The modernistic 1950s/60s style buildings of the old Crossroads Motel! In her autobiography, My Life At Crossroads, Noele Gordon wrote about a painting of the motel (and it was featured in Reception for some years). Was this it? The Malvern Hills in the background?
What a wonderful place the motel was!
This picture has long been a paradise to me - a representation of a place which came to mean a great deal to me during my childhood, and a bustling place, full of well-loved characters.
I can happily wander around it for hours.
It has inspired me to write a Lost Episode In The Life Of Crossroads scenario...
It's set in the early 1970s - the dreadful hangover of 1960s youth fashion being sported by thirty, forty and fifty-somethings, almost enough hair lacquer to induce rigor mortis, and blissful days at the motel, with Meg in charge and cosy chat and trivial differences mixing with comedy, pathos, intrigue, high drama and a little social comment in the storylines...
It's not a spoof. So many episodes have been wiped that I wanted to try and recreate one of the motel eras I fondly remember which has largely disappeared from the archives.
And the wiped episodes are mostly from the Reg Watson era - which is a tremendous tragedy. I always remember the Crossroads of those days being absolutely thrilling - the dog with its leash wrapped around Meg's grandfather clock as the clock ticked away the minutes to a suspected bomb going off; Diane frantically searching for Nicky and thinking he'd wandered into a dumped fridge on some waste ground and suffocated; Stan almost striking Jill and Jill saying: 'That's right! Show me the REAL Stan Harvey!' before they began kissing passionately; Sheila going into labour at the motel; Meg talking a suicidal man down from a ledge...
Reg Watson's era was magic. I enjoyed each and every era of Crossroads, as you know, but the original master had his own very approach which established the show as a viewers' must-watch.
File this under 'fan fiction'.
See what you think...
The story so far: Mrs De Courcy-Brown, a guest at the motel, has been wreaking havoc with constant complaints about everyone and everything. Vera Downend was horrified when the lady booked herself an appointment at the salon. Things were not much happier in the kitchen, where perfectionist chefs Mr Booth and Mr Lovejoy were not getting on. Tish Hope was intrigued by the arrival of a new lady guest, and decided to tell Meg about her. The new guest seemed strangely familiar...
OPENING THEME, THEN...
8.05am: Don Rogers delivers the first post at reception - and gets a frosty reception from Diane Parker, who has heard the latest about poor Pat Mackenzie's romance with Don. Diane has decided that Don is of the 'I love myself, who do you love?' type of person. Di's frosty front doesn't faze Don at all. Di scowls as he leaves, whistling happily. The man had once made a pass at Mrs Richardson, which proved his arrogant insolence for all time!
8.34am: In the kitchen, Mr Booth and Mr Lovejoy are not happy. Mr Lovejoy is about to prepare Beef Wellington, but Mr Booth has come up with some trendy modern tips which have brought a swift glower from his colleague:
'Mr Booth, Beef Wellington is a classic dish, best cooked and served in the classic manner.'
'Quite, Mr Lovejoy, but one can always improve. The Montpelier Hotel restaurant in London has had considerable success with...'
'This is not London, Mr Booth. It is the English countryside. People come here to enjoy tradition. This is Shakespeare country. London fads have no place here...'
'Quite so, Mr Lovejoy, but that is not to say the people around here, or visiting here, are all country bumpkins. There are some who may appreciate some modern sophistication...'
And so on. And so on. And so on.
9.06am: In the sitting room, Meg and Tish are looking at quotes for repairs to the motel's tiled swimming pool surround. Tish talks about the new woman in Chalet Eight, who booked in the night before, and says there is something oddly familiar about her. Meg is puzzled.
'You think you've met her before?'
'Well, not met her exactly, but certainly seen her... it's very puzzling, but I had the oddest feeling...'
'What's she like?'
'Well, Italian or Spanish, I think. Very beautiful. Strikingly so. And yet she looked unhappy... haunted... and terribly tired...'
'What's her name?' asks Meg.
'Mrs Sanchez, that's what she wrote in the register,' says Tish. 'But that name rings no bells with me at all.'
'Oh well, I daresay we shall find out more. How long has she booked in for?'
'A week. Yes, I daresay I'm being silly. She'd probably just flown into the country and flying doesn't agree with everybody...'
They return to the swimming pool quotes.
10.04am: Amy Turtle is outside Chalet Eight with her cleaning things.
She knocks on the door. There is no reply and she uses her key to enter the chalet.
A beautiful raven haired woman sits up in bed, looking at Amy in alarm.
'Who are you?!' she asks, in a heavy Italian accent.
'I'm the cleaner,' says Amy, peering through the gloom as the curtains are drawn.
'I do not wish for any cleaning,' says the woman, sinking back onto her pillows.
'Aren't you feeling well?' asks Amy. 'There's a bit of flu going about.'
'No, I am fine,' the woman sighs.
Amy is curious. 'Don't I know you?' she asks.
'I have never seen you before in my life,' says the woman. 'I have never been in England before. Now, leave me, please - and lock the door again as you go!'
'Oh, all right then, keep your hair on.' Amy leaves, looking very puzzled.
