yes, she did.
I ‘came back’, stunned at what had happened, but thrilled. Lets face it, I wouldnt ask for a cigarette, nor would I naturally have a mid western accent like she did! Of course, I cant get her to answer questions from me under those circumstances, but it was fun sensing things through her ‘eyes’.
Sadly, its going to be mid January before I can follow up on this, as the place is either full, or more likely closed for all the holiday period, or a combination of both. So first appointment I can get, that really works for me is 15th January. I could have got in the week before, but I have the other physio that week, so spreading them out is wiser.
But yes, on that day, is Miss Johnson going to come out to play (and splash toes) again, who knows? But the answer, probably?
OK, video time. 1930 is the oldest date I can find conclusive evidence of Clara dancing in the movies. She may well have danced in 1929, but I havent seen clear evidence as yet. As I’ve said before, 1937 is the last date I have evidence for. This technicolor movie from 1930 features the Goldwyn Girls, of which she was one, but faces arent clear enough to be conclusive that Clara is, or isnt in this. I think I see her there, but cant be sure. But yes, regardless, its something a little different to the normal Berkeley routine
The next few days might be a let down for readers, but a bonus for me. Why, you ask? Because apart from Sunday, if you’re lucky, one blog will cover both versions! Tonight, because of the event, and next week, because of the holiday. But for now…
113 years ago today, in a small part of Pottawatomie county, Oklahoma Territory (as it was then, only became a state in 1907), a baby girl was born, to, I assume, a Mr and Mrs Johnson. They seemingly named her Clara Elaine, and the rest, in terms of Hollywood Chorus girl duties, and the like, are history.
Maybe one day, I’ll do more of a dig on Ancestry.com, and discover what her parents names were, and if there were any more brothers and sisters, as well as her. The only tentative suggestion (apart from the lack of birth control back then) that there was more than 1 child, was one of her actual film credits, when there was also a Peter Johnson listed in the cast. Of course, that might simply be a name coincidence, though her 1930 Los Angeles census record did mention 1 brother, so I am inclined to suspect it was probably him.
All I know of the early history is that she moved to LA from Texas in 1925, but when the move there, from Oklahoma, no idea. I need a long enough period of time to really work on Ancestry.com to dig into that sort of matter, and also I need the funds to buy a subscription for a few months at least, that I can get to really use to dig for info. So probably wont happen until I’ve finished working, whenever that is, but then… Even then, I suspect I’m only going to have the 1910, and 1920 census details, so unlikely to find exactly when the Texas moved happened is still going to be vague.
The other thing that needs a major digging through, is a list of marriages in the LA area in the late 30’s (most likely, as her work career seems to stop around 37/38), or perhaps the beginning of the 40’s, because for now, thats where my trail goes cold, with the lack of her married name. Given that her daughter she mentioned would now be in her 70’s, if still alive, it might be fascinating to follow the family tree from there. Probably grand children, and great grand children by now! I wonder if any know, or wonder what Grandma/Great Grandma did?
As I say, if I survive to retirement, and I’m mobile enough to still do it, I suspect it might be my post retirement challenge to try and find out more. I guess that nowadays, I could do a lot from the comfort of a computer at home, anyway?
I must admit, one thing I’d love to do, just once, especially at my age, is do the whole chorus girl thing. My dancing wouldnt be great, I’d probably look less than graceful in one of those flimsy outfits, but my attitude is, just once, I dont care, I want to do the whole Clara Johnson thing! I have 2 lovely friends who are trying to work on making that happen, so who knows, but I hope so?
Anyway, given this was the first year I actually have known her birthday, before the big day, I wasnt going to miss this chance. Its funny to think though, she had all the glamour of working in Hollywood, without any of the fame!
So, happy heavenly birthday, Clara Elaine Johnson, and hopefully, maybe one day, we can get to actually meet, though not in this world.
OK, video time. I have seen her dancing in numerous musicals of the late 20’s, and through the 30’s, including many of the famous ones. For all that, back then, unless they went on to make it, chorus dancers didnt normally get credits. One that Clara did, was a film named Strike Me Pink, though seemingly she was working under her middle name at the time, probably because Clara was a little ‘old fashioned’ name by 1936? Its also the best sighting of her, because she fills the screen between 4:13, and 4:17 in this clip
Fine, for those privileged to see both blogs tonight, you’ve got one serious one, and a silly one. Of course, in either case, if you only know of one, or the other, well, its pot luck, in that case! In case you needed tipping off, this is the serious one.
