It’s Coming Down Female Trolls

 

 

Bring Me Sunshine by Charlie Connelly, read by Stephen Mangan.

Radio Four’s Book of the Week is the perfect marriage of author’s voice and reader’s style. I had to wait to the end of an episode to check who wrote it, so Manganesque was some of the phrasing. It does the usual Radio Four thing of taking a subject you had given no thought to previously and revealing it to be easy to grasp and fascinating.

It’s Curtains for Poirot

 

I think “Curtain” (along with “Roger Ackroyd”) is Christie at her most fiendish. As usual, she tightly corrals her characters, here, coming full circle and using Styles once more, cramming the guesthouse with likely vics and perps. But as she reveals a killer beyond the law, Poirot is presented with a series of troubling moral dilemmas.

The ultimate revelation is ingenious and original. It surprises, but Agatha has played fair, all the clues are hidden in the text. On first reading, you thoughtlessly glide past the phrases that are significant. Only when you return to the pages enlightened, do they bellow out their secret.

The thing that dates it, making it seem a book born much before its publishing date of 1975, is the language of the relationships. Hastings now has a grown up daughter, Judith. He is intimidated by her haughty self-reliance and fearful her inexperience will lead to emotional shipwreck. She finds his attempts at guidance interfering, smothering and patronising. A timeless setup, relevant even now. But the over formal way Hastings expresses his own thoughts (“I was, you see, afraid of my tall, beautiful daughter”) and Judith’s particular brand of pompousness are unnatural to the modern ear.

Because of this, I long for it to be “Suchetised“. The sparkle of fresh words, spoken by charming actors. When it comes to the plot, though, I stand with Natalie Haynes. DON’T TINKER!

“when adapting a Christie novel, it would be sensible to remember that she was better at plotting than most of us will ever be, so maybe the addition of psycho lesbians doesn’t improve the story”

If the Trailer is a Freshly Squeezed Jaffa…

…the film is homoeopathically diluted squash.

I watched the trailer again and understand why I was excited to see the film. The golden grey tones, the primo cast, the building drama of the score. The movie conveyed this excitement minimally. I knew intellectually that Smiley was circling the big four but I got no sense of him drawing closer, nothing of stealth or menace, no lives in the balance. I think it’s because we see so little of the suspects, Ciaran Hinds lines were so scanty he didn’t need his equity card. Tinker and chums remained strangers to me, guessing who-was-it became a blindfolded throw at a dartboard.

I did feel tension when Benedict was rummaging in the forbidden files but that’s because we’re on knitwear exchange terms and I love his Sherlock. Tom these-lips-are-wasted-on-a-man Hardy and Svetlana most-beautiful-woman-ever-to-have-a-protruding-mole Khodchenkova compelled as they benefited from a solid chapter for their story.

We saw plenty of Smiley but it was unenlightening owing to:

1. much of it being micro-scenes. (four seconds of George in a taxi; two seconds of him marching a London pavement; three of him propped up on a sofa)

2. Oldman’s immobile visage. He barely got his lines through his lizardy lips.

This is part of my series “Watching Colin Firth films several years later than every other human on the planet“.

Three-Hundreths of a Second Behind the Flying Housewife

Newsnight featured author Janie Hampton whose subjects include the London Olympics of 1948, when the games came in under budget and made a modest profit.

Dorothy Parlett, a sprinter, won a silver, she trained four times a week, fitting it in around a full-time job as a short-hand typist for the Suez Canal Company (from whom she had to take unpaid leave to compete in the Olympics)

Janie asked Alastair McCorquodale, another sprinter, what he did to train. “Train?” he said “I just stubbed out my cigarette and I ran”.

John Copley won a silver at age 73. It was for his etchings.

I Don’t Care if Evelyn Comes Back in Five Separate Boxes

A character has just spent five pages of unremarkable prose dithering first about some bloke and then about home decor. This is where I sat down and refused to take another step.

There is no ambiguity in this story. A man ‘makes a puffing noise with his mouth’ (his mouth? I would never have worked that out all by myself) We are not allowed to simply witness bullying behaviour without being told he’s “a bully and just like all of his kind, standing up to him was the only way to stop it”. We cannot simply witness an action and deduce the emotional states involved. Nothing is left for us to anticipate or intuit and my unengaged brain meant an uninvolved heart. (I don’t care about the next 200 pages or the people in them) All this spoon-feeding takes a lot of print and so despite the shootings, the stabbings and the snatchings the book had a sluggish feel and the chapters slumped past. (This episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the letter S)