Sheena McDonald ‘s
lTOYA! (iet them off? In other words. Time turns another page to find a sweat- soaked and l sol-soggychapter(lt‘sThat
. Year Again) entitled Re: lions. Once again. the naked truth about what the Scot wears under her reinforced cardi . . .
Hmm. It‘s not gettingany better. Mind you. it couldn‘t get any worse. Reared. as I was. on the aeternal delights of North Berwick and Poolewe. the very idea of undressing on your holidays has been reliably ludicrous. No. no — on your summer holidays. you get to wear your wellies almost every day! The pleasures of a Scottish summer were the crystal spider's web wrought by mist and rain. crazy-putting on a course so water-logged that the location of the hole was a joyous cause for academic discussion of the dampest variety — and. on impossibly wet days. staying in with the Beam; Summer Special and extra biscuits. Even now. summer rain lifts my heart. evoking endless summers of drenched undergrowth and licit riot — that was the hallmark ofThe Holiday! — licence to riot from dawn till well after dusk. in those days when small people were unthinkingly allowed to wander miles from beach to cottage along unlit lanes. unsupervised and unattended. Yes. the summers were better then —— but don't let them tell you the weather was — and don't think we gave a puddleduck for Hours ofSunshine — it was the travelling hopefully and the arriving blissfully that ensured untarnished silver linings.
So when did it start going off'.’ What was ‘worse"?
With maturity. independence and a smal bundle of greenbacks earned from waitressing in the Princes Street restaurant where the mice came out at 6 o'clock. oblivious to Thursday late-opening. I ventured beyond the drizzly shores of home. and discovered The Body. We‘re going back a few years — I mean. the lnterRail card cost £33 that year. and the extraordinary creatures on the beaches in Yugoslavia still wore both bits ofthe bikini. So did I. in grey and cheerless discomfort. Throughout the afternoon. the sun tattooed livid
r stains on my northern gooseflesh. while the molten chocolate blondes in the lime and tangerine postage-stamps burnished like precious vessels. caressed where l was charred. lapped in velvet honey where l was lashed with angry red paddles of heat. Bored'.’ You bet. (‘hagrined‘.’ Alas — and how. At the end of the afternoon. the entire company gathered towels and walked the hundred stone steps up to the road. I found myselfin file behind the heavenly twins. By the time we reached the steps they were lined. from sand to tarmac. with admiring male Slavs (and let me tell you — when it comes to admiration. nobody does it better — but that‘s another story . . .). As the bronzed brace ascended. a spontaneous outbreak of applause rippled up and down the steps. Smiling. accepting with pretty grace and swaying nylon-bowed hips. they rose on a crescendo of acclaim. l trudged behind. an antidote to such heady responses. The clapping ceased as I passed. Men turned and headed home. I climbed the endless stairs and dreamed of Brodick.
It's different today. Where little girls once struggled to conceal their navy knickers from each other's gaze. there's now a healthier disregard for inadvertent or advertent nakedness. The ladies‘ saunas bulge like Middle European bathhouses with unsclf—conseious flesh — although I well remember seeing a naked girl walk through the door. and thinking ‘()h— there‘s me!‘ — for lack of any sight of knowledge of a body other than my own.
Impossible today. Bodies are visible. male and female. Their uncovering stirs and moves. but does not shock — and it is the heart as much as groin that stirs and moves at the sight of furless. undefended flesh. So much. so vulnerable. so beautiful. And so irrelevant. Because the chagrin came not from any perception of inferiority. but from the fact that 1 had been tempted to believe that life is a beach. If Paris had stood on those stone stairs. he would not have judged the third maiden the loveliest — and more fool he. says 1. Instead of wasting Troy. we could be wading through a sea of sodden heather. cresting mist-strewn summits. chasing shoreline Salteoats crabs — and home for double
Digestives and drams.
The lasttime Billy Crystal talked to The List. in November1986. he was siftingthrough the deluge of scripts begging for attention in the wake of his hit comedy-thriller Running Scared. In the interim he created the hilarious cameo of Miracle Max in hisfriend Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride and has enjoyed another box-office smash with Throw Momma From The Train. an uneven comic reworking of Hitchcock’s Strangers 0n ATrain. co-starring Danny De Vito.
In Throw Momma. Crystal plays a writer with a monstrous creative block caused by hisintense frustration over an ex-wife who has stolen his manuscript and imprinted her name on a nationwide bestseller. De Vito isa
.Ed-be writer of mysteries. squashed under the thumb of his dragonlike mother. A chance remark is misconstrued as a signal that they might embark on a mutually advantageous murderpact.
Crystal was involved in all aspects olthe creative construction of the film. including the inspired casting ofAnne Ramsay as Momma. ‘lf's one ofthose characters that as an actor you pray to have-so you can be so evil and wicked. everyline is a punchline
and you don't have to care how you look orwhatyou say. She really seized the opportunity. Danny had read a lot olpeople including Olympia Dukakis. who he liked very much. and Anne was his idea;they‘d worked togetheron Goin' South. ltwas very hardto find the right combination of woman and Winston Churchill butshe was Momma from the time she came inthe door. lsaid ‘Niceto meet you' and she said 'Sit down you littletwit' or something like that and Danny started to laugh. so she said. “Give me this part. you little shit' and slapped him in the face. He fell over laughing. we read a scene and after that there was no one else who could have played the part.‘
Despite initial reservations about De Vito's ability to handlethe dual tasks olactor and director. Crystal is generous in his praise for thelinished article apart from memories ofhis diminutive co-star's eager desire to continually repeat a scene in which he batters him over the head with a frying pan. Actively attracted to working with actor-directors. Crystal has recently completed Memories Of Me. directed by Henry Winkler. 'l playa surgeon who is a very cold. withdrawn person because
his father left him when he
was seven to become an actor. His father has only become an extra butthat's all he's wanted to be forhis entire life. The son hasa heart attack and begins contemplating his own mortality so he tries to find hisfatherand discover whetherhe ever loved him or not. It's very funny. but very touching. set on the fringes of Hollywood. lt's maybe a risky movie forme because people will come expecting me to befunny and it‘s a much more dramatic role than I've ever done before. I‘d ratherfail
trying to do something
differenfthan keep doing the same thing overagain.‘ (Allan Hunter)
Throw Momma From The Train is scheduled to open atthe Odeons in Edinburgh and Glasgow on JulylS. See Film Listingsfor details.
MOSCOW CLASSICAL BALLET
Theatre Royal. Glasgow
40 tutus for 40 swans. What have you got? Hey presto. Swan Lake. ballet's most quintessential story. magical and romantic. Nothing unusual in that. But the man who has made and designed the 40 tutusforthe Moscow's Classical Ballet is British and that is unique. For it lsthe firsttimea Russian company has
2The List8—21 July 1988