Maureen Lipman

My kidnapping scare

(PA Images)

Newly returned from the best ever New Year in Scotland, I walk down Portobello Road and waft through nostalgia. All those felted hats in primary colours and Mongolian knits with floral patterns. The smell of frying falafel, dodgy hash and second-rate coffee. It takes me back to Hull fair, seven decades earlier, with my gloves dangling from elastic on the sleeves of my nap coat and a scarlet face full of vinegary, newspapered chips. I realise it is the first time in a while that I have moved slowly in a crowd without carrying a banner saying ‘Bring them home’ and shouting: ‘Shame on Hamas.’

I read that Rachel Riley has objected to HMV’s advertising of the film One Life, about Sir Nicholas Winton, which described the Kindertransport hero as a ‘British humanitarian who helped save hundreds of central European children from the Nazis’ (my emphasis). It was, it seems, beyond HMV’s remit to use the word ‘Jewish’. Shame on them! This is how you subvert the truth. You make Jews lesser, invisible. Thank you, Rachel, for being brave as well as brainy and beautiful. Back home, I light a memorial candle for my late father. What would he make of the cyclical resurgence of the world’s oldest hatred?

On the fabulous Elizabeth line at Paddington I am offered a seat by a nice young man. I gawp at him, amazed and appalled. Surely he can’t think I’m old enough to need priority seating? He does. This leads to a chat with the couple beside me, up from Southolt. They are Corrie watchers and I give them a spoiler alert which makes them, and me, very happy. In five minutes I am at Tottenham Court Road. In another ten I’ve nipped through Chinatown and am outside the Noël Coward Theatre, which was the Albery Theatre when I last played there, and the New Theatre when I first played there in 1970.

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