Здесь будем выкладывать эту замечательнейшую биографию в оригинале-на английском языке.
Некоторые главы-а именно, последующие за 4- еще не переведены на русский( по крайней мере, там, где я нашла),так что, люди, хорошо знающие английский, наши форумные полиглоты, могут переводить имеющиеся главы.
I've always thought people would find a lot more pleasure in their daily routines if they burst into song at significant moments. So, if you're reading this while travelling on the Tube, standing at a bus stop, queuing at your local bookstore, or even sitting on the loo, don't resist the urge. As Mama Rose famously said in the musical Gypsy : 'Sing out, Louise!'
Musical theatre gave my professional career its start and musicals remain one of the unifying passions in my life, which is why I've organized this book according to songs from some of my favourite shows. As you'll soon discover, each chapter has a song for its title, representing a significant event, a life lesson, or a tale or two from a particular time. Like many of my favourite musicals, the narrative of my story avoids a straight chronology and shifts backwards and forwards through my life. When you've finished reading, I hope you'll have a clearer, more detailed picture of who I am as a person and as a performer than from anything else you've read about me.
To be honest, here's what I really hope - that by arranging the book in this way, you'll feel as if you and I are lounging in our pyjamas on the couch in my Cardiff living room, sharing a bottle of champagne or a pot of tea, with music on in the background, having a blether and a laugh about my life so far.
book has been a collaborative effort with my sister Carole. She spent most of a summer and lots of iChat time listening, laughing, enquiring and reminiscing with me. I recorded my stories and memories on my iPod, and Carole gave them structure and shape. In order to achieve this, though, she thoroughly neglected her family for a while. As a result, Carole and I would like publicly to thank Kevin, her husband, the Associate Dean of Humanities and Professor of History at Alverno College, as well as the Barrowman Casey household's backbone and the one who keeps all of them in clean socks and hot meals. Carole also wants to give lots of hugs and many thanks to Clare and Turner, who have learned to put up with having a writer for a mother with humour and aplomb, and who can live without her for weeks without hurting each other or their dad.
Of course, like all good musical productions, this book owes a great deal to a supporting cast that I'd like to acknowledge before this show begins. Firstly, I'd like to thank warmly all the folks at Michael O'Mara Books for their patience, their commitment to the project, and their hard work in helping achieve its vision, especially Kate Gribble, Ana Sampson and Alison Parker. Thank you to my manager Gavin Barker, for all he does behind the scenes, and to my partner Scott, for keeping me grounded with a generous supply of love and support.For their contributions to this production and all that they add to my life, a special thanks to my big brother Andrew, his wife Dot, and my nephew and nieces Andrew, Yvonne and Bridgett; to all the Gills; and an equally deep thank you, as always, to Bev and Jim Holt.
To my driver Sean, thanks for always getting me to the show on time, despite the distraction of yellow cars.
To my fellow cast members, crew and production staffs, past and present, whether on stage or on screen, thank you for sharing your stories, your talents and your friendship with me over the years. You're all the tops!
Finally, and most importantly, Carole and I would like to dedicate this book with love and gratitude to our mum and dad, Marion and John Barrowman, without whom there would never have been any stories to tell.
Now, turn the pages and sing along.
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Chapter Two "Milly, Molly, Mandy"
The medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch's triptych1 depicting the Fall of Man hangs in all its decadent glory in the Prado museum in Madrid. In 1993, on one of our first vacations together, Scott and I visited Madrid and Barcelona, and the Prado was a highlight of the trip. Bosch's most famous work, The Garden of Earthly Delights, has inspired the devoted and the disturbed for centuries. At the bottom right-hand corner of his renowned depiction of tortured souls trapped in the underworld, a tiny bawling baby is swaddled in a white shawl next to a fish-like creature devouring a man's leg. That baby is me. I was the baby from hell.
