Friday, 15 December 2017



Did we need another adaptation of Little Women? Oh, maybe not - but so far (I've only seen the first episode) I'm really enjoying this lavish BBC version by Heidi Thomas. Emily Watson is exactly right as Marmee. Ethan Hawke/Uma Thurman's daughter (that conveys absolutely nothing to me, but maybe you're better up on Hollywood pedigrees than I am!) ... anyway, she is exactly right, too, as Jo. Angela Lansbury turns up as Aunt March, with a good heart underneath the crustiness. And Michael Gambon is old Mr Laurence. All that was missing was a box of Quality Street and a sherry but I made inroads into the first stollen of the season - so successfully that I finished it off for breakfast. Oh dear, that wasn't meant to happen quite as soon as this!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017



Not a very Christmassy Christmas Carol - well, hardly Christmassy at all - but quite good fun, especially the silly radio sound effects. I'd have enjoyed this Fitzrovia Radio Hour production more if it hadn't been in a chilly tent in Leicester Square, amid the tackiest, trashiest Christmas market you've ever seen ... why does London do Christmas markets so badly? Surely the West End could manage better than this? Unfortunately, it wasn't just the cold that crept into the players' tent but all the ambient noise - not Christmas carols, sadly, just the ubiquitous street performers with their ghettoblasters and a Muslim prayer chant. What a shame - in a cosy little theatre somewhere, with a glass of mulled wine, this would have been a jolly pre-Christmas outing.
I've booked for Glengarry Glen Ross later this week. Good reviews, but not Christmassy at all!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017





May I say how much I admire the housewives of Britain in these appalling present conditions for their courage in trying to give their families another super Christmas ...

It was 1975. I must have imbibed too many Snowballs because I don't recall it being particularly trying that year ...

But I do love Fanny Cradock and if you see her getting intimate with a turkey, you can see where Nigella's coming from. I do feel sorry for her drab assistant Sarah who is a bit like Dame Edna Everage's bridesmaid Madge.

Anyone fancy that raw mincemeat omelette????

Sunday, 10 December 2017



So irritated by this silly, gushing biography of Daphne du Maurier, translated from the French which doesn't help. (It's kippers for breakfast, not smoked herring!)
It's not just the breathless, novelette-ish style but lazy inaccuracies that even a bit of Google-research would have corrected: you won't find Keats's house in Primrose Hill and I don't think that the Brontës thought of themselves as daughters of a Presbyterian parsonage.
Lots of hissing and harrumphing from me ...
And then I started watching The Crown and caught the Queen cutting into a scone with a knife ...
My dears, I nearly passed out. She'll be drinking out of the milk bottle next!

Monday, 4 December 2017



Anybody else watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, the perfect 1950s housewife turned stand-up comedienne? I'm loving her swing coats and Jacques Fath costumes, Cherries in the Snow lipstick (launched in 1952, still selling), her chic little hats and gloves, even her glamorous chiffon nighties ... and all that wonderful Douglas Sirk colour has lifted a very grey, drizzly weekend.

Thursday, 30 November 2017




Enjoyed a long, 17th century wallow last night so I can report that the TV adaptation of The Miniaturist is simply gorgeous, in fact rather better than the book because when you're ooh-ing over period detail you forget to notice that the story isn't very convincing. (The novel has creative writing course stamped all over it.)

Romola Garai is terrific as the chilly Calvinistic sister-in-law. And I was in historic baking heaven, freeze-framing every shot of marchpane and biscuits ... I noticed in the credits that it's the same food stylist who did upstairs/downstairs in Downton Abbey. I know. I'm obsessed. I'm about to embark on my Christmas baking - marchpanes, spongata, pistachio hedgehogs ... book your dentist's appointment now, he'll be busy in January!

Friday, 24 November 2017



Does touching the top of a pagoda bring you luck? I've no idea - but I touched it anyway as I'm never likely to be up there again.
The Kew pagoda is under wraps and covered in scaffolding at the moment but I put on hard hat and goggles and workmen's boots and felt relieved that there was a lift to go up the top. (Of course, when it reopens visitors will have to climb up on the inside not the outside.)
It will be quite a sight when it's finished with 80 spectacular dragons adorning the roofs. Not the original dragons which disappeared in the 18th century, but 3D printed dragons. How clever is that!