ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

stuck with me when I left the ho­tel. From one per­spec­tive, you might say, it was as if I’d replied that I was in­volved in con­struc­tion, and she’d com­mented that she had a child who was ‘a navvy just like you’; or in medicine, and she’d re­ferred to us as ‘quacks’; or I was a politi­cian, and she said she had a child who was a liar just like me.

Though I am ab­so­lutely sure noth­ing neg­a­tive was in­tended, I was fas­ci­nated by the as­sump­tion. It re­minded me of when The Nualas played at an­other char­ity event a few weeks ago. Af­ter, a chap said to me, ‘What you do is mar­vel­lous.’ But be­fore I could ab­sorb the com­pli­ment, he added,

‘What you do is mar­vel­lous!’ I was com­pli­mented. Then

came the sting: ‘Would you make a

liv­ing do­ing that?’

‘Would you make a liv­ing do­ing that?’ I mean, it’s gen­er­ally con­sid­ered im­po­lite to ask af­ter the de­tails of some­one’s liveli­hood in ca­sual so­cial chit-chat, isn’t it? Or does be­ing in­volved in the arts, in this ‘gypsy world’, mean that wack­ier rules ap­ply and the pa­ram­e­ters of or­di­nary ex­change don’t come into it? What was he ex­pect­ing me to say? ‘No, I sell my body on the side; are you in­ter­ested?’ I wish I had now. Oh, don’t put your daugh­ter on the stage, Mrs Wor­thing­ton.

Then I look at the re­al­ity, and it’s far from flight­i­ness. Take my friend and co-Nuala, Sue Collins. She’s a mum of four chil­dren un­der the age of eight. For the last few weeks she’s been shoot­ing a new sit­com star­ring Kather­ine Lynch and Gary Cooke, booked to be avail­able for up to 12 hours a day, five days a week. In be­tween she’s been gig­ging and writ­ing as Nuala, and rewrit­ing a TV sit­com pilot for Bri­tish tele­vi­sion to a tight dead­line with an­other com­edy writer. It takes a sup­port­ive hus­band to jug­gle such a sched­ule. But sure, isn’t he an­other gypsy! Phe­lim Drew’s an ac­tor, and re­cently he’s been re­hears­ing six days a week, for the cur­rent Abbey The­atre main­stage show, The Risen Peo­ple, which opened this week. ‘Jug­gle’ is the op­er­a­tive word in their house. Both had fa­mous, suc­cess­ful par­ents who were ‘in the biz’, so I guess it’s a fait ac­com­pli what their four kids will end up be­ing drawn to into... yep, you’ve guessed it, law, medicine, ed­u­ca­tion, the civil ser­vice... ie. any­thing but showbiz.

So then The Nualas had a gig in Clon­mel last week­end. The car stut­tered to a stop four miles from Cal­lan, Co. Kilkenny. ‘Oh,’ said com­pletely ex­hausted Sue (driv­ing be­cause it was her peo­ple car­rier, child seats pushed aside for our equip­ment), ‘I for­got to get petrol.’ In the end a nice man (Phil O’Brien, thanks a bil­lion) kindly gave us a lift to and from a fill­ing sta­tion. But then the clutch went. There we were, side of the road, stuck, liv­ing the ‘gyspy’ dream. Even­tu­ally we got the car towed to Cal­lan, tax­ied to Clon­mel and got a lift home with an­other nice man, ma­gi­cian Jack Wise.

While the other two conked out, I spent the jour­ney back sewing se­quined breasts (don’t ask) onto our stage dresses for our Christ­mas show and chat­ting to Jack. ‘Re­mem­ber this as a golden showbiz mem­ory,’ I told him, show­ing him my glit­tery boobs.

As I write, I don’t know what’s hap­pened with the poor peo­ple car­rier. If you see a mum in the vicin­ity of Dublin 8 drop­ping her chil­dren off at school in a horse-drawn car­a­van — prob­a­bly Sue. Ah, there’s noth­ing like it, the gypsy life.

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