I’m a sucker for an old dame, particularly those two old Dames Judi and Maggie. They light up my screen. My all-time fave is Tea with Mussolini, a regular winter warmer on a chilly night. But any film with them in will do. I’m not fussy.
A less well-known screen outing for the pair was Ladies in Lavender, a tender tale of two elderly sisters living quietly in a Cornish fishing village during the thirties who scoop up a handsome young Pole from the beach after he was swept overboard during a storm. They nurse him to health, causing a stir among the locals – and the stirring of long repressed feelings for sister Ursula, played by Judi. The whole thing is a joy to watch, a moral tale of a rescue without hesitation or fear of an economic migrant washed up on a foreign shore. Rather relevant today, don’t you think? And there’s a real Billy Elliot moment at the end that gets me every time. So, when the stage version of the film came to Norwich’s Maddermarket Theatre, we just had to see it (even though neither Dame was in it, obviously).
It was a sterling effort from the cast with the best lines reserved for the housekeeper and delivered with great comic timing. The performance got an enthusiastic hand at the end but I couldn’t help wondering if the message was lost on the mostly elderly audience with their curls, pearls and comfy lives. I hope I’m wrong.
It takes a lot to make this cynical old queen cry. Okay, I confess. It doesn’t. I cry at sentimental films cleverly contrived to elicit an instant emotional response. I cry when Karen (Emma Thompson) realises that her husband Harry (Alan Rickman) is having an affair in Love Actually. I weep when Mary (Joan Plowright) and Arabella (Judi Dench) wave farewell to Luca (Baird Wallace) in Tea with Mussolini. I am inconsolable when Ste (Scott Neal) and Jamie (Glen Berry) run through the forest to the soundtrack of Make Your Own Kindof Music by the Mamas and Papas in Beautiful Thing. It’s an acting thing and it gets me every time.
Alice Pyne is not acting. Alice has cancer and she has a blog. She writes:
‘Hi, I’m 15 years old and live with my parents and sister in Ulverston. I’ve been fighting cancer for almost 4 years and now I know that the cancer is gaining on me and it doesn’t look like I’m going to win this one 😦 I’m hoping to write in here as much as I can and I’m also going to show my bucket list which I’m trying to get done before I have to go. Hopefully, I’ll update as I tick each one off the list :)’ Alice’s Bucket List
I began to read Alice’s wish list out loud to Liam. I had to stop half way through. It was all too much. Her courage astounds and humbles me. It should humble us all. Alice has restored my faith in humanity. Thank you Alice.
A chill night wind conspired to trap us inside most evenings so we amused ourselves with a delicious mix of gossip and the silver screen, liberally lubricated with increasingly less cheap plonk as wine prices seem to rise by the week. We amused Clive with our sorry emigrey tales of the mad, the sad, the bad and the glad. We watched Beautiful Thing and Tea with Mussolini; two of my favourite films. Seriously sentimental Clive just loves a weepy so I kept a box of autumnal shades to hand.
We ventured out to a village morgue bar just the once and really wished we hadn’t. We’d hardly taken our first sip when a despondent, drunken emigrey called Fergus from Falkirk was working his pitch at the bar and looking for a stooge. He collared us to impart his hard luck story. Fergie is a big man with a greasy ginger toupée and a disproportionately hefty lower torso, giving him the look of a bewigged weeble. He had married an attractive tender-aged Thai girl who he had picked out of a catalogue. She was delivered by post and married for security. After a couple of barren years, the Thai bride divorced fat Falkirk Fergie, kept the security and moved south to warmer climes. He now drowns his sorrows in the bottom of a beer glass frittering away the meagre income left to him. A dismal tale of woe too far, we headed for the door, taxied home and chucked on Steel Magnolias to lighten the mood. It was not the best selection. Clive was inconsolable and emptied the autumnal box.