Britain’s Best Baby
by Shaun MacLoughlin (2018)
At 81 years old my life has been a preparation for the launch of English through Drama and for the writing of this. I inherited some of my skills from my journalist mother. In 1936, the year of my birth, she was writing a weekly column for the UK’s Daily Express, which then had the largest circulation of any newspaper in the English speaking world. The paper was owned by Lord Beaverbrook, the Canadian newspaper magnate, who employed the brilliant editor, Arthur Christiansen. Christiansen was enlightened enough to employ three young women columnists, Anne Edwards, Eve Perrick and Martha Blount (my mother) named after lady friends of the poet Alexander Pope. Yes: The Express was very much more literary in those days.
The Canadian newspaper magnate
UK’s Daily Express, published in 1936
“English through Drama (ETD) may be my last great adventure on the earth.”
My mother was given a free hand as to what she wrote; and she suggested she should write a dairy and advice for young mums about the birth and first months of her forthcoming child. Thus I was Simon Blount of The Express, nicknamed “Britain’s Best Baby”. I must have imbibed some of my creativity with my mother’s milk; although my early history was somewhat mundane, mainly a record of measurements, disposition, input, output and more interesting sun baths.
However just before the Second World War, my mother also wrote two very different novels, a comic semi-autobiography called “Be a Gent, Little Woman, Be a Gent” and a more serious, even spiritual book: “Angels in Ealing”. Thus I inherited her sense of comedy having won the Sony Radio Comedy Award – more of that in a later blog – and a deep interest in the spiritual, since it won’t be too long before what an Irish friend called ‘the last great adventure”.
This brings me back to my 30 year career at the BBC and lastly, but not least, to my being co-founder and drama director of English through Drama. English through Drama (ETD) may be my last great adventure on the earth.
I have never tried to emulate my mother. I admired her too much as a writer to attempt that. However as freelance journalist and widow during the war and afterwards, she helped me to understand and sympathize with the trials, passions, disappointments and successes of a struggling writer. The walls of our small cottage in Buckinghamshire could have been entirely papered with rejection slips.
Not attempting to be a writer myself I have used my upbringing by a brave, brilliant and loving mother to work with writers and actors first as a theatrical agent, then at the BBC as a Drama producer, then teaching Creative Studies at universities, then getting prisoners to write and perform radio soap operas, then teaching radio acting at drama schools and finally helping special needs children to write and perform radio drama. The creativity of the special needs children resulted in “The Shipwreck”, English through Drama’s play in Secondary Course 1.