Dickens, Phiz, My Father & Ronald ColmanFriday, September 21, 2007
A tired Rosemary arrived a bit late yesterday. It was 6:30. I told her I didn't have time to cook because there was a good movie starting that minute. We each poured some milk on cereal (her unhealthy variety was Kellog's Frosted Flakes and mine was Kellog's Corn Pops) and sat down to watch the wonderful tear jerker Random Harvest (1942) with Ronald Colman and Grier Garson. This was the second time for me as I saw it in my youth with my father and mother in BA. But I wasn't old enough to appreciate the supporting acting of Susan Peters. She would have been a star had it not been for a hunting rifle accident that pierced her spine in 1945. She starved herself pourposely to death in 1952.
The film cried to be in colour as various references are made by Coleman on Grier Garson's red hair. As I watched the film with Rosemary I was hit by a tremendous nostalgia for my father who sported a Ronald Colman moustache and had a voice that was almost as good.
The only object that I inherited from my father and has some of his presence, is his copy of the King James Bible which has half his signature, the other half somehow was torn out. But I did inherit, too, a quarto Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities with illustrations by "Phiz". On the front page I can see my father's name and date 1939.
But I have never been fooled. I can spot my mother's Manila nun's school handwriting every time.
I cannot remember how many times Hilary and I have watched Ronald Colman and listened to him say the last lines in, A Tale of Two Cities.
"It is far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done: it is a far better rest that I go than I have ever known." And both of us cry every time.
I have never told Hilary that I remember my father reading those lines to me. He often read to me in bed. And I remember the line that precedes them in the book:
...and I hear him tell the child my story, with a tender and a faltering voice.
In spite of all that I have never heard Colman read the complete sonnets of William Shakespeare (all 154 of them) from my two-cassette set. Once I listened to them in bed making believe it was my father. By the time Colman said, matter-a-factly, "Ten, (pause) For shame deny that thou bear'st love to any,
Who for thy self art so unprovident." I fell asleep.