Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War

I have been pleasantly surprised by a number of films on TV over the week. The most enjoyable starred Pauline Collins and John Alderton entitled Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War. Similar to Judi Dench in the Exotic Marigolds Hotel Mrs Caldicot (Pauline Collins) had a husband who insisted on controlling her life down to going through every  item of expenditure to ensure she economised. Immediately upon his death, attempting to catch a cricket ball to impress a posse of friends, Mrs Caldicot‘s frustration boils over when she finds that her husband spend even more freely than she had appreciated. First she cuts of the heads of his prize Chrysthanemums with her son played Alderton assuming this was vandalism from a rival. When he finds that she has mutilated her husbands expensive set of golf clubs he seizes the opportunity to get her GP to sedate her and arranges a placement in one of the residential homes provided by the firm where is a director.

Behind his moved is the knowledge that in order to avoid death duties his father has left the family home to him but on the basis that his mother remains inn residence during her lifetime. Gaining immediate access will enable his company to acquire a number of adjacent homes to demolish and build a new property for his company.

When she first arrives she allocated the best suite, has a personal nurse although she remains confused about her situation, helped only by the staff member Gina who she begins to explains  about the relationship with her husband and that  he had  a group of friends who he treated to drinks especially a member of a charity Mrs Caldicot was involved with played by Wanda Ventham who passes he observation that he husband had a wandering eye for the ladies and given that she did not like cricket it had been evident that she had been a close friend of her late husband. She also enjoys telling the story of how her son had also been upset to discover that she had given her husband’s expensive cellar of wine to the milkman to distribute on his round to her neighbours.

The nurse played by Angela Bruce attempts to stop the son bullying his mother to authorise the sale of the family home on the basis this will be invested to provide an income for her remain at the private home. However the husband and the family solicitor  brining in the Matron who has to the pressure on Mrs Caldicot to sign. Once she has signed she is moved into a shared room, and is treated he same as other residents. The piano is kept locked. The TV is rarely working, the food is awful and the residents feel like prisoners. The only change is that the nurse Gina encourage Mrs Caldicot to stop taking the medication and  she in turn successfully encourages others to do the same.

She develops a plan to successfully take  a group of her friends on an outing into town where they are found enjoying themselves playing bowls at a  local park by the police and returning to the home. Gina is sacked for  assisting in the escapade. 

While they are out one of the other residents dies and Mrs Caldicot organises a wake with a great meal, drink and have a sing song around the piano which they force open before the arrival of the Manager called back to the home  after staff find Matron played by Isla Blair drugged unconscious through her evening meal.  This is he last straw and manager  giver her marching orders to leave the following morning.

When she goes to depart a number of  friends determine to go with her so she takes them off to the nearest four star hotel and tricks her some by phone to authorise her own and the rooms of the others  on his credit card. Another guest, the owner of a  the local newspaper tips off the local TV and she gives an interview explaining why they have left the home and taken the protest action. By this time the son‘s managing Director is none too pleased by the turn of events and warns the son that his future is now on the line. The son  is told to sort it. Meanwhile the owner of the local newspaper has taken a shone to Mrs Caldicot, taken her out to lunch to her story and arranges got her full story to national press. With help he has  also discovered the device by which the son gained control of the home  which was to remain during the lifetime of his mother. Mother is then invited to appear on a national TV show, to be  made fun of but with a great make over which builds up her confidence she put the interviewer in his place and makes a great little speech about  the issues of getting older and needing a degree of care.

The local business man has arranged for her to meet the Board of the company to do a deal to take over the recently completed new residential home in the grounds of her old home with a low interest mortgage to provide the home for her friends with the sacked nurse  installed as the Matron and of course she now has a serious relationship with the local businessman. The son is shocked to find the size of bill for the stay at the Hotel given the full use made of room services and other facilities, meals and drinks. The Hotel manager has attempted to put them out prematurely on orders  when it was appreciated the Hotel was part of a chain owned by the same company controlling the residential homes. However the point has to be that given the high cost of residential care most of the residents portrayed in the film could have function quiet well at he hotel with the overall cost about the same if not cheaper. The  reality of the care which those in residential homes need is of course very different.  And title? It has  relevance . You will have to see the film.

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