Shirley read by Maureen Lipman

A very important piece read beautifully with genuine understanding by Maureen Lipman. How much history can a 14-minute monologue tell? War criminals, interviews and interrogations, anti-Semitism, family breakdowns… Interrogating Herman Hess, forgetting, remembering and then forgetting again her father’s family name, Shirley was haunted by recurring memories from the 1930s and 40s. Things she did, and things she didn’t do. She talks of the ‘naughtiness’ of becoming involved in the black market – buying ‘treasures’ stolen from Jewish families - and of not being a good daughter. We know her mother disapproved of her behaviour, but did her father really die, or did he, a Russian Jew, just get caught up in the war? When Shirley talked about her mother’s efforts to hide ‘the Jewish side of the family’ I couldn’t help but wonder what version of events her mother told her and why. Shirley is not a likable presence, but her story is gripping. Image and appearance were of great importance to her – her father’s business collapsed leaving them with very little money - and she was keen to tell me the ‘right things’. I’ve often wondered if she meant ‘historically correct’ or the things that would help maintain the image of a sweet old lady.