12 March 2005

Stanley and the Virgin

At the Library caff, I sat opposite a whitebearded fella (I later learned his name, Stanley), tucking into a mountainous lunch. I had on me three Indie review sections, due to a newsagent's error, and offered him one. He accepted with theatrical reluctance, and we fell into conversation. I agreed it was often thin stuff, but bore with it for the theatre reviews. No, no, he said wearily. They're always too late. Prefer the Guardian, they're out the day after more often than not. "Have you seen Don Carlos?" No, can't really afford the West End. "Oh, well, these critics, I don't understand it. They go crazy over Derek Jacobi screeching his head off. It's a terribly good play, saw a young company do it in modern dress years ago, and they carried you along, but this, I know he's a very talented director but it was all so... You couldn't see why people said the things they did. And the lighting!"
Stanley had not a bad word, however, about Pedro the Great Pretender. He'd like to do a thesis comparing the trio, Pedro, Hamlet and another meta-theatrical thing, by Corneille I think it was. I mentioned the Ion I did at the Gate a couple of years ago, hoping he'd seen it. Alas no, but he did see Jude Law play the lead in David Lan's version. How was he in the part? I asked.
Another mouthful of cake and custard as he reminisced, then a wry smile. "He was pretty. And he knew his lines."

Later, a field trip to Westminster Cathedral. Shopped for catechisms in what can only be described as the megastore, and couldn't resist a £5.50 figurine of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (She's sitting on my desk looking all serene as she plants her weight on the neck of a serpent.)
Quizzed the bookseller about Latin missals. They're out of stock. Feeling all rebellious for a moment, I was tempted to ask her to look up Marina Warner's Alone Of All Her Sex, but thought better of it.

Wandered into the cathedral itself. Such a beautiful place, in the truest sense, especially with vespers starting up in the background. I lit a candle for Dad, then went and sat in the Lady Chapel, stood when they stood, sat when they sat, and let the music and the ritual wash over me.

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