in The never-ending Brief Encounter


A great many people have helped in the research for this book. For many months, a week rarely went by without a friend sending me the reference to another example of the recurring incidence of Brief Encounter in a range of wildly eclectic circumstances. There were so many of what I came to regard as my ‘spies’ that I am afraid of omitting someone from the following list. If I have done so, please forgive the omission and accept my grateful thanks along with the others named here.

First, I thank the two surviving members of the cast and crew – actress Margaret Barton and production secretary Renee Glynne – for being generous with their time and recollections, and Jo Botting, of the British Film Institute (BFI), who put me in touch with them. I am very grateful to the staff associated with Wymondham Station, Norfolk – including David Turner (who had been responsible for establishing the ‘Brief Encounter Refreshment Room’ there) and current staff member Lisa Groom, who both gave me very useful information – as did staff at Carnforth Station, especially Kyle Burford who worked the tea room there with sister Rhian. And mentioning Carnforth, I must thank my grandson Dougall McFarlane for accompanying me on the journey to this historic site without expressing any boredom. He felt his name should be on the cover of the book as a token of his support in this venture, but this seemed a little excessive.

Two Melbourne companies deserve special thanks: the Malvern Theatre Company for its staging of Still Life, renamed Brief Encounter, and the Warrandyte Theatre Company for its performance of Emma Rice’s stage version of the film; the people in charge of each were helpful in their comments. In relation to these two events, I also thank Ross and Liz King who brought the former to my attention, and Ian Britain who not only informed me about the Warrandyte production but also arranged transport for us to reach the northern suburb, with Iamm Liew at the wheel. Ian was also indefatigable in providing more leads for research.

Among the other friends and colleagues who were so assiduous in keeping me posted about allusions of one kind or other to the classic film or in giving other kinds of help, I offer many thanks to: Charles Barr, Hannah Boulton, Peter Browne (editor of the online journal Inside Story, who allowed me to reprint some of the article I had written for him), Keith Brymer Jones, Steven Carroll, Jan Collins, Jonathan Croall, Charles Drazin, Lucy Fleming, Penny Hawe, Ian Kelly, Rose Lucas, Roger Phillip Mellor, Loretta Mercuri, Hayley Mills, Brenda Niall, Jackie Piper, Jeffrey Richards, John Rickard, Tom Ryan, Alan Sheill, Neil Sinyard, Dan Smith, Andrew Spicer, Billy Steele, Sally Wainwright, Melanie Williams, Hugh Wooldridge and George Wood.

As always, I am much indebted to my daughter Sophie for tidying up my manuscript into an appropriate format to send to the publisher. And I am grateful to Matthew Frost at Manchester University Press for taking on this somewhat unusual project.

The book is dedicated with affection and thanks to my old and valued friends, George and Elizabeth Wood, in recognition of their many kindnesses over the years.

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