Friday, March 01, 2013

What was the name of that famous Italian movie (Marcello Mastroianni was in it, but that scarcely helps to narrow the field) which begins with a scene of a helicopter over Rome with a statue of Jesus suspended below it? Prophetic of yesterday.

33 cm of the Relax done --38 required before next excitement. Still a couple of mindless evenings in hand.

Cazalet saga

I am reading the first one, inspired by Shandy. It’s terribly good, but hard work – the cast is huge, very skilfully presented on Elizabeth Jane Howard’s part but still requiring some effort from the reader. Just when you think you’ve got the large family and their servants more or less straight, in comes Edward’s wife’s sister with a husband and three children to be added to one’s mental juggling act.

I don’t dare stop reading for a day.

It is being serialized on BBC radio at the moment – Rachel rang up in great excitement the other day to say that the actress-daughter of an old friend from our Birmingham days is in it. Flora Spencer-Longhurst: she’s Polly. She is also currently in a musical called “Once” in Dublin, I have since learned from her father. It was big in NY, without Flora.  It will soon move to London where it hopes to stay for a year.

Greek Helen and her sons and I saw Flora in a two-hander called “Wonderland” at the Festival a couple of years ago. Helen said that day that she thought that Flora would make it big. Maybe this is her year.

Here is a picture of her taken in 1985. The sweater is the Round-Neck Patchwork Jersey from Pam Dawson’s “Knitting Fashion”, part of the backbone of my knitting library. I knit it several times – you can vary the patches, obviously.

Odds and Ends

Kate Davies said the other day (February 25 – you’ve got to scroll down) that she has been included in book introducing English-speaking knitting designers to Japanese knitters. She rightly says that what we need is a reciprocal book in English about Japanese knitting – designers and their work, how a Japanese pattern works. She thinks this might be just the job for Kyoko over at Cotton and Cloud. It’s a brilliant idea.


As if I didn’t have enough machines to worry about, the television has been acting up recently. It, and the video recorder, are relatively recent purchases, plugged into an antique aerial whose antennae (if that is the word) are located high above us. I think the trouble is there: the picture stutters and blacks out briefly and there are messages saying “poor signal” or “no signal”. Some channels (BBC 1) are worse than others, and we have lost ITV3 altogether, a favourite for us oldies.

I am thinking of subscribing to cable, but a look at the Virgin website, and the realisation that I would have to master the TiVo box, terrifies me. Rachel has got it, and we have to ask for help if we want to turn on the television in her house. 


  1. Many thanks! What a relief!

  2. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Mastering "Tivo" (actually the cable company's DVR) was well worth the effort. I record all my favorites, then fast-forward through all commercials. Sometimes it takes almost 15 minutes off an hour show - isn't that a sorry amount of commercials?!

  3. Gosh, Jean, you do know an astonishing range of people - and have knitted jumpers for them. I was wondering about that four and a half degrees of separation issue the other day. I can see how that might work for prominent figures - such as President Obama - who have many connections. But how could it work for someone in rural China, say?
    re: the Cazalets. I thought it an extraordinary recreation of a period and a social class. After all, she didn't write it until the nineties, so although she based Louise, Clary and Polly on different aspects of her own life, it's still remarkable. The narrative method, using the viewpoints, is something it shares with "Parade's End". It does not help continuity if you are reading intermittently.

  4. On the technology learning curve operating a Tivo is way below learning how to use an iPad. After all, my mom can Tivo, but she can't even remember how to Google things on her iPad. :-)

  5. Yes ..... i completely understand about the tivo remote , i have not mastered it all, though i can turn it on and off and change channels but anything more complicated that that is a mystery, catch up TV for example ???

  6. Jean, I just finished the Cazalet novels, and viewed the BBC/Masterpiece production, which covers the first book and just a hint of the beginning of the second.

    I'm sure I got much more out of the DVD than my husband did - it seemed to be so superficial, compared to the great depth of detail and exposition in the book.

    So, thanks for the recommendation, and I'm very glad to have followed it!

  7. Anonymous6:19 PM

    Marcello - surely this was the big one, La Dolce Vita? But I'm not positive. "Once" the musical - I wonder if this is the same story of a perfectly sweet Irish movie I watched just last week on American public television (which aims at us in southern Ontario, too), about a couple of singers in Dublin, one male, one female - and I thing the man, who wrote many of the songs, was also in The Commitments.
    - Beth in Toronto

  8. Anonymous6:50 PM

    Beth in Toronto - yes, "Once" the musical is an adaptation of the Irish movie (which, as it happens, I watched and loved again just last weekend).
    -- stashdragon

  9. I loved Once in movie form, and I would love to see it on stage. And oh my goodness how I loved the Cazalets many years ago when I read them. I just recently noticed them on my shelf asking to be re-read. Perhaps you will spur me on to do so. I am intrigued by the radio version, but curious about whether it will translate well into a different medium. The books are so lovely and full of description and internal monologue that would be difficult to switch to another format. I hope you'll tell us how it is.