Category Archives: Age

Comic Lynn Ruth Miller at 85: two steel plates, three screws and a secret wish…

Stand-up storyteller, London-based American comedian and late-blossoming burlesque performer Lynn Ruth Miller has recently blogged here about her globe-trotting gigs. 

Later this week, she is performing in Manila and Jakarta then, next week, Beijing and Shanghai, followed by gigs in Singapore. As I post this, she is on her way to Cannes…

And last week she celebrated her 85th birthday with six parties in England. Here she tells what happened.


I made it! I am 85 years old with all my own teeth, both hips, both knees and most of my marbles. I am told that, from this day forward, I can expect my heart to falter, my sense of taste to diminish, my brain to slow and my bladder to empty without notice.  My bones will get thinner, I will get smaller and I will dry out.

But no matter! I can still have sex if I find someone who can still get it up and remember where to put it.

My skin is so loose I look like a brunette Shar Pei. I forgot my name two years ago and have more hair on my chin than on my foo-foo. To celebrate this, I have had a total of six cakes with candles and two pastries suitably decorated – at six birthday parties.  

I received hundreds of Facebook messages from people I swear I have never met who all have fond memories of the time I petted their little poodle or taught them how to survive reality. I received two dozen gorgeous cards and several witty notes telling me to live it up now before it’s too late. And I am grateful.

Time was when I celebrated birthday after birthday all alone.

The first of many 85th birthday cakes for Lynn Ruth Miller

My gala celebration began on Sunday 7th October when a fellow Stanford graduate, Karen, brought over her thirteen-year-old Vietnamese daughter Mae and we painted pretty pictures together. Then, to my surprise, the two of them disappeared into my kitchen and returned with a beautiful cake alit with several candles. I blew them all out (I still can, you know) and made a wish, which I won’t tell because I want it to come true. 

We finished the evening by knocking off a bottle of wine (Karen and I, not her daughter) bemoaning the state of the world.

The next night, after a rehearsal of Schminderella, (a pantomime I am in as the Fair Godbubba, to remind me that I am, after all, Jew-ish even though I have been a hopeless infidel for over 70 years), my very special friend Michael Ward talked his neighbor Barry into picking me up and driving me to Michael’s house for a late dinner.  

Lynn Ruth celebrating her birthday on a night in with the boys

Michael’s partner is Dimitry Devdariani a director, actor and exquisite human being from Georgia. We three have been friends since 2007 when Dimitry discovered me telling stories in C Venue at the Edinburgh Fringe.  

Michael had convinced Barry and his partner Roy to help him create a surprise party for me and, after much wine and even better conversation, I was ushered into the sitting room where there were balloons, sparkling lights and the loveliest orchid waiting for me.  

We enjoyed a gourmet dinner and finished with cheesecake (my favorite dessert) and a few candles which I blew out and I made the same wish that I made the night before. 

Both Michael and Dimitry assured me I looked exactly the same solid little number they first encountered when I was a young chick of 76, eleven years ago.

We see what we want to see don’t we?

I got home at three in the morning and fought off indigestion and a hangover.

Lynn Ruth also celebrated at the Phoenix Club in London…

The next night was The Big One at The Phoenix Artists’ Club. Stuart Saint and Peter Dunbar gave me the 7.00 pm slot to perform my Crazy Cabaret – a potpourri of my favorite songs from my shows.

I wore a glittery dress. I felt very sparkly. And sang my songs to a room filled with very dear friends, some I have known since 2005 when I started to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

At the end of the show, Stuart brought out a glorious cake with lots of candles that I managed to blow out after I made that same secret wish. My lungs stepped up to the plate and I did it all in one giant breath. It was beautiful night.

On Wednesday, my friend Stephen came over for dinner. I saved him some of my cake and some ice cream from Sunday and we celebrated us. No candles this time.  

