The character I play (Tommy Hardaker) is an old soldier desperate to return to Normandy for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. My connections to the military are, at best, tenuous. My Grandfather was unfit for military service in World War 1 because he had been in a sanatorium suffering from T.B. and had a weak chest. My father volunteered in 1939 but was rejected because of poor eyesight (he fell over the furniture in the assessment room). The army did not want a soldier who was unable to distinguish friend from for or indeed locate the end of a rifle. He did join the Home Guard but his anecdotes of that period tended to the comic rather than the heroic. I did have an uncle who did National Service in Palestine in 1948 but his Sergeant Major told him that he would never be a soldier as long as he had a fully functioning digestive system (expressed rather more colourfully). So NO family history then.
When I started work all my colleagues were ex-servicemen. Indeed, two had been on the beach on D-day, and I never lost my respect for the dogged courage of ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances; definitely some connection with Tommy there. I hope we manage to convey some of the qualities of that heroic generation in our production in February.
P.S. I was in the Boys’ Brigade so I did learn how to march!
Saddleworth Players will perform La Grand Return at the Millgate Arts Centre from 1 – 8 February. Tickets available from the Millgate website (millgateartscentre.co.uk) or by telephoning the Box Office on 01457 874644, Tuesdays 2pm–5pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 2pm–7pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am–1pm.