Old Rage: 'One of our best-loved actor's powerful riposte to a world driving her mad' - DAILY MAIL
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I confess I’ve not read any of her three previous efforts but, after digesting this diarised account of her latter years, I can certainly handle a bigger dose of Sheila. In December 2017 in the Diary entry Sheila’s Aunt Billie had been moved into a hospital and was apparently fading fast. Billie had fought hard to stay in her flat after her fall. Home alone, classified as 'extremely vulnerable', she finds herself yelling at the TV and talking to the pigeons. 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.
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. The fact that I agree with her sentiments adds to my pleasure here. The much-loved actor candidly shares the fear, joy and frustration she has found in her ninth decade' Guardian, Books of the Year 2022
When Sheila went to the hospital the next day her ninety three Aunt Billie quietly had let go of her grasp on 18th December. Sheila remembered she had spent the most happiest days of her childhood in her Auntie Bill and Uncle Roy’s minuscule flat on the Rue d’Amsterdam. Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
Sheila has also been made a dame (a proper one), an accolade she took in her stride while reflecting on the type of society that created such things, which leads me to mention that her political views are expanded upon here. Let’s just say that Boris Johnson and some of his cronies, along with Trump, were not, and never will be, on her Christmas card list. I am a fan of Sheila’s work, and the work of her late husband John Thaw, and she’s always been a presence on British screens, so I was excited to read this. 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.Ever dipping into her lengthy career is another frequent thing in this book. Names familiar and less familiar all get mentions into how their paths crossed and the impact those others have had on the arts. In my opinion, I did feel there was too much ranting about politics and Brexit for my taste, but it’s clearly a passionate topic for her. I would have preferred more about her as a person and her life and career, but maybe she’s done that in her previous books. It’s very much a rambling, like we’re being invited into her world for a chat. That she is a caring human being with an innate sense of fair play there can be no doubt. That there aren’t more like her in the world is sad.
I realised that maybe I wasn’t as much of a wordsmith as I thought I was, as she uses a lot of words that I didn��t understand and had to look up, so prepare yourself for feeling like an English language novice. Old Rage would probably make a better audiobook than a physical book. It is an outpouring…sometimes a rant, sometimes a reminisce, fuelled by emotions and memories..I could hear Sheila’s voice throughout and I would love to hear her actually reading this..The journal starts in 2016 and carries through into 2022. In her introduction she writes that she hoped the book would be "a gentle record of a fulfilled old age. An inspirational journey. It hasn't turned out like that. As I wrote it, my own and the wider world descended into chaos." As Billie was in a ward of her own Sheila sat with Billie day and night singing to her and saying a childhood prayer to her, one that I truly loved, that was one my favourite parts in the book for loving the prayer.