April 2014

In the first part of 2014, I was still in Herefordshire at the Farm.

The drive to the Farm
The drive to the Farm

Land and property management took up some of the time, but by far the most challenging tasks related in the first instance to sorting through all my late parents’ personal effects. This included my late mother’s clothes and belongings, for, although she died in January 2006, nothing had been moved. You might have expected this to have been my father’s decision, but it was mine. I’m much more sentimental about such things than either of my siblings or indeed my father, so there everything stayed. However, as we planned to move my sister and her family into the house in April, everything had to go; to be given away, to be donated to charity, or to be thrown.

The 16th century farmhouse, my late parents' home
The 16th century farmhouse, my late parents’ home

In addition, I continued work on my father’s estate, winding up all his affairs, preparing, along with the solicitor, the forms that would determine whether Inheritance Tax would be payable. At that time, it was everyone’s expectation, including mine, that the Inland Revenue would conduct an investigation into my father’s affairs to determine if he really did qualify for Agricultural Property Relief, as we claimed. Essentially, to do so, he needed to have been working actively as a farmer, managing day-to-day activities, up to his death.

Now, I knew, as did everyone who knew him, that for my father, farming was the one thing that gave shape and meaning to the world and he could not let go of it, even in his weakened condition, even, or perhaps especially, when encouraged to take it easier. However, the Inland Revenue needed proof, so I embarked on the task of preparing a report into my father’s farming activity for the last eight years of his life, an enormous undertaking, involving a detailed examination of every document in his accounts over that time.

My sister and family moved into the house at the start of the month and the following week, I went to France to see my good friends, Roland & Marie…

Roland & Marie at home in Quimper
Roland & Marie at home in Quimper

October 2013

After Dad’s Thanksgiving, the administration of his estate and running the farm became the focus of my daily life.

However, for a couple of days in October, I managed to escape my familial duties to rain-swept Dorset to work on David Nicholls’  adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd, a Fox Searchlight feature directed by Thomas Vinterberg, starring Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturrdige and Mathias Schoenaerts. Modest though my contribution was, it was a very welcome reminder that farming was not my main business! The intense world of filming is so completely absorbing that, after two days, I felt like I’d been away for at least a week!

September 6th 2013

In December 2012, when I visited my father at the end of the ‘A Government Inspector’ tour, it was clear that he was struggling to cope on his own. We subsequently learned that his weakened condition was caused by ‘Chronic Disease Anaemia’, the result of ten years battling chronic infection, acquired during an operation to replace both knees.

Dudley Price
Dudley Price

Without either of us being conscious of what was happening, we both assumed roles, I as Dad’s full-time carer and he, the enfeebled, frightened and often-bewildered prisoner of a cruel and unremitting disease.

We struggled on for nine months, with Dad in an inexorable slide into ever greater weakness, losing his mobility and balance, but never losing heart, until suddenly – it felt sudden, even after three weeks in hospital – on September 6th 2013 we found ourselves facing that final bourn. As I watched him disappear into that still and silent obscurity, I held his hand; the same hand that had delivered me at my birth at home half a century earlier.

This man, who made the countryside his library and read from its books with such passion and articulacy; this man who fought through acute bereavement following the death of his wife, my mother, and who fought disablement with such hope and determination; this man, who fought me in my imperfect care, the embodiment of independence forgone; this man who nevertheless blessed me with his final words; this man, my father, Dudley Price. I’m proud of you, Dad, and shall always love you.

.

December 2012

In December 2012 I finished working on my third production with Northern Broadsides, ‘A Government Inspector’, which was a new adaptation of Gogol’s 1836 classic by Deborah McAndrew.

The production, directed and composed by Conrad Nelson, opened in Harrogate on 7th September 2012 and toured to Winchester, Cheltenham, Lancaster, Scarborough, Huddersfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme (Stoke), Liverpool, Halifax and York. Warm reviews from The Independent and The Guardian were typical of the press response and reflected a consistent enthusiasm on the part of audiences.

I served up my Judge Fudge…

Judge Fudge Photo © Nobby Clark 020 7924 0302
Judge Fudge
Photo © Nobby Clark 020 7924 0302

… and plenty of music! Challenging and thrilling by turns, this was the first time I’d ever played in a brass band.

My constant companion during the show Photo © Nobby Clark 020 7924 0302
My constant companion during the show
Photo © Nobby Clark 020 7924 0302

The following trailer gives you a flavour of the feast.