It was the old soldiers who made the programme. No matter how much fun it is to hear famous people say lovely things about our Vera Lynn on the occasion of her 100th birthday (Wow!), it was the men who fought in WWII, and who are still with us, like Vera, who started the waterworks, both on me and on themselves.
Hearing Vera discuss the past with her daughter was almost like hearing any mother and daughter pair hark back in time. And that’s good in itself, as it proves how normal she still manages to be. Dame and the forces’ sweetheart she may be, but deep down Vera Lynn comes across like that aunt from east London I never had.
The music specialists had much nice to say, as did those famous people dug up to talk. Odd in a way to have Paul McCartney sit there as though he personally remembered listening to Vera on the radio during the war. Maybe he did.
But as I said, the old soldiers, reminiscing about hearing Vera live somewhere in Burma, or on the radio, and crying at the memories; that’s what made this programme. Telling their own stories, and singing along to We’ll Meet Again, before finally wishing their star a happy 100th. There’s not many of them left.
(Photo © BBC)
You want to be careful with your pseudonyms when writing things for the BBC. Bill Paterson found that the story he sent them under an assumed name, was not only accepted by them, but they told him they’d get Bill Paterson to read it. Yes, well.
The National Theatre could almost have put Bill Paterson and Ian Jack in a larger auditorium than the Cottesloe on Wednesday evening. Maybe they thought a platform reading from a book about Glasgow in the 1950s wouldn’t attract too many people. Wrong. The place was heaving, and I seemed to recognise quite a few familiar faces. I’m sure it was Miriam Margolyes sitting three feet away, but I’m too much of a coward to ask “Are you…?”
Tales From the Back Green which Bill wrote to see if he could write, as well as act and all that, sounds like a great little book. Though from last night’s reading I think that most of all I’d like it as an audio book, and if they could get that Bill Paterson to read it, I’d be grateful.
Glasgow in the summer of 1955 sounds nice enough, but three weeks of sunshine is a little bit of a tall tale, surely? Bill loved the trams, and I don’t think that makes him an anorak. Trams are awfully loveable. I’d even go so far as to agree that seaweed is also very interesting. I think the seaweed was connected with Rothesay, where I’ve actually been. Nice place.
I wasn’t taking notes, but I recall snippets about football, the pope playing the pools, and something about biscuits. This feels about right for the city where someone tried to make me put sugar on my corn flakes, the first time I visited.
With my normal flair for things I could have been second in the queue for the book signing, except I hadn’t bought one to be signed, which put a damper on things. The man was practically sitting in the ladies toilet to sign. The Cottesloe is lovely. But small.