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It’s been a year since I made an entry here. Have I been too busy? Well, yes and no.

HBO (now Max) postponed the airing of Season Two of “The Gilded Age” from April to a tentative date in September, and now will air for sure starting on October 29th. The series was ready at the turn of the year. Whether there will be a Season Three depends on audience/subscriber figures, which will only become evident to Warner Media after several episodes have been streamed. It will be available on MAX in the US and Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK. The first season is now on DVD.

So do your best to see it and tell your friends so that the saga of the Brooks and Russell houses can continue.

The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes have seriously affected productions, as intended, but it now looks, following the Writers settling, that the actors will be back to work sooner rather than later.

One casualty so far has been our filming “Trouble in Mind”, the play by Alice Childress, that ran on Broadway at The Roundabout in the fall of 2021. I played a senile Irish doorman with ace colleagues such as LaChanze and Chuck Cooper. Charles Randolph Wright is determined to go ahead as soon as he can, with the original theatre cast, and our fingers are crossed for that.

Before the strike, I did an (uncredited) Winston Churchill voice-over as a chatbot for Season 4 Episode 9 of CBS TV’s “Evil”.

In early July I recorded “Misbelief”, the latest book by Dan Ariely, the eminent behavioral scientist, for whom I’ve been a long-term reader. It will be released on Harper Audio.

In September, I performed an audio version for Alison Larkin Presents of Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.” It was my first crack at Hercule Poirot – who has already been represented by a procession of fine actors – and I relished the challenge.

In February I finally visited my elder brother Chris in Whakatane, New Zealand. He emigrated there in 1965. We’ve seen each other in other parts of the world, but it was my first in-person trip. Air New Zealand inaugurated non-stop flights from New York last September, so the time was certainly right. My trip was accompanied by Cyclone Gabrielle which devastated the Hawkes Bay area to the East of North Island, coming on the heels of the wettest summer on record. There was record flooding, an earthquake or two off-shore, and a tornado near the airport. Somehow I was always in a different part of the country and avoided it all, as did, I’m thankful to report, my brother’s family. At his request, I gave a talk to the Edgcumbe Lions on “Behind the Scenes of The Gilded Age”. A surprising number in the audience had seen it, and we had a good evening, even though the beer was judged distinctly below par. Perhaps the flood water had seeped into the barrel…

In May, I answered the call for Jury service and after a day in the holding room at New York Civil Court, was found, along with my companions, to be surplus to requirements, and dismissed for another four years.

June 20th was named “Simon Jones Day” by AudioFile Magazine in their Salute to Golden Voices.

In May I was the auctioneer for The Coffee House Club’s first annual auction since the pandemic, and surprisingly raised ten thousand dollars from thirty-five people.

To mark the end of his tenure, I was glad to be the reader for the Last Maundy Thursday Service at Marble Collegiate Church presided over by retiring Musical Director and good friend Kenneth Dake. I wish him a fruitful change of gear/career.

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September was spent in New York, on call for continued filming for “The Gilded Age: Season Two”.

Our production designer Bob Shaw won the Emmy for Outstanding Production Design for TGA’s First Episode.

I was notified that I had become a member of the legion of 1792 of The Honorable order of Kentucky Colonels to mark ten years as a supporter.

October saw the last day of filming for “Bannister, the butler” on TGA - on the 26th. Earlier there were two days filming at The Elms in Newport, Rhode Island, and in off-time, had a tour of The Old Opera House, currently under renovation, along with Ben Lamb (who plays “The Duke of Buckingham”).

Audible released Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman III”. It was produced, directed and adapted, by the Leonardo of radio drama, Dirk Maggs, and AudioFile conferred its Earphones award. “Hermas” a flesh-eating ghoul appears in Chapter 18.

BBC Radio 4 Extra started a marathon rebroadcast of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

November saw narration for the Trinity Hall (Cambridge) annual appeal for Giving Day 2022, and a well-attended talk at The Cosmopolitan Club (New York), entitled: “The Alchemy of Television – The Making of The Gilded Age”, with on-set photos from Season One. I also took a pre-opening tour of The Museum of Broadway with my friend, the publicist, Merle Frimark, and interacted with a number of exhibits, including the one for “Hair”.

December: On the 11th, I did the honors at the Annual Flower Laying Ceremony to mark Noel Coward’s birthday, sponsored by the Friends of Noel Coward (formerly The Noel Coward Society) at The Gershwin Theatre.

The following day, I went for a week to London to celebrate the seventieth birthday of His Honor Judge Philip Bartle, K.C., who was Best Man at my wedding thirty-nine years ago, this month. At the time, he was down to give his speech after Michael Palin, and was so unnerved that he asked to speak first. He turned out to be so witty and skilled, that Michael felt woefully inadequate. (He was anything but, of course). While I was there, on what happened to be Coward’s real birthday, the 16th, I dropped in on the new Noel Coward Room at the offices of Alan Brodie in Red Lion Square, and signed the visitors book.

Back in New York, I joined Nancy Winston and Brian Gary (the grandson of Eddie Cantor) in entertaining at the Coffee House Holiday Party at The Salmagundi Club.

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Updated: Oct 3


“Presence, the Play” won the: Mary Shelley Award for Fiction from the MEA (Media Ecology Foundation founded by Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman) on July 9th.

The Gilded Age was nominated for one Emmy for: Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (one hour or more) for Episode One: “Never The New”.

In the meantime, I was made a member of The Television Academy, the body that oversees the Emmy Awards, but too late to vote.

I was filming on my 72nd birthday, and was caught by surprise in what I thought was a ‘take’ by a serenade of “Happy Birthday’ from cast and crew, led by the most excellent Christine Baranski.


Only scheduled for one day’s filming this month in Albany on the 11th, I raced back to NYC that evening, caught a plane for London on the 12th and made it, in spite of a rail strike, to Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire with son Tim to join in the celebration of the 100th Birthday of my Uncle John Mills (my late Mother’s younger brother).

He must have been one of the last recipients of a birthday card from HM The Queen, and a personal letter from the then Prince Charles in his capacity as Patron of The Burma Star Association. Uncle John is one of a handful of survivors of the Burma Campaign of World War Two. He caught Dengue fever and was airlifted to Deolali. *

He recovered from various illnesses, and now at 100 is anything but “doolally” (see note).

The party was at The Petwood Hotel which in the 1940s housed the Officers Mess of 617 Squadron (“The Dambusters”) There is a rusting specimen of a Bouncing Bomb (invented by Barnes Wallis for the raid on the Mohne and Eder dams) in the grounds, So it was an appropriate locale for the birthday. Though his military career accounts for about 7 years out his score of 100. Curious to reflect that he has been retired for longer than he worked – for Reed International Paper.

*Deolali was a British Army camp 100 miles north-east of Mumbai (then called Bombay). It was the original location of the Army Staff College (now the Defence Services Staff College of India and the Pakistan Command and Staff College).

It is also the source of the British slang noun doolally tap, loosely meaning "camp fever", and referring to the apparent madness of men waiting for ships back to Britain after finishing their tour of duty. By the 1940s this had been widely shortened to just "doolally", an adjective meaning "mad (insane)" or "eccentric".[3]

As I wasn’t required for The Gilded Age until September 9th, I stayed in the UK until September 1st.

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