Last night I went off-piste to ITV3 and watched a Miss Marple from 2008: A Pocket Full of Rye. Kenneth Cranham got the rye grains in his jacket pocket and blackbirds both in a pie and his desk drawer and Rupert Graves put a clothes peg onto the nose of a corpse, just to keep it more-or-less in the spirit of the nursery rhyme.
Then of course my mind started to wander, and knowing I was safe with Miss Marple solving everything by being incredibly nosey, I remembered a nursery rhyme book in the East Wing with plates in it by the superb Lawson Wood, and searched it out to see if this rhyme was in it. It was, it's above. But then I was brought back to the screen by a fabulously outrageous performance by the unique Ken Campbell playing a dodgy butler. One scene had him lying on his bed declaiming the rhyme with a bottle and cigarette on the go and his blue eyes bulging. This was to be his last performance, and The Guardian judged him to be "one of the most original and unclassifiable talents in the British theatre of the past half-century. A genius at producing shows on a shoestring and honing the improvisational capabilities of the actors who were brave enough to work with him." One of those actors was Sylveste McCoy, who competed against Ken for the role of Doctor Who and won. But they still did shows together where they stuffed ferrets down each others' trousers.
Blackbirds, clothes pegs, pies. And on Tuesday a corner of my curious and utterly delightful extended family gained yet another ferret to add to two others who, I assume, are also frantically trying to find trousers to run up the inside of. The connections didn't stop ferreting around my mind when I also recalled that I had once attended a wedding reception in the old Diorama in Peto Place near Regent's Park and Ken was a fellow guest. When it came to dancing (and I doubtless did my usual pogo-ing to Van Halen's Jump!) he danced across the floor and half way up a wall. Again, and again, and again. I have never seen the like before or since. Right, off to Waitrose to see if they have any blackbirds. Three frozen packs with eight in each perhaps.
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