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gertrude

December 2018

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Alan

Close Encounter with Brief Encounter

Yesterday evening I went to a rather special showing of Brief Encounter. It was at the Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne in aid of the mayor’s charities. What made it a gala occasion was the presence of Margaret Barton, who played the part of Beryl (or 'Berril!') the tea room assistant in the film. In Wimborne, where she lives, she is better known as Mrs James.

Now in her eighties, Mrs James very much resembles The Queen in stature and hairstyle. Unlike Her Majesty, she is an excellent public speaker. Picture a diminutive figure still able to hold an audience with her lovely voice, remembering how kind David Lean was to her, how exciting it was to work with Stanley Holloway, what a lot she learned from watching Celia Johnson. When she made Brief Encounter she was nineteen but as she said, looked fourteen. Her acting career lasted twenty years before she gave it up to be a full time mother. It’s perhaps a pity for her that this one part has overshadowed the rest. Now, as I suppose the only survivor, she is much in demand and has been to Carnforth station to unveil a plaque to David Lean and also to open a visitor centre. Living history! Then we watched the film.

Is it pure nostalgia that makes people love this film so much? Mrs James doesn’t think so; for her it’s the values of the film (‘self respect matters…and loyalty’ as she quoted Laura saying) which give it its enduring appeal. Especially in Japan, apparently.



Photo ©MB

Comments

That's fantastic! I wish I could have gone.

I did once go to a performance of the play in the disused Strand underground station. That was pretty awesome too.
It was great; le tout Wimborne was there and I have a message for you from someone you know!

Guess what? I planned to go to the Co-op for a quick shop but couldn't park so swore a lot and went to ghastly Somerfield instead. As a result, I met Mrs James and was able to tell her how much I'd enjoyed the evening. She was all pink and pleased which just goes to show that you should make the effort to thank people if you can.

Edited at 2009-04-09 11:20 am (UTC)
Aww, that's lovely!

And I'm intrigued now...
C. and I once did the whole something-in-my-eye scene on Newton Abbot station, complete with clipped Rank Charm School accents. We didn't half get some funny looks.
Wish I'd been there with a camera!
Aah, don't mock the eccents.
If I do it too long it turns Seth Efrican.
Oh lovely! Sounds like a super evening! Looking forward to seeing you Monday.
It was lovely, apart from the uncomfortable seats! A friend is a volunteer at the Tiv so she knew about it well in advance and booked for six of us to go.
Monday: we need a plan.