SHELLEY CONN’S BEDSIDE TABLE
THE TABLE I have a big cylindrical clay lamp with pierced holes that gives off a nice, diffused light. Just before bed you need light you can read by but that won’t keep you awake. It’s a very pretty thing that my boyfriend bought me in a craft shop in Bristol. And there’s always a pot of eight-hour cream by my bed, and some flower remedy like Bach’s Rescue Remedy. This one is crab apple which is meant to be good for anxiety. I’m a sometimes insomniac and it’s a good placebo. And there’s always a cluttered pile of books including Madame Bovary: for a while I seemed to be playing a lot of mistresses, so I thought I would tap into a classic.
THE METHOD I have two pillows but I only ever sleep on the thinner one: we have a Tempur mattress and pillows – those memory foam things – I can’t sleep on those, but they’re brilliant for leaning on, they’re just the perfect prop. Then, when it comes to lights off, that one goes on the floor and I have my thinner one to sleep on. I’ll read scripts in bed, but only if I’m sussing them out; when I’m working, I have to be up on my feet.
THE BOOKS Reading at the moment At the moment I have an anthology of Ali Smith’s, The Reader, which I sort of dip in and out of. I’m also rereading Brideshead Revisited. I read it when I was at school, but I’ve discovered something about myself. I think it’s from being an actress where you have to employ your short term memory for lines, I just can’t retain literature at all anymore, so I’ve sort of forgotten what I’ve read. I saw a box set of the Brideshead TV series in a closing down record shop so I bought it but I thought, ‘I can’t watch it, I need to reread the book first.’ I’m loving it. I’ll tell you what I missed the first time round: the humour. There’s so much humour. The first time I read it, I really felt the decadence of it and the period of it; this time I’m really feeling the humour and it’s really making me giggle quite a lot.
Couldn’t put down Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I was reading a lot of war novels, and that was the first one. Then I read Charlotte Gray and The Girl at the Lion d’Or as well – maybe it was a Faulks phase I was going through. I love that accessible blend of history and a story told very personally through character. It was the same with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, something about a story that comes from history even if it is fiction; there’s something about the fact of it being set in a real time and place. I also loved Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I like Harry Potter too, but Pullman’s
is my preferred series: it’s more sophisticated in its themes, and there’s a lot of layering of ideas that you need to delve into a bit more.
Gathering dust Some books you just can’t get into the muscle of. The one that I have constantly failed, rather than it failing me, was Don DeLillo’s Underworld. It was recommeneded so highly and I’ve tried and I’ve tried – you’ll see that the first few chapters are thumbed quite heavily in my copy – but it doesn’t go any further. My friend who recommended it has said, ‘You will be rewarded, I promise,’ but I just put it off as other things come in. I find it quite masculine: there’s something about the language and the thought arrangement that I can’t quite relate to.
and I’ve tried and I’ve tried – you’ll see that the first few chapters are thumbed quite heavily in my copy – but it doesn’t go any further. My friend who recommended it has said, ‘You will be rewarded, I other things come in. I find it quite masculine: there’s something about the language and the thought arrangement that I can’t quite relate to.
S I don’t keep it that much of a secret because I think they’re absolutely brilliant, but it’s the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Secret indulgence I don’t keep it that much of a secret because I think they’re absolutely brilliant, but it’s the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books. They’re so easy to read, you can read them in a night; they’re so beautifully simple but each book that comes along is just more and more enriched and the life of each of the characters grows and develops. They are easy and straightforward, and I love the life philosophy behind them. I really appreciate that I feel very positive after I’ve read one of them. It’s comfort reading and quite an indulgence because I’m literally reading them to make myself feel better – it’s not about challenging myself at all.
SHELLEY CONN boasts a pedigreed thespian heritage – her greataunt was Merle Oberon. Born in 1976, Conn paid her dues in Down To Earth, Mersey Beat and Casualty, gave a stellar turn in BBC’s Party Animals and features in the Beeb’s ultimate guilty pleasure, Mistresses. She has trod West End stage boards and appeared in films such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Nina’s Heavenly Delights. Look out for her, too, in the new, yet-to-be-titled James L Brooks movie with Paul Rudd. Now filming TV’s Strike Back in South Africa , she’ll round out 2009 with the third series of Mistresses.
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74 | Mslexia.co.uk | Oct / Nov / Dec 09