Fabulous embroidered shawls and other things
While Niall and I were breaking in our brand-new handbell recruit* at the cottage, Peter was having one of his daughters for tea at the mews. According to Peter, she sauntered into the kitchen, saw the skein of green wool that lives presently next to my computer**. . . rushed over, snatched it up and said, Ooooooh, this is beauuuuutiful wool.
And then Peter and I had to race off to Mauncester for the live cinema broadcast of the National Theatre’s THE CHERRY ORCHARD.
. . . We walked out at intermission.
We have, I’m afraid, an entrenched tradition of walking out of stuff, begun on our trip to Portland, Maine twenty years ago, in search of an engagement ring***. Portland had, and I imagine the selection is even better now, a lot of odd, interesting antique shops and rising young craftspersons with pizzazz.† We didn’t find a ring but we did walk out of THELMA AND LOUISE††. It was a bonding moment. Unfortunately it has turned out to be a somewhat unholy bond.†††
Tonight’s CHERRY ORCHARD is a new translation, and while the reviews have been generally good—and very good about Zoe Wanamaker, who plays Madame Doohickey, the self-sabotaging upper-class twit who owns the estate—all the ones I’ve seen have had reservations about the new translation. I’ve just been hastily rereading my old copy from college, and while all these people are clearly mad, deluded, selfish and obsessed, I never found them nearly as annoying on the page as they were tonight—and some of that I think is the new translation but I doubt all of it is. With the exception of Wanamaker—the one moment I thought the production might win me over after all was during her second-act speech about her husband(s) and lover(s) and how she’s messed up her life—at one extreme, and the housemaid, who was simply dire, at the other extreme, everyone was sharp, professional, well presented and ANNOYING. All right, I had one or two moments of sympathy for Zoe’s two daughters, but they were fleeting. And the student’s bloody HARANGUE about the future of society and the world went on and on and on AND ON AND ON. Every time he wound down I thought good grief at least that’s over with and then he STARTED again. If I have to listen to one of them I’ll take the self-made millionaire. The student’s harangue in my old translation also does go on rather a while but I don’t know, maybe it’s just you can read faster than you listen.
At intermission I think Peter would have caught a taxi home if I hadn’t wanted to leave. And I thought about sitting through that depressing ending, where nothing has really happened and nothing has really changed, and they’re all still just as crazy and deluded and one-track-minded (and annoying) as they were at the beginning and I thought . . . supper and hellhounds an hour and a half earlier than planned sounds like a really good idea. So we came home.‡
I thought the camerawork on this first play I’ve seen in this new live-broadcast system better than any of the operas I’ve seen so far. I don’t know how much of that is the more readily tracked movement of a play as opposed to the music-driven and often eccentric action of most operas, and how much is that these camerafolk were given really specific notes. But there were good, spot-on cutaways to other characters’ reactions—for example when the student, still in rant mode, says to the younger daughter, who’s besotted with him, that they are above love—there’s a quick shot of the girl, who clearly doesn’t want to be above love, although she does desperately want to be what this nebbish wants her to be. But the one clear direct consistent pull of tonight’s production was . . . I wanted all of the women’s clothes. Especially Wanamaker’s. And the elder daughter’s shawl. And we wouldn’t have got that nearly so graphically from the far side of the footlights at the National Theatre.‡‡
And speaking of clothing.‡‡‡ The mods and I want to test the water about the costume contest I rashly mentioned last night, and to this effect Ajlr has started a new thread in Talk in the forum, ‘Will you enter a dressing-up competition?’ We need enough entries not to look pathetic§, so if you’re willing, please post a reply. We haven’t nailed down the rules yet, but roughly speaking, to enter you will need to post a link to a photo of the wild apparel you would, if the world were a kinder place, air and train fares were cheaper, and the Forbidden Planet’s events area were larger, come to my signing next Thursday in. You will get two chances if the photo is of you, dressed in your chosen garb—you are, of course, on your honour that it is you, and not your neighbour’s anorexic 16-year-old daughter/son who is hoping to go into modelling. You will get only one chance in the (random) drawing if the photo is merely of the clothing arranged artfully on bed or floor or whatever. The clothing also has to be human clothing: no you may not dress up your dog/hedgehog/Cthulhu doll and enter that. It also has to be something you could wear on the street and not get arrested. Family-friendly blog, remember, and I have sensitive nerves.
Any further necessary details will follow if we get enough response. I’m hoping to run it from Saturday to Wednesday. So please post to the new forum thread and then . . . get rootling in the backs of your closets. And your friends’ and relatives’ closets, and the charity shops, and the sale racks at the local Goth and funky-retro shops, and . . .
* * *
* Damn. I’m not sure these bloodstains are going to come out.^
^ No, no, that’s from me biting my lips in horrified empathy. I remember my early handbell days way too well. You have absolutely no idea what’s hit you. And the awful part is that you go on having absolutely no idea what’s hit you for a very long time. However, Gemma says she can use Abel, which is the original method-ringing computer programme that my iPhone ap is based on, so if she has the stamina, not to mention the pig-headedness, she can make herself cry with frustration in private.
She is under the impression that ringing methods on handbells is going to help her ring methods in the tower. Well. Um. One is never sure how to respond to this common fallacy—I mean this engaging theory which may be true for some people.+ One is chiefly focussed on keeping a new handbeller trying until the handbell virus is established. In the interests of sufficient exposure being achieved, vague answers to ‘will this help me ring methods in the tower?’ are recommended, and the suggestion that we try that lead over again because we’re sure they’re really getting it now should be made immediately.
+ Since the history of the world and handbells began, there have been three of these unusually-configured folk. All of them have IQs in the 500s, can explain particle physics when drunk with a pencil and the back of an old envelope, and play chess with the Bobby Fischer programme for relaxation. Niall claims to be a fourth, but he’s lying. His IQ is 250, tops, and he doesn’t even like chess. He just likes handbells to a depraved degree.
** I’m trying to remember to rotate them so they all get petted.
*** I like jewellery. Any excuse will do.
† This was the occasion of one of Peter’s favourite stories. I’ve told you all of this before, haven’t I? We were out of the shopping area and walking down one of the older residential streets. Two men coming toward us stopped and asked Peter –my invisibility is not crucial to this story, but it adds just that little frisson—if he knew where something-or-other was. The way I remember the story, I did, but I didn’t feel like volunteering in the circumstances. They spoke with a so-heavy-if-you-dropped-it-it-would-crack-the-pavement Southern (USA) accent. Peter replied in his BBC-historical-drama accent that he was a tourist himself. They thanked him and started to move on when one of them stopped, turned around, and said, hey, are you from Texas?
I am not making this up.
†† When the supposedly bright one left the dumb one in the hotel room getting her rocks off with the hitchhiker and all their money in the bedside drawer.
††† And I wanted to walk out of the first Harry Potter film but Peter liked it. I have never forgiven him. (I’ve never seen any of the other ones either.)
‡ I could have gone to choir practise. WAAAAAAAH.
‡‡ Thank the gods we hadn’t trooped up to London to see this thing.
‡‡‡ This was not a deliberately constructed bridge, but hey, what works.
§ Also for me not to feel I’m wasting my donated book.
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