I loved Albert Finney. Saturday Night, Sunday Morning hit the cinemas in 1960. I went to see it in our local flea pit and there on the silver screen was a world I was familiar with. Streets of terraced houses, men and women who worked in mills and looked forward to the weekends as the days when they really lived. Until then films were about elegant people who floated around enchanted gardens worrying about trivia or could agonise over getting to some lighthouse. Albert Finney portrayed a life that was raw and hard.
Tom Jones spoke to a newly liberated me as I moved from pupil to university student. The age of Aquarius — sexual freedom, uninhibited music, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
His stage presence left me mesmerised – Hamlet at the newly opened National Theatre, the full text, all three hours of it. Finney commanded the stage, striding around and constantly touching his codpiece, his voice resonating around the modern auditorium. Then his last stage appearance in 1996 in Art, that witty piece about the nature of art.
His life a reminder that it was possible to change from working class child to a sophisticated man. We should celebrate that life.
Last night August 4th 2014, like many others I watched the broadcast from Westminster Abbey. We had switched off all our lights at 10pm and had a single candle glowing in the dark, as we commemorated the date and time a century ago when Britain plunged into World War I. My Grandfather was not killed during the war, but he died early from the injuries he received. He was gassed and never fully recovered from that, so that my Grandmother, a weaver, as many women were in Lancashire, continued to work after the war ended in 1918.
He died before my mother was married in 1939. Her brother Jack the child in the photograph was the one who walked her down the aisle to giver her away; my Grandmother would have walked alone. Although he knew he had one grandchild, Keith the eldest son of my Uncle Jack, he never knew about Roger, Keith’s brother nor myself or my younger brother Stewart. My Grandmother was a widow for over thirty years, dying when I was 26. Not for her the comfort of a shared life, shared memories and experiences into old age.
We, his grandchildren, never knew him and I don’t remember either my Grandmother or my Mother reminiscing about him. I don’t know which regiment he served with or what he did during the war. I know he loved horses and from time to time my mother said he would groom and harness the team of horses that drew the hearse in the small town of Haslingden Lancashire; black horses whose coats gleamed and who wore black ostrich plumes on their heads. He must have been interested in Art because I have a set of three books published by Odhams Press of Long Acre London in 1934 called The Worlds Greatest Paintings. My mother said they were an offer by one of the daily newspapers.
Of course, compared with too many, my family were lucky he did come back alive when so many didn’t. But the only way I can remember him is by this photograph; for me he will always be a handsome soldier with a pretty wife and young son.
I need to thank kellielarsenmurphy.com for recommending me for a ‘One Lovely Blog Award. Following the rules
1. Insert the logo -took me hours to find it.
2. Thank the person nominating you.
3.Share seven things about yourself
4. Nominate seven blogs you like
5. Tell them you have nominated them
Seven things about myself.
1. I’m half Australian. My father was born in Newcastle NSW but came back to the UK when he was only seven.
2. I have an orchard of about 34 apple trees.
3. I like cheese with my apple pie, preferably creamy Lancashire.
4. I am a fellow of the Royal Zoological Society, but never get to the meetings.
5. My favourite animals are dormice and tigers.
6. I can keep a secret.
7. I dislike doing housework and I’m not very keen on gardening.
Blogs I like
The struggle to be a writer that writes.
People,Places and Bling
The dog ate my novel