21 May 2009

I am reading more fluently at the moment thank you, my relations with books have always been a little rocky but I have raced through a few things lately and am limbered enough to attempt something that's been on the list for a long time, going at Proust again. It was maybe a decade ago I got halfway through the second volume of what was then a new revision of the Scott Moncrieff-Kilmartin translation, by DJ Enright. At the time, I fail to account for how, I had the six volumes in two different designs, in the Modern Library edition, even numbers had Impressionist reproductions on the cover, and sat easily in my small hands, and they alternated with pink and orange, less compactly formatted odd numbers, and that all seemed just fine back then. Coming back to the shelves after going round the Sun another ten times it seems the height of idiocy and waywardness. So I have set about acquiring the Impressionistic set, and I am much obliged to Abebooks in my search for just the right copies of the 1998 Modern Library Marcel. Except when I took delivery of Volume One yesterday (price £1.00) I saw straight away I had ordered a 1992 where I meant to have a 1998 - the muted silver and gold trim, and the photograph, fine though it is, of a rumpled pillow, could by no means take their place alongside my Volume Two, boasting this as it does


which is almost a discouragement to signing away all those hours and weeks to Proust's prose, when painting can do this for us in a matter of minutes, quarter of an hour tops. But but. There are miracles in great prose aren't there, the mystery and hilarity of communing with a great mind, that has so much to tell us. All six volumes of it.

When I ordered the Volume One, I was assured by the vendor that in spite of its cheapness, its only blemishes were as follows

Cover worn, marked and creased. Inscribed.

If I'd known it had been 'inscribed' with a hand drawn map of Europe, I might have paid a little bit more for it.


17 May 2009

Brief Encounter a joy from first minute to last. It is glorious theatre, brilliantly funny and inventive, great work from the below-mentioned Mr Murray and of course the whole thing is such a juggernaut of a romance, the lump in the throat at the end was a frightful nuisance. Thinking about it after, it put me in mind of Emma Rice's exuberant, helpless, hilarious Tristan show. The eternal triangle, I suppose, leavened by the choric/comic secondary characters. I'm sorry I missed the original cast (especially Tamzin Griffin) but was thrilled to see my pal Christopher Price enjoying himself so much in the role of Stanley, and two-time Miniaturist Milo Twomey in the plum(my) role of Dr Alec.

Two nights later, another treat, Erica W's Northern Stage production of Look Back In Anger, at the Richmond Theatre. I shan't go on about it or I shall have to retitle the blog The Old Pals Act, or something. But I did think it was pretty brilliant. And Bill Ward - whom I've never met! - was, for me, pretty damn close to a definitive Jimmy.

12 May 2009

Newcastle, bright fine day. The city sparkling. I enjoyed my meeting with my colleagues and look forward to this evening, Kneehigh´s Brief Encounter (designed by one of said colleagues, Northern Stage associate Mr Neil Murray) has pulled in at the Theatre Royal. So much of the life of your correspondent is in flux and shift but the blog remains, and Newcastle. What else? What doesn´t? Meeting me again for the first time since the winter another colleague, quizzically, ´Have you lost weight?´. Is the correct question.

We did a Miniaturists on Sunday just gone, number nineteen. I had hoped to air my ridiculous play about Will Shakespeare and Will Kemp, ridiculous in the sense that what was I thinking? To write a play about theatre´s god. I have though, and even though I read Edward Bond´s Bingo first, by way of preparation. Again, what was I thinking. The play, Bond´s, insanely good. There must be a revival soon. My shortassed piece couldn´t quite make it to the stage this time but hopefully next. That´s on July 12. Declan Feenan stepped in with his as ever beautifully judged miniature, Building Site. Thanks for coming, by the way - I know at least one of you did! Several of you did. There were good houses for both shows, which is not ever taken for granted, especially on a Sunday like Sunday, bursting at the seams with the promise of summer. The writers - besides Declan, there was Susan Mulholland, Diane Samuels, Rhiannon Tise and Mark Homer - all seemed to have as good a time as the audience, which is to say there was a pleasing equilibrium achieved, just the kind we like.


I now find myself upstairs at the Tyneside Cinema, in the Tyneside Coffee Rooms - ´a local legend is reborn´ - no, not Shearer, or rather, yes him too - forties music in the air, to complement the decor. There are little union jacks and period teapots on the mirror-backed shelves behind the bar. And an anachronistic poster of Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. Devilled kidneys on toast is 3.95.