Forty Five Years, The Curtains, and Robert Walpole.

The film Forty Five Years has five star reviews, which is why we went to see it. I loathed it and came out feeling really depressed, what is it about the critics? Basically it is a dismal tale based on a short story which should have been summed up in two words (not very nice ones) . There is a lot of “flaccid “geriatric groping with too much information and coy references to “it” being the bypass victim’s you know what. Long lingering shots of damp countryside in Norfolk, Laura Ashley décor and a perfectly awful anniversary party, hence the title. The depressed husband, Tom Courtney, has just heard that his ex has been found preserved in a glacier for fifty years. She fell down a fissure in the alps, well obviously …… We are kept in suspense for two hours as to why etc. There are some knowing long looks off camera and yes Charlotte Rampling does have the eyes of a killer. They eat noisily with their mouths open in a dull kitchen, she is really jealous of the dead ice queen… no need actually , there is a tiny twist there but so obscure that the Sainted One missed it .

Talking of Laura Ashley, I replaced the disgusting curtains in the S.O ‘s bathroom and put the old ones out in the road where things are usually snapped up. After two days they went in the dead of night. The S. O finally acquiesced to public opinion although he still maintains they had a lot of wear in them. I wonder if that opinion would apply to moi?

Sir Robert Walpole the first Prime Minister of our great democracy has come into focus in my latest novel (the longest creation in history owing to domestic circumstances which fuddle my brilliant brain). His secret an adept avoidance of controversy I am studying his technique. Of course it got him in the end but he still remained friends with George II who had had to dismiss him. History is very predictable with hindsight .

An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison, Manic Depressive Illness, Under the Wire and the Hidden Victims.

My brother had Manic Depressive Illness. Although to be honest I never saw so much of the Manic part. A lot of sixties fast living I suppose and then the messing with barbiturates which eventually killed him, or he killed him when he was a beautiful twenty two year old man with everything to live for. If only I had been able to read Kay Jamison’s book, An Unquiet Mind, then instead of now, I could have made some sense of it. But then it was all hushed up and I felt a sort of sort of shame and I didn’t get it. I read this book in the last two days and it is as if a curtain has lifted. The wonders of Lithiam the openness of discussing this horrible disease which recurs in families. The awful lasting collateral damage to the people who try so desperately to help while they struggle with surviving their own life challenges, these people who are just the bit part actors in this awful drama played out by the sufferer who can only engage in their own pain, a pain so hideous as to be beyond pain as we know it but at the same time compelling for the sufferer because they are still in control. They can play with their fete while we watch helplessly. Then along comes Lithiam and they recover they get back to a normal life, but the other participants I am not so sure about them. I am told that God will only send you what you are able to cope with I am not sure about that either . Charles …… I wonder what sort of man he would have been if there had been the advancements in mental health care then? I would have had a lot of fun with him that is for sure he would be in his late sixties, a father, a husband, a lover for someone, a friend, a son a “BROTHER” . Thank you Kay Jamison. Everyone should read this book almost all families have someone like this, somewhere acting out their drama under the wire while nobody gives it a name the new name incidentally is Bipolar but I think the old one describes it rather better.

Lucy’s Gratitude Walk, Cancer Research and one Very Special Friend

My daughter Lucy O Donnell was diagnosed with incurable metastasised breast cancer three and a half years ago has just completed a sixty mile walk of half of the south downs way to raise money for the Institute of Cancer research Research. There are many remarkable things about this which are truly wondrous, of course the endeavour itself, but then the fact that she had just had a hip replacement and most especially the friend Lucinda Bruce who did this with her. This was a brave leap of faith and a measure of the love that is universally felt for Lucy. A latter day Pilgrims Progress for them both. Of course it rained it got very cold then blisteringly hot and each night at a new watering hole . What a journey and if anyone wants to contribute to the thousands of pounds these two intrepid women raised it is www.justgiving/lucysgratitudewalk. The money is to the various agency’s which have made Lucy’s gift of life possible. We all thank them from the bottom of our hearts for what they have done for this remarkable daughter mother wife and friend .

What You Should Never Say.

A “friend “ of mine rang to thank me for something this week and proceeded to wax lyrical about the Sainted One’s appearance “So unbelievable “, she said in between gasps of admiration .” younger every time we see him it really is quite unbelievable… “ on and on it went. Believe me I came back with “the credit should be given to me for providing a life style fit for an eighteenth century gentleman.” Quick as a flash she came out with the following “ you on the other hand look really drawn and stressed you have aged so much, you must rest more you know , you are killing yourself; all your friends have noticed how terrible you look, I only tell you this because I love you .. we all do.”

Because I am not a real bitch , just an amateur sort of one , I did not tell her how red faced and piggy eyed she is , and how her teeth always have looked like Highgate cemetery. I thanked her for her concern, and whereas I felt great before I answered the phone I thought of many reasons why I was really not fit for purpose and that if I had suicidal tendencies this would be it. What a stupid cow , and how sexist those comments are, they would never be made to a man I can’t imagine it eg “You look really stressed , you have got fat with a beer belly and you have nostril hair and your teeth look as if they were painted with shoe polish, and is that a horticultural experiment busting out of your ears …….that applies to a lot of male persons of a certain age.. you see it is still a man’s world and a lot of women buy into it. Its jealousy of course because I do have great teeth thanks to my uncle Cyril the Jewish dentist. They always send for other partners to look at my teeth when I go to the dentist because they can’t believe how marvellous mine are!!!!!!! So the motto is keep smiling etc and you know the rest.

