Moura, Patricia and a guatuza

(Canscene) — The other night, watching the DVD of A Fish Called Wanda the chords or memory were sounded by the appearance of British actress Patricia Hayes as the little old lady intended as a murder victim. And that brought me to thoughts of Dame Moura Lympany the British concert pianist. Both these ladies lived well into their eighties and both played a part in in my thwarted ambition to become an actor.

But first things first. I’ll begin with the guatuza, a South American rodent abut the size of a guinea pig.

At age 15, I was cast in a children’s Christmas entertainment titled The Guatuza and the Children, playing third lead to Lola and Marshall Thursby-Pelham, a talented couple of amateur performers around my own age whose parents had decided to finance, produce and star them in a Christmas play.

The setting was a co-educational school to which the brother and sister had brought their pet guatuza which turned out to have magical properties. It transported them to various exotic locations, including Mexico the birth country of Lola’s and Marshall’s grandmother. The guatuza was played by their pet guinea pig.

Alas, we never made a West End theatre but the show eventually reached the footlights at the Wimbledon Town Hall theatre as a charity do, well into the New Year.

During the endless months of rehearsal we were sustained by two women: our drama coach the diminutive Patricia Hayes, and our rehearsal pianist, beautiful 18-year-old Moura Johnston, whom we called Mam’selle since she also taught French to Lola and Marshall.

I relished working with both these patient women, but Mam’selle captured my heart, and since I had quite a few singing numbers to perform, relished the rehearsal time with her.

It was in Canada in the early fifties, that I bought my first Moura Lympany LP without realizing that she was Mam’selle until I saw her photograph. I learned later that she had changed her name to a variation on her mother’s maiden name, Limpenny.

Dame Moura Lympany

Patricia Hayes appeared in innumerable films and television programs and won a BAFTA Award for her performance in a TV play.

Patricia Hayes

Both these remarkable women had long and distinguished careers and knowing them , however briefly, was a great experience. I have searched everywhere for a photo of Patricia Hayes, but cannot find one.

3 Responses to “Moura, Patricia and a guatuza”

  1. Bill Says:

    Ben, I love your stories about your younger days and you tell them well.

  2. Ben Says:

    Thanks, Bill. I understand you may have located a picture of Patricia Hayes that we can add to this one of Moura Lympany.

  3. Bill Says:

    Yes, Ben. Patricia’s picture adds a bit to your article. She was a very accomplished actress and comedienne. I have probably seen her in many things… The Benny Hill Show, A Fish called Wanda and others… but I never registered the fact.