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Semester 1, 2018

Art-Sketching Class

Our Thursday class is presently displaying our sketch journals in the Miranda Library for 3 weeks from 7th May 2018.

The pictures show the display case and some of our members

It’s all there in our journals, the memories of our days together, sketching in the local environment and in our library class. We go out on weekends to sketch the beaches, the weather, the history and buildings and crowds, the peaceful parks, the beautiful shire trees, insects and birds and our friends. These are special friends with whom we share our feelings about the moments that are worth becoming beautiful pages in our journals.
The most important experience is the record of our own journeys as from beginners, we learn how to catch these observations and express them as a book of memories of enjoyable social and creative days. In the same location view, everyone’s camera would shoot the same pictures but every sketch in the display is totally different, as we all experience it differently.

My aim as leader of this group is to encourage the art of quickly sketching our own real moments, and the pleasure of our locations. It is not art as “something to hang on the wall” which displays some other person’s moment, nor is it a copy of camera shots.

The display is not for others to choose the “best” art. It is to display the pleasures derived from the group learning experience about recording our own special observations in our little books of our own creations.
However, many of these small, quick urban sketches turn out to be very beautiful artful pages.
We call ourselves the “ShireSketchers” and I encourage others to assist us in our learning process. We are all grateful for the input from Rod Byatt who encouraged us to actually make our own books, and also for his assistance in the drawing processes.

– Peggy Annabel (Group teacher).

Interesting Issues Around Science: Changes in Obstetrics

Geoff Paul has delivered over 10,000 babies since he did his first delivery at St Margaret’s Hospital as a medical student in 1968. His account of those early days certainly brought back memories for me and, no doubt, for many of our audience.
If asked to list the three most important changes in Obstetrics over the past 50 years, Geoff said it would be ultrasound, ultrasound and ultrasound! Pregnancy and delivery have become so much safer now the living foetus can be viewed in real time and three dimensionally. I remember the magic of seeing my rather sick third grandson at three months of gestation and can only agree.
Geoff also described the increasing ease of pregnancy testing (from using toads to over-the-counter kits!), Vitamin K to prevent haemorrhage, the anti-D injection to prevent the complications from Rh negative mothers having Rh positive babies, and other advances in his field.
To conclude the morning, Jill asked Geoff to tell us of his volunteer work in Nepal, operating on young women to repair severe prolapse of the uterus, a complication of childbirth and doing heavy work while the body’s ligaments are still vulnerable – a sobering reminder of how much safer pregnancy and delivery has become in developed nations.
– Bronwyn Haddock


*Paul, Jill & Geoff
Jill & Geoff

*Paul, Jill and Geoff were Med students together for all their clinical years, including a ten-week O&G term at St Margaret’s. Brian, the fourth member of the group, will present a talk in August, on changes in Orthopaedics.”

The Lunch-a-Lot

(with Style) get together on the 1st Thursday of each month at a reasonably priced venue within the St George and Sutherland shire areas. It is a great opportunity to try new restaurants and meet new people in a friendly relaxed environment.  If you would like to join us please contact Anna Winter on:

A happy band of Lunchers

Anna’s U3A group is called Lunch-a-lot
And a most serious get together it’s not

The 1st Thursday each month is the date
When we doll ourselves up like a cake
Then trot off to the chosen location
With excitement and anticipation
For the laughter and fun is infectious
Between bites of all kinds of confections
But sadly; like Cinderella, we too
(only after we’ve been to the loo)
Must return to our humble abodes
Change into our faded old clothes
And look forward to next month’s repeating
Of another great Lunch-a-Lot meeting

(Ed note – Judging by this report, it sounds like this group has a lot of fun!)

Interesting Issues Around Science

Laboratory Waste Management

Peter Wong

Anyone old enough to remember the municipal tips at Rockdale and Kurnell, would have appreciated this talk by Peter Wong. Enthralled members of the audience were talked through the history of waste management in general, as well as that specific to Sydney and hazardous waste in particular.

A Brief Rundown. In the earliest days of the Sydney settlement, rubbish was disposed of in the ad hoc manner as on an outback farm. That is, a low-lying area or depression away from dwellings was selected and everything considered refuse, thrown into the hollow, which was eventually covered with dirt and a new site found.

