Just checking in to let you know that I have turned a corner. I am now on a second round of antibiotics, the abscess is finally going down, and I am, at long last, starting to feel a little better. But it really has been a very odd time. I’ve been occupying an unpleasant sort of limbo — stuck in bed with Noah’s deluge beating on the windows, shivering and sweating while Dalston and Salford burned. As I mentioned previously, I’ve never had tonsillitis before, let alone a peritonsillar abscess, and I had no idea how evil it can be. In an effort to distract myself from how totally shit I feel, (as well as from the nation’s many woes, and the fact that we now have preening bigots like David Starkey pronouncing on them), this is what I have been doing:
:: re-reading both Carlyles (I blame Stephanie for this, who mentioned Thea Holmes’ book in a comment of a couple of weeks ago). With their Scots melancholy and humour, as well as their many physical complaints, they are appropriate, (if not always happy) companions for the convalescent, and I now find myself filled with an urge to knit wristikins, and visit all their haunts and houses. I’m not sure how accessible Craigenputtock is – has anybody been there?
:: finishing knitting up the green thing. I reworked the sleeve caps an unprecedented three times – a task which has rather added to the limbo-like sensations of the past fortnight. I’m pleased I did it though – for they are now very nice sleeve caps indeed. I am now engaged on the predictable hunt for the perfect buttons.
:: watching a helluva lot of films. After weeding out numerous turkeys (Mule, why did you tell me to watch the odious Grey Gardens?) here are a few DVD recommendations:
1) There’s Always Tomorrow I am a long-time fan of Sirk’s, but had never seen this, which, with its iconic pairing of Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray; Russell Metty’s slick cinematography; and Sirk’s characteristically unsparing take on domestic America, I enjoyed immensely. As in the best of Sirk’s, films the children are pleasingly nasty; MacMurray was surely born to play ‘Rex the Robot man’, and Stanwyck’s wardrobe – all tailored cocoons and angular lines — was pretty sweet as well.
2) The Small Back Room. The only Powell and Pressburger film I’d not yet seen. Another iconic pairing – this time of Kathleen Byron and David Farrar – some gripping scenes on Chesil Beach, and a portrait of self-destructive masculinity that knocks the socks off anything Kathryn Bigelow was trying to do in The Hurt Locker (which I really couldn’t stand).
3) Queen of Spades. I can sort of see why Thorold Dickinson’s atmospheric and long-unavailable dramatisation of Pushkin’s ghost story is sometimes described as being un-British – but surely its bonkers eccentricities make it quintisentially so? Highly recommended.
4) Silent Running. Films like Soylent Green are one of my many guilty pleasures, and Tom was surprised that I’d never seen this wee gem of 70s sci-fi directed by Doug Trumbull (who is perhaps better known for doing Terence Malick’s SFX). Genius.
5) Tom and I really liked Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy when we saw it a few years ago, so we were ready for the absorbing rhythm and inconclusive narrative pleasures of Meek’s Cutoff. Tom was a little irritated by the film, and thought that it took itself a bit too seriously, but, apart from wondering why on earth the women were knitting on wooden needles the thickness of broomsticks, rather than the ‘wires’ they should have been using, I really, really enjoyed it.
6) Chico and Rita. A beautiful, lyrical evocation of the intertwined histories of Cuba and its music from the ’40s to the present. It is a long time since I’ve seen a film that was so happily, unashamedly affectionate about its subject matter. Tom and I both loved it.
Well, that’s enough for now – I’m off to consume some actual, solid food. Novel! Exciting!