Finally, I get my hands on the Lady Jane soundtrack

Among my lifelong favourite films is Trevor Nunn’s Lady Jane (1986), starring a very young Helena Bonham Carter and a pre Princess Bride Cary Elwes. After seeing it on TV, I bought it on video and thereafter we were rarely parted. It’s been derided for a lack of historical accuracy but I didn’t care – and still don’t really care – one jot. I LOVE it.

Yes, that love stems in part from the swoonsome qualities of Cary and the budding romance between his character Guilford and Helen’s Jane; I watched the film’s montage of their developing relationship pretty much daily. Oh how I wanted someone to teach me to ride a horse and to fan out my hair in the grass, delicately placing an ivy leaf on my forehead just as G does to J.

In all seriousness, there’s much to admire from the film across the board not least the myriad great performances by British stage stalwarts including John Wood, Patrick Stewart, Michael Hordern and Sara Kestelman as Jane’s ambitious mother.

And of course – the MUSIC, Stephen Oliver’s outstanding score which was never ever available to purchase and only became available in 2017, an incredible 31 years after the film was released. Lady Jane was Oliver’s only film score before he died much too young aged only 42.

I recall playing the film on TV so I could record sections of it onto a tape so I could have the pleasure of listening to it. Performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, it’s absolutely stunning, so beautiful and thankfully, thanks to the persistence of Jim Oliver (so the sleeve notes explain) it is available on CD in a limited run of 1000.

lady jane

I have searched for it many times over the years, every time I remembered and it popped into my head, and I absolutely couldn’t believe it when I checked online last week and lo and behold there it was. I rushed to buy it in comedic haste, my heart racing, but I just couldn’t wait to have it in my possession.

After all these years, here we are and I can put it on and savour it as much as I see fit. I am such a Luddite that I still have a CD player out and ready for action. We’ve been waiting a long time for this happy moment.





Food’s off the menu… so comfort’s coming from other sources

For reasons I won’t bore you with at present, I cannot eat properly at the moment.

I cannot cook, either, which is proving very strange. Food is such a key part of our working week and of our weekends together that to be unable to enjoy it is rather tough. It has also caused me to daydream constantly about certain meals I wish I could enjoy, regardless of whether or not that would be possible.

For starters, I have been picturing both my favourite takeaway meal – a chicken burger with coleslaw, chips and chicken gravy from Country Fried Chicken in my NI hometown – and my favourite meal out, The Harbour’s fantastic fillet steak with tobacco onions and bearnaise sauce, a feast I enjoyed recently whilst on holiday at the north coast.

And I have been dreaming of meals of times gone by, my grandmother’s mince pie and my auntie Jean’s melt-in-the-mouth Sunday roast.

Now that the comfort of cooking and eating has, temporarily, been taken away, I have turned instead to books and music to console myself, and sustain me through the unpleasantness.

As far as the latter is concerned, I seek solace in my collection of the film soundtracks of the composer Thomas Newman, particularly The Shawshank Redemption, Little Women, Wall-E, How to Make An American Quilt and American Beauty. How on earth has that man never won an Oscar for his work?

The books I cling to in times of strife are the old favourites, the tomes I re-borrowed and re-borrowed from our local library as a young girl. The LM Montgomery Anne books are sacred to me, particularly Anne of the Island (in which she and Gilbert finally sort out their relationship), as are Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. My favourite of those is again the one in which her romantic future is secured – These Happy Golden Years details her burgeoning relationship with Almanzo Wilder and is also a corker of a tale of her first job as a schoolteacher.

Two of my old favourites

I have already looked them out and positioned them at my side, joined by Robin McKinley’s lovely retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story, simply named Beauty, and Lynne Reid Banks’ My Darling Villain (out of print because of a view its politics had dated).

Days are long at the moment, but I’m armed for the challenges.