Miranda Richardson’s teenage obsessions: ‘I rescued a kestrel and became fascinated by birds of prey’


The theme to True Grit by Glen Campbell

I grew up in Southport, Lancashire, with a cinema about 50 yards from my home. So Saturday mornings have been spent with The ABC Minors: the Saturday cinema membership with the theme music set to the tune of Blaze Away by Abe Holzmann, a crimson ball bouncing over the lyrics so you possibly can sing alongside.

As I bought older, I might go to the cinema by myself to observe matinees of westerns and historic Technicolor dramas. They have been full of pleasure, romance and motion. As properly as the flicks, I additionally fell in love with the scores. I beloved the theme tune to True Grit by Glen Campbell, who additionally had a uncommon appearing half within the film, so I purchased it on document as half of a Glen Campbell compilation.

I used to be obsessive about John Wayne, who starred in True Grit. Then, after I bought a bit older, I moved on to Richard Harris in Cromwell and The Heroes of Telemark and all these gloriously lurid movies you possibly can see in your telly on a Saturday afternoon.

Laurence Olivier and William Walton

My English instructor, Maureen Bowran, completely loaned me the soundtrack to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet and Henry V. We weren’t finding out both play, so I used to be simply including to my cultural training by stepping into semi-classical films on the similar time.

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than I became obsessive about Olivier. At that age you may simply kind of suck up information. I might take heed to my Hamlet and Henry V data over and over and in all probability spent extra time studying soliloquies than I did finding out for my O-levels.

I additionally beloved the scores that accompanied Olivier, written by the English composer William Walton. His soundtracks added drama and motion round Olivier’s speeches and I assumed they have been merely marvellous. I listened to Olivier’s phrases and Walton’s music repeatedly, means earlier than I bought to see and hear them within the films.

I drew a lot in my teenagers, even drawing images of Olivier from a ebook about him. I wasn’t allowed to check artwork in school. I used to be very upset as a result of sooner or later my of us deemed that artwork wouldn’t do me as a lot good as another barely extra “academic” topic. I used to be compelled to do historical past and bought a horrible grade.

I used to be nonetheless comfortable sketching by myself – I wasn’t a large fan of oils and acrylics and most well-liked pencils, watercolours and pastels. There was a fantastic artist referred to as Brian Hatton, who was tragically killed within the first world conflict and did fantastic depictions of Herefordshire life. I keep in mind going with my of us to the Three Choirs Festival in my teenagers and my favorite venue out of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester was Hereford.

It kind of fitted the goth/teen morbidity that Hatton was not with us however had had a very romantic viewpoint of the locations he had grown up in and depicted them so splendidly. I used to be kind of steeped in that as properly.

‘The kestrel perched on my shoulder – it was the most incredibly romantic and close encounter.’
‘The kestrel perched on my shoulder – it was the most incredibly romantic and close encounter.’ Photograph: Linda Wright/Alamy


I agreed to participate in a tennis match after I was 12. It was a lovely day and I used to be ready for a match, however I bought fully obsessed by a kestrel that had flown into the wire fence across the courts and change into dazed.

I didn’t know what to do, so I sat along with her for about 4 hours. She moved from perching on the toe of my shoe to, ultimately, my shoulder. I very fastidiously stood up and walked along with her outdoors the tennis courts till she noticed her mate flying around the close by church tower and took off to hitch him. It was essentially the most extremely romantic and shut encounter, so I used to be like: “OK, that was amazing. How do I get to be with these birds more?”

I discovered a ebook in my native library by Phillip Glasier, who was Britain’s main skilled on falconry and with whom I later did a course. I signed up for some native programs. I used to be fascinated by the arcane nature of all of the props and paraphernalia and thrilled about getting so shut to those birds of prey. I might say my curiosity has now developed into environmental consciousness. It’s so fantastic to see the birds within the wild and I’m nonetheless in contact with Glasier’s daughter, who runs the National Centre for Birds of Prey.


I went to a women’ grammar faculty, so we’d usually need to act out the male components even simply studying aloud at school. As a outcome, you’ll find yourself enjoying a lot of the meatier male roles; if it was useful in making sense of Shakespeare, then that’s what we did. I in all probability performed my most unbelievable components earlier than I left faculty: Antony from Antony and Cleopatra, Richard II and Bolingbroke [from Richard II], as a result of nobody else was comfortable to learn them out.

James Thurber self-portrait
James Thurber self-portrait. Photograph: Granger Historical Picture Archive/Alamy

I keep in mind being thrilled by the language, which I believe modified my thoughts about finding out English at college to desirous to go to drama faculty. I didn’t wish to spend years tying myself in knots for exams and placing mind over intuition. If you go to drama faculty after college, it’s important to unlearn a lot of stuff. You need to study to play once more. This is what we have been advised, as a result of you may suppose an excessive amount of. And I used to be eager to get on with it. So I ended up not going to school however straight to drama faculty at Bristol Old Vic.

James Thurber

Even earlier than I used to be a teenager, I keep in mind what a beautiful feeling it was making folks snort at junior faculty. I believe my dad most knowledgeable my sense of humour: a heady combine of The Goons and Laurel and Hardy.

There have been a lot of books mendacity round that have been up for grabs; presents from my dad to my mum when he was at Oxford. James Thurber made me snort like a drain. I beloved The Thurber Carnival: a mixture of Thurber’s cartoons and tales. I beloved The Addams Family by Charles Addams. Both Thurber and Addams are extremely dramatic; it’s important to delve via wet, dirty landscapes and then see the purpose. They’re fairly scary but in addition very humorous. I beloved the craftsmanship; the deftness of line was very thrilling to me.

Every yr we’d get the most recent ebook by Giles, the cartoonist for the Daily Express. I discovered his cartoons extremely expressive and sensible depictions of character. I beloved the issues that have been occurring off centre stage, with the canine or the cat or the granny or the slobby auntie, or the even slobbier daughter. I simply thought they have been hilarious.

• Rams is launched digitally on 5 February within the UK

• This article was amended on 4 February. The authentic mentioned that Bolingbroke featured in Henry IV. In truth he’s a character in Richard II. This has been corrected.


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