Hattie: Oh I’m fine, I really am. I could feel your concern while watching some of my biography but you really ought not to worry. Yes I had my moments but the truth is, my life was full of excitement among the internal struggles of my health. I was, inside, a lost girl and my weight was a security blanket. It gave people a focus other than to look deep into me. They saw this large lady with a big smile and talent for making them laugh and I’m satisfied with that.
Alison: Oh you’re right I did feel for you while I watched your bio pic but you know I grew up with you on my screen along with other greats. Diana Dors I also spoke to a while back and she had emotional battles but appreciated her life for its successes too. Tell me though, what caused you to be overweight from your teen years onwards?
Hattie: Well I’m like many other girls in that regard – I wasn’t confident with who I was, what I was – I didn’t have a grasp on myself emotionally growing up and there were problems in my life I didn’t reveal then and won’t now that are at the basis of my eating problems and self-esteem.
Alison: It’s hard for me to grasp when people have self-esteem problems when they, you, were such a wonderful talent and that you were in the public eye.
Hattie: You know we soldier on and walk through life glossing over our issues instead of dealing with them. For some it paralyses, for others it makes us go out of our way to succeed. I knew I could make people laugh and I knew my place was on the stage performing.
Alison: Did you prefer any particular medium for your art; stage, radio, TV, movies?
Hattie: I loved them all. All were a way to express my talents. In a way performing is like eating, it gives you comfort. It provides from the outside what you’re not capable of seeing within. We all need that part of ourselves feeding from somewhere and when we’re damaged inside then the alternative is to feed your emotional self externally.
Alison: What made you drop by for an interview?
Hattie: I’ve been sitting back watching the goings on and thought, why not? It sounds like fun, plus some of my friends have visited mediums for a chat, why not me too?
Alison: Are you in contact with your friends from your life?
Hattie: Oh we all see each other from time to time but it’s not like we’re wall to wall partying. We have things we like to do here and sometimes our paths cross.
Alison: What about Erik Sykes? Did you two make up your friendship after crossing?
Hattie: It’s very hard to hold on to issues you’ve had in the body. From here we see what conflict is really worth and it’s not worth holding on to. I love Erik dearly as all my friends. He is still a very funny man – you should see him with the goons. It’s hilarious!
Alison: I can only imagine, haha. It would be great to see such amazing talents hanging out together. What were the highlights of your life and career?
Hattie: Well I got to give birth to two very beautiful boys. They completed me in that regard.
Alison: But I sense something is lacking in your mood here.
Hattie: Love was lacking. I didn’t fall easily into love hook-line-and-sinker like some did and I feel that was my shortcoming. Even when I did fall deeply and completely, I was let down. I felt I was not loveable truly and so I gave myself to acting and performing instead.
Alison: Do you have a relationship with your first husband John, now you’re both crossed?
Hattie: I do; we will always be connected. I underestimated that relationship. I misjudged the love I had to not be a truly deep unconditional love and in doing so got swept away by someone else who was only interested in the excitement of love’s first everything whereas with John, if I’d not been misled by the notion of what true love is, then I never would have broken away from John. I know that he truly loved me deeply and unconditionally.
Alison: Can you expand on the notion of love as you now understand it?
Hattie: We have an expectation that love should be exciting and always driven by excitement, that there should always be sparks flying but that’s not the truth. Love can be expressed in so many different ways; we should not be restricted to only one romantic Hollywood version of it. That’s not to say that there should be a lack of attentiveness in a relationship – that will always lead to feelings of lack of love but in saying that, when two people show lack of interest in each other it should be talked out honestly and then if it’s agreed there is no more to be gained by staying together then it’s time to leave.
Alison: Do you think that the movie industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to our notion of love?
Hattie: I do, dear, I honestly do, but in our maturity we learn that what we think is the truth can be modified by the truth of experience.
Alison: That’s an interesting way to put it. Are you saying experience is the only way to find out what love really is?
Hattie: Yes I am saying that, yet all too often people don’t accept that experience and still go in search of the glamour of love, which is fine if you want to chase fairytales and happy-ever-afters the movies don’t portray.
Alison: Do you believe you went in search of a fairytale?
Hattie: I went in search of attention that ultimately turned out to be a front for something completely different.
Alison: Were you abused by your second husband?
Hattie: There was some of that yes. I was demanding, I wanted the excitement too. Anytime it made me feel that I was getting the notion of love fulfilled. But he lost interest and from time to time got angry with me which of course I blamed myself for.
Alison: But I’m assuming you understand that you weren’t to blame for marital violence towards you?
Hattie: We see things differently yes, after we cross over and it was a hard lesson to learn during my life what love really was and I had many kinds of love to compensate for not loving myself.
Alison: What would you say to people in the same situation?
Hattie: That only they can wake themselves up out of that idea that they are the victim of love. True love doesn’t come with an abusive word or a punch in the face. True love starts in one’s own heart. If you love what’s inside then you will never be a victim of anyone else who loves themselves less than you love yourself. True love accepts all but doesn’t accept inequality.
Alison: Are there career highlights for you as well you’d like to share?
Hattie: Well all of it was; me, my life, my soul. I couldn’t have lived at all if not for performing but I think if I had to nail it down it was the Carry On era. We had so much fun creating that slapstick juvenile comedy and we developed friendships that are beyond the mortal body. I would not give these moments away for anything or anyone.
Alison: Do you have any other incarnations you wish to talk about – something that might have influenced this life?
Hattie: This life for me was so unique. Perhaps there is one other life that I used as a template but not one that overly stands out.
Alison: Is there any advice you want to give to close up with? (I can see Erik Sykes, Hattie’s comedy partner for many years looking like he wants to pipe in.)
Erik: Hattie never gives advice do you, Hattie?
Hattie: Speak for yourself. I’m giving it all I’ve got while I’ve got an ear.
Erik: You know, Hattie, it’s been a long time since we did a routine. Perhaps we should for old time’s sake.
Hattie: I’m not doing a routine with you – couldn’t pay me enough these days. (She’s joking.)Alison: Are you bursting in on Hattie’s interview, Erik?
Erik: Well if no one’s going to ask me then I’m bursting in.Alison: Haha. Oh OK, what would you like to add then?
Hattie: He’s bloody cheeky if you ask me.Erik: Well I would burst in to say that I love Hattie with all my heart and that I’m sorry for my pettiness which Hattie is already aware of, but here it is again in plain text – well, in your handwriting.
Alison: Ah OK, Erik. Pop back some other time then for an interview if you like.Erik: That’s very kind of you, I will.
Alison: So, Hattie, anything to add on the wash up here?
Hattie: Yes, dear. Life is made to be in it so be in it no matter what.
Alison: Thanks I will and thank you for the advice on love. It was very insightful.Hattie: You are welcome.