Tuesday, February 01, 2011

It Puzzled me for Years.

‘Have you got any chocolate?

It was the second time I had seen William – ten days after we met at the hospital dance and we were going to the flicks. He might as well know my weaknesses straight off - I was just 20 and still suffering from the trauma of sweet rationing which continued long after the end of the war.

‘I’ll go and get some but there’s something I should tell you - I have a stammer.’

One of the first things that attracted me to him was his beautiful speaking voice – a little like a young Roger Livesey and although we had chatted pretty well non stop there had been no trace of a stammer. As soon as we went in the sweet shop William’s jaw seemed to be paralysed and he couldn’t utter. The first of many dilemmas: did I speak for him or wait with the shop keeper in an increasingly embarrassed silence.

In the end I spoke up saying which was my preference. Later he told me he had had the stammer as long as he could remember but it got really bad when he was about eleven and his parents – both school teachers - had scraped up the money to send him up to London to be treated by Lionel Logue – an Australian speech therapist who was treating the King’s younger son who became King.

‘No way was I going to let this trick cyclist teach me how to speak!’ With my northern pragmatism this seemed like cutting off your nose to spite your face. It was even more of a puzzle when I realised how much he loved and respected his quite elderly parents and for years I couldn’t understand how he could waste their hard earned money like that.

The stammer never stopped him doing what he wanted to do. He had served in the navy, opting to be a rating rather than an officer like his brother, and had just finished at university where he got a first class honours. Later a friend told me he was in the debating society and when he was told his allotted speaking time was up insisted he should have longer as he had a stammer.

After the cinema – without hesitation, ten days into our relationship, he asked me to marry him. I noticed at the dance he had happily chatted to Matron – a rare occurrence. No shrinking violet he.


Back to the future and in the consultant’s waiting room we had just started our coffee – espresso for MTL and latte for me when Doctor F popped his head round the door and said they were running early.

‘Oooh good – we’re hoping to go to the cinema!’

He was pleased with all the results he’d been monitoring, noted MTL had put on some weight, and after an examination made an appointment for March after he had had the results of a scan to be taken in late February. He said as the cancer had been quite aggressive he wanted to make sure all was well.

Perfect timing: by the time we reached the cinema there was time to eat the bacon sarnies I had made and we were seated by 1 pm agog. Eryl told me to take tissues and I felt a prickle from the very first shot when I absorbed the art nouveau décor. But there were no tears – I was transfixed – a little girl again, and stayed rapt till the glorious end.

When you see Bertie’s anger and scorn at Lionel’s antics and multiply then by a hundred you would get some idea of that young boy’s attitude and now I could see clearly how it happened. What a pity he didn’t have the equivalent of a young Queen Mum to encourage and nurture him. One of his grandsons ( William died before he was born) also has a stammer but he is much more amenable to treatment and doesn’t let it impede him in any way.

The acting is superb but Helena Bonham Carter was an absolute joy. She looked incredibly like the young Bowes Lyon, more beautiful but most importantly she got Elizabeth’s natural charm and class. Some actors think it is enough to talk posh and I commend *Australian Guy Pearce for getting Edward’s gamey type of speech so accurately. I enjoyed Geoffrey Rush's performance. As he walked towards the camera with a slight swagger I recognised someone from that period - was it Noel Coward?

If you can keep a cinema audience in a breathless hush I think one might say the film worked. It truly is magnificent, I couldn’t fault it and that doesn’t often happen. You don’t have to be British but my God I felt proud of what that film portrayed. After an unprecedently difficult start, Bertie went on to be a much loved king – with the help and support of Elizabeth his wife. We were so fortunate not to have ended up with the weak and selfish Edward who ended his days not very happily with Mrs Simpson.

As the audience filed out I noted many of them were very elderly women with many sticks and wheel chairs. That would account for the silence: they had all been little girls again for a couple of hours.

* Actually Guy Pearce was born in the UK and went to Australia aged three.



mapstew said...

I had not intended going to see this but you have changed my mind!

So, who would you like to play the part of Pat when they make the 'fillum' of your book? :¬)


The Unbearable Banishment said...

It's the favorite to get the Best Picture Oscar but there's a campaign in Hollywood to bad-mouth the film simply because it was made in the UK and not the US. They don't want to send the statue overseas. What rubbish!

Guy Pearce was at his best in L.A. Confidential.

Granny Annie said...

If I could vote I would pick many more films from the UK than the US for awards. I love British movies and television because the people are real people and not all hunks and sex pots. The focus is on acting and not to whom you are related.

Scarlet Blue said...

