I was born on Jubilee Day, 1977, at 2.37pm, a fact my mother has never forgiven me for. They were doing a special Jubilee Day lunch in the hospital and, because of me, all she got was toast. Still, we gathered quite the collection of silver, crown shaped, memorabilia for her efforts so it’s not all bad. I think. (Sorry Mum!) 

Anna Mansell

Anna Mansell

From the age of 12 to 25 I was a member of several amateur theatre groups in Sheffield. From Helga in Allo, Allo to Shelby in Steel Magnolias, via Little Shop of Horrors and the odd panto. (About which I still have nightmares.) I was once told I would never tread the boards again when, during a glitzy panto finale in which I was the principle girl, I corpsed, laughing so hard that I forgot all the words to the song and (apparently) ruined the entire end of the show. I don’t remember what set me off, but the director never forgave me.

Despite the directors protestations, the am dram made me an aspiring actor. Sadly, the closest I got was being paid to act in Murder Mystery parties. The most memorable of which was a 40th Wedding Anniversary where the couple in question had no idea – and neither did most of the guests – that I wasn’t their grandson’s new, horrendous girlfriend who’d had an affair with their son. Before I was ‘killed off’, I’d been called all sorts of names, slapped around the face, and invited to leave the party. Eventually, after meeting my end in the bar, the family were all told the truth and I was just relieved the shock didn’t finish anyone off! Maybe how awful it was, was karma for the panto incident?

I suppose no job could ever have quite lived up to my first though: a Saturday job in a magic shop in Sheffield. The shop is my Dad’s, and is a hive of magic activity on Saturday’s when the large majority if magicians from the Yorkshire and Derbyshire area turn up, drink tea, and practice their sleight of hand. Or magic. Or whatever it is that they do. It’s quite the collection of characters and if anyone wants to pay me to write the sitcom, I’m there, with magic bells on! 

Speaking of bells – my children suggested I should tell you this one – this Christmas, Santa was generous enough to bring me a Gin Bell. I can ring it, literally any time of day or night, and whoever is in the house appears at my desk with a bottle in seconds. Now all I need is a ‘put your clothes away’ bell, a ‘get your shoes on for school’, and possibly a ‘Mummy’s on the loo, do not disturb!’ bell. Quick, somebody patent that!

I sit here, writing this in a posh hotel near Bath (reader, I am very much not posh and this is quite the experience!), but it reminds me of my own wedding day which was also in January, twelve years ago. We did chose January as it was two years to the day of our first date… and not at all because wedding’s at the start of the year are considerably cheaper than normal. What I hadn’t factored in when I booked it, was the weeks leading up to the big day would be fairly heavy on the festive food and wine. I may be the only person in history to have had her wedding dress let out, such was the generosity of my stomach! (This does however mean I am one of the few people I know who can still fit in to my dress! Every cloud…)

We bought our forever home in Cornwall in 2016. We live in a 17th Century cottage in the middle of a working dairy farm. I was so quickly wrapped up in the romance of it all, that I now skip down to the parlour every few days, bottle basket in hand, to collect the family milk. I’m basically a red cape (and wolf!) short of Little Red Riding Hood! 

My maternal family are many generations Yorkshire, and Sheffield was my home city growing up. I am proud of my heritage and show this through my passion for the Yorkshire Pud. A food, I think we can all agree, that should be king. My passion is so well known in fact, that I’ve been stopped in the school playground for tips on how to cook them, and I’ve also been known to chastise Yorkshire friends who entertain those pre-cooked versions. It’s flour, eggs, and milk, people. How hard can it be!?*

*DISCLAIMER: I know it can be hard, sometimes, for some. Go equal parts ingredients, beef dripping in your tin, and a red hot oven. Boom! How the mighty will rise! You’re welcome.

And after eating all that pudding and gravy goodness, there’s nothing quite like a Sunday evening film. My favourite being any of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky films. Even Rocky V has a place in my heart. I can’t explain it, I just love them… almost as much as Rocky loved ‘Adrian.’

And finally, if you’ve read this far, you should know that I appreciate your time. That I’m able to write stuff like this for a legitimate reason is a gift that puts a massive smile on my face. I thank you.

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