A lot of things, both silly and profound. Vegetables. I think I could live on them. Ducks.
Home. When I was 20. I spent all the money I’d saved to buy a home of my own. People said, «What does a girl of your age want with a house?» I didn’t really knowperhaps it was because I’d never had a home during my childhood. My parents were always chasing around living in other people’s houses-to take care of a grandmother one year, a grandfather the next. But the point was I wanted a place of my own. When the buzz bombing began during the war, all those friends who hadn’t understood, who had spent their money on perfume and furs and cars, would drop in to see me in my little house surrounded by peace and by chickens and say, «I wonder if you could spare a half-dozen eggs?»
The sea. I can’t live, happily, away from
Italian food. Disgustingly fattening, but I love it.
Colors, all colors. i bring them together without rhyme or reason, and put all kinds of flowers together. I particularly like yellow, turquoise blue, stone colors, what you might call earthy colors.
Books. We have enough to start several shops, and there are never enough shelves. We’ve had them built all over the house and shortly are going to have more put into the bedroom.
Autumn. I’ve never known whether 1 like autumn because of the colors, or the colors because of autumn.
China. I have to restrain myself from buying bits of china. I’m like one of those funny little old ladies who dotes on dustcatchers.
Trees. I’m ridiculous about trees. Friends
keep saying, «You really ought to have some of those trees taken down. Their bottoms are all buggy.» But buggy or not, I keep them; and spend enormous sums of money having their cavities filled. I can’t bear to see a tree come down.
Classical music of any kind. I like popular music, but in small doses. If it goes on and on, the brass seems to grow thinner and tighter, and so do I. I go absolutely raving mad.
Antiques, although I think I could become interested in Swedish modern; the lines are so beautifully simple.
That i talk too much.
That I’m lucky because I have a husband who doesn’t mind.
To occasionally being rather extravagant on clothes.
To being a complete idiot over anything to do with mathematics.
To being, in contrast, innately Scottish if someone is doing me in.
To being cross in the morning until I have my juice and tea.
Constantly-for so many things. I have been so lucky, have had so much, do have so much-in particular, so much fun.
Inevitably, for England in the spring and summer. For the smell of the country air, which is something very particular, for the sound of bees, for the lilac, for the bluebells in the woods.
When I get a whiff of pot-pourri, that wonderful blend of dried rose leaves and musk which was, I suppose, the old-fashioned way of freshening the air in a room. At the boarding school I attended in England, the principal had his own room to which we were summoned when we had misbehaved. It was a ghastly room and the odor of pot-pourri filled the air. I loathed it then, and for years, whenever I caught the fragrance, I suddenly felt that I had done something quite naughty. Now that I’ve grown up. I think it’s rather a nice smell.
Like a log. I adore bed and can never get enough of it. Yet I waken easily in the mornings (usually, and purposely, before the alarm clock goes into its hysteria) even if I’ve been up half the night. And I often am, simply because I love reading in bed.
I LOVE: Ducks.
I CAN DO WITHOUT:
Rice pudding and all similar horrors. Talking on the telephone. Rudery (My own word for bad manners.) Night clubs.
Waste-of anything. Noise. Negative thinking. I feel there’s little sense in worr ying about terrible things that might happen.
Very seldom, and when I am, no one knows it-because I’m English and the British would sooner die than admit they are embarrassed. I think it is a state suffered more by the young, and disappears with the years, particularly if those years are spent iii being an actress. If I’m truly embarrassed by anything, it is by crudc and excessively vulgar stories.
Almost everything. It’s just terrible. My mind is so cluttered with memories that I hawen’t room for important things. But I can walk into a room, admire it, decide I must have something like it and then, when the time comes to do something about it. I can’t recall the appearance of anything.
People, such as the old Frenchman, head of the family with whom I lived when I first began working at studios. He was adorable, very – neat; spick-and-span in his bow tie, sentimental about his roses, talented with his violin, handsome with his shock of white hair, and astonishing in his ability to remember the smallest detail.
The war. I think our whole existence is made up of wartirne memories, and a lot of what we do and think is governed by those memories. Not the -drastic incidents in particular, but the fact that war puts everythin- in life under a magnifying glass.
When my father died. I was 15, and must have been a little callous, or perhaps it was because at I5 you are outside yourself. I think we are far more sensitive as we grow or, older. At any rate, I don’t recall being particularly sad about his death.
