I planned to update this blog once a week but have lapsed already. The weather has been so unpredictable; I’ve had a few horrible hayfever attacks and summer is feeling like bit of a non-event. My ideal summer would be 20C, sunshine, a gentle breeze and the odd rainy day for the good of the garden – and, of course, no Covid. I received the above image (‘Cherries in the Sun’ or ‘The Siesta’ by Doris Lee, 1941) on a card from an American Postcrosser and I love the idea of having a glorious night outdoors before being woken by the cockerel.
I visited Ramsgate, which turned out to be a disappointing experience. The fact that it’s the place where Mr Wickham and Georgiana Darcy nearly eloped always gave it a louche kind of Regency glamour in my mind. With the grand crescents and the only royal harbour in the country, you can see how it must have been splendid during the golden age of the English seaside holiday but it’s terribly rundown now. My favourite feature was the Art Deco lift. It didn’t rain but it was very windy, which isn’t ideal for frolicking on the beach or wearing a skirt. I went home early. I hope to go to Broadstairs as a corrective before the end of the summer.
More enjoyable was a visit to the Garden Museum, Lambeth. It’s a beautiful space in a former church. I understand there’s a fantastic view from the tower but steep steps and confined spaces are impossible for me. In the permanent display, I learned that the lawnmower was invented as early as 1832. The current exhibition Constance Spry and the Fashion for Flowers celebrates the multi-faceted (in her professional and personal lives) floral designer and domestic goddess of the first half of the twentieth century. The exhibition space is small and a tad claustrophobic but luckily I had it to myself. I particularly liked the flower garland that Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott wore for her wedding to the Duke of Gloucester and the personal items belonging to Spry. The curation is very mid-century tasteful and I’m sure Spry would have been delighted to be so warmly remembered.
I’ve been very lucky to have had some lovely shows to review lately. I feel very privileged to have had a chance to review La Bohème the Royal Opera House (with a seat in the stalls!) and may have shed a tear or two. The Open Air Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet (not my favourite Shakespeare) featured some interesting staging and I giggled all through Mr and Mrs Nobody at Jermyn Street Theatre, alongside a very jolly audience.
I’m looking forward to my book club tomorrow for a discussion of Funny Boy, an autobiographical novel by Shyam Selvadurai. I’d never heard of Selvadurai and I’ve never read anything about Sri Lanka before and it’s wonderful. The clarity of the writing is such a breath of fresh air. ‘Autofiction’ is very fashionable at present and I’m not sure if it was such ‘thing’ a when Funny Boy was first published in 1995. Looking forward to finding out more!