Time moved on and tips managed by municipal councils was the method employed. Most will recall the smouldering piles of rubbish encountered along the roads and the foul odours that wafted across neighbouring suburbs when the wind blew. These tips were exposed to all and it was not uncommon for scavenging dogs to ‘have a go’ at the refuse. Not a pleasant circumstance when part of the waste came from the local hospital and could contain human body parts disposed of after surgery!

As Sydney grew, waste management techniques became more sophisticated and hospital waste was treated by incineration on site. The intense heat of hospital incinerators managed to eradicate most bugs and spores, however, some hardy microbes were able to withstand very high temperatures and escaped into the atmosphere.

Hazardous Waste. In an effort to keep Peter’s talk to manageable proportions, we need to jump ahead to the twenty-first century. It’s easy to envisage the amount of material needing safe disposal as a result of our high tech life. Products made from petrochemicals produce toxic fumes when burnt. Many materials used in medicine and industry would cause immense damage were they allowed to leach into the soil or ground water. Also, many substances are highly combustible and would readily explode if subjected to incineration (eg things forming airborne particulates).

We now welcome the construction of the huge waste management and landfill sites such as those found at Lucas Heights and Penrith. Although enormous and treated at the base to prevent seepage, it’s imperative that certain materials are not included in the general waste. These are separated and channeled off to be taken to specific locations designed to treat or eliminate the waste product. Such specialised facilities are few and far between and may require a trip interstate or even offshore, on occasion.

Many thanks to Peter Wong for a riveting talk.                               – Anita Spinks-

– – – – –

Apologies to Ruth Morgan for inadvertently cutting her work short.  Here it is now, in full!


Ask Beth Quinton to Saturday’s dance
Asked my best pal Joe
She’s been eyeing you for quite a while,
I thought you’d like to know.
So I did

Marry her son, my father said,
You’ve got yourself a gem.
Mother smiled and nodded her head,
It was advice from both of them.
So I did

Buy the house next door to us,
Her Aunt and Uncle wooed.
The price is right, it needs no work.
“I’d like it” Beth sweetly cooed.
So I did

With the rise in mortgage interest rates
Our budget squeeze was tight
“Ask my brother to board with us”
Beth bubbled with delight.
So I did

Five years on and still no sign
Of a baby on the way.
The doctor suggested IVF
Safe and with little to pay
So I did

My growing doubts began to surface
“Multiple births?” Beth said.
“Mother’s house will hold us all”
“Get help” spoke the voice in my head.
So I did

On the third round of drinks advice freely flowed.
“Not worth it just for a kid”
“Get out mate, try overseas
Brilliant, I thought
And I did                                                –    Ruth Morgan


“Walking in Sydney and Surrounds”
There is nothing quite like a week away together, to bind the ties of a group! In February, 22 walkers headed down the south coast to beautiful Narooma – perfect walking weather and so many highlights! Pristine emerald water, close-up views of seals, stingrays, pelicans and shore birds. On our first walk the ocean was magnificently wild (as a result of cyclone Gita). No boats to Montague Island that day! Next came a bushwalk around the inlet with majestic rainforest trees and a constant chorus of bellbirds. Our final walk took us along the waterside boardwalk and once again out onto the breakwater, followed by a ramble along the inlet to lunch at Quarterdeck.

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As always, a special thanks to Robin for her thorough planning and Toni and Graham who take the huge job of catering in their stride!
Jill McLelland

Interesting Issues Around Science: Journeying to the Centres of Planets

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If journeying to the centres of planets seems like pure science fiction to you à la Jules Verne, you haven’t heard Helen Maynard-Casely talk. Helen is an instrument scientist at ANSTO and researches the small molecules that make up much of the solar system using neutron diffraction. I admit to not fully understanding this work beyond the fact that diamonds are an important item in her research and that she values time on the synchrotron. What particularly fascinated me was her enthusiasm as she took us with her to Uranus, the large moon Ganymede and other favourite planets, dwarf planets and moons and her stories about some of her discoveries. I now can’t wait to visit the local observatory at Oyster Bay to see some of the celestial events scheduled this year such as the planetary parade of Saturn, Mars and Jupiter in early March when the three planets come into alignment.
Bronwyn Haddock


Film Appreciation and Discussion

Sweet Country         Anita Spinks        Score 4.5/5

Aboriginal director, Warwick Thornton’s follow-up film to Samson and Delilah is once again set to a backdrop of the harsh, though compelling, Australian bush. In scenes reminiscent of a Frederick McCubbin painting, the familiar tale of brutality and victimisation plays out.

