Wednesday, November 24, 2010


While enjoying my first cuppa of the day and surfing the interwebs before heading off to work this morning I came across a story on the BBC website that turned my mood from surprisingly chipper for a chilly Wednesday to deeply saddened - because I discovered that Ingrid Pitt, star of many classic Hammer Horror films, had died.

And the reason it saddened me? Because I have an Ingrid Pitt story that is one of my fondest memories.

My first job out of school was as a - as we liked to call ourselves - graphics monkey at Visual Imagination, the late lamented publisher of such science-fiction magazines as Starburst and TV Zone. I'd been working there just short of a year when, in November 1997, the news spread around the office that someone famous was going to be stopping by. That celebrity was Ingrid Pitt, and I can state the exact date with certainty because it was my birthday.

To be honest, I wasn't actually terribly familiar with Ingrid's work, having only seen a few Hammer Horror films in my time, and although I knew her name chances are she could've walked past me in the street and I wouldn't have recognised her. Still, a FAMOUS PERSON was coming to the office.

Ingrid was stopping by to meet with David, the editor of Shivers, another of VI's magazines and one that was devoted, as you might guess by the title, exclusively to horror. And because the graphics department was hidden away on the ground floor and all the editorial staff were upstairs, we would be the last to meet her. I remember distinctly getting a phone call from one of the other members of staff soon after she arrived saying something like "she's here!" so obviously I wasn't the only one who was a bit excited at the prospect.

So anyway, eventually we hear footsteps coming down the stairs, the door opens, and David ushers in this lovely, dare I say buxom lady with a warm smile on her face. Despite being somewhere around the age of 60 at the time she was still beautiful, and incredibly unassuming. I was immediately won over.

David introduced her to all of us in turn, with me being the third person to meet her. I watched out of the corner of my eyes with anticipation and mounting nerves as she said hello to my two colleagues closest to the door, and then before I knew it she was standing by my desk.

"This is Tim," said David. "It's his birthday today."

I mumbled "hello."

Ingrid looked at me and her already wonderful smile exploded. She held both hands out towards me and said in her softly accented voice "Oh, darling! You are so young - come to me!"

And like countless victims of her seductive vampiric Hammer Horror characters, I rose from my chair and stepped closer. From the way she held her hands out I expected something like the sort of birthday greeting you'd get from an aunt - y'know, a quick kiss on the cheek and a bit of a hug.

What I did not expect was for her to place one hand on either side of my head and quickly pull me down face-first into her delightfully ample bosom.

And then proceed to hold me there for the best part of a minute.

At one point I actually thought I might suffocate while wedged between the lovely boobs of this wonderful actress, but then I realised if I was going to go that would probably be the most magnificent end to my then 20 years on the planet, so I decided not to struggle and just give in to my fate.

Eventually, however, Ingrid released me, and I emerged smiling, red-faced, and a smidgeon embarrassed while all my colleagues - and Ingrid herself - erupted in laughter.

Ingrid had come to the office that day to discuss writing a monthly column for Shivers, which eventually resulted in the brilliantly entitled The Pitt of Horror, and while I never had the privilege of meeting her again after that day I often asked David how she was, to which he would often reply "oh, typical Ingrid!" before relating some witty story about her. And somehow, rather fortuitously for me, I always ended up working on the pictures for The Pitt of Horror which meant that I got to read - and always thoroughly enjoy - her column before everyone else.

So here's to Ingrid Pitt - a wonderful, larger than life lady who entertained millions of horror fans around the world, and gave a 20 year-old chap one of his most treasured and amusing memories.

*doffs cap*


CyberPete said...

That's a great memory. I wish I had a memory of a celebrity like that.

May she rest in peace.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

To Ingrid!

* raises glass *

This story certainly beats my 'made Pam St.Clement a fried egg sandwich' story.

I hope it was only your cap you doffed, Tim?

Tim said...

Cyberpete - It is, isn't it? There's not too many stars who would clench a stranger to their chest!


Tara said...

Hey, if a birthday card isn't enough, just say so next time. Humph.

That's an awesome story!. Being a horror movie fan (but I confess I had to look up her name), I was all excited about her visiting your office and meeting everyone!

Sad to hear about Ms. Pitt's passing, though. :(

Tim said...

Ha ha!! Brilliant!! The card was lovely, thank you!!

Anthony Lamb said...

A lovely story, Tim!

I never met Ingrid, but I think we spoke on the phone once or twice, and I too used to enjoy working on The Pitt of Horror.

She was a great writer, as well as an awesome actress.

Tim said...

Cheers Ant!