Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Pat Phoenix - "It's The Elsie Tanner In Me!" - 1966

Lovely Pat Phoenix was a legend as the Street's Elsie Tanner. We've found an article written by her from The Weekly News, March, 1966. Pat and Elsie were, of course, already national figures by this time. Here are some extracts from the article...


The trouble with me is - I'm a straight talker. I can't pay lip service. I've got to mean what I say. What's worse, now and then I can't resist a "grand gesture". When I see a scene building up, my sense of the theatrical gets the better of me.

Couple the two together and you can see why I spend a good half of my life up to my neck in hot water from one cause or another.

There was the time I was playing in pantomime and the manager added some extra matinee performances.

We all thought we should be paid for doing them. The manager dragged us all into his office and read us a long lecture on the ingratitude of actors.

They were fine when things were going well, he told us. But when a show was making a loss you didn't find any of them coming along and offering him a fiver.

I couldn't resist. I was carrying my unopened pay packet. My pay for the last week's show.

With a dramatic sweeping gesture I handed it to him. The wretch took it and kept it!

I managed to scrape together just enough money to pay the rent and then I was broke.

I'm the sort of fool who gets all hot under the collar about injustice and starts shouting about principles. Once it got me the sack.

I was playing for a company which changed management at the end of season.

The new managers got rid of the other actors but decided to keep me on.

I was highly incensed at what I thought was unfair dealing and said so in my usual forthright fashion.

After standing there like Joan of Arc delivering a lecture on loyalty, I found myself sacked with the rest of them.

On the other hand, I much prefer people to tell me the truth. It may hurt at the time but I appreciate it in the long run.

You can buy flattery but you can't buy the truth.

I lost a trusted friend recently. She told me a lie. It was over a silly thing really. But I'll never believe a word she says again.

I can't tell a lie even to save myself embarrassment. Sometimes I wish I could for my own sake. 

An actress friend usually wore very feminine hats. Then one day she arrived in one which, I thought, made her look dreadful.

She asked what I thought.

I tried to avoid answering, but she insisted, So I told her I didn't like it. It wasn't nearly as nice as the hats she usually wore.

She was a bit taken aback at first. But afterwards she thanked me and told me that at least she got the truth. She'd decided not to wear the hat again.

Usually in a situation like that I wreck something or knock my best china ornament flying or create some other diversion. I don't believe in offending people. I try not to answer, or find some little detail I can admire with easy conscience.

My mother usually tells me she wishes I'd kept my big mouth shut. Which is a bit much. It was her training that brought me up to abhor lies. She considers liars just about the worst thing in the world.

The way I think has a good deal to do with my mother.

Andy interrupts: There was one point about which Pat did allow herself a little lie though, as the article illustrates:

I was born at Portumna, Co. Galwey, though I came to Manchester as a small child.

In fact, Pat was born in Manchester. So, why the untruth? According to Wikipedia, Pat was later to explain that her mother had given her birthplace as Portumna in an early interview, and Pat hadn't wanted to contradict her! Perhaps it was also true that Pat liked the idea of being born in Ireland, and thought this added to her romantic image. Although, of course, our Elsie was as English as fish, chips and mushy peas!

More 1960s Pat soon.

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