The Oud and Saffron candle that I treated myself to is now lit. The lysantheums that I bought with it stand in their vase, looking like fragile purple folds of crepe tissue. Peace reigns before the storm that will be my first read-through of Hamlet tomorrow. I have prepared my script. My diet has been strict and is starting to pay dividends, clothes fitting more loosely and my eyes are showing more emphatically in my face. The eating thing includes making muesli the night before so that it has time to soak. It is easier to digest. The Captain and I have been doing that regularly. Yup. Rock’n’ roll, folks. We’re wild like that. I feel ready. So I thought I ought to write my blog for the last time for a while, as there simply will not be the time over the next few months. I will be maintaining the consultancy job I do for a little while whilst also attending rehearsals, so my social life will have to be put on ice.
Autumn appears to have finally made itself known to us, while the harvests of apples from my parents’ tree, in addition to the blackberries from my brother’s estate, alongside his annual collection of sloes have all been made. We have profited from my father’s pie-making expertise, enjoying both steak pie for lunch and apple and blackberry pie for pudding. My brother’s sloes will be soaking in sugar and alcohol as we speak, in readiness for the darker nights of Christmas.
Before summer completely dissappeared, I had one of the loveliest walks after work into the west-end. I left the city by making my way to Tower Bridge, which was enveloped by hazy evening sunshine, while the Thames glittered below. I walked along the river, watching everyone’s slower movements as they enjoyed the night’s sumptous air, until I crossed another bridge back, so that I went passed St Paul’s and into Fleet Street, followed by the Strand. By the time I reached a bench near to Jo Allens where I was due to meet my two friends, I changed my shoes from sneakers to stilletos, let myself cool down for a bit, and then made my way to the restaurant, by which time I had stomped out any office tension and built up an appetite. I recommend this tactic to anyone who suffers from the office. Try walking some of it off. Take a spare pair of shoes and march. You’ll be amazed at what you get to see at that speed, which you wouldn’t catch on the tube or in a bus.
I have really been enjoying Wilkie Collins, the first being The Law and the Lady and now I am in the middle of Man and Wife. Since he was Dicken’s best mate, one would presume that his women would be similar ie charicatures, the strong ones being grotesque, the delicate ones being, well, delicate. Not so with Mr Collins, who seems to love women and is not threatened by intelligent ones. It is time they were written for television. While his thoughts are not as socio-politically epic as Dickens, he has interesting and quite visionary ideas. For instance, one of his characters suggests that having been a young man in the 1820s, he finds now in the 1870s that culture and intelligence have been relegated, while the cultivation of sporting acheivement, he claims, is excessive. Since our Olympic madness and the cycling mania pervades any rational discussion in contemporay culture, I would venture that Mr Collins, who is clearly speaking through the character, has got a very good point. Read him, he’s underrated. In fact, I have decided to read AN Wilson’s The Victorians as a result, so fascinated am I by what is emerging as a very interesting time in history.
On the box, I have been very taken with Educating the East End, having enjoyed some of Educating Yorkshire, on Channel Four. I cry during every single episode, because the personal dramas of each child and the dilemmas the teachers face are very moving indeed. It is beautifully edited and both amusing and touching. It teaches me, I hope, humility, when I watch what those teachers have to do on a daily basis. They are quite exceptional, some of them. Heroic, in fact. If I had been taught by them, I would have adored them, and most of the kids seem to do so. I also watched a Culture Show special on Yayoi Kusama the Japanese abstract artist and was very taken by her story. Since she returned from her successes and failures in New York in the sixties, she has only ever lived in a mental hospital. Her permanent nihilistic anguish is not reflected in her paintings, which are filled with vibrance and colour. As she paints, she almost grunts with her own pain, so that by the end of the documentary, I was inconsolable. I know, I’m like that. For some fabulous escapism, Elmore Leonard’s Justified boxset is now on Sky, enjoy. We are about to embark on the fifth series, recommended by my brother, so thanks to him one night a week will actually be box-set bliss. And some deep fried chicken and coleslaw. And Coors Light.
My transitional wardrobe is seeing me in a black jacket, pencil skirts and a large grey hat. The large grey hat is being worn with dresses, jeans, whatever. It was given to me twenty-five years ago by a good old mate, and every two years or so, it comes out to play. In fact it came out last week at a dinner for four in Soho House. There were nice comments about it all night. Since it feels like an old friend, the hat, I was pleased. It would be really insulted if it wasn’t loved. Good old grey hat.
Shows I have recently enjoyed were Breeders at the St James Theatre and Crystal Springs at the Park Theatre (where Hamlet will be.) Films that I have liked for differing reasons, were Frank, Fading Gigolo, The Lunchbox and Bad Neighbours. The latter is utterly outrageous, but somehow, you forgive it. Fading Gigolo, I enjoyed because it was actually portraying human vulnerability in a very sweet way. The Lunchbox, set in Mumbai, is a must see. Frank was simply mad and as a result I adored it.
I attended a Bristol University Players reunion, which was its first. Having been to my school one, and also to a drama school gathering, it was a first for the university drama lot. I was persuaded by a good old mate who drove us down, which was joyous, as we caught up over the course of four hours. It took place in Porlock, which takes about two minutes to walk in its entirety,but I still got lost about four times, when left on my own. All the team decided that I had to be escorted everywhere. It is a wonder that I actually get out at all, really.
Next weekend, the Captain and I go to Wales, staying in a Landmark Trust house. It has a bath and a fireplace and is surrounded by green hills. There is not a motorway or building site anywhere within our proximity and I am so excited about it. Wishing you an wonderful Autumn. I’ll be back in mid December. After my birthday, but before Christmas.