Vivienne, or Viv as she was more widely known, is my Mum who is sadly no longer with us.
My passion for film, particularly horror films, started with Mum. Through her I was introduced at far too young an age to such classics as Night of the Demon, the Hammer House of Horror, Friday 13th, The Fog, The Thing, The Changeling, Hallowe’en, Alien and – to me then the most horrific of them all – Jaws.
Stephen King featured prominently on our screen and on Mum’s book shelves. I spent many a night dozing off to sleep with the weighty tomes of Christine, Salem’s Lot, Pet Sematary, Cujo and The Dead Zone open on my chest – filling my dreams with vengeful cars, boys floating in the air scraping on windows, cats rising from the dead, rabid dogs and an upsettingly nasty Martin Sheen.
Even then I was utterly fascinated by how the characters and storylines in books could lift from the page and the depths of my imagination to be transformed on screen in some entirely new way by some mysterious team far, far away. I would frequently flick back and forth from book to film to see what had remained true to the original and what had been changed – and whether that change enhanced or detracted from the author’s original vision. It has always been a process that intrigued me.
Mum’s viewing schedule wasn’t all horror – and it was exciting! We zigged – cop thrillers (Dirty Harry Franchise, Someone to Watch Over Me) and we zagged – musicals and classics (Singin in the Rain, Some Like it Hot, Wuthering Heights, Rebel Without a Cause). Even with just 4 channels back then, TV also played a part, serving us the sublime Helen Mirren in the gritty Prime Suspect and in stark contrast, the fantastical American opulence of big hair and even bigger shoulder pads in Dallas and Dynasty. Mum would carry around a passport sized photo of Linda Evans’ Krystle Carrington to remind her hairdresser just how she liked her hair. This would be very amusing when, once on an aircraft to the USA, the air stewardess announced over the tannoy that a purse had been found “with, uhm, a photograph of Krystle Carrington” in it. Later, 24 would be one of Mum’s favourite shows and she would faithfully record every episode on VHS, meticulously cutting and editing out the ads whilst at the same time ensuring that Kiefer Sutherlands’ gruff Jack Bauer introduction remained intact.