Monday 27 September 2021

Off to the National Gallery on Saturday for an 'olfactory journey' which was interesting as far it went, but turned out to be a tour of only three paintings. The lovers in The Morning Walk evoked the scent of honey and vanilla ...
Less convincing was the pungent scent of lemon (think Lemon Jif), which apparently masked the smell of death, for the memento mori in The Graham Children ...
And a damp Gainsborough landscape was petrichor although I picked up a scent of lilac leaves in the rain. Not cow manure. Well, that was fun but it only took 20 minutes so I went for a browse and quite by chance found myself in the company of The Duke - having watched the very funny film with Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren only a few days ago.
Not the faintest hint of this painting's chequered career will you glean from its label. Stolen via an open window in the gent's, held to ransom as part of a campaign for free TV licences for OAPs, returned via a left luggage locker at Birmingham New Street ... yes, The Duke has seen life!
And quite by chance again, there in the same gallery was poor Lady Jane Grey - who featured in this book that I'd only finished reading a few days previously. I do love a story about a house - a London house, for a change, not a country house, and Rumer Godden weaves the layers of time and memory and family history very skilfully.
I was quite looking forward to seeing The Larkins, despite feeling that we didn't need another adaptation of Darling Buds of May. But aaarrgggh .... not a politically-correct, multi-cultural Larkins. Why? If HE Bates had wanted a Nigerian Charlie, that's what he'd have written! Charmless, vulgar - Joanna Scanlan is the spit of Pam Ferris, but the new Mariette doesn't come within a mile of the luscious beauty of the young Catherine Zeta-Jones and I doubt she'll end up as Hollywood royalty. I watched two episodes and doubt I'll bother with the rest. Filed away under 'only to be watched if absolutely desperate for something to do.'

Thursday 16 September 2021

The Barn, Charleston, in Winter: Vanessa Bell Off to the Royal Academy's Summer/Autumn exhibition yesterday - which could be subtitled Britain's Not Got Much Talent - and lord knows why they still bother after 253 years except I don't suppose anyone's brave enough to ditch it. I didn't stay long but strolled down to Pall Mall to a little gem of an exhibition about Charleston, hardly a soul there and it's free to get in.
The Kitchen at Charleston, Vanessa Bell Some I hadn't seen before and some old favourites like Grace Higgens in the kitchen. I think I must feel more energetic in autumn because we also went a few days ago to Shakespeare's Globe to see a rather rumbustious Twelfth Night; I don't know why I was so surprised that there were so many people there but it was a gorgeous day. On Sunday we went to a big band concert - and that really was packed. The band was terrific, the bassist looked the spit of Winston Churchill: they normally play the kind of seaside resorts that are god's waiting room and it's not often that the rest of audience is 20 years older than me! But our feet were tapping - you can't beat the old ones!
I thought this sounded promising but found it tedious in the end. It did make me take a look back at the excruciating 60 Minutes interview on YouTube - when Hillary says she's no Tammy Wynette and you wish she'd have the gumption to slap Bill round his smug chops and stomp out.
I'd never come across Mary Lawson until she was longlisted for the Booker Prize - and there's no way I'd normally have picked this up because to me the jacket says 'Old Lady's Large Print Library Book.' Well, don't judge a book by its cover. I only started it yesterday and now I'm nearly finished - because I haven't been able to put it down. I haven't been so engrossed by a book for ages.