Miles Kington: After 51 years 'resting', an actor's life is a bit of a let-down

'I get many requests to take part in local amateur productions,' he says, 'but no proper actor would ever sink that far'
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The Independent Online

Are you fed up with quizzes about the news? Well, too bad, because here is another one!

At least it's quick and simple. All you have to do is read these four news stories and decide which are false and which are true. To make it easier, I can tell you that they are all false, except one. But can you spot the genuine one? Here we go!

1. In a touring production of Treasure Island mounted in the North of England, Peter Edgecombe, the actor playing Long John Silver, spent five weeks in rehearsal with one leg strapped up behind him in order to get used to walking one-legged.

However, on the opening night of the play, one of his crutches broke and he fell awkwardly, twisting his ankle badly. He now found himself unable to walk on his "good" leg, so the strapped-up leg had to be unstrapped and brought into play, and the leg with the twisted ankle strapped up behind him during the interval. Unfortunately, the "bad" leg had become quite weak with lack of use, and after five weeks out of action he had lost the knack of walking on it unaided. During a fight scene in the second half he fell and twisted his other ankle, so he ended the evening unable to walk at all, and - as there was no understudy for the part - had to push himself about the stage on a small handcart normally used for scenery.

The theatre is suing the makers of the crutches for damages.

2. Mr and Mrs Keckbacker, a middle-aged couple from Delaware, in America, had their first child when she was 38 and he was 43.

As they had noticed that children often got on better with their grandparents than with their own father and mother, they decided to tell the child, when he was old enough to understand these things, that his parents had been killed in an air crash and that he was being brought up by his grandparents. His childhood and youth were very happy, which seemed to bear out the theory.

However, when he was 18 he learnt from an incautious aunt the truth of the matter, and discovered that the parents who he had long thought were dead were in fact been the ones who had brought him up. He says that although he is relieved to have regained his long-lost father and mother, he is finding it very difficult to readjust, and is now suing his parents for depriving him of his grandparents.

3. George Lancing, an elderly actor, has achieved what is thought to be a record even in the uncertain world of acting. He has recently retired from the acting profession at 70, without ever having had a part.

"Actors do go for long periods without getting a role," he said ruefully, "but 51 years must be a record. I was somehow never quite right for the part, always too old, or too young, or even, I was sometimes told, too similar to John Le Mesurier."

Lancing was not been inactive all his life. He worked as a waiter for many years, and used his catering experience to open a successful restaurant in Sussex, which he still runs, but as his ambition was to be an actor, he sees his life as something of a let-down.

"I get many requests to take part in local amateur dramatics," he says, "but no proper actor would ever sink that far. I would much rather be a professional failure than an amateur success."

4. Robson Marinho, a pet shop owner in Sao Paolo, Brazil, has opened a honeymoon motel for amorous dogs whose owners want them to mate. The Pet Motel has heart-shaped mirrors, satin sheets, romantic background music and voyeur-proof curtains, which Marinho reckons will get them in the mood for a happy coupling.

"I have had several bookings already," says Marinho, "but only time will tell if there is a real demand for romance among pets."

Well? Which one was the true one? The one about the pet motel? Damn! You are absolutely right! I am obviously making it far too easy. I'll make it harder next time. Till then, keep reading those papers - and don't believe a word they say!

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