I have been away from my blog since last Wednesday night. Last week both my daughters were away for the week as the school holidays have started, but work holidays are not long enough to cover them all. When the children were younger this was not a problem as we had full-time childcare. Now they are older, we have to organise the holiday logistics accordingly.
Malcolm and I, to whom leisure time is not a known concept during the week (and consists of domestic and daughter support at weekends), were not sure what to do with our unfamiliar freedom (I think I am right in saying it was a first non-child week in 15 years). On Monday and Tuesday, therefore, we both worked late by default. By Wednesday we thought this was silly, so in the evening we agreed to watch something on TV, deciding on a "no children in the house" DVD, "Tipping the Velvet", a TV film of the Sarah Waters novel. The first episode of three was predictable and hammy, but we stuck with it and found the second two episodes much better — the story carried on being a soap opera but it had raunchy bits in it, with a cheerful lack of moralising that was quite refreshing. I can’t remember much about "Forever Amber" or "Moll Flanders", having read them both when far too young to understand them because I knew they were books of which adults disapproved, but if my vague recollections are correct, "Tipping the Velvet" is of similar ilk. Someone had watched it before, though, as the DVD had lost its wrapping before we viewed it. And it wasn’t Malcolm or me.
On Thursday evening we visited the National Theatre: what happened to be on was "2000 Years" by Mike Leigh. It was one of those sitting-room plays — the audience participated in the home life of a north London Jewish family and was privy to their opinions of modern Israel, Tony Blair, etc. I found it disappointingly banal. If there was a deep irony under the banality, it passed me by. The characters in the play (Mr and Mrs Average and their unemployed maths graduate son) had rejected modern Israeli values after being forced to spend time on a Kibbutz when young, and had opted for a comfortable life in Cricklewood instead. Cue lots of boring chit-chat criticising Israel, Blair, Bush, the Jewish religion, etc. Plot: son gets religion (delayed adolescent rebellion, geddit?), everyone has a go at him, daughter is a rootless hippie-leftie, everyone loves her, daughter’s boyfriend is Israeli new-generation Kibbutz-rejector, shrugs when asked about his time in the army, spends time aimlessly wandering round world (though clearly will be a merchant banker by the time he is 30 and the daughter will own a fitness studio, and they’ll have 2.4 children). Grandfather visits and argues with grandson about religious conversion. Long-lost sister turns up and does Alison Steadman (but thinner) "I’m mad" comedy stint, leaves. End of story. The most disappointing aspect to me was that I had just spent 2 and a half hours watching people interact about the Middle East question and modern day Zionism, with a bit of cheap Bush/Blair bashing on the side, without a single piece of insight. And not much of a laugh either.
On Friday we went to Rutland to collect Jenny, then drove on up to York to spend the weekend with Malcolm’s sister and family, where Cathy had been staying. Now I am back, this week I am on holiday from work based at home, so back to my senses and my blog, I trust. Typepad has had an upgrade while I was away, and my Bloglines page is no doubt bursting at the seams, so I will look at all that and probably be back soon.