portals to the soul where the boundary between the inside and outside thins an invitation to enter or maybe stay away
A curious moving tale of serendipity I thought I’d write this because it inspires me to trust that I have no control over or way of knowing how things will unfold. There is mysterious energy at play with its truth to tell I feel this codicil will interest the many people from that time at Leicester Haymarket who, like me, had great affection for Michael. In October completely out of the blue I got an email from a French address saying ‘I acquired your original costume design from a house clearance whilst living down in The Charente’ Caroline Harris had found me via my website in a google search, she was ‘making choices about letting go of loved pictures’ and thought she’d return my drawing to me!
I got very excited, a blast from the past my life in the late 1970’s
After graduating from Central St. Martins as a theatre designer, my first professional job was as one of the three resident designers at Leicester Haymarket
and I designed ELECTRA directed by Michael Meacham.
Michael took a liking to my drawing of Ann Casson as the nurse and had insisted that I gave to him. In those days I had great difficulty parting with my work, so I probably did it with little grace.
With hindsight I see how treasured it was and how dear to his heart the production was.
That period in the history of Leicester Haymarket had a seminal impact on my life and shaped many careers
In the early 1980’s Michael went from directing the shows that interested him to leading the artistic policy of the Haymarket. The politics that came with the role had little appeal for him and by the mid 80’s he retired from theater and moved to Charente
After his move to France I never heard from him, nor did anyone else that I knew from those days, he had turned over a new page, leaving behind this part of his life
Fast forward 30+ years and as I exchange emails, with the lady in France who had a costume drawing with my name on it, I discovered another a piece of the jigsaw
Caroline Harris (herself an actress for 35 before moving to France to paint and restore derelict houses) wrote that in 2015 she ‘was taken to this dust encrusted abandoned house…. every room was piled high with the memorabilia of two theatrical lives and I wanted to save it all. I couldn’t of course, so I decided to save one thing – and it was your Nurse who was whispering Save Me.’ Michaels lifelong partner, the writer and translator Derek Coltman died in 2012 and Michael ‘the survivor had let the house and garden go around him for the three years that he out lived the other. Such a sad, sad story and I can still recall the smell of grief that pervaded the place.’ Reading these lines, it makes me tearful all over again, the deep sadness of loss. In tune with the melancholy of this autumn and my own sense of letting go as the season is laid bear and winter takes hold
As I sit at my computer ‘the nurse’ is back and all the more precious for the beauty she has inspire in the people she has touched.
I’ll leave you with Caroline’s words
‘I came to have your design and I have loved her on your behalf for the three years since that unforgettable day’
Michael, bless you and the lovely Caroline for her open heart.
Jana Appleyard looking incredible check out her retreats
The thought melts in my mouth, tantalise my taste buds old faces, like old hands carry with them the residue of all that has been seen and felt, the wisdom of ages, touching the deepest knowing I see here the quiet, patient, care that surrounds this small holding and it reminds me of my grandfather born in an age before the car or tv and christened Norman his name and life so particular to men of his generation bears witness to the enduring resilience and stoicism that survived TWO world wars and a crippling depression ‘ship shape and Bristol fashion’ this plot of land is ordered and ready like my bench as i prepare to speculate on paper with its rows of sharpened pencils, marshalled for action my granddad weeded, hoed and prepared his allotment fostering a sense of calm, to offset the chaos created by growth he ‘worked the land’ moulded, honed, and encouraged
inviting nature to conjure from the flat, waterlogged fens of cambridgeshire,
asters, chrysanthemums and statices, beautiful blooms to sell at market
poles apart from this olive grove in the sun baked croatian island of hvar what they share is beyond time or place a poignant humility, an ever changing dialogue that listens then responds to the great limitless power of the universe far from the deaf, dumb and blind dictates of profit and loss that hold us hostage and diminish our spirit.
I thought these were christmas roses BUT mum tells me that they are in fact lenten lilies! Dark singed burgundy and aubergine reflecting the passion of christ overblown, nicotine stained heavy with the weight of the world this lily of lent pregnant with the promise of atonement makes room for the tight, bright buds of new growth its familial resemblance to a christmas rose links the birth of christ with his death at easter my dad was born on christmas day and died on good friday so these are for you dad with love
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself, and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate; For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings That then I scorn to change my state with kings. read by Maya Anjelou on poetry please what a treat.