Five stars for Thornton’s method of storytelling which kept this viewer’s eyes glued to the screen every second of running time. An unusual style incorporating silent flash-backs and flash-forwards kept me on my toes (never knowing which one of the two depictions was being employed). Several other novelties in style marked this an artistic film in addition to its powerful narrative. For example, we were spared scenes of extreme violence such as the rape of Lizzie as the screen was blackened. These elements worked very well for me.

The indigenous actors did a splendid job in representing an uncomprehending presence. They barely understood the language and yet were supposed to both comprehend and bow to the laws and customs of their white overlords. Ewan Leslie capably played the part of land owner Harry Marsh. Perhaps his brain had been addled by a combination of hard liquor and the fierce Australian sun, but his propensity for cruelty towards the black stock was in no doubt and led to his eventual shooting by aboriginal employee Sam (played by Hamilton Morris).

Perhaps unusually, not all the white characters were unsympathetic. Sam Neill played the part of a decent man, a Pastor named Fred Smith. Another decent character was that of the compassionate judge, Taylor, played by Matt Day. These characterisations made a big impression on me as we’re used to seeing the abuse of power by those entitled. It made a pleasant change.

In a discussion with friends yesterday, opinions were divided. Wife Maria found the story too disturbing to say that she enjoyed the film despite its obvious merit. Husband and former journalist Phillip, thought it was an excellent film and appreciated the craft of the writing and direction. Both agreed that the shooting of Sam by an unknown, white assailant was the only possible conclusion because they were not going to be allowed to ride off into the sunset unmolested.


Walking in Sydney and Surrounds
24 members enjoyed a twilight walk across the Harbour Bridge, then through the Botanic Gardens to Woolloomooloo for dinner. Our city looked spectacular! Thank you to Robyn Kemp for organising such a magical start to 2018.



Semester 2, 2017

Film Appreciation

A recent review from the “Film Appreciation Group” member Ross Bell:

44 O ye fire and heat, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

The Apocrypha

It is a mercifully rare event in our community that a parent will experience the death of their children. And even rarer that the death comes suddenly; it’s quite exceptional that the death be violent.

For those of us who have had the experience of witnessing the death of children, it’s quite common for there to be an ongoing sense of horror, shame and injustice. I recall the exhaustive efforts of a resuscitation team in an Emergency Department who struggled desperately to save a tiny child. This was a highly experienced, skilful and disciplined team. Disciplined enough to concur in a quiet calm and clear way when the consultant spoke those terrible words. “I think we should stop.” We were all thrown into the fiery furnace. The parents were present, they saw the hour-long drama, they saw the ending. For mum and dad this furnace was particularly intense.

In this film the central female is thrown into the fiery furnace. The wrongness of the violent suffering and death of her child, the apparent inability to identify a perpetrator and the tensions that emerge from a world that seems to move forward while she appears “stuck”.
A beloved son suffers too, but the female figure simply lacks the emotional reserves to attend to his needs and she is overwhelmed by her own feeling of loss. An ex-husband mourns too, but the power of his loss is mitigated through his engagement with a younger woman. Perhaps he sought in that sexual union an acceptance and his need for sexual release as a comfort for her.

The police are the focus of the female lead’s anger and she acts this out. Like all good films within the crime genre, there are red herrings aplenty. Each offer the viewer a chance of the easy, quick answer. Perhaps a policeman is a suspect himself? Maybe the overheard bar conversation provides the link that leads to the answer as prophesised by the chief. And always the hope that the perpetrator will emerge, and the furnace will be cooled through the “moist whistling wind” of the Apocrypha (Verse 44 ).

