Monday, 9 November 2020

Christmas is happening ... and I've booked my ticket! Determined to have one proper night out.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Well, I squeaked in there just in the nick of time - and I'd booked back in August as single seats were at a premium. So sad to see theatres closing - just as they'd begun to re-open. And clearly much thought and planning has gone into keeping audiences safe. There was literally yards of space between me and the next person ... oh, I know it's not economically viable, but while it lasts I'm enjoying segregation from fidgeters, sweet rustlers and those who risk dehydration if they don't gulp water like farmyard animals! I had doubts about the play - I only booked because it was Ralph Fiennes and because it was the first theatre to open. And I'd love to see something frivolous and shallow and fun rather than all the worthy stuff that is being programmed. But actually - I was gripped, despite the iffy reviews. Only an actor of Fiennes' calibre could have pulled it off. He was so good he put the fear of god into me about being stricken - and I wonder how many of the audience left the theatre thinking they'd never dare to venture out again. Unfortunately, by the time I got home that decision had been made for me - and I spent Sunday buying whisky supplies and new knickers in M&S as shopping for inessential knickers reverts to being a criminal activity. But I did my best to support the arts last week and also ventured to see Alan Bennett's Lady in the Van at Windsor. I am truly ashamed to say that I nodded off ... it was just a bit flat. Okayish. Lacking a Dame Maggie for sure. Windsor felt like a ghost town without tourists and the bottom has clearly fallen out of the nodding corgi market.

Monday, 26 October 2020

Lovely to be back at the Coliseum yesterday - not looking quite like this, but a very enthusiastic, socially-distanced audience was clearly thrilled to be there for a 'secret' Mozart concert to test drive the new normal. (Perhaps not that big a secret as I'd read about it online! Free tickets in the dress circle - what a treat!) When the artistic director urged us to use the facilities - to trial the lavatory queue algorithm - we felt quite guilty that we'd been before we set out! I'll admit I was doubtful about how social distancing would work in such a huge theatre - everything I've been to recently has been on a much smaller scale. I don't know how many hours and how many algorithms it has taken - but what a smooth operation! And there was something so joyful about being in a theatre again.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Arriving damply at St John's, Smith Square, yesterday, it struck me that lunchtime concerts during the pandemic are akin to Myra Hess's concerts at the National Gallery during the war for keeping the spirits up. I'm not the most musical person but I've been trying to go to something every week - and this was the most ambitious so far with the entire string section of the Royal Philharmonic rather than a single lonely cellist/pianist. And the music - all C20-C21 British works - was exquisite. Finzi's Eclogue brought tears to my eyes.
I'll admit that I'd never even heard of Doreen Carwithen (1922-2003) whose career was overshadowed by her husband's(same old story!) but who composed the scores for over thirty films;I just love the title of her overture ODTAA ... One Damn Thing After Another. Yesterday we heard her Concerto for piano and string orchestra: 'Rachmaninoff might have written it if he had belonged to the same stable as Vaughan Williams,' said a BBC producer in 1952 - and that was what intrigued me enough to buy my ticket! So lovely to see a queue to get in and a concert hall full of people as damp as I was - it felt like London was coming back to life.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Well, that's £11 I'll never see again! I went with low expectations that were amply fulfilled. If ever a film didn't need to be made - and if ever it was totally predictable that I'd go out of curiosity! Even Manderley looked totally wrong. 

Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs Danvers is the only one who can actually act. Simpering, silly Lily James and Armie Hammer - I thought that was toothpaste! - look as if they've ambled in from playing stock characters in an Agatha Christie murder mystery. There's so much snogging in the South of France that when Mrs van Hopper says,'You're a quick worker,' you're inclined to agree. Caroline de Winter's portrait on the staircase - surely by Gainsborough?  - has been revamped into a sexy Sargent swagger portrait ... nooooo! And as a friend has just reminded me ... Maxim is wearing a vest!I mean, can you imagine it ... Rebecca in her gossamer nightdress and he keeps his vest on!

If this is Rebecca for a younger generation ... they don't know what they're missing. 

Monday, 19 October 2020


 Can't say I was overly impressed at Frieze Sculpture in Regent's Park this afternoon. This, um, is a sandwich: pallid concrete Wonderloaf, indeterminate filling. Standing in opposition to traditional public sculpture, its horizontal configuration - inviting viewers to sit - opposes veneration and pomposity through its prosaic absurdity and functional accessibility. 

Which sounds very pompous to me! It's by a Young British Artist who must now be a Middle-Aged British Artist looking forward to her bus pass. But oh, the colours in the park, especially in the English Garden - which always feels so very French. The kind of day that makes me think of this.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020


At last ... something I want to watch on TV! I'd completely forgotten that we were due a second series of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials - hurrah! This series covers the second book The Subtle Knife and opens with Lyra's arrival in the deserted city of Cittàgazze - so brilliantly recreated that it's exactly as I imagined it. I've only seen the first episode but five minutes in and I was enthralled again by parallel worlds and glamorous, dangerous Mrs Coulter; it's so good that I might forgive BBC for the absolute dearth of anything worth watching through the pandemic.