Home' Northern Outlook : March 6th 2013 Contents 7
NORTHERN OUTLOOK, MARCH 6, 2013
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Of death --- and life
FIENDISHLY FUNNY: A funeral parlour meets prostitution in STiFF from the
MIX A coffin with fishnet
stockings and what do you have?
STiFF, the latest show from the
Rangiora Players, which opens
This international hit by April
Phillips has played to sellout
audiences all over New Zealand
and Australia, and also on
Norfolk Island and in London.
There have been 42 productions of
the box office hit.
Angel Delight, the illegitimate
daughter of a funeral parlour
director, inherits the business
when her father dies.
Before she can sell it -- and the
land, which is much more valu-
able -- she has to continue to run
the company as a funeral parlour
for a further five years. Unfortun-
ately, she knows absolutely
nothing about the funeral busi-
ness. However, she knows a lot
Angel and her team of girls run
an undercover massage parlour in
the funeral home, keeping up
appearances despite the prying of
a disgruntled former employee,
who feels he should have
inherited the business. Suspend-
ers, death by misadventure and
highly unorthodox embalming
techniques feature in this zany,
Bookings have already started
rolling in for this show as it appe-
als to a wide audience and is
guaranteed to make people laugh.
However, those easily offended
should be warned,'' production
manager Graham Clewer says.
Well-known local director,
Dimitri Gibara, who has taken on
many shows for the Rangiora
Players, is putting the cast
through its paces. Barbi Larkins
takes the lead, while Don Munro
is sure to delight as the irrepress-
The Rangiora Players have
recently extended the Northbrook
Theatre to provide a new green
room and extended technical
space to enhance the capabilities
of the group. STiFF follows the
extremely successful season of
Roger Hall's Market Forces in
The show runs from April 10
to 20. Tickets are available online
at: rangioraplayers.org or from
the Kaiapoi iSITE. For
more information, call Julie on
(03) 313 3721.
Happy ever after for
lovers of yesteryear
At 87, Bernie Bluett is still a hopeless romantic. She tells ABBIE NAPIER why
she is moving half way around the world to marry the World War II soldier who
wrote her love letters from Paris.
young man who
swept her off
THEY SAY that true love lasts
Few couples have proven that
sentiment better than Bernie
Bluett of Christchurch and her
A world war, 20,000 kilometres
and 72 years could not snuff
out the flame of romance.
British-born Bernie Bluett, nee
Hammond, was a teenager work-
ing as a dressmaker when World
War II broke out.
In 1943, aged 18, she was con-
scripted to the Royal Air Force as
a triage nurse and sent to Wales,
patching up air crews and pilots
as they flew back from Europe.
Across the ditch, Bernie's cou-
sin, Robert, was a career soldier
serving in Paris.
The pair had fallen madly in
love in 1940 before Robert went
off to war.
There was something between
We didn't say a word, but there
was a terrific attraction,'' Bernie
said from her Beckenham home.
A few years later, RAF nurse
Bernie spotted a letter from
Robert on her aunt's mantelpiece.
She scribbled down his address
and wrote him a letter.
The letter sparked a tidal wave
of love letters back and forth
across the English Channel.
Our parents, however, did
One day Robert's letters just
stopped, with no warning and
Bernie was stationed at a post-
war rehabilitation centre, and
it was there she met Roy Bluett --
a Kiwi bomber pilot who had
spent most of his war recovering
from a crash that shattered both
He was quiet, quite shy really.
I guess, I thought I would look
When you're 22, you think it's
In 1947, Roy asked Bernie to
marry him. Bernie hadn't heard
from Robert in two years -- a
month later, she said yes to Roy.
By 1948, they were married
and Bernie had followed Roy
She has lived here ever since.
I have had a lovely marriage, a
great life here,'' she said.
Bernie didn't hear from Robert
again until a few years ago, when
they were put in touch, thanks to
a nephew who had decided to fin-
ish the family tree.
Robert had Bernie's phone
number, and the two -- both now
widowed -- spoke for the first time
in 70 years.
I didn't know what I would say
when I was waiting for that call.
It had been too long, too much
time had gone by.
When I answered the phone,
all he wanted to know was what
had happened to me. He asked me
what he did wrong.
I didn't say anything, I just
burst into tears.''
Back in the 1940s, never having
said a word, Bernie's disapproving
parents had intercepted their let-
For the rest of their lives,
Robert thought Bernie had aban-
doned him and she thought the
same of him.
We were absolutely devas-
tated. It is an awful thing to inter-
fere in someone's life like that.
Just awful. All the time we lost.
We have both had good mar-
riages, good lives. But we always
wondered what happened.
It's a terrible thing.''
Just like he did in the 1940s,
Robert still writes Bernie love let-
ters, pages and pages'' long.
And in April, Bernie is flying to
England to marry Robert, with
the blessing of her three children.
We may only have a year
together but it would be a year we
We are both old and we are
both unwell, but we feel as though
we are 18 again. Happiness
Needless to say, he is a hope-
less romantic and so am I.''
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