Monday, 17 September 2018



Cold War: exquisite, terribly sad and just as good as everyone says it is. 5* from me, too.

Friday, 14 September 2018



I had tea at Buckingham Palace this week, or rather a £5 scone (at least it was nice! but the tea was in a paper cup) overlooking the palace gardens at the end of the state rooms tour. Which was excellent and I've meaning to do it for years.
The picture gallery was rather too crowded for comfort - and to be fair, HM is a generous lender so I'd seen many works before - but this state portrait caught my eye in the ambassadors' corridor near the entrance, tucked away as if nobody much loves it. I loved the treatment of the Coronation gown but didn't think it a very good likeness of the Queen.
And then the penny dropped. The artist was Sir James Gunn (for more of his paintings see last week's Persephone Post).
And if the Queen looked familiar but not quite herself ... well, doesn't she remind you of his very glamorous wife Pauline? I wonder what Pauline thought!

Thursday, 6 September 2018



You can tell it's autumn when I have my first two-movie week in ages. I enjoyed American Animals  although I wouldn't rave about it quite as much as other reviewers. Who are almost invariably men and maybe heist movies are a male fantasy? Just a thought. But anyway, it's fun - 4* from me - and in fairness, I was whacked that night as I'd spent the day with two very lively young friends. (We had lunch here which I thoroughly recommend for enormous boy-pleasing portions, homemade chicken pie, a big East End-Italian welcome and cheaper-than-Pret prices. No gangsters, which caused some disappointment!)



But next day I saw The Godfather and that's in another league entirely. Last time I saw it must have been 1973 with my first boyfriend: me - no doubt caked in spit-mascara and sparkly eyeshadow - trying to look as if I were over-18 which I wasn't - but in those days nobody much cared. I think in all honesty I'd have preferred a rom-com and a Mivvi. Forty years later, I realise that it's simply brilliant.

Friday, 24 August 2018



I checked this out from the library at around 7pm last night - thought I'd just glance at it over dinner - surfaced and admitted it was bedtime at 3am - and finally caved in this afternoon: no point pretending, I clearly wasn't going to get a stroke of work done until I finished it.
I can't remember when I was last so engrossed in a book. There's a review here.

As I read, something was nagging at me - well, it took a while to surface from the soupy depths of my brain but eventually I got there. It was reminding me of that excellent Persephone novel The Expendable Man, also about a black man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018



I'm not ready to embrace autumn ... not at all ready for socks and proper shoes and the feeling that the year has hurtled away while I wasn't looking. But I'm quite happy to welcome autumnal cooking and apple windfalls and autumn telly. And I absolutely loved the first two episodes of Vanity Fair - terrific cast (Frances de la Tour makes a brilliant Miss Matilda Crawley and fat Jos Sedley is a delight), clever music, and one of my forever favourite heroines. I wasn't sure that we really needed another Vanity Fair - seems like there's a new adaptation for every decade - but this one is a treat.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018



Lad: A Yorkshire Story is a lovely, gentle, low-budget film about a teenage boy coming to terms with his father's death that has won festival awards but has struggled to get wider distribution. You can watch it here - no charge - but the producers ask that you leave a review on IMDB; it needs 25,000 reviews to be recognised in the annual charts that could bring it wider recognition. So far - on word of mouth promotion alone - it has a review rating that would place it in the top 100 films of all time.  (57.9% of those who have voted so far have given it 10/10.)
It has wonderful Yorkshire scenery - beautiful acting - and it really does deserve a wider paying audience. I promise, you'll love it.

Saturday, 18 August 2018















On an almost autumnal morning, I stood outside the house where Jane Austen died and thought of her and Cassandra ...




Then strolled next door to the much older building where I attended a very glamorous event (dress code: orange blossom and ostrich feathers and the family diamonds but I can't say any more) ...

And ate my lunch sitting here on a bench worn shiny by historical bottoms ...



On my way home, there was just time to sneak into Winchester Cathedral to pay a five minute visit to Jane's very plain grave and a memorial window that's so very un-Jane that if I'd commissioned it, I'd have demanded my money back.



I was far more taken by the west window, a random jigsaw puzzle of glass fragments that were pieced together after being smashed by Cromwell's troops. I had binoculars in my handbag - doesn't everybody? - but by the time I discovered it, I was in danger of getting locked in for the night.