Today I got to find out where I’d be changing on Saturday, for my ‘performance’ as an Edwardian Lady in Blackpool, in the chorus girl changing room at the pier! Yes, who could I possibly know who would have changed regularly in such a place? Hmm, Clara Johnson, just maybe? But no, having either always worked in school plays, am dram, and the (very rare) theater, I’ve never had the delight of being a chorus girl. Played a number of girl parts, long before transitioning, but in this life, a chorus girl, oh I wish!
So, unsurprisingly yes, I’m looking forward to this moment more than I probably should, even though my outfit will be far less revealing than anything thats normally worn on the chorus line at Blackpool, or in all likelihood, anything Clara got to wear, in that sense! I mean, some of her outfits were relatively normal, but revealing, though others were crazy, and revealing! One of them shortly, honest… I do suspect that if ‘someone’ gets her chance, in November, I’ll probably get to wear something that would make Clara giggle, blush, or both! Yes, I probably will, even at my age, just because it would be fun, however silly it might look. So fine, A, if you can find something in my size, bring it on!
I think its fair to say that I’m going to walk out of that dressing room in an outfit that a chorus girl would be unlikely to wear, given the era its from. I suspect that even if they’d made a musical based in the Edwardian era, that the outfits that the girls wore would be more revealing than mine, lol. But equally, wouldnt it be funny if I walked out of that changing room, went through a time warp, and out walked a young dancer, wearing not a lot, onto a Hollywood studio dance stage? As long as I had Clara’s dance skills too, at least!
“Yes, Mr Berkeley, I’m ready for my dance routine.”
Sorry, Miss Swanson, couldnt resist pinching that idea! Yes, other than maybe A, I suspect this is as close as I will ever get to chorus girl life!
Right, video time. Among the numerous movies that Clara danced in, was one called Footlight Parade. Why I’ve picked this one is simple, earlier today, someone posted a picture of 13 chorines from that movie, pictured in a row, and asked if anyone knew any of them. Yes, you guessed it, one of them was Clara! So… And also, yes, she is seen in one of those cute, crazy cat outfits in this number. So…Yes, Ruby Keeler, and Dick Powell star, but there among the cat girls…
I must admit that I had a great time in Blackpool in March, and definitely made a diary note to repeat the experience next year, but I was assuming I wouldnt get back there before then. And to be fair, up to a few days ago, that was still the plan! But then…on Thursday…
The same lovely lady who posted previously for March, posted that she was looking for volunteers again, this time for Blackpool Piers Watch day, on Saturday 9th June. Yes, you Brits, get that date in your diary immediately, lol. Yes, I can say that now, my guest house room is booked! No, I cant find a link to it, but trust me, its not fake news! Sorry…he may be a jerk, but…
In truth, I had no idea whether I could do it at short notice with work, given that Saturday is part of my standard working week, and for most other people, its a working day to avoid! Anyway, one wonderful workmate agreeing to swap the Saturday she works on her rota, and management being wonderful, all was settled, I can go to the, err, ball! Will be nice to have a long weekend away, as I’m going to travel down on the Friday, and only come back on the Sunday, just being sensible with my back, thats all!
Yes, there are numerous people I’m looking forward to meeting again, sooner than expected, I must say. In truth, I have no idea what I will end up wearing this time, because though the Pier is of Victorian origin, I dont know if our manner of dress will go back that far, or not. As long as its not bikini’s, all will be fine, lol. Mind, Victorian look would be interesting, for sure, as long as the corset isnt done up too tightly lol! I might enjoy it, but for a whole day, in summer, hmm…? Oh fine, mermaid might be fun, but would need to be a body stocking look, at my age! Might make moving tricky too!
Yes, this time I’ve planned better, found a guest house at the right end of town, near the pier, and near the railway station. And good ratings on Expedia, and Trip Advisor, so… Funny isnt it, you go about 40 years without visiting somewhere, then go there twice in 3 months!
Fine, video time. An oldie, but not quite Victorian. Not quite flapper era either, but not far off!
