I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Another vocal

The intro to Tone Deaf's home page kicks off - inexplicably, even hysterically - with reference to a passage in Shakespeare, where Lady Percy's love for her now dead husband, Harry Hotspur, keeps bursting through her attempts to dissuade her father-in-law from going to war.

Given I was bumptious enough to record my progress in singing, a recent mania, I decided I might now resurrect earlier feelings for this passionate, richly feminine declamation. However whenever I read this passage aloud my voice always cracks at a certain line. But, I reasoned, this surely wouldn't happen if I was reading for the microphone.

It did. But I've left the sob in because it's authentic and it seems to work.



  1. Your slight Yorkshire accent reminds me of James Mason's voice, RR. He was of similar origins.

    That may be a compliment, if you liked Mason??

  2. Hugely moving for me, and your personal reactions and feelings shine through.

    Apart from that, from a practical viewpoint, you have got the whole thing across without any hesitation or fluffing, and I am impressed with that. I have, a few times recorded my message for the telephone answering system, and, short as it is I have had to do it several times before I was even half satisfied. I know that I hate to hear my own voice, and I think that most others do, but let me assure you, there is nothing amiss with yours. Well done, I know you have been winding up to this for some time.


    Avus - James Mason in The Shooting Party - one of my most memorable acting performances, and that with not many words.

  3. Avus: I've always admired James Mason but surely I lack his sibilants, a very dominant feature of his mode of speech. However, my opinion doesn't matter; VR's enormous enthusiasm for JM may explain an event that occurred almost exactly 56 years ago.

    Sir Hugh: Well, thanks. There is one fluff (apart from the cracking voice) but it's a small one and I decided to let it be. In fact I too was surprised I was almost fluff-free since I've always encountered problems in the past reading material for recording. It was the only form of superiority I conceded to Huw Edwards and I take malicious glee in the fact that old age (present in his stuffy body ever since he was fifteen) is finally taking over and he is starting to fluff quite regularly; this despite the fact his link-phrases never vary. Recently I noticed he was in Patagonia doing a piece about the population's Welsh origins; there'll be more of this, I hope, and I look forward to seeing him in Borneo, speaking to one of the tribes with a history of cannibalism. Being eyed him up for the pot, but devoid of his pin-stripe.

  4. Well. Your inner actor is obviously ready to step on stage at any moment. No joking, this is a seriously good and moving reading.

  5. Nathalie: I feel somewhat embarrassed.

    It would seem as if I'd served up this reading off the cuff as proof I have instinctive theatrical talent. Not so. It's been simmering in my mind for sixty-five years and represents just about the only positive thing that emerged from my formal schooling in Bradford. In my last year (1951) Henry IV, Part Two was one of the set books for O-level English and even then - callow, ignorant, obdurate to the whole education process - I responded to Lady Percy's agonies and she's lived with me ever since. Almost as an afterthought I tacked a text of her speech on to my blog. A couple of years ago I decided to learn the forty lines by heart simply to please myself and as a tribute to its author. I used to be good at memorising (could once recite about a dozen verses of the Rubaiyat) but old age has diminished this skill and it proved beyond me.

    But I - like you - have profited from MikeM's revelation about picosong and I decided to do the next best thing.

    I try to to be modest or at least clear-sighted about what I do in Tone Deaf but I must admit this is OK. But then so it should be. I've prepared it (without thinking about it as preparation) over what used to be a normal lifetime. It would have a shocking comment if the result had been inanimate; secretly, I suppose, I would have let down Lady Percy who is obviously the precursor to the women who figure in my five novels, all heroes to me.

    Anyway, thanks for your favourable judgment which has, for me, an ironic twist. Just once, aged about fifty, I wrote a play (five playlets actually) and cast myself as the narrator linking the elements. I enjoyed addressing an audience but not half as much as watching the other actors take words I had written and give them life. But it was a road not taken. Once again my gratitude for your unqualified response.

  6. At last I understand the line at the top of your blog. You did explain, but Shakespeare never makes sense to me when I read it to myself. A most excellent rendition, thank you!

  7. Robbie, it would be interesting to hear your play/playlets if there was some way to get it/them into digital format?

    in case you're interested, I've just posted another picosong recording, in French.

  8. Blonde Two: Not surprisingly, plays written four hundred years ago demand a special approach. One important rule is not to to be discouraged by the opening scenes. Notwithstanding several exceptions, this is usually Shakespeare at his worst: poetry used for what it is least fitted for, summarising what's recently happened and setting out what's going to happen. The lines are often dense with dullish facts and references to characters you haven't yet met. My rule-of-thumb is to pick up what you can and hope that as the plot expands the opaque stuff will gradually become clear.

    These opening scenes are less of a problem with the better-known plays since you'll usually have some inkling of the plot. With the more obscure plays you can expect problems. On two occasions before I saw plays at Stratford (The Taming Of the Shrew was one) I bought the Oxford University paperback of the text, since this series carries lots of useful footnotes. Plays don't usually take long to read.

    I realise this sounds more like school than having fun but there's a certain amount of smugness to be derived from such application. You feel you're ahead of the herd and entitled to sneer. Also the texts can offer their own entertainment. For instance I know As You Like It fairly well but bought the OU version thinking I should know more. I do now. AYLI is one of the dirtiest plays ever for double meanings and the detail is all there in the footnotes.

    Nathalie: I doubt I still have the scripts. In any case much of the humour I included required a knowledge of a prevailing situation back in 1983.

    When anything bad happens in publishing (typically the closure of a newspaper, a magazine or even a company) there is a tradition for gallows humour. In this case the small affiliate company I was employed by was being broken up and my magazines were being transferred from Guildford to the parent company's HQ in Sutton. The small company's primary function consisted of launching low-circulation, highly specialised mags mainly for academic readership. My play was called Guildford's Last Launch and envisaged a mag directed at funeral directors. The characters were all thinly disguised real-life members of the company and the MD's secretary was so alarmed at the prospect of seeing herself played by someone else that she insisted on seeing the script beforehand. Somehow I got round this. In fact her part turned out to be the play's greatest success; I had the good luck to be able to cast a woman who'd just finished a run as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady put on by Guildford ADS, which had a pretty good reputation.

    She was wonderful, capable of transforming even my simplest lines into something joyous and funny in a way I'd never imagined. My ego was sorely tempted.

  9. Oh! I shall listen in the morning. It is 3 a.m. here, and all the house asleep.

  10. Like a painter who also designs the sets and costumes for a play or opera, I always felt that playwrights' greatest joy must be to assist at and witness the transformation of their words and ideas into real live performance. As opposed to the solitary creation of a novel, or a painting.

  11. Ah, thank you for that! Well done. Much enjoyed.
    And very amusing about the event of 56 years ago and Mason.

  12. Well done indeed, Robbie! Convincing, assured, and moving. Bravo!

  13. Beth: Not many people dare to say they don't care for Shakespeare. But few bother to show that they do care. It struck me that reading and recording a passage is a good quick way of proving the point. In one sense I cheated; this one's been on the boil for a long, long time. Time to try something less familiar. From Troilus and Cressida, say.