It’s been a while since I last posted. What an Autumn it has been one way and another.
Well Friends, it’s not over yet. Autumn I mean. The world is in such a state at present it’s quite difficult not to feel a sort of paralysis: Pandemics, climate crises, Anglo-French tensions, inflation.
Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. Sleaze, Sleaze, Sleaze.
Pass the Quaaludes! The Mandies? The Quack! Ha! Rants-in-my-pants! Wake me when it’s over!
But I wanted to share our joy at the news yesterday of our dear friend, Damon Galgut’s winning the 2021 Booker Prize for his beautiful book The Promise.
Here is a link to the announcement made by The Guardian:
It’s been an incredible privilege to be Damon’s friend over all the years he has been writing; As another dear friend wrote, “It has been a long and happy road to walk with Damon, and this richly deserved recognition is so heartwarming……….then to see the singular Damon lope as he went up onto the stage with that familiar anxious smile … followed by words so typical of the man, gracious and generous of spirit, well, what more does one need?”
I second that. Congratulations dear friend!
Other news since my last post has been thin on the ground. Here and there, to London and back we have been. Dipping our toes into the theatrical and cinematic water in some trepidation as mask wearing is thrown to the winds while the scientists say that they shouldn’t be.
Indecent at the Menier Chocolate Factory was revelatory: a play by Paula Vogel, It recounts the controversy surrounding the play God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, first produced on Broadway in 1923 for which the producer and cast were arrested and convicted on the grounds of obscenity.
And then of course there was Leopoldstadt after many false starts beginning in March last year when our tickets were cancelled because of the lockdown; and re-issued twice more only to be withdrawn. As we understand cut down from three to two hours and – legs crossed – no interval. A cast of many in a complex weaving of family history between 1900 and the end of Nazi Europe in 1945, we both thought it brilliant though it has had mixed reviews and there are certainly the occasional longueurs. We thought it an elegiac almost Chekovian piece complementing well the TV documentary Alan Yentob put together on Stoppard for the BBC’s Imagine series. It was beautifully staged, lit and acted by a superb ensemble. It also complemented the wonderful Indecent we saw the day before. And we were incredibly moved by it. Neither of us were confused by the web of family relations and interactions as we had feared we might be.
Good to be in front of the large screen again. Apart from Terence Davies’ Benediction in San Sebastian in September, the last time was in August 2020, with grandchildren, to see the impenetrably complicated Tenet. The new James Bond film No Time to Die which was a Curate’s Egg we both thought. But diverting enough with its problematic ending leaving many questions unanswered. I’ll say no more.
Then again with the grandchildren to Dune – the remake. Epic. Great soundtrack. I even understood it though it helped to have recorded the book years ago and seen the original film which was not nearly as good as this. The cinematography is mind-blowing and the film has to be seen on the largest screen possible to do it justice; and then there’s Timothée Chalamet – who is everywhere these days – being beautiful.
Television, mainly streaming:
We continue to watch Succession as one would a cobra – transfixed by the Roy family’s pure awfulness and mesmerised by the performances and the writing.
Two other TV series have intrigued: Maid an American drama series inspired by Stephanie Land‘s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, created by Molly Smith Metzler and starring Margaret Qualley as Alex and her real life mother (being brilliant), Andie MacDowell playing her screen mother.
Then The Boys an American “superhero” television series we were put onto once more by our influential grandchildren! And Squid Game? Sorry. Gave up fairly rapidly on that. What a dreadful premise. Yukkel-Stukkel I don’t know what to say!
Then down memory lane for a bingeing visit to Jewel in the Crown which I found to be as fresh as ever and just as absorbing and wonderful as I remember the first time round to be – the quartet too. I recall reading the entire saga in 2000 when I shipped from Durban to Tilbury on a three week container vessel transit. A brilliant read.
What else in October?
Oh yes. I was fined for speeding on the M25 now re-branded a Smart Motorway. I was going 59 in a 50mph variable speed lane and given the choice between three points on my licence and a £100 fine, an appearance in court or a “Motorway Awareness Course” costing £100 sans three points. What’s to decide. I took the course on Zoom with eleven other sinners and learned all about Smart Motorways of which there are only two and a half in Britain and which I subsequently discovered are very controversial and extremely expensive to build. There you go. I’d never heard of a Smart Motorway before. Have you? And I was caught speeding on a section of the M25 which is normally 70mph.
That’s all folks!