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!

I'm a remarkable woman - always was, though none of you seemed to think so. 

Sounds like a line from an ageing Joan Crawford or Bette Davis? (Feud is my favourite binge-watch this week.)
Actually, it was May Morris in 1936.

Her exquisite embroideries were well worth the trek to Walthamstow and the William Morris Gallery this afternoon. (It feels like the end of the line - it IS the end of the line - but it didn't take as long as this confirmed west Londoner thought it would!)

It's a fascinating (and free) exhibition. There's more to read about it here.  I did wonder what William Morris would make of the gallery shop and all the tacky souvenirs (floral print garden trowel, forsooth!) that wouldn't be my idea of useful /beautiful. However, the shop was buzzing with middle-aged ladies starting their Christmas shopping - there wasn't an empty seat in the café - and there was hardly anyone in the exhibition, so what do I know!

And just because it tickled me, here's William Morris on multi-tasking ...

If a chap can't compose an epic poem while he's weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up, he'll never do any good at all.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Raise Higher the Banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, 1933

The Nightmare of Future Wars - Workers of the World Unite, 1920s

Emancipated Woman - Build Socialism! 1926
Fascism, The most evil enemy of women, 1941
Don't Chatter! Gossiping Borders on Treason, 1941 
Love that last one which I guess is Russian for 'Careless Talk Costs Lives.' More posters - and poster girls - this morning at Tate Modern for a fascinating exhibition Red Star Over Russia. (And it's not too big, just the right size!)  I've only been to Russia once but it struck me that I must have been there this week - I think it was 29 years ago - because I remember looking out of a window and seeing tanks rolling into Red Square. Only rehearsing for the annual pageant but what a thrill and one of my most exciting holiday memories! 
I saw this book in the exhibition shop which reminded me that somewhere in a cupboard I have some wonderful posters from Gorbachev's anti-vodka campaign that I bought for about 10p and of course I never got round to having them framed. They'd look stunning so maybe it's about time. 

Sunday 5 November 2017

We weren't planning a Sunday morning movie this week, then changed our minds at the last minute; the friend I go with has walked dogs and swum lengths by the time we meet, but I'm just happy if I'm up and dressed in time and I've combed my hair ...
Our last minute choice was The Florida Project, set in a purple-painted, budget motel on the edge of Disneyworld, that's a Magic Kingdom for a sassy six-year-old and her friends as their mothers barely scrape by on food handouts. It's getting wonderful reviews and the children's performances are incredible. More reviews and a trailer here.

Saturday 4 November 2017

I'm still here - but my geriatric Mac is dead and buried and there have been countless traumas getting me up and running on a new one. Bereft of timewasting technology, I've been reading big, fat books - like I did in the olden days! And going out instead of watching TV. And then binge watching all of Howards End and Alias Grace as soon as I was restored to the 21st century.

Yesterday I made it to a delightful exhibition Poster Girls at the Transport Museum. (I love the Transport Museum shop and coveted the gorgeous scarves inspired by Underground station colours.)

Arnrid Banniza Johnston, 1930
I loved this, with the animals feeding Cockney Vulgaris, the caged Mayfair Beauties, Great Crested Magnates and the Common Undergraduate ... Look at the bored hippo watching a judge cavort on a swing. And the bears throwing cigars - not buns - to the Parliamentarians.

Vera Willoughby, 1928
This art-deco sunburst does feel joyful - and in 1928 a courting couple could enjoy a ciggie en route.

Herry Perry, 1931

So stylish.
Nancy Smith, 1922

Alma Faulkner, 1928

Travel by Underground in that lovely new dress? It'll be grimy by the time she gets home ...

Gaynor Chapman, 1962
In 1962, London Transport was urging us to explore village churches because 'one might boast an odd piscina.' I fear that this might be setting the bar rather high for passengers today.

Friday 3 November 2017

An ode to the 50-something woman ... that's not something you often see in a film review! I really enjoyed this gentle, funny, optimistic film tonight and the cinema was packed. (Agnès Jaoui, I gather, is very well-known in France.) In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I got chatting to a Frenchwoman on the train home - who loved it just as much as I did - and went past my stop. Heavens ... the film that made a Londoner talk to another passenger on the Tube! They should put that on the poster.
Aurore is a menopausal woman who has lost her husband, her job, her name - her creepy boss thinks it's sexier to call her Samantha - and she's becoming so invisible that even automatic door sensors ignore her. Then she meets a group of older women who show her that it's never too late.
The French Film Festival runs until mid-December but what a shame that this won't have a wider release. I've just checked the leaflet: not a hope unless you're in Edinburgh/Glasgow/Inverness/Hull/
Richmond, North Yorkshire/Hereford. (You might find it billed as Fifty Springtimes, the English title.)

The other film I saw this week was The Killing of a Sacred Deer: laugh-out-loud funny, but very, very weird.