|Lyn Seed as Miss Creant in the Walter Less classic Tease Ladies - the leading role turned down by Abigail Charming.|
Less offered her a part in Tease Ladies, his latest and most ambitious project yet, but the unexpected proposal filled the then eighteen-year-old Abigail Charming with consternation.
|Walter Less soaks up the tea break atmosphere at Canterbury in 1987.|
Britain was in the grip of a milk and bread strike and if rumours were to be believed biscuit makers would soon follow. She knew all too well that club cricket could ill afford to lose a tea lady at such a time.
"I turned him down on the spot but he was the persistent sort and soon afterwards I received a script in the post," recalls Charming.
"In addition to lacking artistic merit and a plausible plot it was morally bereft and ample evidence of his base motives. Besides, the tea making industry had been good to me and I wasn't about to bring shame upon it by exposing my intimate parts in a Council approved kitchen."
Charming reported Less to the police, the MCC, and the milk board; but there was little the authorities could do. Determined that justice would be served she took matters into her own hands.
"I soon found out that Less was hanging around other cricket pavilions, making similar advances to other barely legal caterers," remembers Charming.
"Tea ladies were a formidable collective in those days and I put the word out that he was to receive appalling service wherever he went: weak tea, soggy biscuits, stale bread - the works.
Less remained the target of sustained direct action for several years but by the mid 1980s all except Charming had forgiven or forgotten.
"He avoided me for decades before searching me out at Nettles Green a couple of seasons ago," says Charming.
|A heartfelt apology from peacemaker Less during a secret meeting with Abigail Charming's daughter shortly before his death in 2009.|
"He was dying at the time and keen to make amends. I lulled him into a false sense of security and waited for him to fall asleep so I could steal some of his hair. Then I stuck it in my bra, cried rape, and rang the police.
"Tea ladies have long memories."
Age has mellowed Charming who now admits she might have overreacted during her final meeting with Less:
"In fairness to him he never pushed things when I turned him down all those years ago. He apologised and said he only wanted to make me a star.
"It was a lot better than some of the excuses I have had since then from people who have wanted to sexually exploit me."
So what was the worst excuse given?
Charming thinks long and hard before answering:
"Sorry, I forgot that you're my sister."