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Tony Grist

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Apropos The Oscars [Jan. 23rd, 2018|06:49 pm]
Tony Grist
Ailz tells me that when we first got together I insisted on sitting up to watch the Oscars. She has a much better memory for this sort of thing than I do so I don't dispute it, but I'm surprised to learn I ever cared that much.

The year will have been 1992- which was when Silence of the Lambs won most of the big prizes. Maybe I stayed up to root for Anthony Hopkins- who was at the point of transitioning from star of small worthy British movies to Hollywood headliner. I believe I persuaded myself I liked the movie more than I actually did. And now I like it even less because I've grown to hate the obsession with serial killers it more or less kicked off.

I haven't seen any of the films that are in the running this year. I fancy the new del Toro but I've missed everything he's done since Pan's Labyrinth and it's unlikely I'll stir myself to the extent of making an exception for this. I'd also like to see the Phantom Thread. I have a goodish record with Paul Thomas Anderson. In fact I've seen all his features apart from the first and the one with Adam Sandler. He makes good wholemeal movies with chewy inclusions.
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Hardening My Heart [Jan. 23rd, 2018|09:55 am]
Tony Grist
 OK. Deep breath. I am not a son dealing with his mother. I am a parent dealing with a sulky kid who doesn't want to get out of bed in the morning . 

A week ago I thought my mother was dying- and while that was the case I was happy for her to stay in bed all day but it seems she just had a cold and was no more dying than any of us are and since she's planning to go on being alive she needs to do it to the best of her ability and get dressed and come downstairs and eat breakfast at the table like a reasonable human being. 

I faltered briefly in the Captain Bligh act. The ear was pressed into the pillow and I didn't see any way of inserting a hearing aid short of using physical force. Fortunately I had a couple of heavies at my elbow- or carers as I prefer to call them...

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Night Calls [Jan. 22nd, 2018|12:34 pm]
Tony Grist
My mother called for us twice in the night. Once at three and again at five. The first time she'd forgotten what she wanted by the time I got to her, the second time she needed the toilet. I was a little stern on the first occasion, not angry exactly, but stern.  The second time we suggested she get back into bed after returning from the bathroom and she said "I don't go to bed at five o'clock" and we said "Five in the morning" and she burst out laughing. 

This morning we asked the carers to dress her and sit her out in a chair. Perhaps she'll sleep better for having gone through the motions of getting up. 

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I've Seen The Future, Brother, And It's Murder [Jan. 22nd, 2018|09:58 am]
Tony Grist
 Dystopias are inherently conservative.  They project contemporary trends into a future where all their negative implications are realised and all their benefits fall away. Human beings, they tell us, cannot be trusted with science- and new technologies will always be used to oppress and destroy- so turn your back on progress and stick with the tested verities of  family, home and the boy or girl next door. Don't go up to the big city, child, stay here in the village and help mum and dad raise goats. Above all, be safe.

No, I don't like Brave New World. I don't like its snooty cynicism about human nature and I don't think it's much cop as a novel either. Characterisation is minimal, ambiguity has gone walkabout. The first thirty or forty pages are devoted to the itemisation of a process of baby-manufacture which was always fanciful and which actual scientific progress has rendered terribly wide of the mark- which means, apart from anything else- that it's boring. Nothing dates faster than prophecy. The satire is broad, unsubtle- in the manner of undergraduate review. And why in the name of Ford is a consumerist society that has scrubbed out its history full of people named for the heroes of international communism? A girl called Lenina? Give me a break. Maybe if I read on I'll be given a cogent reason- but I'm not going to enjoy reading on. 

It's all so terribly 20th century.

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Aldous Huxley [Jan. 21st, 2018|09:59 am]
Tony Grist
 There's something about Aldous Huxley I don't entirely like. Coldness? Arrogance? Misanthropy? Whatever it is he leaves a metallic taste behind. Nonetheless he's an interesting writer- and his progress from between the wars satirist to prototypical hippie guru is fascinating. It's mainly the later things I've read because bright young things interest me less than the doors of perception. I've never read Brave New World but I'm going to now because the coffee and paperback outfit that my son signed me up with as a Christmas present have sent me a copy.

