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Here is a conversation I had with my mother yesterday.  This type of conversation will be familiar to people of a certain age.

We had been discussing my daughter A’s hair.  A has blonde hair but has recently dyed it a deep red.  To be fair, she had intended it to be a red-gold colour but it is now a dark magenta.  She has been this colour before and usually goes red when she is anxious and/or depressed.  The deeper the colour the more anxious she is – a sort of litmus test for her family.

Mother:  I liked it when she had her hair cut short that time a few years ago.

Me:        Yes, we did too.  I thought it suited her but she wasn’t impressed by it.  She prefers her hair long.

Mother:  It reminded me of the girl in that film.  The film where two women go to Italy and this girl joins them.

Me:        (Interrogatively) Yes?

Mother:  Her hair was in a short bob just like A.

Me:        Oh yes, I think I know the film you mean.  (Thinks: A’s hair was blonde and wavy but the actress had dark, straight hair!) 

I must interrupt the narrative here to explain the ‘game’.  A conversation is carried on using very few proper nouns.  While trying to remember the name/title etc you want, you try to think of other times you have seen/heard of/used etc the aforesaid name/title etc.  You drag this second example into the conversation with the hope that it will shock your memory into remembering the first.  Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.  The person you are having the conversation with also tries to work out the subject’s name and also may suggest their own examples.  The harder you try to remember the worse it gets.  A joker can also be played where a totally erroneous example is given by mistake and the whole conversation spirals out of control and all concerned begin to doubt their sanity.

To continue….

Mother:  You know the story – the book was written by that German  woman.

Me:        Yes, I know the story.  She wasn’t German she was Australian but had married a German nobleman.  I’m trying to think of the title……erm…..erm….I know….something ‘..April’

Mother:  Yes, that’s the one.  She also wrote about her garden.

Me:        Funnily enough, I was listening to the music to the film a  couple of days ago.  Richard Rodney Bennett wrote it.  I think the actress who played the girl is really very beautiful.  I can’t remember her name.  She hasn’t been in many things recently but she was in one of the David Suchet ‘Poirot’ episodes.

Mother:  (Uninterestedly) Oh?  (Slight pause)  That nice actor was in  it too.  The one in ‘Foyle’s War’.

Me:         (Smugly)  Michael Kitchen.

Mother:  Yes, that’s who I mean.  Often plays strange men.  That  other woman was in it too.  She was Lawrence Olivier’s wife.  You know who I mean.

Me:         Er… Um..Oh yes.  She was also in that film – something,      something ‘..Mussolini’.  I remember!!  (Joyously)  ‘The Enchanted April’!!

Mother:  Yes, of course.

We had a laugh and then Mum had the last word as usual.

Mother:  (Victoriously)  Well, there’s an an excuse for me as I’m 84.    What’s your excuse?!

Me:        (A feeble smile)

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim 1922

Made into a film in 1992 and directed by Mike Newell.

Starring; Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker, Joan Plowright, Alfred Molina, Jim Broadbent, Michael Kitchen.

Musical score by Richard Rodney Bennett.

Shot on location at Castello Brown, Portofino, Italy.


Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim  1898


Agatha Christie’s Poirot  1989/1990

Peril at End House

Dramatised by Clive Exton

Starring:  David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson, Pauline Moran, Polly Walker


Foyle’s War  Created by Anthony Horovitz

A British detective drama TV series set during and shortly after the Second World War.  Action takes place in Hastings, a town on the south coast of England.

Starring:  Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell, Julian Ovenden.


Tea With Mussolini  1999

Adapted from the memoirs of Franco Zeffirelli

Directed by Franco Zeffirelli

Starring:  Cher, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, Lily Tomlin.