Helena Bonham Carter is one of my favourite actresses. I'm looking forward to seeing this film... and I may take your advice and visit the cinema.

Pat said...

Mapstew: I have thought about it and it's difficult with today's actresses as I am so old hat, but my choice would be Anna Paquin - Sookie in 'True blood'.
I should be so lucky.
So glad I've influenced you:)

UB: bad mouth that film? Bring it on! We'll see.

I don't think they had ever forgiven that clot of an actor who said year ago at the Oscars 'The Brits are coming!'
Can't remember his name - used to be in 'Z cars.'and looks like a teddy bear.
I loved Guy in 'Neighbours'.

Granny Annie: I think you should be on the Oscar selection panel for your excellent taste:)

Guyana-Gyal said...

My childhood friend stuttered really badly. It was so painful to watch her try to talk. I think she's in Canada now, I hope she's had therapy and it's helped her.

Oh, how I long to watch English films, French films, films from far, far away.

Ponita in Real Life said...

I definitely have to see this one. Everyone I know who's seen it just raves. And being Canadian, with much stronger ties to the UK than the US, I hope it wins and the statue does traverse the ocean!

Queenie said...

What a terrific review. I'd love to see it but will probably have to wait until it comes on TV. So glad YTL is doing so well, that was the best part for me.

Kim Ayres said...

I'm hoping we'll find a time for me & Maggie to go and see it together, but as that involves trying to find a babysitter on an appropriate night in an area rather limited in cinemas, we might just end up having to get out the DVD

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

As I said in my first "movie" Post---I LOVED this film, and I am not British, as you know. It is quite fascinating that your William did not want to take advantage of Mr. Logue's gifts---but, it seems he flourished anyway from what you say....I think "THE KINGS SPEECH" is such an inspiring film and was deeply deeply moved by it---I have seen it three times now! I LOVED Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush--In fact, I thought ALL the actors were flawless.....England was more than lucky not to have Edward continue as King--besides being a Nazi sympathizer he was also Anti-Semetic---not a good combination preceeding WW2....! I always admired The Royal Family---Even had a BEAUTIFUL Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle of The King and Queen and the young Elizabeth & Margaret....This film gives you such a sense of the Humanity of them as a couple and a family...

Incidentally, my dear...Jim Broadbent was not in "DOWNTON ABBEY"..It was Jim Carter playing that part--Indeed, we just had "DOWNTON ABBEY" here on our PBS Stations---I enjoyed it tremendously!! Looking forward to the 2nd series !

Sheri said...

I agree wholeheartedly. It was truly magnificent. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. (This coming from an American.) I felt like cheering at the end!

Eryl said...

No tears, you must be tough! I cried with horror/anger/outrage when Bertie told Logue about how his nanny had treated him, how he and his siblings had to be readied for 'viewing' by his parents (all so cold!) and how his calipers were agony. Then when he left Logue standing in the park and Logue looked so sad, then again at the end – this time with joy – at his triumphant speech. I was literally washed clean of make-up when I left the cinema. Loved every second of it and would go and see it again in a flash.

Helena Bonham Carter was brilliant, I always like her, but liked her particularly in this.

Glad to hear ytl is doing so well.

Pat said...

scarlet: I hope you can manage it - really worth it:)

GG: I don't know if I'm right but I have always differentiated between a stammer and a stutter.
I think of a stutter as a pppppp (or any consonant) type utterance where a stammer is a complete stoppage of speeech - momentarily. Could be wrong.

Ponita: yay! Right on girl!

Queenie: don't tell me you are watching TV now? Is nothing sacred?

Kim: it looked hopeless for our seeing it but miracle do happen and I hope you and Maggie get to see it.

Naomi: oh the shame! I get the two Jims' names confused and also confuse the faces of Hugh Bonneville and Jim Broadbent. Thanks for putting me right - it's an age thing.
They are doing a new version of Upstairs Downstairs and that's another opportunity for more confusion with D. Abbey for me. Oh dear!

Sheri: that's great to hear:)

Eryl: I can be tough - especially the last few months - I have felt my mother's steel enter my soul. But this was so strong an emotion - it was beyond tears. Do you know what I mean?
I didn't cry at my father's funeral but an ad on TV can have me in floods.

Mary Witzl said...

I want to see this now too! And I couldn't agree more with you about Edward and Mrs. Simpson.

Madame DeFarge said...

Anyone who sounds like a young Roger Livesey would be fine in my book. He is one of the reasons for my Powell and Pressburger obsession. A marvellous voice and presence.

And a lovely review of the film. I shall go and swoon at Colin Firth. It's my right as a woman.

angryparsnip said...