The shock, on the other i hand when my mother was killed in an accident. It was shock that it should have happened at all, and so suddenly. Yet I had a curious sense of gratitude that she had no lingering illness, a thing she had dreaded.
In new places, often with strangers. When I stay at a hotel for the first time, I have to take a deep breath before 1 walk in. IF a new waiter brings breakfast to my room, I hide out of sight and desperately hope he’ll leave the tray and go away. Why, I’ve no idea. I’ve always been that way.
I LOSE MY TEMPER:
Rarely. I know it sounds dull, but I don’t. I haven’t the time.
At everything. I never stop. I just couldn’t get on if I didn’t see the funny side of everything. I don’t see how people live who are in constant gloom.
At dry wit.
At the good American sense of humor- I like to think I dig it.
At the children. I don’t let them know it, but I think they are terribly funny.
Mostly the things of childhood-going blackberrying, catching tadpoles in the river, going mushrooming.
Walking. There is no place to walk in California. The city is full of cement and the country is barren, usually dry and quite likely to be full of rattlesnakes.
I LOVE: Ducks.
Of very little, really. I don’t care for snakes, or being bombed, or flying, or operations, or dying. But I’m not afraid of any of them.
My earrings, like every other woman. One pair in particular! I leave them in ash trays, dress shops, powder rooms-but they always make their way back to me.
Practically everything when I’m in the tropics. 7n Tobago, where we made Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, the heat was so soggy it stultified the brain. I frequently dragged myself to a telephone only to find I couldn’t remember the number I was calling, nor whom I was calling and, furthermore, had no idea why I had gone to the phone in the first place.
Almost always. I can’t really function ‘unless I am happy. It sounds terribly dull to be so cheerful, but it’s selfish of me, really because i can’t get through things otherwise.
Sometimes when it’s a lovely day, for some reason I iust fill up. I’m quite a good weeper. Not so much when I Pin reading; it requires something visual to move me.
Usually it’s animals that move rne-the do, mistreated, the fawn trayed from its mother and in danger.
Sometimes when an actor does a sensitive scene so well that I hurt inside.
At beauty. I never understood when my mother said, «That is so beautiful I could cry.» I used to think, how soppy of her. Then one day I discovered I could cry at beauty. It was one of those English winter days when I was visiting friends in the country who were quite horsy. They asked tire to join a hunt, but I chose instead to follow on foot with the dogs. I soon lost sight of the hunters, but not long after, at the end of the grove, I could see the master in his red coat, the glossy coats of the horses and the flash of the white hounds. It was not so much the sight of the master and hounds -I had seen that often-but the light which surrounded them and sifted through the trees was uncanny and quite beautiful. I remember that I cried all the way home.
I shall be acting all my life.
That I am a friend of my girls when thev grow up.
That I will retain distinct memories of the children. Already their faces and mannerisms as tiny things are beginning to fade.
That Tony and I leave this world together. I would dread life without him and he would be absolutely lost without me.
Of my husband, who has not had an easy row to hoe. The war deprived him of seven years-years which men spent building their careers in normal times. Tony knew only flying in battle; he was a complete product of the war. He had to start a new life, married an actress, and has always had complete understanding that acting is necessary to me, that it is my existence. He has learned this business, is now a full-blown producer and produced his first picture, The White Rabbit, in England this summer. For those years between, I am infinitely proud of his forbearance, his intelligence, his understanding and his love.
I let slide my piano playing when I finished my student days. I wish I had time to go back to it again seriously, because it’s an accomplishment that gives so much pleasure.
Other than that, I regret very little. I did regret for a while that T did not marry the first man to whom I was engaged, but I most certainlv do not regret it now.
I should regret pushing a young man (who, I regret to add, was an Americanthe first I ever met) into the river. But I don’t, really. He was so impertinent; he used to whistle at me and call me «Red.» We were punting on the river and he was very busy showing off in his white flannels. Suddenly I couldn’t help myself; I merely put out a hand and shoved him into the Thames, I don’t think I even turned around.
About nothing whatsoever-I like to think. Yet when I see a ladder, I grit my teeth before I walk under it. And if a black cat crosses my path, I sometimes surreptitiously, cross my fingers. But, you understand, I take all these superstitions with a grain of salt.
I LOVE: Ducks.