Ruddock Mandrill on stage
A Glance Through the Looking Glass of Fame, Tomatoes, and Forgotten Names
Ladies, Gentlemen, and esteemed guests, let me tell you about a man who would often misremember my name. I've been Lottie Clark, Lottie Featherwind, and sometimes even Feather-Clark.
Today, it’s all about Ruddock. Or was it Rudolph, Robert, or Rodrick? We've settled on Ruddock Mandrill for the day, although it could as well have been Ruddock Mandrake or Mandalay.
Do you know, Ruddock began his journey in the small city of Salisbury, where he was a cherub-faced choir boy, singing at Salisbury Cathedral School. I remember seeing him once at a choir rehearsal while visiting my aunt who lived nearby.
He honed his love for music at Repton School in Derbyshire, and it wasn't long before his talents took him to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Here he nurtured his gift and turned it into a melody that echoed in London's West End. How could anyone forget him belting out those notes in 'Evita'?
From the late '70s to the late '80s, Ruddock was the soulful voice of the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, serenading the world with the nostalgic sounds of swing from the 30s and 40s. During those years, I was usually on standby backstage, ensuring that the water bottles were full and the towels fresh.
Then came the Breakfast Show on BFBS Radio in Berlin where Ruddock, the chief reporter, interviewed icons like Elton John, David Bowie, Anthony Hopkins, and Dudley Moore. Meanwhile, I was hidden in the production booth, drowning in cords and cables, ensuring the smooth running of the show.
"Dear Ruddock," echoes the iconic voice of Elton John from across the pond, "your voice and charm have always reminded me of a smooth old brandy, filled with depth and warmth. Happy Birthday my old friend. Here's to you creating more unforgettable moments. Keep those courgettes coming!"
And from beyond, we hear the deep, unforgettable tones of David Bowie, saying, "Ruddock, my man, you've always been a star, on Earth and beyond. From all of us up here, we wish you a Ziggy Stardust kind of birthday. Rock on, Ruddock!"
Anthony Hopkins, with his smooth Welsh charm, wishes, "To the ever enchanting Ruddock, may your Birthday be filled with joy and your garden filled with the most splendid tomatoes. From one old boy to another, 'Happy Birthday'."
From the celestial realms, the humorous Dudley Moore might jest, "Ruddock, old bean! Who'd have thought you'd be the one to trade the spotlight for tomato vines? Hope you're playing 'Happy Birthday' on a piano rather than a garden hoe. Cheers, mate!
Ruddock moved onto Deutsche Welle-TV, presenting "Regarding - The Story of the Week." He’d say, "Flottie, isn't it marvelous to share the 'Story of the Week' with the world?" I’d reply, "Absolutely, Ruddock, as long as I don’t have to appear on camera!"
His face became a mainstay at this station, accompanying the audience for a good 8 years with “Euromaxx – Leben und Kultur in Europa.” As he charmed the audience, I was busy checking scripts, navigating editorial calendars, and making strong coffee.
Ah, Princess Margaret! Now there's a story. You see, our Ruddock was asked to perform with his band, the ever-energetic Whiffen Poof Glee Boys, at an event she was hosting. The night was electrifying, but what left a mark was when she, in her regal bearing, requested a special performance from the band. And boy, did they deliver! Not only was Margaret utterly charmed by their harmony, but she was so impressed that she invited Ruddock to her table for a chat over drinks. Just imagine, our Ruddock, sharing a tipple with royalty!
One of his favourites was the time Prince Charles pranked him by pretending to be a butler. Ruddock would re-enact it with such delight, "Charles, the butler, opens the door, and I didn't even recognize him until he started laughing!"
The Queen Mum also had a special place in his stories. He recalled a time when the band played for her in a separate room at a ball, and afterward, she insisted on meeting the young men.
"Such a grand lady, Hottie, she wanted to meet us all," he'd say, the memory still fresh in his mind.
As Ruddock pirouetted into retirement, he switched from the microphone to a gardening hoe, blooming with a love for courgettes that even surpassed his affection for tomatoes. He'd chuckle about the time he contemplated getting a dog.
"Too much attention required, Dottie," he'd confide.
"I'd rather lavish that attention on my courgettes." And I’d retort, rolling my eyes, "As long as they add a crunch to my salad Ruddock!" Despite our jests, his garden thrived under his care, an open-air symphony that was Ruddock's encore.
Ruddock, in his classic style, could never seem to remember my name. For a man with a Rolodex of celebrities and royals in his head, "Lottie" would trip him up every time. Was it perhaps Lolly? "No, Ruddock, it's Lottie!" I'd remind him, only to have him call me Lettie the very next day. But I suppose that's just one of the charming quirks of being Ruddock's forgettable assistant.
Since retiring, I've become quite the housekeeper," Ruddock once told me.
Karola was thrilled to come home to an organized house and delicious meals prepared by Ruddock. Ah, the aroma of his Indian chicken curry.
On occasion, he’d take to power walking and Nordic walking. He found it invigorating, and I'd be behind him, tripping over my own two feet.
Even in retirement, Ruddock stayed close to the industry. His son Max and daughter Milena continued the family tradition at Deutsche Welle. Ruddock's eyes would sparkle when he talked about their success. It was touching to see a father’s pride.
Every year, the family would head to Shilbottle in Northumberland. Ruddock cherished these trips. He’d say, "There's nothing quite like a trip back home," and I couldn’t agree more.
Now, there's a bit of an anecdote attached to his favourite olive green Lands' End winter coat. You see, it was Susanne who "bequeathed" him that piece. As she was clearing out her late mother's flat, he took a shine to it and ever since then, as Karola put it, he's been practically "living" in it. Even in meetings, you'd see him bundled up in the coat, looking as comfortable as a cat in a sunbeam.
I remember when Michi told me about this absurd interview he had with Steve Merczynski, Ruddock's colleague.
He couldn’t keep a straight face while he recounted how Steve, in the midst of their conversation about Berlin's innovative locals, suddenly became concerned about the security of the patented invention of the stackable swivel chair. "Is there any danger of someone stealing the patented invention of the stackable swivel chair, Michi?" Steve asked, his brow furrowed in seriousness. Michi nearly fell off one of those swivel chairs from laughter!
Here we are, Ruddock basking in retirement, swapping concert halls for garden sheds, microphones for courgettes. And I, in the meantime, am still going strong, leading the British AI voice-over team of Cala Vox, nestled in the quaint tranquility of the Chatswolds.
Quite a contrast, wouldn't you say? But there's a certain charm to our diverging paths. "Ruddock," I told him recently, "While you're pruning tomatoes, I'm pruning AI voice-overs. It's not so different, you know!" To which he'd chuckle and promise to dedicate his next tomato plant to me. "And I'll name it Lettie, my dear," he'd say, forgetting my real name yet again. But in his charming Ruddock way, it's just endearing.
So dear friends, here's to celebrating a man whose life is as vibrant as his character, whose tales are as enchanting as his voice and whose kindness is as vast as his talent. Happy Birthday Ruddock, from Lottie, whether Clark or Featherwind.
Here's to the many names, the many memories, and the many more to come.
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