Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Visiting Mum

Nice-London  2007- 2009

When not 'en chantier', I was rushing back to London to spend time with my mother, who was also my  life-long best friend. She was no longer in good health- one of the big reasons I wished we hadn't had to leave England. 

Quand je n'étais pas en chantier, je courrais rejoindre ma mère, qui était aussi ma meilleure amie, à Londres. Elle n'était plus en bonne santé- une des grandes raisons pour laquelle je ne voulais pas quitter l'Angleterre.

Here she is in earlier days -
 La voilà il y a quelques années
Mum and I , c 1956

Mum on the steps of our house, 27 Markham St, Chelsea.
I was 'Made in Chelsea' a very long time ago!

Maman, à l'entrée de notre maison, no 27 Markham St, Chelsea.
                                             J' étais 'Made in Chelsea' il y a très longtemps!

1. Me, (pissed-off elder sister, long and embarrassing press shoot!) Mum and my little brother, actor JASPER JACOB (click here) c 1965.

1. Moi (la grande soeur ennervée- une longue session de photos très gênante! ) ma mère et mon petit frère, l'acteur JASPER JACOB  c 1964

2. Same again- though ironically Jasper is not only an actor, but also a musician and music teacher, and I stopped playing at 15!

2. Et encore- ironiquement, c'est Jasper qui est non seulement acteur, mais aussi musicien et professeur de musique - moi j'ai arrêté de jouer à 15 ans.

Mum was also actress KATHLEEN BYRON (click here) 
and had worked on stage, film, and TV from early days at the Old Vic until she was 80.

She married my father, writer and journalist  ALARIC JACOB (click here)  in 1953.
There are three of us children- Aurora, Jasper and I . My elder sister AURORA AUSTIN, née Jacob, (click here) (click here 2is Dad's daughter by his first wife, writer  IRIS MORLEY(click herewho sadly died when Aurora was barely 7 years old. 

With David Farrar, in Small Back Room
With Jack Hawkins
Ma mère était l'actrice KATHLEEN BYRON dans sa vie professionnelle, et continua à faire du théatre , cinéma et télévision jusque`à l'âge de 80 ans. Elle épousa mon père, écrivain et journaliste, ALARIC JACOB, en 1953. Nous sommes 3 enfants- Aurora, Jasper et moi. Ma grande soeur AURORA AUSTIN, (née Jacob) est la fille de mon père avec sa première femme, l'écrivaine IRIS MORLEY, qui est  malheureusement morte quand Aurora avait à peine 7 ans. 

Mum had developed Alzheimer's in recent years, and didn't always know who I was, or when or why she had last seen me. I used to sketch her now and then, in different moods, whilst talking to her, over lunch,  or watching TV...

Maman avait l' Alzheimer depuis quelques années, et ne savais pas toujours qui j'étais, ni quand ou pourquoi elle m'avait vue la dernière fois. Elle habitait une maison de retraite très sympathique , spécialement pour acteurs. Je la croquais de temps en temps, en lui parlant , pendant le déjeuner, regardant la télé...

Eurostar, 2001
Reading at Denville

After the initial distressing onset of this progressive illness, she was mostly serene and happy, still warm and generous-hearted, enjoying people, children, animals, skies, flowers… Because she needed 24 hour care, Mum was living in a residential home for actors, and very well looked after- but she needed family and friends, and we needed her! Sadly she had been a widow since 1995, when my father died.

Malheureusement , Kathleen était veuve depuis 1995, quand mon père est mort.
Malgré sa maladie, la plupart du temps, Kathleen était de bonne humeur, chaleureuse et généreuse- elle aimait les gens qui l'entouraient, les enfants , les animaux,  ciels, nuages, fleurs... Elle avait trouvé une sérénité. 

Thoughtful over lunch, May  2006

I had agreed to leave England on condition that I could visit her every month. Then the cancer she had  been battling, which had been under control, got worse. 
I made 17 trips in 15 months, frequently taking my daughter PHOEBE ( click here) with me- she was very close to her grandmother, and  hugely entertaining not only for Kathleen but for many of the other residents as well- bringing youth, high spirits and humour into the home. 

Nap with cat, May 2007
Phoebe had a lot in common with her grandmother, 
in looks as well as an interest in drama, and dressing up!


Phoebe, qui a beaucoup en commun avec sa grandmère, l'amusait énormément
pendant ses visites à la maison de retraite. J'ai fait 17 voyages à Londrès en 15 mois, quand la situation de ma mère est devenue plus grave, avec un cancer incurable. Phoebe m'a souvent accompagné.
 Clockwork Phoebe

Phoebe make-up artist ( click here )

Phoebe again...

Kathleen on picnic

Mum sleeping
Mum died on the 18th of January 2009, after her long illness. 
I was by her bedside, and miss her daily.

Here she is as the Angel at the Reception Desk in Heaven, 
in a Matter of Life and Death  (Powell and Pressburger, 1946)

Ma mère est décédée le 18 janvier 2009, suite à sa longue maladie.
J'étais auprès d'elle, et elle me manque tous les jours.

La voici dans le rôle de l'Ange à l'Accueil au Paradis,
dans 'A Matter of Life and Death' (Powell and Pressburger, 1946)



  1. Hello Harriet. I'm sure you won't remember me, but I remembered you today when I found this clip about Miss Ballantyne's dancing school. I went there from age 3 or 4 I think, up to when I was 12. I was in various ballroom and ballet classes with Sabina Franklyn and Caroline Hawkins and you (and many others) over the years. I remember you as a "big girl" - you were tall and are maybe a year older than me (I was born in 1954). I was a small, blonde girl, at Francis Holland School, then called Lucy Wagner. Did your mother help with the dancing classes? I have a strong memory that she did - I remember her face and her wearing a leotard with a ballerina skirt, and knowing that she was an actress though I don't remember being told. It was extraordinary what buried memories came back as I watched this - the room and its smell, Miss Ballantyne and her many coloured dresses, smarties, The Matinee... . As you were in it, you've probably seen it before, but I hadn't All the best to you. Lucy

  2. Funny, matter of life & death one of my favourite films yet I hadn't realised she was the angel. As the scary nun in black narcissus she acted one of the most powerful roles I think I ever saw. Wish she'd be given more central roles as she was a real talent that deserved more screen time. Was glad to discover she was a lovely lady as well as a fabulous actress. Thank you for the lovely photos.

  3. Your mother was a wonderful actress. I am enjoying watching her again in reruns of the old 1981 TV series she was in called Together on Sky channel 343.