Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Dear Benedict,

I know you offered to look after the kasbah for me while I stumble along to The End of my novel, but I can tell you’ve got quite a lot going on at the moment. Don’t worry, I’ll just fill in for you filling in for me. I guess that means I’m filling in for myself. Also, I think that means I may have opened a worm hole somewhere just typing that.

Anyway, I see that you’ve been terribly busy with starting to film the WikiLeaks movie, dying your hair platinum blonde for the role, trying to persuade Julian Assange to give you the chance to meet him, and —


I’m fine with it, really. Just a bit of a shock is all. Maybe I need a blanket.

Know what else is shocking? That I live within an hour’s drive of some of the best skiing in the country and not once since I moved here have I attempted to attach a narrow set of sticks to my feet and hurl myself down the broad side of a mountain. Don’t fret. I’ll share the shock blanket with you while I tell you my big news: I’m going to amend my ways and take my first skiing lesson tomorrow. I’m just a little nervous, but I do have some familiarity with mountains. And snow. For example, I have on numerous occasions thrown myself down a ginormous sledding hill while sitting in a big inner tube. That’s sort of like skiing, right?

Autobahn Sledding Hill. Not even kidding about the name.

Autobahn Sledding Hill. Where 2013’s first sledding adventure took place.

I’m setting out to make 2013 all about Adventures. Yeah, I thought you’d like that. Wish me luck with the skiing thing tomorrow. Or do you say break a leg? No? Oh right, that’s just for actors. You should probably should delete that or scribble it out with a sharpie or a maybe take a match to it or something permanent so the interwebz doesn’t jinx me while I’m on the mountain. So, what do people normally say to beginning skiers? Don’t snort the snow? I checked on the ski resort’s website and they’ve got nothing for the newbie on that. I have a feeling the ski instructor is really going to earn his or her money tomorrow.

This weekend also marked the first time the 12 year-old watched Star Wars (the original first episode, obviously). Now I can finally get that black mark out of my parenting file. How did I convince the 12 year-old and her friend to see it? It’s best if I do a re-enactment for you:

Me: What should we watch for movie night tonight? Ooh, I know! How about Star Wars?

12 y.o.: How about not.

Me: You know, I can’t simply let you waltz into adulthood without having seen at least one Star Wars movie.

12 y.o., looking warily at her friend:  We’re only 12. Also, I don’t waltz.

Me: Adulthood can sneak up on you just like the Gollum sneaked (snuck?) up on Bilbo.

*gives self a mental fist bump for the clever literary simile*

12 y.o., giving her friend a “don’t make any sudden movements around the crazy lady” look: We won’t be adults for another six years, though.

Me: That is why it is of the utmost importance we rectify this immediately. Watching Star Wars in your youth is an American right of passage. Like playing baseball and eating apple pie. It’s your patriotic duty.

12 y.o.: How is watching Star Wars patriotic?

Me: Why do you hate America?

12 y.o., looking pleadingly at her friend to rescue her from the conversation: I don’t have a response for that.

Friend: I like America, but I think the flag could be more colorful, like we should add some hot pink or neon green designs to it.

Me: I know, right? Can you imagine how awesome the flag would be if Betsy Ross had been given a Bedazzler?

*momentarily daydreams about bedazzled flags*

*suddenly realizes the friend skillfully distracted me from Star Wars with visions of rhinestones and neon colors*

*admires friend’s Jedi mind tricks and nods at her knowingly*

Me: The time has come, young Jedi Knights. Grab your light sabers. We’re going to the video store.

A short while later, they were perched on the edge of their seats wondering if Luke was going to blow up the Death Star before the Empire blew up the Rebel Base. Then they begged to watch the next two movies.

Mission. Accomplished.

I thought I’d take a moment to remind you of how incredibly humble I am, so there’s really no need to spend your precious time nominating me for Parent of the Year for my stellar parenting skillz. I’ll simply celebrate this achievement by donning my Princess Leia battle outfit, braiding and coiling my hair into some sweet buns, and then dancing to the Star Wars victory song. Also, I’ll add some points next to my name on the Bonus Points Board in the kasbah. You know, classy stuff.


But I don’t need to tell you about being classy. If any man can pull off platinum blonde hair and retain his classy British ways, it’s you, friend.

Adventurously yours,


P.S. My hair stylist friend says Vitamin E does wonders for the scalp as well as your hair, so be sure to work some of that in with your conditioner and let it sit on your hair while you finish in the shower. Rinse, then behold the wonders of your silky smooth hair. It is truly amazing.

