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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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Sheila Hancock definitely isn't letting things pass her by if they frustrate her or, as a country, we haven't learnt from previous experiences. I know that I do, and it happens all over again three days later when I bump into her unexpectedly at the author of the year party at Hatchard’s in Piccadilly. 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. It was so honest and to the point -Sheila just says things as they are and is not afraid to be opiniated and to share those views -and this was so refreshing and I really resonated with this!

In December 2017 in the Diary entry Sheila’s Aunt Billie had been moved into a hospital and was apparently fading fast. Old Rage by Sheila Hancock is a funny, poignant and feisty memoir of the actress, who is now approaching her nineties. She covers everything in old age from the loneliness and aches and pains to rage at the body that once did so much but now can’t, and the strange society that we’re all making our way through. I realised that maybe I wasn’t as much of a wordsmith as I thought I was, as she uses a lot of words that I didn’t understand and had to look up, so prepare yourself for feeling like an English language novice. She is brave although fearful and sometimes tearful but still interested in people, hugely engaged with the world and keen to promote change.When Sheila went to the hospital the next day her ninety three Aunt Billie quietly had let go of her grasp on 18th December. This is a lady who has seen World War, learned to use Zoom and WhatsApp, acted on stage with the greats and walks the deserted streets of London during the pandemic.

Hancock, who kept wondering why the producers hadn’t cast Judi Dench until she found herself lying in a freezing cold sleeping bag 2,000 feet up on the side of a mountain, believes she is the oldest person ever to have done this – though as she admits in Old Rage, the short flight in the helicopter that retrieved her from the summit was, in the end, far more terrifying than the climb. Having just gone through the Covid Pandemic on my own myself I did find it a bit depressing but her spirit is still going strong. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. I right away looked up the movie "Edie" which gutted me in the first few minutes (if you watch nothing else see Edie's confrontation with her midlife daughter) and what came after was awfully sweet.

In her latest book, the grand dame of British acting, Sheila Hancock, takes vicious yet educated swipes at Brexit, bereavement, British television and the state of the nation compared to her wartime childhood. In Old Rage, she asserts that The Wildcats of St Trinian’s, in which she starred in 1980, is one of the worst films ever made, and that appearances as Senna Pod in Carry on Cleo and as a version of Margaret Thatcher in a “weird” episode of Doctor Who will “not get me listed on anyone’s roster of great performances”. She is kind and doesn’t have a bad word when speaking of people she knows and has met over the years.

She reflects on her past, how she got where she is However, what stands out is her commitment to being a positive influence in the world from involvement in arts programs in schools, to workers rights and human rights.I would have preferred more about her as a person and her life and career, but maybe she’s done that in her previous books. However, her enquiring mind never ceases to scrutinise the after-effects of Covid-19 and Brexit while politics tops the list with shoddy government, weak politicians, inept prime ministers, poor decision making, and lack of support for the education system. She remembers the war, she has direct memory of how people behaved and cause that we, as a human condition, caused one another and how long it took to rebuild bridges. so rapidly over the last few decade but Sheila’s “Old Rage” is a steadfastly honest piece of writing. Don’t be daft, I tell her, when she claims not to know why she has been invited – at which point, clasping my hand, she gets on with asking me questions (tonight’s subject: social media trolls).

She defies the stereotype of an octogenarian and it was wonderful to read her thoughts on many current events and her reflections on her life. As recently as 2016, not only was she on stage at the Southwark Playhouse every night for weeks, appearing in Grey Gardens, a musical about Jackie Kennedy’s eccentric relatives; she also played a grieving widow in Edie, a film for which she was required to climb remote Suilven in the Scottish Highlands. I enjoyed this, although I'm not a fan of celebrity autobiography, which is often very self indulgent. 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. Following the death of her husband, John Thaw, she wrote a memoir of their marriage, The Two of Us, which was a number one bestseller and won the British Book Award for Author of the Year.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. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Oh, I do agree – and the wonderful thing about getting older is that you can be a bit cantankerous and odd. John was abandoned by his mother, and it dominated his life to a certain extent, certainly his relationships. Following the death of her husband, John Thaw, she wrote a memoir of their marriage, The Two of Us , which was a no.

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