Arts > It’s the meaning of life, pet

11 February 2016 | by D.J. Taylor

It’s the meaning of life, pet

Alun Armstrong has been playing salt-of-the-earth north-eastern types since at least the days of Get Carter, a film made as long ago as 1971. Here in Michael Chaplin’s ongoing The Ferryhill Philosophers (4 February), he features as sixtysomething Joseph Snowball, a handyman-cum-mature philosophy student whose conversations with his tutor Hermione have begun to assume an uncomfortably personal focus.The problem was Joe’s mother, Bella (Anne Reid), fast approaching her eighty-eighth birthday, and now adding incipient blindness to her list of afflictions. Amid a riot of pungent Wearside argot, much of it courtesy of Joe (“Me mam loved that fil-um …” he observed when Hermione quoted from The Sound of Music), it became clear that Mrs Snowball, disdaining the neat


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