Friday, August 26, 2011

"One Day, The Film..."

We expected a cinema full of David Nicholls fans. But yesterday afternoon, on the day the film of his best-seller ONE DAY was released, you could count the folk in the cinema on the fingers of your (...OK, both hands....And yes, probably the toes on your feet too)...BUT outside, it was a bright sunny day and summer's perhaps a sunbed in the garden had been the option for some... I just hope some of the adverse comments by critics haven't put people off.

A few months back, I couldn't put the book down. It's an easy read. It's beautifully written. There are bits that haunt. There are bits you recognise, with which you empathise. And it also documents a slice of British society over 22 hectic years... and it does all this with perception.
The main characters, Emma and Dex, are vibrantly real. There are others who are also beautifully drawn. You could say the "plot" is simple, ordinary...but it holds your interest hugely.... and the " Will they? Won't they?" of the story lassoes you....along with the fact that Emma and Dex meet on St Swithins Day ( 1988) .....then decide to meet that their relationship flays/ falters/flirts and fights......AND I enjoyed all this, in Nicholls' readable very canny prose.

THE FILM is Absolutely Not The Book. BUT....Take It On Its Own. Don't think about the book. The film is gentle-easy-Friday-evening-watching. OK, Hmm: Hathaway's accent consists of a sudden flat "supposed-to-be Yorkshire" vowel lurching betwixt Heaven Knows What....BUT the film is merely a RomCom, it's light as sugar, it's sad and touching, it's good-looking with some lovely moments...BUT BEST OF ALL: it has great cameos. Rafe Spall is a brilliant Ian. Ken Stott as Dex's Dad shines. Patricia Clarkson is a star as Dex's mother; as parents of Dex, they couldn't be bettered.

BUT Hathaway doesn't hit the spot. She's a beautiful American actress..... as unlike working class socialist clever-plain Emma as it's probably possible to be. In the book, it was EMMA I watched and Emma I crossed my fingers for. BUT yesterday afternoon, I rooted for Dexter. Jim Sturgess's brown eyes beguiled..the flaws in his character melted and moved ... and his ageing process over the years was impeccable. Sturgess was accurate sensible casting.

SO YES: The book was sheer delight from start to finish: an analysis of so many things...The film, by contrast, is merely an afternoon's enjoyment....a pleasant view into a love affair.

They're separate beings, this book and this film. Each should be appreciated for what it is.
They shouldn't be compared with t'other. ( To be said in your best Yorkshire accent, of course?)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

" Farcical Frolickings By The Lake..."

Yes, it's corny....Farce IS corny...all that stripping off... the running in and out of open and closed doors....silly phone calls....the constant losing of trousers....people tumbling downstairs....people falling over...people falling in love....all those ridiculous predictable mix-ups!

On Friday we saw Michael Frayn's " Noises Off!" at Theatre By The Lake, Keswick, Cumbria ( see ) It's a gorgeous spot for a theatre, set in the heart of the Lakes... by Derwentwater ...and we've had many visits now over several years.

AND T.B.T.L really is the most laidback of places. To quote my friend, some folk look as though they're straight off the fells ( meant as a compliment!) and others dress in their own elegant Best. In fact, you could say Everyone comes as Themself. And that suits the ambience of this place. And as you arrive, you're made welcome and you're all set for a happy evening.....

BUT I didn't know what to expect from this play. AND by expressions on other folk's faces as the curtain rose, I reckon others felt the same.
BECAUSE Farce is's wellworn....its jokes can be yawnable....and I think we were wondering........BUT altho all 3 Acts were packed with Classic ("what-you-expect Farce").... we laughed.....and we laughed..and we laughed.... because this was actually CLASSY Farce......with a clever script based on a play-within-a-play ( OR rather a " farce-within-a-farce) .......AND the 2nd Act "sort-of" brilliantly repeated the 1st.....( anymore info would be telling)..........And there was an amazing set ( built by Topshow Scenic Construction: both front/back of a stage set).... and there were fine characatures, including Ben Ingles ( clearly a dancer in another life) as Gary Lejeune ( I couldn't help thinking of PM Cameron as he strode about in immaculate suit !?) ....ALSO Heather Saunders as seductively dippy Brooke Ashton, did much to steal the show...The play was slightly too long...but that's only a tiny criticism..

