Lena has been a music producer, writer and Personal Manager; a photographer and journalist and, over thirty years ago, got together with Caroline Scattergood to create the Caring & Sharing Trust to bring music, hope and love into the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families from throughout Northamptonshire.
Do you remember the genius that was Anthony Newley? You certainly know the ever wonderful Joan Collins. However, it is extremely unlikely you have heard of their son, Alexander Newley, an emotionally stunted child of fifty-two.
Young Alexander, who prefers to be known as Sacha, has decided to cash in on his parents fame by trashing them in his book “Unaccompanied Minor”. Yes, this is another “poor me” memoir – however, this time it is really hard to find just what he is complaining about other than the fact that his parents were so successful that they failed to give him their undivided attention.
I would urge you, not only to not buy this book but also, if you should see it in a book shop, hide it somewhere behind the shelves.
Of course, to appreciate Tony Newley you will have had to have, figuratively speaking, been there. His film “Idol on Parade” was a low-budget success which also produced his first self-written hit record “Do You Mind”. He soon went off to Stuttgart in Germany and teamed up with dancer and choreographer John Cranko and jazz singer Annie Ross to form the extensionalist “Cranks”.
Fortunately, a lot of their stuff was filmed and eventually seen on British television but, for those of us who remember, they were the greatest musical act on earth. Tony went on to write songs and musicals including the great West End and Broadway hit “Stop the World I Want to Get Off” featuring an incredible score including “What Kind of Fool Am I”. He co-wrote the theme song for James Bond and then went to Hollywood. His great chum, Sammy Davis Jr, described Tony as the greatest talent he had ever known.
Tony was brought up alone by his working class mum who went out cleaning to support him through stage school until his triumph, at fourteen years old, as the Artful Dodger in David Lean’s masterpiece “Oliver Twist”. Unlike Alexander he achieved all he did by his own genius instead of hanging on to the coat tails of successful parents who he so despises. Possibly those parents spoilt him to the extent of feeding his delusions that he was an artist.
So there you go Alexander and I haven’t even begun the story of your mum, National Treasure Joan Collins, whose father Joe Collins was a famous agent and whose grandfather Will Collins created Collins Musical Hall etc. And that’s without mentioning her sister Jackie Collins who, you might have heard, wrote a series of quite successful books! What a gene pool our Sacha has squandered.
In this dreadful book Alexander feels hard done by because his mum and dad got divorced and dad always had a penchant for falling in love with young ladies, some of which were only seventeen years old. Mum seemed to spoil her copybook, in Alexander’s eyes, by marrying a famous record producer, Ron Cass, and trying everything to make her son happy culminating in taking him to a child psychiatrist where he refused to speak. To make it worse, much as he disliked London, this little gem disliked Los Angeles even more and this was despite meeting lots of incredible people and even being taken for a motorbike ride by Steve McQueen.
Alexander (or Sacha) seems to feel that he is a leading and successful artist. Having seen pictures of his own paintings in the book I would say that I must disagree. Because other than needing to make a buck or two, I can see no other conceivable reason why he should write this contemptible book.
Now, for a completely different “poor me” memoir! Tracy Tynan is now sixty-
five years of age but takes us back to the Fifties and Sixties with much humour and more than a little pathos. As the only child of British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan and the American author Elaine Dundy, she uses clothes and fashion as her starting point for each chapter. This is because Tracy did become an extremely successful costume designer for Hollywood films whilst living in Los Angeles and settled into a happy marriage to the American film director Jim McBride.
“Wear and Tear – The Threads of My Life” by Tracy Tynan (Duckworth Overlook £18.99) is a terrific read. It tells a story of long ago glamour which simply doesn’t exist anymore in this world of swift and forgettable fame, thousands of bloggers and reality personages. Then the glamour came from such as Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. My only complaint is that Tracy tells us much about her mum Elaine Dundy and her volatile behaviour but little about the fact that she was a great writer. A young Elaine wrote “The Dud Avocado” which was truly a sensation in the Fifties. A very young me learnt more about life from this book than my parents ever taught me!