THE GREEN DIARY : Black Dog, get thee behind me!

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!

Chatto publisher Clara Farmer with Tony, Damon and Caroline Wood, his new agent.

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in March last year when our tickets were cancelled because of the lockdown; and re-issued twice more only to be withdrawn.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.

The Jewel in the Crown

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. 

Smart Motorways?

That’s all folks! 

10 Replies to “THE GREEN DIARY : Black Dog, get thee behind me!”

  1. Lovely stories, Peter. I was jealous about the theatre you had seen. Interestingly, and I’m not sure quite why, I recently read up all about Indecent. That was before I knew there was a production in the UK. The play was originally done in 2015 in the US. Apropos television, I agree with you on Maid – still have a few episodes to go – and also survived one episode of Squid Game.

  2. Well I must say where is the fabulous visit from a dear friend, dinner with Tetence Davies and watching letter from an Unknown Woman, Red Shoes and the original Italian Job???? On his recommendation. I’m 😲 shocked dsrling

  3. Hi. Thank you for your latest. I feel it puts me to shame as I live a very insular life on the Green. I do however meet with a group every Tuesday morning at 8am when we are read a poem and then we do creative writing for 15minutes. It is amazing what comes out of this simple task. I include this weeks Poem here. It is by Margaret Atwood and must admit my ego initially felt challenged.

    The Moment

    The moment when, after many years
    of hard work and a long voyage
    you stand in the centre of your room,
    house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
    knowing at last how you got there,
    and say, I own this,

    is the same moment when the trees unloose
    their soft arms from around you,
    the birds take back their language,
    the cliffs fissure and collapse,
    the air moves back from you like a wave
    and you can’t breathe.

    No, they whisper. You own nothing.
    You were a visitor, time after time
    climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
    We never belonged to you.
    You never found us.
    It was always the other way round.

    Margaret Atwood, 1998

    Enjoying the now and hope to see you soon.

    Best Anne Welsh.

  4. So agree with the sentiment “The world is in such a state at present it’s quite difficult not to feel a sort of paralysis:”
    Congratulations once again on Damon’s success.
    Thanks as ever for the blog.

    P xxx

  5. Hi,
    Another interesting and amusing piece.
    So pleased to learn about Damon being a great friend of yours: we wondered if you knew him.
    You’ve obviously lapped up a great deal of culture recently! One to watch, on Netflix, is a short ‘documentary/parable’ about the Israel/Palestine problems, called ‘The Present’. It is about a young man and his daughter collecting a present for his wife on their wedding anniversary. To say what the present is would be a spoiler but I really recommend it: it’s only about 25 minutes long.

    all best,


  6. I read ‘Maid’ a couple of years ago after Obama recommended it on his summer book list. To my mind the book is far superior to the movie. However what is shocking for non-Americans (whether reading the book or watching the film) is how there is no ‘safety net’ for single parents with young children in a country that boasts to be the best, richest and greatest in the world and which disparages other nations. Someone who, through a combination of circumstances, becomes poor has almost zero chance of lifting themselves up and out of such a situation, and their children’s lives will also be blighted by the system. And yet they sneer at European nations who practice social democracy. OK rant over!

  7. Glad you watched MAID. I have not read the book but will. Some nice shots of my stamping ground. Victoria fills in for quite a number of US places. Agree about Succession.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *