Today I heard the sad news of Glenda Jackson’s passing. I thought she was a fantastic stage and screen actor. I met her once. I was working at the time in then new Holborn Centre for the Performing Arts and she was about to become the local MP. She came to visit the centre and I was asked to keep her company for about half an hour.
I was a bit overawed at first partly because of the films I had seen her in and partly because you don’t know how to behave with someone who is more than a celebrity. I needn’t have worried she put me at my ease and we started talking about acting.
She was proud of her working class background and told me that when she left school in Birkenhead she went to work in Boots the chemists.
It was a great chat. She called a spade a spade and was obviously fearless and totally honest. You could sense her morality. It’s hard to describe what it was but I knew I was in the presence of someone special, someone who changed the atmosphere in the room and had a genuine presence. It was the kind of intensity that few people seem to have. She was present. She gave you the feeling that she was completely focused on what you were saying.
I had the feeling she didn’t suffer fools gladly and I could imagine she had a sharp tongue. But the intelligence, the humanity, the humour, the seriousness, the spirit of the lady I glimpsed in 30 minutes i never forgot.
She left such an impression I could easily travel back there now.
Imagine being on stage with such a force of nature with that wonderful resonant voice. As a person she had integrity, as an actress I say she was the front rank of British actresses of all time.