I've often thought that it must be great fun being part of that older generation of actors/actresses whose working lives seem to be one Uptown Downstairs Abbey reunion after another.
So of course I loved Maggie Smith's new film Quartet (with Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, a greyed-up Billy Connolly, bit of a shock that last one because I think of him as in his prime.)
The movie (to be released in the New Year) is set in a home for retired opera singers and was filmed in the rather splendid Hedsor House (next door to Cliveden) where I wouldn't mind ending up in my dotage. If I have to have a dotage, that is.
It's not often that Stannah stairlifts get a movie credit.
(No, you don't get to see Dame Maggie on the stairlift ... although I'm sure she could sail down with aplomb and I expect they'll be installing one in Downton Abbey in time for series 5.)
By the end of the film my eyes were damp. My friend let out a loud Bravo.
But I think what moved me most were the closing credits when it turned out that several of the supporting actors, playing other residents of the home, really had been musicians in their day. And we saw snapshots of them when they were young and gorgeous. (And the dates didn't even seem all that long ago.) The most famous was Dame Gwyneth Jones, who was the butt of some of Dame Maggie's best lines, but there were several more whose names I wasn't quick enough to catch.
It seemed all the more poignant as only a couple of weeks ago I was visiting a 92-year-old lady in the kind of home that makes you think, Please, please don't let me end up in a place like this.
If any of you understand Italian - no subtitles, unfortunately - you might enjoy this link to a documentary that was the inspiration for the original stageplay, about the real Casa di Riposo for musicians founded by Verdi in Milan. It looks a real delight although I haven't had time to watch it right through. They speak slowly so I'm hoping my rusty Italian might cope.