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Old Rage: 'One of our best-loved actor's powerful riposte to a world driving her mad’ - DAILY MAIL

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Witnessing and then accepting the decay of your physical self as you age is a brutal reality and it's captured well in Sheila's diaries. John was abandoned by his mother, and it dominated his life to a certain extent, certainly his relationships.

Her analysis of the political environment in the UK as well as the rest of the world is thoughtful and passionate.Oh, I do agree – and the wonderful thing about getting older is that you can be a bit cantankerous and odd. And then we join her through COVID; what it was like being told that you are extremely vulnerable and then being forced to live in isolation.

I find it interesting to see Hancock's point of view on a great many recent events from a perspective somewhere less Americentric. Sheila Hancock, one of Britain's most highly regarded and popular actors, received a Damehood for services to drama and charity in 2021.

At Rada, where Hancock trained to be an actor, she and Shani Wallis (best known for playing Nancy in the 1968 film of Oliver! It summed up a stage we were at: him being very sexy in leather, us spending money we’d never had before, and me driving him mad with my guidebooks. Sheila Hancock is one of Britain's most highly regarded and popular actors, and received an OBE for services to drama in 1974 and a CBE in 2011.

I didn't get any of the humour that Hancock usually has when being interviewed or in her previous books. Today is particularly piercing on this score, the death of Denis Waterman, Thaw’s co-star in The Sweeney, having just been announced.Old Rage” is in no way a metaphorical title: this is a brutally honest and fiercely funny book by a lady who has pretty much seen it all, and may yet have some life left in her.

But she can at least take a good long look at life – her work and family, her beliefs (many of them the legacy of her wartime childhood) and, uncomfortable as it might be to face, her future. Glass in hand, she is resplendent: a walking, talking advertisement for a good haircut – this, she insists, is the real secret of eternal youth – and an abiding interest in other people. The last night of Sweeney Todd… [Hancock played Mrs Lovett in the original West End production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical in 1980] I’m ashamed I didn’t enjoy it: the audience going wild; me having to tell them to shut up, because I couldn’t hear the band, and I needed to make my pies in time to it.I really enjoyed the book but found it really quite angry and sometimes found that hard to merge with Sheila Hancock's Quaker faith but then I guess I learnt something there too - being a pacifist most definitely doesn't mean you're a walk over. But these bands of gold stand as a reminder that she was born into a world that barely anyone remembers now. Views about Brexit, universal education, decent pay for NHS staff…punctuate memories of the author’s life, her family, her life on stage and the actors and mortals she has met along the way. Loveable and forthright character that she is, Sheila lays it on the line and it’s all from the heart, which is why her prose is passionate and interesting. Names familiar and less familiar all get mentions into how their paths crossed and the impact those others have had on the arts.

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