Saturday, February 24, 2007



Cycled to Mother's. The London suburbs can be rather depressing on a mild evening, with sullen groups of drinking adolescent girls hunched on ugly bleak corners, sometimes shrieking obscenities and sometimes just passing bottles or cans across to one another, with groups of boys some way off in a rather dreary sort of tribal mating system!! Oh, dear. Surely things ought to be better than this? They all seem very cross and unhappy, and although the girls have gone to a great deal of trouble with lots of slicked hair and very tight jeans, they don't look very pretty, and they sit on railings or on the pavement all hunched up with their hands inside the sleeves of their little bomber-jackets, while the boys burp and make monosyllabic noises some way off.


At M's, supper and an old movie. We enjoy these, and M. is interesting on the subject because she knew some of the actors many years ago.....Great Uncle Walter was an actor,moderately successful and well-known in his day, appearing in a number of classic films including "All Quiet on the Western Front". M. remembers various actors coming to the house, including James Mason - "he'd come and drink tea, and they'd all be sitting talking and talking...." During World War 11 Uncle Walter, who had lived mostly at the London Actors' Club, came to live with her parents when an air-raid destroyed much of London clubland. "He was rather a bore in the air-raids. Stood about being theatrical instead of getting down to the shelter or being useful."

I looked up Great Uncle W.on the internet under his stage name. One of the films in which he had a minor part was the one about Queen Victoria starring Anna Neagle.Another relation, Mother's cousin Dennis, created the part of Lord Peter Wimsey on the stage.

The main thing one notices about old films - apart from all the obvious things, like fashions and the manners and morals etc, is the clipped English voices. I can just - just - remember when that was how lots of grown-ups spoke, in the Britain I knew.


Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

They are also making a deliberate effort to contine mocking people like me; now by eating mushy peas and black pudding as though it were de rigeur chic.

I wish they'd stick to shandy and ballet dancing.

They'll be wearing clogs and racing whippets next.

Anonymous said...

My husband has a relation who is aged in her late seventies and she speaks just like Celia Johnson - she would definitely get the part in a re-make of "Brief Encounter" (not that I feel it needs remaking).