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Honouring the stars in our town
I know my loyal readers like to suffer along with me so I must share a family history tragedy. My great grandmother suffered from severe flatulence.
One day she was at the top of the stairs when she suddenly had a violent attack, lost her footing and that was it. The doctor remarked it was his first case of death by flatulence.
My great granddad was so upset he had a warning inscribed on her tombstone in Mortlake cemetery.
It reads: “Wherever you may be let your wind go free for that was the cause of the death of me.”
That tragic story was compounded when the Borehamwood Museum found out my other great gran was probably a serial killer in Edwardian times.
It appears she married four times to younger men who all died and left her a very merry widow.
No wonder I am reduced to popping anti-depressants washed down by vodka.
One thing that did give me pleasure in the 1990s was to arrange and host a series of plaque unveilings honouring some of the greats of cinema and the sites of the various studios in Elstree and Borehamwood.
In recent years these have been upgraded and can be seen on the film heritage trail that starts at the rail station and runs along to Studio Way.
The plaques were donated for free by the British Film Institute after I put a bid in during the centenary of cinema in 1996. In fact, we got ten per cent of the plaques allocated throughout the UK.
All I had to do was organise and host more than 20 unveiling ceremonies with virtually no budget and a great deal of goodwill. Thankfully I was able to call upon the likes of Richard Todd, Sir John Mills, Olivia de Havilland and Sir Christopher Lee as guest unveilers.
The only star who declined was Tom Cruise who deferred from unveiling the plaque celebrating legendary director Stanley Kubrick so luckily I bumped into the star of Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowall, when he was at Elstree Studios and he readily agreed.
Only two stars declined my offer of being immortalised by having a plaque in their honour. Sir Michael Caine said he felt he had not made enough films in Borehamwood and Sir Richard Attenborough declined for the same reason.
However, in 2006 I persuaded the town council to relaunch the plaque ceremonies and we honoured Sir Roger Moore and local boy made good Simon Cowell.
They were both great fun and both sent me personal letters afterwards saying how much they enjoyed the occasions and how genuinely moved they were.
My final fling was in 2008 when I went out with four plaque unveilings. Dickie Attenborough kindly came along to unveil a plaque honouring his old friend Bryan Forbes and they both attended.
Then Francis Matthews and Barbara Shelley kindly unveiled a plaque in the presence of recepient Sir Christopher Lee.
I had only five days notice that Christopher was able to attend but I was fairly relaxed at organising such events by then.
The final two were Sir Cliff Richard and the lovely Barbara Windsor and we shared the occasion at Elstree Studios with representatives of local organisations.
I must admit to missing organising such events but some of the stars keep in contact with me while others have sadly gone to the great film studio in the sky.
Over the last 30 years I was able to get more than 100 stars to attend various events celebrating Borehamwood's film and television history at the old Venue theatre, the BBC Elstree Centre and Elstree Studios.
I never had a decent budget but was able to tap into friendships and goodwill. I suspect that era has passed and I have certainly become one of 'yesterday’s men' but the memories remain.
Finally, the answer to last weeks quiz as to what advert declared “it's so big you have to grin to get it in”.
The answer was actually Wagon Wheels and not what some of my naughty lady readers have suggested. Shame on you.
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