From the moment I was born on 11 March 1967, I cried constantly, screaming in a pitch my family claims has permanently damaged their ability to hear certain sounds. On the plus side, my parents never hear their doorbell when a salesman rings, and now, frankly, they miss most of what they say to each other.2
When my niece Clare was born in 1987, she too was burdened with the crying gene, yet somehow her screams solicited immediate kindly attention from my mum and dad, who had the gall to suggest that their response to her crying was because she was the first grandchild. But these were just excuses, excuses, excuses. Deep down, I believe they were able to tolerate her squalling because my loud infancy had prepared them for whatever cranky colicky baby would come their way.
My dad claims that if I'd been the first one born, I'd have been the last one born. It didn't matter what my mum or dad did - the regular rocking on the chair next to the cot until tracks were etched deep into the floor, the soft music, the loud music, the lullabies, the threats and, eventually, in complete desperation and fear for their marriage and their sanity, a little whisky in the dummy — nothing calmed me.
Oh, get over yourself, don't tell me you haven't thought about slipping the little one a wee dram in the dummy in the middle of the night after four days without sleep and one-hundred-and-forty- two cups of tea, most of which you've ended up spilling on your pajamas. Never having had any children of my own,3 hesitate to give any parenting advice in these pages, but I must ask the question: really, could I have been that bad?
Barrowman family lore is that I was worse than bad, and so over the years I've become okay with blaming my brother and sister for my insufferable infancy. My brother Andrew was five when I was born and Carole, the eldest, was eight. When my mum brought me home from the hospital and I was first introduced to them, they seriously freaked out. I know you're thinking that there's no way I can really remember these details from my infancy and early childhood, but in my family these stories are legendary. If you don't trust me, just ask my mum.
'Eeeew!' Andrew yelped, taking two steps back.
'He looks like Sooty,' Carole proclaimed with as much compassion.
Their reactions were based on the fact that my tongue, lips and most of the inside of my mouth were blue. I don't mean a dull, grey- toned, oxygen-deprived blue, which would've been bad enough. I mean a full-out periwinkle, the kind of blue that looks fabulous in a bold stripe on an Etro shirt, but not so gorgeous on a baby's face. My mouth was this odd hue because of an ointment used to kill an infection I'd contracted when I was born.
Blue mouth or not, I still think 'demon child' and 'freak of nature' were excessive responses from my own sibling flesh and blood. I don't care how old they were. Most other five- and eight- year-olds would have been much more adult and mature in their reactions. Therefore, it's my contention that I responded noisily to this initial tetchy sibling bonding and decided to punish them severely for it during the rest of my infancy. I believe I may have let out a loud wail at the exact moment they cried 'yuck' and I never shut my mouth again until I was ... okay, I've never shut my mouth again.
According to my family, things only got worse. My constant crying sent my mum into desperation mode. My dad fared better during these years because he was at work all day. Regular double overtime, I bet. My mum began to pay Carole to take me for long walks in my pram around Mount Vernon, the Glasgow suburb where we lived, so that my mum could get a break and pamper herself a little. You know, get to the bathroom, brush her hair, bathe. Somehow, the walking seemed to stimulate my vocal cords even more.
Carole then did what any smart Scottish lass of eight would do. She outsourced the labour, paying one of the other kids in our cul-de-sac to walk me. To Carole's credit, this might have been successful, if not for Andrew, who did what any smart Scottish lad of five would do in similar circumstances, especially one who'd not been cut in on the deal. He went to the Big Man himself and told on her.
By this time, I'd been home for a couple of months. The blue mouth had faded, but I was still bawling. It was becoming painfully clear to my parents that at least as far as Andrew and Carole were concerned, the romance of having a baby brother had completely worn off. Drastic measures were called for.
After dinner one night, my mum told my brother and sister to go into the living room and sit down. A few minutes later, my dad carried me into the room concealed within a brown paper bag.
'Why's the baby wrapped up?' asked Andrew, puzzled.
'He's going in the bin,' my dad replied.
