Saturday, 29 November 2008

An Interim Passion

Now don't get excited - I'm just about getting over Green Wing. The years of therapy have really helped and I feel quite rehabilitated. Now all I have to do is wait for Victoria Pile to convince yet another bunch of writers and actors that they have created a seminal work whilst all along master minding the whole operation herself and I can get over Green Wing completely. Why Victoria feels the need to create the illusion of a joint effort is I suppose the usual woman of a certain generation stuff. I bet George Lucas never had that trouble.

Whilst Victoria is busy plotting for my benefit, I have found an interim passion - Garrison Keillor.

every Saturday evening at 11pm I hide under my duvet with my precious DAB personal radio to listen to his show on BBC7.

For those pining for the magic voice of JRT, check out GK. For those missing the outrageous humour, check out Lake Wobegon. It's where the woman are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average. Definitely not like my locale!

Friday, 21 November 2008

All the Rage

Yes, Leila has done it again. All The Rage is steaming ahead into the crowded waters of online publishing.

Read it.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

My Shopping Hell

Well now. As a founding member of the Sout West London chapter of the Scrooge and Marley Society, I have taken a vow against spending money on anything other than root vegetables and lard.

I recently signed up to Martin Lewis' website Every week I receive an email from him telling me all about the latest money saving tips he has discovered. Normally I delete it after a quick scan - after all, since I don't spend in the first place, there's nothing to save - but yesterday I was struck by the announcement that M&S would be holding a 20% off extravaganza.
Well, that got me going. I made my list, I planned my day, and phoned my relatives to tell them all the good news.

This morning, I headed off to our nearest M&S and just about got the last parking space. The place was full of women in hatchbacks, clutching long lists. Withing half an hour I had shopping baskets full of pants, tights, crockery and a board game for Christmas Day - Antiques Road Show. I met my aunt there. When I offered her a lift home, she dashed off to buy more stuff. when we left, three pensioners and a young mother fought over the parking space. Normally the place is empty during the week, but bemused parking attendants just stared at the lines of cars making their way to the store.

I examined my booty when I got home. Some of the items were stored at the back of the wardrobe. These included my new pyjamas. Bitter experience has taught me just to buy my own gifts - I'm never disappointed then. Other items were taken downstairs and washed and put away in the crockery cupboard. I want to see how long it takes for anyone to notice that we have more plates. The remaining items were laid out on the bed for inspection. I have bought enough tights and pants to last for all eternity. I may be instructed to return some of these items. Quite what a ten year old will do with nine pairs of tights, I don't really know.

I'm going to lie down now. If I can find any space betwen the opaque tights and the angora socks.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Occhiali di Bragia

The school run on Thursdays is always a treat. On the way home I can listen to Melvyn Bragg on Radio 4 with In Our Time which every week covers a cutural item.

The other week it was Dante and the Inferno.

I perked up at that one - Something I had actually read!And it all came back to me, studying the first 12 chapters of the Divine Comedy for Italian A level back in the 1970s, in a small cramped room in Stockwell with a bunch of disparate teenagers.

Our first teacher was a loony Roman woman who made it clear thathought it beneath her to be teaching the children of Italian immigrants -she had been led to understand that her pupils would be the children of Embassy staff. The second didn't mind teaching us, but only on condition that she could smoke throughout the proceedings. Pupils who also smoked joined in too. In those days, even mentioning that perhaps smoking in a confined space was not wonderful was greeted with derision, especially from teenage boys whose mothers didn't even know they smoked. Being the most tedious teenager going, the derision was dispensed with relish, and there was no danger of anyone supporting me. The stock answer was always "Oh, I don't mind".

Sometimes the derision was quite witty. When we came to the part where Dante and his guide Virgil are taken across the river Styx to the Underworld by Caronte, he is described has having glowing eyes - Occhi di bragia. One wag, who got meaner to me the more he realised I adored him, came out with "Yeah, like Sylvia - occhiali di bragia - look at those glasses."

I was rather proud of my glasses - they were large clear plastic with the word vogue written on the side in neon writing which made vogue look like vague. Yes, I spent my teens in glasses with vague written on the side. If the cap fits.....

Anyway, I have digressed. Dante. Hmm. Actually, I have a t shirt with the first canto written on it. Benetton, of course, or Ben Elton as my cousin's friends called it for years. Don't think anyone's ever put them right.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, mi trovai per una selva oscura ove la via diritta era smarrita. Or something like that. A rough translation would be In the middle years of my life I found myself wandering through a dark forest the path through which had become obscured. Told you it was rough.... An anthem for all of us of a certain age.....

During the programme, Melvyn and his guests referred to the ill fated lovers Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta. There's one line I always remember about there being no greater pain than remembering times of joy during times of sorrow. Pity I can't remember the original Italian.

Dante populated Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell with many of the celebrities of his day. I wonder if anyone could rewrite the Divine Comedy to reflect the present day. There's a thought.

Grand Finale

I had an interesting afternoon last week.

I went to the funeral of someone I had known in my youth.
She had interesting, if sad,life, doggedby ill health.

I really went along because I had known the family for a very long time and to support them . They had a very difficult relationship with her, and found it very unsettling when most of the other mourners sang her praises - they had only know her for a short time and were still in the honeymoon period. For indeed she could be the most charming, wittiest creature on earth, and also the vilest.

I had been warned that it would be a rather unorthodox event. The choice of music for the entry of the coffin was quite something - Fire by Arthur Brown, which for those of you who don't know what I mean , is the song that starts "I am the god of hellfire and I bring you fire..." I actually clapped my hand over my mouth. The rest of the service was rather tame after that! A Humanist person led the event, and he was excellent, despite never even meeting her. An old friend spoke very eloquently and honestly about her. He struck exactly the right tone - warts and all, but consistently positive all the same.

It was a subdued crowd who made their way to the pub afterwards I got a lift from a fellow family supporter who knew another side to her from our long past youth. So many people came that it was quite a crush in the small room at the pub. Circulating was quite a challenge, but I made it round. From a very elderly mother to the youngest grandchild, I was pleased to get to speak to them all.

Then came the piece de resistence - Singing along to "Always look on the bright side of life". Luckily there were many singers in the room so it all went with a swing. Amazingly, I got rather tearful at this point. I was remembering the first time I heard the song when we went as teenagers to see the film. We sat there open mouthed at the ending of the film. Imagine teenagers being shocked about something like that now! I was thinking about how nearly 30 years had passed and how we had all turned out.

Home on the bus to my own three daughters. They were all at home, waiting for their dinner, laughing about something together. "Well God," I thought "let them have their disagreements but please let them never stop them loving eachother."

Actually, I must give my brother a call....