I am spending an evening at home but though I am spending an evening at home it is an evening at home not only at my home but in somebody else's home. There is a nice succinct sentence for you all explaining how I am spending my evening at home...
BBC4 which always has an interesting and eclectic mix of programmes, is concentrating on homes and how we live in them and what they say about us. First up, At Home with the Georgians, a series I missed when it was first shown on BBC2 so very glad it is being repeated. This is fronted by Professor Amanda Vickery, author of Behind Closed Doors, and is based on her book which I have to hand and am looking at while this series is running. She has an engaging and interesting style of chat, not condescending in any way and not too larky or arm waving either. Of course, this is the Beeb here so we have the usual shots of the Prof wandering around looking at ceilings and floors in an awestruck manner as if they are something new and wonderful she has never seen before, and the usual re-enactment of Georgians eating their meals and lighting candles, waiting for the Man of the House to return (cue 'Oh here's Papa' from cute little Georgian moppet), all of which are acutely irritating. However, this is offset by the fascination of the information imparted, the diaries and letters of those portrayed and the emphasis in this episode of how much the ownership of a house was something longed for by a man, as it would emphasise his status and comfort. Humorous readings from various diaries, particularly one merry squire who knew he was a drunkard and a lecher but oh how he longed for a home with a good wife. Sadly, it was not to be and he died all alone and unloved and is buried in an unmarked grave.
Then straight after came Petworth: the Big Spring Clean only in this case it is a Winter clean as the National Trust shuts the house and puts it to bed. Curtains are drawn, covers put over the furniture and all is dark and cold to the outsider passing by but inside there is a hive of activity as the cleaners, restorers and conservationists get to work. So far we have seen how ceramics are cleaned (whoever invented baby buds is a hero at Petworth); carpets wrapped in tissue and covered for the winter, a Turner painting taken down from the wall, an original Canterbury Tales on vellum being checked to make sure no nasty little termites have been nibbling away and it is all totally riveting. Yes, honestly and the presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon is obviously loving every minute and his enthusiasm is totally infectious.
Then continuing the theme, another programme If Walls could talk: History of the Home. Now as the BBC has put this on at the same time as the Crimson Petal and the White over on BBC1 which also clashes with one of my addictions, NCIS, which I watch. I have recorded Crimson Petal and, thank heavens for iPlayer, will have to watch the Home prog tomorrow when it is available. Most nights there is nothing, and I mean nothing, on the TV that I want to watch and tonight four programmes and nearly all on at the same time. Most annoying.
A good evening at home then am very much looking forward to following the rest of these three series.
Oh and just to mention that Amanda Vickery has recently been appointed Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London. She lectures on British social, political and cultural history. This is the same history faculty where my daughter, Helen lectures in Modern History so am hoping that I can be introduced to this lady if I can blag an invite to a lecture or two.....