SO: If you're in northern parts, "Noises Off!" plays until November, along with 5 other plays in rotation, using same company of actors.
****And talking of other Happenings: Michael Frayne's writer wife, Claire Tomalin, comes to Chester LitFest on October 19th to talk about her latest book: " Charles Dickens: A Life". See for full details....
AND P.S: Michael Frayn's novel " Spies" is one of the best books I've read in recent years. And when my brother borrowed my copy, he started it one evening and couldn't put it down. He finally finished in the Early Hours.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

" Three Special Men"

It's a bit of a joke with one of my friends.
She once said: "I bet you like reading Obituaries!" and yes, she was right.
It's not the's the Lives I like to know about...complete stories in themselves.... and today there are three main Obits in the Times: the guy who introduced black/white stripes to pedestrian crossings, a Lt-Col who gained the Military Cross, and a chest specialist who tackled TB in the East End and helped homeless alcoholics.
Their stories are the stuff of the best of novels. All had brave and very long lives.
And wonderfully, all were 94, all three of them.
It was a privelege to read about them.

Friday, August 12, 2011

" Magritte: Surrealism By The Mersey"

The colour of the Mersey was absolutely right for the occassion last Wednesday: almost black at times, as grey as the darkest of doves.
And it churned with a desperate kind of anger.... its waves repeating...and repeating.....and repeating ( like the very work of Magritte himself ) ...repeating its woes, its triumphs, its stories.... and all this beneath a deep navy sky.... echoing with sombre slowmoving dreamlike clouds....drifting like porpoises in sullen gathering darkness...... surreal weather for an August day.

AND they were there in the water and sky: the colours Magritte would choose...the images he'd make, glimpsed through each window we passed as we viewed this exhibition in Liverpool's Tate. The setting could not have been more perfect...

The exhibition is called The Pleasure Principle*. I'm not sure about this. Pleasure seems far from Magritte. The title must have its tongue in its cheek??( WHAT would he do with THAT image??) Maybe we missed the point.

Magritte's figures are silent, solitary ones. His objects are frequently cut to their quick ....(and they're like the waves, repeating+repeating+repeating) ..but there's a humour, a weird quite unhealthy one..that shakes and rattles and rolls, that makes your spine shivery, your thoughts silent.....
AND yes, there's seduction and there's depravity behind curtains...literally: you'll see if you go....and many terrors of a brutal human night are turned into a human comedy...

THIS EXHIBITION: Comedian Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh) says its full of one liners...I suppose with its apples, bowler hats, with the sudden staccato shock of a lush pink rose...Fielding says it's a source for a surreal comedy show. And he's right.
And Terry Gilliam ( wonderful ex Python!) says people walked round in a religious state of awe...but HE got the joke..and he walked round, laughing uncontrollably...

BUT I'm not sure. It was unsettling. Its humour was mirthless...if that can be said. BUT I stared at my favourite ( "The Night Owl" ) and I saw not only the humour in the lamppost (planted solemnly in the livingroom) ....but also the strangeness in encroaching darkness, and most of all, the pain of this guy's awful human universal loneliness..

BUT I'm not sure. But go. It's at L'pool Tate until Oct 16th.
* Freudian term, I believe.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

" Seven (Biscuits) Go To The Chinese..."

Our every-few-weeks writing group " Words And Biscuits" ( we spout the words/scoff the biscuits) thrives.
I set it up 11 years ago as celebration of the new century......and much water ( like our words) has flowed under many bridges since.
Recently one of us celebrated a milestone birthday and generously treated us all to dinner at a local Chinese. Delicious food/good fun in great company.
Our ages span several decades...( and we're all very different, yet much the same, if you follow my drift...)
We come together regularly with our writing/our chat and it's a much cherished session each time for all of us ..
Here we are ( 3 Biscuits were away in other tins unfortunately...) BUT we're grinning cheesily while sampling gorgeous dishes in tasty succession...
A happy session indeed....AND Long May We Chomp On Our Biscuits!! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 07, 2011

" Wandering The Gardens Of a Friendly Re-Union! "

A visit to brother/sisterinlaw who live in a Warwickshire village.