But it is the film that is telling the story. A major figure decides to take charge of his life and makes a life-changing choice. And as always, people project on to his act their own needs, rather than consider that perhaps he was the master of his fate and the captain of his ship.

But can the fiery furnace cure? Can it lead on to an answer? Again I suspect for most viewers there was the hope that an answer would be a simple, resonant yes. But again, the film is in charge – and it leads us, albeit unwillingly, to a less certain, but far more engaging idea: that right and wrong are complex issues with multiple layers where the simplicities of which we are so fond are revealed for the trite nonsense that they mostly are.

But can the fiery furnace change us? We are left to ponder what is changed and what remains.

The glory of this film is its ability to convey in some sense the horror that can enter a life. It also shows that many, maybe all of us, share in this burden and that we all suffer – some of us openly and directly and others though endurance and hidden grief. Again and again it walks past the temptation for the simple answers. I found it hugely entertaining in the sense that I was absorbed, interested and cared about the outcome.

The Film Appreciation Group enjoying Christmas lunch

Writing Creatively

Three poems from Writing Creatively


A galaxy of wrinkled crones join in macabre fun.
Spellbound by the guillotine, these knitters in the sun.

Clickety-click, clickety-click, ghoulish laughter peals,
As horse-drawn laden carts roll by and prisoners’ fate it seals.

Knit one, pearl one, spectators watch with glee
The blood of royal families flow to set the masses free.

Needles flash in harmony as tensions rise to peak.
Judgement falls indiscriminately on the arrogant and the meek.

Some stand erect and pray to God – there is no place to run.
Some cry and beg, each number counted by the knitters in the sun.

Fingers pause, drum rolls beat, breath momentarily suspended.
Then joyous release, knit one, pearl one. Hatred is expended.

Ruth Morgan  1995


Soft and warm your lovely body lies
Close to mine, in sated dreamless sleep.
Alone I watch the new day’s sun arise,
Fated now a tryst with death to keep.
The uniform hangs proudly on the door.
The rifle leans against the canvas pack.
My mind says sternly, duty to the fore.
My longing heart rebels and draws me back.
You turn to me, your lips invite a kiss,
Your arms reach out to hold me in embrace.
Your perfume lingers from a night of bliss.
I cannot stay. Pray God, grant me grace.
Should destiny take me to the path that calls
We’ll meet again my love when twilight falls.

  • Ruth Morgan


Ask Beth Quinton to Saturday’s dance
Advised my best pal Joe
She’s been eyeing you for quite a while
I thought you’d like to know.

So I did

Marry her, son, my father said
You’ve got yourself a gem
Mother smiled and nodded her head,
It was advice from both of them.

So I did

Buy the house next door to us,
her Aunt and Uncle wooed
The price is right, it needs no work,
“I’d like it” Beth sweetly cooed.

So I did

  • Ruth Morgan

Turtle Lane Community Garden

Our first visit was to Turtle Lane Community garden which is located in Newtown, a short walk from the station.
The garden is situated on church ground adjacent to St Joseph’s church. The garden currently has 25 plots and has proved to be so popular that there is a waiting list to join the garden. The garden is managed on organic principles embracing the diversity of its members which represent many cultures. The garden has a native bee hive and hives for beneficial insects, a frog pond and a birdbath to attract the local wildlife. Planning for the garden occurs at monthly meetings. There is a bartering system in place whereby excess crops can be exchanged between members and local school children are welcomed at the garden on a regular basis. Apparently, the children are renowned for eating any strawberries which have been missed during harvesting but the garden members don’t seem to mind.
Our group was made to feel most welcome (coffee and biscuits on arrival) and it was interesting to see how different community gardens operate and how they have evolved to meet community needs in different locations around Sydney.

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Camperdown Common

After leaving Turtle Lane, it was a short walk to Camperdown Oval where we stopped for a short lunch break before proceeding to the Inner-City Pocket City Farm.
Entirely different from Turtle Lane Community Garden, this garden was developed on the site of a former bowling green. It is a large space of 1200m2. The garden was in full production with neat rows of kale, tomatoes, basil, lettuce, capsicum and eggplant to name a few. There is a complex watering system in place as well as all the other infrastructure that you would expect to see in an horticulture farm.
The produce is used to supply the restaurant on site as well as being sold at the farm to the local community. They also have resident chooks that have been rescued from intense chicken farms; they appear to be loving their new home in the inner city. To find such a large place under production in the inner city is remarkable and offers respite from the hectic lifestyle of the Inner West.