Seven Brides For seven Brothers T the Regents Park open Air Theatre will put a smile on your face will !

Menstruation Free Zones, If I Had a Hammer and Wasps in the Salad

Oh No … not on my white covers you don’t or in my spare beds or on my car seat, my dogs try it but they don’t know any better, I am talking about periods. I read some girl moron did a marathon with blood soaked pants and stains dripping down her legs , she was protesting that women should be proud of their menstruation and bleed without sanitary protection. Apparently she wore orange leggings but the blood showed through and ran onto her trainers. Some poor guy tapped her on the shoulder in a gentlemanly way; I don’t know what she did but I have a wild imagination and think she may have socked him with a soiled sanitary pad. This incident began a serious debate on the subject in the broad sheets and of course women’s “periodicals” . It is rumoured that the woman concerned was so alarmed by the response and becoming the heroine of the “eat your tampon society” that she declared it was a joke. Bring out the sick bucket I say , Lambeth once put a sign up saying “ this is a nuclear free zone”. They could issue a similar one … no spitting urinating or menstruating . Listen crazy woman, your address book will be empty if you go on like this, give us all a break and keep your period to yourself.

On the whole I lead a blameless life , but God doesn’t like me at the moment. I made lunch for someone I really needed to impress at the weekend and they found a wasp in their salad. It was horrible, I snatched the plate away and replaced it, with impeccable manners the guest ate it, but for me the show was over, I won’t be eating salad for a while. The guest asked me how I thought the wasp died? I looked at the blooming thing and really didn’t care. A friend of mine went to a cremation recently and the deceased had asked for “If I had a Hammer” to be played on an old cassette as the coffin went behind the curtain. The bloke had a grudge you see, that much was obvious. I bang on about these things but it is just to get away from the real narrative, but as they say it is a keen sense of the ridiculous which keeps one sane. The latter is seriously questionable.

The Bloomsberry Group, Professional Rivalry and Hobo The Bassett Hound.

Many years ago I was present at a Sunday Lunch at “the other Charleston” the home of Oswald and Rhoda Birley, Oswald was long dead but Rhoda was still an exotic beauty. She invited the painter Duncan Grant and we brought with us the “Impressionist” Paul Maze and his wife Jessie. Their painting styles were very different and the Grand old men fought like rats in a sack and Rhoda ( herself a considerable artist) looked on like a large cat waiting to consume the remnants for lunch. It was quite a gathering when you come to think of it but as Oscar Wilde said “youth is wasted on the young.” I never thought about those privileged interludes just as I didn’t think about the time I ate lunch at Harold Acton’s villa with Steven Spender and they talked about DH Lawrence their friend. Watching the beautiful rendition of the “Real” Charleston Idyll ,Living in Squares on TV filmed in a actual farm house on the Firle estate I was in seventh heaven; whoever researched it got it exactly right. (The trust who runs it needs more money by the way to preserve Vanesa’s murals and fabrics not to mention the painted furniture), East Sussex takes some beating. Then I recalled how Angelica Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bells daughter Angelica used to come to our house and accompany moi as I sang Schumans “Frauen Liebe und Leben” and Shubert Lieder. These were magical moments, sadly for all the beauty those people left to the world they did not have undiluted happiness. They didn’t have pets as I recall too busy being them. Paul Maze did though, at one time six spaniels whose distant descendants I have.

I took the spaniels to Battersea Park the other day at dog walking time. A basset hound called Hobo ate my sandwich box and all before I had a chance to open it. Dogs are brilliant there were twenty-seven of them and they all stay in a pack, each knowing their place its all about the pack you see and that is what the Bloomsbury lot were they would have been far less powerful on their own.

Dog Mix on the Salad, and Audience Manners.

Today I spent some time watching a young man watering a plant box with bottled water in the pouring rain. Well so what you might say? “Good point” I might reply , well that stuff is lethal and if it doesn’t poison human beings try it on the plants. Give me London Tap water any day kidneys are wonderful filters. I asked the young man if he knew the name of the ragged plant not so far murdered by his attentions, he said he didn’t, I told him it was Rosemary, he said it couldn’t be because that was a girl’s name and the plant was a boy. That does make some kind of sense actually, its spiky and smelly. I came home and put small bite dog mix on the salad .

The Nipote watched and asked me if that was a very English thing?

Well you can’t get more English than Hamlet by William S the great bard himself, the greatest English writer there is, but give it a new slant ?……. The great soliloquy, you know the one, (about if you are being or not) gets moved and put as a sensational opener. Well what do you expect a new and stupid audience who drive the Pop star status leading man to virtual suicide? They are the sort of people who eat boiled sweets shift in their seats, fiddle with their bits and talk all the time and , wait for it ,make videos, Mr Cumberbatch must educate them, stop the show and shame the offenders, nothing like naming and shaming, works every time Kevin Spacy did it so it must be right.