March 23rd, 2020

Things To Do In England When Everything Is Shut

My mother's carer says Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells was full of people yesterday. And similar reports have been coming in from all over. Wherever there's a green space people were making for it. I'd have been one of them if I'd been free...

The PM is cross about it. If we can't use our green spaces responsibly he'll take them away and put them behind lock and key and we shan't have the use of them any more. I notice, by the way, that the fiat against people sitting too close together doesn't seem to apply to his press conferences.

I watched Oliver Twist last night. Which one? The David Lean version of course, starring Alec Guinness's nose. I mock- but the nose- distracting in its enormity- is almost the only flaw in a film that's otherwise tremendous in every department- and considerably better as a film than the novel is as a novel- the blacks so black and the whites so white, the angles so acute, the faces so expressive, and the England of William IV so stinging present to the senses! And is that Hattie Jacques, singing her lungs out in the smoky fug of The Three Cripples? Indeed it is. And she receives a screen credit for it even though we hardly get to see her face...

Catching up on old movies would be a good way of passing some of this period of quarantine. I have a cupboard full of DVDs- quite a few of them bought with the best intentions but never viewed. And now would be a really good time- what with it being about the plague and starring the recently deceased Max von Sydow- to give the Seventh Seal another spin.

In Stone

We have a piece of stone by the front gate with the house name carved into it. The letters used to be coloured but weather and rain have had their way with them and I was out there this morning filling them again in with red paint. A ticklish sort of a job. The original carving is, I think, the work of Michael Harvey who used to realise the inspirations of the Scottish artist Ian Finlay.

"What colour have you painted them?" asks my mother.

"Red," I say.

"Ah, black," she says, nodding her head wisely.

I'm in awe of anyone who works with stone. One slip of the chisel and your masterwork is good for nothing but to be added to the rockery.

How do sculptors and stonemasons keep their nerve?

Shiny Happy People

I was watching the ads in a break of the extended Channel 4 News- and noticed how many of them show people in close proximity to one another in social situations- eating meals en famille or in restaurants, joshing about in offices, playing team sports. Already they're beginning to look like glimpses of a vanished world. I wonder if the companies will pull them, or continue running them at the risk of seeming annoyingly out of touch?