3 Jul 2002, 22:46
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 I 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.