“By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats. “
– Philip Larkin, This Be the Verse
The lady in the photograph,
with Noel Coward,
is my great grandfather’s sister.
I never met her,
but I heard a lot about her.
She inspired my grandmother,
and my mother,
to pursue a career in acting,
and be rebellious,
to go against family and society,
pursue a personal dream,
at a time when a lady did not do such things.
I did meet her daughter,
who was my (fairy) godmother,
and who also went into acting.
Albeit with the approval of her parents,
who were thespians,
and loved the craft.
She’s most well known for her portrayal,
of the feisty manageress of a station cafe,
in Brief Encounter.
Myrtle Bagot: [Albert Godby smacks her on the backside] Albert Godby, how dare you!
Albert Godby: I couldn’t resist it!
Myrtle Bagot: Oh, well, trouble you for keeping your hands to yourself!
Albert Godby: Oh, you’re blushing – oh, you look wonderful when you’re angry… just like an avenging angel.
Myrtle Bagot: I’ll give you avenging angel!… Coming in here taking liberties!
Albert Godby: I thought last Monday, you said you wouldn’t object to a friendly little slap.
Myrtle Bagot: Never mind about last Monday… I’m on duty now.
– Brief Encounter quotes
While scientists and other people of that ilk,
argue about nature versus nurture,
DNA, genetics, and happenstance,
trying to ascertain what makes us… us,
we keep going,
and letting things flow,
wherever they go.
I didn’t become an actress,
I didn’t even consider it.
I did however inherit the rebellious streak,
which seems to run a marathon,
through the females,
of this particular species.
The males were also rebellious,
just in a less obvious manner.
My great great grandfather was a clergyman,
his sons all joined the forces,
when faced with a crisis,
my ancestors inspire me to,
But be a lady about it.
“My importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my importance to myself is tremendous. I am all I have to work with, to play with, to suffer and to enjoy. It is not the eyes of others that I am wary of, but of my own. I do not intend to let myself down more than I can possibly help, and I find that the fewer illusions I have about myself or the world around me, the better company I am for myself.”
― Noël Coward