Absolutely everything is going under ‘mixed’ this week.
My manager retired yesterday. I’m going to miss her. She’s been my manager for ten years of the thirteen I’ve worked for the union, three at the beginning and then seven after we ended up in the same team again, and she’s been supportive and encouraging ever since I was a temp who couldn’t say boo to a goose.
Anyway, that meant a team meal out on Tuesday, and a party last night. I caught up with some people I haven’t seen in years, and I danced. I haven’t danced that much since… probably before the pandemic. My feet were complaining on the walk to the station last night, and I’ve spent most of today doing absolutely nothing.
Allowing for nap time.
Finished These Violent Delights, which ended with some blatant sequel bait. I don’t think I shall search out anything further. It had a fantastic premise but really needed much more editing. (Also, reading it in the current climate it was somewhat galling to have a strike presented as an incident of disaster, though I realise that at least part of that was the appropriately warped worldview of the protagonists.)
Then I moved onto Plain Bad Heroines (emily m. danforth) and finished it in three days. This was what I’d been missing: a slick, confident prose style. It had the kind of assertive narrator my friend Kit calls an Oi Pal; they’re always intruding themselves into the page to point out something they think you should be looking at, or to give their own take on events, or make some kind of sarcastic interjection. In some books this grates, but in this case it worked; it strengthened the sense of being in the hands of someone who knew what they were doing. This was mostly fulfilled, with the two timelines (early twentieth century boarding school and present day Hollywood) unfolding in tandem and a delicious sapphical-gothical feeling across both. It faltered a little at the denouement, with what should have been the climax taking place offstage, and (I thought, anyway) an unnecessary diversion into the backstory. I also hadn’t much time for Mary Maclane, the Not Like Other Girls author of the book that drives a lot of the plot. Very readable, though, and I’m glad it’s not wasp season.
And I have started Wildfire at Midnight (Mary Stewart) for the romantic suspense bookclub. Very different, but equally skillful, prose.
Die Tote Stadt (The Dead City) – English National Opera. I knew pretty much nothing about this beyond the fact that it was set in Bruges and based on a book called Bruges-la-Morte, so bought a programme. I do wonder if it’s one that might in fact be better watched unspoiled. So all I shall say is that it’s a very twentieth-century opera; it couldn’t have existed before Freud, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a mental breakdown put on stage in quite the same way. It does have the perennial opera problem of being sold as a timeless tale of love and loss and actually turning out to be about a creepy entitled man, but there we go. The music is gorgeous, and also loud, and you can see why Korngold was so good at film music later in his career.
I went to the V and A yesterday and, after pausing to look at a fantastically detailed micromosaic panorama of Rome, went round the exhibition on musicals – costumes, set designs, and an awful lot of LP covers. Plus a long reel of extracts from archive recordings from the last couple of decades, which made for a nice excuse to sit down. Must go back another time to look at the model theatres.
Pork chops with cabbage (the cabbage comes out very soggy, but very tasty).
Italian, mostly. We went to Wildwood with the in-laws on Sunday (bruschetta, chicken and asparagus risotto, panna cotta with a pleasantly tart blackcurrant compote); then Tuesday’s lunch was at Albertini’s (fusilli with tomato, sausage, and greens, followed by tiramisu).
Quite a few rabbits out in the fields. And pheasants.
In the garden
The tulips are beginning to show what colour they’re going to be. The plum blossom is out and the apples and pears are on the way. The grape hyacinths have gone a gorgeous deep blue.
In the conservatory, the cosmos seeds have sprouted very satisfactorily; so have some of the beans, and something is going on in the big herb pot, though the tarragon seems to be doing nothing at all. The cat grass has come up and been put into service.
All the excellent people I have in my life.
Flowers! Along with the pram, which was the official purpose of the visit, the in-laws brought one of those lovely tiny rose plants. It has four crimson blooms and is doing well despite the best efforts of the cat. And at the market on Sunday I bought a yellow crown imperial and planted it in the garden. It wasn’t very impressed by the wind and rain, so I’ve tied it to the trellis for support.
I’m still thinking about that teapot dress. It’s occurred to me that a lot of my summer dresses are not going to be much use to me this year.
Line of the week
There were several contenders this week. Here’s one from Plain Bad Heroines:
The night was drunk on the liquor of late spring, on wet grass and pale moon, on air still warm even after the sunset, air now scented by the rain-smacked lilac bushes planted at the back of the theater, their branches so heavy with blooms and moisture that several were bent against the ground.
Started adding to Starcrossers again:
[I was still on Crew territory.] Even if I hadn’t known that, I’d have been able to tell from the broad street that gave me nowhere to hide. When I’d ridden through earlier it had been crowded with the booths and stands of the ten-day market, and I’d had to be careful. Now I wished they were back.
This coming week
Holy Week. And getting to church at all will be an improvement on last year.
Anything you’d like to share from this week? Any hopes for next week? Share them here!