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Smallville: How To Be Famous

...My mum's back garden was in that film The Full Monty, and as for The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan... Peter B Farrell has close encounters with the famous, and an even closer encounter with a party of angry Sisters.

“He once danced with Princes Margaret.” My wife’s partner for the waltz at a recent wedding reception was a professional. Many years ago during a royal visit, he had been selected to dance with HRH and had the photograph to prove it. In an attempt to match this claim to fame I reminded her that my mother’s back garden could be seen - admittedly for only ten seconds - in the film The Full Monty.

“We know all about it, we hear it every Christmas when you put the video on.” True enough; the novelty had worn off.

Just recently we had been watching repeat episodes of “The Prisoner,” the cult TV program of the 1970s, produced by and starring Patrick McGoohan.

The house where we lived in 1948 backed onto a convent and school. The grounds and lake were visible from our bedroom window and we occasionally got a glimpse of a young man - seemingly a keep fit fanatic - heaving the hammer. Our jibes, made safely from over the wall, didn't seem to bother him at all.

Later we learnt that he was a leading light in the Sheffield Repertory Theatre and was, of course, Patrick McGoohan who later became a well-known film star in the US. I believe his father was the gardener-cum-caretaker of the convent at that time.

School Holidays. So my brother and I, accompanied by Billy Smith from next door, climbed over the wall into the grounds and headed for the lake. A boat What could be better? We launched and managed very quickly to get into the art of rowing in a circle. Soon however, screeches were heard from the edge of the lake from what looked like a group of penguins, who then shot towards us.

"Holy Mother of God, did jez see that?" Sister Ursula of the Sacred Holy Order of the Tortured Penitents gathered up her skirts and wielded her crucifix as we frantically headed for the opposite shore.

"Jaysus Mary and Joseph, give me strength, get back here. Here yez brazen heathens so y'are.'' Sister Augustine, rolling up her sleeves. jumped up and down, then tore round the lake to head us off.

Screams of "By all the blessed Saints in Heaven," this was Sister Superior Aquilegia, or something, who organised the attack And I thought they had a vow of silence. As we tried changing course the Holy horde executed a pincer movement to intercept us. We hit dry land and as we leapt from the boat and headed for the bushes, the caretaker cornered us. Thoughts of the Inquisition and perhaps a confession to the Holy penguins. They might think it a jolly jape; you know, "corks yarooh Bunter", up before the Head, one hundred lines and gated. No such luck.

Sister Aqua’ attempted to garrotte Billy with her rosary.

"By all that's shake Holy, shake what're yez shake doin' shake here shake?”

She towered above us and had a moustache, as well as a grip of iron.

"Yez foul shake heathens shake so yez are, shake what's shake yer name shake bhoy what's shake yer name?"

Quick as a flash "William Rutherford." Billy had been reading the lives of famous Cambridge scientists.

"Yez lying shake swine shake yez nothing shake else shake yez evil lying shake swine."

"Don't I know you boys? " From the caretaker, who was a friend and acquaintance of my father.

“Git yer selves off an' I'll be seeing yer fathers so I will".

So we did and so did he. More trouble as my sister was attending that particular convent school at the time.

“And to think I lived next door to Number 6, you know, the Prisoner.” The final episode of The Prisoner had just ended and I was enthusing over the whole series and Patrick’s performance.

“I still don’t get it.'' My wife remained baffled, as she had been throughout every episode. Much worse, she saw no merit in my association with a star of Stage and Screen.


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