23 July 2023

An exchange of emails with George Logan (Dr Evadne Hinge)

The Background

In July 2002 I came across an account of the funeral of Patrick Fyffe, better known by his stage name - Dame Hilda Bracket.

Since the BBC repeated the radio plays Henry Reed's "composeress" Dame Hilda Tablet in the 1980s I'd wondered if the two Dame Hildas were connected in some way. So I emailed George Logan to ask him.

Email is evanescent so I'm publishing lightly-edited versions George's replies here to give them a degree of permanence.

3 Jul 2002, 22:46

Dear Chris

Your eMail was forwarded to me by Nigel Ellacott. What a surprise!

You see, I have been trying to get information on the Hilda Tablet broadcasts for some time.  I remember hearing a couple of them (Emily Butter, certainly, and I think, Musique Discrete - was that the one where someone recited Enobarbus's "The barge she sat in" to a 'musique concrete' commentary?  And where Hilda's lady friend Elsa sang a song which quoted the Austrian National Anthem at some length?) I was about twelve or thirteen at the time and found them uproariously funny.  As I was training as a musician I found the humour of the pieces very much to the point.

To answer your question. Or try to.  Patrick had never heard the Hilda Tablet plays, and the name was made up quite independently.  I don't think I mentioned them to him until some years into our partnership.  However, there's no question that the whole atmosphere of the pieces had a very considerable effect on how saw the Hinge and Bracket ambiance and setting, and the character of Doctor Hinge I'm quite sure inherited some characteristics from the programs.

She - Dr. Hinge - was always the more musically literate of the two, and the style of her compositions - I don't know if you have heard her 'Liste des Vins', her unfinished 7-act opera The Golden Twinset  - a duet from which was sung by the ladies on the occasion of the 90th birthday celebrations, held at the Royal Opera House, of that other great soprano, Dame Eva Turner - or her operetta The Fondant Hussar... well, the names alone make the influence very clear.

Incidentally, I'm pretty sure that the redoubtable Dame Eva also contributed something to the whole Hilda Tablet thing. I got to know both she and her companion of many years, Anne Rudyard, quite well during the last few years of Dame Eva's life.

I would be fascinated to find out if it is possible to obtain anywhere recordings or scripts of these wonderful pieces.  Please let me know of any information you may have - I'd much appreciate it.

As a footnote, I was interested to see in your notes on the pieces that Marjorie Westbury played Elsa.  In the last few years, Patrick and I were in the habit of doing a section in our stage show based on radio signature tunes, asking the audience to identify this or that melody.  One of these was Paul Temple, and one of the questions Dame Hilda would ask was 'Who played Paul Temple's wife, Steve'?  It was, of course, Marjorie Westbury...

Best wishes, and thank you for any information you may be able to supply regarding recordings or scripts of these marvellous programs.

George Logan

I replied, offering George copies of all the plays on CD

4 Jul 2002, 19:14

Dear Chris

How kind of you!  Yes, I would be delighted to have a copy of the Hilda Tablet plays on CD - and as you are good enough to offer them to me free of charge, I hope you'll allow me to reciprocate in some small measure.  I have a large number of tapes of various things Patrick and I did over the years, and it would be a pleasure to put together a Mini disc or CD of some of the things that never made it to
disc commercially, including excerpts from Dr. Hinge's own oeuvre, the 'Liste des Vins', both the original version with string quartet and her 'revised and augmented' version with full orchestra, the Grand Scene and Duet from Act 6 of The Golden Twinset, concert excerpts from Act 1 of The Fondant
Hussar and her unforgettable but largely forgotten arrangement for piano and orchestra of Liszt's arrangement for solo piano of the sextet from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor!

My address:

George Logan
SG14 3AY

Thank you so much.

I hadn't realised it was Donald Swann who wrote the music for the Hilda Tablet pieces.  I remember he used to come and see Hinge and Bracket regularly in the very early days when we appeared at such legendary venues as the Union Tavern, Camberwell, and the Black Cap, Camden Town.

Best wishes

George Logan

21 Jul 2002, 12:25

Dear Chris

I've been away for a few days, and was delighted to return home on Friday to find my Hilda Tablet CDs waiting for me! :)

So far I've listened to Emily Butter and Musique Discrete - both of which I think I mentioned I had heard before - marvellous!  I've just started the series in chronological order, and plan to settle down this afternoon with the first two plays in the series, neither of which, I think, I heard in the past.

What marvellous actors these were, and how evocative and absorbing a well-written and well-produced radio play can be.

I had no trouble figuring out which bits of the various plays went where, so to speak.

Thank you so much for the time and trouble you have taken over this for me.

I plan to get down to sorting out the large number of tapes of H and B I presently have in order to pick out some of the best bits for you.  After Patrick's recent death, I and a close friend of his have been sorting through his personal stuff, and of course it turns out that he had a large number of things I don't have.

I will be in touch in the near future to let you know I have dispatched something to you.

Best wishes

George Logan