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Friday, April 22, 2005

maria callas


Groggy awakening to sun streaming in thru every crack and window.

Perform usual ritual on such occasions:

  • Run huge bath into which I pour every unguent and bubbly stuff I can lay hands on.
  • La Divina at full volume - Aida. Who can hear the 'Celeste Aida' aria and not feel hope for the day ahead?
  • Pour large glass of orange which I take into the bathroom along with a bowl of yoghurt mixed with honey and sliced banana.
  • The new Spectator has arrived and I do the forbidden and take it in for bath reading. Any crinkled pages from being dripped on and I will be in another sort of hot water.
  • Tomorrow, April 23, is Shakespeare's birthday and the Speccie cover story is "The Man who made England" by Germaine Greer. As usual, la Greer is full of juicy quotes
    "Self-mockery remains an intrinsic element of Englishness. The Englishman, unlike Queen Victoria, is always prepared to be amused. His characteristic response to the unbearable is to make a joke of it. This chronic lack of seriousness baffles the rest of the world, who see it as a kind of callousness, but it is what protects the Englishman from the fanaticism inherent in tabloid culture. But it can be a near thing. We could have done with more jokes about the Pope’s funeral, for example, instead of taking the whole preposterous jamboree at face value."
  • I worked on Greer's book about women painters, The Obstacle Race.
  • Abrasive and fearsome - possibly brilliant - Greer is one of those Aussies a fluting pom does *not* tell that he was born in Sydney. Nor did I tell her on what she took to be our first meeting that we had in fact encountered each other before - when she booted me and other drunkards out into the street so as to properly hammer her new husband, one Paul Chevalier, famous for being the first man to appear nude in some girlie magazine. I can't believe that union lasted. Certainly never heard of Paul after the centre-fold nonsense.
  • The Spectator gets thoroughly soaked so I lay it out in the sun to dry, thus ensuring corrugated pages and my place in the dog house.
  • Exhausted by my rigours, I collapse onto the ottoman and peruse the dictionary of literary quotations.

    I like Chandler's "The Bible ... is a lesson in how not to write for the movies" and George Kaufman's "Everything I've ever said will be credited to Dorothy Parker" but am astonished that my old publishing pal Judith Young is attributed with the 'publisher's view' that , "It's just called 'The Bible' now. We droppped the word 'Holy' to give it more mass-market appeal."

  • Comments:
    Shakespeare. Was he one person or many? The debate rages on...

    Aye, it does. I subscribe to one man. No committee could have delivered such consistent excellence. Actually, I've never been too interested in the question and never attended a single Oxford lecture on the topic.
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