My mum stood stoically next to him and her performance was of Academy Award calibre, as good as Joan Crawford any day.4 Mum even had props, clutching my little booties in her hands.
'But why are you putting him in the bin?' asked Andrew.
'Because you two don't seem interested in having a wee brother, and your mum and I think we should just get rid of him before we all get too attached.'
Even at such a young age, Carole was used to my dad's sense of humour. She'd survived his silly walks in public, his clownish falls in front of her friends, his dressing in drag at family parties,5 and his elaborate games of hide-and-seek, where he would risk life and limb to be the last one found. Once, soon after my parents were married - 1954 in Shettleston, if you're interested - he left work early one night just so he could get home to plan a prank before my mum came in from her office job.
They'd recently moved into a flat in East Kilbride. When my dad got home that evening, he climbed into the coal bunker, which, in the 1950s, was often located in the hallway of a flat. He crouched inside that bunker for hours, until my mum finally came home, ate her tea, tidied up the flat and climbed into bed. All so he could scare her shitless by turning off the lights and throwing lumps of coal against the bedroom door.
He played jokes like this on her so many times that, one night, she sat in bed in the pitch dark for four hours, swearing at him for turning off the lights, yet refusing to get out of bed for fear he would drop zombie-like from the top of the wardrobe, which, in fact, he'd done once already to her (and has done since a number of times in my memory, too). As it turned out, that particular night East Kilbride had experienced a power failure and my dad wasn't even home. My mum was shouting over and over to herself for hours: 'John! Turn on the lights. I'm not getting out of bed. I know it's you. John!'
My dad didn't just contain his antics to his children and his wife. When my niece Clare was about seven and her brother Turner was four, they spent a weekend with my mum and dad. During the visit, Clare and Turner had to go to a neighbour for help to extricate my dad from a narrow basement cupboard, where he'd gotten stuck during a particularly competitive game.
So Carole knew better and she called my dad's bluff.
'You don't mean it, Daddy.'
But my dad was at the ready and began taping the paper around me until I was neatly swaddled in the brown bag. My dad was good. He had perfected the set-up, but it was my mum who threw the hook and finally roped Carole and Andrew in for the sting. From her pocket she produced a label with 'My name is John Scot Barrowman' already printed on it.
During my childhood, my mum regularly participated in my dad's elaborate cons and pranks, but she was always the one who, when it was clear the three of us were teetering close to a meltdown as a result of one of his jokes, would intervene with, 'That's enough, John,' or 'John, that's not fair, they're only wee.'
Like the time we were all on a caravan holiday in England. On our way south to the Isle of Wight, we stopped overnight at a campsite because it was raining so hard. As we were getting ready for bed, I noticed Dad was gone.
'Where did Daddy go?'
'I don't know,' my mum replied, innocently. 'Carole, Andrew, did you see what happened to your dad?'
They hadn't, of course, but now she'd amped the anxiety level because we knew some terrible, funny fright was coming. Suddenly, the lights went out, and then the clincher: footsteps on the roof of the caravan - yup, the roof - rapid, pounding and very scary.
'It must be ghoulies,' said my mum, eyes wide in mock distress.
The ghoulies were, in fact, our favourite Barrowman bogeymen. In our house they regularly loomed in dark corners, grabbed from under beds, fell from wardrobes, lurched from the back of dark closets, and howled at the moon.
In the caravan that night, I was the first to burst into tears. Andrew froze. Carole claimed it was 'just Daddy', but she still eased closer to my mum. By this time, the storm was blowing so hard that the caravan was shaking. The three of us started to scream.
'John, that's enough. John! They'll never sleep tonight.'
Then there was a heavy thumping at the door, followed by scratching against the metal of the jamb.
'You answer it, John,' said Carole and Andrew to me, in unison.
They shoved me toward the door, as they always did in these situations. I slowly opened it, and sure enough my dad fell like Frankenstein's monster on to the caravan floor. He was soaking wet, freezing cold, and his fingers were raw from climbing up on to the caravan's roof. To this day, it takes a hell of a lot to scare the three of us because nothing will ever be as terrifying as my dad's practical jokes.
