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Ever since Dame Thora Hird breathed life into the role of Deric Longden’s mother in @Wide Eyed and Legless’. She had been on at him to write a play based on the sequel, ‘Lost For Words’.
‘And don’t hang about, I’m eighty – three, you know.’
But life doesn’t run in straight lines for Deric. Apart form his duties as official guide dog to his blind wife, the writer Aileen Armitage, he is at the beck and call of three and a half cats, a somewhat bemused vole and a tap-dancing squirrel. He also had a book to finish, so the screenplay had to take a back seat for the time being.
But Dame Thora didn’t give up. She rang him regularly, ‘Come on, lad, get a move on. I’m eighty-five, you know.’
By the time she was eighty-six Deric had finished the script. In January 1999’Lost for Words’ was finally televised – by which time Dame Thora was eighty-seven going on thirty –two.
In ’A Play on Words’ he describes the unique experience of seeing at close hand his book – and importantly part of his own life – turn into a film and the continuing chaos of his private world. Somehow or other, despite the usual hilarious interruptions, his own brand of literary work gets done, influenced by such matters as rag and bone men, the Moscow State Circus and crinkle-cut beetroot- and the usual cast of characters.

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