But Thursday made up for that, because it was my REAL birthday and I celebrated it in Brighton. I gave a small speech at a health fair that hired me to do comedy the next night and then met my friends Liz, Zhanna, William and Jo for a festive dinner at Polpo’s, a late night Italian tapa kind of place.  

Liz presented me with two cream filled pastries in lieu of a cake and I was  showered with flowers, mugs, good books and chocolate. I returned to a private room booked for me at the Brighton Hilton. I was totally out of my element. I am used to hanging out on people’s couches. This was luxury I have always assumed was only for the affluent in this world. And it was mine to enjoy.

The next day I visited my wonderful friend Gail and we discussed the gender hysteria that is sweeping the UK and had lovely pastry and coffee.  We bemoaned the status of women literally going down the toilet in the USA.

Lynn Ruth Miller – stimulated, plated and screwed

Still stimulated and filled with self-righteousness I went over to my friend Annie’s for yet another cake and more conversation about the joys and pitfalls of crossing the 80 mark. Annie is 83 and has had a cochlear implant.

I am kept together with two steel plates, three screws, two hearing aids and a lot of determination. We both gave up logical thinking five years ago and are dealing with unexpected leakage, disappearing waistlines and, in Annie’s case, bright new teeth. I still have my originals.

That night I did a half hour of comedy at Fiddlers Elbow in Brighton to an international audience from the Health Fair who were into new age concepts of the body–mind connections and didn’t understand one word I said.  

Tea bagging, fisting and back doors are not part of that experience.

Saturday night was a special night for me because I went to Wimbledon to do a benefit for the Spear charity: a wonderful group who are trying to combat homelessness. No cake, but lots of wine and laughter, which is really just as effective.   

On Sunday, the magic Zoe Dobson came over with a beautiful jam-and-cream-filled cake and lots of special birthday wishes. 

That night, I also met Mark Allen to celebrate our birthdays together. We chose Ritorno, a new restaurant opened in Holborn that had run out of half their menu but had plenty of wine.  

I met Mark 35 years ago when he was the head usher at Stanford’s Lively Arts concerts and I was one of the ushers. We bonded then because we both love classical music and the two of us went to the San Francisco Opera together.  

Because our birthdays are three days apart (and 26 years… Mark just turned 59) we decided to celebrate together in London this year.

Mark told me I was a funny lady 35 years ago and insists I look exactly the same as when he first met me… Did I mention Mark walks with a white cane and a German Shepherd? 

We finished our meal with a brilliant Happy Birthday sparkler and I thought this was my Grande Finale to the 85 Birthday Bacchanal.

One of many celebratory climaxes for Lynn Ruth on her 85th

I was wrong.  

Yesterday night I took the train to Gravesend for dinner with my dear darling friend Richard Rycroft. He showed me the sight that made Gravesend famous: a statue of Pocahontas.

She actually met her death in a barge outside Richard’s balcony.  

I was stunned and very impressed.  

We went back to Richard’s place to view his modern toilet, one that really flushes (a new experience for Richard) and his spiffy state-of-the-art kitchen which is stocked with enough food to feed the entire town, should Brexit block food deliveries.

There, nestled between the bread-maker and the tea kettle, on top of the dishwasher and under several animal effigies that Richard keeps to remind him that we are all one race was ANOTHER CAKE. This one had a unicorn horn on it.  

We stuffed ourselves with ice cream, berries, cake and conversation. And thus ended eight glorious days to welcome my entering my 86th year.

Now that I am so fucking old, it occurs to me that I should share the conclusions that life has given me after all this living…  

The one thing I now know is how little I know.  

I have finally accepted that the only thing I can control is my own behavior. 

I am what I am… It is too late to bemoan my lack of looks, talent or financial status.  

This person I see in the mirror is what I have made, day by day, month by month and year by year. She is filled with imperfections, but she has survived.  

That, for me is very good news.

And No… I am not telling you my wish.  

I want it to come true.