I had a stutter when I was younger. I remember my Teachers and Nuns tapping my shoulder to make me stop. I also remember becoming more thoughtful of what I was saying and luckily I grew (?) out of it.

I can't wait to see this movie and hope to see it as soon as I get better, been sick since Christmas. It sounds fabulous.
I loved Donwton Abbey, great story, fabulous scenery and clothes !

Glad to hear all is well on YTL doctors results, Good News !

cheers, parsnip

Pat said...

Mary: we used to sing:
Who's thet coming down the street? Mrs Simpson - ain't she sweet?
She's been married twice before,
Now she's knocking on Eddie's door.
We didn't know the half of it.

Madame D: yes one can be seduced by a voice and the stammer didn't put me off one bit.

Parsnip: I think sometimes the person who stammers has a brain that races on so quickly it's impossible for their speech to keep up. Just one of my theories.
Do get well soon and treat yourself to the film.
Yes the health front just now is a great relief but there ain't no guarantees.

lom said...

We saw this film a couple of weeks ago, it brought a tear to my eye, I thought it was so up-lifting

Pat said...

Lom: it was great wasn't it?

kenju said...

I can't wait to see that movie, but I'll have to be over this cold first.

Pat said...

Judy: if it lingers much longer you ought to see the doc. You don't want pleurisy.

Lonely Rivers said...

As I said, I LOVED this movie and have put out the invite to see it again with any friends who haven't yet gone. My earliest memory of British Royalty - I was in second grade and we were brought into the auditorium in my tiny upstate New York school, to watch the coronation of the enchanting Princess Elizabeth - the new Queen of England. The minute black and white TV couldn't diminish my awe and fascination with this ceremony.

lom said...

No Judy you don't want pleurisy, it hurts!

rashbre said...

When we saw this at the cinema there was a loud round of spontaneous applause at the end of the movie.

Anonymous said...

for the first time in ages, I have read every comment! I MUST go and see this film and will look into times etc so LOML and I can get there together!

I agree about Edward and Mrs Simpson - you can see how weak he was by his mouth - in the end I think he did the right thing and if there HAD been a change in the constitution so he married La Simpson, we would have had Elizabeth II as Queen probably anyway. The shame is that Bertie never had the expectation of being King and thus when it was thrust upon him was not prepared. He did a marvellous job in dreadful times though along with the QM ... and both were loved by the nation for it ...

oh, I've given myself tears just thinking about it!

glad YTL is on the mend

Kath said...

What a wonderful review! I can't wait to see it again and you just made it that much worse :-)

There are always campaigns for films during the Oscars and they can be quite nasty. I'm sure this year is no different. However, my bet's on The King's Speech!

P.S. I cried as well, guys!

Pat said...

Lonely Rivers; I saw it on the newsreel at the cinema. It was a year or two before we were the proud owners of a TV but it was still quite riveting.

Rashbre: what a great reaction! I expect my more elderly audience were applauding in their hearts.

Rosneath: well done for reading all the comments! By hook or by crook you must see it with LOYL.
Edward was enormously popular with the common folk - he had the common touch and there was a real danger that the country could have turned against Bertie which he well knew. Thank God it all turned out for the best.
all that wretched smoking did for him in the end alas.

Kath: good girl! With you on our side all should be well. I hope Royal enjoys it.

Mike and Ann said...

At the end of a film (especially one like that) I STILL find myself half expecting the National Anthem to be played. If it had been at the end of the King's Speech I think Everyone in the cinema would have been standing to attention.

Pat said...

Mike and Ann: what a pity they didn't think of it. Just for once it would have been a fitting show of respect.

andrea said...

I really enjoyed reading your review and personal relationship to the movie. It was brilliant and I was transfixed. Even reading about the historical inaccuracies later didn't dim the experience for me. 'Course, being the same age as Colin Firth and an avid follower of his career, I enjoyed it that much more. And H B-C was bang on, too. It deserves as many Oscars as it can sweep up!

Pat said...

Andrea: welcome and so glad you liked the film and what I said about it. We must keep our fingers crossed for the Oscars.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Pat...I meant to mention about "DOWNTON ABBEY" that Julien F. stole something right out of "Mrs. Miniver"....! I was quite shocked---It was the Flower Show and Maggie Smith always winning, but finally giving the Award to the very desrving man...! Do you remember that scene?? It was a very prominent part of "Miniver"....Even if HE didn't remember it exactly, someone working on the series had to have recognized that story....Odd, isn't it?

Pat said...

Naomi: there was a great hoo ha about this and other bits from the old 'Upstairs Downstairs' that seemed to have been borrowed..
He got quite cross about it and put it down to jealousy!