Gertrude Bugler (On Thomas Hardy)

This is a tape recording made by Miss Gertrude Bugler for the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Thomas Hardy.  
Miss Bugler was the actress chosen by Hardy to portray the part of Tess in the dramatisation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles in 1921.
When you listen to her reminiscence, and her recital of the poem The Ballad Singer, remember that Miss Bugler is well into her nineties.  Her speaking is a lesson to all of us.
GB  Another memory takes me back to the night of Tuesday, March 22nd, 1921 when the Dorchester Debating & Dramatic Society gave a programme of original and competitive papers to be read at the Town Hall.   Three prizes were to be awarded with an additional prize of One Guinea for the paper deemed by the  judges to be of the highest literary merit.
Mrs. Hardy was to present the prizes.  Then followed a musical programme consisting of a song selected by Mrs. Tudor  Daremy (? unclear), recitations by Miss Gertrude Bugler (Past and Present by Thomas Hood, and The Ballad Singer by Thomas Hardy).  In the song The Floral Dance by Mr. Bawler, violin solo Chanson, Miss Vera Stephens, and another song The Glory of the Sea by Mr. Shortall.
I remember nothing of the literary efforts.  When the time came for my recitation Mr. & Mrs. Hardy were sitting in the front row and I wondered if I had, to some extent, taken a liberty although it had been suggested that I use one of his poems.
From a set of country songs entitled Casterbridge Fair I chose The Ballad Singer.
The Ballad Singer by Thomas Hardy:
Sing, Ballad singer, raise a hearty tune;
Make me forget that there was ever a one
I walked with in the meek light of the moon
When the day’s work was done.
Rhyme, Ballad rhymer, start a country song;
Make me forget that she whom I loved well
Swore she would love me dearly, love me long,
Then – what I cannot tell!
Sing Ballad singer, from your little book;
Make me forget those heart-breaks, achings, fears;
Make me forget her name, her sweet sweet look –
Make me forget her tears.
That audience applauded and I left the platform and was about to go back to my seat some rows behind when a smiling Thomas Hardy beckoned me near them and pointed to an empty seat by his side.  I had never expected to find myself sitting in the front row with Thomas and Florence Hardy but that was just the kindly Thomas Hardy we Players knew.