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In New Orleans, a 76-year-old mixture of James Brown, Ray Charles and Elvis

Samantha, in this shot, clearly not in New Orleans…

My chum from Lancashire, Samantha Hulme, is currently in New Orleans.

She has been staying with a friend who lives there.

She met him on a previous visit.

She sent me a video of him singing in his living room.

In a second message to me, she wrote:


I love it here.

I love to travel

When I found New Orleans and knew I wanted to make a life here.

Whenever I travel I don’t want to be a stereotypical tourist. I want to be safe, but I want to see the real country, the culture, the real people. I was lucky enough to get the offer of accommodation from Mr James Winfield – stage name The Sleeping Giant.

It was an act of kindness stereotypical of this city. In his own words, he never wants another woman again. He was just genuinely trying to help me.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to learn so much about music with a man who was recording records in the 1960s before I was even born. I have had the true New Orleans experience.

I couldn’t have done it better. I have laughed so much I cried with laughter on various occasions – the man’s absolute bluntness, his wry sense of humour, alongside his total inability to understand what I am saying in my northern accent most of the time, will be an experience which will keep me laughing for the next year.

It was like s mixture of living with James Brown, Ray Charles and Elvis – His voice has characteristics off all of them at times.

I am a physical & movement therapist and I can’t believe the stark difference in how we age in the UK compared to here.

James is 76 yrs old.

He works full-time as a panel beater and sprays cars. He sings a few nights a week and he goes out there blazing in all his stereotypical New Orleans fancy suits, bright shoes and I have never known a man with so many hats. He appears to have boundless energy.

I know no-one in the UK like this even a decade younger than him. 

Then I look at quite a few of the great musicians and singers here in New Orleans living into their 90s and I can see why.

I love New Orleans.

The video clip I sent you before of James singing in his house was a wonderful spontaneous moment of seeing my new friend jamming with his grandson and what I really saw was his huge love of music that afternoon. When the man talks he sounds like his singing.

But I don’t think it fair to show him only singing to a piece of bread in the afternoon.

So here is a video of him singing at a club as well.

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Lynn Ruth Miller, 84-year-old, on her striptease act at the Edinburgh Fringe

“Audiences screamed, cheered”

In the past few months, globe-trotting American comic Lynn Ruth Miller, based in London, has blogged here about her recent gigs in PragueDublinBerlin and Paris.

Now, as this year’s Edinburgh Fringe enters its final week, she tells us about her most recent gig in Scotland’s capital…


Lynn Ruth in the Best of Burlesque show (Photograph by Carole Railton)

I spent three exhilarating evenings in Edinburgh as part of Chaz Royal’s Best of Burlesque production. My audiences screamed, cheered, whistled and yelled… but I could not hear them.  

I had left my hearing aid at home.

Women often say that doing burlesque empowers you and I have always questioned that until those three stellar nights when I rocked the house in the beautiful Palais du Variété tent at George Square Gardens.  

As I removed one layer after another singing my song about women and courage, I listened to the kind of adulation I never got when I removed my nightie for either of my husbands.  

No-one ever cheers for me when I manage to climb the stairs and emerge from the tube station.

I don’t get people stamping their feet when I pay for my groceries and use my own bag to carry them home.  

But, when I take off a pair of overalls at a burlesque show, the crowd goes mad.

That, my friends, is POWER.

By the time I had completed my run for Best of Burlesque I was certain I could march into Parliament and clean up that Brexit mess or hurry over to the White House to put Donald Trump in a corner until he came to whatever senses he has left. 

I had the balls to do ANYTHING.

I went to North Berwick to do an hour’s cabaret at The Fringe by the Sea Festival the Sunday after my Edinburgh triumph and was so super-charged and confident that I managed to sing ten songs almost in tune and only forget half the words. I was a success.

