This account begins with a synopsis of the play, and is followed
immediately by Jean's recollections of the day.....N.D.
THE GUINEA STAMP
The rank is but the guinea's stamp
The man's the gowd for a' that
Bill lives in a North Midlands village: mines and the
foundry provide the main employment. He lives his own life:
wants more from married life than his tea on the table and
Meeting Hillary he sees the woman he wants but he also wants to
let her find her own way in the village and come to him on equal terms.
Hillary had her own career in teaching but has botched it.
Wanting to inspire her pupils to higher things she gave them an
understanding they could not have. Altruistic motives were translated by one
girl as emotional and Hillary was forced to resign.
Unable to find employment in her chosen career and wary now of being
misunderstood she travelled round the country, taking various jobs, eventually
coming to Bill's village.
Finding somebody understanding, and willing to take her on as she was,
Hillary found stability and was able to take up teaching English in a Technical
College. The urge to inspire came back, and she over- reached her
ambitions with one of the young men.
Talking to him as if he was her intellectual equal, he just assumed
she was attracted to him.
History repeated itself. Hillary was asked to leave. The came the offer of her old
job back again in the girls' boarding school.
It was left to Bill to keep to his own standards and Hillary, for once, to make up
her own mind.
They parted on equal terms. Would they eventually share their
lives together? Time would tell. The Guinea Stamp.
The Master Cutler: Sheffield 8.50 a.m.; Chesterfield 9.03 a.m,
Nottingham 9.20 a.m., St. Pancras 10.40 - the golden days of
Across the road for a No. 7 to The Strand. Pop into Lyons
Corner House for a snack.
Rehearsal 2.30 pm. Recording 3 pm.
It's a city on its own is the BBC: when you come from a
Derbyshire mining village, it is.
David Godfrey, producer, escorted me to the rehearsal room
where the cast of THE GUINEA STAMP was assembled.
A nice man, David; kind, pleasant, unassuming.
I was to find out the BBC hierarchy.
He takes me up to meet the cast.
Meet the cast!
I am not introduced. Left to find my own seat. Nobody takes
the slightest bit of notice.
He joined them; left me on the perimeter. Nobody spoke to me.
I was air-brushed. But it was all new to me, and I'm naturally
reserved, so it suited.
All the talking was muted. I just watched, and learned; listened
to the conversations. I got the drift...they are professionals....
I am not. They are on the inside. I am definitely outside.
They had read their scripts, translated them into their
acting expertise, and got on with the job.
We went down into the studio. The bowels of the earth. Everything
was closed in. The hush was deathly.
The recording room was separated from the acting studio by
a large glass pane. What light there was came reflected from
the studio: all the light in the recording room was from
panel lights. No distractions for the cast.
Again nobody spoke to me: I was gestured to a chair and that was
that. Come to that, no-one spoke to anyone.
It is very claustrophobic. Like being in a tomb. Must have
an effect if you are a regular.
So - off we went. The pro's doing their job; the amateur an
interested onlooker. The recording starts. First thing is you see the actors, see the mouth
move, but the speech doesn't come to you for two seconds. It's weird.
It took some getting used to: the cast in smart clothes, being themselves, and
coming to the mike when necessary to read their parts.
Thing was - they were themselves, but in the play they were my
In two seconds, by their voices, they changed from smart clothes and modulated tones
(except Eva Stuart who was smart and modulated throughout)
to working class and their interpretation of northern
I couldn't get my head round it. Listening to the radio play,
you form your own vision of the cast - the people in the play.
These- oh so different from my own vision - was hard to take.
I then found something else. My script was being altered.
Eva was doing her own interpretation. All my 'bodys' were
being 'ones'. Nobody, no-one; somebody, someone; anybody, anyone.
It grated. It wasn't what I had written. But Eva knew best.
When does a 'body' become a 'one'? Why, when one has been to
University, has a career, is used to the good life - that's when.
Queen Victoria: "WE are not amused."
Of course, to Hillary, one is a lady, one calls oneself one because
one is one, isn't one? Or.....doesn't one?...even.
Preston Lockwood always now played the upper-class, double-breasted
suit with the wing collar.
He was my headmaster who had to tell Hillary that he was
sorry to lose her but he had to let her go.
Halfway through he stopped and said: "I can't say this".
I was shattered. What did he mean, couldn't say it? There were no swear
words. What was wrong with the dialogue? I soon found out.
Preston continued with his speech. He said exactly what he
should have said. Only it was not what I had written.
He had perfected my sloppy grammar. The substance was the same but
it was spoken in perfect English, not in my gobbledegook.
Lesson 1 + Lesson 2 = Lesson 3. She (the Beeb) teaches. You listen
The recording session finished. The captains and kings
on my own.
David Godfrey came to say goodnight. "I hope we see you
again," he said as he left.... and tripped over a stair.
The Master Cutler. St. Pancras 6.30 pm. Nottingham 7.53,
Chesterfield 8.10 pm.
Much to think about.
Which is, of course, another day....somebody said.
I'll be back....somebody also said that.
Jean Barnes / Diversity Website
thanks again, Jean, for writing this for us.....N.D.
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