'I have to stop myself from being so busy and just sit down and pray'
I have just come up to London (from Brighton) with my vicar and his
curate. It was quite by chance we were on the same train, but people,
when they see me now, seem to want to help me. I am going to be 83 in February,
but can manage quite well, and sometimes extra help can be more confusing.
The other week I left my chicken in the supermarket. A nice
man tried to help me pack up, and it all went wrong.
I hope people do not think I am God. My book,
Tapestry Tales, is not the Bible, although I quote verses. I just
jotted down things from my life while I was doing my tapestries.
Forty years ago, my husband and children and I should have been
killed. We had this terrible car crash in Spain. I was cut out of the
wreckage, and driven in this little Spanish car to a clinic. The others were
I was in such a lot of pain, and just prayed. I had a
strong faith, but this was one of those moments when I just called on God for
help. I am much more committed now.
My faith has been tested and strengthened through my husband Bill's
illness. He was a professional cricketer, but he now has Alzheimer's,
and I need all the help I can get.
I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I got very lonely on
tour, and used to order room-service with a bottle of wine, which was not the
answer. I don't miss it at all, and just enjoy coffee or tea.
But I do think it is too easy now to get alcohol. It can be
cheaper for young people to go to a pub than to buy coffee in Starbucks.
My daughter Georgina died of a stomach haemorrhage. So I
have been very struck by Gloria Hunniford's book [Next to You: Caron's courage
remembered by her mother] about losing her daughter. Caron interviewed me once;
so it seemed even more real. I also have two sons; one of them lives with us at
I have just finished making a film with Tony Booth, Tony Blair's
father-in-law. It's called It's a Dog's Life - it might be one of
those that are never shown. He is a nice man, but is an awful smoker.
I got my part as Roz in Last of the Summer Wine through
Thora Hird. We had always been friends, and always nattered on about
the old days. We knew actors most people have now forgotten. Then, a few years
ago, she suddenly said: "I wish you were in it with me."
My mother ran a dress shop in Oldham. She was very
ambitious for me, and sent me to dancing school very early on. Later in life,
we ran a hotel together in London, which really did not work out, as we were
trying to do other things as well.
I was very ambitious myself. I won a British Academy Award,
a Cannes Film Festival award, and others. Things really took off after I had a
two-year run in the West End in Hello, Dolly!
I don't really get angry about things, as it takes up too much
energy. But I've had some great times in my life. I particularly
remember drinking champagne on the Brighton Belle with Laurence Olivier and
falling off the train the other end.
I just love dogs. I have a Tibetan terrier called Georgie
Porgie. Sadly, I had a second dog who was run over a few months ago when a car
reversed over her. This was a great sadness, as she had been wandering round
outside where we live, and I felt it could have been avoided if I had been out
there with her. But she was 14 and had had a good life.
I was very struck by a sermon by our vicar [the Revd Andrew
Manson-Brailsford] during Advent. He talked about the importance of
celebrating Christmas as a Christian festival and that we should be promoting
Jesus. I felt awful, as I had not even bothered with lights or decorations; so
I immediately went home and got the box out.
I have five Bibles at home. I love 1 Corinthians and
Jeremiah, who was a builder. We seem to be good at knocking people down, but
what about building them up?
I pray when I get het up. I have to make myself stop being
so busy, and just sit down and pray. I find it easier if I retreat to the bath
or our balcony.
I have sewn tapestries since my mother died in 1963. She
left an unfinished one, which I completed, and I have been hooked ever since. I
think they look lovely with all the different colours.
I certainly would not like to be locked in a church with a fella.
I don't find them that interesting, apart from Michael, my old
hairdresser. He would have been great, but, sadly, he died of AIDS. The dog
would be no good, as she would need the toilet.
Tapestry Tales by Dora Bryan (Canterbury Press £9.99; 1-85311-621-1; CT
Bookshop, £9) Dora Bryan talked to Rachel Harden.