I was born in the UK to an English mother and a South African father. When I was 6 months old we went to live in Port Elizabeth and I went to school AS A BOARDER aged 2 ½. No one told me that this was supposed to affect me psychologically so I just enjoyed it and thrived on every moment of various convent boarding schools – especially being the only Jewish pupil!!!
My parents divorced when I was 3 and my mother and I returned to the UK when I was 10 and then went to NYC for a year. I LOVED NEW YORK. It gave me my pushiness and drive and love of fun!!!!! We returned to the UK when I was nearly 12.
I had always wanted to be an actress and was allowed to go to drama school provided I got a teaching qualification, which I did and then became a professional actress when I was 17.
During my time as a rep actress one of my jobs was at the Theatre Royal, Margate. This was 1958!! I played the juvenile in 'Waters Of The Moon'. Incidentally, a few years ago, I read for the mother!!!! Not having another job after that, I persuaded the artistic director, Reginald Birks to keep me on and I became the lowest of the low – an acting ASM!!!
Another part was 'Daphne' in SAILOR BEWARE. I've recently toured in that - but this time playing 'Aunt Edie' the ancient crone!!!!
It was in Margate that I met my future husband, Harold. We married and had three children in 3 years before I realised what was causing it!!!! That was when I took up bridge.
Mark is the oldest.
Perrina, 53, is a manager in a casino in London. When she was at school she did an aptitude test, and a career in international banking was advised. As she said to me recently, 'Casino careers are much the same as international banking so I found my niche'.
Some years ago, aged 35, she became unwell and had to have a variety of tests. She was presented with the devastating news that she'd had an early menopause. She coped amazingly with this and threw herself into her career.
At the age of 40 – being on HRT and in the care of a gynecologist - she developed some unpleasant symptoms and had another barrage of tests. On going for the results, her specialist appeared to be in shock as he gave her the news that she was 4 months pregnant!!!! She and her partner, Ray, were presented with a daughter, Georgie, on June 23rd 2000.
Georgie is now 13 years old, wonderfully healthy, tall and has a very high IQ. Well being her grandma I would say that, wouldn't I? Her first report from senior school was A* in most subjects.She is about to speak her first lines in a student film and had discovered the true meaning of stage fright.
Isn't that a lovely story. And aren't I lucky. She calls me Grandma Isee. When she was a baby, I used to lift my glasses up and say 'I see'. She loved the game, hence my nickname.
My youngest is Tania, is 51. She is the only one who followed me into the entertainment business. She was fascinated by film and studied to become a cameraman. (I REFUSE TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT! She's a cameraman, as Chairmen are Chairmen regardless of their sex. )
Tania's done some fantastic jobs and worked with a variety of very important directors – more than I have, I have to say!!! In fact I was once in TV Centre when I was stopped by someone who said, 'Are you Tania Hoser's mother?'. I replied that I was – but I also had a name in my own right! How about that for role reversal? I thought it was the kids who were supposed to be jealous!!!! She filmed Alan Bennett's programme on museums in Leeds and through her he sent me his book of 'Talking Heads' in which he drew me a cartoon together with his autograph.
Her recent work has included an acclaimed short film 'Grandma' which is both touching and moving, as it deals with the delicate subject of how children deal with the death of a close relative. While a short film, I believe it should be shown to all schoolchildren as part of the national curriculum. Having taught film and video in Abu Dhabi, she is now planning her move back in Barbados ending her teaching contract there in December 2013.
By strange coincidence, I've decided to have a holiday in Barbados very soon.
She and her partner at the time, Carsten, produced my eldest granddaughter, Alice. With a child to bring up Tania now divides her time between film making and teaching. Alice is now 13 going on 35 (Any grandparents reading this will know EXACTLY what I mean!!) I love having her to stay over if I'm not working. The only problem is that she's a lark and I'm an owl. She had a habit of coming into my room at 5.45am, prising my eyes open and saying, 'Grandma, it's daytime'. She's very different from Georgie - she's into the arts and humanities. She writes very well and her aim is to be a journalist.
I'M GLAD THEY'RE SO DIFFERENT - THEY AREN'T JEALOUS OF EACH OTHER.
I saw her in GODSPELL at her school recently and WHAT A SINGING VOICE :) STRONG. POWERFUL and complete control of the hand mike. She reminds me of Helen Shapiro.
If they come for a sleepover, as I'm a grandparent who believes in intellectual stimulation I do the only thing possible. I put cartoons on the telly, give them biscuits and strict instructions to come back 'when the big hand's on the 12 and the little hand's on the 8!! Nuff said.
I've never been able to work out where my kids and grandkids get their varying talents from. Mind you, I've never been short of the gift of the gab and Harold was incredibly numerate, so I suppose the genes are sorting themselves out. Also with both of us coming from Eastern European stock – our grandparents fled the pogroms – they have a diversity of character. Sadly Harold never saw his grandchildren. He died in 1981 aged 54. A heart attack.
Many times people have asked me why I never remarried. My answer? 'Why make one man miserable when you can make a hundred men happy' OOPS!
With Perrina's help I carried on running the family business – gifts shops – and eventually decided to try to return to the theatre. I did bits and pieces and In 1984 I was lucky enough to be cast in Last Of The Summer Wine and the rest is history!!!
My interests and hobbies? Bridge, snorkeling, swimming and, of course, computing. One never stops learning about computers. Sometimes I think I spend more time learning how to use the blessed thing than actually WORKING WITH IT!!!!!
Also, travel. You'd think that, as I'm on the road so much, I'd prefer to stay put but I enjoy other countries, culture and the people.
In 1995, out of the blue, I had a letter from Equity. They enclosed a letter to me, which said, 'You have 2 half-brothers and a half-sister who've been looking for you for 35 years!!! I was gobsmacked. I had no idea that, after the divorce, my father had remarried and had 3 more children!!!!!! He'd told them about me and asked them to find me one day.
I didn't want to get involved. I don't believe in looking back – it's only tomorrow that counts. But life isn't a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing and if we don't go for it we'll never know, will we? So I went to South Africa to meet them. They invited about 50 relations to a reunion and we had a wonderful time. The strange thing was that I liked them and identified with them!!! Three different parts of my character staring me in the face – incredible.
They've come over here several times and got to know my family and I've been over there many times and got to know their families. We keep in touch frequently and I love them dearly. The strange thing is that Perrina has the same looks and temperament at my brother's son Peter, and Tania has the same looks and temperament as my other brother's son David. Isn't life peculiar? You never know what's around the corner!
Now – enough of me. Please write and tell me YOUR stories. Tell me about your children, grandchildren, life stories and friends. It's good to share experiences apart from work issues. It's what being human is all about.