P.P.S. Not that I’ve been contemplating your shower habits or anything.

P.P.P.S. Well, not regularly. I do have other things to think about. Let’s just leave it at that.


*Editor’s note: The views, ideas, and opinions expressed in the Letters from Benedict series are works of fiction and obviously did not come from the actor himself. This series is just my way of expressing adoration for Mr. Cumberbatch and his work and is not intended to be seen or read as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.

19 thoughts on “Dear Benedict: On Shock Blankets, Skiing, & Star Wars


    [NOTE TO SELF: Do NOT turn north at San Francisco until you have watched at least one Star Wars movie.]

    On the topic of skiing. I had finally managed to get off the ski lift without turning into a crumpled lump of snowsuit when my company transferred me from Denver to Dallas. From one newbie to another: (1) it’s easier to maneuver on the skis when you’re going fast, (2) if going fast scares the be-willakers out of you (as it does me), jump as quickly as you can from snow plow (plough?) to traverse for slow-down strategies, and (3) a nifty leather drink bag filled with a refreshing cocktail helps de-jitter on the way up the mountain.

    Those dudes at the top of the ski lift? NOT very gentle when hauling a clump of snowsuit from the path of the next chair coming in for landing.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Many thanks for the ski advice for the novice. If I hadn’t been the only one responsible for driving me and the 12 y.o. back down the mountain, I might have thought to bring a nifty leather drink bag to the slopes.

      [Note to self: Always check with Gloria before going on such outings. Also, see if our state is willing to bend that whole age limit thing on driving so the 12 y.o. can drive us home.]

      And yes, best get to watching Star Wars, preferably the “real” first episode released in 1977, not those other ones that claim to be episodes 1, 2, and 3. Just sayin’.

  2. Here’s to adventures Tami! May the Force be with you on the slopes and off. Congrats on initiating two young Jedi knights into the fold. Obiwan salutes you!

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Thanks, Elizabeth! The Force must have been with me to get two reluctant 12 y.o.’s to watch it that evening. 🙂

  3. Will you please post a photo of you with Princess Leia buns? I’m sure Benedict would love to see it as much as I would. The most important thing about learning to ski is trying to let go of your fear once you’re on your way down. Otherwise, it takes forever and every muscle in your body will hurt for weeks to come. Not that I know this from experience. I heard somewhere when the actor who played Spike on Buffy dyed his hair platinum blond for the role, he added Sweet and Low packets to the hair dye so it didn’t sting so much. Weird fact, but maybe you want to share this with BC. Let us know how the skiing goes.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Letting go of fear is such good advice for just about anything we do, isn’t it? Thanks for the reminder. I will be sure to share with Benedict the Sweet and Low trick in case he needs to have touch ups done during filming. I had never heard of doing that and am now wondering what is in Sweet and Low that stops the stinging of the hair dye.

      About the photo of me as Princess Leia… you see, I happen to be one of those unfortunate souls who is incredibly, totally, undeniably, and at times scarily, unphotogenic. The only way I allow photos of me to be taken these days is when I’m wearing sunglasses and a hat – I think the camera is less frightened that way. Therefore, no photo will be revealed, thereby saving you from at least a week’s worth of nightmares had I posted one and you happened to look directly at it.

      • on ,
        Tami Clayton said:

        P.S. That photo next to my name here in the comments section is one of the very rare photos of me taken in the last ten years when I’m not wearing a hat and sunglasses. I owe it to the special lighting in Venice for helping the camera that day.

  4. My daughter has a pink tee shirt with a small black silhouette on it with the caption, “I’m in shock. See? I’ve got a blanket.” Just sayin’… And I hope you have (had) a blast on the slopes. 😉

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      LOVE the t-shirt. May have to get my own. Your daughter has excellent taste. And after a day on the slopes, I could use a blanket to warm my toes. 🙂

  5. First ski lesson? Seriously, consider snowboarding. You can learn to ski much faster than you can learn to get up on a snowboard. But, you can be a Good snowboarder much faster than you can be a Good skier. And it’s so much easier on your knees.
    I keep hoping someone will steal my skis, so I can buy a snowboard and start over 🙂

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Sounds like you’re a serious skier so I shall take your advice. Actually, the snowboarding idea crossed my mind while I was on the slopes today. At first glance it looked like it was more difficult to learn. But the more I watched the beginner snowboarders’ progression and compared that to mine, I wondered if snowboarding might be the easier of the two. I’m definitely going to give it a try the next time I go. So glad you mentioned it.