Generally nowadays, most sports that I’ve seen in person in my life, I’ve seen both pre, and post transition. In fact I cant think of one that I’ve only seen post transition in truth. There are a few, that I only saw live in school years, because of being on school teams, so in those days, annual trips gave me the chance. The two I remember strongly are tennis at Wimbledon (I wasnt any good, but hardly anyone played, so others got the chance to go, to fill the coach), and athletics, because despite all my physical limitations, there was something about me, and a shot putt, that just clicked for a couple of years, so…Crystal Palace, for some competition saw me there once. The only other two that ring a bell in that sense, are football, because of course when I was young, all boys were expected to go to the game, so I had that initiation of life in my time. I cant see me ever going now, in truth, but never say never, and all that…
The other, and probably only sport that I havent been to post transition, and think that it might be fun to do so, is horse racing. Not because I have any great interest in the sport nowadays, but purely and simply because I think it would be fun, just once, to get dressed up nicely, and taken to the races. Or at least go, if nothing else. In truth, I cant remember the last time I went to the races in this country. I’m guessing it would be Newbury, at some point in 2001, as I working there at the time. In fact, I have been to 1 meeting since then, but it was in the US, at Philadelphia Park, and even that must be about 10 years ago, or more. That was fun, no entry fees! To be honest, I suspect that one of the reasons I havent yet fulfilled my ambition to go to the races in a nice dress, and shoes, is the cost of entry to meetings over here, especially the bigger ones. Yes, Yorkshire sensibilities with money, and spending it, probably play a part in that call.
There is also the factor that one of the major reasons for going to the races is the gambling side of it, and lets face it, I’m a once a year punter now, so…is it a silly thing to want to do? I guess its just one of those silly, completing the circle of life things that I feel I would love to do?
So what brought all this on, you ask? Well, most of my race going has been less than major meetings, with just one little exception, the Punchestown Festival, in Ireland. Yes, that started today. In truth, I watched one race, the fun one. Yes, the one over the cross country course, much more fun than standard racing lol! I went there a few times in the 90’s, never been back since, and now probably never will! Likewise, the only course I’ve never been to, that I would love to go to, is a quirky one. Yes, Laytown, on the beach. I know, you wouldnt wear a nice dress to go there, lol! Still would be on my dream list, but likely to go no further now, I suspect?
Will I complete that circle in life, who knows? If you asked me honestly, probably not. So many reasons its silly to want to do it, and just the one that makes me want to do it, but I’m sure unless I get free tickets somehow, will not get done, ah well. But, maybe…? All the same, dont expect me to wear heels, if I do! 😛 As for Royal Ascot, I really dont think so! Please, me, in a silly hat?
Fine, what would I go to the races for, but to be one of those beautiful dames, of course! So, 30’s musical time…
I’ll be honest, when I think of the echelon of places to act, my first thoughts turn to Hollywood. No idea why, because I’ve never made a proper movie of any kind, and in terms of theater royalty, Broadway, or Leicester Square should rank higher for me? Not that I have ever got even vaguely close to acting at any of those places either, to be honest.
Me, look at small theaters, village, or school halls would have been places where I was far more likely to perform, lets face it. Then tonight, I was watching something on TV, where the actors involved said that in fact, the acting capital of the world, for them, was Stratford Upon Avon.
I suppose if you’re a classical actor of some note (they are), then I can see the logic of that, given the whole Shakespeare thing, and all. As far as I can remember, I’ve only acted in one piece by Shakespeare (that Scottish play), and amusingly, and probably aptly, with foresight, I played a witch! Let me add, it was being done by a boys Grammar school, so apart from a few main parts, for which we borrowed girls from their grammar school across the road, we were expected to play all the parts. So, with hindsight, probably my first main female role!
Now, if I told you that the first movie capital of the world wasnt Hollywood, wasnt even on the West Coast, would you believe me? Yes, the movie industry was created in, and around the New York/New Jersey area in fact! But the winters made filming tricky, and when they heard about the all year round warmth in California, then history was created! It was really late into the 1920’s before Hollywood began to dominate the scene.
So where, readers, would you say was the acting capital of the world? I still say my vote goes for Hollywood, but thats probably that 30’s chorus girl/movie actress buried within me. No, I dont really expect anyone to answer here (rare that anyone does), but just think about it, for me, OK?
OK, video time. So my vote goes for Hollywood anyway, and besides which, I couldnt think of an apt song that links to Stratford in any way. I did think of using Shakespeare’s Sister, but seriously…? Anyway, fine, this seems apt, as its what the modern day chorus girl would probably be doing nowadays, shows on cruise ships, and the like.