It's a 1970s Penguin Classic. Grey spine, art work by Leger on the cover. I owned a lot of Penguin Classics- Modern and otherwise- back in the day.
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Meanwhile, On The Other Side Of The Planet... [Jan. 20th, 2018|05:13 pm]
Tony Grist
All that wonderful Antipodean sunshine and they stage the Australian Open indoors. It seems wilful. Sulky even. I hear voices from my childhood saying things like, "It's a lovely afternoon; why don't you go out and play."

The other thing that always shocks me a little is the blue floor. I mean, they don't even go through the motions of pretending it's grass.

I haven't really been watching. I turned the TV on for my mother this afternoon and happened on a recording of the Kerber-Sharapova match. Sharapova got swept aside. She was never my favourite and the noise she makes is hideous- like the whooping bit in whooping cough. I always thought she got more attention than her talent deserved because of her long legs and yellow hair. 

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Bayeux Tapestry [Jan. 20th, 2018|11:31 am]
Tony Grist
 Battle Abbey has put in a bid to host the Bayeux Tapestry when it comes to Britain in four years time. I don't suppose it'll win out against the British Museum- because London has the big guns- but I'd love it if it did. There could be no more appropriate venue than the site of the battle. Besides, it's just down the road from here.

I almost saw the tapestry when I was a kid. We were driving through Normandy and I spotted the turn-off for Bayeux and began bouncing up and down on the back seat going "Can we? Oh, can we, pleeeease." And my father said, "We'll find a hotel first, then come back." And then he went on driving and went on driving- and of course we never did.

Parents and their promises, eh? They think children have short memories. Wrong. It's old people who can't hold onto a thought. Children remember forever and ever....

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Family Artwork [Jan. 19th, 2018|09:47 am]
Tony Grist
Among the stuff that came out of the attic are a couple of framed watercolours. They're amateur work and not very good- but the thing is they're signed by someone with a family name who may have been my great-grandmother's brother or possibly her nephew or- who knows? My granny kept them out of sentiment- I suppose- but I don't remember them hanging on her wall. My great-grandmother was a rather good amateur painter and one of her sons was a professional and almost everyone in that lineage seems to have messed about with paints at some time or other. And it continues. My mother did a bit and I do a bit and my sister does more than a bit and my daughter has just published a set of tarot cards from her own artwork. It's nice to know that Uncle Fabian or Cousin Fabian also dabbled but how far should family piety stretch? Should we keep his stuff because of the name or take it down the charity shop in the hope that someone will take a shine to it- which is more than we have done?

And then there are the paintings my granny did in her old age. As a young woman she trained as a woodcarver and her work in that line is excellent and we treasure the examples we have, but her late watercolours and oils are very ordinary. Not up to the standards of the pro she used to be. Hardly worth framing. 


I suppose we'll do what my parents did and put them back into storage and the next generation- or the generation after- can get them out again and see what it thinks....
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Clearing The Attic [Jan. 18th, 2018|12:14 pm]
Tony Grist
Matthew and Julia helped us move everything out of the attic. A lot of what was up there was junk and has departed on the back of their flat bed truck but I wasn't quite prepared for the volume of things belonging to my grandmother that my parents stashed up there fifty years ago, thinking, "we'll deal with that later ". There's a lot of artwork, a collection of picture postcards, a hat box full of ancient toys in which mice have nested and a very nice wooden box with brass handles, containing marbles and card games and suchlike. Happy hours of sorting lie ahead.

Matthew and Julia were in my mother's sightline as she lay in bed and we were a little worried she'd be distressed to watch them coming and going with armfuls of her junk- but she didn't take any of it in. What she did remember was Matthew going into her bedroom to say "hello". He was her gardener for decades and they're fond of one another. "Did you see Matthew," she asked me afterwards. "He's a nice person."
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A Religious Duty [Jan. 17th, 2018|01:56 pm]
Tony Grist
 Hot Cross Buns are in the shops- and being pushed at the shopper- because it's nearly Easter, innit.

 We bought a packet, of course.

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