The Incredible Noele ... continued

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"If they're saucy and I don't like the look of them, I very soon get rid of them, but if they're nice people I'll take trouble with them and I'll bring them in and show them the house if they want to see it."
And yet she says she could never be Meg Richardson in real life - "I could nver be as patient with members of the public as she is.
"Hotel keepers have to put up with an awful lot from the public and I don't think I could stand this.  And for another thing I'd be no good at coping with the staff.  I don't think I'd ever be good at firing anybody.  I'm too sofe-hearted - or is that just moral cowardice?"
Despite the apparent contradictions of a Scots-Presbyterian family background and a Roman Catholic convent education, Noele Gordon has strong religious feelings and is a regular and conscientious churchgoer.
Recently, she became the first woman to preach in the historic parish church of St. Mary's at Ross-on-Wye - and philosophically shrugged off the letters complaining about a woman, and an actress at that, being allowed in the pulpit!
She does a considerable amount of welfare work for old people in Birmingham and is very interested in the resettlement problems of ex-prisoners.  Coming from a seafaring family it is appropriate that another interest is the lifeboat service, for which her fund-raising efforts have been untiring.
So much so that in 1969 she was invited by the Aberdeen branch of the RNLI to take her first trip in a lifeboat.  "They took me out in a Force Eight gale," said Noele.  "I suppose it was their way of thanking me!"
Faced with the choice between staying behind the screen as an executive and going on the screen as a performer, extrovert Nollie predictably chose the latter.
Plainly, she has the drive, the intelligence and the tenacity to conquer all sorts of other fields, but nothing other than the world of entertainment has ever really tempted her.
"I think actors are the chosen people," she said simply.  "I have never remotely wanted to do anything else, though sometimes I do have this feeling one could be doing something more valuable.  One could be a doctor or a surgeon.
"But to make poeple laugh is wonderful.  I hope they put that on my tombstone - She made peolple laugh.  I think that's the greatest epitaph one could have.
"And yet," she said thoughtfully, "we are completely useless.  If you closed every theatre and every TV station in the world, it would be awfully dull, but it wouldn't kill anybody.
"You have to remember that the world can very well do without actors, but it couldn't do without doctors, and carpenters, and electricians.  That's the sobering thought that cuts you down to size."
Doesn't she wake in the mornings and wonder what else there is left to do?
"Oh no!  I am tremendously ambitious.  And although I do have moods of black depression and periods of howling despair, usually I wake up and think this is going to be the best day that ever happened.
"But when I get to bed at night I don't really sleep very well because I'm too impatient.  I think it's an awful waste of time and I wish we could do without sleep."
What ambitions are left?
"I would like to make a really good film, and I look forward to growing old so I can play very potty old ladies.  I think they are absolutely marvellous.  I adore the sort of parts Margaret Rutherford plays.
"I want to play eccentrics.  I have a great eye for the way people behave.  I watch people all the time and store it all away in my head.
"No, I'm not eccentric myself.  I'm an awfully normal person.  I'm a very dull person, really, because I do nothing but work and eat and sleep ... Terribly dull!"
About as normal and as dull as a whirlwind ...

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