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Music for Fun

You’ve probably never heard of Music for Fun
Or if you have, then perhaps decided
It was crazy and impractical
To be involved
with anything musical.

Maybe you were told you couldn’t sing
when you were a lass or a lad
Or the weekly piano lessons meant you suffering
when you would rather surf.
It was all rather sad.

In Music for Fun we sing for joy and don’t worry
If it is not always in tune
For singing together will overcome your need
To fight depression and a chance to commune
with others of the same breed.

We also learn better breathing, consolidate our pitch
and explore the complexities of written scores:
What’s a crotchet? When’s the beat?
And why is it sometimes necessary to pause?
It’s a Magical Mystery Treat.
– Henry Collins (Group Leader)

Discovering Art: Visit to Bundanon

The Art Discovery group, out and about again on Oct 17, uncovered a rare gem – Bundanon, the historic homestead gifted to the nation by artist, Arthur Boyd. A great day – value plus $2.50 South Coast train trip, local bus transfer from Bomaderry to the property and an informative tour of the artist’s home and studio! On display were paintings, sculptures and ceramics crafted not only by Arthur Boyd but by members of his very talented family.
A picnic style lunch and our wanderings through the beautiful gardens and grounds allowed us to experience the iconic landscape that inspired Boyd’s work.
Carol Gabbott

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Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds:The Royal Rehab Productive Garden Putney

On Wednesday 18th October The Harvesters visited The Productive Garden at the Royal Rehab Putney. We were not sure what to expect as this was our first visit to a hospital garden. What an inspirational visit this turned out to be.
Under the care of Royal Rehab Occupational Therapist and now Horticulturalist, Claire (photo) and with the support of staff and volunteers the Garden has become a focus of daily activity and a rewarding experience for the patients as part of their outdoor and physical activity.
The Garden is also involved in an on-going research project on the benefit of Gardening as Therapy.
A particular project is the concept of Soup Day. From the start of the day, patients are involved with harvesting the crop, washing and preparing the vegetables in the kitchen and then producing the freshest most satisfying soup for everyone to share. The soup is a thick nourishing mix of all the freshly harvested crop from the Garden. Soup Day is now a much anticipated day as the time for harvesting the vegetable crops approaches.(photo) The Garden is used by many clinicians with their patients. Occupational, Recreation and Speech therapists along with Psychologists, Physiotherapists and Dieticians who regularly participate in various Garden programs.
The Garden was awarded first place as the Best Community Garden for 2016 at the annual Spring Garden Awards promoted by Ryde City Council.
Anne Sadler

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Beginners French – Speaking French

Voulez-vous parler francais? We are beginners and we do want to speak French.
Luckily we all have a good sense of humour, including the teacher Joan, as we struggle with our verbs, tenses and particularly our rrrr’s. But we are improving every week and sometimes now I’m thinking French, such as in C’est si bon!
Sue MacDonald

Photobook course

Jill McLelland has held a number of successful two-session photobook courses using the website Snapfish. In the first session, she introduces you to Snapfish and, using one of her own books as a basis, takes you through the process of making the photobook. In the second session, she invites former students along who can do a show and tell of their photobooks and other photo objects they have made. It was my privilege to attend the latest course after many years of looking in amazement at others’ books and wishing I knew how to go about it.
Now my husband is the proud owner of his first book of photos while I have put up fridge magnets of my grandson’s wedding. I am waiting for my first book to arrive in the mail.
There are a number of reasons why Jill’s course is so successful. She is a clear and patient teacher who happily shares her own books with her class to illustrate the variety of things you can do. She has also chosen in Snapfish a website that is ideal for beginners with its clear instructions and good prices. We also found it really helpful to hear two former students talk of their experiences creating their books. Lynda Gill had just finished her first book, a photobook in memory of her beloved dog. Her talk was especially helpful when I began my first book. Ross Duker, a 2015 student, showed us what we could achieve as we built our skills with his book on his Patagonia trip. As he used Photobook Australia, we could compare different approaches to photobooks depending on our purpose.
Bronwyn Haddock

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Film Appreciation Group: Two film reviews

Our October session included presentations on films Battle of the Sexes and Victoria and Abdul. Both films elicited mixed opinions from our members, which is all well and good. Heaven forbid a degree of orthodoxy or groupthink with respect to our response to any film!

