Daily Archives: March 28, 2012

Life’s a beach . . .


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky . . .

~John Masefield~

The sea drew Monet to strive to capture the shimmering appeal of the ever-changing beauty of water and sky.

When I was growing up, we’d usually take at least one day trip each summer to visit Pensacola Beach in the Panhandle of Florida. We would set out early in the morning with our picnic baskets and ice chests packed. I was always excited when I saw my first palm tree on the drive down; I felt as the tropics were right around the corner.

A vintage postcard from 1939 showing the old Pensacola Casino.

We would breakfast underneath one of the big shelters that lined the beach–a full breakfast with freshly-brewed coffee, bacon and eggs, thanks to the power outlets and Mama’s electric fryer and coffee pot. And I cannot forget the sheer deliciousness of freshly baked Krispy Kreme doughnuts from the little bakery just down the street.  Piping hot yeast-raised chocolate iced doughnuts, to be exact.  I was in heaven.

OK, add about a foot to the length of this little girl's hair and this could have been me coveting the fresh Krispy Kremes at the beach. Along with Blue Bell ice cream, the devil invented Krispy Kremes.

Like Richard, I was not a water-baby; I had a bit of a phobia about water, to be honest and didn’t learn to swim at all until I was an adult. I am mostly good at treading water and gliding.  And I was so fair I had to be careful about overdoing it out in the sun so I wouldn’t look like a blue-eyed lobster. Still, I loved going to the beach.

Perhaps if I had sported a parasol and bonnet and gloves at the beach as the ladies did in Victorian times, I wouldn’t have quite so many age spots and moles starting to pop up . . . but I certainly would have gotten a lot of funny looks if I had!

Monet's "The Beach at Trouville"

My pale skin and lack of aquatic finesse did not keep  me from admiring the beauty of the Gulf on a clear summer’s day, the feel of the fine-spun white sand between my toes and the chill of the water washing over my feet; the chance to build sandcastles and search for pretty shells to bring back as souvenirs. To wander in up to my waist and splash about.  Every child needs to spend some time at the seashore.

I can easily summon the memory of those trips: the smell of hot plastic from the inflatable floats, our names written on them with Magic Marker, the salty air, the coconut scent of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion; the cry of gulls wheeling above us and the sound of transistor radios playing pop tunes and the squeak of the chains on the swings in the playground as we flew high in the air.

These days, if we go to the beach, it is to my sister and BIL’s condo down at Orange Beach here in Alabama (yes, Alabama has beaches, and quite beautiful ones).  Long wooden walkways protect the dunes and sea oats along the coast; the sand is a lovely sugar-white. Children still build sandcastles and search for shells.  We seek to capture the beauty we find in photographs and in paintings. We imprint it on our memories.

Orange Beach Alabama, where I have enjoyed some beautiful days on the Gulf of Mexico.

The eternal allure of the sand and surf, the sea and the sky; that sense of peace and serenity. The beauty of Mother Nature beckoning to us.

I think I understand how Monet felt.

Claude Monet's "Beach and Cliffs at Pourville."

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky . . .

Young Richard and the Woman of Great Influence


That's Miss Pat, founder of Pattison College on your right. Recognize the tall, lanky, smiling student in the center? Yep, that's young Richard.

A good teacher can make a great difference in a young person’s life. He or she can inspire, encourage and instruct about more than the subject matter at hand. Good, caring teachers can share important life lessons, too, that stick with their pupils long after they’ve left their classrooms.

The lady known to Richard in his teen years as “Miss Pat” made that sort of strong impact on the budding peformer.

The following is an excerpt from an article on Annette’s site,
www.richardarmitageonline.com  For those of you who are educators who may sometimes wonder if all your efforts and hard work are worth it, know that it is. Who knows–one of your students might become as stellar a human being as Richard Crispin Armitage . . .

Between the ages of 14 and 17, Richard Armitage attended Pattison’s Dancing Academy in Coventry (now Pattison College), a stage school where he learned dance, drama and music.

In September 2010, the founder of the college, Miss Betty Pattison, died at the age of 90.

The Coventry Telegraph (25th September) reported her death, and quoted from a letter that Richard had written to her family, “I think it’s safe to say that it was the most influential time of my life and really laid the foundations for, not only my subsequent career, but also my character. At the beginning I was afraid of disappointing Miss Pat. But by the time I left I was concerned about disappointing myself.”

A memorial service was held in Coventry Cathedral on Friday 19th November 2010.

Richard was one of many past pupils and colleagues who paid warm tribute to Miss Pat, as she was known. Although unable to attend the service in person, he had recorded an audio tribute. He began by quoting from one of his old school reports from 1986, which commended him for gaining a distinction in his Grade 5 Speech examination.

A pleasing examination report. Richard has gained confidence, and should now widen his sights by doing more acting.

He continued, “Well Miss Pat, you were right, and the reason that this tribute is being delivered in a recording is because I’m sitting in traffic on the M6 after a day of acting at Shepperton Studios, where I’m lucky enough to be filming Captain America. But I wouldn’t be doing that if it hadn’t been for your school report.

“Miss Pat, you were the most influential teacher I ever had, apart from my parents. You didn’t just teach me to sing, dance and act, but you gave me discipline, self-respect, tenacity and stamina. I feel very privileged to have been one of your students.


“From the freezing kitchen on a winter morning at Beechhurst, forcing down lumpy porridge, to the opening night in Showboat at the Butts Theatre, speeding up the motorway, terrified of your driving, to demonstrate the IDTA syllabus, passing my own driving test, my A levels, my cello exams – you made sure it was all there.

“And on behalf of myself, and all the other students you have nurtured over the years: thank you.”

He finished, “Oh, and by the way – you still owe me six quid for playing an elf in The Hobbit at the Alex Theatre in Birmingham, in… I think it was November 1986. But we’ll call it quits.”

He then read an extract from An American in Paris, one of her favourite musicals.

”]Cover of "An American in Paris [Blu-ray]&...

His dark night of the soul . . .


The interplay of light and shadow falling across the elegant planes of that face, his pale visage framed by a tangle of raven locks, eyes large and luminous, the glimmer of pain and sorrow evident even in the darkness of his surroundings. He looks like a subject that some old master would seek to capture on canvas. A dark angel from whom we do not wish to ever look away . . . a soul in anguish, haunted by past sins.  Lost, but capable of redemption. Alone, but about to find a friend . . .


Poll: Who is your favorite RA “bad boy?” (Choose up to three)


I will never ask you what your least liked Richard Armitage characters are, because honestly, there is something I appreciate about each and every one of them and it sort of hurts my feelings to think of any of them being rejected, yes, even Heinous Heinz.  (This is no slam at Ali and the recent poll at Richard Armitage Net; hey, after a while and especially with an RA drought, you run out of ideas!)

But I am curious as to which of Richard’s  dodgy/rebellious/amoral/ criminal characters is your favorite, and why? I will even let you choose three.