When my mum began attaching the label with my full name to the brown paper bag, despite her bravado Carole broke first, followed quickly by Andrew. They promised to be better siblings and they agreed to stop trying to sell me to the highest bidder among their friends.
I'd like to say that this was the only time in my early childhood that my family tried to get rid of me, but, according to my dad, it wasn't and I 'just kept coming back'. My mum remembers one time when she and Mum, my gran on my mum's side,6 were walking behind me in Argyle Street in Glasgow. I was driving a Matchbox car on the wall of C&A as I walked, lost in my own world, humming to myself. My mum grabbed Mum's arm and they ducked inside the store, leaving me toddling on ahead. They had a great laugh at my expense when I turned around and couldn't see them behind me.
In my humble opinion, they were damn lucky I always found them because, while I may have been a noisy wee so-and-so throughout most of my childhood, I was also the highlight of their parties.
My parents loved to entertain and among their circle of friends and neighbours in Scotland, and in Illinois after our move to the States, Marion and John Barrowman's parties were renowned. My dad, who was a skilled draughtsman, designed and built an extension on to the back of our house on Dornford Avenue in Mount Vernon just for their parties. The Extension - with capital letters as it came to be known - was off-limits to Carole, Andrew and me except when our parents were entertaining, which they did (at least in my childhood memory) every night.
Kitted out with a bar, modern leather furniture - and when I say 'modern', I mean seventies' pleather' chic - and room for dancing, The Extension was the gathering place in Mount Vernon. Before the party would kick into full swing, Carole, Andrew and I were sent to bed, or Murn and her sister, our Auntie Jeannie, would take us to spend the night at the 'high flats' at Sandyhills, where Murn lived. We called them the 'high flats' because everything around them was, well, low: post-Second World War prefabricated houses surrounded the flats.
My mum knew better than to feed us dinner on those nights because we were going to get sick on the sweets Murn would give us anyway, so why waste a good meal? The three of us would sit in front of the huge picture window in our living room and stare down the street, watching for Murn and Jeannie to appear round the corner with their goodies. Murn would bring Andrew some Walnut Whips, which - and I have no idea why this was the case, I'm thinking it had something to do with the nut - were considered adult sweeties in our house. Crunchies and Milky Ways were for the weans,7 but Walnut Whips and Turkish Delights were for grownups. Murn would bring Carole packets of Maltesers or Cadbury's Flakes, while I'd inhale bags of Jelly Babies and Wine Gums.
'Ask Wee John to give us a song before he goes?' someone at my parents' party would inevitably request.
They never had to ask me twice. I even had my own 'microphone': a stainless-steel drinks measure that I kept tucked behind some bottles on the bar.
My favourite parties, though, were the ones they threw at New Year's Eve, or for the Scots among ye, Hogmanay, which in Scotland is a night more revered and more publicly celebrated than Christmas. Until I was about six, I always thought Hogmanay sounded like 'hug many', which I still think fits the occasion and, in fact, ought to be a rule of life. I once read that for centuries the Scottish Presbyterian Church tried to ban excessive celebrating at Hogmanay, believing that it all smacked too much of paganism. Of course it did. Most good celebrations still do. Think Carnival in Rio, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and a dinner party at Graham Norton's house. Hogmanay was an event to relish, and even as young as I was, I still have vivid memories of those evenings.
A neighbour whose name has long since left my memory would don his kilt, haul out his bagpipes, grab his bottle for first-footing,9 and begin his descent down the hill of Dornford Avenue; a literal and figurative descent because very few adults were left standing by morning.
The night started with the ceremonial ringing of the local church bells, and then the aforementioned neighbour would stand at the top of the road, prime his sack, clear his pipe and proceed to wail. In case you're not aware of it, let me tell you, bagpipes are actually a bitch to play. Many years later, my parents bought me my own set and I attempted to learn. The damn things are impossible and I could never get more out of them than a sound like cats being strangled.
