My Story by Julie Goodyear

By Clare Raymond
Oct. 30, 2006
Daily Mirror

I WAS motionless, lying face down on the pavement. There was grit in my mouth and blood dripping from my hands and my bare feet.

It was the sight of blood that saved me. I knew then that I needed help – needed a hospital. As I levered myself up from the kerbside, I heard screaming and shrank back, terrified, clapping both my hands over my ears.

Then I realised that my mouth was open, that it was me making those terrible piercing sounds.

But who was me? I didn’t know my name, didn’t know who I belonged to or where I lived.

How did I get from where I was that night to the lodge gate of the hospital, where the night porter lifted me up?

The next thing I remember is somebody screaming again and the porter’s voice saying: “There, there, love. You’re in good hands now.”

“Please stop the screaming,” I said, choking the words into his chest.

“That’s just what we’re going to do now,” a different disembodied voice replied, “and then you’ll have a good night’s sleep.”

Later, I learned that during those first two weeks they attached electrodes to my temples and gave me several rounds of ECT – electroconvulsive therapy.

Later still, I was informed I’d had “a complete nervous breakdown”.

Even in the midst of that mental anguish, I wanted to get back on the set of Coronation Street, I wanted to feel Bet Lynch’s wind beneath my wings, and fly off to that oasis where I always left Julie Goodyear – and all her troubles – behind.

It was 1973 and I was 31 when my nervous breakdown followed a second marriage that didn’t even survive the wedding day.

HAVING bundled me into the wedding car after the ceremony, the bridegroom left with the best man and returned to his mother’s apron strings.

Our guests, including most of the cast of Coronation Street, were all left waiting and the wedding reception hadn’t even got underway.

I had only been in Coronation Street for two years when, in 1972, I had the misfortune to meet Tony Rudman.

We met at the White Hart, a restaurant-cum-bar, near Heywood, Lancs.

When the courtship began, my mam was delighted, and my 12-year-old son Gary was thrilled, too.

A softly-spoken accountant, Rudman was being a hands-off gentleman then, so we were not having an affair, just enjoying each other’s company. Looking very determined one evening, he asked me to marry him and I said yes.

I was saying it for Gary to have a father figure as much as anything, and I hoped this would finally mean having some stability in our lives. Because Tony owned his bungalow, I thought it was only right that I should put half the amount it had been valued at into it. I also put my bank account into our joint names.

On the day of my wedding to Tony, lots of members of the cast were there, including Doris Speed, who played Annie Walker, and Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner.

It really was a big occasion and I was in a magnificent gold dress.

Things got off to a bad start because the vintage car that was taking me and my father to the church in Bury broke down – as if that wasn’t enough to create a feeling of foreboding, I discovered that my bouquet had been left on the bed in the bungalow.

When I finally arrived, I couldn’t believe the crowds. There were even several Saracen tanks because I’d been to Belfast in 1972 to do a moraleboosting visit to our troops.

It was like a royal occasion and knowing my son was about to sing with the choir while his mother was getting married brought a lump to my throat.

The service went without a hitch and as we made our way out of the church, arm in arm with my new husband, the crowds parted with a deafening roar and the Saracen tanks rumbled through.

I could now see that some of the soldiers had suffered terrible injuries since I’d met them in Ireland. One had lost an eye, several had limbs missing. It was a terrible shock. I felt I had to stop and have a special word with one or two of them.

That was when Tony’s hand tightened like a vice on my arm. Then I felt it move to the small of my back, followed by a discreet but hefty shove.

“Get in the car,” he hissed through clenched teeth. This was a face I didn’t recognise, wearing a vicious expression I’d never seen, but I still thought I must have misheard what he said. Wrong! As I looked up at him, bewildered, he repeated in another frenetic hiss: “Get in the damned car!” I was stunned. I had no idea what had happened to upset him and I couldn’t bear the idea of any of our guests knowing we were having a tiff. Was it the service? The tanks? The soldiers? The cast of Corrie? The fans?

I knew something was wrong and my first instinct was to get through the post-ceremony motions double quick so nobody would know. Tony waved all the photographers aside and beckoned the car, with its streamers of white ribbons, forward and hustled me into it. He wasn’t talking to me, his was face set like granite, his eyes staring straight ahead.

The moment we got to the reception, Tony leaped out of the car and, leaving me on my own, disappeared inside the building. When I entered, a smile painted on my face for the benefit of the waiting staff and a few people with cameras, he was nowhere to be seen. His mother had also disappeared.

Too late, then, I began to have suspicions. Maybe he wasn’t just being a gentleman when he made no attempt to nudge our relationship on to a more intimate basis. Perhaps he was terrified of consummating the wedding night? Maybe he was impotent but hadn’t the courage to tell me?

I was in such a state of shock I couldn’t even take it in, and I kept expecting him to reappear. He didn’t.

I think I gave one of the best performances of my life that day. Excuses were made for my missing bridegroom, the best man and his mother.

I was convinced he’d be back at the little bungalow waiting for me, feeling very sorry and sheepish, but he wasn’t.

The big treat, which I’d paid for myself, was a week’s honeymoon in Paris. We were due to go the next morning and I’d arranged for a car to collect us from the bungalow.

AT that stage I so wanted to put things right I was more than ready to make endless excuses for his behaviour.

I got into the car and drove to his mother’s house. There she was, his little mum who I’d grown so fond of, still wearing the suit I’d bought her for the wedding.

“Yes, what is it?” she barked, nothing like the woman I’d met so many times before.

“Is Tony in?”

“Yes, he is. And I’ve only just managed to get him off to sleep,” she replied and slammed the door in my face.

Dazed, I turned around, got into my Mini, and drove back to the bungalow. I stayed at my kitchen table for most of the week, only getting up to go to the loo. I was too ashamed to speak to anybody.

Tony Rudman had married me under false pretences for a reason I’ll never know. But he kept my half of the value of the bungalow and enjoyed using our joint bank account for a time. He never attempted to communicate with me after our wedding day. And, as I have now heard that he died some years ago, he won’t do so now.

Once I went back to work, it was a case of getting on with it amid all the usual post-wedding nudge-nudge wink-wink jokes of, “Good honeymoon, was it? Get any sleep? Eh…”

I played along with it. But when I got back from the studios it was brandy and soda time. I’d never drunk so much alcohol in my life.

ONE day when I wasn’t needed at the studios, I spent some time alone in the little bungalow with thoughts circling endlessly around my tortured mind.

Then, suddenly, it all came to a head. There was a white-out followed by red mist and everything blanked out. It was as if somebody had swung a lever and switched me off.

The next thing I remember was being dressed in a bloodied nightie in the street, somehow knowing that I had to get to the nearest hospital.

I was admitted to an NHS hospital first, then Granada got involved and I was moved from there to Cheadle Royal, a private clinic that specialised in mental health problems.

I spent four weeks there and one of the last questions the doctor asked me was, I thought, a very surprising one.

“Have you, by any chance, ever had a relationship with a woman, Julie?”

“What do you mean?” I replied, genuinely puzzled.

“A sexual relationship,” he answered.

“Good God no!” I replied, shocked.

But my next relationship was with a woman, I thought it was worth a try.

EXTRACTED by Clare Raymond from Just Julie by Julie Goodyear, published by Macmillan on November 3, £18.99.

Comments (1)

A. MeehanMay 27th, 2007 at 3:24 pm

I knew Tony Rudman very well. All Julie says about him is absolute fiction. He can’t defend himself because he died two years ago.

Leave a comment

Your comment:

Subscribe without commenting