Battle of the Sexes – Film Review

Set during a time of great social unrest in the early years of the Feminist Revolution, the plot of Battle of the Sexes revolves around 1972-73 real-life events in elite women’s tennis. The issue which sparked the event was pay inequality between champion male and female players. However the stand taken by the women shook the conservative tennis world and challenged male domination in all walks of life.
When US women’s Champ, Billy Jean King, (Emma Stone) led a campaign for better pay for professional women’s tennis players, US tennis promoter Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) scorned and dismissed their claims. When these women were banned by the US Tennis Association, King and other female players formed their own association, successfully gaining sponsorship and support from business and tennis fans.
Nonetheless the breakaway women’s association was still regarded as something of a joke by the mainstream tennis administration and elsewhere. Enter Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) 59 years old, former tennis champion, a gambler, tennis hustler, jokester and braggart. With the support of the male tennis establishment, Riggs challenged champion women players to a game, claiming that he, a man and therefore naturally stronger and possessing superior abilities, would beat even the best female tennis players. King initially refused to be drawn but Riggs played world women’s champ Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) and humiliated her. King (aged 29) then took up his challenge and was eventually victorious. These games drew huge television audiences.
The film takes its name from television transmissions of the actual tennis matches between Bobby Riggs and Margaret Court and Riggs and Billy Jean King, games billed as the Battle of the Sexes.
It is a likeable and entertaining film which covers more personal issues in the context of 1970s social milieu – King’s marital infidelity and her lesbian relationship and Riggs’ gambling addiction and troubled marriage.While there are still issues today, it was stunning to be reminded how sexism was so deeply entrenched in the era that insulting, demeaning, inaccurate remarks made publicly about women’s skills and abilities went unchallenged.
My response to the film was overall a positive one. I remember the events well and it gave me the chance to appreciate the advances made in women’s rights. One negative was the actors’ feeble tennis—stand-ins or actual TV footage of the games would have been preferable. Another was the lack of subtlety on marriage equality issues- to make the point a sledgehammer wasn’t necessary.
Cynic that I am, the film caused me to question whether historically, there might have been an agreement between Riggs and King to make the game TV entertainment rather than a serious tennis match – as long as Billy Jean won!
Score: 3 1/2 out of 5.
Zoe Thomas

Victoria and Abdul – Film Review

Stars: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard, Adell Akatar.
Director: Stephen Frears.
Writer: Lee Hall
This is the second movie in 20 years in which Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria. And this is the second movie in 20 years in which Queen Victoria played by Judi Dench has a life-enhancing relationship with a man not of her station.
Based on real events – ‘mostly’! Queen Victoria’s first encounter with Abdul Karim, an Indian functionary sent to Britain to present her with a ceremonial coin, are in comedic scenes that lampoon the pomp of her court. The material is broad and funny. The Queen is struck by Abdul’s bearing and handsomeness and soon enough is receiving him in private audiences and having him tutor her in Urdu.
He becomes her Munchi (teacher) and his presence in her life invigorates her. Much to the displeasure of her court, including her son and heir ‘Bertie’ (Edward VII) played with beard and fiercely indignant eyebrows by Eddie Izzard.
You wouldn’t envy the actor who had to play Abdul to her Victoria but Bollywood up-and-comer Ali Fazal gamely accepts the challenge and channels a buoyant charisma that makes it easy to believe that dispirited Victoria could fall for him so hard, platonically speaking.
Dame Judi however, is every bit as good as I’ve heard, perhaps even better. You never catch her playing Victoria for laughs, only as a woman trapped in a failing body. What the screenplay leaves blank, she fills in with her searching eyes, her mixture of curiosity with a lifetime of entitlement.
Paula Cramsie
Score: 3 1/2 out of 5.

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