The telltale wail of the pipes echoed down the street. Kids and adults alike darted out of their houses, falling in line behind him, and at the stroke of midnight hed march down the road like a tartan Pied Piper, the sounds of 'Scotland the Brave' drawing even the crabbiest of our neighbours outside. (I'm not mentioning her name here. Her children will be adults now and likely in charge of processing parking tickets. Believe me, I need to cover my arse in that area.
When I was allowed to stay up until the bells, the highlight for me was watching everyone crowd into The Extension and then the singing would begin. My mother has a beautiful voice and like the Barrowman party gene, this is a trait I'm glad to have inherited.
At family gatherings as well as parties, it wouldn't take long for someone to say, 'Gie us a song, Marion,' and she, like me, would always oblige. As a kid, I remember being impressed that she knew the words to every song she was asked to sing. If the party were a. Barrowman gathering, one of my dad's brothers would harmonize with her. Each one had particular songs they liked to hear my mum sing. My Uncle Alex would add harmonies to a Sinatra number or something from the Big Band era, while my Uncle Charlie loved the more melodic, wistful numbers like 'We're Two Little Lambs'. My Uncle Neil would take off his shoes and hum.11 After a few verses, the whole room would join in. This kind of evening was what I thought adulthood was all about. Family, friends and lots of singing. Okay, let me rephrase that. Family, friends, a wee bevvy and lots of singing.
My mum sang at other times too, including Carole and Andrew's respective weddings, and in 2006 she performed at my civil union with Scott. Although age has diminished the range of her voice a little, it's still a big beautiful one, which is ironic given how quietly she entered the world.
My mum weighed only three pounds when she was born and at that time, in 1938, her chances of survival were slim and none, and none jumped on to the Glasgow bus and fled. My Papa Butler, whom, sadly, I never knew because I was only a year old when he died in 1968, refused to accept the prognosis that she was too tiny to survive. He and Murn brought her home to their corporation house in Shettleston, warmed up the cooker and - wait for it - placed her in the oven. She slept in the warmth of the stove until her weight rose above six pounds. She's still hot today.
All my grandparents were characters and throughout my childhood they were a significant part of my life. As a result of these relationships, issues of elderly abuse or just plain rudeness to an old person are the surest ways to rile me.
On Sunday afternoons, Carole, Andrew and I would leave on our 'itchy clothes', our name for our church clothes (sackcloth and woolly jumpers), and visit Emily and John, aka Gran and Papa Barrowman, for lunch. Gran Barrowman was an incredible baker and her sponge cakes were fluffy, airy masterpieces. I believe it's from her that I inherited my sweet tooth. Gran Barrowman's house was always freezing, but if you shivered and complained enough, she'd eventually - like Catherine Tate's hilarious character - say, 'Put another bar on, son.'
Murn was fierce and funny, and she loved to dance. When she and her sister Jeannie would take care of us on Saturday nights, Carole, Andrew and I would squeal with delight when their dancing would get wild, and Murn and Jeannie would hike up their skirts, birl like madwomen, and we'd get a gander at their bloomers. Murn also made the best fritters in south-east Scotland because she kept a jar of manky lard under her sink, reusing it whenever she deep-fried anything. One of her specialities was deep-fried Spam - just writing about it is clogging my arteries. And, man, her chips were the best.
Murn was from the 'gie them whatever they want' school of grandparenting. She was the kind of gran who would always have sweeties in her pinny pocket and could smother you in her soft chest with one hug, but she would have terrified the devil himself if he went after one of her kin. Because of a debilitating stroke in the 1970s, Murn lived with us for the last fourteen years of her life.
The year before my family emigrated to the US, I was eight, and my mum accepted a job outside the house. Hard to believe washing, cleaning and tearing around after three children and a husband wasn't all she wanted from her life. Her good friend Isabel Eusebie and her husband Joe owned a beauty salon on Shettleston Road, and next door to the salon they opened a record shop, which is where my mum worked, serving at the music-store counter.