The bravado, the hubris, the sense of self-importance I got from prancing around in silk and tulle during that North Berwick hour to 28 sympathetic senior citizens carried me through as if I were a shooting star illuminating the universe instead of talking about all my failed attempts at love.

I was empowered. The audience clustered around me afterwards and one lovely woman said: ”It was so refreshing to hear someone your age talk about sex.”

I told her: “Darling I was talking about THE ABSENCE of sex… Didn’t you get it?”

But, of course, she didn’t and I haven’t either… not for years.

All those failures to impress, to make a mark, to show my mettle… all those empty moments when I hoped my charm would be noticed…  are now in the past.  

I have become a burlesque sensation. I have stripped and emerged triumphant. 

Eat your heart out Mae West 

I know a hard man is good to find, but I don’t need one.

I have balls…

Oh, and…

The trick to stripping is to come on with so many clothes that no matter how many things you take off, you still are fully covered when the music stops.

I proved that you don’t have to be naked to make people think you are taking your clothes off. 

Surprise!

(Photograph by Paul Adsett)

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In rainy Montenegro, Lynn Ruth Miller prefers vodka to sex advice from Israelis

The ever-seductive Lynn Ruth Miller in Montenegro (Photograph by Marat Abdrakhmanov)

Lynn Ruth Miller, after the rain, in Montenegro (Photograph by Marat Abdrakhmanov)

In this blog, in the last couple of days, I have included missives from American performer Lynn Ruth Miller in Montenegro. She was attending a conference for the over-50s. (She is in her 80s.)

This morning, she was due to fly back to the UK. She sent me the message below. I  can only guess what sex in Israel must be like.


Yesterday we had a lecture on Sex After 50 which was very well attended. The Israeli gentlemen who lectured us is a sex therapist and he told us that all women are always ready for sex at any given time while men have to be encouraged and properly stimulated. He encouraged the men in the audience to find themselves a good sex worker if they wanted to maintain their sexual health.

This is contrary to everything I have learned in my 82 years of avoiding stalkers and encouraging the shy and retiring intellectual types to unzip.

I have found something with every male I have encountered – human, canine or feline. I have not had close associations with other types of mammals. I am not turned-on by a gorilla or a bunny rabbit, although I am sure some women are.

I always say to each her own.

What I have found is that EVERY male is ready to mount anything that is alive – including a flea – at any time of the night and day. It is the female of the species who needs a bit of encouragement, a cuddle and a bit of tweaking to loosen those muscles and get them moving. Sadly, as one gets older and dryer, it has been MY experience that there needs to be a well planned overture to loving, if the main event is not going to be a nightmare.

Our lecturer recommended that all of us practice spelling an appropriate word by rotating our hips. I think that is an excellent idea because I hate yoga.

Most of the women were spelling out NOT NOW while the men could not seem to spell anything I could decipher. Of course, part of the problem was that they were all Russian.

These men do not bother with preambles. They just get in there and get the job done.

After the lecture, we all had coffee and vodka (quite a bit of vodka as a matter of fact) and boarded a bus in torrents of rain to go to a shrine that had a holy saint embalmed in a glass casket so we could kiss his desiccated hand. There was a monk on duty to wipe the hand each time someone kissed it, which made me realize that – in Montenegro at least – even the dead deserve hygienic consideration.

We also climbed a very tall mountain (in the bus) and then descended to sea level, terrorised as the bus zoomed over hairpin curves at 90 miles per hour on a road so narrow two bicycles could not pass one another.

We then recovered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in our rooms by drinking large tumblers of vodka and meditating. No-one was spelling a thing with their hips.

I think it might be an age thing.

You get to a point in life when alcohol is a lot easier.

You don’t have to unlace anything.

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Not quite dead yet – Lynn Ruth Miller is making merry in Montenegro

Lynn ruth Miller on her 82nd birthday

Lynn Ruth Miller on her 82nd birthday

A message received today from performer Lynn Ruth Miller which, I think, deserves a blog in itself for unexpectedness:


I am now in Montenegro with 200 Russians at a conference called Well Over Fifty.

