The time of year or age? Age or the time of year? Truly we don’t know, but we have been waking up much later than usual. We often wake around 4 am and have a cup of tea and then, around 5 am, decide it’s far too early for us to get up, our minds might be awake but our bodies certainly aren’t, and we eventually nod off and then sleep until almost 10 o’clock. But as I’ve said to husband, it really doesn’t matter. We must need the sleep, otherwise we’d not be asleep. And when the mornings become lighter earlier, perhaps we will rise earlier, too? We shall just have to wait and see.
And so, it was gone 11 o’clock before we had showered and dressed and 11.30 am before we’d had our porridge. We then decided to drive to Wellswood so that husband could get a haircut. He was reluctant! “It’s too cold for a haircut!” he claimed. But, I said that a couple of centimetres off his hair wasn’t going to give him hypothermia and he’d look much smarter once his hair had had a trim.
Of course, I had an ulterior motive: I wanted to take some things to the charity shop in Wellswood and also have a look-see while husband was in the barber’s. I was parting with a favourite jacket, one by Viyella, but it was a sort of dark mustard colour and now I have silver hair, it does nothing for me. Yes, it was 15 years old, but a blazer-style jacket never dates and I really liked this jacket, but I felt the time had come for it to go.
I then went into the post office/newsagent’s to buy the Saturday paper and some birthday cards for birthdays in February (again, I’m getting ahead) and I thought I’d have a look in the Co-op and see if they had any flowers – they had and I bought a bunch of dusky pink tulips, pink with a hint of mauve.
I also gave some magazines to the charity shop, ones that had been passed to me. Indeed, I split the pile and also gave some to the barber for his wife as she works in a residential home for the elderly and once she’s read them she can pass them on again. I had a look around the charity shop, but while I saw some pretty china, there was nothing I wanted nor needed.
After husband had had his hair cut, we popped into the deli next door and bought steak pasties for our lunch and re-heated those when we arrived home.
This afternoon, I noticed that my all-time favourite film was on BBC2 – 84 Charing Cross Road with Anne Bancroft as Helene Hanff, New York copywriter, and Anthony Hopkins as Frank Doel, the Manager of Marks & Co, the booksellers of the title.
I absolutely love this film. Well, I’d first loved the book; what’s not to like about a book of correspondence between a book lover (Hanff) and a bookseller (Doel)?
Indeed, it was a bookseller in Totnes (sadly, long gone) who, many, many years ago handed me a rather dog-eared paperback. “You love books, don’t you?” he said to me, stating the obvious as I handed him money for some purchases. “I think you will like this!” I offered to pay for it, but no, it was too tatty for him to sell, he said; he was giving it to me. I took it home and once I’d started reading it, I just didn’t stop. (Since then I’ve bought a mint hardback of the book, and also the DVD so I can watch the film any time I like.)
I trust you have read this lovely book? but if you are one of those lucky people who haven’t yet read it, then you have a treat in store! I took some pix from the television during this afternoon’s showing of the film: Helene writing to Marks & Co, Frank Doel reading her letters, Helene in bed reading one of the books she’d ordered and which they’d sent her, the lovely old shop (now, sadly no longer there but when I was in London in 1990 – to see Les Miserables – we walked across the road and saw the plaque on the wall saying that that had been where Marks & Co had been) and Helene with a young couple of friends in New York – where Helen lived – choosing food items for a Danish company to send to the employees of Marks & Co during rationing here in Britain in the 1940s/1950s.
So much of middle-20th-century history is also in this film: not only food rationing, one can see how utterly dull Britain was in those immediate post-war years compared with New York. We see the frugality of the meals, how they were augmented by a loaf of bread, but we also see Frank and his wife enjoying an evening out, dancing in the open air at night in what looks a chilly London, all part of the festivities of the Festival of Britain in 1951. Then we see the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and in one scene it shows Frank Doel, his wife, and their friends solemnly standing during the National Anthem while watching the Coronation on their newly purchased TV set (top picture above). American history is also there, racial unrest, student sit-ins, and, of course, baseball.
Apart from it being a beautiful story, and all the more beautiful because it is based on true events, Hopkins and Bancroft are superb in their respective roles, supported by a marvellous Judy Dench as Frank Doel’s Irish second wife (and even a comparatively small role for a young Ian McNeice, one of the employees in Marks & Co. McNeice is better known for the part of Bert Large, owner of the seaside restaurant, in the Doc Martin series of TV dramas.)
And that is how I spent the afternoon – the photo of the TV above shows one of the food parcels from Helene arriving at Marks & Co and Frank Doel handing various items to each member of staff.
This wasn’t the only film I’ve enjoyed recently. Yesterday, husband and I went to the Barn Cinema at Dartington to see Colette. We both enjoyed the film, but we felt – unlike many reviewers – that by far and away, Dominic West was the star performer. It is Kiera Knightly who has been highly praised; we’d have said that she turned in an adequate performance. But we really enjoyed Dominic West’s portrayal of her disreputable husband.
And next week we’re off to see The Friendship starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne. I’m really looking forward to that!
Until next time.