I have surprised myself this week! Long years chained to the kitchen sink, as it were, a stay-at-home mother foregoing the ‘coveted’ identity of some job title, responsible, merely, for the nurturing of the next generation … and I still have a brain! Able to assimilate information – and still possessing of a somewhat faded photographic memory – I have been transferring my blog archives onto my new website courtesy of wordpress and an hour’s tuition from Shirin (Primal Space). In study terms, I represent the placebo effect proving that intelligent life can survive in the home – and I was never bored! Now, there’s an opening paragraph with legs …
I should say that my proofreading skills have let me down, however. In transferring my past offerings, I couldn’t help but read over the content and I confess I was forced to press the Edit button more than once! Not impressed. The excuse that I often write late at night does not cut it but, somewhat fittingly this week, the words of Doris Day come to mind: ‘Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be … ‘. There goes another of the greats, multi-talented, from a different era. Modest and unassuming despite the body of her work and a popularity which spanned generations and time, she spent her latter years dedicated to those she loved best: ‘I’ve never met an animal I didn’t like, and I can’t say the same thing about people.’ I would have liked her. So, the Doris Day Animal Foundation, founded in 1978, will continue; a legacy of its namesake who requested no funeral, no memorial service and no marking of her grave. Dust to dust? Perhaps but captivated on film and in the memories of all those whose lives she touched, she needs no such trappings. Please, Don’t Eat The Daisies (1960) … a gentler world.
I’ve just watched a clip of that very song on YouTube and it took me right back to the Morning Room in Lyndhurst. The power of music. Just hard to re-focus now particularly on what I had in mind. Let me take a look at my notes; my shorter asides …
Toothbrush holders and what one can learn from the state of them! Becca and Manny come and go here but I never cease to be appalled by what confronts me in the bathroom. What does it take to shake and then dry one’s toothbrush before putting it back in the holder thus ensuring said holder is free of toothpaste and said wet brush does not stagnate? I have to add at least an extra five minutes onto my day, frequently, as I endeavour to re-instate a semblance of hygiene. Is that telling or what? No, not about me, about them! Lazy and mug come to mind. Tick. Just something I had to get off my chest.
Ironing last Saturday afternoon (I know how to enjoy myself!), I had the television on in the kitchen and happened upon Back in Time for the Weekend, BBC 2. The concept of the series involves a family of four being taken back in time through the decades, starting with the 50s. For one week, their home is transformed to match the décor of the era and both parents and children must dress, eat and live as they would have done in those years and offer their feedback. Appropriately, last Saturday’s programme took them back to the 70s and I wallowed in nostalgia for an hour, music, the lot. A fascinating experiment, though, the mother could be heard bemoaning the fact that she was stuck at home; a mere housewife. She comments that there must have been a lot of women who felt trapped and she would have had to keep her brain stimulated – funny that! In reality, her family were having a ball with the emphasis on family. Smacks of the indoctrination of today focusing on the need to prove oneself and the inextricable link between self-worth and one’s job. A breeding ground for dis-satisfaction.
The 70s saw the advent of colour television, the three channels providing wholesome entertainment for all. It was the decade of cheesecloth, flares, hot pants, platforms and the soda stream! Swamped in brown and orange, a statistic I noted was that of 1975 when 8 out of 10 holidays were taken in the UK – simple pleasures in the great outdoors no matter the weather – and then they invented the Costa Del Sol!
The verdict? The teenage daughter and her younger brother loved the 70s. A gentler time before technology and Madonna had cause to write Material Girl, they, tellingly, concluded that they spent much more time together and it was obvious how sad they were to move on. Both parents quite emotional, the father’s reaction said it all: ‘I don’t want the 70s to end. I want to remain here forever.’ And so say all of us.
The highlight of my week, perhaps my year so far, was going to see the National Theatre live screening of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Where to start? I have loved that play from the moment I read it. Manny was studying it at school and I thought I would read it, too, in order that we could discuss – no excuse necessary. Not a fan of The Crucible which I studied for ‘O’ level, if my memory serves me well, I have read, seen and enjoyed Death of a Salesman and A View from the Bridge. However, All My Sons is deserving of every accolade in the book. Only Miller’s second play, he threatened to find some other line of work if unsuccessful. Instead, his 1947 criticism of the American Dream ensured his name and his career winning acclaim and several awards, among them the Tony Award for Best Author.
Sitting in the Festival Theatre (little chardonnay in hand!), I was transfixed by the cast of the legendary Sally Field as Kate Keller and Bill Pullman (swoon!) as Joe – how I would love to see the performance truly live but … not surprisingly, it is a complete sellout. A play, to my mind, about family and its vulnerability, it serves to expose the hidden cracks which, ever-present, can implode at any time destroying the very ties which bind. A giant of a play, its relevance transcends time. The guilt carried by Joe for the deaths of 21 young pilots when, instructing the sale of cracked cylinder heads to the Air Force, he chose to forfeit life for money; his guilt at denying his best friend and allowing him to shoulder the blame – and shame; and, finally, the realization that his actions caused his eldest son to take his own life. All for the sake of money and status – for the good of his family. A momentous misjudgement of values.
His wife, Kate, engulfed in grief at the loss of her son and yet, outwardly, in denial showing steadfast loyalty to her husband even though she is well aware of his guilt – desperately trying to hold the family together.
Chris Keller, the remaining son, hero-worships his father, seemingly oblivious to his guilt. Accepting of Larry’s death, he is keen to move on with his life and marry his brother’s former sweetheart – the catalyst for the unfolding of the truth and the ensuing tragedy.
I am in awe of Arthur Miller. His insight into human emotion and its impact on the values and infrastructure of family is current today. A delicate balance, a momentary mis-judgement can rock the very foundations and all but destroy. The powerful performances of Sally Field and Bill Pullman are etched in my memory. All My Sons … if one is ever fortunate enough to see that wonderful play performed live, take tissues!
‘I know you’re no worse than most men but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father.’
All My Sons, Arthur Miller.
This is Trish, signing off.
p.s. On Monday, my website goes live! I hope you come with me – the first month is free –but, if not, I am grateful for your interest/support thus far.