Here's a virtual movie of the renowned English reciter of poetry Betty Mulcahy reading "Six Year Darling" by Vernon Scannell.
Vernon Scannell (1922 - 2007) published his poetry from the 1950s right up to the last year of his life, but seems to be less well-known than he deserves, despite being the recipient of the Heinemann Award for Literature and the Cholmondely Award. In addition to his poetry, he wrote poems for younger readers, novels, autobiography and criticism, and reviewed poetry for Ambit magazine and The Sunday Telegraph regularly, until ill-health prevented this towards the end of his life. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded a Civil List Pension for Services to Literature.
His background is fascinating, including serving with the Army in the Middle East and the Normandy Landings. He is a Second World War war poet, the experience of which is clear in 'Walking Wounded' in its ability to look closely, without false pity or false glory, at victims of "last night's lead', and which lends credence to his poems of the Great War, in which his father fought. More uncommon for a poet is his career as a boxer, winning championship titles at both school and university, and working in a fairground boxing-booth; this also appears in his poetry, such as in 'The Loving Game', where love, he insists, hurts more. Love, requited and not, or lost, or familial, is another theme that runs through his work. The kinds are often bound together, as in 'Growing Pains', which binds the strength of the father's love for his son with the son's unrequited love for a girl at school, and shows that it cannot do anything to ease the pain save empathise. (Scannell quotes, approvingly, Housman saying "the business of poetry is to harmonise the sadness of the universe".)
Betty Mulcahy - , died in 2012 aged 92, shewas an acclaimed verse reading artist, broadcaster, writer and educator.
Born in Slough, Berkshire, to Stanley Upton, a shoemaker for Eton college, and his wife Kitty, a primary school teacher, Betty greatly admired her father, who was also an amateur comic actor and one of the mainstays of the Slough amateur dramatic and operatic society. Betty loved seeing him perform, often at the Theatre Royal Windsor.
Betty's first husband, Squadron Leader Pat Thornton-Brown, was killed in action in 1943. Her second marriage, in 1947, to Edward Mulcahy, brought with it the responsibility for acting as a mother to his three small children, Margaret and twins Jane and Michael, from a previous marriage. Betty's initial training in mime at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama had been disrupted by the second world war and she turned to verse speaking, following success in the final of the English Festival of Spoken Poetry.
Taking her cue from this, she initiated successful collaborations with a number of leading poets, broadcasters and educationists based at the Midland Arts Association, the Midland region of the BBC, Anglia Television, the Poetry Society, Rada and Central. She performed to audiences across the English-speaking world and spent 10 years in the 80s touring the UK with the Michael Garrick Jazz trio. She toured a show based on the life and poetry of Stevie Smith in the 80s and 90s, and in 1984 established the national Speak-a-Poem competition.
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2015