Performer enters stage left, dressed in a high vis dress.
They sit down on a stool centre stage.
They read aloud, as if confessing.
Periodically, around once a month I wonder how Liza is doing. I wonder if she is walking ok? I wonder, do her hips hurt her? Is she still touring? I check her website for details. Sometimes I have a horrible pang in my heart and I think, maybe she’s dead? I check google to make sure only her birth date shows on Wikipedia. I wonder if Liza and I would have been friends?
I remember discovering Judy Garland, not Dorothy no, everyone knew Dorothy. This was Judy Garland a different beast. I was sat at my parent’s desk top computer, as I did most nights as a teen. Looking for videos and listening to music. I found her there, sitting on the edge of a stage, the film grainy and in black and white. She was dressed as a tramp, with a top hat and a dirty face. As she sang over the rainbow I cried. I remember the feeling intensely. I rarely listen to Over the Rainbow anymore.
Garland sings “Life is just a bowl of cherry’s, don’t take it serious, life is too mysterious”.
When I was 21 I bought tickets to see Liza at the London palladium. My boyfriend at the time had little interest in going with me, so I went alone. I remember walking towards the theatre from Trafalgar square and feeling a sense of great owe and excitement, perhaps I was imagining this was a Garland concert. Waiting in the foyer to go into the concert an older man approached me. He told me he was a doctor and that he remembered seeing Liza back in the 1980s, he told me ‘I was in for a real treat’. At the end of the conversation he gave me his card and said ‘If I was ever in Stratford I should come and visit him., I wish I still had that card.
When My grandfather died, I watched Judy’s performance of Old man river repeatedly. It is a startling performance. I would defy anyone not to be moved by it. In fact, I showed it to every single person I knew, just to see if they reacted the same way as I did. As she sings ‘I get weary and sick of trying’ the camera angle shifts and we see the side of her face, she looks older and troubled. Her forehead frowns and is deeply lined. I used this song for a performance. I took a tub of sudocreme and rubbed it all over my chest and then put on my grandfather’s shoes.
In an interview with Barbra Houer in 1985, Liza says ‘I always thought I wanted a white picket fence, until I found out it had very sharp points’.
In May, this year I visited a friend in Los Angeles. One morning I remembered that Liza had recently had Judy’s ashes moved from a cemetery in New York to LA, my brain exploded! I was sitting in the same city as Judy! I organised with my friend to visit the Hollywood Forever cemetery that afternoon. I was nervous and full of a kind of morbid excitement. What would I wear? I chose a black sheer dress that my friend kindly lent me. Garland was laid in a glass top casket for her funeral, thousands came to pay their respects.
The only video I have of my Grandmother is of her playing her ukulele and singing Over the rainbow.
I was disappointed with the TV dramaisation of Garlands life. It lacked class, it lacked depth, it lacked quality. There was a rumour that there would be a new film made staring Anne Hathaway. I think I would still be disappointed.
Around the same time as I went to see Liza in concert, I found a collection of DVD’s of The Judy Garland show in a charity shop. What was it doing in a charity shop! I watched them over and over and over. I took them with me where ever I moved. They came with me to Germany. Like moving relics. I lost them in 2014.
I always wondered what it would be like to spend an evening with Judy, just me and her alone. I suspect that it would be full of laughter, drinking and smoking. Perhaps we would sing a duet together, perhaps she would sing me Over the rainbow. Apparently, John Kennedy would call Judy and ask her to sing him Over the rainbow over the phone.