Being back at home for the summer holidays was lovely. I must have been pretty tired. But, adjusting to real life when articles like this one appeared in Woman’s Realm was tricky. Everyone seemed to be reading about me in their dentist’s surgery.
‘What was it like?’ I was often asked.
How could I begin to describe working like this ~
‘Did you have lots of lines to learn?’
How could I explain that this is how we worked on the dialogue?
‘What were the others like?’
How could I tell people about the whole crew, that I’d had working relationships with so many adults?
Technical questions were much easier to answer than, ‘How did you feel?’ No one wanted to know that most of the time I felt cold.
‘Did you have to wear make-up?’ This was a difficult one, as we didn’t wear conventional make up but my legs were regularly coated in a layer of foundation so as not to appear shockingly white. You can see the smooth effect in the photograph above. Suzanna was amusing about this in her diary. She hated being sponged down with a matt base and sun-bathed whenever she could so as to avoid it in the near future.
‘What did you wear?’
Suzanna drew pictures of the two dresses she wore at Bank Ground Farm. I always rather liked her blue gingham one. Unlike the Duchess of Cambridge I have never worn a yellow dress apart from the sleeveless one I had to climb into to play Titty. It was really too short for 1929. I remember the costume designer, Emma Porteus, confiding in Mum that they would cheat on the length a bit. Hem-lines were very much above the knee in 1973. Arthur Ransome would have turned in is grave. Luckily Titty’s dresses just look a little out-grown.
‘How did they film you sailing?’
Again Suzanna provided wonderful graphics of this. I don’t think I’ve yet published this page of her diary.
‘What was Virginia McKenna like?’
This question was easy. ‘She was lovely.’
Many years have gone since we sat amongst the daisies at Bank Ground Farm. I am now happy to talk about anything. Do click on the comment box below or go on a Facebook page to ask any questions you might have about the filming of ‘Swallows and Amazons’.
You can read more in ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons’ available online for £2.99