So far, there have been lectures on how to pulverise spinach for a gourmet treat, how to be happy – whatever that is – how to not give a damn about money after you make the first million and a demonstration by a 97-year-old woman shorter than I am on how to shoot a bow and arrow: a technique I have long needed in case I get accosted in a dark alley.  

The bow and arrow was a great deal bigger than she was and the only problem she did not address was how to transport it in your handbag. 

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Memories of theatrical things I forgot

My diary

My diary seldom leaves my left thigh/pocket

I was stuck outside my house this morning between two doors. My own doors.

I was hit by a truck in 1991. As I fell, the back of my head hit the sharp edge of a low brick wall. Because of that, I cannot read books any more though, oddly, I can write them. But it has not really affected my memory. I think. Or do I mean don’t think?.. Whichever… You know what I mean.

I am getting on a bit and maybe my memory is getting worse. Who knows? I have always had a shit memory.

I think people who do not know me might believe I have a good memory. But that is because, since I was a teenager, I have always carried around a page-a-day pocket diary. It is usually bopping on my left thigh, in a pocket.

People used to take the piss out of me for this. Then Filofaxes got trendy and they were buying £80 or £100 designer ones which were not as useful as my £5 diary.

The London Palladium yesterday

Rather confusing queue at the London Palladium yesterday

Yesterday, my friend Lynn and I went to see a recording of ITV’s Sunday Night at The Palladium. We have been friends for 40 years.

Maybe 15 years ago, I mentioned to her that I had worked with – but had not really known – Sylvester McCoy on the TV series Tiswas, but I had never seen him perform live on stage.

She reminded me I had actually gone with her to two separate West End plays he had appeared in about ten years before. I say she ‘reminded’ me. I had no memory of it at all.

A couple of days ago, she sent me an e-mail which said: “Off to London now – a Eugene O’Neill play at the Young Vic – Janie Dee is in it and I remember you raving about her when we saw her in something we had freebies for eons ago.”

I, of course, would have sworn blind I had never even heard of Janie Dee, let alone seen and raved about her in some previous play. This despite the fact she has had an illustrious career as long as Watling Street.

The London Palladium Royal Circle yesterday

The Royal Circle at the London Palladium yesterday evening

Yesterday, at the Palladium, I mentioned to Lynn that I had first met her partner (they have now been together for 25 years) at a London theatre when she introduced me to him at the back of some Upper Circle. She could not remember this at all.

I found that reassuring.

I have a visual memory. I can remember where people stood when I met them. But not necessarily their names.

Which brings me back to this morning.

My house has a self-locking inner front door and outer front door.

keys - You might think it would be difficult to forget this bunch...

You might think it would be difficult to forget this bunch…

I went out, shut the self-locking inner front door behind me, put my hand in my pocket to get the keys to unlock the outer front door and I had no keys. They were locked inside the house. I was stuck in the porch between my inner and outer front doors. No way out. Or in.

My neighbour has spare keys. But she is out every Monday morning.

I live in Hertfordshire (NW London). My eternally-un-named-friend has spare keys, but she is in Greenwich (SE London). Lynn has spare keys, because she is the executrix of my will so is likely to have to dispose of my body when I die – but she lives in Brighton, on England’s South Coast.

Fortunately my neighbour was unusually in this morning.

I was released from my own porch.

I went to the station. Bought a tea and sausage roll. Went to get on the train. I had not picked up my sausage roll. I went back. Got the next train.

Life goes on.

With few memories.

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Age. So it goes.

An extract from my e-diary in April 2000:

At my parents’ home, in the afternoon, the clock chimed once for 4.30pm.

My mother asked my father: “Why did that clock stop last night?”

“Half past twelve,” he replied, mis-hearing her.

“It’s only Tuesday,” my mother continued, not really hearing him.

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