11.14am: Mrs De Courcy-Brown, a very grumpy lady who has been staying at the motel for a week and causing many headaches with her constant complaints, is at Vera Downend's salon to get her henna tint reinstated. Vera has heard of the lady, and tells Bernice they must be careful not to give cause for complaint.
'I think she's something in local society, and that would do us no good at all,' says Vera. 'I actually recommended she go to Henri's in Merryfields, and I never do that, but she insisted on coming here. I'll take care of her personally.'
'I haven't got all day,' says Mrs De Courcy-Brown testily. 'I'm not paying for you two to exchange chit-chat, you know.'
'Oh well, here goes...' says Vera to Bernice. She walks over to where Mrs De Courcy-Brown is sitting in front of one of the mirrors. 'Nice morning isn't it?'
'Horrid. Absolutely horrid,' says Mrs De Courcy-Brown. 'The sun is insipid and the breeze is absolutely biting. Beastly time of year.'
'Well, how can we help you today?'
'You can restore my hair colour,' says Mrs De Courcy-Brown. 'I have an important function to attend next week. I expect an excellent result, and I haven't got all day!'
11.18am: 'Ah, the aroma of a classic Beef Wellington cooking,' says Mr Lovejoy to Mr Booth in the motel kitchen. 'There's nothing like a classic dish, prepared well.'
Mr Booth sniffs and gives a vinegary smile: 'Very nice, I'm sure.'
'I wish you two would pack it in,' says Mrs Witton, slicing carrots.
Amy Turtle comes rushing in:
'You'll never guess who we've got staying in Chalet Eight!' she cries.
END OF PART ONE
11.25am: Mr Booth is moaning at Mrs Witton in the kitchen.
'I always enjoyed Miss Penn's presence in this kitchen,' he says. 'She was a kindred spirit. Such a shame she got married in some ways. I would have been quite happy to offer her a full-time permanent position here.'
Mrs Witton sniffs.
'Well, from what Amy said, that Miss Penn hung on your every word and thought the sun shone out of you,' she says. 'That's why you'd be so happy to have her here, if you ask me.'
Mr Booth looks offended.
Mrs Witton turns to more interesting topics as she finishes washing up a tureen:
'I wonder if Amy's right about that woman in chalet Eight...'
11.28am: Vera is interrupted while doing Mrs De Courcy-Brown's hair by an urgent phone call. It's Wilf Harvey, in a phone box near the canal. He's spotted a gang of youths hanging around the boat and has called the police. Vera gets anxious and dashes off to the boat.
'I haven't got much, luv, but I don't want to lose it,' she tells Bernice before she leaves.
Bernice steps in to finish Mrs De Courcy-Brown's hair.
11:54am: In the sitting room, Meg is preparing to go and see Jill. She and Tish discuss their children.
'I do worry about Peter and Marilyn being so far away,' says Tish. 'But they do seem to be happy. I had a lovely letter yesterday.'
'Near or far, I don't think we ever stop worrying about our children,' says Meg.
She goes to see Jill. Tish begins work on a mound of paperwork, and Amy bursts in. She's been dispensing the news about the mystery woman's identity around the motel and has finally reached the sitting room. She's very disappointed to learn that Meg has just left for Jill's...
1.04pm: Vera Downend arrives back at the motel to see a woman with hair a bizarre shade of orangey red sitting at a table. She asks Diane, who is still on reception, about her.
'I thought you would know,' says Diane. 'She came from your salon. It's Mrs De Courcy-Wotsit - you know, the old battleaxe that's been running us all ragged. Her hair looks the colour of tomato soup, doesn't it? Still, there's no accounting for taste. What's this I heard about some sort of upset to do with the boat?'
Vera is gazing at Mrs De Courcy-Brown in horror.
'Oh, everything's OK, Di. Just some yobs hanging about. I don't know what kids are coming to. Sad really. Wilf Harvey phoned the police, but the kids'd cleared off by the time they arrived.'
She looks at Mrs De Courcy-Brown again.
'Oh my gawd! Mrs Thingy wanted henna. What on earth's Bernice done? I shall never hear the last of it!'
Bravely, she steps forward to talk to the dragon lady.
'Well, well, it's you!' says Mrs De Courcy-Brown, severely. She glares at Vera.
'Yes, I...' Vera is so petrified her tongue freezes.
Suddenly, Mrs De Courcy-Brown laughs.
'My dear girl, don't look so worried!' she says. 'I'm being very naughty and pulling your leg. Your young lady explained that you had to rush off an emergency errand. Clearly, my hair was a little beyond her.'
'Yes, I'm very sorry,' says Vera.
'Don't be!' says Mrs De Courcy-Brown. 'When I saw myself in the mirror I laughed and laughed. My dear, I haven't laughed since my husband died last year. I've become very tetchy, very difficult. I was taking my pain out on others. I felt I would never laugh again. But when I saw my hair... well! Dear Roderick, my husband, always had a marvellous sense of humour, you know, and I felt he was laughing with me. Don't you worry. You've done me a great favour - and my new hair colour will be the talk of Warwickshire for the next few weeks!'
'Well, at least let me give you a refund, if you've paid,' says Vera.
