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October 20th 2011

I have had a great couple of weeks, film wise and seeing MATILDA in the theatre, which was excellent and so much fun. I cannot honestly say I was looking forward to it that much. I am not that keen on musicals unless the music grabs me : Sondheim, “Carousel”, “West Side Story”, but this was terrific. The highlight for me was the actor playing Miss Trunchbull - Bertie Carvel, who just blew me away. I haven’t seen a true onstage star performance for a long time, that’s when the actor is so mesmerising that you cant watch anyone else and cant wait for them to be on stage when they are off. What an extraordinary, imaginative talent this actor is and I cant understand why he hasn’t made to major stardom by now. The rest of the show is funny and clever, wonderful art direction and choreography.

I saw THE IDES OF MARCH also - twice- second time was for my close friend, but I liked it both times very much. It’s a grown up rather sad film - the coming of age for a young man in politics, not a pretty story, but a clever, well constructed plot, again very well acted, by all concerned especially the great Philip Seymour Hoffman (if you want another acting lesson) and Paul Giamatti. George Clooney did a fine job of directing. What a clever and intelligent film maker he is and he makes film for the thinking public in an engaging and inclusive way: a talent not always demonstrated by Directors. No names, no pack drill!

Yesterday I went to an excellent and unusual event at the Lyric Theatre - “Chloe Can”, put on by the National Youth Theatre. Now, I, my friend Patricia Doyle and Mary Grimes, were the first girls in the The Youth Theatre. I must have told you this. I was backstage in a Production of HAMLET, the year before and in 1961 I played Portia in JULIUS CAESAR. The wonderful teacher and man Michael Croft started the organisation from Alleyns school in Dulwich as an exercise for boys to come together during the summer holidays, from all over the UK to put on a Shakespeare play,. The idea was to give those lads who didn’t have much money or anything to do during the long summer break, the chance to get together with other boys from all over the country, work as a team and have a bit of proper culture. Michael had a real talent for opening up Shakespeare to young people and taking all the boredom, myth and nonsense out of it injected by those “Intellectuals who know better” and making it exciting and enjoyable. What a talent. He was a tricky man, but I loved him and learned plenty from him. More than anyone else about Shakespeare. Anyway, long story short, the event yesterday was a girls only event to bring together students from various schools and give them the chance to address the issue of “what shall I do with my life?”. The short play was just about this and then there was a group of the best current achievers in the UK to talk about their own experiences and how “they made it” and of course answer questions. The whole was presented by Esther McVeigh, who was formerly a Today show presenter, now a very able speaker, who we hope to see in politics. The audience was loud (when they were supposed to be), enthusiastic and the theatre was full. It was a terrific and inspiring event and just what is needed for the under-educated, somewhat floundering young people, who need all the help they can get, after a largely disgraceful education system. They are bright and deserve better, I hope they get. Events like this will help. Michael Croft will be smiling and nodding from wherever he is. Next one will be for boys and then a mixed event.

I heard with a degree of sadness on the news, that fathers are not going to get the automatic right of access to their children, that they really should have. I am surprised, that seems to be a very old fashioned view. Children should have equal access to both their parents and fathers are so important in a child’s life. My life would have been less stressful as a child, had my father stepped back and not insisted on his right to see me regularly. On occasion I hated him for it, it caused so many arguments, but then I was grateful and pleased that he was so persistent and I grew up with so much of his influence and presence. Kids need their Dads and wonderful though women’s liberation has been, I do feel that it has marginalized men to a great extent. Bad idea, we don’t need to diminish men to prove ourselves as women. A few in history didn’t, that I can think of!

Anyway, that’s all for now! Till next time.

All content copyright Jane Merrow