Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Sir Peter and Lady Teazle, characters in Sheridan's 1777 play The School for Scandal, are supposed to be modelled on the then Duke of Devonshire and his wife Georgiana - who ran up huge gambling debts using her husband's credit. This and the Duchess's sad and brilliant life generally is all graphically described by Amanda Foreman in her excellent biography "Georgiana". Now it's been made into a film (The Duchess) starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, currently on in Cheltenham.

In May 1957, The School for Scandal was the - perhaps slightly surprising - choice of play made by Fr. Kevin Mason and Fr. Leonard Jackson (both monks of Ampleforth) for that school's Exhibition weekend entertainment. Sir Peter was played by Edmund ffield, from Cheltenham: he is currently a member of the community of the Monastery of Christ the Word in Zimbabwe, having morphed into Fr. Richard ffield OSB. And I was Lady Teazle - the summit of my acting career.

We haven't ever planted teazles in our garden, but two specimens - taller than me - have just arrived this year: rather majestic.

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