  6. 1. I infer dear Ben will be trying on an Australian accent to play Assange? I can’t help but wince. It’s a hard accent to get right!
    2. I applaud your skiing adventure. You daredevil you! I just spent a weekend camping and eating as part of my year of adventure.
    3. Love the Star Wars anecdote… I trust your 12YO is suitably grateful for her induction to the shrine of Star Wars. (Where do you stand on the 1977 original version versus the digitally remastered versions in the 1990s?)

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      1. Hmmm… I hadn’t thought about the Australian accent issue for his portrayal of Assange. It IS a difficult one to do well. I’m not too worried, though. He supposedly can do an assortment of spot on impersonations quite easily. If anyone will put forth the effort to craft a true, respectable Aussie accent, it’s him. I have faith he’ll do right by you.

      2. Even though it was only the bunny hill, it did feel adventurous trying to control the skis without falling down. Would love to hear more about your camping adventure – the snippets posted on Facebook left me wanting to know more!

      3. The 12 y.o. is grateful. And she has humbly accepted that I was right about her liking the movie once she gave it a chance. Not that I rubbed that in or anything. Maybe just a smug look every now and then. It will certainly come in handy the next time she’s certain I’m wrong about something. I can simply say, “Remember Star Wars?” 😉

      As for originals vs digitally remastered versions – my video store only had the latter to rent. I have not exposed her to the “other” Star Wars movies but she is curious about them and the backstories they provide. We’ll get to those in time. I need to let her fully appreciate the awesomeness of the original 3 movies before exposing her to the other somewhat inferior movies.

  7. I am not only madly impressed by your stealth and wisdom in initiating young Jedi’s, but then there’s the ski LESSONS. Emphasis on LESSONS.

    My one and only adventure on the slopes was with a *friend* who assured me that it was no big deal that I’d NEVER skied before. Lessons? Not necessary, she assures me. I’ll show you everything you need to know once we get to the TOP, she assures, as she propels me onto the ski lift that will indeed take us to the TOP the mountain. Any visions that might be popping into your mind right now as to how this grand adventure (cruel trick) turned out are probably quite accurate. Indeed, I still have the occasional nightmare that involves scenes of tangled and twisted butt skiing down a mountainside as alleged *friend* blissfully swish, swish, yodels awayyyyyyyyyyy…

    Now that it’s been 20 years since that violent clash of humiliation and horror on said mountainside, the memory is starting to feel a little less painful. *Friend* and I have since fallen out of touch (aka immediately following the near crippling event.)

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Oh, dear Barbara. Your skiing escapade sounds AWFUL! What a terrible thing to do to a friend. Yes, I knew my limited knowledge of skiing (I’ve only had cross country skis on my feet before) was nowhere near enough to get me safely off a ski lift and down a mountain in one piece. And I’m so glad I took the lesson, as challenging as it was. Even though I learned a lot in the two hours the ski instructor spent with me and the 12 y.o., I would take another lesson before tackling anything more serious than the tame bunny hill. And, as Suzanne pointed out, I may switch over to snowboarding just to mix things up and be adventurous. Maybe that’s more your style, too. 🙂

  8. The conversation with your daughter and her friend had me cracking up. Ha! Distracting you with neon and bedazzling 🙂 Benedict is sure to get a kick out of this week’s letter.
    How did the skiing turn out?

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Glad it made you laugh. 12 y.o.’s are clever with their ways of distracting unsuspecting adults. Skiing was lots of fun. A bit painful (more on that later – I’m putting together a post about the trip), but fun. Learned a lot in a short amount of time.

  9. on ,
    Heather Baker said:

    Congrats on getting out on the slopes-hope you had a hot ski instructor! Never tried snow boarding but would love to some day.
    My kids watched Star Wars at 6 and 4…and they loved it.
    I think you should be less camera shy-some advice I should take too. I blame the photographer most of the time. They need to take advantage of good lighting-crucial.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Thanks, Heather! What the ski instructors lacked in hotness, they made up for in patience and kindness.

      I know what you mean about the lighting – I think I’m like that woman Jerry dated in that one episode of Seinfeld. You know, the one where she looked o.k. in certain lighting, but when the lighting was bad she looked hideous and Jerry would cringe. That’s me. Except bad lighting seems to follow me everywhere. Except in Venice. The lighting there is gorgeous.

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