INTRIGUING : thro casual chat, they'd discovered someone in their village who'd been at school with me in my small same "gang" of girls ( long before dreaded Girl Power took off! ) ANYHOW we hadn't set eyes on each other since aged 15...Suffice to say, that's A FAIR FEW YRS........HOWEVER we had a lovely time with C and husband T... and suffice to say ( again) my brother's bottle bin was rattling yesterday morning...

Friends are valuable folk...obvious statement....both new ones and old.....and this week, I had a kaleidoscopic glimpse into my past and Carol's.....shimmering and spinning over decades... from the time we'd been bashing our satchels together and meeting our very 1st boyfriends beneath the Abbey Gateway... to Friday, sitting lazily in a summery garden SO MANY years on.

WE ALSO visited some of the wonderful Gardens of Warwick. My snap shows The Mill Garden, created by Arthur Measures beneath the walls of Warwick Castle, beside the Avon. It's a delight: delicious plants/shrubs, plus views of castle, mill and river.

And it appears there are lots of gardens open to the public in Warwick.....varied in content and care. There are cottagey ones where you feel miles from the town and cool calm ones:grassy spaces canopied by darkly dramatic trees. And ornate rose-bedded ones... with benches where elderly ladies sit together, talking in fluting well polished voices...

BUT probably the most fascinating was Hill Close Gardens. These are 16 individual gardens, cultivated in Victorian times by Warwick shopkeepers and tradesmen who had no gardens of their own. For long years, the gardens were left derelict but at the turn of this century, locals banded together and 4 yrs ago, the renovation of Hill Close Gardens was complete. Some have their original summerhouses, some of these buildings now " listed". They're secluded peaceful places for hardworking townsfolk.... to relax after digging their own special earth..

It was a treat to it MUST have been for the tradesman of Warwick all those yrs ago...folk such as **Mr. Chadband, Confectioner....AND Mr. R. Ivens, Auctioneer.....and his brother, Mr. J. Ivens, Master Upholsterer...

** It seems Charles Dickens visited Warwick.... and afterwards the oily Rev. Chadband ( fictitious, I hasten to add!) appeared in his " Bleak House"...Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

"Here Is Some News....."

A swift flip through today's News:
Magician Paul Daniels was hospitalised recently after the delectably naughty teddybear puppet Sooty chucked a pizza at him......clearly Johnny Marbles has encouraged A Trend that has stretched even to puppets...

And talking about stretching ( in this case, high waisted trousers?) Simon Cowell has reportedly shed 14 lbs on a Smoothie diet. Smoothie. That figures. WILL Simon need lots of new ( slenderer?) trousers??

ALSO: Model Linda Evangelista declares she requires $46,000 monthly as maintenance for her 4 year old daughter and for her own personal grooming. She reckons she needs armed former police detectives as drivers plus a well-paid 24hr Nanny.
" I have to maintain my image" says statuesque Evangelista.
WOW! She wouldn't be happy with my wonderfully faithful Ponds Cold Cream...or my more than acceptable L'Oreal for the more mature of skins...

AND lastly: I look forward to this outcome:
writer Tony Parsons is "Writer In Residence" at Heathrow for a week. He's finding material for his short story collection:" Departures: Seven Stories From Heathrow".
I've long annoyed my family by disappearing into my own world whenever at M/Ch, Gatwick, etc....because I'm weighing up folk lounging on sofas....OR staring at quarrelling families in cafes, or gawping at passionate reunions by barriers...not to mention me wondering for days afterwards about a sobbing old man OR a shifty-eyed woman Or a sharp-suited guy with no more than his wallet....
This collection by Parsons will certainly be on my shelf.