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

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

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

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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. Hancock is brilliant company as she looks back on her life as a daughter, mother, widow and still an excellent performer, while railing against much of the modern world. What I loved most of all though was the sense of a long life, the witness to events - a world war, and to stars of the stage from long ago…Kenneth More, Kenneth Williams, James Mason. Her proudest achievement is still the RSC tour she directed in the early 80s – Roger Allam played Mercutio to Daniel Day-Lewis’s Romeo – but she has no sense at all of a trajectory, nor even of much success. 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.

Today is particularly piercing on this score, the death of Denis Waterman, Thaw’s co-star in The Sweeney, having just been announced. Written during lockdown, “Old Rage” was born out of this extended time of isolation, giving Sheila time to reflect on her acting career, her family and her strongly-held beliefs; many of which might surprise or even offend some readers, but Sheila Hancock tells it like it is. Home alone, classified as 'extremely vulnerable', she finds herself yelling at the TV and talking to the pigeons. I watched a film clip on YouTube and was in awe of Sheila's determination which she talks about in the book. 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.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. 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.

So why, at 89, having sailed past supposedly disturbing milestones – 50, 70 even 80 – without a qualm, did she suddenly feel so furious? It was the best thing for her that he left, because she went to university and became a very reputable scholar. 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.

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 bought this as I have enjoyed Sheila Hancock's other books and the premise of this appealed to me. She doesn’t shy away from telling her own opinions and that’s missing in todays world when everyone is so scared of saying the wrong thing. From Brexit to politicians to Covid she seems to be saying the world (and Britain in particular ) is a horrible place and she can't wait to get out of it. so rapidly over the last few decade but Sheila’s “Old Rage” is a steadfastly honest piece of writing. 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.

So refreshing to read a book with a person's views and opinions written down exactly how they said them and felt them - she wrote the book as herself and didn't try to be anything or anyone else - loved it! 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. Published before the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and crowning of King Charles III, I wondered if she will follow up on the future of British royal monarchs.

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