Sunday, May 01, 2011

Royal Wedding celebrations et al

Life News:

Well, I must say of course how utterly splendid in every way the Royal Wedding has been. I was up early on Friday and I stayed glued to the TV (apart from very rapid loo breaks ...) from 8am until 2pm. Underneath this prickly and kick-ass exterior beats a heart of marshmallow, my dears, after all. I loved every single moment of it, and I think Kate and William (or Team Cambridge, as we now appear to be calling them) were wonderful throughout. The Middletons came out of it all as the classiest and most elegant family in England and have definitely done their daughter proud on all fronts. Good for them - we middle classes aren't quite as bad as everyone thinks, ha! And at least Mrs Middleton does know how to choose a hat, unlike Posh Beckham who appeared to have a quashed unicorn on her head, and Princess Beatrice who seemed to be wearing a copy of the female reproductive system on hers - or was that a cunning message to the country?... The mind boggles. In fact both Prince Andrew's daughters were dressed by some evil person in clothes more suited to a 70-year-old living in the 1950s - which is a shame as they're such pretty girls. Talking of which, everyone was I think bowled over by Earl Spencer's three daughters - who were giving a good impression of the Three Graces with their very eyecatching blonde beauty and style. Ah, there's trouble ahead there for the Earl, I think ... I also loved the two balcony kisses from Team Cambridge (ahhhh ....) and, earlier on, the wonderful image of the flunkey opening the car door for the Queen and saluting while she ... um ... exited with Prince Philip on the other side of the car. I imagine the flunkey must have been rather startled by her non-appearance, ah well.

Anyway, it was a fantastic day, and just proves that we British are indeed the best in the world when it comes to doing pomp and circumstance with that essential hint of informality and genuine joy. Bliss indeed. I'm already looking for my commemorative teatowel.

K and I have spent the rest of the weekend in a mini-tour of houses & gardens with Royal connections in honour of the occasion. Saturday was Polesdon Lacey (where the Queen Mother and King George VI spent some of their honeymoon) and Claremont Landscape Garden, which even had a Royal Weddings trail, hurrah. Then today, we've spent a lovely day at Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed, so there's TV royalty there, I'm sure. It was great fun walking round the castle (which has 50 bedrooms, but thankfully there's a whole floor not open so you don't have to take sandwiches to keep up your strength) and seeing where parts of the series were filmed. Actually, I didn't recognise any of the rooms as I think I was too focused on the characters and plot while I was watching it. The only part I did recognise was when we were outside and I suddenly realised I was in the scene at the start when Hugh Bonneville is walking up the meadow (um, their garden, I now realise) to the house with that pesky golden labrador (sorry, I really hate dogs, and golden labradors are the worst ...). Then later on we had lunch on the lawn where the last scene of Series One takes place, and K suddenly put his cup down, leaned over towards me across the table and said: I have bad news, darling. We are at war with Germany. A joke which you will only get if you saw the end of the series, I fear ...

After all this excitement, we popped in to Sandham Memorial Chapel, which is tiny, but the walls are covered with some really wonderful and very moving war paintings by Stanley Spencer. I thought they were great and well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Turning to less exalted matters (unfortunately), I must say that the recent Dr Who 2-parter which ended (well, sort of) yesterday has been quite ridiculously bad. K and I felt as if a handful of writers, probably on speed, had thrown together every plot cliche they could possibly think of and decided to see if they could do it at a gallop to boot. No sooner had one Big Reveal been uncovered than we were swept on to the next, and then the next and the next. It had more plot holes than the Grand Canyon and would have been far, far better if they'd concentrated on only two themes instead of dozens. Or, alternatively, made it into a 7-parter (at least!) so the viewer could have an essential breather now and again, and the writers could work on making it hang together. Such a shame ... So I'm hoping tonight's new crime series, Vera, will be much better, even though it wins the TV prize for the worst-named programme so far this year.

Book News:

The Girl in the Painting has a new buy link at Untreed Reads, and I'm also very pleased with my first quarter royalties for 2011, both for my Amber Allure books and for The Bones of Summer, so that's been a nice boost really.

Here's the latest meditation poem:

Meditation 525
Sheerah is a builder
of towns.
She stands strong
in the foundations,
her bright hair
glinting in fiery sun.

She holds one smooth stone
in her hand and lifts it
to the sky,
already seeing houses,
streets and people
in her mind’s true eye.

The Sunday haiku is:

The morning chiffchaff
lilts its rhythmic springtime beat
in our sleeping ears.

Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend!

Anne Brooke

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