Showing posts with label Brideshead Revisited. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brideshead Revisited. Show all posts

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Crying at the cinema - and my low-brow tastes

As the credits rolled my daughter took a long sideways glance at me and groaned. “I can’t take you anywhere,” she joked. “Why do you always cry at films?”

I tried to deny it but my red eyes and tear-stained cheeks gave the game away. I’d nearly made it to the end of the Brideshead Revisited DVD without shedding a tear, then stumbled at the very last hurdle.

“I can’t help it,” I told her. “It was so sad. You know, when Lord Marchmain was on his death bed and Julia...” “But that didn’t mean you had to burst into tears,” she retorted. “You even cried at Definitely, Maybe. And Madeline.”

At this rate she’s going to put her foot down and refuse to watch anything with me. I rarely go to the movies with my husband because his taste in films and mine are as poles apart as our hobbies. Crazy mid-air loop-the-loop stunts and obscure French films without sub-titles – him. Bracing country walks and Hollywood blockbusters – me.

My low-brow tastes have been a big shock to him over the years. I don’t know why but when we first met he clearly thought I was far more intellectual than I actually am. One of his first presents to me was a set of Mervyn Peake’s three Gormenghast novels. A lovely thought, but I found the books, which are set in a weird, crumbling castle owned by the 77th Earl of Groan, utterly unreadable. He was similarly unimpressed when I gave him Ogden Nash’s collected poems. Far too light and trite, he reckoned. It’s the same with music. Whenever we drive anywhere together he wants to listen to Wagner at top volume while I surreptitiously try and substitute my Laura Marling CD without him noticing.

I can’t even rely on my son as a cinema companion because he only likes movies with car chases and scary stunt-work. I persuaded him to go to Pride and Prejudice with me a few years ago and instantly regretted it. He spent half the film muttering “this is the worst film I’ve ever seen” under his breath and the other half threatening to walk out.

It looks like I’ll be sitting in the stalls, tears streaming down my face, all by myself from now on.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Exam time in Oxford, carnations and Inspector Rebus

Just before nine each morning I spot hordes of anxious-looking students hurrying along the pavement below my office.

It’s exam time in Oxford and the undergraduates are on their way to the exam hall up the road. The Starbucks round the corner is full of them, all drinking endless cups of black coffee and poring over closely-typed revision notes. Forget the old saying about policemen seeming absurdly young as you get older. As far as I’m concerned, these students look about 12.

While students at other universities (my daughter included) can wear whatever they like to sit their exams, it’s different in Oxford. Here they look like they’ve come straight off the film set of Brideshead Revisited. They all wear distinguished black academic gowns, the men in dark suits and white bow ties, the women in short black skirts and white shirts. For some reason, I’m not sure why, they sport carnations in their buttonholes – white for their first exams, red for their last and pink for all exams in between. I’m not a huge fan of carnations as a rule but the students cut a real dash in them. And one thing’s for sure, the local florist must be doing a roaring trade.

PS. The best news to come out of the Hay Festival this weekend was Ian Rankin’s revelation that a new Rebus novel, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, will be out in November. Rankin had hinted as much at the Oxford Literary Festival earlier in the year when he said he felt a sense of “unfinished business” about Rebus. But to have it confirmed is a treat. Like millions of loyal Rebus fans, I can’t wait to read it.
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