Last Friday was my birthday and it seems I have only now recovered from it all. I have reached the age of 67 which is a pretty scary thought and though I am 37 in my mind, five days of gallivanting and having fun put me in bed yesterday while I recovered from my aching back, aching legs and lack of sleep. But now I have been running around today like a spring chicken (what IS a spring chicken by the way?) and feel great. My celebrations are not yet at an end as I am being taken out to lunch tomorrow by another dear friend and then that will be that for this year.
Up in London as you all know, went earlier than anticipated as help was needed with childcare which I am always happy to give. On my actual day Florence and I went out to lunch at a local Italian restaurant, courtesy of my daughter who was working but who entrusted Florence with an envelope full of cash to 'treat grandma'. Meatballs and spaghetti and ice cream consumed we then went for a walk round the park. Actually that should have been 'grandma trotting after Florence on her pedal bike' in the park which was at the stage of the day when I am usually wanting to put my feet up but no matter. We got home and both collapsed on the sofa and I gave her my iPad to play with which is now stuffed with games and educational puzzles for her to enjoy. Kept her occupied while I had a bijou dosette.
Up next day and into town to meet up with Helen Rappaport for lunch and gossip and I was dying to hear all about her new book The Four Sisters (out in a week or two and I will be reviewing and it is wonderful as always) and the documentary about the Romanov daughters which will be out on BBC2 soon. After chicken and mushrooms off we then went to the Odeon to see the film The Invisible Woman starring Ralph Fiennes as Dickens. He also produced the film and I was a little bit worried, bearing in mind that the last time I saw him he was shooting thunderbolts at Hogwarts, that he might be a tad over the top as we know many actors who play Dickens tend to do (you know who you are....) but no, he under played it beautifully making sure that Felicity Jones who played Ellen Ternan, his young mistress, was centre stage.
Beautifully acted by everyone, particularly Joanna Scanlan as Mrs Dickens who I found most moving, it is a slow unfolding film that takes its time and does not rush. Ellen is the least talented member of the actingfamily and is destined to find the theatrical life more difficult that her older sisters and when it is clear that Dickens is interested in her Mrs Ternan, a beautifully nuanced performance by Kristin Scott Thomas, takes a pragmatic view that Ellen would have a more secure life if she aligned her fortune with the writer. My feeling when I first read the Tomalin book about the Ternans some years ago, that Ellen was not a totally willing participant in all this, was confirmed by the slant this film took. In the end, Ellen did not have much choice. Women didn't then....
I wrote about The Invisible Woman by Clare Tomalin a little while ago and here is the link to that post, here. A book which I found intriguing and unputdownable when I first came across it some eight years or so ago and with a link to my family mentioned in its pages that knocked me sideways when I found it.
Ralph Fiennes does justice to the book and does not over emotionalise or overdo his own role but, as I have said before about Dickens, it is very hard to forgive his behaviour towards his wife and his family. The contrast between his love and humanity to the poor and downtrodden throughout his life and his treatment of his wife and children is very hard to reconcile.
A wonderful film and I do urge you to see it.
Post is longer than I thought and I still have to tell you about Gravity, Slightly Foxed and Persephone and tea and cake and spaghetti carbonara and books received etc so will have to come back another day.