Wednesday, 30 June 2021

I'm enjoying the epic Hemingway series on BBC4, especially the contributions from Edna O'Brien whose beautiful voice I could listen to all day. She makes me wants to read the books again.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Spent a happy rainy afternoon today in the tiny Jermyn Street Theatre (where the seats are actually comfortable!) watching this very engaging play about Amy Johnson, about whom I realise I knew absolutely nothing other than that she was a flyer and died in mysterious circumstances. Who knew she worked in ladies'knickers in Peter Jones? Silks and satins! After my boring summer in knickers in British Home Stores many years ago - stretch cotton and saucy messages - I felt quite a bond. And I once had a flying lesson!

Thursday, 17 June 2021

I'm so looking forward to tomorrow and not only because it'll be my first ballet performance in more than a year ... but the thought of lovely air-conditioning at the Royal Festival Hall! For the first few days post-lockdown, I went everywhere - and rather wore myself out! You'd think it all had to be accomplished in a week! The Alice exhibition at the V&A was enormous fun, worth going for the Mad Hatter's tea table alone - and who wouldn't enjoy virtually tumbling down the rabbit hole - even if I did turn out to be completely rubbish at catching hedgehogs and hurling them through croquet hoops.
And Hockney's The Arrival of Spring: Normandy, 2020 was a joyous reminder that pandemic or not, life goes on and lovely things happen. But then came those days and days of biblical downpours - and the realisation that I wouldn't make it as far as the bus stop without getting soaked to the skin. And lethargy set in ... Still, that didn't last and here I am back again and moaning that I'm too hot! I spent a lovely afternoon here sitting under a tree with my book, watching the dragonflies and a family of six tireless ducklings swimming round and round -
And I've discovered a new-to-me ice cream stand on the river (outside Riverside Studios) which is very good indeed, if not quite as good as Gelupo. Marmalade and sour dough highly recommended, but not quite hitting the heights of Gelupo's pear and blackberry crumble. I am rather appalled at how much financial support I have given to the ice cream industry this week and wonder if Boris might consider a Slurp Up to Help Out initiative. Still, I felt I deserved ice-cream after a sunny afternoon on a very uncomfortable chair with Samuel Beckett. I've always been timid about dipping my toe into Beckett, assuming that he's 'difficult' but I saw Lisa Dwan some years ago in a shattering adaptation of this book - one of the best performances I've ever seen on stage - and she's the renowned Beckett interpreter, mentored by the famous Billie Whitelaw ... so this was my chance. Happy Days seemed almost topical, Dwan - who is six months pregnant - gave a virtuoso performance as Winnie, incarcerated up to her waist in a sand dune - and if I rose only partly to the occasion, it was only because I was too damn hot (and those chairs!). Didn't flag for a second though at The Father, which I knew would be good - but this wasn't just good, it was heart-wrenchingly terrifying as the audience is drawn into Anthony Hopkins's confusion, never quite knowing what is really happening, what happened in the past and what is a figment of Alzheimer's. Word of warning, though - if this is close to home, it could be very distressing. What a terrific run of post-lockdown films we're getting - and what a shame that, apart from a good socially-distanced turn-out for In the Heights, the audiences, at least in my experience, have been out-numbered by front of house staff.

Friday, 4 June 2021

London was buzzing last night. Warm. balmy evening - lots of people out and about - everybody in a sunny mood. It was our first night out in the West End since before Christmas - no point when everything was closed - and it felt quite exciting seeing the city lights again and just being out! In the Heights turned out to be a perfect summer movie. It's no West Side Story - the storyline is feeble - and to be honest, it's a good half hour too long: our interest was flagging by the end. But we wanted something lively and colourful and energetic and it hit the spot. How do you juggle popcorn, mask and a beer though????

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

It still feels a wonderful novelty to walk into a cinema - I like an afternoon screening before I do my supermarket shop - but there were only three of us in the cinema yesterday which seems a shame as this was such a lovely film about a Korean family in Arkansas, and the father's dream of swapping his joyless factory job as a chicken-sexer for his own small farm growing Korean vegetables. I'm resistant to cute kids in films but the cheeky little boy and his formidable granny (a well-deserved Oscar for best supporting actress) are a delight. Minari is water celery, a resilent herb that springs back undaunted.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Day 1 of freedom ...and by lunchtime I was getting fidgety because I hadn't got anything booked until today. How had I let that happen? The lure of the great indoors proved too much and I checked out the local cinema which to my delight was not only showing Nomadland but has also dropped its ticket prices considerably. That was a surprise! So I really have the hit the ground running and made it to the first screening on the first day! It must be almost a year since I was last in a cinema - and last summer there didn't seem to be many new releases - so I'm pleased to report that Nomadland proved to be a very worthy triple Oscar winner, that Frances McDormand is brilliant - well, she always is - and this is definitely worth saving until you can see it on a big screen. Most of the migrant workers in the film are real 'nomads' playing themselves. Swankie, Linda May, the 62-year-old widowed Fern played by McDormand - they're women much the same age as me - and most of you reading this - whose secure, middle-class lives have been recast into a 21st century update of The Grapes of the Wrath. They're Ma Joad with a cell-phone. There's a freedom and romance to being on the road, a sense of community when they run into each other for the beet harvest or a seasonal gig at the Amazon warehouse. But all I could think was how utterly weary they must be - how knees must ache - how cold it must be at night in a camper van - and how frightening when serious illness threatens - and what a complete and utter wimp I'd be in their shoes. First film of the year and I'll be surprised if anything tops it because it's definitely 5* from me.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Uncle Matthew hated Huns, foreigners, sewers, the EU if only it had existed - and I can't abide Lily James and simpering Emily Mortimer. Even so, I was looking forward to The Pursuit of Love - oh, what a crashing disappointment. To start with - the actress who plays Fanny is sooo much much prettier than Lily James that it hardly seems fair that she gets Alfred and tweeds instead of a duc. And the anachronistic music is simply annoying. I read the book when I was exactly the right age - old enough to travel to Paris, daft enough to believe in coups de foudre at the Gare du Nord. Alas, the only man who challenged my virtue was the ticket collector on the night train from Milan - and I whacked him with a rolled-up copy of Cosmo and that was that. Perhaps I'm simply too old; I do feel Mitforded-out - but I far preferred the last adaptation of Love in a Cold Climate although I nearly passed out when I realised it was 20 years ago. I mean, I even remember the one before with Judi Dench as Aunt Sadie. I binge-watched to the end and the last clunky scene when - in the words of Emily Mortimer rather than Mitford - Aunt Emily tritely expressed the hope that Linda's and Fanny's great-grand-daughters would have more choices in life than simply to be Bolters and Stickers. Whereupon I let out a Matthew-worthy harumph at such heavy-handed womansplaining. . The clothes are nice. It's 3* from me.