It is a mystery to me as to why I am writing this particular blog today, as what I actually should be doing is editing the play that I have written. I have an uncanny knack for finding alternative employment. Yesterday I cleaned the entire maisonette from top to bottom. I even moved furniture about, dusting and hoovering , leaving no stone unturned, rendering our home into a fresh smelling, clean-sheeted paradise. My play, however, was left, untouched.
The day before, I moved all my winter clothes up to the top wardrobe, which given the temperature today, I am much regretting. I brought out all the spring/summer outfits and worked out new combinations. I even managed to select items that either needed careful repair or disposal. I practically made spring cleaning into an Olympic sport. Dear little play was bereft on my desk.
The day before that, I felt the need to create a three course meal for the Captain. Prawn cocktail sumptuously displayed on a bowl lined with iceberg lettuce. Hungarian goulash comprised of prime beef with paprika and sour cream followed. Strained poached raspberries formed into a deep claret jelly with red vermouth, topped with double cream completed my little project. Yes, that’s right. My little play sat, it’s pages devoid of any scribblings, a creation in search of an author.
I even painted my nails a wonderful spring pink, on the tenuous premise of trying to hide a nasty bruise under a thumbnail that had formed when the tube strikes had made me angrily bash a door against my hand, due to my lateness for work. It became an unlikely priority to hide that bruise. It was unsightly, and as I very much wanted people to look at my face when they were speaking to me and not at the bruise, it was a necessary action. By now, I almost thought I heard my play telling me that I was an uncaring friend, a nasty, neglectful fly-by-night. (It said it in a cockney accent, if you are wondering. I have no idea why.)
Moving on, I have discovered a guilty pleasure that I felt like sharing. I have no car and I have never possessed one. I passed my driving test back in 1988 and have driven about three or four times since then. It is not really one of my favourite pastimes, yet I have recently been enjoying watching Top Gear like someone possessed. The cars they feature have a shiny, almost gooey texture so that I feel like a child in a sweetie shop. The photography and editing is so expertly mastered that watching it provides me with a sensation of such abject escapism that for the length of the programme, I forget who I am. What converted it from a cosy sunday night programme to such an opiate was aided by the appearance of Aaron Paul as one of Jeremy Clarkson’s guests. There are now few people who will not know the name, but a few years ago, when I was one of the first to view Breaking Bad, he swiftly became one of my favourite actors. His downward inflecting husky Californian drawl and self-effacing chuckle rendered me into a state of worship as he spoke to Clarkson. During our time in L.A., we frequented a bar called The Misfits, where Aaron (oh, yes, I will call him by his first name) turned up, in a little black hoody. As he patiently posed for several fans’ mobile phone cameras, with a casual “You’re welcome” here and a “Thanks for watching” there, he was about a two metres away, and would have reached my chest in height. Some of these gorgeous Hollywood stars do come in tiny packages.
A second guilty pleasure is The Waltons. If Top Gear is my Heroin, then The Waltons is my Crystal Meth. Not that I have or will try or even condone the use of either. But I am trying, rather clumsily, to demonstrate my awareness of the times in which we live, and our points of reference. Top Gear’s Mr Clarkson, when referring to Breaking Bad, mentioned that crystal meth is not really a problem in the UK but a huge problem in the States. He should do a little more research before making statements like that. Crystal meth is reaching epidemic proportions in London with separate organisations from Narcotics Anonymous to Crystal Meth Anonymous having to cater for the growing number of addicts. The fictional tale of Breaking Bad does use real research to indicate that it is sold and trafficked around the world, and unlike most other drugs is almost impossible to stop using, once it has been tried. ‘Nuff said. Back to The Waltons. Since it has been on for thirty years or so, I don’t feel it will be a spoiler alert if I tell you that I have got to the bit where Grandpa has died. Suffice to say that I was inconsolable.
The Captain and my property business continues in a positive manner. The films that are on my list now are The Great Beauty, Her, Nebraska and Saving Mr Banks. I enjoyed Captain Phillips very much and think Tom Hanks continues to be another one of my favourites. Gravity, saving for the special effects, was a perfectly good film, but I am not sure I understand quite what all the fuss is about. I remain an ardent fan of Mark Kemode’s awards in place of the actual Oscars and agree with most of his choices.
I have, thanks to my wonderful writer friend, been introduced to L M Montgomery’s Emily books, which are wonderful. She has also lent me Lottie Moggach’s Kiss Me First. The title implies it is a romantic book, but it is a very unusual and troubling book, worth a read for several reasons. It is a superb first novel, and while there are flaws it is provocative and imaginative. One of the novels that stays with you after you have finished it. A last minute addition to my recommendations is an old classic that everyone should read: The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute. My mother lent it to me, my paternal grandmother lent it to her. Read it.
So, off to Wahaca in Wardour Street to see some good mates. Seeing a film with another good mate on friday at the Curzon Soho. Off to Warwickshire on Saturday to see some more friends. Spring really must keep springing. A post script: on my father’s recommendation I have been watching Sky Arts’ documentary Great West End Theatres. It is very enjoyable being taken to the venues by Donald Sinden telling amusing anecdotes along the way. But I want to say, that I agree with Sam West’s point. He felt that theatre should not be an elitist experience, somewhat like ballet and opera. It should be accessible and affordable to the public. The reason I agree is that while I do believe many things in life should pay for themselves, theatre like all the arts, is a way of maintaining our pursuit of civilisation as human beings. It is a way of publicly encouraging philosophy, emotions and thought, all of which defines us from animals. If we lose that ability and facility, we may well lose ourselves. I have now stepped off my soapbox. Relax. Enjoy your week.