'I wouldn't dream of it!' says Mrs De Courcy-Brown. 'This hairdo has been worth its weight in gold. It's brought me back to life. You've no idea what it feels like to be able to laugh again - and to feel that my dear Roderick was laughing with me. For the first time, I felt he was still at my side... I've missed him so dreadfully, and I've behaved very badly. This really feels like a new beginning.'
2.46pm: At the Hope Chest, Ted Hope is chatting with Miss Tatum.
'Such a lovely chess board,' Miss Tatum is saying. 'My dear father had one just like it.'
'Well, it's definitely pre-Victorian,' says Ted. 'It interests you, Miss Tatum?'
Miss Tatum looks embarrassed:
'Oh dear, Captain Hope, I don't want to mislead you. I'm not thinking of buying it - I have so many sentimental keepsakes from the old days already, and space is at a premium in my flat. I really just wanted to look at it.'
Ted is gallant:
'Well, you look as long as you want to, Miss Tatum,' he says. 'You're more than welcome - and it's nice to see you.'
A car roars to a halt outside and a door slams. Then a swarthy, dark-haired man in a sharp suit and dark glasses enters the shop.
'Can I help you?' asks Ted.
'Can you tell me the way to the Crossroads Motel?' says the man in a heavy Italian accent. 'I have gone astray.'
Ted gives him directions then says:
'Visiting these parts, are you?'
The man looks at him through the dark glasses.
'Well, I am here, so that is so,' he says, and leaves.
Miss Tatum and Ted listen to the car revving up outside and screeching off. Tish comes in, looking perturbed.
'Nearly got run over just now by a beastly red sports car,' she says. 'Horrid looking man in sunglasses driving it. I had to leap for the pavement. I'm lucky to be in one piece.'
'The young gentleman was in here,' says Miss Tatum. 'He did seem in rather a hurry.'
'I rather think, Miss Tatum, that the young man might not be a gentleman,' says Ted.
Meg walks into reception.
'You go home now, dear,' she tells Diane. 'I'll take over here.'
'Ooh, ta, Mrs Richardson - me feet are going up in flames!' says Di.
A peal of laughter echoes across reception. Meg looks in surprise at Mrs De Courcy-Brown, who is chatting to Vera at her table.
'Good heavens! Mrs De Courcy-Brown, laughing! And what an unusual hair colour!' says Meg.
'Ah, all down to the miracle of Vera's salon!' says Di. 'Mrs Wotsit's a new woman!'
'Well, I never!' Meg is amazed.
'Did you hear about Mr Booth and Mr Lovejoy this morning?' asks Diane. 'I just saw Mrs Witton.'
'Yes, I did. They're both such perfectionists and their ideas don't always coincide. I hope things go all right on Thursday.'
'Why, what's happening on Thursday?' asks Di.
'Well, our fame is spreading,' says Meg. 'Largely thanks to the efforts of Mr Lovejoy and Mr Booth, the restaurant is absolutely booming. We're getting lots of local people coming in, as well as motel guests. The Castlewich Clarion is sending somebody to review the restaurant and interview the chefs.'
'Oooh, not together, I hope!' says Di.
'I must try and make sure that doesn't happen,' says Meg. 'I'll suggest to Mr Lovejoy that, as head chef, he should have an interview to himself. That might work. They're such lovely men aside from their professional temperaments - you remember how kind Mr Lovejoy was to Josefina - and Mr Booth always means so well...'
Amy comes dashing in.
'MRS RICHARDSON! I've been stuck over at the cafeteria - they've had a leak and I've been mopping up. Has anybody told you about Chalet Eight yet?'
Meg looks blank:
'Chalet Eight? Oh, well... Mrs Hope mentioned something this morning about a new guest she was a little intrigued by. Seemed to think she'd seen her somewhere before...'
'She has!' affirmed Amy. 'And I know who she is!'
Di, in the act of leaving, pauses to listen.
'It's Sophia Canterbelly!' says Amy dramatically.
'Who?' Meg is puzzled. 'Oh, do you mean Sophia Catriabelli, the actress? But she disappeared - simply vanished... it must be at least three years ago.'
'Are you saying she's staying here, Amy?' Di asks, grinning.
'That's exactly what I'm saying!' says Amy. 'I've seen her with my own two eyes. And you remember how she disappeared, don't you? It was in all the papers.'
'Her husband went to prison, didn't he?' says Di. 'He was a big businessman and he was found to be linked to the mob or something. It was all over the papers for ages, the trial. Then he got sent to prison - and a few others went with him - and she simply disappeared. Never heard of since.'
'That's right,' Meg nods gravely. 'Some thought she couldn't stand the publicity...'
'And others thought she'd been bumped off by enemies of her husband who'd been implicated in the trial,' says Di. 'Crikey, yeah, he made a lot of enemies during that trial, didn't he? I suppose she might have been bumped off.'
'She hasn't been bumped off - and that's a fact,' says Amy. 'She's here, now, in Chalet Eight - and when I saw her this morning she looked scared to death. Scared out of her wits!'
Roll End credits.
Final scene at end of episode: The closed door of Chalet Eight...