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The Warp

Carol Steaming

Carol was away in the United States for a long time after that. When I saw her next she’d come back to play ‘Steaming’ in Nell’s West End play about women’s conversations while resting during Turkish bathing in Fulham.

People applauded her performance and some said she brought to it a sensitivity that was even greater than the previous actress. At the party given to celebrate the first night that Carol was in it, Nell was thrilled and there was talk of the show going on to Australia, which it did in the end, and that Carol would go with it. Mike Arnold, her large and well built new boyfriend, was in a corner as usual smashing glasses.

Everywhere she went Mike Arnold went with her. Once through his glass smashing routine he’d stand beside her, sticking to her like a limpet and pontificating on many subjects.

That was looked on as par for the game and people took the view that in time, who knows, Carol might be persuaded to shed just a few of her clothes to be more in keeping with the other actresses, and to be more in keeping with the reality of the Fulham steam baths on which the play is based, where apparently, before they were closed, the female clients combined high-minded conversation and jokes about feminist matters while lounging around, and bouncing in and out of the cold water, splashing it up in their birthday suits. It had been noticed that, of all the performers, Carol was the only one who never removed her dressing gown, or protective towelling.

Winning this part in Nell’s play should have been a wonderful lifeline that would transform Carol back from sexpot to serious actress. But, perhaps used to parts in film or television where once a scene is done it is done with, maybe she found the longeurs of appearing on the stage night after night boring.

Characteristically, Carol had double booked and was making a film during the day called ‘Nutcracker’ with Joan Collins.

Perhaps Carol felt there was no more any time for fun. She started missing performances and leaving it to the understudy, and she provided medical certificates.

But at another party not so long after this, Nell was there too, and there was Carol looking like a million dollars at the other end of the room. When she saw Nell she hunched up her blinding white fur over her face and shoulders and vanished away.

Next morning Carol was told she’d lose the job if she went on like this. They’d give her another week, and Mike Arnold put his foot in it, as always, and said the boot was on the other foot. She’d only come back if they doubled what they were paying her.

And so Nell and the director Roger Smith and the other director said, ‘OK you’re fired. Don’t bother about the other week.’


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