Thursday 29 February 2024

Absolutely glorious... and if I'm too low-brow to meet the Guardian's high standards (another snotty review here) I truly couldn't care less. That fabulous dress - the warmth of the evening - the scent of oleander (does oleander smell? I haven't a clue) - the light shimmering on the sea - the faintly perspiring slumber of a lady who 'merely glows' ... oh, give me Flaming June over Angelica Kauffman any day. (I found the RA's Angelica Kauffman exhibition rather too worthy ... I can respect her as a woman thriving in a man's world, but her paintings spark nothing in me at all.) And what a back-story to Flaming June! Disappeared in the 1930s - rediscovered behind a false wall during building work in 1962 and separated from its frame which was considered to be more valuable than the painting - discovered again in a London antique shop by the young Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose granny refused to lend him £50 to buy 'Victorian junk'- and finally ending up in a museum in Puerto Rico. Currently on loan to the Royal Academy. (And free to get in. Unlike the worthy but ever so slightly dull Angelica Kauffman.)

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Just booked my ticket. I'm really looking forward to seeing this. A nice, old-fashioned play.

Saturday 3 February 2024

This was fascinating and heart-breaking - the true story of a prosperous Jewish family in Vienna, written by their son. It's quite slow-moving and gives such a vivid picture of ordinary life through the 1930s, the meals, the holidays, the visits from relatives, a 17-year-old's first ball only days before the Anschluss, a tea-dance in Berlin even as other Jews were being rounded-up on the streets. Burying heads in the sand because it will all blow over, the procrastination, the bad decisions, then - incredibly - after escaping to neutral Ireland the return to Paris where it still seemed possible that life might be ... normal. And reading it you realise that you'd have been exactly the same, frozen by indecision, incapable of action, sweating the small stuff because the unthinkable is exactly that - unthinkable.

Thursday 25 January 2024

I loved The Crown, at least I loved the early episodes before all the Diana nonsense (I'm not a huge fan of the People's Princess!). So it was fun to see this auction exhibition at Bonhams of costumes and props from the series, so clever - even though close-up you'd never mistake them for the real Norman Hartnell etc. I did wonder who is going to bid for a life-size State Coach, looks authentically bone-rattlingly uncomfortable (estimated price £30,000-£50,000); or a Coronation chair with fibreglass Stone of Scone (£10,000-£20,000); the Queen's many ballgowns and Princess Anne's teenage mini-skirt ensemble for the Caernarvon Castle Investiture (£2,000-£3,000); or for smaller budgets perhaps a slightly battered barbecue from Balmoral (£400-£600). Diana's engagement ring? Genuine cubic zirconia (£2,000-£3,000) - or her off-the rail engagement outfit from Harrods (£1,500-£2,000). They said they are expecting lots of interest from America. Where I'm guessing there is perhaps a hazy perception of what's real and what's Netflix. Four floors to browse and it's all free.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

So looking forward to this sumptuous exhibition. And especially to seeing the gowns from the portraits.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

And the second film of the year ... Think Chariots of Fire: The Wet Bobs. I enjoyed it well enough but Chariots of Fire was better. Bizarrely, George Clooney didn't think to tell us at the end what happened to the real boys in the boat after the Olympics. There is a bit more here but not much.

Thursday 4 January 2024

First film of the year - which reduced a super-annoying sweet-rustling audience to complete, rapt silence after the first ten minutes. I did feel sorry for Sir Nicholas when he got ambushed by the ghastly Esther Rantzen, though. Happy New Year everybody. On the way home I bought a bunch of skinny pencil-bud daffs - and that was the first of the year, too.