Blackpool's gritty and interesting says Jenny
'My mother's moved, she's downsized, in fact I should be there, helping her,' comedian and author Jenny Eclair says, talking about her family ties back home in Lytham.
“I feel very, very guilty and have a horrible feeling my sister is putting her dibs on what she wants from the house.”
Although she readily admits she’d never move back – ‘don’t be mental!’ she replies when asked – it’s clear her ‘adored’ mother, Lytham and the Fylde coast hold a warm place in Jenny’s heart and she tries to make a monthly trip back North.
“I’m sad we live so far apart,” she admits. “It would be nice to see her on a more regular basis, but uprooting her would kill her and she would hate London.
“I don’t have to be in Lytham long to know London’s hard work.
“But I love it around there; the Winter Gardens, the Tower Ballroom, and there’s a particular light in Blackpool. I’m surprised there’s not more art done there. It’s not a pretty place, it’s gritty in a lot of ways and that’s interesting.
“You don’t have to go far, from Blackpool to St Annes and Lytham to get real contrast, but that’s the same in London.
“I love London, it’s the best capital city in the world. There’d be no return now, don’t forget I wasn’t born in Lytham,” the Malaysian-born 55-year-old said.
“I feel Northern though, I am Northern.
“My comedy is Northern as I understand that sensibility and prefer northerners to southerners; if London could be populated by northerners, it would be perfect.”
Next month, Jenny will be back in the area, taking part in World Book Night at Blackpool Central Library, talking about her fourth novel Moving, published last year.
She said: “There’s always an element of stand up when I do book events, because I’m a show off.
“But it’s talking about the themes of the book, which is home and families, what home means to you.”
And those ideas seem pretty apt given the change in her mother’s circumstances, as well as her daughter, author Phoebe, moving out for a second time.
Something must’ve been in the water?
“It was in the air, although the book was written a while ago now,” Jenny explained. “My father died just over a year ago and my daughter has just moved out, although she has a tendency to come back, but she’d been home a year after loosing a rented flat.
“I think all that’s common at this point in life, in your mid-50s; you have ageing parents making the decision to move as children are trying to get out, but I think it’s easier for the oldies.”
While Jenny’s best known these days as a former Loose Women presenter, or as part of the Grumpy Old Women line-up on stage and screen and which she helped create, writing has always been very much a part of her life – even before stand up, which is what brought her to fame.
“At school, you do essays, you get a hint that you like that,” the former St Annes Queen Mary School pupil explained. “I knew I liked acting, but was never comfortable being a proper actress, and it was only after drama school that there was another way into performing which was alternative comedy.
“Writing, though, always made me feel content. I wrote a diary; I still have them but don’t ever go back to them – they’re so predicable and self obsessed, but they’re kind of reassuring to have. You’re never lonely if you’re a writer. There’s something satisfying that you can do a job even though nobody has invited you to do it. You just go into a room and do it.”
Writing’s on hold at the moment while Jenny continues her latest stand up show How To Be A Middle Aged Woman (Without Going Insane).
“People who like your books resent the fact you’re going off on tour with stand up,” she said. “I get tweets asking about the next book, but I can’t do both at once – I would have no down time. It’s not healthy and not the way I do my best work.
“I write a stand up show when I’m ready and that takes priority at the moment with the tour.
“I don’t think it’s fair on the audience or me to be writing a novel at the same time as touring.”
• See Jenny Eclair at Blackpool Central Library, Saturday, April 23, at 7pm. Tickets cost £15 or £13 for members, from the library. the event is suitable for those aged 16-plus.