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‘When?’ said the moon to the stars in the sky
‘Soon’ said the wind that followed them all
‘Who?’ said the cloud that started to cry
‘Me’ said the rider as dry as a bone
‘How?’ said the sun that melted the ground
and ‘Why?’ said the river that refused to run
and ‘Where?’ said the thunder without a sound
‘Here’ said the rider and took up his gun
‘No’ said the stars to the moon in the sky
‘No’ said the trees that started to moan
‘No’ said the dust that blunted its eyes
‘Yes’ said the rider as white as a bone
‘No’ said the moon that rose from his sleep
‘No’ said the cry of the dying sun
‘No’ said the planet as it started to weep
‘Yes’ said the rider and laid down his gun
How many wonderful period dramas we have been treated to lately…Downton Abbey, Any Human Heart, Upstairs Downstairs, The King’s Speech. Of course, BBC makes the mistake to overdo the drama on the expense of the period setting as usual. I’m quite happy for the camera to linger on pretty sights instead of cramming in a major plot-changing event every sodding minute (something ITV learnt to do to perfection 30 years ago with Brideshead).
Nonetheless, in whatever shape, this is a great love of mine (something which harks back to the unhealthy amount of Catherine Cookson adaptations I had to endure as a child). And in Maid in Britain, BBC did some great digging into why we watch it and why we love it, and whether it is socially relevant or mere escapism. Surely it can be a little bit of both and more still?
Personally, I’m especially weak for the kind of master/servant dichotomy we find in both Downton and Upstairs, Downstairs. The most touching portrayal I have ever come across for this is Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. I find it almost unbearable to read. All work is of course noble, but to take such pride in doing your duty that you suppress your whole being is impressive. To live not only for your master, but trough your master.
Let us establish this quite clearly: a butler’s duty is to provide good service. It is not to meddle in the great affairs of the nation. The fact is, such great affairs will always be beyond the understanding of those such as you and I, and those of us who wish to make our mark must realize that we best do so by devoting our attention to providing the best possible service to those great gentlemen in whose hands the destiny of civilization truly lies. …
Tragic yes, but the dignity I admire. On the other side of the coin we have the people who live trough their servants, one sees this happening too often still and it is nasty business.
Oh, please give me more wonderful costumes, stately homes, grand dinners and complex, restrained characters and less freaky “coincidences” and raree-show worthy people. Thanks!
2011 will be the year of excessive reading. I’ve found it so, so hard to read properly since graduating. From reading like four books a week, I have now been going at the same novel for five months. Five months! To my defense, I have been working a lot, and I have been reading other stuff (erm, like the Internet). Nonetheless, it is just plain wrong. I can’t even look at my bookshelves; all the unread books stress me out.
Clearly, it can’t go on like this any longer. So, I thought I’d tag along on one of these many reading challenges that are going on at the moment. And as all good things come in threes, I thought I better do three of them.
I find the American South endlessly fascinating as a dramatic setting and I love Tennessee Williams and should really give Mockingbird a rest and explore new territory. So, I’ll have a glass of sweet iced tea and read Faulkner, Chopin and Margaret Mitchell (because, even though I might possibly, once or twice, have implied to have done so, I have never actually read Gone with the Wind) for the Southern Literature Challenge.
As I have a soft spot for the Irish I am also set on reading Oliver Goldsmith, John Banville and Elizabeth Bowen (and hopefully find inspiration for a fourth along the way) for the Ireland Reading Challenge.
Last, but not least, will be my own baby: The Decedent Reading Challenge. I’m thinking Theophile Gautier, Octave Mirbeau, probably some poetry and perhaps, as icing on the cake, a masked ball at The Last Tuesday Society (because one must give one’s body pleasure so that one’s soul is happy there).
Fingers crossed, this will work!
Well, I have never seen so many happy faces on the front row. But then, who wouldn’t be, with such gorgeous ladies strutting their stuff. I’m loving the glitter, the fringes and the high hair, and most of all, the man himself.