Top of the Pops with Jimmy Savile was the barometer for hits back then, and although the shop had a wide array of albums from every genre, my strongest visual memory of the store is the walls lined with 45s, which were listed in numerical order according to their weekly chart standings.
After I finished for the day at Mount Vernon Primary School in the afternoons, I'd head straight to the record shop. My mum usually wouldn't be able to leave, so I'd sit on the counter and she'd let me play any records I wanted. Pretty soon, I was standing on the counter singing and customers were coming in just to request a song for 'Wee John' to perform.
This was the era of unforgivable, I mean unforgettable, novelty songs, ditties such as Rolf Harris's 'Two Little Boys' and The Scaffold's 'Lily the Pink', which, believe it or not, is about a real person, Lydia Pinkham, who invented cures for all sorts of female ailments, including 'flatulence and fertility'.12 My favourite song from this era, though, was Glyn Poole's 'Milly, Molly, Mandy', a song that today can make my fillings ache.
It soon became clear to all customers in the record shop that watching 'Wee John' belt this song out, dimples and all, was worth a stop. Before too long, I was a fixture in the store, a permanent presence on the counter.
Sadly, the record shop no longer stands. During renovations years later, the building collapsed while a customer and Joe Eusebie were still inside, making that one last cut, selling that one last record.
Carole was at Bannerman High School by the time our mum got her job, and Andrew had football practice, so neither was around much to look after their little brother. When my mum couldn't pick me up after school, I'd ride the bus with Jeannie or Murn down to the record shop. One afternoon, as Murn and I were waiting at the Sandyhills bus stop for our trip to the store, she noticed I'd been crying.
'What's the matter, son?'
'My teacher keeps hitting me on the back of my head for no reason.'
Two points are important to note here. The first is that in 1973 corporal punishment was all the rage in UK schools. Secondly, if you have children or even know a child just a little, you'll appreciate that the likelihood was high that there was a reason. In retrospect, I d have slapped the hell out of me too if I was singing that fucking 'Milly, Molly, Mandy' all the time.
Murn was quiet for most of the bus ride and eventually I forgot that I'd told her anything about the teacher's slapping. Until two days later, when someone knocked timidly on the door of my Mount Vernon Primary School classroom. My teacher, She-Who- Shall-Remain-Nameless, was a bit startled by the knock, but asked the person to come in. In marched Murn.
With her hat pinned on her grey hair - the front curl of which was tinged with the telltale yellow from smoking — her handbag caught in the bend of her arm and her wool coat pulled tight across her ample chest, except for the nicotine curl she looked a lot like the Queen after a bad day with her corgis. Without so much as a 'How are you?' or 'I'm John Barrowman's gran,' she walked right up to the teacher and hit her across the back of her head several times, punctuating each slap with a word: 'Don't. You. Ever. Lift a hand. To a wean. Again. Ye auld bitch.'
The moment remains one of my most compelling memories. How could it not? The class was instantly silent; the teacher too stunned to move. The whole classroom became a blur to me. After Murn marched from the room, a few of my classmates started to giggle, and then their laughter became all-out babbling excitement at what had just happened. I was completely embarrassed for about ten minutes, while the teacher tried to settle us down. What I remember most about the incident is that, once I got over the initial shock, I was terrified that the teacher would call the police and Murn would get arrested. Fortunately, though, like Roxie Hart in Chicago, Murn escaped the law.
For some, childhood memories may be the result of wishful thinking or perhaps, tragically, the uncovering of repressed experiences that have suddenly been exposed. Neither of these things shape my memories of my childhood and I'd like to believe that for more rather than less of us this is true. When I think about what it meant to grow from a 'wean' into a 'wee boy' in Scotland, the meaning I draw from my memories as a man are defined by my family's lessons about love and laughter, and singing, lots and lots of singing.