Saturday, March 22, 2014

An old friend - Julia aka Jean McConnell

Some of you may remember the following when I was writing in the blog about my early life;
 this was in the sixties;

“I learned a lot working back stage on ‘The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll’ and had dreams of directing a play myself. At the wrap party Pete the director, introduced me to his wife, Julia. I had heard a lot about her. She was a writer, producer and actress and about ten years older than me. I heard her before I saw her and she was clearly a ball of fire – surrounded by a group of appreciative listeners whilst she held the floor. What intrigued me was the fact that she was lively and bouncy with black hair and a pale face but with tragic eyes. I recognised that look of a hidden sadness and when we were introduced the recognition was mutual.

We became friends – kindred spirits really - and when I saw her productions and saw her acting I realised how very talented she was. I told her I would be happy to help in any way in her next production although I was getting a variety of acting parts. I must have had a good report from Pete because she asked me to be assistant producer on her next play. She said I would have to take rehearsals when she was kept in town so it would be great experience.”

Julia was not her real name and she is less than ten years older.  Sadly distance and mobility problems mean we are kept apart now but frequently have long animated telephone conversations about the fun we had, the holiday in Venice, the friends now departed and the productions we were involved in. She was a magnificent Martha in the production I am most proud of:  “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

In spite of failing eyesight Jean is still working and has just had one of her older books published as an ebook.  Here is what I wrote about it:_

 The Country Doctor.

 Jean McConnell

As a teenager Linda was inspired by Marie Curie and dreamed of changing the medical world by a breakthrough in research, but during her training an encounter with a patient made it clear to her that direct contact with people was what she really wanted.
Having completed her training and ended a painful love affair she flees to the West Country to take up a six month post in General Practice under the auspices of the elderly Dr Ford.  His patience and wisdom helps Linda to temper her passions and to try to remain objective.  His son is not so patient, resulting in a few spats between the two young people.

 Living in the West Country for almost 30 years it is clear to me that the author knows the people and their ‘country ways’  She lets the characters speak for themselves and from the feckless Damerel family to the fearsome Commander they become real people.  She conjures up not only the charm of the countryside but also the tastes and smells and I learned a new expression – to ‘bell the cat.’ Google tells me it is to do a daring deed.

 Linda is a heroine I can empathise with and I enjoyed reading how she overcomes local prejudices because she’s pretty, a woman, an incomer and ‘not the proper doctor.’

  I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.


















kenju said...

You have met and known some wonderful, talented people in your day! Our precious memories are so fun to look back on, aren't they?

Pat said...

Judy: and I have never talked so much on the phone as I do now. Two regulars I have known since I was 2. Sometimes the details of our memories vary quite amazingly:)

Granny Annie said...

And so this post has finally made it clear to me that I don't know you at all and I must start at the beginning. Already it is fascinating.

angryparsnip said...

I always enjoy when you talk about your life, especially your stage work.
It was great to hear that the author knew the people/area she was writing about.

cheers, parsnip

About Last Weekend said...

Gosh you really have known a plethora of talented and interesting people - and you were an actress as well? How lovely to have such a friendship and this books sounds like an intelligent and entertaining read. BTW, didn't you have a book that an agent was interested in, I'm going to read some back copies of your posts to find out what is happening with that...

Ms Scarlet said...

Sorry, Pat I wasn't signed in properly when I clicked publish comment, so I not sure if it's waiting to be moderated! It was:-

Sounds like Jean's book has all the ingredients to be made into a TV series... we need something to fill the gap that Call the Midwife has left on a Sunday evening.

Mage said...

It's lovely to have special friends like this.

Vagabonde said...

I think it is one of the pleasures of being older – one has old friends with wonderful shared memories. You have had such a variety of experiences – I enjoy reading your reminiscences. The book would be a good one to read, too.

Pat said...

Granny Annie: now don't get lost in the archives. I usually do.

Parsnip: I remember she used to holiday in Cornwall for years.
Some of her plays are also set in the west country.

ALW: re the book - it has been a roller coaster and then after Alastair died I lost heart but maybe its time to look at it again. We'll see:)

Scarlet: that's exactly what I thought when I read it. (TV series.) And Linda is more sympatico than Doc Martin.

Mage: yes we have to make the most of them whilst they are still here.

Vagabonde: I'm so glad you enjoy reading my stuff - it makes it all worthwhile.

Carmi Levy said...

You have the coolest circle of friends and colleagues, Pat. And I must apologize for being so out of the blogging loop for so long. I'm glad I dropped in today!

Pat said...

Carmi: so glad you dropped in.
Don't be a stranger:)

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh,Pat....I love that you are still friends and still in touch---The shared memories of such a wonderfully creative time....Nothing like it!

It really sounds like this book would be a GREAT Series, Mini or otherwise. An interesting project for both of you, maybe?

Pat said...

Naomi: not for me but I'll see I if I can't get Jean interested in giving it a go.

LL Cool Joe said...

You've known some interesting people during your life. I'm glad you are still friends. It was a good review.