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Archive for November, 2008

Daughter appears to be musical (at least, Daughter likes singing loudly – and has done from an early age: her renditions of The Kaiser Chiefs’ “Ruby” when aged two; and more recently The Ting Tings’ “That’s Not My Name” are a source of constant joy) – and it may be that Youngest Son is developing signs as well: and that’s where it all started.

We had just left Church, when Youngest Son launched into a rousing chorus of “Oh My God” (the Lily Allen/Mark Ronson collaboration) with its priest-bothering chorus of “Oh my God, I can’t believe it, I’ve never been so far away from home!”), when I cautioned him: “Try and say “Oh my gosh”, darling. Some people say “Oh my God”, but we don’t.”

He took that straight. It was Eldest Son who raised the bar:

“Do we say “Piss Fucking Hell”?”

“No, we don’t darling. We would never say that. Where did you hear that?”

“At school, last week.” (At least he didn’t say: “You, Daddy”, as Wife pointed out).

So that’s good, isn’t it? Six years old and using a vocabulary that Gordon Ramsay might think twice about.

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I can only assume that Fiona Shaw HATES me.

Sure, we’ve never met – though I have (literally) dreamed that we have – but I can find no other explanation for her cold and unkind treatment of me.

The thing is, I was expecting Deborah Warner’s production of “Mother Courage” to enter The National’s repertoire in January – NOW I am hearing some sort of gobbledegook about “March”! Does she want me to KILL MYSELF? That means (almost exactly) no Fiona Shaw on stage (and let’s be honest, it is only on stage that she is transcendentally magnificent, slaying all comers – good as she can be in film) for almost exactly a year!

She has got a LOT to get through, let’s be honest – because here is a short list (not a shortlist) of the roles that I MUST see her play – and at this rate, she ain’t going to crack it:-

  • Volumnia – clearly essential. No one has nailed it since Irene Worth – and that’s 20 years ago.
  • Mrs. Alving – because I can’t think how she’d do it, but I know it would be brilliant.
  • Prospero– not because of Richard II, but because of her intelligence – and Prospero’s gender is ENTIRELY irrelevant.
  • Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”. Why say more? It’s kind of predictable, but she’d be riveting.
  • Cleopatra– because there is more to that part than has been played to date, even including Judi Dench’s magnificent performance.
  • The Princess in “Sweet Bird of Youth”
  • More Greek Tragedy. I don’t care what – no-one else can go there like she can: Clare Higgins, Zoe Wanamaker, Vanessa Redgrave: magnificent actresses, every one of them – but they don’t approach the reality that Shaw found in Electra and Medea.
  • On reflection: almost anything else – apart from “The Powerbook”.

I am getting really quite concerned about how things are looking in terms of this working out – and I’d like SOME kind of reassurance from Ms. Shaw that she’s prepared to commit to this.

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A frightening week: Youngest Son was admitted to hospital with acute appendicitis – and what turned out to be a burst, gangrenous abscess on his appendix.

It is thanks entirely to the smart thinking of Wife that he got to hospital at all. The other children have been ill with gastro-intestinal problems, and we had been assuming that it was just Youngest Son’s “turn” – so when he started complaining about a sore tummy, we just gave him Calpol and laid him down under a duvet in front of the television. Had Wife not seen that something specific was up, he may very well have not made it…

He was operated on and spent the week (along with Wife) in The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital – about whom it would be impossible to say enough good things, specifically the (I suspect) staggeringly underpaid nurses who provided round the clock care, compassion and patience. He has since returned home and is being spoiled senseless by Wife, who (like me) is so relieved to see him without tubes coming out of him, and lying listlessly on a hospital bed, that I suspect that if he requested a diet of Maltesers, Ribena and Chocolate Cake, he may stand a very good chance of getting it…

I don’t want to get all misty-eyed (misty-fingered just sounds wrong – morally) over this, but (as many of you will know, and many of you will imagine) there is nothing like thinking that one of your children might not make it to deliver a hefty dose of reality to whatever else is happening in one’s life.

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“I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got”, the album that sent Sinead O’Connor into the stratosphere, thanks to the teenage “Just Been Dumped” anthem “Nothing Compares 2 U” (complete with cool txt friendly title B4 Avril Lavigne was even a stirring in her Dad’s trousers), and also cursed the world with the horrifyingly misjudged “Black Boys on Mopeds”, begins with words that I have been saying to myself a lot recently, something of a mantra:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can – and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I hear that it is also something of a crutch for those who find themselves using Alcoholics Anonymous to work out their addiction.

Whether or not I have more in common with the shaven-headed, Irish, Pope-tearing musician; or the people who frequent church halls and “share” with each other is probably a point that I shall never satisfactorily resolve, but (whatever one’s faith, and reaction to the “God” addressed) I cannot think of a better set of words to live a good and happy life by.

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