|What I've been reading
||[Dec. 12th, 2013|10:14 am]
Our first office Christmas party was last night. As my company is a JV between two others, we go to both parent companies' parties and have department drinks, so this week and next are a bit of a boring company drinking marathon. My department of five people knew no one else at yesterday's party, so we sat at a table in the back drinking lots of grotty shiraz and laughing at the speakers' jokes (which we didn't get) in a really OTT way. Good fun, terrible wine. I got to bed at the reasonable hour of 11:30 but my coworkers stayed out until 2:30 and are now moaning pathetically. Chaps, we have two more of these to go and it was a Wednesday night, I have no sympathy.
What have you finished reading?
Covering McKellen: Diary by David Weston, Ian McKellen's understudy in King Lear, of the production and world tour in 2007-8. This is wonderful. It's mean and honest and funny and I want to quote every single part of it. He writes about himself:
"Lynn Darnley, who is organising some of the festivities, asks if I will read Prospero's 'Ye elves of hills…etc' in Holy Trinity Church on Sunday morning. I don't think she could get anyone else."
"At one point I ask him, 'Did you see the modern-dress Henry V at the National?' He pauses, 'I was in it… So were you!' "
"Apparently, when I was directing the NYT in a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, I gave up on a public-school type playing a fairy and told him to stand at the back and pretend to be a tree. I have since been informed that that fairy was Colin Firth."
"I am being swamped with emails trying to sell me Viagra. Going over Lear’s last lines for the word run, I discover a new reading that could make good advertising copy for a Viagra commercial: (Shot of old man looking down sadly at himself in bathroom room mirror.) 'No, no life? Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, never.'"
"Read Armistead Maupin’s first novel: Tales of the City. Not overly impressed. Gay Steinbeck."
And best, his coworkers:
"dressing-room visits from a somewhat charisma-lacking Michael Boyd"
"I notice that there seems to be something going on between Trevor and Ian. Trevor, like me, is a Stratfordian; he firmly believes that Shakespeare wrote the plays, but he appears to hint that Ian is a follower of the heresy that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was the author...Ian looks bemused. I think in this instance Trevor has got him confused with Sir Derek."
"Watch Atonement for BAFTA awards: one of the best this year. Romola is very effective in it. Fascinating shot of her washing a pile of bedpans."
"Philip Winchester, the young American playing Edmund, doesn’t seem to have read the text before. He stumbles over certain words. Hopefully he’s one of those actors who are just bad readers but will be brilliant in performance. He must be good as he’s played major roles in several action films, such as Thunderbirds and Flyboys."
(Okay that's enough. It is hilarious though, and super catty.)
The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: Really enjoyable read about the creation of the codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park, mostly focused on what it was like to work there rather than the practicalities of the codebreaking and the computing innovations. The author interviewed a lot of veterans and I liked hearing stories like, "No one knew how the blessed thing worked. When I first arrived, I was told, 'We are breaking machines, have you got a pencil?'" Apparently Turing kept a barrel of cider in the room next to his office for his department to drink on breaks. Several of the people interviewed are a bit cross about the questions about the 'fun' parts of the Park, but really, if you're going to get a bunch of young clever people together at a manor house and have them save the world while throwing ceilidhs in the ballroom and inventing computing, what do you think people are going to want to hear about.
Pygmalion: Only the prose sequel, where Eliza and Freddy set up a flower shop and Freddy has to learn what a chequebook is. Thoughts: why on earth did they change the ending when they adapted it into a musical? As far as I can tell, "Henry Higgins is a terrible person who is horribly mistreating Eliza Doolittle" is the major character point and the musical kept all that in but then at the end was like "AND THEY KISS! :D". I was thinking about how to fix the musical ending and I thought the only way to do it is to have "Where the devil are my slippers?" answered with a slamming door, but then I realised that's the end of A Doll's House. Since Shaw had such a giant ideacrush on Ibsen, I think the parallels between Eliza and Nora's transformations are probably intentional, but that staging might be a little too on-the-nose. Also: Eliza's father is wonderful.
What are you reading now?
The Secret Listeners: Written by the same author of "The Secret Life of Bletchley Park", Sinclair McKay, about radio listeners (ie the people who intercepted the messages for the BP people to decode). Still very interesting albeit with less Turing and ceilidhs.
What will you read next?
Dunno! Whatever I get for Christmas, I think – if no one gets me any books for Christmas, probably What Lot's Wife Saw, a Greek sci-fi novel I read a review of ages ago and has been sitting on my Kindle for yonks.
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